to simplify 2.0    notes from the open road

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Perched atop the driveway at cul de sac's edge, intent on soaking up as much of the dwindling late afternoon sun as possible, I'm once again back in the tony semi-rural suburbs of central New Jersey.

My day job this time around sounds simple enough – clear out all of the furniture, equipment, and supplies in Mom's sewing room in preparation for putting her house on the market. But that sewing room is actually a sewing level, and so the task is anything but simple. 

I've made solid progress over the past week or two, but as I write this, seven(!) different machines remain, along with about a zillion attachments and accessories. Oh, and the thread. Miles and miles of serger thread, quilting thread, embroidery thread...Mom had quite a thing for the stuff, and my rough estimate puts the total somewhere north of 3000 spools. On an encouraging note, I sold off a couple hundred or so this week. Roughly the equivalent of tossing a deck chair or two off the Titanic.

And no, the irony of sticking the family minimalist with this job is not lost on me. But then, who better to pair down a house full of stuff than the one person who has actually done that once before? Nonetheless, to any sewing enthusiasts out there who might be in the market for some good stuff, drop me a line. The sooner I finish this, the sooner I can get back out on the open road.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Ah yes, Fall. Where better to soak it up for a while than smack in the middle of the Garden State?

Rolling back into New Jersey last Saturday, I took a detour through the old neighborhood, including a leisurely stroll around the grounds of my high school. The band was out on the football field practicing, so I snuck into the band room to see what long-forgotten memories might bubble to the surface. 

Of course, it's been almost thirty years, so precisely no one remains from when I walked the halls. Mildly depressing, so it was pretty cool to discover that the plaque listing all of the school's past John Philip Sousa Band Award winners is still going strong (see lower right in the photo below). 

I had totally forgotten about this, egregious misspelling and all. I wonder how often some punk who wasn't even born until the 21st century looks up at that plaque and says, "Morrisetle...where's that guy now?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


This was supposed to be something of a pilgrimage for me, but I suppose by now, I should probably have enough sense to expect to be disappointed.

I had just pulled into one of several empty spots right in front of the Walden Pond visitor's center when a park employee suddenly appeared at my window.

"Are you gonna walk down to the pond and cabin site?" he asked.


"Then you should probably just drive down to the paid lot and walk back over here afterwards to see the visitor's center."

"But...I'm at the visitor's center now..." turning my head back and forth to draw attention to the empty parking spots surrounding me.

"Yeah, but you can't park here for very long, and if you're going to do both anyway, you might as well go park there first."

"Okay, but...I want to see the visitor's center, and I'm parked at the visitor's center right now..."

Stymied. "You've got 20 minutes then," and he turned to walk away.

"Glad I don't feel too rushed," I replied. He stopped in his tracks for a split second, apparently ill-prepared for that hallmark of Thoreau's writing: sarcasm. And just for good measure I added "...and thanks for the welcoming vibe."

Idly wondering what Thoreau would have had to say about this exchange, I walked inside to find two rooms full of cheesy souvenirs, the words "Simplify! Simplify!" emblazoned across one useless trinket after another. Maybe it's not so bad that they penalize you for spending more than 20 minutes in this place.

Five minutes later I was back in the van where, committed to riding out every second of my remaining 15 minutes, I sat and did absolutely nothing. Then in another small act of Civil Disobedience, something of an homage to St. Henry, I resolved to get to the site of his Walden Pond hideaway without forking over the $10 parking fee.

Walden Pond
Not as simple as it sounds it turned out, and I ended up leaving the spaceship about a mile and a half away and Walking back. Fine, but then a mere tenth of a mile from where Thoreau built his famed cabin in the woods, I found myself standing at an insanely busy state highway crosswalk waiting for the light to change. Masses of cars screaming by chasing after lives of quiet desperation. Ironic, perhaps fitting, and a bit depressing all at once, but hey, I did save ten bucks, and I'm pretty sure ol' HDT would've dug that.