Happy 2011! And good lord, is the first week of the year really almost over?
The winter break was a quick sprint through the Southwest for Barb and me — I’m a New Mexican, and she’s an Arizonan, so we spent a few days with family and friends in each state before setting up camp (read: staying in a hotel) out in the Gold Canyon region of Arizona for several days. Barb took advantage of the spa services while I spent my time in front of a fire, sipping Land Shark, burning the eight-dollars-a-piece Duraflame logs provided by our hotel, and reading Robert Caro. All in all, not a bad way to pass the time.
It was unseasonably cold while we were out there — as it seems to have been across most of the continental US that week — and a snowstorm blew through northern Arizona late last Wednesday, blanketing Flagstaff under two feet of snow and closing roads in all directions. The only problem was, our New Year’s Eve plans included driving to Flagstaff and ringing in 2011 from there. Fortunately, the roads cleared and we made it to Flagstaff with no problems, though we greeted the new year with temperatures hovering at 15 below. On New Year’s morning, I discovered that a case of sodas I had stupidly left in the back seat of the rental car had frozen and exploded — then instantly froze again, making the clean up easy: I simply picked up the frozen ice sculpture of cans, box, and foam and threw it away.
I left behind the laptop I had intended to carry along with me — we decided to forget work and stay off the grid during our vacation, though Barb couldn’t resist bringing along her iPad and checking e-mail every once in a while. Since our return, however, we’ve been back at it. In fact, this week, I’ll have a draft of several chapters completed that I can ship off and have some folks take a look at. Yeah, I’m pretty excited, too.
On a completely random aside, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve got two Washington Irving-related events in the coming months, both in Philadelphia. One is a speaking engagement at the Rittenhouse Club, while the other is at a celebration of Rebecca Gratz at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. At the Rosenbach, I’ll be speaking in tandem with Susan Sklaroff, a Gratz scholar and docent at the Museum. Susan writes a great blog about Gratz (which you can see here) and she and I will be discussing Irving and Gratz’s rather amusing relationship, as well as whether Sir Walter Scott based his heroine Rebecca in Ivanhoe on Irving’s description of the dynamic Rebecca Gratz. I’ll post more information as it becomes available.
Finally, I just registered for the Biographers International Organization’s 2011 Compleat Biographer conference, right here in Washington, DC. And you should too.
Happy New Year!