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Getting to that ‘to do’ list in ’06

Bob Sweigert
Grasshopper Soup

Yes, the days are getting longer, but not as long as my “to do” list.

Another Christmas has come and gone and we are on the threshold of another New Year. Hopefully the holidays are not the same old thing every year for you.

The events of the last few days have been festive and jubilant for some, difficult and tragic for others. The good and bad events of life have a calendar of their own. We take life as it comes and it either kills us or makes us stronger, sometimes both.

My “to do” list consists of two and a half very untidy piles of paper on my desk. Some of it is urgent business, like bills, and most of it is unsavory, unused ingredients for Grasshopper Soup. Fortunately for you I have been ignoring the piles for weeks.

The rest of my “to do” list is all in my mind, like stray horses and cattle. Someday I’ll saddle up and go look for them, round them up and try to stay on top of them. There’s some good horses in there.

Being somewhat unorganized and lackadaisical about life’s business is actually a badge of honor for me. An old friend of mine reassured me I am in good company with the likes of Bach and Beethoven. Even John Steinbeck, he says, “… had no desire or tolerance for the wealth he acquired as a writer.”

Unlike Steinbeck, I could tolerate wealth very well. As Tevya, the father of all the Jewish girls said in the musical, Fiddler On the Roof, “If wealth is a curse Lord, smite me with it.”

I spent Christmas Eve with my dad and his very creative wife, Trudi, in Auburn. Trudi was a little girl in Germany during the terrible bombings that increased dramatically in 1943. The hardship she and her family experienced was enough to make her hope for a better life.

Her house seems furnished like a palace, yet it is not overt. Her taste is more for the meaning behind her ornaments, like the colorful round, handmade table by Stick Furniture with the beautiful words of wisdom engraved all around the edge.

But I have to admit, I am always more than a little confused about what to do with the six fancy extra pillows she has on top of the two pillows you actually sleep on in the guest bed. Two of them are as big as a regular pillow, two are medium-size and two are cylindrical in shape. It is always quite a balancing act when I try to stack them on top of the little chest beside the bed. At least I think it is a chest, turquoise in color, if I remember correctly.

But, like I said, I can be quite lackadaisical about things, so I may have it confused with some other little treasure of Trudi’s that caught my eye in some other part of the house.

After dinner the lively conversation covered quite nearly everything under the sun, including the decline of democracy, the benefits and evils of capitalism and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s broken leg. We never got to Scrabble.

The presents exchanged were all simple and perfect, like the warmth of home we shared, listening to each other, the laughter and the heavenly sounds of classical Christmas music, chewing on See’s candy and sipping wine and cognac.

I had Christmas dinner in Sacramento with another band of our incredibly large, dispersed and diverse family and, finding it nearly impossible, I pulled myself together, mustered up the will to leave loved ones, got stuck in traffic at Nyack because of a wreck, and was detoured off I-80 with hundreds of other cars through Norden and down the old highway because of a second wreck. We looked like a torchlight parade.

Life marches on. Everybody goes their separate ways, yet we are all going the same way. Make sure love is on your “to do” list. Happy New Year.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.


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