“How much would I have to work out to become an Instagram model? Like, more than once a year?” –Hank Green
Three cats and a dog currently reside in our home. This is the smallest my brood has been since, gosh, 2003? I like to have at least half a dozen kitties hanging around and now that we’ve purchased a larger house, there’s plenty of room for more.
While waiting for additional felines to appear, I decided to create new life. Over the Christmas holiday, I birthed… a sourdough starter.
Although I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, I waited until things had calmed down. The past year has been focused on work and settling in; tending to a starter just wasn’t in the stars. I have time now, though.
Three days in, Blunderbore doubled in size.
Yes, I named my starter. And why not? For the foreseeable future, I’ll be tending to his needs every day. If I’m going to spend that much time and effort caring for a living organism, I might as well name him.
A few hours ago, I gave Blunderbore his first feeding, new accomodations and tucked him in for the night. If all goes well — and fingers crossed it does — I’ll be making sourdough bread before 2018 is even two weeks old.
This year, amidst the madness of the world, I consumed 46 books, 48 movies, dozens of TV programs and many podcasts. These were my favorites:
(Note: Not all were released during the past 365 days.)
1. “Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins” by Susan Casey
2. “The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well” by Meik Wiking
3. “It” by Stephen King
4. “When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II” by Molly Guptill Manning
5. “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi
6. “The Year of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Berg
7. “So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading” by Sara Nelson
8. “Invasive” by Chuck Wendig
9. “Big Mushy Happy Lump” by Sarah Andersen
10. “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert
(Honorable mentions: “Paul Hollywood’s Bread” by Paul Hollywood, “Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good” by Kevin Smith, “I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks” by Gina Sheridan, “My Reading Life” by Pat Conroy, “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself” by Alan Alda, “Simon’s Cat vs. the World” by Simon Tofield and “Obits: Reading behind the fine print” by Barbara Larsen)
Overall reading ratio: 51% fiction, 49% nonfiction; 51% male, 49% female.
2. This Is Us
3. The Great British Baking Show
4. Stranger Things
5. Grace and Frankie
6. Madam Secretary
7. The Expanse
8. The Santa Clarita Diet
9. Penny Dreadful
(Honorable mentions: The Great British Baking Show Master Class, Timeless, The Defenders, Supernatural, The Closer, Pitch, Grimm, Haven, White Collar, The Following, Notorious, Iron Fist, The Good Place and Too Young to Die)
1. Hidden Figures
3. Collateral Beauty
5. Our Souls at Night
6. The Boomer List
7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
9. The Post
(Honorable mentions: The Orient Express, Hasan Minaj: Homecoming King, A Street Cat Named Bob, Me Before You, By Sidney Lumet, Going In Style, Baby Driver, Atomic Blonde, Patton Oswalt: Annihilation, The Big Sick, Wonder Woman, Hitman’s Bodyguard, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and The Typewriter)
1. The Vinyl Cafe
2. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
3. The Daily from the NY Times
4. Death, Sex & Money
5. 99% Invisible
7. Dear Hank & John
8. 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop
(Honorable mentions: Live from the Poundstone Institute, Smithsonian Sidedoor, The Nerdist, Lovett or Leave It, Reply All, Work in Progress, WTF with Marc Maron and You Must Remember This)
At the end of each year, I always take a moment to examine the ups and downs I experienced. What follows is my personal and professional review of 2017. I:
* Produced hundreds of breaking news stories about the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the worldwide refugee crisis, the big Brexit divorce, North Korea’s missile tests, the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the French presidential election, the terror attacks on the Iranian Parliament and the Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini, the wars in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the political crisis in Spain, the deadly Charlottesville protests, the economic disaster in Venezuela, the end of the Cassini-Huygens mission, the earthquakes in Mexico and Iran/Iraq, global warming, the Las Vegas shooting spree, numerous celebrity deaths, numerous sexual harassment/assault cases and the Oscars debacle.
* Penned 34 journal entries.
* Passed the 50,000th tweet mark on my personal Twitter account (@jadewalker).
* Shuttered my LiveJournal account after 15 years and 1,194 entries.
* Worked on my novel.
* Wrote a poem and a short story.
* Read 46 books and numerous magazines.
* Watched 48 films and dozens of TV programs.
* Traveled to Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington state.
* Went leafing in the White Mountains several times.
* Walked over 1.54 million steps (more than 656 miles) and climbed over 843 floors.
* Launched the Silent Book Club, Manchester, NH chapter.
* Participated in The Society of Professional Obituary Writers, the New Hampshire Writers Guild, the New York City Writers Group, the South Florida Freelancers Group and the Author’s Guild.
* Helped to coordinate ObitCon 2017, the fifth conference of The Society of Professional Obituary Writers, in Chicago.
* Coordinated The Grimmys, SPOW’s contest to highlight excellence in obituary writing.
* Attended the 2017 Maine Crime Wave writers conference in Portland.
* Tasted doughnuts from six different bakeries, farm stands and food trucks.
* Took a Zen Brownie Madness class at the Dancing Lion Chocolate shop in Manchester.
* Attended the 2017 Best of New Hampshire Party.
* Attended the 2017 New Hampshire Highland Games.
* Saved the life of an eastern painted turtle.
* Discovered that one of my credit cards had been stolen.
* Hosted vacationing friends overnight at our new home on four occasions.
* Completed an escape room adventure — and died.
* Entered a contest to win a Scottish mansion.
* Entered a short story contest in Reader’s Digest.
* Renewed my passport.
* Dressed up as a skeleton for Halloween.
* Donated to dozens of charities.
* Planted raspberry and blueberry bushes in our backyard.
* Installed a bird feeder and became an amateur bird-watcher.
* Mastered five recipes from my Top 100 “must learn to make these dishes” list: Chocolate banana bread, funnel cakes, cheddar apple pie, rigatoni with white bolognese and shrimp and corn chowder.
* Saw Carol Burnett in concert.
* Purchased three cars.
* Decorated two Christmas trees and the front of our house.
* Suffered from at least 35 migraines, including one that lasted for five straight days.
* Mourned the loss of our eldest cat, Arya.
* Celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.
* Discovered and embraced hygge.
* Turned 44.
Goals for 2018
* Consider a new career path.
* Work on my fiction.
* Write more obits.
* Read at least 50 books.
* Practice hygge.
* Win the lottery.