Taking Stock

As one year ends, and a new one begins, it is tradition to slow down for a moment to take stock.

Although I generally chafe at tradition, and although I tend to exhaust myself by taking stock every day of every year, I do like the notion of recording some of my favorite things from the past clump of days. Then, when my memory fails, I can come back and read this blog as though someone else wrote it, and it’ll be so fun to get to know the lady who wrote this stuff! I’ll be a new friend for my own addled brain!

A quick sampling of some of 2013’s delights, then:

1) Beer. I can never thank beer enough for all it’s done for me, and in this era of craft brews, whole new worlds are opening. I view the hoptimization of our country with great hoptimism.

2) Friends. I mean, there are friends, and there are friends. We have a good sampling of types, but there are a few specific pals who happify me with their ability to be playful, thoughtful, analytical. For me, the best friends will leap onto the sled that is life and take a wild ride down the hill (Hey, Addled Jocelyn, have you noticed how the lady writing this blog enjoys not only wordplay but also clunky metaphors? Just like you used to?).

I cannot tell you how much this picture, taken at the weekly summer "Wednesday Night at the Races," makes me laugh. Three-year-old Aliya has a proper match in her Mama Julie there.
I cannot tell you how much this picture, taken at the weekly summer “Wednesday Night at the Races,” makes me laugh. Three-year-old Aliya has a proper match in her Mama Julie there.

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3) Reading. This is not news, of course, but somehow I feel like reading in 2013 was particularly good; perhaps I was just in the mood to be entertained that way, or perhaps I happened upon a very good string of books, but, holy crikey, did I enjoy reading this past year. In particular, I liked feeling challenged by books without having to find them challenging, if that makes any sense. Books like Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries play around with structure and the limits of storytelling in ways that pushed me to pay attention and commit. Also, my friend Tim sent me a book that, at first, I thought was simply a joke, but once I started reading it, the thing was balm to all the stresses of every day. I’m not quite sure how she did it, but when Agnes Sligh Turnbull wrote Gown of Glory (penned in 1952 but set in 1881), she wrote a tale of faith and goodness that is much better than it has a right to be. I’m not a religious person–unless you count crying at the beauty of snow on a pine tree a kind of worship–but I was very taken by the story of a family completely living within the mores of the era while, at the same time, wrangling with the issues in their lives in a way that is surprisingly authentic. After finishing Gown of Glory, I went online and ordered two more of Turnbull’s books, hoping for similarly satisfying reads.

4) Boots. Familycousins, specifically, in these photos. Doesn’t hurt to have a thirteen-year-old with a heap of forbearance, either.

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5) This city. Duluth’s charms are many, from its lake to its greenspaces to its burgeoning culture of breweries. I adore that we’re currently experiencing a true winter (although you know it’s been damn cold for a damn long time when unflappable Byron announces, mournfully, “I need it to be, like, 20. Can’t it just be 20 outside?” That would entail a 40 degree spike from the current temperature, however, so it might actually be too much to ask).

Nevertheless, the North Shore of Minnesota is swell.

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Ghosts on the surface of the lake are caused by the water temperature being so much warmer than the air and by the unsettled souls of dead people.
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Shadowing Byron in the kayak as he swims in Lake Superior.

6) Equal rights for all loving couples, per the legalization of same-sex marriage in many states, including Minnesota. We had a summer full of celebration, as several beloved couples in our lives were able to make it official. As it turns out, I don’t only cry at snow on a pine tree.

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7) The ability to give myself an inner chuckle. Last week, speaking of Addled Jocelyn, I couldn’t come up with the word that would follow “Mongolian…” or “marauding…” Instead of landing on “hordes,” my brain filled in “hoarders,” which then let me go off on a riff about yurts stacked to the ceiling with inflated goat bladders.

Then, today in yoga class, I had a little inward grin when the teacher kept telling us, as we lay on our stomachs, to rest our foreheads on the floor. Given the genetics of my proboscis, there’s no way my forehead will ever touch the floor unless I launch myself into an inclined headstand.

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Making my own fun

8) Music. So long as I can crank Kansas’ “Carry on My Wayward Son” or Bob Mould singing about the Hoover Dam, there will be a sashay in my hootenanny.

