by Brule Eagan

I suppose the thought of New Year’s resolutions crosses everyone’s mind, whether they act upon them or not. I always think of one or two things I need to do, but my inner contrarian always says “no, you don’t”. Things like exercise, stop smoking, cut out the junk food. I’m already active, I don’t eat junk (outside of the occasional Whataburger), and I stopped smoking years ago. So I really don’t feel I have to RESOLVE to do anything.

That said, there are things I’d like to do without the self-imposition of an iron-clad resolution. Let’s just call it a checklist:

Read more. I’ve always been hungry for knowledge/information/entertainment from the printed page, but after seeing Barack Obama’s reading list for the past year, I am truly a slacker. His must have had 30 books on it, and those were just the ones he said he most enjoyed. So I’ve got some catching up to do. Luckily, the local library is nearby. I’ll have to smuggle in a thermos full of coffee when I go.

Walk more. I walk a lot already, but I’m used to doing it at march tempo, and I can’t sustain it like I used to. All these years, and I can still hear my Drill Instructor singing cadence. I’m going to slow it down a little, and build some endurance. I’ll also make it a point to be more aware of my immediate surroundings. There’s a lot of interesting flora and fauna hereabouts. I’ve tuned a lot of it out. I’ll tune it back in.

See more live theater. There are a couple of local companies that are tremendously entertaining, and, while they may not be the Goodman or Steppenwolf, they ain’t chopped liver, either, and tickets are always available and inexpensive. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed going, so — I’ll go more. Speaking of the theater:

Memorize “The Major General Song”. I know Gilbert and Sullivan is peak stuff and nonsense, but it’s great fun to see this number performed by someone who can do it at warp speed. I’m not sure I can do it that fast, but I think it’d be fun to learn as a parlor trick. Not to brag, but I’ve done it with “Ya Got Trouble” from “The Music Man”, which is why it’s a good idea not to take me to karaoke bars. And speaking of music:

Hit the keys more. I have a beautiful piano that mostly just sits in silence. That must change. I can plunk out a few tunes. I need to refine the plunking so it sounds more like actual playing.

Cook from scratch more. I’ve never been into frozen dinners, and I’ve never gotten into going to a restaurant more than a couple of times a month. My general compromise has been to pick up things like Minute Rice or a can of chili. Or a rotisserie chicken. Things like that. Not altogether bad food, but not necessarily good. Now that my time is my own, I can enjoy puttering around in the kitchen at my own pace.

Incidentally, I’ve just gotten a pressure cooker, so I can conduct new culinary experiments. I did a pot roast the other day — the first thing I’ve ever made in a pressure cooker — and, as I told my friends, at first it was a little intimidating, since this contraption is capable of inflicting bodily injury and property damage. Then it occurred to me that’s why it appealed to me to begin with. (My inner contrarian at it again.)

The pot roast turned out terrific, and I got an unexpected bonus when I discovered that the beef stock and the sliced onions and garlic I added produced the best onion soup I ever tasted. Not quite the same Eureka Moment as Alexander Fleming stumbling onto penicillin, but I’ll take it, and I’ll cook from scratch a lot more.

I think a little of each of these activities every day is doable. I’ll try to remember to let you know how I’m doing as we roll along, merrily or otherwise.

And, I’m now reminded of one more item to include: write more.

But later, ‘cause that’s enough for now.

Have a happy and successful new year.

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