Tag Archives: adirondacks

Merry Christmas from Saranac Lake!

I’ll catch up with you later in the week, friends.

It’s Christmas week and I’m super busy!

This morning was the Christmas Pageant at St. Luke’s in Saranac Lake, and it was absolutely awesome. In addition to the really beautiful work done by Barb and the pageant crew, I had the honor of playing the entire service as a piano & pipe organ duet with our former organist and good friend, Curtis Mercier. It was absolutely wonderful. I wish everyone could have heard the music filling the church and ringing through those historic rafters this morning. It humbles me to know that Dr. Trudeau and generations of Saranac Lakers have been seated in the very same pews, listening to and singing the very same traditional melodies for many, many, many years.

If you’re in the area, up in the morning this week, or you’d like to stop by on your way to work this week – Monday through Thursday mornings, I’ll be playing quiet chants and music of the season on St. Luke’s beautiful pipe organ, from 8 to 8:30 am.

Please feel free to stop by if you’d like to sit quietly, escape the hustle -and-bustle for a few minutes, meditate, or simply enjoy a few tunes. No need to stay the whole time, and you’re invited to come on in whenever you’d like.

The candles will be lit, the red front doors will be open, the accessible ramp and side door from the driveway side will be open, and as always, all are welcome.

*   *   *

A special Merry Christmas this week to Irish45 – a fellow Saranac Lake lover, a fellow student of local history, and someone who is always super kind to this humble correspondent. Thank you so much for the lovely email. Wish you were here, but in lieu of a long trip, here are a few photos – the one of the church in the snow is from earlier this week.



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City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks

One of the first things I noticed about Saranac Lake in the Winter was those nifty little sidewalk snow plows they have. A little mini plow the width of the sidewalk. Never saw such a thing. In the city, each resident was responsible for the sidewalk out front, and if you didn’t shovel it, you got a ticket. Merry Christmas from New York City!

Hey, look! Snow dog! We’re all out in the snow! For us humans, most of our outside time is spent shoveling. We’re looking at five days of snow, probably a foot or more so far. We like the entire width and depth of our driveway cleared, so we’ve been out there each day, sometimes twice. As I’ve said before, I think it’s fun. Although I have to admit – Sometimes, maybe once a week, when it’s a night shovel and I am lifting the last scoop full, I start to think twice about shoveling a 25 x 50′ driveway by hand. But usually I’m just smiling. It’s a sickness.

In other news … it’s Christmas! Between community-fun-friendly activities and work activities, my Winter comes in like a lion (as they say). Truth be told, I bailed on playing in the orchestra for The Messiah. I realized that in all of the month of December, there were only five days that did not have something marked on the calendar. Something had to go. I was doubling a part anyway, and learning the music would have been a time problem. So, I bailed. But, now I know what level of activity I can handle for the holiday season. Of course, I’m still playing in the orchestra for the Holiday Concert at Will Rogers (this Saturday at 7:30pm), and all the super neat stuff at St. Luke’s – morning meditations, Christmas Eve, Sunday holiday services. And I’ll play in the Winter Carnival concert. More on all that later.

Inside the ol’ tin can, we’re warm and cozy, but we have the usual Winter water problems. Often, the water is fine. But depending on the direction of the wind, the day of the week, the phase of the moon, and how far below zero we are, lines freeze up. Usually just part. And usually not this early. At any rate, something’s frozen in a weird place I can’t get to. I’m considering two plans based on go-another-route-because-it’s-just-going-to-happen-again.

Plan A is a more advanced version of what we have previously called the Laura Ingalls Wilder System. Maybe put a heated 40 gallon cistern in a corner inside, or a stock tank outside the door with a heater. Fill the cistern (tank) each morning from the well. Keep a giant pot on the stove over a low flame for hot water (à la the Wilders). Maybe something with a spout above the sink for washing dishes. I know it sounds crazy, but believe it or not, we’re used to it.

Plan B is a little more involved. Most of the plumbing and the cold water lines are inside the “basement,” under the bedroom where the furnace and pump are. Those never freeze. Never-ever. But the hot water and kitchen lines run under a section of floor that I can’t get to. Those are the lines that give us trouble. I could potentially take the lines out and relocate them to inside the heated area. However, re-plumbing half an RV is a huge project.

