Tag Archives: small town

Lotta Locomotion

Lotta locomotion, that’s what  I need,
If I’m ever gonna take the lead.

It’s lyric from the Lloyd Webber musical, Starlight Express. Steam power vs. coal and electric. Singing trains. Anyhow. In this case, the lyric is apt. I thought of Granny Sue all day, because this is exactly the sort of thing she’s always going to.

We took the White Knight on its first mini-roadtrip today. The urge to get up and go has been right there in the back of our heads, simple because we now can get up and go. We got up and went to the Antique Power Show outside Potsdam, at a museum by the same name. Awesome old steam powered rigs, restored tractors, portable saw mills still in use, ancient farm equipment restored to working order. Sort of a exhibit/fair for antique engine enthusiasts. Pretty cool.

And because of the mud and the fact that some of the exhibitors didn’t show up – free admission today. Awesome. And frankly, the affair was still pretty large. We were there two or three hours. But let’s tell the story in pics …

Headed out, Malone-ways.

(Tasteless joke warning.) They were using the tape to keep people off the buggy, but I thought maybe they were filming an episode of that new TV show. You know – Law and Order AVU: Amish Victims Unit.

This impressive old thing separates wheat from chaff, even down to tiny seeds.

Lots of restored antique tractors!

Neatest thing ever. This sugar shack is a post and beam structure, built from scratch last year to house a sort of sugar shack museum, featuring antique maple sugaring equipment from all over the area.

Good shot of a burly beast!

Coming back home – Hey! There’s Canada! Does your Taco Bell have a view like this?

Got a little muddy up there in farm country. Better stop off at the carwash and clean off the White Knight!

You have a great weekend too!



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Express Train to Wonkyville

Hey, friends! I hope you’ll pardon the incoherence of this post, if indeed it needs pardoned.

You see, I started my Chantix prescription this morning.  I need to quit smoking – for good this time. The stuff has totally got my head spinning. I’m really feeling quite wonky.

I had an awesome Winter Carnival weekend (due in large part to our local police, who don’t get thanked enough).

Saturday morning. Starting positions for the parade back up Route 86 for quite a ways. Which we forgot about. After about ten minutes of sitting bumper to bumper in the Route 86 Parking Lot, we were getting nowhere fast, and we needed gas. Turned around, grabbed some petrol in Gabriels, and went to Saranac Lake via Bloomingdale.

During our turnaround, we witnessed a lady stopped in the middle of the highway, on the wrong side of a steep hill … taking pictures of the mountains. Cars quickly braked and lined up ten deep behind her. Another person – Wrong side of a hill, no shoulder, walking the dog. At the time, the two incidents were alarming, but they’ve faded into “amusing” in the post-Carnival haze. All told – We got through the Dale and met friends for the parade, on time.

Sunday morning took me to church to do some ivory-tickling, and then across the street to another church (it is called Church Street) to warm up for the Fifteenth Annual Winter Carnival Baroque Concert. Lovely concert in the lovely Methodist Church Sanctuary. Some amazing musicians, including Elaine, our orchestra Concert Mistress – amazing – on the Cinema Paradiso piece. I only squeaked a little on the clarinet during the march, and Joey and I shook the classical crowd up a little bit with our showtune/hoedown/swing/kitchen-sink four-handed piano duet.

Monday was rest and a dinner party with another group of visiting friends – got back at 11pm … way past my bedtime! Tuesday is Chantix Side Effects Day. Wonky.

Ah, well. At least I have an excuse to lie down for a while.


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You’ve Been Orchestrated

Funny story.

Bartók_Béla_1927On Sunday, it was Bartok Day at church. (As in Bela Bartok, crack American composer, and sometime Summer resident of Saranac Lake.) Most Sundays, I sit down at Bela Bartok’s piano (!)  and play the service all by my lonesome. (Actually, it was his wife’s piano, but let’s not split hairs. Surely his hands touched those keys.) This past Sunday, we had lots of awesome musicians playing Bartok pieces in honor of The Master. 

BE086560Anyhow. On to the story. I asked a musician friend if there was a community band or orchestra. I thought maybe I might like to pick up my seriously rusty high school clarinet skills again. She said that yes, there indeed was a community orchestra. She wrote down the leader’s name, and I thought I’d hunt her up next week or something. Maybe. Got the info, I’ll be thinking about it, end of story. Not so fast! Totally unbeknownst to me, somebody talks to somebody else, wheels turn, the second someone evidently knows who I am, the leader goes by my partner’s office the next day, and sends the clarinet score and a rehearsal schedule home to me. I had to smile at the small-town-telegraph element of the whole thing. And wow … Talk about a recruitment policy!  

Interesting side note – When we were leaving the city, I looked at my clarient, and thought, “Eh, I hardly ever touch the thing. I guess I might as well keep it. Maybe there’ll be a community band or something.” And here I am! Meanwhile, said clarinet is in the storage unit 40 miles away in Plattsburgh … and there’s a rehearsal Thursday. Ah, well. In the time being, I can at least listen to the CD and pick out my part. Sort of. I’ve been listening to a London Symphony recording of the thing all night.

