Here’s the New Year Questionnaire! As per tradition, not even close to “on time.” (Though not as late as some New Years.) Also – shorter than it used to be, and adjusted this year to be a bit more contemplative, inspired by my amazing cousin-sister Quinn at The Retreat Space.
AND… guess what, I’ve been doing these silly new year questions for ten years! Wow, things were different back in 2013. (And the questionnaire was ridiculously much longer.) I feel better about things, knowing that at least once, my “new year” questionnaire was published in February.
Of note: I was considering just offering my own answers this year, so as not to oblige my family to share… But then E brought it up. Apparently it’s now a tradition, and my fam rather likes being reminded of what they said the year before. So the answers are real, and not even coerced! And only very slightly paraphrased a few times. (Well… except for certain ones I had to translate on behalf of family members who don’t speak English.)
What did you do in 2022 that you’d never done before?
Sean, Di – Got a tour of a chocolate factory with Emi and Alex! Also, less deliciously, see #7.
E – Struck up a conversation with Barry Leitch. (Barry is the composer of the soundtrack for E’s favourite video game, Horizon Chase. E has been asking insightful questions about the songs on the game’s Discord server, and Barry himself actually answers them. E’s the coolest nerd I know!)
A – Went to Funvilla (giant indoor playscape/trampoline park/arcade) for the first (and second) time, performed hip-hop onstage, became a kindergarten helper at school.
All – Helped make a giant picnic table with detached benches, designed by our friend K and destined for my parents’ yard. We all got in on it – and both kids learned to use a drill and driver! (Sean has made a giant picnic table before, for the record. By himself! But with attached benches. 😛 )
Fen, Loki – Got born, existed, were impossibly cute, grew huge. ALL the things. Our big sis Ramona was less than impressed but she tolerates our proximity (to a point).
Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions?
Di – Actually, I did regain and even improve my core strength! I’ll tell you how in another post – stay tuned. I also did get rid of a lot of things… although I admit that the purging process is ongoing. And I have quite thoroughly failed to keep up with my uke courses… but! I am involved with another project that has me practicing pretty regularly. So my Lady is not neglected.
Sean – I did read more actual books. I might not have walked more but did lots of biking. Screen time… it’s hit or miss. (Reddit is as seductive as always, ya know.)
E – I didn’t play piano as much as I would have liked.
A – Maybe a bit more focusing and less dawdling? It’s hard to tell – a work-in-progress.
Fen, Loki – Our attention spans oblige us to resolve new things every 4.3 seconds.
What is your resolution this year?
Di – I resolve to go to bed earlier. After all, how can I complain about feeling low-energy if I so consistently push my bedtime (even if it’s for the sake of a great book)? Also, I have resolved to work up to doing classic pushups by the end of this year. More on that later.
Sean – I resolve to try to be content and not too hard on myself.
E – I resolve to start making music somehow. (And when he says music, he is including digital capturing and perhaps manipulation of said music.)
A – I resolve to go to sleep better, spend more time outside, and give Shya (our pet rat) more of my time.
Fen, Loki – We resolve to tunnel under any door closed to us.
4. Did anyone important to you die?
Di – Caroline Balderston Parry and Mona Callin, both dearly-beloved Quaker elders who were like family.
Sean – Mike, a friend and former co-worker.
We lost our rats Millie and Sandy within a week of each other last winter (and Sandy was under a year old). Now it’s only Shya left – and we hate her to be alone in that big cage, but the cycle of rats dying so young has been hard on all of us. (Apparently it’s not my imagination – the vet says pet rats actually do live significantly shorter lives than they did when I was a kid.)
We also feel the loss of Sidney Poitier, Meat Loaf, Bob Saget, Dallas Good, Emilio Delgado (Luis of Sesame Street), James Caan, Olivia Newton-John, Queen Elizabeth II, Sacheen Littlefeather, Loretta Lynn, Angela Lansbury, Robbie Coltrane, Kirstie Alley, Pelé, and Barbara Walters.
5. What was your biggest improvement or achievement of the year?
Di – I redecorated our downstairs bathroom! Not a renovation – I don’t have THOSE skills – but I painted it a pretty colour and made it a happy place to pee.
Sean – Did lots of work on our house and yard, including enlisting E to help build outdoor firewood shelves.
E – Learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube. (His record for solving is 36 seconds!! Yep, thirty-six. It is honestly like magic to this blogger.) Also helped move perhaps an actual tonne of firewood (if you count piles at home and Camp).
A – My drawing skills have improved a lot! And I’m getting better at gymnastics.
Fen, Loki – Quadrupling in size is a pretty big accomplishment.
6. What has been a struggle or adjustment this year?
Di – Adjusting to a certain shakiness in my faith in humanity. Adult protesters acting like drunken frosh, supposed world leaders acting like Nazis, people treating other humans like NPCs in a violent video game, Elon Musk acting like a teenage brat, our premier acting like the Once-ler but worse. Even Will Smith making bad choices. It’s been a year of too many regressive decisions we can ill afford.
Sean – The perpetual struggle of self against self.
E – In Grade 7, meeting school due dates was often a struggle.
A – Adjusting to one of my best friends not being at school. (A could have gone with her friend to the gifted program but is glad she stayed at her current school, in French Immersion.)
Loki – I struggle with the line between affection and destroyment. My people inspire both, sometimes simultaneously.
Fen – Struggle? I’m the alpha. I take it easy.
7. Did you suffer illness or injury?
All – After all this time, we finally got Covid. I was first to fall, on the first weekend after school started (finally having taken off my mask a few times with students). Then we each fell victim, one after another. Luckily, though it wasn’t fun, none of us had a bad case.
Fen, Loki – Our li’l boy pom-poms were removed. We’ve forgotten them already.
8. What did you get really excited about?
Di – Directing Family Camp again! Beloved people all together – not quite as many as usual, but still absolutely wonderful.
Sean – the James Webb telescope.
All – Hilarious cuties, below.
Fen, Loki – EVERY SPECK OF ANYTHING. Visible or invisible.
9. What brought contentment?
Besides our family and pets, of course…
Di – I finally got on the Wordle bandwagon, and it’s fun. Also the NYT Mini-Crossword and a game called Squareword. Calming and satisfying as a minds-on activity. I also do trivia with the Learned League when it’s on-season, which is a fun challenge.
Sean – Seeing live theatre is deeply satisfying. (In Stratford, Richard III (with Colm Feore) and Chicago; at Shaw, Gaslight.)
E, A – Big sleepovers with multiple friends and lots of snacks.
Loki – My brother’s belly. It’s my favourite snack
Fen – The big bed. .
F, L – Sklathing around in weird shapes.
10. What events from 2022 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
(I have decided to make this question about happy moments, instead of news. Memories we’re happy to etch.)
Di, Sean – Spending several days with old friends at a cottage on Lake Opinican. It was SO. BEAUTIFUL. Trees, lakes, loons, canoes, swimming, cooking, jigsaw puzzling, talking, laughing till we couldn’t breathe. Great times.
E, A – We went away for a week without parents! Tween Camp was an unforgettable adventure.
Di, A – Our Toronto day to go see Mean Girls with our dear friend E (who first introduced me to the Mean Girls soundtrack years ago after which I fell straightaway in love with it). It was the BEST day: train ride, walking around TO, warm beverages at Second Cup, lunch at Parka Food Co., and a simply fantastic show!
Fen, Loki – We are blessed with plastic minds unburdened by memories.
11. What political issue stirred you the most?
Di, Sean – So much to choose from! “Freedom” Convoy. War in Ukraine. US Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade. Uvalde school shooting. Doug Ford doing his best to stomp all over workers’ rights, public health care, the Greenbelt, the education system, and every other fracking thing. At least the Pope apologized for residential schools… sigh.
E, A – Even we kids are upset with Doug Ford. He clearly doesn’t care about our present or future.
Fen, Loki – Being put in the basement at night. It curtails our freedom to attack the feet of our sleeping humans.
12. What do you regret or wish you’d done less of?
Di – Procrastinating.
Sean – Spending money on frivolous items – always.
E – Forgetting deadlines or instructions.
A – Getting mad at people for small things.
Fen, Loki – Not an issue. We always do less of what we don’t want to do.
13. What decision are you glad you made?
Di – Becoming union steward at my school. I was pretty nervous about it, and I am expecting some sticky times in 2023, but I’ve realized it really matters to me. Also, attending the Camp NeeKauNis 90th anniversary reunion and seeing dear friends I hadn’t seen in decades! And seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Toronto with some of my favourite people.
