Tag Archives: saranac lake

City Boy?

I dunno.

Maybe you can take the boy out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the boy. Maybe we’ve found that we need a little town with our country. Fact is, we now live in downtown Saranac Lake, and we love it. I love walking to shops. I love seeing the fireworks (New Year’s Eve) from our window. I love living in a walkable “Main Street USA” sort of village that has wilderness, boating, and hiking trails within walking distance.

I won’t be too overt location-wise, but we’re pretty much right here at the corner of whosits and whatsis. If I had my windows open, you could call my name from the library steps and I’d hear you.

We’re functionally moved in for now, and we’ll be completely moved in soon. (The RV/Cabin stuff has been moved, but we still need to get the really juicy stuff out of the storage unit.) Meanwhile, it’s fun to be buying curtain rods and pulling things together. Not surprisingly, now that we have a full-size refrigerator and freezer, I’ve become obsessed with freezing things. I think there’s an extra five pounds of mashed potatoes and enough meat for two weeks up in there.

Here’s a few more moving-in-week shots. Nothing’s finished, but we’re getting there.



Filed under adirondacks

A is for Abode

Remember how I went on and on about those little A-frame houses and how quirky and neat we thought they were?

Be careful what you wish for.

We’re moving to downtown Saranac Lake. A small A-frame apartment has become available to us, and it’s a very generous, kind offer.

We adore the apartment, it’s in the village, walking distance to the library, grocery, shops, friends, restaurants. And even with all that, it’s still a bit hidden – off the main road, and overlooking trees. If you’re familiar with the backyards and alleys of downtown Saranac Lake, you might recognize it. (And no doubt, a few readers are very, very familiar with the steeple in the far distance of the photo.)

We will be keeping the Gabriels property. It will become our Summer putter project, much like our neighbor. Perhaps we’ll sell the RV next Spring. Maybe. However, the little cabin will be staying put, and our names will stay firmly printed at the top of our deed. (And tax bill!)

The thing is, the RV is hard. We like it, but it’s hard and it’s expensive. As you know, we take a well-cover off and fill a cistern every day, even when it’s twenty below zero. Every day. We heat an uninsulated RV with propane. It’s a gigantic bill, which takes the rest of the year to pay off.

The pipes freeze a few times a year and have to be thawed and/or repaired. The RV has to be insulated in the Winter, but the insulation can’t stay there for the Summer. We had to have an RV tech in to fix the furnace a month ago. Now the thermostat is now broken … again. I put in a new pump last year – hanging out of the hatch outside on a 20-below day. We carry around a blowdryer because the RV door freezes shut twice a day. I have to defrost the condensation off the windows and mop it up with a towel each day or we get a one-inch-thick window sill made of ice. And of course, we live in about 260 square feet. (Plus 130 sf in the cabin, if you’re willing to go out to start a fire in the stove.)

Compare that to, as I mentioned, a very generous offer.

Little A is four rooms – a bedroom in front, a living room 12×18′ in the middle, a small-but-not-too-small kitchen, and an oddly large bathroom (which I love). There’s a 10′ wide wall of deep closets, and most of the “corner” parts of the bottom of the A-as-in-A-frame have built-ins. The living room has a fireplace and mantel, and although we won’t be using the fireplace, it’s pretty nifty. I want me one of those fakey woodstove electric heater things for it. And our “stuff” will look terrific in there.

That’s right. No more storage unit bills. There will probably be overflow (remember we once had a 1700 sf house full of bric-a-brac, wall things, hundreds and hundreds of books, and general stuff, other than the furniture we got rid of), but the overflow can go into the cabin, because most of the cabin furniture and whatnots will come with us.

Further reason that I love it? It was once the home of Isabel Smith, a tuberculosis curing patient, who became rather famous when Eisenstadt photographed her in Saranac Lake for Life magazine. Isabel was also a memoirist, who wrote about her time in Saranac Lake. Elise Chapin, who ran The Pot Shop on Main Street in the 1950s (and who was also a cure patient and author) also made Little A her home.

Sweet place. There will be plenty of the outdoorsy work stuff I like so much, lots of opportunity for my obsessive snow shoveling habit, and plenty of chances to get in my messing around with plants and fanatical grass mowing.

In sadder news, we had a weasel (or something) attack earlier in the week. Three of the hens were killed (but not eaten). Another had no marks, but seemed very listless and strange. We ran to the store for some StressEez, gave her some extra feed and corn, and we warmed her up. She rallied a little, but she didn’t make it. My favorite yellow Gwen (my Orpington) is still alive and doing perfectly well. Although she seemed sick, she’s now fine. She will be adopted by one-or-another friends when we move.

Good news and bad news. But life is good, and that’s how it comes, right?

You all give me a holler when you see me hop-skip-and-a-jumping the to the library, or down to the Left Bank for a bite. But don’t bother coming up the hill for a visit and knocking on the door … when not playing my piano indoors, I plan to spend most of my time soaking in that big clawfoot tub.


Filed under 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.


Filed under adirondacks

Hanging with the Hobos

A good time was had by all – judging from the crowd – at the Hobo Fest.

