Sunday, January 1, 2006

New Year's 2006

I’ve been back from New Orleans for about a week now and still haven’t completely decompressed, but really need to get a word or two down on paper before this year fades away, and while my recollection is merely foggy and not completely gone.

Towards a quick catch-up on what I’ve been up to lately, I’m just going to throw this re-run at you. The Readers’ Digest version is that I spent the better part of November and December working with the US Army Corps of Engineers, mostly at the district headquarters in New Orleans, with some time at the FEMA HQs in Baton Rouge, on you can guess what.

I tried to keep track of my thoughts as they hit me, but at exactly the half-way point, the plan fell apart. Partially due to the hours, partially due to the environment, and partially due to a bad flash drive, I literally and figuratively fried the ol’ memory bank. Losing track of time isn’t unusual for me but still, doesn’t really help with the end-o’-the-year recap efforts. So all I can offer up at this point are the bits of left overs at the "News from NOLA" link below.

This year, for the first time since we got married, Michele and I spent Christmas at our own house. We had decided on that before the Katrina deployment came up, and we had made some tentative plans to travel and see family and friends in October and November as a gesture towards keeping the coal and sticks out of the stockings come December. Since I returned home from New Orleans just a couple or three days before St Nick’s midnight ride, it was a good decision, because traveling was the last thing on my mind. Ninety percent of the homesick bug was remedied by breakfast at my own kitchen table, a stinky dog beating my leg with his wagging tale, catching up with Michele, wondering what that crash in the other room was, and all of those things associated with being home again.

But still, it was hard not spending more time this year with the rest of the family, the parents and brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces, and not just the physical presence of blood relations but the whole familial gestalt, the catching up and passing around school photos and watching a hockey game or soccer match and all of that family stuff. Compound that with a overwhelming absence of snow or anything resembling a Rockwellian Christmas, we’re all left itching just a wee bit to hit the road again.

And it’s not just the two legged folks in this house that feel that way. On Christmas Day, I caught Zo’ tearing into the bottom of his chew toy bin, eschewing the favorites on top as he dug into the pile for a squeaky rubber toy from days gone by, toys we hadn’t seen in ages. While Michele and I were exchanging presents, Zo’ would run into the room with some old thing that we’d assumed he had destroyed years ago. He’d lay there chewing on it or tossing it in the air, then run off and come back with yet another. Now, Zo’ loves a good chew, favoring 10 mm climbing rope but settling for just about anything that will withstand his 1400 psi incisors, but this morning he looked especially blissful as he savored the textures and resilience of an old rubber bone or ball or tether, no doubt remembering good times from days gone by.

Anthropomorphic? Sure, whatever. That’s a discussion for another time, over the adult beverage of your choice. But the point is, the sense of family, of community, the recollection of good times and bad, and our pursuit of not merely having a good time but of sharing one at this particular time of the year, that sense is as measurable as the wind speed or snowfall or barometric pressure. So to those of you who are lucky enough to live within shouting distance of your kin folks, consider yourself envied.

And on that note, I’ll let you get back to the affairs of the day, after first wishing you only the best in 2006, wherever it happens to take you. If that route passes through any of the 12 counties and 18 area codes that make up Atlanta and vicinity, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Until then, happy new year and may everyone wake up with shortbread on their front porch.

Best to all,

Steve and Michele and the rest of the zoo

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