Lake Placid 2014

Uncle Lowell gets a campfire started under the watch of Whiteface Mountain. (click to enlarge)

Uncle Lowell gets a campfire started under the watch of Whiteface Mountain. (click to enlarge)

If absence does make the heart grow fonder, then we are quite fond of the mountains. The Adirondacks, to be specific. In early August, we were back in the High Peaks region 2 years after our last visit; our 2013 trip was not made. And so our return was a welcome reminder of what we missed and if this corner of creation spoke to our souls before, this year’s trip was a full and orchestrated chorus. The strength in the majesty of these mountains is humbling, and the serenity can be downright spiritual. There is plenty to admire and respect in what we see and hear, and I am grateful that ours is a family that can see this, but grateful too that this awe is not debilitating. Continue Reading »

Rack ‘em up

Kayaks and canoes, ready for action.

Kayaks and canoes, ready for action.

It’s a good problem to have: 4 kayaks, 2 canoes, 3 bodies of water within 5 minutes of the house to explore. Life jackets and paddles are plentiful; we only wish time were the same. But as busy as life gets for us, we decided some time ago that we have no excuses. With this much water nearby, we need to be on the water. So from time to time, we excuse ourselves from work around the house, load the trailer and head to the water. This is a routine we’ve found a rhythm for and when we all work together, we make the most of our time and enjoy the break on the water. But when we’re not on the water, we have 6 crafts and all the accessories to store and leaving them on the ground just isn’t our style. So with much thanks to those who provided birthday gift cards to a local lumber provider, we got to work in July on a kayak/canoe rack to store these vessels and the result is what we see here. Continue Reading »

Tree time

It's said firewood heats you twice. It's one of life's truths you can count on.

It’s said firewood heats you twice. It’s one of life’s truths you can count on.

The only thing more fun than using a chainsaw is having a tree to cut to pieces. Especially if that tree is a walnut tree, which when seasoned, burns noticeably warmer in the woodstove during those chilly winter days. The king of all firewood situations, though, is getting to use that chainsaw, on a walnut tree … that you get for free. This was the setting not long ago, when the neighboring farmer took down a walnut tree on his land and laid it on the ground just behind our property. Mr. Farmer has made it no secret that trees often interfere with his work, especially black walnut trees and their acidic root system that can affect crops — his livelihood. Black walnut trees are plentiful in the area and the straight ones are harvested for lumber. But they’re not all qualified to be lumber trees, so when you can get one for firewood, it’s wise to not let that opportunity pass. Continue Reading »

Soggy Spring

In the cellar, looking out to our backyard. There is 1 more step at the bottom, under the water.

In the cellar, looking out to our backyard. There is 1 more step at the bottom, under the water.

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a month since we opened our cellar doors one Friday morning to discover water. Lots of water. Some water, we’d learned to expect. The root cellars of old houses tend to invite moisture, but what we found on May 9 was beyond expectations. Uncharted waters, you might say. We joke now, but there were few smiles that morning. It was the same day Penn Yan was dealing with devastating floods there and while we didn’t endure anything close to what those poor souls were dealing with, our own corner of the world was a bit exasperated. My knees are roughly 17 inches from the ground and the water in our cellar covered that. My first thought as Amy and Graciela prepared to leave for the day was to let our sump pump do the work. It might take a while, but that’s all we had at the time. Then it dawned on me that sump pump failure was the reason all this water was in our cellar. Continue Reading »

Finally, Spring

Playing peek-a-boo at Kershaw Park in Canandaigua.

Playing peek-a-boo at Kershaw Park in Canandaigua.

We’ve learned here in New York that anticipating seasons do you no good. The calendar may read March 20, but that in no way means Spring is here. Instead, we just anticipate warmth — whenever it decides to arrive — and finally, it is here. One of the big reasons we’ve been anticipating warmth so eagerly is because Graciela’s been a bit of a caged animal since learning to walk over the winter months. She made tracks around the house but as you might imagine, her little legs and feet are no match for ice and snow. We’d hold her to the kitchen window and explain to her that once the warmth arrived, the grass would be green, the sun would shine, the birds would be singing and we’d set her loose to run and run and run all over the yard. So over the last couple of weeks, we’ve rejoiced at the onset of warmth and filled her days with hikes, playgrounds and backyards. It makes for one happy — and tired — baby at the end of the day. Continue Reading »

Graciela eats

Not only does Graciela eat Chorizo, she loves it!

Not only does Graciela eat Chorizo, she loves it!

We’ve all got to eat, right? Until Graciela came along, it was something pretty much taken for granted in our household because Amy, Alex and myself were pretty good at it. But working with a new human brought some new perspective, especially for routine tasks like holding a fork, waiting until the food cools and making sure the food was diced small enough for her. So now that we’re approaching her 17th month (wow!), it was interesting to thumb through the photos of her taken while eating and see the progression. She’s gone from having to be fed to feeding herself. And while she’s still hit and miss with utensils, you sense she at least understands the concept but often opts to stick with the hands. She’s got her favorites and can even ask for some by name. So if you’re ever over for dinner and you have some cheese that you don’t want to share, don’t let Graciela see it. Continue Reading »

Graciela’s glasses

Graciela and her glasses.

Graciela and her glasses.

We first noticed late in the autumn of 2013 that Graciela had an eye that tended to drift in, toward her nose. So we made an appointment and following a series of short tests, a doctor informed us that she is far-sighted. It’s not uncommon for children this age to be far-sighted and there are several ways to treat this, the first being eyeglasses. Of course, we want the best for Graciela but that doesn’t always jive with her wishes. So she was fitted for glasses and when they arrived, the result was about as expected: She wanted nothing to do with them. In trying to figure out just how we were going to get her to wear the glasses, our babysitter offered a genius yet simple solution: Give Graciela a toy for each hand, then slip the glasses on while her hands are occupied and she can’t push them away. It worked, and for the last 3 months or so, she’s been wearing them regularly and even has the word “grasses” in her 15-month-old vocabulary. Graciela’s followup appointment in early February went well and the doctor noted progress in the correction of her alignment. The hope is that wearing the glasses will continue to the progress to the point where she won’t need them anymore. So in the meantime, we’ll just continue to love up our “adorable little dork,” as one family member so endearingly dubbed her. Continue Reading »

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