My aunt sent me a nice meditation on her use of calendars.  I found it a pleasant experience to contemplate the myriad ways in which calendars act as signposts and friends.  I asked her if would be okay if I posted to share with my visitors.  As a result, without further ado, here is some stuff:


For many people a calendar is just a place to keep track of one’s appointments.  They use a software calendar which has the wonderful feature of reminding you in some predetermined time period that an event is coming.  Often this is useful to give you a heads up that some sort of preparation needs to be done.  A useful tool.  But for me calendars serve so many purposes and consequently more than one is needed.

There is the calendar in my bathroom.  No appointments here.  It is meant to both please me visually and give me a sense of the passage of time in a more general sense.  This calendar is the kind that is hung in a frame.  The display consists of homey paintings.  Geese floating on a pond in the foreground with a snow covered house and evergreens behind.  I stare at this with my glasses off while brushing my teeth at the start and the end of the day.  I eagerly anticipate taking the frame apart at the end of each month to uncover the image that will be contemplated in the next month.

And then there is the kitchen calendar.  At the beginning of each year, on January 1, I remove the previous year’s calendar and place it beside the new one.  This calendar sets a theme for the year and holds all the birthdays in the family.  I carefully go through each month and copy these birthdays into the new year pausing to think about each of these people and our connectedness.  Last year the pictures were paintings of summer homes with the appropriate season’s foliage and lighting.  This year it will be porches – each with attractive comfortable looking chairs, pleasant vistas and quotes from literature that help evoke the sense of time and place.

At work I need two more calendars – not counting the one in my email.  One is a simple spiral bound black calendar which displays a month at a time with the other months shown down the far right column.  This is where I write my work, tennis and healthcare appointments.  I can see the whole month laid out and can easily page forward or backward to compare, calculate or plan.  It also has, at the very front, the entire year spread out across two pages.  Here I track my vacation and sick time so that as I daydream about my next day off I know exactly how many days I’ve taken and how many days are piled up like gold waiting to be spent.  At the very end is another two page spread of the following year.  Very useful for checking which holidays fall on Mondays and Fridays to yield a long weekend.  It also shows me on what day of the week will my birthday fall that year.

The second work calendar has pictures and is pinned up on my cubicle wall.  No appointments are recorded here.  It’s sole purpose is to give me a sense of escape while I am chained to my rolling chair in front of my monitor.  If I were to decide in a moment of frugality to skip getting one of my other calendars, I would feel a sense of loss.  But it would be a feeling like when you forget to put on your watch and keep staring at the emptiness that should be your watch.

This calendar I could not do without.  While grinding away at some tedious project, I glance up and escape for a moment and return refreshed.  This is the calendar that requires the most careful research before it is selected.  I begin in October when the new calendars start to appear online.  During times of extreme stress or boredom I go online to check out the new calendars and the images that they offer.  I stare at them and see if they provide the right amount of escape, fantasy and visual stimulation.

Many times I have considered the ones from and these have great quality images and often evoke outright laughter but then I realize that staring at them everyday in this setting would eventually leave me feeling…despair.  So I move on and try pictures of foreign lands.  Their beautiful countrysides and sense of adventure are very tempting.  Often I choose one of these.  2008 was a calendar of Wales and another year was Provence.

Beach scenes are popular.  Especially during the long grey winter of the Midwest.  But they are too repetitive and leave one longing for a pina colada to break the repetition.  I have considered tennis calendars but they all focus on famous players and feel like a strange form of hero worship.

This year I have chosen another porch calendar.  Different from the one that will hang in the kitchen.  This one has scenes that are less perfect and leave you with the feeling that this could be your own porch or perhaps a friend’s porch.  And it appears that we have all headed into the house to grab a pitcher of lemonade or another glass of wine – and we will be right back, at any moment, to take up where we left off… laughing and talking… sitting on the porch…with all the time in the world.  I can hardly wait to get to work on Monday and pin it up in my cubicle.

Happy New Year!