Welcome, 2011 — Come On In and Stay A While

Happy New Year’s Eve! Go forth and have fun tonight. With safety, please. And if you decide to stay home — whether you’re hosting a crowd or a romantic dinner for two — you’ll need something special and sparkly to drink. Several friends shared their favorite bubbly cocktail recipes in the food story I did this week for the TimesDaily. Check it out — it’s not too late to run to the store and stock up on beverage supplies. I did leave out one recipe from my friend Steve, who started off his list of ingredients with “Get some moonshine.” I love the South!

And then take a minute to read my weekly newspaper column for inspiration on making resolutions. Oh my goodness — I could fill pages and pages with promises to do things better. But then it would take me so long to sit down and write all my resolutions down that I wouldn’t have the time to actually, you know, do them. That’s my excuse, anyway. Like right now. I really should go out and walk before it starts raining. But it looks like it might rain any minute. And it’s windy. And cold, maybe. So I’ll just stay inside where it’s nice and warm and dry and THINK about going out to walk. I mean, that’s almost as good, right???

This past week I did get a headstart on one of my resolutions, which is to write more fiction. Of course, friends and family will argue that my newspaper columns already have touches of fiction but they’re all good sports and don’t mind that I might perhaps slightly edit things they say and/or do — for journalism’s sake, of course. Except for almost-3-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable, whose adorability is an absolute fact that needs no exaggeration whatsoever.

Books

Olive KitteridgeRun, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or computer and buy Elizabeth Strout’s “Olive Kitteridge,” the 2009 Pulitzer Prize fiction winner. I first heard about this book on NPR and I’ve since read it three times and recommended it to all readers I know. This has it all: Lovely and lyrical writing, subtle details that stay with you, stories you can’t forget and powerfully ordinary characters. The book is a series of short stories that follow the lives of folks in a coastal Maine village over several years — some people we get to know well and others just sort of pass through, leaving more questions than answers behind. This is the sort of read that makes you think. And want to reread it so you can think some more. If swine flu-closings furlough you from work, pick this book up and take it home. And even if your workplace remains blissfully swine flu-free, pick it up, anyway. You’ll be glad you did.