I’m enjoying being here. I can talk as fast as I want, as idiomatically as I want. Other people have Jewish names, not just me. Businesses believe in customer service. It’s nice.

And I got to see LA!

I traveled here on Sunday, so had Monday off to recuperate from jet lag. I woke up at about 4 AM and never really did more than doze after that. Around 6 I realized that was the perfect time to scope out the local rowing club, so after a quick spot of research online, I headed over to the Norwalk river Rowing Association. Nice people, very welcoming, lots of boats. The boats are currently stored outside, but they’re putting up a new boathouse. If we ever end up in the area, I could definitely see rowing with them The only problem is that they charge a fortune, but they have four full-time staff members (at a rowing club! This is entirely foreign to my experience) so I can see why.

They day only improved from there.It turns out that LA the Sage is only a bit over an hour away, and was happy to have a visitor. Most of the trip there was pretty easy; it turned out I’d misunderstood her directions on what to do after getting off the highway, but I had a GPS unit in the rental car and it got me there without a hitch. It’s a pretty drive, though rural Connecticut and New York, with wonderful views. I get the impression that most of New England (at least the southern part) was all farms once, but that as a lot of the farmers moved west the land went back to forest. So it’s not old-growth forest but it’s been there long enough now to be full of big trees and mysterious depths, and the hills hide a lot of the more modern development. The older buildings respected the land, and the newer ones haven’t completely displaced them. (The corporate site I’m visiting here has a stream out front.)

I was a bit worried as I looked for LA’s house – what if I’d written the house number wrong? – but my first view of it reassured me on that score. The big peace sign was a pretty good clue. I parked and rang the bell and LA welcomed me in to get my first impressions. I wasn’t surprised at the faint, pleasant smell of incense throughout, but the PSV Eidhoven scarf (my local soccer team) on the coatrack was a surprise. (It was a gift from one of her foreign exchange students.) The Hobbit House is very comfortable; it’s small but cozy, and there’s always something to look at. There’s a theory that says a small place will look bigger if it’s very open and empty. I’m not convinced. In LA’s place there’s so much cool stuff to look at that that’s what you’re noticing.

Mick had played hookey from work, so I got to meet him too. I think he was a little intimidated; it hadn’t been entirely clear until now because the two previous times I’d met LA there were lots of other people there too, but it turns out we have enough influences in common that we can just speak in shorthand and understand each other perfectly. Of course I’m sure she and Mick do that too, like all couples who are comfortable with each other, but it will be different shorthand, not so based on books and the world online. When we talked about writing and common friends he was pretty quiet (Rudder would have been too, if he’d been there) so I started talking about weightlifting, stuff that he and I have in common, and he perked right up. (Though I always forget that you can’t ask body builders or most strength trainers about Olympic lifts.) He and LA were telling me about his new favorite hobby, which is to ride bikes up mountains, if possible without shifting out of the biggest gear. However, as far as insane-man stories go, it’s pretty hard to scare someone whose husband has just rowed a 100-km race on 2 weeks notice. I think that he really is pretty quiet, though, content to support LA and let her take the spotlight, and that seems to suit both of them.

I stayed until Wolf got home from school (yay for Wolf in school!). He did remember meeting me before, but got me mixed up at first with Bozoette Mary. I guess when you’re dealing with 9-year-olds, clowns are more memorable than anyone else. He seemed content enough with his day in school; he sounded like a miniature Ben Stein figuring out the reasons for everyone, speaking in a bit of a monotone. It wasn’t until somewhere on the way home that I realized, duh, that’s not just a speech mannerism, but he’s an Aspie and he does it cognitively because it’s not emotionally obvious. That’s also when I realized that given all that, it’s really impressive that he is doing all this figuring out of why other people do what they do, and bouncing his thoughts off his mom to see if he’s right.

Then on the way home I stoped off at the Danbury Mall to hit the Gap. I couldn’t find the cut of jeans I wanted there, but the mall also had an Old Navy. Score! Skinny jeans, same fit as the Gap, half the price. (However the mall also had a Sephora, so any cost savings were more than lost there.) And dinner was a salad from Outback. With take-out! And big to-go cups! Did I mention that I’m really enjoying being back in the Land of Convenience?