Tag Archives: holidays

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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Coming and Going

I’m wandering around in a bit of a cloud, but as the Sondheim song goes, “I’m still here.”

Lot of disorienting stuff all in the same week. Nothing too shaky, just one of those weeks where there’s so much going on, you frequently have to stop to think about whether you’re coming or going.

There’s a chill in the air. It’s dark early. Halloween is big and busy at our place. The weather changed and we’ve been getting snow. I have a cold. I had my new group start singing this week. I have a lot of work planning for Christmas to get done. We had a service Saturday as well as Sunday this week. I have orchestra rehearsal for two different concerts a few nights a week. I left (resigned from?) a little side job I had. I still have Winter’s-Comin’ chores to get done around here. As I say, nothing too terrible, and some of the busy-makers are downright awesome. It’s just a lot.

Hey, look! Halloween! I didn’t get any great photos, but I took a few. Less kids than last year – it was sleeting – but we had a great time, and a few neighbors came over at different points in the evening to hang out with us and have hot cider in the cabin, with a fire going. Here’s a few shots of the graveyard. Boo!

My new choir group sang for the first time in church today, and I was super proud. This group sings more contemporary music, lighter pieces. For this first time, we warmed up with a unison piece. Lots of dynamics and tempo changes though. Went off without a hitch! The group’s ability to follow is uncanny.

As I said above, I left/quit/resigned from a side-job that I’d had. Another church meets at St. Luke’s after we finish up, so I was playing for that congregation too. In the best way, it was a few more bucks and I liked being available for them. In the worst way, it was preventing me from going to St. Luke’s meetings, attending coffee hour, and really getting to know the St. Luke’s congregation at close range. As St. Luke’s is my I-chose-it-and-it-chose-me church, and because I am a salaried employee, I felt like my attention was being taken away, to some degree. So – although I don’t like to use the Q-word –  I quit the other church. I felt bad for doing it, but I felt deep down, it needed to be done.

What I didn’t mention above? My quit smoking date is tomorrow. Actually it was tomorrow, but I ran out, so it’s technically now. I had a visit with my doc, have my box of patches ready, and I’m motivated. I suppose that’s about all there is to say about that, other than wish me luck. I’m not looking forward to it, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to it. I’m considering keeping my eyes open for a treadmill for the tiny cabin. Celebrating the Winter with health.

So many changes.

As the cold season comes upon us, I start to cook. Fried zucchini yesterday. Snickerdoodles today. I have a really interesting Fried Pasta recipe ready for this week. (You heard me correctly – Fried Pasta.) I’m also obsessed with Cornish Pasties lately. So, needless to say, I see some English meat pies in our near future.

Speaking of meat pies, that brings us full circle. Since we started with a Sondheim lyric, let’s close with one.

Well, ladies and gentlemen
That aroma enriching the breeze,
Is like something compared to its succulent source,
As the gourmets among you will tell you, of course.
Ladies and gentlemen you can’t imagine the rapture in store,
Just inside of this door.



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Rest in Pieces

The gravestones have been prepared.


The graveyard fence is being built.

The ghouls are in queue, waiting to emerge.

The lights and electronics have been tested. And (a few miles?) of extension cords, power strips, and black tie line have been assembled.

Must almost be time for the annual Gabriels Graveyard! Can we call it a local institution if it’s only the second year?


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The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells

I never miss an opportunity to throw in a Poe quote, do I? Go on with your creepy self, Edgar. Beautiful words. At any rate, I’m thinking a lot about bells this week, and Poe’s masterpiece came to mind.

We’re headed for Fall and I’m thinking about handbells. I love handbells. I really do. Ha! Let the Handbell Dork jokes fly! I have a sense of humor about it. I figure everybody is somebody else’s weirdo.

Our church has a magnificent set of handbells (truly), and I’m hard at work sorting far-flung boxes and boxes (and boxes and boxes) of music, finding the bell tables and stands, choosing music, putting books/folders together, and even writing and arranging music for the Handbell Ensemble at St. Luke’s.

