Christmas 2014

A family portrait from January 2014.

A family portrait from January 2014.

Yes, it’s March, almost April. But if you are familiar with the kind of 2014 we had as a family, you’ll understand why our Christmas letter is just now making it to press. To put it simply, we all were very eager to see 2014 in our rearview mirror. The challenges of last year include, but are not limited to: the passing of Amy’s mom, keeping up with 2-year-old Graciela, losing my job at the Rochester newspaper, dealing with one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record for our area, and the usual pitfalls and hurdles of keeping a household on pace as smoothly as possible. Truth be told, it would be difficult to endure a more trying and pressure-filled year than what we had in 2014. This is not a complaint; it’s a reflection of what was and make no mistake, there were heavy hearts and tears in 2014. We did have our smiles and moments of joy, they just weren’t as often as we’d like them to be. But as December drew to a close and the clock ticked down on that 31st evening, we all stayed awake so we could officially escort 2014 out the door and usher in 2015. It’s been better, so far, and still looks promising.  Continue Reading »

Our soccer star

Teammates voted Alex co-captain of the team.

Teammates voted Alex co-captain of the team.

It’s been a couple of weeks since Alex wrapped up his second season of modified soccer at Honeoye. So life and schedules aren’t quite as hectic now that he doesn’t have games and practices after school, and we’ve been able to work our way back into some semblance of order in our daily lives. Not that we’re complaining about the soccer season; not at all. Alex and his teammates didn’t win a lot of games this past season, but really, that’s not what’s important. Not at this level. Sports for junior high students are all about learning and progress, and we saw plenty of that with Alex. From last fall to this one, we saw Alex become more assertive, more direct and more cerebral with his game. Continue Reading »

Autumn’s arrival

The maple in our backyard embraces the arrival of autumn.

The maple in our backyard embraces the arrival of autumn.

The onset of autumn is subtle and gentle, drawing its arrival on a combination of the leftover warmth of summer and the inevitable chill of winter. The creation of our favorite of the seasons is unique in that way, as if it knows it’s better to soothe its way into our lives rather than scream into our ear like its cruel cousin winter. Autumn is lush and brisk, soft and fiery, sometimes all at once. Lush in its warm afternoons and brisk with crisp evenings. Soft with the dying breaths of summer pushing leaves to the ground, fiery in the brilliant colors of foliage that ironically signal the end of a cycle. Is death supposed to be beautiful? Of course not. But somehow, autumn pulls it off. Yes, spring can make us feel young again, but autumn should be acknowledged as the landing pad for the wisdom and knowledge nurtured during the growing season. And just as the leaves fall to fertilize the earth, so too does wisdom around us. Now is the time to slow down, take stock and allow the knowledge gained become the mulch that feeds our growth. There are trees hundreds of years old that continue to grow each year because of this cycle. We should not expect anything less of ourselves.

Firewood frenzy

Henry David Thoreau said “every man looks at his woodpile with a kind of affection.” He’s correct.

It’s interesting how firewood has become such a big part of life here on Big Tree Road. It’s even more interesting the draw it has and the literal enjoyment it provides since so many of memories from my youth were cursing the very existence of this wretched resource. Yet here we are in 2014, and I really do enjoy it. Cutting, loading, unloading, splitting, stacking, moving. Whoever said firewood heats you twice apparently wasn’t very good at arithmetic. We’ve written about the joys of firewood before, whether it was stacking the wood we bought, or relishing the tree felled by a farmer who was gracious enough to give that tree away. Those events pale, however, to the developments that started to unfold in mid-August when that very same farmer informed me that he was clearing land for more crops and that I was welcome to any and all trees he had left in a pile. Continue Reading »

Sandbox dreams

Graciela's dream of a sandbox is finally a reality. Just like this smile of hers.

Graciela’s dream of a sandbox is finally a reality. Just like this smile of hers.

It’s quite satisfying to stand back and look at something you made, nodding silent approval for something created with your hands. It’s quite satisfying on a whole new level when your 2-year-old daughter smiles that adorable smile of hers and runs to play in the sandbox you’ve just unveiled to her. Even if that smile came at 8:30 on a crisp autumn morning. The breeze was brisk and chilly. Jackets aren’t normally sandbox weather, and her tiny shoes were coated with sand, drawn there like glue by the morning dew. These are the things I noticed, but she didn’t. All she knew was she finally had her sandbox, and the buckets, shovels and rakes she had could finally be put to use. The next day, a bit warmer, she spent close to 3 hours in the sandbox and cried when it was time to come inside. We never like to see our kids cry, but this display was bigger than any “thank you” she could say. She truly loves her sandbox, and all I can think in return is that it was my pleasure. Truly. Continue Reading »

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 »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers