So this is the New Year.

It’s the return of the All & Sundry survey! I’m not sure if it’s still a going concern over there, but we’re going to do it again here regardless. (Here are 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2015 and 2016 editions.)

What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
I participated in my first protest march, I started calling my elected representatives a few times a week, and I sent one of my kids to public school.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year I said I was going to try to treat myself with more kindness and mercy and go out with Rockford more often. I wasn’t consistent with either, but I think I improved on both fronts at least a little. I’m going to have the same goals for 2018.

January. We kicked 2017 off with a pretty decent snowfall.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! We were thrilled to meet a new nephew this year.

Did anyone close to you die?
I don’t believe so.

February. Rockford and I celebrated our anniversary at Nightbell.

What countries did you visit?
I did not leave the United States yet again this year. But I did go to Idaho, where I spent several hours soaking in a hot spring. Those were some of the loveliest hours of my year.

What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
A greater sense of peace.

March. Pete and I started documenting all of the dogs we petted in a Facebook album called Pupapalooza.

What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I have a terrible memory. I don’t have an answer for this.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Successfully cutting out dairy. I still miss sour cream quite a lot, but my stomach feels much better.

April. We took our nephew to Dollywood.

What was your biggest failure?
I mean, I would’ve liked to have lost more weight and been more active, but that’s pretty much what I say every year.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
My gallbladder turned on me and had to be excised.

May. Rockford and I spent a long weekend listening to live music at Shaky Knees.

What was the best thing you bought?
Some family photos that we had done for the church directory.

Where did most of your money go?
To the mortgage, as usual.

June. Idaho was more beautiful than I could’ve imagined.

What did you get really excited about?
Our upcoming trip to NYC to see “Hamilton”! And we’ll do other things too, but we wouldn’t be going if it weren’t for “Hamilton.”

What song will always remind you of 2017?
No clue.

July. The Tigers lost, but we still had fun.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Last year I said more family hikes. This year? More family hikes.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worry about that over which I have no control.

August. The total eclipse was one of the most moving things I’ve ever witnessed.

How did you spend Christmas?
At home! And then we went to my sister-in-law’s house and ate crab cakes and played Trivial Pursuit. I had a cold, but otherwise it was a pretty good day.

What was your favorite TV program?
I watched a lot of TV this year. Probably too much TV. I think the shows I enjoyed the most were “The Crown” and “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World.”

September. Our annual trek to the fair. Pete’s applesauce took first place.

What were your favorite books of the year?
Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” and Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies.”

What was your favorite music from this year?

I’m not sure how much of it was actually new music, but I love the “Baby Driver” soundtrack. I also gained a new appreciation for LCD Soundsystem, Sylvan Esso and The XX when we saw them live at Shaky Knees.

October. We took a walk in the woods.

What were your favorite films of the year?
I loved “Blade Runner 2049,” “Thor: Ragnorak” and “Logan.”

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 39 this year, and we celebrated with an extended cast of friends and family in Pigeon Forge, TN.

November. We took another walk in the woods.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Winning the Powerball jackpot the other day would’ve been a nice thing.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
I’m still going for that Jim James / Mrs. Roper vibe.

December. We end the year as we began it.

What Nichole read in 2017

I’d set a goal of reading 45 books this year, and I only made it to 34. I was determined to finish “John Quincy Adams” this year, and I did it. But it was a slog and I had to stop reading other things to do it. I’m going to aim for 40 in 2018.

I didn’t know much about Trevor Noah other than that he’d taken over at “The Daily Show,” so I wasn’t really interested when I saw he’d written a biography. But then I was out of things to read and “Born a Crime” was available as a digital download from the library, so I figured I’d try it. I’m glad I did. It ended up being my favorite read of the year.





Once again, many thanks to the good folks at Goodreads for tabulating all of this for me.

I still don’t get Bergman films

I didn’t exactly shine as a student in high school. I was pretty average, and my general policy was to put in the least amount of effort that would get me a B or better. So I’m not sure how I tumbled into being friends with the Straight-A Smart Kids crowd, but tumble I did and that’s how I first heard Paul Simon’s “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War.”

“Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog, Brussels 1967.” (Lothar Wolleh)
My high school friend Beau is probably the smartest person I’ve ever known. He took math and science classes at the nearest university when we were in middle school, and now he researches philosophy and metaphysics at Oxford. Something of an unusual career path for a kid from rural western North Carolina.

When we were in high school he’d invite friends over to watch Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick movies and then he and Rockford would discuss them and I’d pretend I knew what they were talking about. Beau tried to make sure his friends were always expanding their horizons, and when he learned that I loved “Graceland” but hadn’t heard “Hearts and Bones,” he put on the CD.

I didn’t love Bergman or Kubrick so much, but “Rene and Georgette” had me at hello and is still one of my favorite songs. It was inspired by a couple of photos of the artist, his wife and their dog taken in Belgium in the late ’60s, and Rolling Stones think it’s one of Paul Simon’s best songs. I agree. I love the image of Rene and Georgette dancing alone in their living room to The Orioles and The Five Satins, and I love the little echoes of doo-wop in the song. I’ve always wondered, though — and before you judge me for wondering this, please know that I also judge myself because it’s pretty dumb thought — could it be, possibly, that the dog’s name is After The War?

That doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for Magritte, but it’s probably not the case. If I ever get a dog, though, I’ll consider naming it Après La Guerre, and I’ll call it Gary for short, and I’ll sing Paul Simon songs to it all the time.