Wednesday, January 28, 2009


glowing, suffocating, crystalline, backbreaking, dazzling, numbing, cleansing, snow.

Something in excess of 30 inches of snow has accumulated on the ground so far this season. This is somewhat below average over the last 30 years. It is still a lot of snow. Today we dug out! Ethan Thompson plows, but I still have to shovel around the vehicles, in front of the house, and, of course, the paths to the wood pile and the chopping block. The pictures are for the benefit of those of you who have been here only in the summer. You can see why we choose to visit you so often in the winter! Actually, winter Paradox is fun in smaller doses and with frequent trips out.

The picture below shows how the snow accumulates around the house and obstructs the view from the windows. As the season advances we feel more and more like we live in a cave. The problem is aggravated by the snow that falls from the roof - that hasn't happened yet this season.

This last picture is of me glowin' despite all the snowin'!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inaugural Party Celebration at Ilana and Bob's


On 01/20/09 Naomi and I went to an Inaugural celebration party at our niece, Ilana, and her husband, Bob's, home in Milbrook, NY.
The election of Barack Obama as President has been such an amazingly important piece of our life (and millions of others) for the last few months. Not that we have done that much personally to ensure its happening other than the contribution of money to the campaign and voting and talking about it every chance we got, but because it has occupied so much of our consciousness. It is as if all of our doubts, fears, and anxieties about all things were wrapped up in this one event that was unfolding before our eyes. I carefully watched at least three different polling web sites and another web site that was a summary poll of all the other polls. We watched for each gaffe in McCain's campaign. We trembled and worried Obama's campaign decisions - was he not being strong enough? - was he being too flat, too intellectual? - was he taking too conservative a stand on some issues?
We are thrilled, and relieved, at his election and 'swearing in'. The long nightmare of the Bush-Fundamentalist years is over! Our extended family members are excited and eager to move on in their lives. The great depression of our spirit and the spirit of our country is over. We can move on to make the world a better place. I keep having this vision of Aretha Franklin at the podium in her wonderful hat/voice exulting in being herself. I felt like I was there with her basking in her pleasure and her ability to articulate her feelings. Tears of joy continue to run down my face even thinking about it.
Enough already! Ilana's party was a great vehicle to celebrate this great time with like minded people. Bob and Bruce and I spent some nice boy time standing around a bonfire with a couple of other folks, one of whom provided a 'voodoo doll' to send off in the flames to another world stuck with the pins of our afflictions from the last few years. The people who tried to reverse the last thousand years of civilization (Referring to the 'Writ of Habeas Corpus' and the rise of 'Reason' as a couple of examples) have at least temporarily been sent back to their caves.
Thinking of Ancient History, it appears to me that we have to go all the way back (about 2500+or- years) to the Nubian 25th dynasty of the Egyptian Empire to get to the most recent time a person of Black African descent was the chief executive of a major world power. This election is pretty historic. (Someone is sure to prove me wrong on this - if you know better, please tell me)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Middle of January

Paradox is beautiful! New snow that is so white and bright, it glows from within. The picture at the left is of the Garden at Rest. Everything is bedded down. The garlic is on the right under 8 inches of straw and two feet of snow.

All morning the sky feathered us with light snowflakes sashaying their way to the ground without a care in the world save their own delicate back and forth dance.

Naomi and I took a Sunday morning trip to the Paradox General Store for the Times and a cup of coffee for me. The store was upbeat - warm, with friendly conversation about the cold weather and Paradox's recent notoriety as the coldest place in NY State. We were charmed.
Last night we had dinner at Foster and Jane's with their friends Dana and David and with Leon and Shermane. Shermane is a PhD. Climatologist at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and operates a teaching and research program here in the valley. As part of the program, she has established a weather station which can be accessed by clicking on the Paradox Weather Station line to the right of this text under the Current Weather in the Valley heading. Anyway, because of her weather station, our weather gets posted on the THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND web site. And then gets picked up by news stations and presto! we are a news item on the local television station. .

Thursday, January 15, 2009

From Santa Cruz at +76F to Paradox at -35F

As I make this entry at 11:45pm on Thursday, the 15th of January, at home in Paradox, the temperature is minus 34.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Yesterday, and the day before, as we were leaving Santa Cruz, the temperature reached a high of 76 degrees Fahrenheit. That is 110+ degrees difference for those of you who don't want to do the math yourselves. It was beautiful in Santa Cruz. The last few days were like late May in the Adirondacks during a hot spell. Temperature in the mid 70s with green grass and early flowers - day lilies, and early irises in bloom - sun hot on the face and arms, and the smell of spring. We were aware that a cold snap was brewing in the Northeast and were dreading coming back.
Once we got here, though, we felt very at home with the comfort of the familiar. The sharpness of the snow, the brightness of the light, the smell of woodsmoke, winter squash cooking on the stove with hot steam rising, the log cabin. Home is a salve. Maybe a salve needed after shoveling a path to the front door and to the woodpile. Tovah said that the stars were 'twinkling' tonight when she talked to us on the phone. Twinkling stars go with the sharp crunch of the snow walking on the path to the woodpile for the last armload at night.
So, it got down to -34.8F early this morning (1/16/09) for a total difference of 110F between Santa Cruz and Paradox over these past few days.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hot Dogs and Beans at Hinds House with the Guys

This is the second year that we have invited Samson, Miguel, and friends over for a lunch of Hot Dogs and Beans during their school lunch break. Seems to be enjoyed by all. Naomi took the picture. From left to right: Connor, Miguel, Samson, Dylan and Me.

Later this same afternoon, Naomi and I took Samson to see Milk which was a tremendous film. Naomi felt that Sean Penn was 'channeling' Harvey Milk. His performance was preternatural.

