"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on." Hal Borland
Why do we do it? Well maybe you don't, but on the first day of every new year, as I open my new diary, I write down a list of New Year's resolutions. That, of course, are rarely kept. I think last year I realised this and drastically cut down my list to three:
Write life story
Start serious throwing out
5 new people on website
None of these have been achieved. Indeed none of them have come anywhere close. A few words as to why.
A few years ago now I began writing up my life story - well at least the years up until my marriage. I gave it the somewhat twee title Rosemary before David: how I became me, and I did write some introductory remarks about the fiction that is memory, laid out a sort of plan - people, places, events and then got completely bogged down and stalled, in part because I didn't really know how I was going to actually print it when I finished it. Indeed I started it so long ago now that I have felt the need to change from one format that I thought was going to die, to another. Although I still don't know how I would print it - for I do think a printed version is likely to last longer than a digital one. It also stalled, in part, because the little I had written about my very early childhood was so boring, that I had lost faith in my ability to go on.
I had launched into it because when I started on the family history thing - when I retired I think, but maybe before - I became so frustrated with not knowing anything really about my parents and grandparents - people who were relatively close to me. I wanted to know more about who they were. I know that my own children are not that interested at the moment, but then neither was I at their age, and so I thought that they too might be interested one day. I have attempted to restart the process a few times, but each time I have spent so much time proofreading what I have done already, and then become overwhelmed with the task in front of me, that I gave up once more. As I did yet again this year. So I don't think I shall actually write it down as a resolution again. I might just tinker with it every now and then.
Two - Start serious throwing out - that also is just too much. I wanted to do this for two reasons - one day we shall die and I really don't want to leave my children with a horrendous mess to deal with. The second is that we would like to downsize some time soon and that will entail throwing out, so why not make a start? I actually did a few years ago. It was even a structured plan - one room a month. And I was making real progress until I broke my wrist which enforced a break that continued to this day. So I think I shall just have that as a background task not as a written down resolution that will only lead to disappointment in myself. Although I guess that disappointment will remain because it's in my head that it needs doing.
Three - 5 new people on website - by which I mean 5 new readers of my blog I think. I don't think this has happened. My small readership is pretty loyal but constant. I may have achieved one newbie subscriber and of late, with the exception of two recent posts, I fear I am boring even my most loyal readers. Anyway why should this matter? After all my intended aim was just to stop my own boredom and give myself a creative outlet that would keep the brain ticking over. Which it has and continues to do. So this is mere vanity.
So why do we set ourselves up for failure in this way? After all what's so special about a new year - a new century - a new millennium even. When every day is new. Every moment really.
"I hope you realize that every day is a fresh start for you. That every sunrise is a new chapter in your life waiting to be written." Juansen Dizon
An aside - as I looked for sunrise pictures it dawned on me (no pun intended) that sunrise and sunset look much the same which sort of illustrates, the idea that as Seneca said:
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow" and all that.
By now, feeling a bit down about how I had failed utterly with my previous resolutions - not a new thing I hasten to add - I turned to the net for hints at what to do and did find a few encouraging remarks:
“temporal landmarks” – such as the turn of a new year, month or week – represent important junctures at which humans are capable of deeper “big picture” thinking and also, crucially, of detaching from past and seemingly “flawed” versions of themselves." Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
"it’s a fresh start where you’re unboxing 12 new months of opportunity." Elizabeth Grace Saunders - Harvard Business Review
"A year from now, you're gonna weigh more or less than what you do right now." Phil McGraw
How very true. In my experience anyway. Which brings me to food. For I have decided against big picture resolutions this year, and, instead will devise some small foodie ones - and no they won't be of the eat more good things, shop responsibly and all that virtuous stuff. I try in a not very dedicated way to do those things anyway, and little by little I am improving on that front I think. So here, a day and a half before the end of the year, are a few of my ideas. Some are more resolutions that others.
