This episode of Cidiot continues the guide of what you need once you have a town, a house, friends and you’ve started to set up. I’ll cover a checklist of 14 must-have items to live and love life in the country.
Thanks to Stephen and Victor for their ideas. Send any of yours to email@example.com
Episode 6: What You Desperately Need
Mat: It had been snowing for hours and we drove in our Mini Cooper to our friends, Jamie and Tom's for dinner. We had just become friends and it was our first time at their house. The snowstorm was heavy, but we didn't want to cancel. We could do it. This was our second Mini - they're such great cars. The gas mileage is so great. You never stop for gas. And when you do, it's like 20 bucks to fill the tank. Plus you can do whatever you want on the road in a Mini. You can cut someone off changing lanes, but you're so cute, everyone just waves.
So driving in the dark that winter night, we turned off the main road and after about a mile, we found their mailbox. And like most people we know a long driveway up the hill. It was snowy icy. And of course, unpaved. Brian shifted into first gear and [00:01:00] gunned it up the drive. The chassy was so low. I cringed hearing the rucks kicked up against it. Their house started to come into view. "Oh, pretty." I remember saying . The car slowed though, and then stopped.
And Brian said, "Damn." We were halfway up the hill and stuck. Brian gave it more gas, but instead of moving forward, we watched as the car in slow motion, slowly turn 90 degrees to the left. We again stopped now perpendicular to the driveway. I grabbed the flashlight. I always keep in the glove compartment and we got out of our toy car, no match for country roads or winter gay dinner parties.
Our new friends came out of the house to help stage a rescue. We didn't have wood slats to use for traction, but I suppose we could use the back issues of Vanity Fair in the trunk. I looked at Brian, he glared at the car.
The next week, we leased a Volvo station wagon
I'm Mat Zucker and this is Cidiot: Learning to Live and Love Life in the Hudson Valley.
Episode six, "What you desperately need." What you need in the city isn't much. Apartments are too small to demand much of a list. Laundry in your unit makes your life easier, sure. But the truth is it's cheap to send your clothes out and then come back the next day, clean and folded. When you moved to the country, you'd be far deliberate.
Yes, Amazon delivers, but you're dealing with a house, sometimes acres of property, a blanket of darkness at night, and popping sounds that are either a faulty car engine... or someone hunting.
Take out a piece of paper or fire up your Evernote:
This is the big list of what you need. 14 must haves. Thank you Victor and Steven for sharing your lists.
Number one: you need a generator. I mentioned this in Episode two, and I know this is a very expensive investment. Our Generac was about $7,000. Plus we had to upgrade our electricity to 220 [00:03:00] Watts, but hear me out: country power is flaky. There are outages, even brief ones, at least once a month. Our area fixes stuff fast, which is a relief, but I see a slew of reasons that make a generator payoff with what's at stake. We keep tons of food and meat in the freezer. That's one. We often have guests coming for the weekend and I work from home one to two days. We bought a standby generator, which means it's connected to the house and kicks in the second, the power goes out. Brian was skeptical, thinking it was a sign of me being a prepper. But one Friday we had friends driving up and the generator kicked in after a storm. And believe me, even he admitted it was a, you told me so.
Now the downside of a generator is that it's noisy and smelly. We don't have enough land to keep it far away from the house, which maybe you can do. And I'm sure all that money could have been used somewhere else, like a bathroom reno or an extra mortgage payment, but I can't put a number on the piece of mind and the relief that when the power flickers out.... I would trade our wedding china that we never use and all Brian's gardening tools, to keep my Generac. Her name [00:04:00] isJenny.
Number two: A car with a high carriage. So I want to talk about cars again. You heard the opening story. You need a car with ground clearance, especially if you want to go to dinner at Jamie and Tom's and you do, Jamie makes his own jam. Our Mini Cooper had about five inches clearance, which we replaced with a Volvo Cross Country wagon, which has more than eight. The Subaru Outback is even higher up. And of course SUV's are super high as well. One watch out is from Victor: "too high up and you'll look like a tool."
Number three. Broadband. In the city, we have FiOS, but in the country there aren't a lot of choices yet. My in-laws have satellite, which seems to work for them. But I think the dishes are ugly. We don't watch sports except the World Cup. And for some reason, satellite makes me think of Jodie Foster in that movie in space. We had heard terrible stories about cable, so our first year we delayed into DSL, which was cheap and retro. The phone jack was literally hanging from the wall. And if it was a day I was working from home. I'd hear Brian yell from the [00:05:00] other room. "Your work computer is hogging the bandwidth." We finally got cable and honestly, it's been great. I called up to ask if we could pay for more bandwidth, but upstate consumer customer service said, "Sir that's all we have."
