Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Another Second Life Partnership Leads to First Life Marriage

On Thursday, April 24, the humans behind the avatars Cheyenne Palisades and (the ever elusive) Sweetie tied the knot in Rockland County, New York. That's me on the right.

My sister and Sweetie's parents were in attendance and served as witnesses.

I'm now catching up, writing about what's been going on with us and why we've not been in world much.


In more than 2000 posts on this blog I have been extraordinarily careful with Sweetie's real life name and even her avatar's name (although anyone can find out the latter just by looking at my avie's profile. I am breaking with tradition just this once to let people know Second Life can be transformative of our first lives.

Harsh Weather

Shopping Cart Traffic Jam at Home Depot
So, what transpired during my period of absence from this blog? Lots, cumulating with my marriage.
Days after I arrived in New Jersey, winter set in in earnest. The jet stream veered to the south and the resulting front dumped a foot-and-a-half of snow on us. Temperatures plummeted and stayed below freezing for some six weeks. Occasionally it would venture above freezing in the middle of the day, but there was little melt-off and it would snow every few days. Thankfully, though, after getting slammed that first time the heaviest snow would hit toward the north or south or west.

Snow staying on the ground was something out of my experience. In the warmer climes where I had always lived roads would be bad for only a day or two and the snow would be gone not long after that. Now there was perpetual snow.

It took hours to shovel ourselves out after each snow, even with the help of the electric snow blower we had just purchased. We spread salt liberally and even though we had salt delivered, we had to frequently venture to Home Depot for more.

A huge ice dam formed on the eaves near the front door. A ton or more of ice threatened to bring down the gutters and there was risk of the house flooding when it melted. I hadn't even known what an ice dam was!

Road crews did a great job of keeping our street passable, but shoveling snow and chipping ice was a daily chore. Our cars were repeatedly covered with ice, but thanks to a Christmas present from Sweetie's parents, our windshields were kept clear-- so long as we remembered to attach the plastic screen they had given us. We weren't lacking for food or warmth and were snowbound only infrequently and for short times, but everything was inconvenient. The mud room at the front of the house was a mess, fill with shovels, brooms, snow blower, salt, boots, wet mats, and broadcast spreader, and we were unable to dry it out. The layers cardboard we had put down on the walkways during the load-in was frozen to the concrete-- nor could we keep the stoop clear of ice. Stepping outside was a perpetual adventure.

It was a full six weeks before the weather began to improve, and only since the first of May has it begun to look like spring here.

Wall of Car Wash 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bad Moving Experience

Moving these days is not a trivial undertaking. That's because the carload of belongings from college days has somehow multiplied into a load sized for a moving van. It no longer fits into even the largest U-Haul truck. If I moved via U-Haul, I discovered, I would have to drive north in a 26-foot truck, fly back to Atlanta, head north in a second truck, and fly back again to get my car. Not great.

Rather than a full service moving company I opted for You-Pack. I rented a 26-foot trailer, loaded it, and rented about a third of a second trailer for the remainder of my stuff. Professional drivers would take them north.

I hired loaders through U-Haul's Moving Help subsidiary. They did a great job on the many boxes I had packed, but turned into animals when it came to the furniture. They refused to disassemble my metal desk and waterbed pedestal (which has 12 drawers) and moved them still together, and worse, in their effort to show everything would fit on the first trailer, loaded it so full they were unable to put U-Pack's load-holding partition into place. I let that stand because the trailer was packed so tight I figured the load would ride just fine.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

The second trailer, which was filled with boxes I had in storage, made the trip just fine. The first trailer, however, was a hot mess.

I'm not certain just what happened on the trip, but I can only assume the driver unhooked the trailer and rolled it down every hill between Georgia and New Jersey. The entire load was upside down. My antique tiger oak Stickley-style library table was smashed do kindling, my desk, which I had used since 1978, was twisted like a pretzel, and all my furniture had taken damage to the wood. The gas tank from my cute little 1971 Honda CL70, which had been pristine, wound up upside-down inside its box with the beautiful silver metallic paint ruined by gasoline. The entire load, and consequently our house, smelled of house for weeks until we had tracked down and removed the boxes that had absorbed the odor.

Before the Move
I had had to suck it up about the damage-- mainly because of the partition not being in place. Still, an ABF driver somewhere deserves and ass-kicking,and I hope he or she gets it. The driving had to be rough beyond imagining for so much havoc to have been wreaked.

The Honda's gas tank has been repainted and I'm due to pick it up. I found a library table exactly like mine on eBay at a great price and purchased it. I'll use it for a desk when we get my home office set up.

The house was a jumble of boxes and broken things which Sweetie and I have been slowly returning to order.