9) Always, the three people I live with. I actually dodge many opportunities to socialize, simply because I am so fully satisfied by just these three. They are soft, wry, creative, capable, goofy. And they never flinch, no matter what kind of nonsense I spout. They are my sweetest and my best.

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Published by Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."

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22 Comments

  1. So glad you put your blog post up on Facebook. Since Google Reader went down the tubes I have not figured out a way to do any blog reading in an organized manner. Oh Hell, who am I trying to kid -I couldn’t do anything in an organized manner even when I had Google Reader but now, I have nothing to alert me to new posts. However, now I also don’t have very much free time to read blogs the way I used to be able to do. So, when one of my fav bloggers is kind enough to post a recent piece of work on Facebook, I get pretty excited over seeing that! BTW -I loved your metaphor about the sledding because it gave me a chance then to hop on board that sled and take a wild ride down the hill without freezing my dupa off in the process, which is the bonus there! Peace and Happy New Year to make 2014 even better than the last one!

  2. Please tell Jocelyn when you next see her that her list makes me want to a) read all those same books b) move to Duluth and c) go back and do parenting all over again ’cause seeing what’s happening in her family makes me miss it all – a lot.
    So much fun, Jocelyn is.

  3. Jocelyn writing like yours ranks with great friends food and wine. (Beer and I don’t get along though I love it.)

    I seem to have been away and/or sick since Thanksgiving but writing like yours also gives me impetus to write. Next week when I’m safely home and staying home instead of going out without the very real excuse of wonderful family I will once again be blogging.

    Anyway thank you for your words and may 2014 be incredibly wonderful and filled with love friends family books and wordplay

  4. Those are rocking hot boots. Seriously. And you have such an outdoorsy sort of life! I feel like a slug now. Thanks, Jocelyn. Way to harsh my mellow.

    One thing that pops up in every photo that you are in…you are a life embracer. It shines all over you.

  5. You have a good, good life.
    And a grateful spirit.
    And a beautiful sense of wonder and whimsy.

  6. I had the weather site up on my computer so I wrote Duluth and saw that today it was going to be 46 F high – so I thought your weather was improving, but taking a second look I saw that this was Duluth, Georgia (I can’t get over at why there are so many towns in this country with the same name…) Anyway I rewrote Duluth and now it says a high of minus 12! That is cold… I have never been to Minnesota – just watched it through the air and also changed airplane in Minneapolis once. I’d like to visit the state – but when it gets warmer… Your 2013 sounds happy. Books make any year happy for me. It takes me away to so many places – and I also can read them in French, which make me feel better when I am homesick for home. I hope your 2014 will also be an excellent year for you.

  7. I am really looking forward to hearing about what you all get up to next. These photos are great fun!
    I’ve shut down my blog for a while, but will continue to enjoy my visits here.
    Good to catch up on what’s happening in your hemisphere – such cold temps! Here in Australia it was 50.5 degrees yesterday in parts of Brisbane (that’s 122.9 degree heat!!). In South Aust last week 48 at Tarcoola, 49.3 at Moomba. Crazy.

    1. I was just trying to visit your blog last night and was confounded at every turn. Thank you for continuing to visit here, Ms. Pam!

      Your heat sounds worse than our cold, in truth…

  8. Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to reading some of the books on your list. AND, I’ve also discovered Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout, by DuClaw Brewing Company. It’s fun to order, too.

    I love your pictures!

  9. Geez, and to think I was just going to copy and paste whatever Facebook said happened in my Year In Review.

    Guess I’ll have to see if I can dig up a couple of Polaroids to see what I got into this year.

    Just hearing you speak of how cold it was/is gave me a bit of a chill. I hope you and yours have an even better 2014, Jocelyn, and that Byron gets his 20 degrees. I guess probably don’t tell him it was 60 here Saturday.

  10. There is joy, even hop-fulness, in the simple pleasures of life: good food, good drink, good friends. Seeing how you embrace and appreciate them makes me want to buy the house next door to yours so we can loan each other books, share beer and carry on on such a way as to annoy those not up to dancing to any and everything with a beat.
    Merry 2014!

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