Have you ever been in one of those downtimes? You know, when you feel like just a bag of bones and you feel like holing up for a little while. Happens to me every year around this time, so it’s not a stretch to figure out that it has something to do with the weather. The poem Whither Must I Wander has popped into my head; “cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather.”

January, I’m looking at you.

Thankfully we’re almost done with it, but there are a couple of noteworthy dates this month, and I’m not talking about Appreciate Your Social Security Day or Eat Your Brussel Sprouts Day, both of which are coming up on the 31st.

Today, January 27, is Thomas Crapper Day, celebrating the man behind the porcelain throne. Contrary to popular belief, Thomas did not invent the flush toilet but, as a businessman, he did popularize sanitary plumbing and feature the fixtures in his ads, and before you know it people got to thinking a shortened version of his last name would be perfect to describe…well, must I go on?

Thankfully we’ve come a ways since the days of the little brown shack out back, except maybe for the aromatic porta-potties at the county fair, and now, thanks to the miracles of science we have low flow toilets all over. Indoor.

Having a curiosity in the latest scientific developments, especially those related to health, I like to take a peek every so often at the most recent “wellness” claims on the internet. Apparently, “wellness” is a thriving industry. Although some products advertised make outrageous curative claims, I admit I do put stock in some of the teas and balms and what-not like CBD stuff. And las curanderas I have met in New Mexico are pretty good at traditional remedies. But if you go on the internet, you’ll find products for sale with decidedly dubious claims. For example, rubber toe rings for $49 to help you lose weight; bed sheets for $70 to help “ground you to the Earth”, and a salt rock lamp from India for mood enhancement.

The onions in your socks to cure asthma idea goes way back (I used to hear that from my grandmother, actually). There’s also “ionic detox” footbaths, drinking turpentine/hydrogen peroxide/bleach for health, and (shudder) coffee enemas.

In New Mexico, we still have a few curanderas around who know which roots and herbs to use for particular conditions – remedies that have been handed down from the Aztecs and probably even the Moors – but most are getting on in years. I suppose “big pharma” has caught on to their recipes, but that was bound to happen, and although they cost a whole lot more, you don’t have to go out in the woods hunting for ingredients.

It seems like every other week we hear on the news that somebody famous or a celebrity of some sort has died. Last week we lost Betty White, who had become much-loved icon in her 99 years and comic Louie Anderson, who once had a Saturday morning cartoon show. But also Meat Loaf, who fell ill at 74 after contracting the novel coronavirus.

Who remembers Meat Loaf? Besides acting in a bunch of movies like Fight Club and Rocky Horror Picture Show, he also laid claim to having the 4th biggest selling record album of all time, Bat Out of Hell. I mean, it sold more than albums by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, or even Shania Twain.

By the way, Michael Jackson’s Thriller is still way out in front as far as record sales go. Oh, and AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and Whitney Houston’s Bodyguard soundtrack are ranked two and three for record sales.

But I digress. Back to the calendar.

This coming Tuesday something like 1.5 billion people will be celebrating the Chinese New Year. Not that it’s a huge deal in Socorro, but seeing that about a fifth of all the people on the planet live in China, I guess it’s something of which to take note. And there’s their tradition of attributing each year to a specific animal – based on the Chinese horoscope, represented by 12 animals, five elements, and five colors. For instance, I checked my birth year just for grins and found I was born in the Year of the Ox. I haven’t a clue what says about me.

Anyway, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, which Chinese astrologers say will be about making big changes; a year of risk-taking and adventure.

Maybe around here, we could also name years after animals, like the Year of the Javelina or the Year of the Vinegaroon. Or even objects, things that everyone can relate to. Say, the year of the Burnt Toast, or the Year of the Splinter in the Finger?

When you get down to it, this year may be the Year of Living in Interesting Times.