Anticipatory Pleasures

I have been training like a madman for the first adventure I announced in my last post – the planned bicycle ride that I have been variously calling the FLA/ME ride – since it is expected to take me from Florida’s southern tip to Portland, Maine – and the Prison Breakout Ride, since I hope it will mark the end of my – and our collective – periods of virtual confinement. 

I have become optimistic that the ride will actually happen. I am scheduled to get my second vaccination shot in a couple of days, have found a driver for the sag wagon and, perhaps most important, (after this morning’s hilly 67 miler with a good friend) I judge myself to be fit enough to attempt it. Barring any hitches James (the sag driver) and I will set out from Key West early on the morning of April 24th, p...

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New Adventures?

I am hoping to embark on another great adventure in six or seven weeks, and perhaps a very different one a month after that.

The first plan is to ride my bicycle from Key West, FLA to Portland, ME. The FLAME ride (how could I not so name it?) will only happen if I, any fellow riders and the sag wagon driver have all been vaccinated. I have an appointment for a first shot toward the end of March, so I’m somewhat optimistic on that score. Others, I don’t know about.

It almost goes without saying that because of all the restrictions on how we’ve been living our lives over the last year, this adventure should have the feeling of a prison break.

The ride would be organized much like the 39-day, 3,249-mile ride from Los Angeles, CA to Old Lyme, CT that I did in 2016...

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Tiny Increments

A few years ago, the Beloved Spouse and I did a major home renovation.

Out of what had been a large, derelict room we built a beautiful library (or rather, our contractors did), with shelves that can hold something like 10,000 books. The Beloved is a truly prodigious reader, and I intermittently one, so we already had around 5,000 books, acquired over the roughly fifty years since each of us entered high school. I thought it would be fun to put them all in one place, then fill the obvious holes in what we had. The end result is a room in which we can sit surrounded by the masterworks of brilliant writers from down through the ages.  

With gifts from friends and family, many of whom are looking to get rid of the very things I’ve been seeking, the collection now numbers about 7,000 ...

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Family

Two of our grandchildren, ages four and two, stayed over last night in happy anticipation of Thanksgiving’s festivities. The mayhem they always bring to our household has been kicked up to eleven since puppy Sunny’s arrival a little over three weeks ago. Our now 21-pound bundle of energy can’t restrain her eagerness to jump on, lick and chew the small humans, so I have to restrain her with a leash when the kids are around. Our grandchildren react to her with a kinetic mixture of interest, excitement and fear. A happy scene, with much joy and some wariness on the part of all.

This morning I awakened at 3:15, thinking about something that happened nearly fifty years ago and about what happened yesterday.

The older memory was of a mildly embarrassing moment...

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Priceless

When somebody dies the personal meanings that he or she has invested in things are lost. “Sunt lacrimae rerum”, wrote Virgil – “There are tears at the heart of things”, in Seamus Heaney’s translation. Those tears belong to the person for whom the things evoke particular memories. Orson Welles got this aspect of our psyches brilliantly right when he made Rosebud – the name on a worthless and otherwise forgotten children’s toy – the emotional touchstone in the life of Charles Foster Kane.

I have my own Rosebud; probably you do, too. This is the story of mine.

When I was a boy, I was very conscious that my father had made it...

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About the Suburbs

In the immediate aftermath of WWI, commuter train lines were built reaching up into Westchester County. An area just outside the city’s limits that had been countryside became the town where, many decades later, the Beloved Spouse and I would raise our children and spend much of our lives. Within the space of a few years after what’s now our train line went in, the land was cut into quarter-acre and half-acre lots, thousands of houses were built and a suburb was born.

Initially, many of the homes were nearly identical. The house that we bought 32 years ago and lived in for our first ten years here has a twin just a block away. Other houses on the street also have twins a block away...

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Under a Steel-Gray Sky

Two days ago I slipped in some mud while carrying my kayak up a hill. I caught myself, but in doing so I seem to have hurt something deep in my right shoulder. Since then the right side of my torso has ached.

This morning, at the suggestion of my Beloved Spouse, I went outside to sit in the hot tub by our pool. I am not really a hot tub guy – I have probably used it a dozen times in as many years – but she thought the heat and bubble jets might help lessen my shoulder pain.

So I sat in the steaming water under a steel-gray sky; to my surprise, my thoughts turned to an old friend.

***

Doug and I went to boarding school together. We got to know each other through rowing; he was a big, athletic guy – a gentle giant. Though we were two years apart, we became fast friends.

For we were nur...

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To See America

The Idea – 1/11/16

Three months from today, I am going to set out from Los Angeles by bicycle, hoping to ride to Old Lyme, CT. I have dreamed of doing this for thirty years; it’s now or never.

Over the next three months, I’ll give a lot of thought to the logistics, and try to get fit enough so that I’ll make it.

Just now, though, I have to tell the Beloved Spouse about the plan. I’m not sure she’ll be thrilled.

Day Zero – 4/10/16

This is the first in a series of daily posts that I intend to write over the next six or seven weeks about the attempt I am about to make at riding my bicycle across the country.

I sent three bikes – my two beautiful new steel Mariposas, pictured below at home just after their arrival a month ago, and my much older carbon fiber Parlee – on ahead to Los Angeles w...

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The Big Walk

The posts below describe The Big Walk – from Grand Central Terminal to Old Lyme, CT – in sequential order.

These posts differ slightly from the ones I wrote each day after walking for six or seven hours. I have cleaned up the typos, added a few interesting details, and cut a bit here and there to make the original posts fit more smoothly into one continuous narrative.

Day One (7/26/14)

TBW2

Walid, yours truly and Vinny

Vinny, Walid and I had a great day today. We walked from Grand Central Terminal to my home in southern Westchester County – roughly 18 miles by the circuitous route that we followed through midtown, Harlem, the neighborhoods of northwestern Manhattan and the central and northeastern sections of the Bronx.

Everything worked...

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The Internet, Life as We Know It, and Christmas

The Internet is a tool of astonishing power, but it is not an unmixed blessing.

Its dangers were prefigured with amazing prescience in the 1940s by Tolkien’s palantir. Like a palantir, the web exerts a powerful draw by offering us the ability to see whatever we wish; but, also as when using a palantir, we are watched as well as watchers: the web tracks us and subtly guides what we see. It gives us the illusion of control, while denying us the reality of physical human contact. Its world is a shadow of our own.

The Internet is a two dimensional world, but we live in three dimensions (or rather, four, including the great limiter, time)...

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