Use those things lurking in the pantry (or throw them out)
It's dark up there on the top shelf of my pantry, so I cannot take a clear photograph. So I will substitute by stealing a few from the net of some of those things:
Here we have some raspberry vinegar - I think I have three bottles of this - one of them French, Morello cherries, pomegranate molasses, ovaltine and a jar of Maggie Beer's dark chocolate vino cotta caramel. The vinegar and the Maggie Beer sauce are gifts, the others I probably bought for one thing and never used again. Does ovaltine go off do you think? It's alarming to think it has, and even more alarming to think it hasn't. In addition to these few there are numerous jars of chutney - some posh and bought, some home-made; some nuts in actual shells - which must be decades old and which I shall throw out when I have finished writing this; a whole packet of organic cacoa powder - I have no idea why I would have bought this; pickled peaches; pickled apricots; a tin of beetroot slices; several tins of tuna; a tin of dolmades and a couple of jars of home pickled olives. That's just the top shelf. I am ignoring the shelf packed with jars of dried beans and lentils of various kinds and the drawer of reserves which contains things like porcini and truffles and lots of pasta. Oh dear, oh dear. I will try to be strong and actually throw some things out, and then I will try to use the rest. Maybe Ottolenghi's latest book - Shelf Love will help me. It's supposed to. But I bet he doesn't have anything actually lurking on his shelves. Or maybe I should just start with the fridge and the freezer for they too have lurking mysteries.
Schedule a meal here with the family at least once a month
Maybe I'll let my son with the bigger house do this sometimes, but I would really like to do it here - COVID allowing of course. And I'm not going to cook just meatballs - unless, as in this photo, it was a special request from a birthday boy. I would also like to continue the cooking lessons, but that depends on what the children want.
Schedule a meal here with friends at least every two months
COVID has prevented us doing this much for the last two years and we have almost lost touch with old and dear friends. So it was wonderful to do it at last earlier this month. Besides it gives me the chance to cook something on a larger scale than usual and something different too. This particular meal was deliberately retro and French, but, of course, it doesn't have to be that way. In fact we had such a good time that we forgot to take any photographs other than this one of the entrée - pissaladière.
Regularly cook something from the works of my favourites - Robert Carrier, Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, Delia Smith
I could decree a schedule - perhaps one a week, but I suspect that is a bit ambitious. And I'm certainly not going to do a cook my way through a particular book thing. I mean that would mean cooking things that there is no way you will like - like tripe for example. But a trip down memory lane or even into the archives as it were, might be fun once a week. No let's make that once a fortnight. A bit more realistic.
Cook something completely new once a fortnight
This could be from any of my hundred or so books, or the net, or a magazine, or even from a friend. Will it be a blind pick or a deliberate choice? Something that caught my eye perhaps in the latest Coles magazine. Maybe a random choice of book but a selective choice of recipe. Could be fun. Maybe I will discover something that will become a house favourite. Mind you I have tried to do this before - and I failed. Maybe I should do this in conjunction with reinstating David's special meal.
Maintain and improve upon the virtuous resolutions
Currently that's a definite only drink wine at the weekends - unless there's a social gathering of some kind during the week. But there are others that I would like to be more definite about - fish once a week, vegetarian at least once a week, preferably twice - at least until I've used up all those beans. And once the Christmas chocolate has gone I am not eating chocolate - well maybe a little at the weekend - with the wine. Plus I will try and return to the Queen Victoria Market and do my little bit to keep it going. I noticed that leeks were almost four dollars each today - ridiculous and I therefore just cannot bring myself to pay it, even if I can afford it.
Eat out locally every couple of months
It doesn't have to be grand like our recent anniversary dinner at Mercer's but it should be local. We should support local. It's a long time since we have had a simple Indian meal out for example, so we should test the local Indian restaurants out. I would do it more often than once every couple of months, but David doesn't really enjoy dining out, so every two months will do.
And in spite of the ups and downs of inspiration I shall try and continue to blog, and not care who is reading it. Because really I do enjoy the mental stimulation it gives me. Mind you it does prevent me from doing those other things like writing a life story. and writing up the stories of my ancestors on my family history website - long ignored and neglected I fear, in favour of this blog. And doing more in the garden, and reading more books ...
A few more quotes I found. I do love quotes. In no particular order:
"For last year's words belong to last year's language.
And next year's words await another voice." T. S. Eliot
I'm afraid next year's voice is likely to be the same as this year's voice in my case. But I will try to be interesting. As far as politics is concerned, let's hope that next year's voice is not Scott Morrison's.
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." Ralph Waldo Emerson
A big yes to that one
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever." Neil Gaiman
And that one too. I think the biggest thing I'm scared of doing, is, in fact, not doing anything. All those things that I should and all those things that I would like to do but am too scared to do - perhaps riding in a hot air balloon would be one of those - it looks amazing, but I know I couldn't do it. Vertigo would kick in.
I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring." David Bowie
Well in my case it probably will be boring - in most people's eyes anyway. But even the simple things in life are not boring.