My Stuff Arrives

My household belongings arrived in the middle of the harsh weather-- after dark and in a trailer so tall it knocked down a neighbor's cable line and I got to meet the police. The trailer was forbidden to return and I had to rent a U-Haul truck and pay movers to transfer and then unload and carry in my stuff. Several hundred trips in and out on a slushy day made a mess of the floors. Fortunately, Sweetie had researched floor protection and we installed layers of 3M sheet plastic and stiff paper on the floor in the days before the move, so there was no damage to the house.

My belongings were another story.

Monday, April 27, 2015

I Leave Atlanta for New Jersey

At 12:30 pm on January 27 I left Atlanta with the top down and wearing sandals on my feet. I was headed for my new home in northern New Jersey.

I arrived at 9 pm on the 28th. It was six degrees F. and the wind was howling. Fortunately, I had stopped along the way to put on closed shoes and my heaviest coat. Still, I almost froze to death just unloading my car.

My house in Atlanta was under contract and my belongings were in transit. I was in NJ to stay.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Our sim neighbor Leaf Shermer has been absent from Second Life for about two years now. Her reasons are personal. I don't understand them, but I respect her decision to stay out of world-- and I REALLY respect her for keeping her sims in SL while she has been away.

The other day Leaf left a message for me, saying her sims will be disappearing within the next few weeks. That means we will say goodbye to her full sim Eccentricity and homesteads Idiosyncrasy, and Whimcentricity, Our homestead Whimsical Mischief, which Leaf has been renting, will go away as well. In this case I know just when it will disappear, for tier for Mischief is due on the 4th of February.

I will especially miss Whimcentricity, where our amazing glaciers live. Perhaps we will relocate them to Whimsy Kaboom.

Do yourself a favor and visit W-C while it's still in world.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cardboard Igloo

I've been packing my house for more than three weeks now and finally I'm finished (except for the things I am holding off on until just before closing-- namely my desk and computer and waterbed). Closing has been pushed back and will probably happen around the 20th.

Boxes are everydamnwhere. For weeks now I've had the feeling I'm living in a cardboard igloo. Above is the view from my desk. Every room in the house looks much the same.

I've not been in a head space to work on serious projects on Whimsy, but Sweetie and I go dancing a couple of times a week and hang around Whimsy. Sweetie has a new favorite plant designer and has been replacing old-style plants with new mesh, low land impact vegetation. Here she's adjusting a palm; that's me in the distance, behind the big Animania dragonfly.

Here are some temp-on-rez dragonflies from Botanical. They're tiny and hard to catch on camera, but Sweetie's patient and managed to get this shot.

I mostly sit and watch her work. Here we are sitting on a bench near Whimsy's swamp. In keeping with Sweetie's strict espionage-agents-cannot-have-their-faces-appear-in-the-media policy, I have cropped her image.

Just before she took the photo, Sweetie had tweaked the bench, changing its color from green to brown.

In a couple of short weeks I will be headed to New Jersey with all my worldly possessions in a 26-foot U-Haul truck-- but for now, Second Life and Skype are great ways spend time with Sweetie, who is happily getting adjusted to our new house.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Our First Lives March On

So... after years of looking for a house in Rockland or Orange Counties in New York or Bergen or Passaic in northern New Jersey, Sweetie and I finally found one. We couldn't quite afford it, but unlike every other house we had looked at, it wasn't 1) falling down; 2) more than an hour from Sweetie's job; 3) reeking of black mold; 4) on the top of a steep hill; 5) tiny, or 6) have parking for only one car. Moreover, it met Sweetie's criterion, and mine. Her criterion: master on main. My criterion: our putative house had to have character. It had to be cool. Just another tract house in a suburb? Unacceptable. And finally, it had to be (she jokingly says) affordable.

Now, I live in Atlanta. Nice houses can be had for well less than $100,000, and my property taxes are less than $1000 a year. That means by comparison any house in the Hudson Valley in New York or in New Jersey will have an astronomical cost and astoundingly high property taxes. Our house was no exception, but it was at the lower end of the market, was less than ten miles from Sweetie's job, had plenty of room for both of us and our stuff, had no major problems, had the master bedroom on the main floor, and the area had character.

We have black bears! Tell me that doesn't show character! Not the sort of character many of my readers might appreciate, but I certainly do! We will have to keep our trash inside the house or locked away in a wooden enclosure. What could be cooler than that!

"I smell breakfast!"
Which reminds me of the time I stared down a black bear on the Appalachian Trail. I had hiked from Fontana Dam to Spence Field in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The distance is 18 miles, and experienced long-legged hikers can do it in a day if they push it, but I, with my short legs (28" inseams) and out-of-shape body had spent two days and three overnights (I left Fontana at dusk, so it really took me only two days). I had been eating dehydrated meals, saving add-only-water buckwheat pancake mix and maple syrup and country ham for my last breakfast before hiking down the mountain to Cades Cove. I'd been thinking of that breakfast since I left Fontana and was having a fun time cooking it on the fire pit that stood just outside the shelter. When the pancakes were done and the ham was sizzing, I looked up to see a big bear standing on its hind legs not ten feet from me. It was clearly saying, "I smell breakfast!"