Now, where did I put that giant stock pot?


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Advice from the Wilders

Twelve hour power outage yesterday.

The electricity went out at about one in the afternoon, coming back on at about one in the morning. Odd thing being, it took me a while to notice it. With the battery backup and 12v system in the RV, the only things that need grid power are the microwave, air conditioner, and wall sockets. Although my computer ran out of juice, I hardly needed the air conditioner. And we had light, water, the furnace, and the ability to cook.

Although we probably had two days worth of power if we were conservative, we decided to be super-conservative. If this ended up lasting a few days, I wanted the furnace working as long as possible. Of course, I still allowed myself the luxury of a shower at night and a shower in the morning. That’s the best part of having power even if the lines are down – the 12v water pump still works.

If the outage had gone on for several days, we would have (as we have before) gone pioneer and moved out to the tinycabin, stoking the woodstove for heat. We’d use the propane stove. We would toss a five gallon bucket on a rope down the well to get water, and then heat it on the woodstove. We’d take a half-bath in a washtub.

And then Laura Ingalls Wilder would walk in and whisper, “Hey stupid, the power’s been back on for three hours!”



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Down South, Adirondack Style

It was time for the annual Drive-to-Lake-George-and-Queensbury Pre-Winter shopping trip. Two hours South. I totally should have asked Carole if she was in the area! Didn’t think of that until we got back.

Am I allowed to call it an “annual” drive if it’s the first time we’ve ever done it? We wanted to last year, but we didn’t trust the Jeepalopy to take us there and back. South of Lake George, in Queensbury, it’s sort of an outlet store situation. I know folks always say that outlet prices aren’t what they ought to be, but at least in Queensbury, I find they are. Great quality stuff at great prices (as they say).

In addition to the shopping, the drive is spectacular, especially when the leaves are at peak color. Check this out – Keene Valley, near the AuSable Club …

We’re pretty good on coats and quilt-lining jackets and such. (I have a serious jacket habit.) And we don’t really wear hats. Hate ’em. I use the hood on my parka instead. But, being as we couldn’t get down there last year, when last Winter came, we were still standing in our three-year-old leaky, beat-up New York City pseudo boots. It was seriously time to remedy that. J got some duck boots, and I decided on calf-height, fuzzy-lined, waterproof Bass boots. Of course, I had to try them on in the parking lot to take a photo …

Got to work on our Halloween shopping too. I added a few full-sized skeletons, and I picked up the stuff to make some more gravestones. Now that we have the space, I do a big Halloween thing each year. Satisfies the now-latent theatrical designer in me. I used to love to design shows. Expanding on last year’s graveyard, I’ll be getting to work soon. Big project. Suffice it to say, there’s construction involved, and I’ll be going up a ladder into a tree to hang the theatrical lighting. Right here in little ol’ Gabriels! Here’s a shot from last year …

However, as far as I am concerned, the event of the day was lunch. We went to The Log Jam, a favorite restaurant. We love it. The food is good, and I like the fact that they have an excellent salad bar and fresh bread. But I think the real reason we love it is that it reminds us of eating in Walt Disney World.

How’s your Winter shopping and Halloween plans coming, Friends?


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Adirondack Skies

Around here, we’re always commenting on the skies.

We see a lot of sky. We have a nice clear shot at home. (It would be clearer if they hadn’t installed that damned street light.) The view we see on our six-mile daily commute is pretty amazing too. Across the little mountains back behind Gabriels, then over the peaks beyond Saranac Lake, and finally, across the entire valley, past Bloomingdale and over Whiteface. Lots of sky. It’s amazing to be able to see entire weather systems, and to be lucky enough to quite literally drive through clouds. The quality of the light and sky is different here. We usually explain it by saying, “The sky seems a lot closer.”

I snapped this pic standing in the driveway just now, between thunderstorms. I think it looks like a monster mouth in the middle of the photo is eating the universe. (Isn’t there something like that in Ghostbusters?)

Below is the famous view from Donnelly’s ice cream stand in Harrietstown, over to and across the valley, past Bloomingdale, past Whiteface and the other peaks. It’s amazing how this view changes from day to day, from season to season.