One thing I can say for it – there’s lots of notes, and they go by very quickly!  


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Moving on to Adirondack Pleasures

The old house is now just a rocky hole in the ground, the rock wall along the road is built, the water line is heat-taped and buried,the last dumpster in gone, and I have a quote for a load of “dirty sand” to level out the big house hole. Am I preparing to settle down for a Winter full of rest and RV rum toddys? No way!

Now I can move on to some of the things that I moved here for in the first place! Oh, I’ve got all kinds of projects and pleasures on the docket for Chill Season. First thing will be finishing up the planks on the inside of the cabin, and then I’ll move on to re-configuring the chicken yard and fence – it’s going to all become more of a small barn. (Yeah friends, I consider this stuff fun.) 

castleIn the recreation department (you heard it here first), a few friends and I are planning on building the first annual Gabriels Snow Castle. Granted, we can hardly compete with the Ice Palace down the street, but we’re going to try for a fairly ornate couple of decent sized snow castles. If you dare me, I might even put lights in them. In an effort to educate myself of the building of such edifices, I did some looking around. We’re going to go with the snow-bricks-in-a-mold method, rather than the bunch-and-mold method. I had a lot of trouble finding info and pics of homemade snow castles out there on the internet, but I came across a few. Something along the lines of the thing pictured here. 

pisgahThe other biggee for the Winter season? We plan to spend plenty of time at our local town mountain, Mt. Pisgah. I think the fact that we have a small town slope – with a tow and everything – is the neatest thing ever. I’m a bit of a snow sports dilettante anyway, so a season of tubing on a small mountain sounds pretty good to me. (And heck, you don’t even have to walk back up the hill!)
Pretty neat, huh? Especially neat when it’s only seven miles down the road. There’s a little lodge at the base, and I think it’s a pretty cool place. We even drive up there in the Summer to take in the view.

What are your Winter plans, friends?


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Dear Diary

Busy day here, and that’s an opportunity. I thought it might be fun to present the day’s news in a slightly different format. Today I’m totally “Dear Diarying.” Only you’re the diary. And I’m hoping that it might be vaguely interesting to see what exactly it is I do around here all day. 

7am –  Unseasonably warm in the Northern Adirondacks – 50s and sunny. All the same, I didn’t feel much like playing with the chickens this morning – maybe I didn’t sleep well. Felt unusually tired. I let the hens out into the run, filled food bowls and changed their water. They seemed happy enough with just that. 

8:00am – Went to fill the water tank on the RV (one of my morning chores), but … froze hose. Set the hose out in the sun for a while. Grabbed a cup of coffee at the store in the time being. The Sun did the trick. Must remember to get one more length of heat tape and pipe insulation. 

9:00am – Walked up to the post office to get the mail, and noticed a pair of dogs roaming around out back of my friend’s antique shop in the old grange hall. I stuck my head in the door of the workshop to see if he knew anything about ’em, but he wasn’t there.  By the time I got back, the dogs were in my yard! They were gone soon enough. Don’t know exactly where they went. 

10:15am – Had an awesome cup of coffee and good-natured chat out on the porch of the store with my friend from over Onchi. It’s a morning ritual (as you know), but today was especially nice. 

stones11:00am – I discovered last night that I had placed my Halloween graveyard too far from the road – couldn’t see it tucked back in the trees. So000, I took it all apart and moved them ol’ styro-stones near the road (and even grabbed a few old chunks of rock from the foundation to make a few extra headstones). Got the floodlights hung and bolted in, and we’re all set for a week of Halloweeny goodness. The pic isn’t our yard, but it’s close – gives you the idea. We have the stones, skeletons, fences, and all. It’s not a remarkable display, but respectable. I’ll add the fog machine and some lights in the trees on Halloween night. 

11:30pm – My awesome friend (who was also my teardown guy) came by, and we whiled a way an hour or so sitting on the remains of the foundation chatting about this, that, and the other thing. I don’t have a lot of friends in my age range or specific peer group, so I think of this particular pal as my reverse-friend. That is – twelve years younger, rather than twelve years older. He brought me some earthworms for my chickens. Predictably, it took us 30 minutes to get them to even peck at the stupid things. We’ll see how that shapes up.

Photo_102109_0101:00pm – Quick peanut butter sandwich, and time to move the trailer (pulled by the neighbor’s big red tractor) over to take another load of house-chunks away. I have grown to absolutely loathe this task. The chunks of house are, on average, about 6 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. I guess I don’t even mind the work so much, it’s more that I have been doing it for a month. Today … a reprieve! A neighbor from around the corner was walking by and we had a nice chat. And in the lady-power department, she totally climbed up in the junk pile and helped me flip a huge chunk onto the trailer that I couldn’t lift by myself! Awesome. 

