Reflecting at Year’s End

With the holidays fast arriving, I have been thinking back on this past year with some amazement. Ali’s Christmas letter always runs down the best hits and reading it before she began sending out cards spurred the thinking.

I suppose it is sign of age, but it does seem like this year went faster than normal. Of course the calendar year does run at odds with the academic year which might also have something to do with it. Being a teacher, the beginning of school through Christmas often seems a bit of a blur. Also, this was a World Cup year, which, for me, has always seemed to make the end of the school year longer than it should be with three first-round matches a day during school’s final weeks and then the summer shorter as the matches run into early July. Regardless, time does seem to be speeding up on me or it could just be that my son is now speeding up on me, making everything else seem to be moving faster. I also keep noticing a lot more gray hair when I get a haircut. That might be contributing too.

I have definitely seemed to travel more this year than normal. With various Writing Project activities, I have been all over Massachusetts and Connecticut. I spent some time up the Hudson from New York City, as well as a recent trip to Orlando. Apart from that, we all took a trip back home to Chicago so Ali and I could attend our twentieth high school reunion. I suppose it is at this point where anyone starts to feel a little bit older. As the impending reunion came more into sight a few years ago, I did have to force myself to simply stop thinking that I wasn’t in high school that long ago, let alone saying something like that to my students. I mean, how ridiculous would that have sounded. I had been out of high school longer than any of them had even been alive!

I realized that I hadn’t really mentioned a lot about this year finally seeing my first piece actually published in a real book that anyone could buy in a store or online. It is a funny thing seeing your writing printed in what most people see as legitimate publication. There is a definite sense of accomplishment. I didn’t mention it as much once the book was finally available, probably because it seemed like it took an eternity. Still, it was cool to receive a small check for writing and a couple of free copies of the text this fall. I even had an acquaintance discover the book and my piece all on their own. It was a truly pleasant surprise when he congratulated me out of the blue and had a copy of the book with him. It was the first time I had seen the actual thing.

Overall, getting something published like that was a great feeling I only wish that they would have got the spelling of my last name right. Seeing my my last name misspelled has become a pretty commonplace experience in my life. Apart from the sound not readily giving the spelling away, I am convinced that the proximity of the “A” and “S” keys on a keyboard further increase the chance of error. Still seeing it misspelled in print gave the goof a kind of permanence that is a bit disheartening. I guess I will just have to write enough more material to make sure that no one is confused about who I am or how you spell my name.

Photo: Kids with Santa

The Santa Scare

Apart from all that, Christmas is just around the corner. It is really time to put up the tree, since we’ve been running a little late on that, and the house will soon smell like cookies, lots of cookies. That smell alone makes me happy, and I am fairly certain the kids are rather fond of it too. This year marked the first real chance for the two of them to get their picture with Santa, always a dangerous proposition with the the young ones. For Fritz terror clearly is now officially part of the Christmas experience. Amazing to me is that my bashful daughter is in the picture at all, since as she puts it, “I am not always talkable to mans and ladies.” Nevertheless, it will prove to be a vintage shot.

So here’s hoping for  Happy Holidays to all.

Digging Out in New England

Well, it has been an exciting last week here in New England. Today, was a good day to do some catching up on ye old fritzwinkle. In the last four days we have been slammed with somewhere over a foot of snow.

Half of it crippled the whole region Thursday smack in the middle of the afternoon rush. It was by far the worst conditions I can ever remember being a driver. It was absolutely ridiculous. My trip to pick up Hadley and head home took over two hours, and I nearly didn’t make it. This is a trip that normally takes about twenty minutes or so. Beginning about 1 PM somewhere between 6-9 inches fell fast and furiously until about 8 PM. The interstates were parking lots where it was not rare for people to simply put the car in park, get out of the car, brush off the snow, get back in and start driving again. The occasional abandoned car was not out of picture either. Ali, having to head west from the city spent five hours to travel about eight miles, before deciding to whole up at Keri’s for nearly the evening. She eventually, restarted the trek after 11 PM and pulled in around 12:30 AM. Luckily she doesn’t work on Fridays, but I do. So, after a fortunate delayed start I finished the week at school.

snow in new england

Originally uploaded by chrishanaka

Then today’s morning greeted us with an expected Nor’easter that dropped another 6+ inches on us. This leaves us up to our knees with the winter’s downy. Fortunately, our two great neighbor’s hit most of our driveway with a snowblower, which meant that I only needed to spend an hour and half with shovel in hand to clear the rest of the area and get the cars capable of use. While it sure looks pretty, it no doubt complicates just about everything. Yet it made for a good day to shut in and play with the baby and watch some football, with the sweet smell of Ali’s Christmas cookies in the air. Unfortunately, today’s odd mix of snow, then freezing sleet, and windy conditions thwarted the anticipated Patriot drubbing of the Jets, in the much anticipated Spygate Bowl, a mere 10 point victory when everyone was waiting for something in the neighborhood of 50.

Go Patriots!

Originally uploaded by fritzwinkle

Needless to say that the last couple of weeks have been hurried to say the least. As we prepare to head home for the holidays to show off the new addition, we’ve been doing all the last minute shopping and such. Ali even got the tree up and decorated to ring in Hadley’s first Christmas right. The way this season is going though, we are beginning to refer to the holiday as Hadley Day! Now that we have a baby, it is stunning how many gifts continue to arrive. My mother has particularly lost her mind with a gift giving fever for her one and only granddaughter. It is a good thing that we bought a house, because we need a place to put everything! Still, we couldn’t be more grateful. If only people could gift us some time. Then we could finish moving into said domicile.

But enough chatter here are some more pics of the golden child!