Friday, January 1, 2010


Fifteen years ago I worked with a woman who rarely complained. When she did complain, she’d apologize. Since the rest of us complained a hell of a lot more than she did, I asked her why she alone felt so guilty about it.

“My mother couldn’t stand whiners,” she said. “Whenever I whined about something, she’d make me stand in the corner for half an hour and count my blessings.”

At the time I thought this seemed quaint. Maybe borderline abusive. A depression-era trick to get your malnourished brood to feel better about their circumstances. But for some reason the idea stuck with me over the years, so that in trying times I would squash my own frustrations by closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and ticking off a couple of blessings.

It turns out her mother knew something. Whether you’ve been whining or not, counting your blessings is a worthwhile exercise.

That’s why I’m using it to start this blog.

Let’s see. I’ve got a wife who loves me, a couple racks of pipes, enough tobacco to last another year and enough whiskey to see me through the end of February (if I’m careful). There’s the steady job which challenges me to the point of distraction, sometimes, but at which I’m never bored. There’s health insurance, which (sadly) in this country is a blessing worth counting a dozen times. There’s the house in which a Christmas tree is still lit up and clinging to significance. While the house is drafty, nearly 300 years old, a little tipsy, and modesty proportioned (to put it generously), it is nevertheless a warm place to sleep and keep my books.

There’s two small dogs, both of which insist on licking my face on the mornings they wake before I do. There’s two cars which are mostly rattle and rust at this point, but which still get us from a to b.

There’s this time we’re living in, on a world which feels a bit like it’s spinning out of control at present, but which is nevertheless still full of more goodness and pleasure than any other time man has known. This country has seen such prosperity that I can go to the local dump and pick up a serviceable rocking chair and a typewriter than someone spent two weeks’ salary on twenty years before.

There’s near-magical technologies rolling out all the time which I could never justify purchasing, but which create a next-to-free supply of last year’s leftovers that exceed my desires for entertainment and creative work.

There’s this internet, which lets me talk to all of you. It lets me listen, too, on those days when I’m not too distracted.

There’s my 1918 Steinert grand piano. It’s been through a few years of neglect. We got tired of towing it around with us so we finally just moved back to it. It sounds a little flat and hoarse, but it’s not above letting me tune and restore it.

There’s Bach, and hundreds of years worth of other music, some of which is almost as good as Bach. We’ve got a three year old ipod with a half-full hard drive that could play for months without repeating itself. There may be music on there I have never heard. I don’t have enough free time to check.

See, too much may have its own set of problems. As much as I like to grumble, though, I’ll always take too much over not enough.

The Wife has been encouraging me for some time to write a companion blog to her 50s year. She understands I have this need to move my fingers over keyboards. (It’s not really unique to me, given how many blogs are out there.) I get irritated by a lot of the same stuff she does, and of course I enjoy a lot of the same stuff too. There’s a reason that by the time I hit 33 we’d been married 13 years. (Yeah, you can do the math. It didn’t feel impetuous at the time, and experience and circumstance have borne this out.)

So if you’re a reader of her lovely blog you might like this one too. If not, I’ll beg your forgiveness and refund your purchase price.


  1. Thank you for joining the blogging world. I hope you'll be rather more regular to it than I am!

    It will be interesting to see your take on some of the things your wife blogs about, and I'm sure my husband will enjoy your posts, as long as I remember to print them out for him.

    Kind regards,

    Helen, in the UK.

  2. So very glad to hear your point of view, and hope you continue to be honest and open as it is refreshing to hear from the male perspective.

    Looking forward to your future comments.

  3. Glad to be aboard, Sir. Now, if I can my silly Google account to let me in, I will be a follower.

  4. I'm already looking forward to your posts, I'm a big fan of Donna and think your point of view might be interesting. Welcome! :)

  5. I'm looking forward to your posts as well; I've related my enthusiasm over your wife's blog to my husband many times this past year which usually ended with him thinking me a little touched in the head. Perhaps if he also hears your perspective he won't think me quite so daffy. :)

  6. I have followed your wifes wonderful blog on and off over the last year as time permitted and always got such pleasure from her insightful writings.
    I think I will enjoy reading your blog too.
    It is lovely to see how much you enjoy the same view as Donna and I look forward to following along on your journey together.
    Cheers, Michelle.(Down under in Australia)
    P.S. I am 49 and have been happily married more than 31 years, you do the math:)

  7. Winston,

    I have only recently discovered your blog, much thanks to my Wife who is very much a fan of your Wife's blog.

    I must say, in the last two days I have managed to read every post you have made since this blog's inception and I can't help but to let you know that I couldn't agree more on just about every aspect you have written about. Though some of our interests may differ, I still enjoy your points of view. As a matter of fact I have taken it upon myself to start my own blog, to try to contribute some positivity and alternative ideas into this otherwise absurd modern world.

    Essentialy, what I am trying to convey is; thank you. Thank you for taking the time to put this sort of thing out into the world for all to see, rest assured it will make in impact. If I ever find myself in Cape Cod, I'll take you up on that cigar and bit of scotch!