New Year’s Eve, about twenty minutes until 2019 arrives. I am quite sure that at 12:01 the world is going to be pretty much the same.
I am, as I was last year, listening to WQXR streaming from New York, and as it was last year the station is offering Beethoven’s 9th. I will keep it on so I can here the wonderful Ode to Joy. As I did last year. Some things remain the same. Ah, here comes the Ode. Will it end at the stroke of midnight?
Because of the holiday tomorrow my Tuesday aide came today, but a little later than usual as the first consequential snow storm had arrived and was finding its voice. Snow or no snow, it was my grocery shopping day. Driving in to town, around town, and then back required patience and care especially on the Peninsula where visibility was limited and the roads slippery.
Still, I did as I had planned. I did my three stop food shopping and then picked up Chinese takeout for supper with Ryan. Carol ate with good appetite, and Ryan and I chatted until it was time for him to go home about 8:30. It took him some time to get through the snow on the driveway and out onto the road. I thought, at one point, I would have to go out and push when he was stuck, but he managed to rock himself out.
After dinner, I thought I’d watch a little television only to find that the satellite signal was interrupted. I trudged out to the disc in the backyard and scrapped ice and snow off of it. That restored the signal, but I soon found there was nothing I cared to watch.
I am trying to get into the New Year’s spirit and not doing a very good job of it. The whole thing, of course, is absolutely arbitrary. Yes, the earth orbits the sun in a year, but where we choose to mark the beginning point, and therefore, the ending point is just picking a place on a circle and placing your finger on it. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, the new year started in March at about the time of the vernal equinox. That certainly makes as much sense as the first of January. As that day arrived, I am pleased to report that Beethoven’s Ode sailed right on through midnight. For another four minutes or so. Not much. But it is the principle. We do not have to be in thrall to the clock although I confess myself usually guilty of too much time awareness.
So, I am nitpicking instead of celebrating. Or coming up with resolutions. Let’s try the latter.
I resolve to be less time conscious. To let life breathe on its own.
Nothing could be more important as I continue dealing with Carol’s condition. I’m looking for patience and forbearance.
Some measure of both for me, and a bit more to spread around among those who have not found a way to be a part of this situation.
Tuesday night, reaching the end of the first day of the new year, which greeted me with six to eight inches of freshly fallen snow coating the ground and anything on it. However, to my immense relief I saw that my driveway had been cleared while I was still asleep. Later in the morning Rocco came by on his riding snow blower and neatened up the first job. I thanked him and alerted him to my contract with the landscaping company. He said he would just come by when he had the time to see if more needed to be done.
Aside from my brief conversation with Rocco I spoke to no-one else today. Even the phone was silent, either because it was a holiday or more likely because the push to sign people up for Medicare Advantage programs has ended for now. I posted a picture of the snow on Instagram and Facebook to invite responses and received several. I guess I need to feel connected when nobody is scheduled to come by
Just took it easy for the day, attending to necessary chores and giving myself a good nap when Carol was dozing, as she usually does, in the late afternoon. I read one long review of a biography of Thomas Cromwell a key player in the turbulent years of Henry VIII. Besides my usual interest in people and events historical, Cromwell is featured in the two novels by Hilary Mantel covering this period. They are superb historical novels, and I await the forthcoming third in the series. The reviewer of the biography made clear that Mantel made educated guesses to fill in what the historical record did not offer. As a writer of historical fiction myself I understand that the story must move along. It can’t just stop where the record is mute. Nor can you let the facts get in the way of that movement. Mantel is masterful.
I am reminded that Carol, too, had a strong interest in history in two particular directions: local and feminist. In terms of the former she departed somewhat from the usual focus hereabout on the settlers and subsequent farming families. Her interest extended to the native American populations who appear regularly in her stories. As for the latter, she was a quiet but determined feminist as titles on her bookshelves make abundantly clear and her female characters are strongly drawn.
It is with my usual sadness, I pause to record that the last book I bought for her was the massive new biography of Queen Victoria, and to recall as well, how she could neither read that book, nor even have it read to her, as I attempted to do. She most certainly would have enjoyed watching the PBS series on Victoria but she had lost her ability to watch television when it started a couple of years ago. Tonight after supper I spent some time watching television, more than I usually do. There really wasn’t any news on, which ordinarily I would have checked in on, so instead I watched a little college football. Growing up in New York I was not very interested in college football because the professional versions are so dominant and most institutions in the city do not field football teams. As a result the only time I paid attention to college football was when the various bowl games were televised on New Year’s day.
After catching parts of a couple of games, which did not hold my attention, and with no news being broadcast, Carol asleep, and not feeling like reading, preferring to veg out in front of the television, and reminded by an ad arriving in my email that as a library card holder I was also registered with Hoopla, I decided to see what it could offer for my entertainment, and found the film version of Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain, which I read some years ago. The film featured some good actors, including Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise, so I tuned in to it. I didn’t remember the novel well enough to judge how good a job the film adaptation was, but the movie was, as you would expect with that cast, well acted. After a while, though, I was reminded that the plot device Roth used to drive his story strained credibility. Still, the film did its job of providing a couple of hours of decent entertainment.
Neither Carol nor the dog were up for a discussion of the film, so I joined them in sleep.
And so 2019 began.