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“Eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, and you’ll have good luck through the whole year,” my grandmother used to say.  Well, Grandma, I ate a bowlful on January the first, two-thousand and eleven; and let’s just say (and I quote from that old TV favorite of yours, “Hee Haw”), “if it weren’t fer bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

Things were going OK until my birthday came around in February.  That’s when things started going south.  My mother, who’s never been very good at the whole numbers thing anyway, had me come over to her house for a birthday drink with her friends, announcing that it was my 50th birthday.

“I just can’t believe I had you 50 years ago,” she said with a catch in her throat.

“That’s because you didn’t,” I said, slamming my wine glass down on the counter.  “I am NOT TURNING 50 TODAY!!!” I said through gritted teeth, mumbling something about not knowing when it would be time to put her in a nursing home, because she’s always been a little clueless when it comes to real world stuff.  (If the truth be told, she was just a little bit off, but hey, when you’re looking a half-century in the eye, every minute counts.)

“Hey, I was in labor with you for 15, 19, 22, 1000 hours (the hours in labor increased with each telling of her labor story with me),” she said, brushing her hair back in a huff.

Maybe, I was being too hard on her.  After all, I do love her dearly and don’t know what I’d do without her, her support, and her words of wisdom about kids, relationships, and the importance of eating green, leafy vegetables.  And, she does provide the family with countless hours of laughter (sorry, it’s at your expense, Mom!) with her questions and observations.  Once, she asked my dad who “Al Qaeda” was and why everyone was so upset with him.  She was also curious as to why all the basketball players on one team in a game my dad was watching had the same last name, “Villanova.”

So, this was how my New Year began in 2011, and things just went downhill from there.  Water heaters flooding the garage, washing machines flooding the laundry room, malfunctioning pool equipment, children banging up my cars (yes, car-s, plural and children, plural), a dying lawn, perpetually foul-smelling dogs, children who claimed they would bathe the foul-smelling dogs but refused to cleanse “those parts” (which, of course, were the foulest-smelling parts of all).  I’m beginning to get a little bummed just looking back on 2011, so maybe it’s time to count some blessings:  my family ate an average of three out of 20 meals I prepared with no complaints; my PG&E bill went waaaay down, because I couldn’t run my pool filter when the pool was empty (relating to the malfunctioning pool equipment); time I had to spend mowing my lawn went waaaay down (don’t have to mow dead grass very often); no one was injured in either daughter’s automobile “mishaps;” we now have a new water heater that heats the water up in record time; my dogs smell acceptable an average of five out of every 15 or 20 days; and, I had the love and support of my wonderful mom and dad (not to mention many, many hours of amusement-thanks Mom!). 

So fare-thee-well, 2011.  It may not have been the “piece of heaven” I was hoping for, but I was glad to have you.  Now, it’s time to dive into 2012.  Maybe, this year, I’d better eat two bowls of black-eyed peas.

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