PAM’S IN THE NEXT ROOM decorating the tree. And killing a hyena, I think. Oh wait, that’s her Carole King Christmas CD…
2011 has been a wonderful year for us. The love of my life and I marked 39 years together, almost 36 of them married. Pam’s doing fine, enjoying the challenges of her banking career, if not the long hours. Three banks are merging and my smart cookie is a key problem-solver in that process. Toward the end of 2012, she may actually start getting out of work at a reasonable hour, assuming the details of the acquisition have been sorted out.
Our girls are all happy and well, enjoying the second half of their 20s decade. Daughter #1 will be 30 in June, leading the way for her sisters to that next decennial milepost. Emily was 3 just yesterday, it seems. I’d get her all bundled up and take her out to her grandfather’s woodlot at the end of Willow Drive, in Orono, Maine. She’d play in the snow and talk to me for hours as I wielded the ax on the chopping block, splitting cords for the following winter while the sap was frozen and the grain split easy. It was pleasant work on many a sunny winter day. And in the nicest company.
I did some traveling this year, a bit of cross-country motorcycling, wrote quite a lot before, during and after. Made about half the money I’d like to, but that’s all right. This fall I got a favorite screenplay into its best shape ever (I hope), after three years and 14 drafts. Getting it read by the right people will be all but impossible, but that’s the game. The sheer unlikelihood of success is what attracts me to making yet another attempt at scaling those well-guarded walls. After 26 years, 12 scripts, a hundred rewrites and a thousand dead ends, I remain pathologically undaunted.
From where I sit today, it seems the iron piggy run to Alaska will be pushed back a year. I doubt I can get set up for it by May. I’ll put the bike back together by then, but it would make sense to do a shakedown cruise or two before striking out on a 12,000-mile ride. When I get to Fairbanks there’s no way I’ll stop there (“Know thyself,” the sage said) if the gravel headed north is dry and I can kinda sorta probably maybe get to Prudhoe Bay on a cruiser with highway tires. It would make sense to be saddled up on a proven rebuild at that fork in the road. This engine and transmission work on the Harley is straightforward enough but there are always tiny missteps to be made, consequential details that are easy to overlook when you’re picking away at a project over time. To set the scene: I’m standing on the side of the road 500 miles from nowhere, watching a dead piggy give up her heat. A light bulb over my head switches on. Ah, THAT o-ring/thrust washer/spring clip/critical torque value/dab of thread locker…
Lots of other things to do as well. I need to put the old Ford truck back together. And I promised Pam I’d tear down the little side porch off the dining room and build a new one, somewhat larger; take out the door and a chunk of wall, install sliders to bring more natural light to our table in winter.
That’s where the Alaska thing rests for now. But watch this space. I could roll out of bed one morning and just load up the bike and be gone. Been known to happen.
So there you have it: 2011. Despite all, the human comedy goes on. Goes best if you keep your eye on what matters, shut out the noise and nonsense of the say-anything-for-a-buck culture, the carnival barkers instilling want and fear in its many forms, grabbing at your eyes, ears, mind and soul.
Dig it, in two weeks the daylight starts coming back. I hope you enjoy a time of reflection and renewal, and many a happy hour with family and friends. Best wishes for the brightest season ever, whether you’re keeping Christ in Christmas, Woden in the ancient winter solstice festival, keeping the Great in your Great Spirit, the Yah in your Yahweh, the Shin in your Shinto… See you in 2012.
Tony DePaul, Cranston, Rhode Island, December 9, 2011