My Homes This Week

From our company Grand Meetup in Vancouver to home in northern NY to working while camping at my favorite beach (Southwick) to relaxing with friends while camping at Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks. Fantastic week.

Back to College

It was so wonderful having Hudi home these past 2.5 weeks. Lots of great conversations, catching up on paperwork, walks and relaxing together. Definitely a treat.

I’m loving the fact that he is so excited about going back. That makes it much easier to say goodbye. Finger Lakes Community College has been a great place for our family. I’m so thankful for the teachers and staff there. They provide a fun, safe place where our young adults can get a high-quality, affordable education.

Trails for Dog Lovers

I sat on a rock for nearly two hours last Thursday. It was just Star, Chris and me, watching waves roll in.  And it was heaven. Last month our friends Mary Ann and Ken showed us a park in our area that we had never heard about. Wehle State Park quickly became a new favorite. Before it became a NY State Park, it was owned by Robert G. Wehle–a sculptor and nature enthusiast who had a passion for dogs.

When you arrive at the park (which has no entrance fee), it’s immediately inviting. Picnic tables are nestled under trees, and there are huge lawns beckoning people to run and play. Signs tell of the history of the place (it was once a military training ground then later, a cattle ranch). There is a visitor’s center with more interesting details about the place. Outside that is a sculpture of a dog that is real enough that Star got all excited and tried to greet it as a new friend.

There is a road, right past the enclosed dog-run area that leads past an apple orchard into the trees, and at the beginning of the road there is a water spigot, with a dog bowl at its base. We walked the trail for nearly two miles before arriving at a pavilion on Lake Ontario. That led to a stone stairway that led to the  rock where we picnicked and rested. Since the area was relative small and somewhat closed off, Star was free to play and didn’t try to roam, making for a super-relaxed afternoon. Want to share the delights of the day (and our last visit there) with me? Here you  go:

 

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Closing Time

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And on that note, we end our 25-ish years of owning a house in Houghton. We technically moved a year ago, but this past year has been filled with many trips back-and-forth as needs arose. Now it’s time to officially cut the cord.

We were fortunate enough to find people who will hopefully love the place as much as we did.

It was not perfect, and it’s time to move on as the arena changes.  Small-town politics are never fun, and the economy is seriously struggling in the area. It’s not an ideal place for our family now as our kids are grown and moving out into the world. I recognize that.

But there are many happy memories that keep me grateful. I know our children would not be the people they are today without the support of our community there. The town was like a throw-back to the 1950s, and our kids could explore the fields and woods with a freedom not often found in our world today.

As I said goodby to a couple of super-close friends on Wednesday, I asked two of them what they planned to do in the fall when their kids were all in school. Both expressed a desire to simply be on call to help others as needs arose — babysitting, meals, weeding, driving others to dr appts, etc. And that’s the kind of community our children grew up in.

Our children colored in books while listening to musicians who performed in Carnegie, and wandered through countless art exhibits at their leisure. True benefits of living in a liberal arts town. They ran from bears, played with foxes, bridge-jumped and caught crayfish in the creek.

It was the town where my mother-in-law met her husband, my parents met, Chris and I met, Lauren and CJ met, and Zeb and Bri met.

Now the house echoes without our children and their friends. I was all right with the move for the most part. Mostly because I’m 100% sure I will go back to visit my friends. But there was one particular item that was really tough to leave. At first we were going to bring it with us, but there’s a point when we must realize that you can’t always take physical things with you, and we do have the memory. It’s our measuring wall.

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One of the things I love most about it is that it doesn’t just show our kids’ heights. It had cousins David and Nate on it, and friends like Andrew , JD and Dakota. The measuring includes Grandpa and even our cats and dogs.

I will also miss our fun coat hooks and our kitchen, which was filled with love and laughter as our kids grew up and as we enjoyed our years running a home daycare. So many crafts and experiments were created in that room!

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As I pulled out of the yard for the last time, I began to listen to a book. By the time I rounded the bend taking me towards Letchworth State Park, about 15 minutes from my past home, I heard:

He learned how to strip the tattered bark from an old tree and take the thing right down to the ground, without sentimentality or remorse, in order to demand life back out of it for a dozen more seasons to come. – Gilbert, Elizabeth. The Signature of All Things: A Novel (Kindle Locations 164-166). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am a bit sentimental, but there is no remorse. And I do realize that it is time to strip our lives on the western NY front bare so we can re-grow in this new season of our lives. How beautifully fitting.

Here’s to a dozen plus more seasons to come!
And Houghton? Thanks for all the fish!

Visiting our Kids at Camp Sandy Cove

Remember going to camp when you were younger? Warm days spent learning fun things, getting dirty, singing silly ditties and playing pranks. Good times, indeed. Zeb, Hudi, Bri and Mollie still get to experience this annually as they work at Camp Sandy Cove in West Virginia (Mollie grew up attending the camp, which is super-fun). In my opinion, their camp is even cooler than most. Not only do you get to do the normal cabin/hiking/swimming sort of activity, but you also get to learn to shoot rifles, cook outdoors, do some high-flying on a trapeze, mountainboard and skateboard (among other activities).

