This is winter.Winter is the reason our neighbors have a light upstairs in their house that comes on automatically when it begins to get dark to fool the burglars. That's a may be. It doesn't fool us.
We know the neighbors are all down South, with the robins and blackbirds, whooping it up, while we're here working our way through the snow under whiteout conditions or sliding around on the ice or sloshing through the slush, spending our money on fuel oil and L. L. Bean boots and Kleenex instead of rum-and fruit drinks and flipflops and Coppertone Dark-Tanning oil.
Speaking of spending, be very careful what you do with your folding money this time of year. Several people I know have lost bills of various denominations from their coat pockets when they were pulling out Kleenex.
On the other hand, I found a dollar bill on the sidewalk the other day. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the one you lost.
Winter is making people grumpy, bringing out the worst in them.
On facebook last week my friend Nada inadvertently gave away what was going to happen in the next episode of Downton Abbey. Nada lives in England, where the show airs earlier.
"I wish I looked like Sybil!" Lila wrote. "She's gorgeous!"
"Well, at least you're not dead!" Nada snapped back.
I could almost hear the in-rush of breath as facebook friends all over America gasped "What! Sybil dies? And you gave it away?"
Is there anyone who isn't keeping up with Downton Abbey? I am a fan myself, but it was all I could do to stop myself from hitting "like." I derived an evil satisfaction from the outrage, I confess. But this isn't me! It's winter talking!
Even Jupiter the cat is affected by the season. He doesn't want to go out, but on he other hand he despises staying in and not killing anything. He sleeps in front of a heat duct most of the day. Then, sometime around 3:30 a.m., he decides it's time for me to wake up and do something for him. What this thing is, I do not know, and I don't think Jupiter does either.
"Mih-maa, mih-maa, mih-maa, mih-maa," he whines, endlessly. Maybe, I think, he'll quit if I ignore him and go back to sleep. But no.
Finally I get up and shut Jupiter in another room. I go back to bed. Pretty soon I hear the door rattling; Jupe has his paw underneath it and is pulling it back and forth. I get up and let him out.
"Mih-maa, mih-maa, mih-maa, mih-maa..."
When I get up, I tell Jupiter, here's how you sound: Mih-maa, mih-maa...
It is no use wasting sarcasm on cats. You only wind up feeling foolish. Jupiter saunters off, tail in air, and settles down in front of the heat duct. Once I'm up, he does not utter another complaint all day. He is not particularly interested in breakfast, or in going out. He may watch a little television, if there's a nature show on featuring animals that dart around while peeping or squeaking. He could care less about Downton Abbey.
Doesn't it seem as if Christmas and New Year's day happened ages ago? January just drags on. Nevertheless, the year is still young, and I saw a guy on TV telling how to set up a money management plan for 2013. Turns out you can save more than $5 million before retirement by careful spending. With cigarettes at $10 a pack, for example, think how much you can save a year by quitting smoking!
Q: What if I never smoked? Am I still saving?
Q: What if I quit five years ago?
A: Good for you! (Applause)
Q: But I mean, am I still saving $10 a day?
A: Yes. (Applause)
Q: Then where is the money?
A: We have to take a commercial break.
Q: How can I save $5 million over the course of my career if I earn $20,000 or less a year?
A: That's the beauty of it. Buy my book!
Now you ask, you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? And I answer, I'm not sure, it looks pretty icy out there. If I do save any money, though, I'm not putting it in my coat pockets. Excuse me, but now that Jupiter is nodding off I'm going to go take a nap.
Have a good week.