3:30pm – Finished raking up the remaining rubble from where the pile was (I’m particular), and I’m exhausted. But today’s assignment is done. Probably one or two more loads, and the site will be clear. Friend that owns the antique shop in the old grange was coming back from a walk with his dog, and we visited for a few minutes. We chatted about the town nay-sayer – who quipped that “those two boys will never get that house down by hand!” (And then we did.) And that I had no business building a rock wall, and couldn’t do it. (And then I did.) Made me laugh. 

4:00 Dead tired, and I have a hankering for a brown bottle with Mr. Labatt’s name on it. I was never much of a beer drinker, but oddly, I really do find that at the end of a hard-work day, I feel a little less beat-up after a pint. So, I grabbed a beer and headed across the street to another neighbor’s house for a visit.

000_18515:00pm – Still at the neighbors. Funny story – My friend’s toddling daughter went home last night after being across the street at her grandma’s house. Mom noticed something on the little girl’s shoes, and after she got home called Grandma. “Mom, is there crap on her shoes?!” Grandma replied, “Not from my house there isn’t.” Mom takes the little girl to daycare the next morning, and the leader says, “What is that! Is that crap on her shoes?!” And then she smells the shoes. “That is crap! She has crap on her shoes! I’m gonna have to go scrape that off with a knife.” Mom says, “I’m so sorry! I don’t know where it came from!”

The little girl had been over at my house with her grandma, chasing chickens in the chicken yard … running around in chicken crap! 

Which reminds me of a compliment I was paid on Saturday night. A student that I know from the local college mentioned that he hadn’t been around when we were tearing the house down, and wanted to know if we used a backhoe or a bulldozer. “Neither,” I replied, “We used a sawzall, a steel cable, and a jeep.” Impressed, he said that I had officially graduated. I asked him what he meant. He explained, “Tearing down a house with a jeep and a rope? Dude. That is so redneck.”


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Beholding the Cozy

Sometimes, one is so wrapped up in what one is wrapped up in, he or she forgets to look around and appreciate what he or she has. I think we can all agree on that.

I like to think that I’m the type of person that remembers that while our Adirondack Lunacy live-in-an-RV plan may be a little inconvenient at times, we really have it pretty good. There are many, many folks who are plenty worse off. Anyhow. You’re likely familiar with these sentiments. In a nutshell – Our petty annoyances are pretty much insignificant in the grand scheme of things. That part of my gratitude landscape is well-trod. However, yesterday I discovered a side trail on that particular topo map. I posted a Facebook update yesterday that made me realize something. Here’s the post –

” … had coffee with the chickens, hauled junk, lunch with a neighbor friend, and a rum toddy with another neighbor in front of a woodstove. Awesome. Now off to night-time work for a few hours.”

img_17741A year ago, I might see a country friend post something like this, and I would think, “Cool. I wish I could do that. Maybe someday.” I guess I have been so focused and busy with the vaudeville of tearing a house down by hand, I haven’t stopped to think about how the curtain has been raised on a new act. As I look back at that post, I feel like I am analyzing a script that turns out beautifully at the end of the second act. The chickens. The work on my own property on my own terms. The lunch at the little diner. The woodstove and rum toddys in the neighbors cabin. It’s totally all there. 

(He crosses to the RV. The lights dim. Curtain.)


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Back in Action

And, here I am, friends.

downsized_1013090712I’m totally back into the swing of my little Adirondack charms-of-the-country world. That’s how it feels this morning anyway – the first snow outside is gorgeous, I tromped over through the blanketed evergreens to visit friends this morning, the dog romped in the fluff for a while, and I’m having my coffee and my toast by the window, watching the flakes come down. 

Yesterday was a little less idyllic – I finished up the clean-up and haul-off on one side of the house. But no matter. Today isn’t about reality. The flakes are coming down a bit harder as I type, and my only plans today involve snow-exploring and hot chocolate. 

The trip to Philadelphia was wonderful, and thanks so much for the well-wishes via comments here and Facebook friends. It was nice to have you with me. The show went nicely, and I got to play an awesome 9′ Steinway. Super fun. I’ll have a short video-of-questionable-quality up in a few days. Just a little tour of the space and a few notes on the big piano. 

downsized_1010091533Know what I really loved though? New Hope, Pennsylvania. I had never been, and a side trip with friends showed me what I was missing. It’s an absolutely gorgeous little town – super quaint and unlike many quaint downtowns – really quite bustling. Dozens of interesting stores, lots of variety, beautiful buildings, and a serious anchor in the form of a major regional theatre. With all these shops and restaurants, a few B&Bs, and the theatre – people everywhere. This place is a total destination. Anyhow. I was very impressed. New Hope is just about the best model of a revitalized downtown I’ve seen in a very long time. (Saranac Lake, where art thou?)


Are things good around here? They’re as good as they’re going to get, and that’s something to celebrate. It’s a beautiful day in the Adirondacks.


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