Sean – Getting our honey locust trees professionally pruned of dead wood. They look so majestic now.
E – The decision to do better at school in Grade 8. So far it’s working. (It’s true! I don’t know how he made this happen, but the interview with his teachers went from “Obviously bright but does the minimum” in Gr. 7 to “E is amazing! He does great work, is responsible, such an old soul and so funny… He’s great.” It was thrilling to hear.)
A – Becoming a kindergarten helper. The kids LOVE me and I look forward to it every week.
Fen, Loki – To expand the claim of the living room couch as cat territory, such that when we take our places, no humans feel welcome to sit.
14. How did you spend Christmas?
With loved ones, in person!!! Finally!!
15. What song will always remind you of 2022?
Sean – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer by the Beatles.
E – Horizon Chase 2 Title Theme by Barry Leitch.
A – Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond – the song of Tween Camp!
Fen, Loki – The song of our bedtime treats rattling in the container.
16. What was your favorite TV program?
Di: Heartstopper, New Amsterdam, Bridgerton, Only Murders in the Building.
Sean: Andor, Moonknight, Only Murders in the Building.
E – The Good Place. (We watched as a family. It’s educational!)
A – The Good Place, Alexa and Katie.
Fen, Loki – Any TV show that makes our humans sit on the big couch to be sat upon/lounged against.
17. What was the best book you read?
Di – Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn.
Sean – Clara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.
E – Bone (by Jeff Smith) is the best book. Still. I bought the dictionary-sized 9-books-in-one version with my own money, to honour this immutable truth.
A – Spirit of Summerwood by Vivien Gorham, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.
Loki – Any book that I can step on nonchalantly as you read.
18. What was your favourite film you saw this year?
Di – Coda, The Sea Beast, Thirteen Lives, She Said.
Sean – Coda, Thirteen Lives, Emily the Criminal.
E – Thirteen Lives, The Glass Onion.
A – Mean Girls, The Sea Beast, Turning Red.
All – Spirited was pretty freaking festive and awesome!
Loki – I liked Top Gun with the zoomy planes.
19. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Di – 44, enjoyed gorgeous weather, had dinner on the deck with people I love, and was given (among other gifts) kittens!
Sean – 45, was feted by family around the fire, got a Hypnotoad T-shirt.
P.S. Sean and Di’s relationship turned 20! We had a date night and read some ancient emails we had exchanged back when things were changing from friendship to romance. <3
E – 13, invited a bunch of people over for a party, and was allowed to keep a few for a crazy cool sleepover. (That pretty much did not involve sleeping.)
A – 10, went to Funvilla with eight friends, and kept two of them for a sleepover!
F, L – Came out of our mom with six other siblings, had some milk, slept in a big pile. (This blogger assumes those last two.)
20. Who was the best new person you met?
Di – We had a number of brand-new Family Campers this year who are wonderful people. And I really enjoy my new coworkers.
Sean (and Di) – Tracy and Matt, whom we met at our B&B in Stratford in August. We had such good conversations with them that we may even plan to be there at the same time this summer so we can hang out.
E – I got to know Elliot H and Rowan and Zach a lot better, and they’re cool.
A – Alexa, my cabinmate from Tween Camp.
F, L – Our favourite new people are the ones who are doing what we want them to do at any given moment.
21. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2022:
Di – Sometimes you have to remember that, as members of the human species, we didn’t ever know about problems outside our personal spheres until very recently. It’s no wonder that we get overwhelmed, knowing about the problems of the entire world. And sometimes we have to let ourselves forget those problems and take joy in stride. (It’s possible that I spend too much time reflecting on the world’s pain – maybe especially here? Sorry about that. I was startled but also couldn’t deny the validity when Skye recently summed up this very blog as “Hey, the world is going down the toilet but everybody just love each other” – or something to that effect.)
Sean – Make sure you take wide enough right turns in your new motor home. (We witnessed one family’s unfortunate incident this summer – they took out their own luggage doors on a fire hydrant. It was rather a disaster.)
E – I learned that chairs may or may not exist. Actually chairs are just a bunch of particles, chairing.
A – Toads are cute, but kissing them would be gross.
F, L – Once you catch that irresistible, highly-sought-after toy-on-a-string, it is no longer very compelling.
22. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Happy “new year”, friends!