This next one is from a few years ago – another yard shot – when we were still camping out in the cabin during Summers. I noticed it was particularly bright out … Get a load of that moon!

Yeah, it’s the classic view, from the top of Whiteface Mountain. Just about everybody who has ever visited Lake Placid has this photo. But I never get tired of it.

Happy view! You have a great day too!


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The Tiny Beach

I’ll admit that I really dislike exercise in a fairly considerable way.

But I love swimming. Why did it take me so long to realize that swimming is exercise? I have no idea. And in this part of the Northern Adirondacks, there’s no shortage of swimming opportunities. When one friend invited me to the-pond-that-shall-not-be-named, and then another friend suggested exactly the same pond, I decided to call it fate. We have dozens of awesome swimming holes within five miles of our place. But this one is super, super close. Less than two miles from home. Needless to say, I’ve been down at the pond three-days-out-of-three so far.

It’s little. If you had ten people on the landing/beach, it would be seriously crowded. But usually, you’re the only one there. The proximity is a lot of the attraction with this particular site, but I also like it because it’s fairly hidden, a bit of a secret, because it’s more sandy than mucky, and because the short walk down to the pond is just as much of a treat as the water.

I don’t like seaweed and muck, so the fact that the tiny entrance “beach” has a sandy bottom is a big plus. Of course, it tuns to goop a little ways out, but by then, you can’t touch the bottom much anyway. The water has been awesome – nice and warm, with a cool current coming past every now and then. Even after the storm we had yesterday, the water was still super warm.

I suppose I’ll soon be getting to the point where I want a little more of a challenge than swimming 75 feet across the pond and back, but for now, it’s just enough of a swim for me. I do two or three back-and-forth laps each time I go.

Hey, look! That’s me out there!


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A Lack of Stuff

Kathy at White Pines Whisper recently got me to thinking. (Beautiful haikus by Kathy and others are featured in the comments of a previous post, by the way.) Kathy said in a recent post, “Stuff ain’t where it’s at, people.” Being as I am a stream-of-conciousness kind of guy, and I saw the word conservation, I got to thinking.

You’ve probably noticed – we live in an RV, situated on our own property. Granted, we also have a 10×14 cabin with a woodstove, and we’re talking about a 32′ RV with a full kitchen, plumbing, furnace, and central air. However, it’s still small. Conservation is a necessity. Conservation of both resources and of space. We use about 40 gallons of water per person each day (as opposed to the US average of 75 gallons per person per day). We use much less electricity. (Awesome.) And of course, we use much less space than most folks would. Everything we own fits in the RV or cabin. We do not have much stuff.

Reactions to the RV vary from incredulous to blasé. Frequently, the incredulous responses end with, “But, where do you keep your stuff?!” Easy. We don’t have stuff. Actually, we still have plenty of storage space free, and we really don’t go without. It’s surprising how much one is able to simplify when the need arises.

We’ll build a house when we feel like it. I guess we just don’t feel like it yet. I love living in the RV in Spring, Summer, and Fall, and I don’t mind it terribly in the Winter. And – here’s the biggee – it’s free. We already own it. In the winter when I get a little stir-crazy, I go out into the cabin, light a fire in the stove, and find something to do. Read by the fire. Or play the piano. Honestly, there are plenty of people that live similarly in our immediate area – cold water cabins down Keese’s Mill, RVs on secluded lots, those older mobile homes that look like RVs on back roads. I think the oddity is that we’re so visible, not that we’re so singular.

Of course, every so often, you get a jackass.

We were once at a party with a group of friends. The sort of large party where you don’t know everyone really well, but you’re at least acquainted. One of guests was making fun of people who live in trailers over in Lake Placid or something. Going on in the poor-white-trailer-trash vein. Some story about a community meeting or something. I believe he concluded with, “They shouldn’t get a vote, hell, their house in on wheels.” I walked away. A bit later, a friend replied, “What a jerk.”

Do I take pleasure in the fact that this guy couldn’t hold a candle to either of us – intellectually, professionally, or otherwise? Yeah, I do. I’m sorry about it, but I do. It’s hard not to be petty. I know I shouldn’t be. I try not to be. So, I still talk to the guy. Some. Try to be at least a little friendly.

Besides, isn’t living well the best revenge?

Viva RV!


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