Spring cleaning…

The temperature actually rose above freezing today!  Sylvie, wisely, took the rare opportunity to hang outside and bask in the sun.


…for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile I, inspired more by the hope than the reality of Spring, decided to embark on a little Spring cleaning.

I started with my computer’s address book which I purged, in the blink of the delete button, of many of the vestiges of our old life. Gone, instantly, were house sitters, insurance guys, tutors, trainers, someone’s mortgage broker we never used, electricians, furnace people (did we ever even HAVE a furnace?), friends of the boys who they are no longer friends with, their parents who we only pretended to be friends with to begin with, some nice French guy I met at a TED conference, camp counselors, hair dressers, great Take Out places (Good-bye Reddi Chick!), gyms, the orthodontist (but not our dentist Dr. Chin! Never Dr. Chin!), and the guy who used to deliver soda and water in glass bottles. And in the Fs, one I found especially hard to delete, a dear relative newly gone from our little spinning planet.

As I scrolled through the names, wielding my delete button freely, it felt as if our long California life was passing before my eyes.  It was sad – and sweet – and when I was done, I felt refreshed, happy to see the names of my real friends left standing, somehow easier to find.

Let It Snow

So you think winter in the Northeast is a five month cluster of cabin fever, numb limbs and ice boogers? Well, maybe it is, but at least we have something to talk about. In California, it’s all  “Beautiful day, bro” and “Yeah, sunny like yesterday, bro”. And that’s the end of the conversation. Up here, when you’re on line at the hardware store after a weather event you get  full chapters of rich weather-related material: That near miss on Route 9 when the Subaru went sideways into the porch where the Gilberts are usually playing cribbage; The snowblower that sucked up a hardened squirrel carcass and launched it through the den window;  Four days on an air mattress in front of the fireplace during the outage, surviving on gin and corn nuts.  Big stories. Big drama. And new stories blow in with every low pressure system. You gotta love that.

Oh, and by the way, when the sky falls here, the view is pretty good, too…


Let’s Hang Out at the DMV

Today was designated DMV day, a day I’d been putting off for months because I assumed all DMVs were like the SoCal DMV where hours of waiting in line with hundreds of equally irritated people wins you an audience with a tweaked DMV employee. Needing both a new registration AND a new license, I carved out four hours and prepared to be irritated.

And this is the slice of heaven I found when I walked into the DMV in Hudson, New York…

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One person in line, and dear Mary, who patiently guided me through the paper work. I was in and out in 25 minutes, and it only took that long because I had to do one of the forms twice (pen explosion).

Mary handed over the plates, smiled and said, “Welcome to New York.”

New York State of mind

Diary entry, January 26, 2013: Wrote all morning then walked the dog. Freezing out, probably, like, 60. I think LA is getting colder in general. Lunch with Mark at the Country Mart. Warmed up enough that we could eat outside. I had the kale salad. Tasted like hay, but I have to keep the pounds off so I can keep wearing skinny clothes.  Afternoon tennis with Shawn.  Barbecue and mojitos on the patio with the Schnieders. I wonder if I’ll miss all this when we move to New York…

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Diary entry, January 26, 2014:  Spent all morning stacking firewood in the basement. Must  reduce crazy heating oil expenses. Need a wood burning furnace. Or one that runs on french fry oil. Is there such a thing? Dog refused to go outside.  The car needed a jump, and then Red Hook Hardware was all out of space heaters and fat wood. Are you kidding me!? For lunch I had  a reuben sandwich, potato chips, soup, an apple smeared with almond butter and three oat cookies. Fuck it. Winter clothes/obesity. What’s the difference?  I wonder if Sharper Image makes fleece gloves that I can wear while typing. Tweaked my back trying to pick-ax a deer turd that was frozen to the front walk.  Maybe I should grow a really huge beard.

Poser No More

During our move from LA to rural NY, I told my wife that I planned to country-accessorize immediately upon arrival.  I would own outdoor animals. I would buy farm equipment.  My clothing would be “Git er done” flannel and denim, and my hat would read “John Deere”.  Her response was, “Knock yourself out, poser.”

She had a point. I mean, how lame for an out-of-state urbanite to dress up all country local  without actually being country local. But today, as I was walking our dog across a barren cornfield, I found this little beauty, frozen in the snow…


And I really don’t think it would be right to wear it without a proper tractor underneath me.

My Chatty Friend

Sylvie and I have been alone together for a week, in the middle of nowhere New York, house-bound due to heavy snow, sub-zero temperatures and, today, freezing rain. This morning when I came down the stairs she gave me her “we need to talk” look…


Okay, I don’t speak dog, but she was probably saying one of three things, maybe all three: “Do the world a favor and shave.” “Are you what happens to people when they move from  Los Angeles to the arctic?”  “Force me to watch televised bowling again and I will end you.”