Murder And Mayhem To The Rescue

Right now I’m sitting on the floor of the living room. The dogs have taken over the couch and I don’t feel like sitting out on the porch, in the cold. There is no coffee in the house, and undoubtedly this column will be all the worse for the lack of it. It is the morning before the New Year, 2014. What a trip. The past year went by in such a blur I can barely remember any of it, but I recall losing my job in there somewhere. Who says good things don’t happen to bad people?

I have no resolutions for the upcoming year. I gave up on resolutions years ago— they are only promises to be broken. If you want to do something, or change something, don’t wait until the New Year to do it, go for it right away. New Year’s is a rotten time to try changing things anyway—it’s muddled in the beginning of winter, the days are short, the weather’s bitter and cold. Winter is time for hunkering down and sticking to what you know works. Save your big ideas for spring, when hope springs eternal. For winter: burn wood, drink liquor, put on weight, wear warm clothes. Rely on the simple, proven things to get you through the dark, cold months.

It makes no sense that the calendar changes over on January first anyhow. It’s arbitrary. It should turn over on the winter solstice, when the days stop getting shorter and finally grow longer again, or better yet the calendar should turn over on the eve of the spring equinox, when everything is coming back to life. Well, we made it through Christmas anyway, so at least we have that to be thankful for.

Archie, our Lab/Terrier puppy has grown into quite the rangy rascal. He’s not nearly as thick as either of the truer Labradors, but he is every bit as tall, and takes full advantage of his height to sort out whatever food related items we might have left on the countertops. He has also recently discovered his bark; it is a higher-pitched, more anxious kind of a bleat than we’re used to. Arch also discovered the donkeys who live next door, and alternates between aggression and terror in his interactions with them.

I’m way out of the zone right now—caffeine withdrawal and my head feels like a cold lump of clay. I keep yawning and my fingers tremble a little. I’m plowing through an awful, depressing, pedantic book called The Lost Weekend. It describes the inner thoughts of a serious alcoholic as he goes through the rigmarole of a five day bender. It’s horrible, and I don’t know why I keep reading it, except that now I’m over two hundred pages in with less than fifty to go and I can’t give up. Luckily I’ve got some Jim Thompson novels lined up to reward myself for having made it through this tedious and harrowing diatribe. Nothing like murder and mayhem to cheer you right up.

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Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.