Order – and Incentive – in the New Year

The end of January exerts a certain pressure for completion. Too overdosed with good spirits to attend properly to the year’s end in December, I use January to catch up year-end tasks, the ones with words like tax, file, balance – or photos.

Starting with the refrigerator-bulletin board-photo album. In January, waiting for the teakettle to boil I study the pictures (I always do anyway), but this month I consider clearing them off.

Clear refrigerator doors appeal to me, but I am unable to maintain one. Some photos never change, like Frances in her escape artist days, crouched on the very top of her courtyard fence against a splendid sunset background. Or a photo of our old dog Bill, at such close range I can feel his velvety ears. Another keeper shows us with our younger son – his arm draped inclusively over the shoulders of Barack Obama (well, a cardboard cutout).

A couple of old hiking photos tell well-known tales. In a picture taken south of Anchorage at Crow Pass, against a backdrop of craggy Alaska mountains, my husband stands on a trail with our sons – one in a backpack and the other, an excited brand-new kindergartener. (The next day he told his class he’d come “face to face with a marmot.”) In another photo taken one September on Mount Rainier, our old friends’ kids and ours stand up to their knees in an icy mountain lake – competing to see who could stay in the water longest.

Replaying those familiar stories always pleases me – though some would call that procrastinating. (I’m full of that – even telling the tales here a diversion).

So – the rest of the photos are more current events – but they need updating – and my January list needs doing. This month I’ve tried a primitive reward system (one that also helps with dark rainy nights).

For months last year I read (fell asleep over the pages of) Olivia Manning’s novel “The Balkan Trilogy.” A little bit of a slog in the beginning, but after more than 900 pages I loved it – for language, for sweep, and for its rich characters, including British heroine Harriet Pringle, who in 1939, as war threatened on all sides, traveled to Bucharest and to Athens with her teacher husband.

But that’s not the reward – reading at night is a right – but video, that can be incentive – great fun to see characters and settings come alive! Ah yes you think, here comes the BBC. I did watch the Masterpiece Theatre version, “Fortunes of War,” doled out on Sunday evenings in the 80s. Flash forward to 2011 and it comes on a disc with many hour-long episodes.

An hour each evening – perfect carrots! (I said it was primitive, my system, also subject to breakdowns and cheating.)

But it helps cross off the January jobs!

One thought on “Order – and Incentive – in the New Year

  1. I love the description of the refrigerator as a photo album! Mine is covered too, mostly with photos that I can’t bear to take down – Dana and the basketball; my then five year old nephew in someone’s adult sized raingear, slumped shouldered on a hike that he’s clearly tired of; my grandma sticking her tongue out at me because I was taking a picture of her while playing Solitare at the dining room table, and many others. I keep thinking I should update them, but I never do!

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