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…

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Thanks, football

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My father wasn’t a sports fan when we were growing up. Yeah, he took us to a baseball game, and a couple of football games, but his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t have a favorite team, and he never joined us on the couch to watch the playoffs or the Super Bowl. The Sunday New York Times sports section was the only section he left untouched. During the 1969 World Series, when every inch of New York was afire with Mets’ fever, I suggested that we try to get the impossible-to-get tickets to Game 5.  “Who’s playing?” he asked.

Being a sports fan requires hanging out, and my father wasn’t a guy who hung out. If he was going to flop in front of a TV, the viewing had to be informative.  PBS. 60 Minutes. A documentary. He didn’t do beer soaked den banter, or locker room small talk. His interactions with us were often formal. We scheduled a lunch. Or a drink on the porch.  A “talk” in his office behind closed doors. He needed topics like politics, art and theatre to get to intimacy.

But during his retirement in Connecticut, he grew to enjoy professional football, a sport I had loved for years.  He bought a pair of loungers where he parked himself every week and rooted loudly for the Patriots, my mother by his side.

On December 1st, in his hospital room, he and I watched the Patriots barely beat the Texans. And later that week, after he passed away, I realized that this was the first and last time I’d ever just hung out with him. There was no meaningful conversation. No topic dissected. No life plan analyzed. Nothing formal. It was just me and my beloved NFL convert watching the game. Together.

Thanks, football

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My father wasn’t a sports fan when we were growing up. Yeah, he took us to a baseball game, and a couple of football games, but his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t have a favorite team, and he never joined us on the couch to watch the playoffs or the Super Bowl. The Sunday New York Times sports section was the only section he left untouched. During the 1969 World Series, when every inch of New York was afire with Mets’ fever, I suggested that we try to get the impossible-to-get tickets to Game 5.  “Who’s playing?” he asked.

Being a sports fan requires hanging out, and my father wasn’t a guy who hung out. If he was going to flop in front of a TV, the viewing had to be informative.  PBS. 60 Minutes. A documentary. He didn’t do beer soaked den banter, or locker room small talk. His interactions with us were often formal. We scheduled a lunch. Or a drink on the porch.  A “talk” in his office behind closed doors. He needed topics like politics, art and theatre to get to intimacy.

But during his retirement in Connecticut, he grew to enjoy professional football, a sport I had loved for years.  He bought a pair of loungers where he parked himself every week and rooted loudly for the Patriots, my mother by his side.  

On December 1st, in his hospital room, he and I watched the Patriots barely beat the Texans. And later that week, after he passed away, I realized that this was the first and last time I’d ever just hung out with him. There was no meaningful conversation. No topic dissected. No life plan analyzed. Nothing formal. It was just me and my beloved NFL convert watching the game. Together.

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.

Already home…

Each morning, we take Sylvie for a walk down Sparrow Bush Road.  It’s our new routine. And every morning of this first week, we’ve seen Canada geese on the wing in the brightening light.

 

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When I was growing up, I loved the sight and sound of geese in the late summer sky above the valley. Their mournful honking always filled me with a thrum of longing I never quite understood.  It was something about their moving on, homeward bound, when we were already home, and the way their passage marked the end of something beautiful.