Rather than doing a wall-of-people-at-tables-out-front performance sort of thing, my preferred approach to the handbells is a bit different. I see those crystalline tones as an organic part of a whole. Perhaps the bells chime the hour or play a prelude from the organ loft. Perhaps they support a hymn along with the pipe organ. Perhaps a simple, quiet solo or duet serves as special music. Small. Simple. Organic. I’m aiming for a quartet, or an octet at most.

Is it too weird to be dreaming of Christmas music in August? Ding dong.

You have a great day too!


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Ice Palace Lighting and Fireworks 2010!

I’m your man on the scene, Friends! Rushed right back here to get the video put together and posted. We had an awesome time at the Ice Palace lighting and fireworks – ran into many friends, watched the spectacle, toured the 2010 Ice Palace, froze ourselves silly!


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Adirondack Yule Log Blog

Happy Christmas, friends!

I’ll be buzzin’ for a few days, so I thought it would be nice to leave a fun post here at The Pines. If you’re in Saranac Lake on Christmas Eve, stop by the Unitarian Church for A Victorian Christmas in Saranac Lake at 6:30, in the (newly restored) Trudeau Laboratory Building on Church Street. Adirondack Christmas stories and holiday songs. And people in old-timey costumes. Random coolness. I’ll be the one at the piano.

Of course, you’re aware of those DVDs (and TV stations) that provide you with a video fireplace/yule log – music and all. I thought that would be a nice post for the holidays. Here’s an awesome Yule video, Adirondack style. Even has good music. Enjoy the fire, and you have a great holiday!


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Holiday Revelations in the Adirondacks

Well, we did spend a small fortune buying ourselves a car, a 32′ RV, and a move to the Adirondacks. It’s been an expensive year. Being that it’s just the two of us, we thought we’d let Christmas go this year.

How wrong I was. This weekend brought one wonderful thing after another.

Friday night we went to a wonderful potluck dinner, and I was reminded that I had met some folks I really liked. And I was reminded that I need to work harder on that. Reaching out and staying in touch and all.

Saturday morning, a neighbor gave me a face cord of seasoned wood. He doesn’t have a wood stove, but when he cut the trees, he went to the trouble of splitting the wood and storing it, because he just figured someone would need it at some point. “Consider it a Christmas gift,” he said.

We spent a few hours cleaning up the cabin, and Saturday night, I put up our little tree (period-correct Victorian, of course), and all the Christmas decorations. With a fire going. That’s my first-ever woodpile in the photo.

Sunday, we were invited to brunch at a beautiful house on a gorgeous lake by a super nice couple who we have much in common with. And at said brunch, we met another super nice couple who we have much in common with. How nice it was to laugh and laugh and laugh at things we all have in common, to be able to share a sensibility. Amid delicious food.

Sunday afternoon, we rushed back to let the dog out and put the chickens in, before a rehearsal I had for the church Christmas Eve service. There on our steps, wrapped in holiday cellophane and a bow, was a huge plate of cookies and cakes. From a neighbor. If I’d had the time, I might have wept. But we had to rush off to the church.

Sunday evening, I went to the church to meet a dear friend, and a new friend. We did some final planning for the Christmas Eve service, a stories-and-songs sort of thing. I played through some music, came up with the basics of what will be the arrangements I’ll play on the piano. I love playing Christmas music. It’s not a regular church service sort of thing. It was started because my friend wanted to come up with something nice that everyone would feel welcome at for Christmas Eve.

I don’t want to disparage the city, but in over fifteen years, I just never experienced this sort of thing.

Perhaps the difference is that there are so few people here in the Adirondacks. With so few things tugging at us, we’re more focused on each other. Neighbors are more permanent. Friends with whom you have things in common are more rare and precious.

Happy Christmas week, Adirondacks.


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