The other day, we happened on down to the tracks and the (beautifully restored and displayed) Union Depot in Saranac Lake for the Hobo Fest. The event was principally a music sort of thing, with lots of super fun good ol’ tunes from lots of different folks  throughout the day. Really neat. We ran into many, many friends. It was awesome – the music, pulled pork sandwiches, grilled eggplant, the depot – sublime. Especially for train lovers. (Although I fail to see what this all has to do with hobos – Some hobo stew for sale and a little hobo/train history set up in the depot would have pulled the theme together nicely.)

Everybody’s a critic, right? I shouldn’t quip. It was totally well attended, and it was fun.

NewYorkRailroads.com tells us that, “Saranac Lake’s Union Depot was built in 1904 by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, consolidating the passenger operations of the Chateaugay Railroad from the east, and the New York Central Railroad from the west. This depot is on the same site as the old Chateaugay depot, which was moved across the tracks and attached to the old freight house as an office.”


I’m guessing that old Chateaugay Depot is the old thing still standing across the street from the current depot.

Another awesome thing I learned – That previous New York Central passenger depot was actually on Broadway, up the tracks a little ways. Maybe the brick building next to the Kinney drug store? Or where Aubuchon Hardware is now? That makes more logistic sense.

It’s totally a history mystery.

You have a great day too!


Filed under adirondacks

Beater to Sweeter (in two acts)

Act One

Well, it’s just weird enough. You know Mister Big, the Sex and the City character? We now own his Mom’s car. Evidently, they have a summer house up here (in a village I shall not reveal), and had an “up North” car that didn’t get used much. And we bought it. Shades of Seinfeld.

We are now the proud owners of a white 2002 Mercury Sable (of all things), with a super lean 70k miles behind it. Little old lady from (Passadena). The thing looks as if no one had ever stepped foot in it. Interior, spotless. Exterior, spotless. No rust. No corrosion. The engine, spotless. When we test drove the thing, we were all lah-dee-dah-look-at-us-in-the-fancy-car. Felt like a stay at the Ritz.

Act Two

A new car means lots of things. Good things. Real good things. No more constant (monthly) repairs. No more getting stuck all over the place because the car broke again. We’ll have windows that open. Air-conditioning. A sound system. That nifty hatchback-or-backseat option. Better gas milage. And oddly enough for us, it’s as nice as the cars we had rented for vacations.

Well, whatta ya know. A car from a dealer with a warranty. Does this mean we’re adults? If you are ever in the market, we recommend Evergreen Auto in Saranac Lake, recommended by our mechanic, another mechanic, and many friends.


The Jeep? Poor thing. She’s headed to the bone yard. With almost-monthly visits to the shop, sensor problems, wiring issues, a leaky transmission, brake problems, leaks in the windows, an impending inspection, and a habit of refusing to start when it’s below 50 degrees … well, she’s gotta go. In her defense, she provided a helluva basic ride for a while. RIP, Ethel.



Filed under adirondacks

Morning Coffee

Regular readers might know that I really get into flipping negatives, creating more of those positives.

We only have one car. (I use the word “car” dubiously.) So, when I want to go into the church to practice, I go in very early, with J to work. Of course, I don’t want to go blasting away on a pipe organ at 7:30 in the morning. So, I’ve started my own personal tradition. Before I go into practice, I take the Coffee Walk. Our sights, sounds, and public spaces in town are so lovely in the morning, I thought I’d take you on a tour.


Filed under adirondacks

Fortunes of Time

We went over to Lake Placid tonight, and had dinner out, thank you very much.

As things on the financial front have leveled out a bit, we felt that the least we could do for ourselves was go out to eat. Multiple choices of course, but we’d never been to the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, so we thought we would give it a shot. Decent food, good beer, and although the decor isn’t much to write home about, the brick floor entrance of the old church it’s housed in is to-die-for. I want to go to that Alpine looking steakhouse place next.

It’s unpopular around here to say it, but say it I will – I like Lake Placid. It’s pretty. They have nice things there. We have nice things in Saranac Lake too, and I choose to make Saranac Lake my “town,” because it’s more me, and I find it a little more real-life. But I don’t think that’s any reason to dislike Lake Placid on principle. I think it’s nice. So there.

We stopped by Ben & Jerry’s and had some dessert, took a little walk. I like the Christmas store (whatever it’s called), but tonight I stopped in my very favorite store  – Fortunes of Time. Whoever owns/stocks/designed this place sure had my number. I walk in the place and I feel like I am in some sort of bliss dream that might be titled, Ultimate Night of the Senses. The pinecone hanging bells, the scent of honeysuckle (or something) in the air, quiet music, hundreds of scented candles, woolen mittens, throws, trinkets, piles and piles of cozy and quaint. I came out the place tonight and said, “We need more money. I want some nice stuff.”

Speaking of the fortunes of time, we had a nice drive around Saranac Lake on the way back home. We looked at some houses for sale, learned a few new shortcuts, and discussed the fact that I have a meeting about a nice little-job possibility next week. (I ain’t sayin’.)

Now, we’re not exactly actively looking to buy a house in town. But you see, we’re possibilitists. We like to remind ourselves that with the proper amount of time and effort, most things are possible. Will we take out a loan to build a new house right here? Will we go with a small cabin instead? Will we finish the improvements and sell this property as a building lot? Will we buy a completely different house in town? Will we build small and keep the place here, while buying something similar in the South for Winters?

Anything’s possible.


Filed under adirondacks