It’s the first page of the new year and what have I done with it?

Nothing earth-shattering.

No hitting the gym with a vengeance like I’ve done in the past.  

No tearing down the Christmas tree and cleaning the house like a mad woman.  Okay. I did throw a load of laundry in the washing machine and I unpacked suitcases from our week away from home.  Apart from that, today I’ve accomplished nothing but a four-mile walk with The Poodle and some quiet time with Rocket-man.

I’m cool with that.   

So, later in the afternoon I call my friend Miss Cookie to catch up on events.  Without preamble I say:  “Happy New Year! But dear friend, before we go further into your 23 and me DNA discovery I’ll warn you that I’m quite certain that you’ll want to have my head examined when I reveal to you what I’m doing at this precise moment.”

I’m not sure if Miss Cookie expected I’d be doing something uber-cool, like zip-lining.  Or, perhaps she thought I’d share a neatly composed list of intellectually and spiritually stimulating resolutions for the year. 

“I’m making black-eyed peas, collard greens and a pork tenderloin for dinner,” I say. 

Say what?“came the shocked reply.

 “Crazy right?  I just couldn’t abide by hog jowels though,” I add….”but I could just kick myself for forgetting the cornbread and sauerkraut during my grocery run.”

“Oh. My. God!” Miss Cookie says in a choked whisper, followed by silence.   I envision that she has dropped the phone, making a mad dash for the car to drive the six hours to rescue me from myself.

This is unlike me.  I’m half-Italian after all and besides, it’s no secret that I haven’t warmed up to Alabama.  

“Oh, but don’t despair,” I say.  “I’ve not gone totally over to the dark side. Those words—and I spell them out, slow and with great emphasis–“All, y’all” —have still not escaped my lips after nearly five years of Alabama living.  

The sigh of relief on the other end was audible–a whoosh amplified by decades of love, of that I am certain.  

Ringing in 2016 was abysmal on all counts.  In fact,  I cannot recall much of anything fun last New Year’s Eve and it certainly was not due to an abundance of bubbly.  So bad it was that it colored much of the year in somber black and shades of gray.  I don’t seem to be alone in that sentiment; almost everyone I talk to wants to wipe 2016 off the map for a host of reasons.

This year is going to be different … has been my resolve for the better part of a week. In fact, that is my only resolution. Anything has got to be better than last year.    To that end, what better way to start 2017 than by preparing a meal that is out of my usual culinary repertoire.  So, on this day I’m casting aside a few “never in a million years will I ever” attitudes.  If I’m persistent, perhaps–as the need arises–there will be more attitude adjustments throughout the year. But, if not …this year I will not beat myself up about any of it.  

So….I’m happy to report the black-eyed, Lucky, peas, sautéed in olive oil, with carrots, onions, fresh rosemary and red pepper flakes were terrific as was the pork tenderloin. The collard greens, simmered in chicken broth then drizzled with olive-oil and ample turns of the pepper shaker were better than 

Page one of 2017 has been fairly nice.  Miss Cookie had me in stitches about her Neanderthal roots and now I’m toying with discovering mine.

Cheers to shaking things up in the New Year….even if it means something as simple as eating Lucky Peas.