Afterwords, we took Samson to the restaurant Shogun right across from the movie theater. Best Japanese food in Santa Cruz - and a lot of other places.

A good day!

Yesterday, January 7th, was a very good day. Early in the day Mark told us that he accepted the position as CFO of the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago. He is very excited, as are we. See: The Noble Network has been much in the news lately since Arne Duncan, who was head of the Chicago Public Schools, has been appointed by Obama as Secretary of Education. Part of the reforms Duncan is known for is the support of the Charter School System, of which Noble Network is a key piece. Mark is happy that his skills will be used on behalf of improving education in this country - sorely needed. We had a great talk with Mark on the cell phone about his new job as we were coming back from a long walk out to the end of the Santa Cruz wharf . The Sea Lions have a great new basking place on a shelf just below the wharf where the public can observe them comfortably.

We also had the joy of attending the first of a series of presentations organized by Micah as part of her Provost responsibilities at UCSC - Kresge. The series is entitled: "A Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers Reading Series. Kim Stanley Robinson, and Karen Joy Fowler both read from their work. Karen Joy Fowler is the author of the best seller The Jane Austen Book Club. 'Stan' Robinson is also a well known writer, and a star in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction world, best known as a writer of literary utopias. We met them both. We also met one of my favorite contemporary poets - Gary Young - and enjoyed the time spent with him as he drove us downtown to our apartment. He is just like his poems - gentle and beautiful.

Now that the grandchildren are back in school from the holiday, the Perks-Stilwell-Poblete family needs both it's cars and we grandparents are having a great adventure using public transportation and walking wherever we go. The location of our place and the Santa Cruz public transportation system make this very easy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

So, What do you do in California?

Naomi and I often wonder: "What have we done today? How do we spend our time when we're in California?" It seems like the days pass and we have no clue about where it went. It is a little embarrassing. It becomes especially embarrassing when others also ask: "How do you spend your time in California?", and we have no good answer. So, I'm going to spend some time trying to answer that question and it may still turn out to be rather embarrassing.

First, maybe as a general parameter, we come to California basically to see our daughter and grandchildren, and to escape the cold-dark-icy Adirondack winter for a while. We stay in the Inn pictured at the right. It is an old Victorian home built by a real estate developer in the late 19th century.

We've been waking about 8am, which is late for us and retiring at about Midnight. Breakfast, morning ablutions, and reading the news on the internet take until about 10:30, so this is done in a very leisurely fashion. We both find this an irritating waste of the morning, but don't seem to be able to change. I guess we should learn to like it. If we are going to do it, then we should do it with kavanah. This means that we should do it with intent and ownership and appreciate it for what it is.
Somewhere around 10:30 we start answering emails and making phone calls to maintain our relationships and obligations with the world. This means: Communicating with friends; coordinating volunteer efforts; arranging appointments; paying bills; and, making plans for the day. We might squeeze in some reading of books and periodicals.
By about noon we are ready to make our first foray into the outdoor world. Usually, the temperature has gotten up into the 50s or low 60s by that time and it is relatively pleasant outdoors. We might walk the four blocks to downtown on Pacific Ave. That's just past the russet tree in the center background of this picture taken from the front door of our Inn. If you 'click' on the picture it will enlarge and you can see a building at the end of the street that is on Pacific Ave. There is a Trader Joe's and a New Leaf organic food store within two blocks of that building. We do some light grocery shopping and/or get a 'cuppa coffee', or pick up a book at the bookstore, etc. Mostly this is an excuse to get out of the house and get the blood flowing. These morning and afternoon activities Naomi and I often do separately although we almost always eat lunch together.

Around 1:30 or 2pm we return and prepare and eat lunch in the communal kitchen. After that I might take a nap (Naomi would never take a nap, and the picture of me on the bed is posed!) or go for a little hike in one of the really beautiful state parks in the immediate area. This could be along the ocean or up in the hills. Both settings are quite spectacular with wide views of mountains and ocean and hold huge trees and abundant wildlife. The afternoon could also be spent reading in our room and/or continuing email correspondence and personal business. We usually eat dinner with Micah and the family and spend several evening hours with them. We might go with the family to see a movie or walk along the ocean. Sometimes we eat out for lunch or dinner - there are lots of good restaurants of all types in the area. Tonight Naomi and I are going to eat at a small restaurant featuring a jazz pianist.
We usually return to the Hinds house by 10 or 11 and read some and retire for the night.

Here are a couple of street scenes from Pacific Ave. It is a very lively place with lots of street performers, sculptures, eccentrically dressed people, etc. Enlarge the pictures to see more detail.
I just took them today on our way to Trader Joe's.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Another Year

And we are a couple of days into the new year. I remember being a little boy sitting in my one room stone school house (K-8) in Dean's Corners, Town of Saratoga, NY. I was probably around 7 or 8 years old and trying to figure out how old I would be at the turn of the millennium. I didn't have that word, but I had an idea that when the calendar hit that ticker, it had some magic power. It didn't. Now, at the end of this new year, the calendar will be at 2010 and I will be 64. It all seems surreal. I've been reading a lot of poetry lately - some in anthologies - and the editors give the poet's dates. I find that I am fascinated. How long did they live? When were they most productive? Where do they fit in in the development of the genre? I was interested in Yeats's dates - born in 1865, died in 1939. "Considered by many the greatest poet of the twentieth century." Twentieth Century? But he was born in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, and 35 years old before the turn of the century? A memory comes of Naomi's dad, who told that soon after arriving in this country (From Warsaw at age 12 in 1921) he watched a veterans day parade in NYC as a contingent of Civil War soldiers passed by. He regretted not making the effort to speak with any of them about the war. And I didn't spend enough time speaking with him.