I was holding the pan with the ham in my right hand. I grabbed the plate with the pancakes with my left and straightened up and said, "I know you're hungry, but so am I and this is my breakfast." I was prepared to dash for the safety of the shelter, losing the food if I had to, but the bear, which I think understood what I had said, sank onto all fours and ambled away.

But I digress.

So anyway, I respect bears, but I'm not afraid of them. New Jersey is overrun with black bears and I'm happy to share space with them and smart enough not to get between them and food-- except, of course, for that time on the AT-- so bears are a big plus in my coolness category. So is the lake that's two blocks from our door. The beautiful NJ State Botanical Gardens are even closer and are a joy to walk.

The location, by the way, is Ringwood, a town of 8000 that was created as a resort when the region's iron mines played out in the early XXth Century. The town is separated from flatland New Jersey by a thousand foot-tall mountain. It's rustic and peaceful and yet not far from shopping and is only an hour away from Manhattan by bus, which I can catch at the library, just a mile from the house. And then there's Cupsaw Lake:

So yeah. A location that meets my coolness criterion.

My house in Pine Lake, GA was built in 1936 as a one-room cabin. Our house in Ringwood was built in 1940, also as a cabin. It had more than one room in its original form, but I won't quibble. My house in Atlanta had several additions, and so did the Ringwood House. The photo at the top of this page shows the living room, which is in the new part of the house. That's not our stuff in the photo, by the way. It's a photo from the real estate listing. The beams are original to the house.

Here's a beautiful free-standing pine staircase that leads two two huge rooms upstairs. The largest is 24' x 17', the smaller (which will be my office) is 13' x 17'.

There are three bedrooms and two baths, a huge kitchen and dining area with a pantry and a large, dry concreted and framed basement with four rooms. So yeah, the inside of the house meets my coolness criteria.The house is plain on the outside, but Sweetie is already developing plans for fabulousing it up.

A few days after we closed on the house we moved Sweetie and her stuff in. We were not so great with our orchestration of the relocation, and so wound up renting a U-Haul van to get the stuff we left in her apartment when the moving van came. We loaded the U-Haul in a cold rain and made ourselves sick as a result.

Upon my return to Georgia, my plan was to clear some of the clutter out of my house so I could show it-- but I had let it be known around my little town of 800 that I would be selling, and when I arrived people lined up to see it. The first couple to walk through bought it. Here it is, by the way:

I've been packing boxes for some ten days now. I favor the 12" x 12" x 16" boxes Home Depot sells for $.74 each, for they hold a good bit and are easy to lug around. I've packed some 150 of them and expect to pack about 50 more. 200 boxes will take only 300 square feet in the 1650 square foot U-Haul truck I'll be renting, leaving plenty of room for my couch, chair, table, futon, bookcases and bed, the boxes I have in a rented storage facility, and, hopefully, my 17' canoe. Some time in January I expect to be headed north. When I arrive in New Jersey, Sweetie and I will be married in real life.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Update on My First Life

Sweetie and I at Salazar Jack's great grandfather's shack in early 2007.
What, we are wondering, will the future bring?

If I've been inactive on this blog of late, it's because in real life the notorious avatar known here as Sweetie and I are purchasing a house in Ringwood, NJ. Closing is scheduled for noon on Monday.

It's been a struggle. The house is barely with our means (prices for homes and property taxes are notoriously high) and there has been drama with inspections. Will the 40+ year-old septic system have to be replaced? Who will pay for mitigation of the high radon levels that were discovered. Will the bank approve the loan? OMG, the huge french door refrigerator won't fit through the front door? Or will it?

Next week will be a whirlwind, what with cable/internet installers, carpet cleaners, appliance deliveries, and packing up Sweetie's apartment so we'll be ready when the moving truck shows up at 9 am on Friday.

After we have unpacked enough to make Sweetie comfortable I'll be driving home in my Miata to pack up my house and put it on the market. As a first step I'll move about half my stuff into storage so the house will be uncluttered when prospective buyers walk through it. I'll be in New Jersey for Christmas and New Year's Day and will stay here for a month or so before returning to Georgia. The holidays are a bad time for home sales, but spring comes early in Atlanta, and with luck I'll be bidding Atlanta adieu in early 2015.

Sweetie and I will marry some time in January in New York, where our marriage will be legal.

I am missing Second Life (as is Sweetie), but we should be back in world soon.