Another year has come and gone. I'm a year older than I was this time in 2016 - that's the good news and also the bad news! Good news in that I'm still here; bad news in that I don't really feel I've evolved much as a person. Of course, lots of people don't think people of my age SHOULD still be evolving ... it's freeing in a way: there's not the same pressure to "make something of myself" and the older generation (as far as my family is concerned) is gone and with them their expectations of me, be they real or just in my imagination. On the other hand, I'm increasingly aware that my time here is more limited than it used to be, and I've got to make each year count! So with all that in mind, I've decided to once again tackle the review questions, at least the ones I see as relevant to my life.
1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Went to Iceland. Had cataract surgery.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions and will you make more?
Last year, I mentioned two goals. I wanted to learn more about Muslims, especially Muslim women, and I did do a bit of reading on the subject. I also said I wanted to explore art therapy and journalling therapy. I really didn't make any headway on that at all, though it wasn't entirely for lack of trying. I signed up for two Ottawa Board of Education workshops, both of which were cancelled at the last minute. I think I'm done with OBE courses now, but I do plan to keep that goal on my list for 2017. Among other things, I want to start keeping a hand-written journal again. I do plan to keep on with this blog, but there are some thoughts and feelings that I really don't want to commit in perpetuity to the internet or the blogosphere! But writing them down can, I think, help me to deal with what's on my mind in a relatively safe way. And speaking of the internet, I want to get a bit better at making technology work for me. Well, wouldn't we all, you might well ask? Specifically, a lot of people are on social media these days - I'd even venture to say it's more the rule than the exception. Are there some social media that are relatively benign in terms of maintaining a reasonable measure of privacy? I'm dubious, and yet there are now so many forums that I just can't participate in without a social media presence so there's definitely that feeling of being left behind. There's also that annoying "one-way door" type of phenomenon when it comes to the on-line world. Very often, you can't really just try something out to see if you like it and then go back to older methods if you find you DON'T like it. For example, with receiving monthly bills electronically, or with writing cheques, or whatever. I don't believe in burning my bridges behind me but I'm really worried for the younger and coming generations. After all, what younger person (or older person, for that matter) DOESN'T occasionally do something rash that s/he later regrets? But in the online world, it seems there may simply be no way to just move on and get a second chance to make good.
But back to the resolutions thing... I do want to make more of an effort to be kind to others and to nurture friendships and other relationships.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I guess no one who was that close to me directly, although my grandchildren are acquiring new cousins on their father's side of the family. I generally consider it a hopeful sign when younger generations still want to have kids.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
While I'm not aware of any (human) family members who died (my daughter's family lost one of their two cats to kidney disease), I think loss certainly becomes a permanent feature of life as you get older. In September, I went to the funeral of a former boss and Ex Libris colleague who had had a major impact on my choice of career. And just this past week, I went to a memorial service for a longstanding member of Apaplexy who died in December.
5. What countries did you visit?
Iceland - I think that was probably the highlight of my year. Other than that, I stayed in Canada, with visits to relatively nearby cities - Montreal, Kingston, Toronto and Niagara Falls.
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
I think perhaps a new cell phone. I don't want ever to be practically glued to my mobile like some folk are; however, I know it's past time I learned how to use my voice-mail and how to send and receive an occasional text. But at the same time, it's got to be user-friendly and ironically, that might mean something resembling the ones from 20+ years ago- the size of a brick, with big enough keys, and with a flip-cover so it doesn't keep turning itself on when I'm not using it.
7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched on your memory and why?
Probably the date of the U.S. election; I sort of feel like the main character in that short story about someone going back in time and accidentally stepping on a butterfly; once back in the present, said character learns that the other guy won the election. At least I don't have to live in the U.S., but what happens south of the 49th inevitably affects our lives to some extent.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Maybe just managing to sustain a fairly healthy lifestyle in terms of diet, physical exercise and the like. If we're talking specific projects, I did manage to complete the file of Canadian Expeditionary Force members I was working on for the Friends of the Library & Archives. It was quite interesting in terms of learning about little towns, villages and hamlets I hadn't know about, as well as occupations that we no longer see these days. A little window into what life might have been like 100 years ago. Even so, the work was rather time-consuming and occasionally tedious for the extra access it gives people, so I don't plan to do any more files in the foreseeable future.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I'd say something in terms of setting priorities...
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing out of the ordinary.
11. What was the best thing that someone bought you?
Do I have to pick one best thing? Everything people bought me was great!
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I've been meaning for some time to give out some service awards, because good service can be pretty thin on the ground these days! In terms of great service, I'd give the nod to our roofers, our snow-clearing service and the staff at the Riverside Hospital. And I forgot last year to mention the good folks at Handi-House, who set me up with the rental equipment I needed for the days following my vitrectomy in 2015.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump's and Pat Phelan's. Well, the second one is a fictional character. As for the first, I only wish he were fictional.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Home maintenance, a new roof and a trip to Iceland.
15. What did you get really excited about?
Cats, grandchildren and Iceland (in no particular order)
16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
The trumpet exercise that always gets one of our cats out of her hiding place (I think it's Clark(e)'s study no. 2)
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Sadder but more content with life as a whole, if that makes any sense.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Having real conversations with people I care about.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Relying on technological devices that constantly need recharging.
20. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot in the crime fiction genre so there were a lot there that I enjoyed, including Michael Ridpath's Where the Shadows Lie, the latest Ragnar Jonasson book in his Dark Iceland series, and Louise Penny's latest, Great Reckoning. Then there was He's Gone, by Alex Clare, a police procedural about Detective Robyn (formerly Roger) Bailey, who returns to work following The Operation and has a hard time dealing with the macho police culture, amongst other things - looks to be first in a series, and I look forward to any subsequent books. I also took a course (Learning in Retirement) on 20th century mystery and detective fiction, where we discussed 6 books considered to be landmark books or classics in their time. Of those, the three I enjoyed most were E. C. Bentley's Trent's Last Case; Eric Ambler's Epitaph for a Spy; and Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow.
In non-fiction, one that springs to mind is Lindy West's Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. Interestingly enough, she is going to be giving a keynote speech at the Ontario Library Association conference next month. I'm not sure I could pinpoint just one "best" out of all those.
21. What did you want and get?
A new dishwasher, that actually works well. A new kitchen faucet that doesn't drip and has a fully functional spray-hose attachment. A new roof. Better eyesight and a new pair of glasses.
22. What did you want and not get?
Various other improvements to the house.
23. What kept you sane?
Independent time spent on errands and personal projects.
24. What political issue stirred you the most?
Probably the November U.S. election. In scientific and medical news, the idea of a head transplant continues to creep me out. Closer to home, the rash of stabbings in the Ottawa area. On a more positive note, various other local issues - the new library, rapid transit and a new site for the Civic Hospital.
25. Who do you miss?
All the people (and cats) that are no longer with us.