Road Walking, Urban Walking, USA
Comments 20

‘Sno Day for the Faint-Hearted

Hey, all. Well, as one Pony Express rider remarked to another, it’s been way too long between posts.

A lot has happened, and almost nothing at all, but somehow I’ve accumulated enough material over the last few weeks for several posts. It’s just that all the actual living part keeps getting in the way.

It’s a weird life but it suits me; a little weird is good for the soul. I’d have a hard time accounting for how I’ve been spending my days once Kate and the girls depart for their respective schools each morning, but the door slams, the van crunches down the snowy drive, and I’m alone — almost — in this warm upstairs room of an otherwise chilly cottage, a pair of pesky woodpeckers tapping at the eaves just above the study window, and the lack of clear objectives is at once liberating and disquieting.

So I mess around with pictures and the odd word or two, tease the cat when I need a break…

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Moe — and his shadowy Moecifer self

..gently prise his incisors from my wrist, talk to the houseplants, cook all-too-occasionally, sweep the swathe of pre-schooler debris from the kitchen floor, walk a mile or 20 or some sane compromise between the two, do some shopping, nap, listen to music on the dozen-plus Pandora “radio” stations I’m nurturing, and — oh, so that’s where the days go.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty and tension regarding legalities, paperwork and procedures, but overall life is good — just weird.

Meanwhile, Winter. The house continues to extend its icy fangs…

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Crepuscular Cold: pre-dawn skies from the front porch…

..and two or three times (yesterday was the latest) the knee-high drifts of Christmas-card frosting smothering the yard have been supplemented from above:

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..and an early-evening snowfall.

Meanwhile I somehow adapted. The big surprise for me has been how tolerant I’ve become of the cold here upstate. After that initial brush with agony on anything longer than a 10-minute stroll, I somehow got my fingers to forget that they were supposed to be throbbing in distress and so drained of mobility that just doing up a zipper is torture.

Maybe it was all that walking. I got over the jetlag and dis-/reorientation and started exploring. It’s fun not knowing where the neighbouring streets lead (usually either Rt 9 or a dead-end), and I’ve been an ephemeral figure on most of them lately.

A few times I’ve made it the three-and-a-bit miles into the strip mall zone of Saratoga Springs via narrow, snow-lined roads…

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A Passing Shadow

..and I’ve also managed one real mountain hike and a couple of epic road-walks (one 20-miler), with my hands bare when I can stand it, and my camera batteries freaking out and flashing the “depleted” icon at me after a mere hour or two of well-below-zero fun.

Kate and I love our Friday nights after the kids are dropped at their dad’s, and our weekends of diner breakfasts, hanging out, Sunday-night dinners and as much time in the icy outdoors as we can stand. Bizarrely, it’s been Kate doing most of the whining about the cold of late! When I watch my fingers turn blueish-red it’s no longer through teary eyes. Anything down to minus 10 Celsius feels balmy so long as the wind isn’t too cruel.

True, sometimes we’re driven back into the warmth of car or cafe, as we were here at the Saratoga Performing Arts Centre parklands…

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A Hockey Game at S.P.A.C.

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Skaters, S.P.A.C.

..but I’m increasingly feeling like a local.

Maybe it’s the beard, which is coming along nicely.

Meanwhile, the last of my boxes got here from Korea, one of them at a crucial time…

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Extra bedding arrives in the nick of time.

..and the tricky process of adjustment to a radically different home life after years of rambling and near-constant solitude has had its highs and lows but is working out:

'Despicable Me 2' is still hilarious the 100th time. Apparently Kate & I resemble the protagonists.

‘Despicable Me 2’ is still hilarious the 100th time. Apparently Kate & I resemble the protagonists.

What else? We love our embryonic study:

The study/kid-free zone takes shape.

The study/kid-free zone takes shape.

I bought a drill, lamps, cheap rugs, some kit-furniture (if you heard someone screaming blue murder one recent Saturday morning, it was just me attempting to put together a pair of supposedly easy-to-assemble Swedish chairs), and this post is coming from atop an item I’ve long coveted and absolutely love, my new stand-up desk:

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Johnny, Dee Dee, my ‘Breaking Bad’ snow globe, and the nerve centre of the Goat that Wrote empire

I narrowly avoided death by chocolate on Kate’s favourite Hallmark Holiday, Valentine’s Day…

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There were no survivors.

..and on a few joyous occasions the sun has come out and the walking has been truly delightful:

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The Blue House is green in certain light.

Twice, though, “winter storms” (as the weather stations call them) have closed businesses and schools, with chaotic consequences. On the first, the snow was banked up early on the skylight…

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..and the poor Radio Flyer once more retreated to hibernation:

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The kids donned snow gear for an hour or so of yard play. My version was shorter and more contemplative:

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A friend with a borrowed snow plough — in this case Kate’s brother The Dude — is a friend indeed on such days…

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..and I discovered the unexpected satisfaction of snow-shovelling, which felt like good exercise, up to a point:

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But cabin fever set in around the time of the third or fourth toddler brawl, and I realised how damned thirsty all that shovelling had made me.

