I must say: Tuesday’s cloudless, sunny day was a welcome relief to greet the brand-new year.

I realized it had been gloomy and cloudy for most of the holiday week. It made for some lazy, long days indoors, which I did not mind.

Now that Christmas is over for another year, it’s time to think about tidying up the house and, for me, thinking about tasks for yet another year of gardening.

Because my very-elderly barn cat has gone to her just reward, I seem to be overrun with some varmints in the greenhouse and chicken coop. I’m putting off addressing the problem for now and I see regret any day now.

Last year they ate every one of my seeded winter and summer squashes, pumpkins and cucumbers.

Violet read about all the herbal oils they hate so I’m thinking of soaking some cotton balls in either lavender or mint oil and tossing them here and there. Hope springs eternal but I do have quite a bit of age and experience-based cynicism.

The buds on the early-blooming quince have already swollen and I can see their color.

I’m pretending that I’m leaving the leaves and debris on the perennial beds for a reason. I know it’s good to protect the soil from winter weather and hopefully it will add compost. The problem is that when the spring bulbs emerge, it’s a hot mess and I am too busy to do anything about it except a shrug of “oh well.”

I’ve been rummaging in the freezer for meals of late. I made an interesting soup with Grey Barn ground beef, the rest of the Thanksgiving turkey stock, a small container of my tomato sauce, garlic and a package of shelled beans. These were overripe, but not yet dried, green beans from summer.

I blanched them until the pods opened. I got at least five or six perfect beans from each one, then popped them into freezer bags.

They are better than dried, soaked beans and just need a reheat.

I forgot to mention this a few weeks ago: I saw a couple of animal-related incidents recently.

For a few years, a man has walked his small brown cow around. I have seen them at the Black Dog Bakery Cafe and they have passed my house on several occasions. Recently the cow, wearing an American flag blanket and some Christmas finery, was pulling the man and a small girl down State Road in a two-wheeled cart.

We all pulled over and shot some photos.

On the next day a mini-van pulled into the parking lot at the Vineyard Haven post office and the driver unloaded two good-sized alpacas and marched them into the post office. That’s something one does not see every day!

I was thinking about the phrase “For the People” and how government is supposed to work. On behalf of all us old folks, I will be forever grateful to FDR and LBJ for their foresight with Social Security and Medicare. Social Security was law before I was born and Medicare while I was in high school.

Republicans have been attempting to undo them since the beginning. The attempt began in earnest with Ronald Reagan and has grown since then; only tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are on their agenda. Oh wait: also deregulation of just about everything in the name of “freedom.”

Poor and middle-class citizens of red America may want to actually listen to policy that will affect their lives before they head to the polls in November.

On a lighter and an amazing note, all of the nearly 400 passengers of the fiery jet crash in Tokyo walked away alive. Wow!