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Ralph Gardner Jr.

  • Have you given your silverware drawer much thought lately? I didn’t think so. Maybe there’s not a lot happening in yours, but there is in ours. And I don’t mean mice. They’re well under control for reasons I won’t go into at the moment, thought the half dozen or so spring-loaded peanut butter filled traps I have in the basement seem to be doing the trick.
  • With apologies to T.S. Eliot in “The Wasteland” January, not April, is the cruelest month. The holidays and their celebrations, the food and lights, are over and spring is still far in the future. Hope seems to require a leap of faith, especially in the midst of a raging pandemic.
  • Santa brought me some nice gifts this year. Hey, thanks for asking! They included a metal detector to scour our property for buried treasure, a handsome sweater and a couple of Teflon raclette trays that go directly onto a grill or into the fireplace. Raclette’s the melted Swiss cheese dish that, combined with boiled potatoes, pickled onions and cornichons hits the spot on frigid winter nights.
  • The dirty little secret of holiday journalism is that it’s written days, weeks even months in advance. Journalists, like everybody else, would prefer to be doing something else Christmas Day than sitting at a keyboard pounding out a story or chasing down leads.
  • The news is often so dire these days that my wife turns off the car radio and plays a podcast instead. It’s even traumatic to learn the latest about plagues, shootings and melting polar ice caps in print.
  • When a stranger comes walking down your driveway during hunting season, experience suggests they’re about to request permission to hunt on your property. But this stranger wasn’t wearing Hunter Orange camouflage or toting a shotgun.
  • Much has been made of the demise of print journalism. People get their news these days on their computers or phones. Sadly, I’m one of them. If you’d told me a dozen years ago, or even half that number, that uncorking the print version of the New York Times wouldn’t one day be as integral a part of my morning as freshly squeezed orange juice, I’d have said you were nuts.
  • I swallowed hand sanitizer last week. But it’s not what you’re probably thinking. I wasn’t seeking some home pandemic remedy. I’m fully vaccinated and boostered. It was all a mistake and a relatively expensive mistake at that.
  • Until last week my knowledge of the Berkshire Museum was limited to the controversial 2018 sale of many of the gems in its painting collection. They included Norman Rockwell’s “Shuffleton’s Barbershop,” a gift to the museum from Norman Rockwell himself. Over fifty million dollars worth of art was sold to keep the museum’s doors open, build its endowment and renovate.
  • The temptation, after we repainted the small cocoon-like sitting room, was not to rehang the photographs that previously covered all four walls. With a sloped ceiling, a couch, a few small side tables and a compact window it was cozy the way it was. But there was no question the photos were returning. My father had decorated the room with them before I was born and it was perhaps the house’s most distinctive.