Four , five and six are all fashion related.
Four is you need an orange vest. Every November, you see, is legal hunting season. You can hear the shots wherever you are for the security of you and your dog. Wear orange on your chest, on your head. I don't know who decided orange would be the safety color, but I know it was Martha Stewart's favorite back in 2002 our wedding year. Brian only wore gray and black when we lived in the city but up here, he doesn't leave the house in November without something in honkin' orange
Five: you need to trademark outfit when you're at the house. Yes, this is very Mr. Rogers. The second I arrive on say a Thursday, I immediately changed from my city workclothes of Theory and Untuckit and J. Crew into my tan hooded sweatshirt from Sawkill Farm down Route 9. The fabric is [00:06:00] unbelievable. Brian, who was once Mr. Prada and actually met with Anna Wintour sometimes puts on overalls from Carhartt. I can't even tell you how much we've changed.
Six. You'll need to think about your footwear. Brian swears by wellies for rain and mud. You'll also want garden clogs in addition to work boots and tall boots. What I do are three pairs of the same exact sneakers: Adidas sambas. One is for muddy outdoors. One's for clean for the gym at Bard College. And one is for about the town.
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Number seven on your list, and personally important to me, is a garbage system. There's always a lot of recycling and landfill. We are constantly shuttling wine bottles, Brian's Fresca cans, and Amazon boxes to our one recycling can in the garage. And pickup is only once a week. Some of you have to drive to the dump. The only nice dump I've ever been to is in East Hampton. We pay for garbage pickup too, by the way, $35. If you live on the west side of the river, like Victor and Steph in Woodstock, you also need bear proof lids. I'm not kidding. You should see photos of the mess since they don't have them yet.
Number eight: tools, tools, lots of tools. Our friend Steven in Pine Plains is emphatic about this. Especially since he's renovating. He originally thought he would build his arsenal of DeWalt tools, you know, the yellow ones, but a guy at the lumber store put him onto the Harbor Freight brand which sells power [00:08:00] tools with a fraction of the cost. You just have to trust brand names you've never heard of before. And when you start going down the power tools, rabbit hole, you'll find out just how many different saws you'll need each for different purpose, circular, jig, mitter, table. Uh, so many saws. I can't even pronounce them. Another tool is from Victor. Buy a boot Jack $8. He says the best invention you've never heard of and can't live without. I actually, I don't know what one is, but I just ordered one on Amazon. Another box to recycle.
Also from Victor: coyote urine. $50 online. If you have to ask, he says, then you don't have a chipmunk problem. I'm waiting on this one.
Number 10: buy a Vermont Cart. This is basically an expensive wheelbarrow, but Brian swears by it, it hangs on the side of our garage. We used it to. ferry, used wood to the back of the property, to take small children up to the orchard for apple picking, as well as a bar cart for garden parties. We also have a red wagon which could serve the same purpose, but who doesn't want to have a red [00:09:00] wagon.
Number 11: buy extra heaters. Our house has an 1847 farmhouse and we get plenty of heat in the pot belly stove in the living room and an oil heat furnace with forced air. But the AVAC system underneath is such a spider, that air doesn't flow evenly. So we need to supplement in certain rooms. Space heaters freak me out. I always think we'll leave them on and burn down the house. So we spent a small fortune on Dyson's, which seems safer and a nicely designed with no blades. One model is even a hybrid fan-heater.
Number 12: Buy tarps. You'll need 20. At least we use them for everything from fix-ups and protecting exposed wood outside to wrapping the installation around are exposed. So which pipe tarps come mostly in a sense.
Number 13, it's dark up here. The stars were amazing, but if it's late at night or you have a dog to walk, you need light. Light is a safety thing. The easy first line of defense is buying lanterns and flashlights. Brian bought a box of eight from IKEA of solar [00:10:00] lanterns and friends gave us a slick gray one is a gift from IKEA, which I use at night to walk Nora. But the real trick is to build a lighting plan into your outdoor plan. We have a series of outdoor footlights, thankfully put in by the previous owner. It lights up the path from the house to where the car is. Our next step is... more of it. Don't tell Brian, but I have a plan to light even our stream.
The last thing you desperately need and you can't buy it is your sense of humor. On the way out of Rhinebeck, on Route 199 before you get to the Taconic Parkway, artists put up a giant fork in the triangle where the two roads merge. So it literally is a fork in the road. It cracks me up every time. I pointed out to the car service driver, taking me to Albany International for a consulting gig. He doesn't laugh, but he is not a cidiot.
Thanks for listening. Come visit.
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