“Just going out for some beer, babe.”

“Alright, be care…”

But I was already gone, fighting through the snowbanks and swirling flakes…

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..to the local gas station for a six-pack of Saranac, and trudging the half-mile back along pleasingly deserted roads…

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..to a tranquil scene that I swear wasn’t staged for the camera:

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We’ve had another official “snow day” since. More on that and my other adventures soon — promise — including further evidence of my assimilation into life as a Northerner:

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~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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20 Comments

    • Yeah, it’s a big state up here! Much as I love NYC, it’s a real eye-opener how much else there is to this state. And I still have no experience whatsoever with the whole western half.

  1. Some fabulous shots here, my friend! Do I sense you’ve made landfall on that magical and hard-to-find shore of contentment? That house looks so beautiful… Lovely, lovely. And the beard — even more important now (intrepid explorer through the snow, the warmth factor etc)… I just loved this post.

    • Appreciated, SW. This was a hard/time-consuming post to write. I’m finding that those “catch-up” posts after a period of blogging inactivity/procrastination are the hardest to write and organise the pictures for.

      This is a sweet little house but it really needs some work/money invested on it. Apparently structurally sound, which is nice! Also a nice big yard, Spring will bring a new set of challenges and pleasures as we plant a garden. Overall, yes, very content despite this little voice which keeps asking how long the money I’ve saved will last… But no regrets, every day brings some kind of pleasure.

    • Thanks, Sue, we’re a bit concerned about the rain forecast which will wipe out a lot of the snow just as we’ve bought the snowshoes — but more white stuff also predicted for next week! Life is good!

    • Ta, Sandy! That was bloody hard work to write and put together, and I felt such relief after it was done. Glad you liked it too.

  2. Goat, I love this post and its wry observations. I still think pound for pound yours is the best blog in the entire goddamned internet. You never disappoint and it’s a travesty you haven’t picked up some blog awards with the quality of writing and photography consistently displayed.

    I laughed when I saw your computer set up, as I also included my own in my latest post. Mine pales in comparison, as you beat me to it. Again!

    Hopefully I haven’t pissed in your pocket too much! I don’t want your head swelling to the point you can’t escape your igloo when you need to go out and get a coffee, plus a sugar fix!

    • Greg, your comment made my day, thanks!

      We’ve had this weird spell of balmy weather melting the snow the last couple of days — as a wannabe Northerner, this peeves me as it interferes with my snowshoe regimen! More snow due mid-week, though…

  3. Glad to hear that you’ve adjusted well to living in a snowy northern place and are settling in with Kate and the girls. In this series of photos, I especially like the contemplative section and the photo of the girls at the table. Today our usually green landscape is covered with 6 inches of snow which will likely melt within a day or two. I was just outside sweeping the snow off of my car. My hands turn blue and red in the cold, too. I wonder if we have some of the same DNA! Haven’t been out in the snow until now because I haven’t been feeling well but do enjoy a good long walk through the woods in the snow.

    My long-term unemployment has been both liberating and disquieting, to borrow your words. It will have to come to an end soon as my savings are dwindling. Once again, I am considering working as a medical transcriptionist and speech recognition editor but will have to take a 1-year online refresher course first. That work doesn’t pay well and has its predictable annoyances and frustrations, but I enjoy it more than anything else I’ve ever done for a living, and it allows me to choose the hours that I work and to work at home.

    As I am writing this, your comment about the Picasso quote has just come through on my blog (-:

    • I enjoyed that Picasso quote — for those who didn’t catch it on your blog, here ’tis: I am always doing what I cannot do in order than I may learn from it.

      Sounds like that online course might be worth the trouble. So hard to find work that’s satisfying. At some point I will (all going well) have to seek out employment here — all I know is what I don’t want to do. Essentially, teach English!

      By the way, love your ehader shot. Hope we can get our study looking that cozy.

  4. Wow. Quite apart from the loveliness of the red flyer and berries against that gorgeous blue house, I am struck here by the enormity of what you’ve undertaken. To go from your solitary existence to living with three small girls, well, that’s an adventure/ordeal of epic proportions. I know that feeling of just needing to go OUT very well, and I only have two kids, and a six year age gap between them. Kudos!

    • Cheers. Friday night is definitely my favourite part of the week, and the weekends are so peaceful — we even have a ritual of doing a 6-mile round trip on foot on Saturday mornings to get breakfast. Having this little refuge upstairs is crucial too.

      Yes, the house is very cute but needs a lot of work — as just one example, I recently discovered woodpecker holes in the siding :(. And we have a lot of painting etc to do, inside and out. The big project in the warmer seasons is going to be the gardens, though, lots of planting and construction — we think the girls will help, or should I say “help”?

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