The kids have been asking us to visit for a few years, and we really wanted to go, but it just didn’t fit in our schedules. We had planned to finally get there on the way back from Utah, but that all fell apart. Then we discovered an unexpected window of opportunity.

On July 3, the kids asked if we were coming the next day. Since we were moving a load of beds from our old house to our new house, and we had plans with friends on July 4 (plans we made last February) I told them we wouldn’t make it. Then the load moved super well, and our friends had to cancel. We realized we could make it. At midnight the kids confirmed it would still work for them, and by 5 am, we were on the road in our reliable new-to-us car.

Wahoo! Since we left at 5 am, and I worked on the road, I was able to put in a full work day by the time we reached the camp so I could immerse myself in enjoying time with the kiddos. We got there right in time for lunch. Sons and dad caught up (it was Hudi’s day off, and he was tired. I didn’t notice he was yawning in the image below until much later, and I didn’t get any other shots with just the three, so this will have to do. It’s real, anyway). We also got to officially meet Oliver, Bri’s hedgehog.

My guys (minus CJ). It was Hudi's day off, and he was tired.

My guys (minus CJ). It was Hudi’s day off, and he was tired.

After lunch, Zeb had some time before his next session so he did some skateboarding with Chris.

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I somehow didn’t get images of Zeb’s rifle-ry session that he taught, although it was fun to watch. After that, we attended Bri’s outdoor living session and made waffle smores and learned to tie different knots.

Mollie, Hudi, Chris and I went into town and perused through a few shops that were open on the holiday while Zeb and Bri finished their sessions for the day. We met up for dinner, and the campers put Zeb on the spot to serenade us all. This was a highlight of my day. They started off with a verse of “Sing us a song, Chief Zeb,” which I did not get on film because it was unexpected. Apparently when this happens, if the person called on does not sing the song, they pay a forfeit. Later Zeb said that he was thinking of not singing until they started in with “for your Mother, Chief Zeb, for your mother.” He said at that point he knew he had to do it. What a guy 🙂

Bri still had activities to cover after dinner so we hung out a bit as we waited for her. Zeb had designed this mountain board course, creating elements out of beds that were getting thrown away. He is so creative with scrap. Just like his dad. Some little children helped with the painting to make it look good. This was Chris’ first time on a mountain board, and he is now addicted.

Finally we were all together, and we decided it was too late for a movie. Instead we went out for ice cream, stopping for gas. As I wrote in a previous post, the kids had persuaded us that the Honda Fit was a great car. This is the first official pic of the Blueberry (as we call Bri’s car) next to our Blackberry.

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Sadly, due to the holiday, our ice cream place was closed, but that did not deter us. We each grabbed some treats from the gas station and had an impromptu night-time picnic that lasted until past midnight. So much fun being with those kiddos. It really cracked me up when they mimicked the person in the ad behind them as I took their pic. And guess what? I found Ring Dings! (which are sadly no longer available in our local store).

We spent the night at the camp instead of the hotel we planned on staying in because it was offered to us, and that allowed us to spend more time with the kids. Before we left, we got to see Hudi in action, doing his job.

Hudi in his element - the kitchen

Hudi in his element – the kitchen

That impromptu visit was a treat that is already a highlight of my summer. Love those young men and women!

Here’s a summary of the day thanks to Google Photos:

On the Road Again

IMG_3342Northern NY, Connecticut, northern NY, West Virginia, northern NY  (with relatives visiting) then western NY. Those were our past two weeks. Very fun and very full. And I fully intended to write, but somehow when I finished my work each day, I was packing, unpacking or just plain ol’ hesitant to crack a computer. I’m a wee bit fried, but it’s all good. Loose ends are finally getting wrapped up, and our lives on the western front (of NY) now have an expiration date.

I’ll do this in catch-up pieces so it’s not too bulky. Let’s start with the car. Times are changing. My man can fix anything, and we live accordingly. In our now 25+ years of marriage, we get a mini-van every few years. They are rust buckets he fixes up, and once we bought one with less than 100,000 miles on it. It baffled us. We kept thinking something was wrong with the odometer. But you know what? Chris is so swamped with our life changes–adjusting to a new home and weeding through generations of treasures from the family (now that we live in a home once owned by his grandparents), that he just doesn’t have time for the car maintenance. And now we want to spend time we have traveling and visiting our grown kids. This last trip to Utah was an eye-opener. It’s time for things to change in our arena.

So we opened our minds to alternative choices.

CJ has been raving about his car deal and telling us it isn’t a horrible move getting an other-than-rust-bucket. And Zeb and Bri (Zeb’s girlfriend) have been saying the same. Bri has had a Honda Fit for many years, and adores it. The more they talked about it, the more we realized it might be the perfect Fit for us (see what I did there? Haha). The mileage is excellent (42 mpg on highways) and with it’s high roof for a little car, it holds a ton. Depending on how you configure the seats, you can easily fit snowboards or bicycles inside the little thing. And the front seats recline so they are almost completely flat in case you want to sleep in the car (which we do in our minivans when we camp). Aaaand we’ve found quite a few Fits for sale with around 250,000 miles on them. Apparently the engines last forever.

We hit Craigslist and dealer sites and found a dream deal in Ct. It seemed so good. We called in the morning, and they said it was still available so we hopped in our broken minivan and took the 4-hour trip to Ct. Only to find out that it was sold the day prior.

Yeah, you read that right. The day before.

And we are very proud of ourselves. We didn’t let ourselves get too depressed, and we didn’t blow up angrily or lash out — all of which are natural instincts. Instead, we parked at a gas station, pulled out the mi-fi and our computers, and really started researching. Connecticut has a lot more Fit opportunity than northern NY. After a half hour or so of dedicated research, we found a place with a beautiful red Fit. I hit their live chat (which I love to do since I do live chat in my job — it’s fun to be on the other side of it). The car was there, and twenty minutes later we were there.

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What a difference from the first place, which made us feel like we were in a machine (one with false info). This place was down-to-earth and friendly. Yet professional. We drove the vehicle and loved it. We didn’t feel pressure, muss or fuss, even though we were getting close to their closing time. In fact, it was only upon our questioning wherein they let us know of other options. And we fell in love with a black one. With tinted windows so my computer won’t get overheated as I work while traveling. And lots of USB ports and charging areas. As a worker-often-on-the-road I was sold.

Chris was sold after seeing the moon roof.

We drove back the next day to pick it up and had a delightful experience at a local coffee shop as we waited.

So yeah, we have officially entered the world of grown-ups. Thanks to our kids. And now have a reliable car. That had 26,000 miles on its odometer (now it has 28,000). This is perhaps a dangerous thing. But it’s amazingly fun. Thanks for the prodding, kiddos!

PS. Not gonna lie, it was a bit embarrassing to realize that we are so outdated and behind-the-times that when we went to leave the lot, we realized we didn’t know how to start the thing. Had to ask for help. How embarrassing, yet funny. I get that.

 

 

From Snow to the Snows — in June

Our final full day in Utah was spent on the ski/snowboard slopes at Snowbird. Yes, it was June 10. Let me say that again. June 10. And we were at the slopes. Can you feel hear my heart beating faster? Oh the joy of that day!

The altitude got to Chris a bit (on his fourth run of the day), and he was pretty wiped out after a mogul run 🙂

Lauren and I enjoyed the festival below as the guys boarded and skied.

We wrapped up a perfect day by heading back home and having a lovely dinner out. On the way home we saw a mini-cyclone. Since it didn’t seem to hurt anyone, we thought it was pretty cool. Later that evening we were treated to a view of the strawberry moon rising. So beautiful!

Sunday morning was sad. Don’t be fooled by those smiles in the pics. It was super hard saying goodbye to this incredible couple. We miss them so much already. That entire visit was a gift beyond words.

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One last cup of coffee together. Then time to hit the road.

On Sunday, as we drove, I was forced to admit that if I ever do this trip again, I won’t even attempt to work in the car in Wyoming or Nebraska. The Internet was super sketchy–even with Cricket and Verizon hotspots. Thank goodness for good hotel wi-fi’s and a job with flexible work hours!

Sunday night was spent at a hotel in Nebraska — at a hotel that I will be fine never visiting again. Good news though. If you ever forget your key there, you can get into your room in less than half a second with a credit card 🙂

Monday found us spinning the tires towards friends/co-workers in Missouri. While the day started out nice and sunny, it changed. We didn’t experience any of the tornadoes that were appearing around the country that day (for which we were thankful), but driving was a bit tricky at times, and the hail was pretty loud.

bad weather

In the evening we made it to the home of the Jason and Kristen Snow. They are my co-workers, so many of you might have already met them if you have an upgrade and have used the WordPress live chat options. They also have a fabulous blog. They are nomads so we were lucky to catch them home. In fact, they left shortly after we did for their next Grand Adventure. How we love these two and their three dogs!

I’ve been told by many people in my life that they have never seen people like us. We work super hard then we stop on a dime and play hard. It’s all about balance. My co-workers seem to live by this standard as well.

We relaxed for an evening, slept, then all hit our work super hard for a full day. Barely a sound was heard as Chris did his art, I worked on mobile support for WordPress apps, and Jason and Kristen had meetings and worked on live chat and email support. One of their dogs cuddled close to give me moral support, and I loved it.

The company we work for is distributed, so the hundreds of workers at Automattic work all around the world, anywhere there is Internet. That is how I can literally work on the road as Chris drives. As long as I have Internet connection.

We get together with co-workers a few times a year (hence the Lisbon meetup I still haven’t written about, but I will. At least you know I was in Lisbon for that reason by this point if you follow the blog). But it’s a real treat to work alongside co-workers live in a small-group situation. Many peoples’ norm. Our anomaly. And we learn so much from each other. Very fun day.

Once the work time was over, we took the dogs for a walk to a family/dog-friendly brewery in the area. Talk about delightful! It was hard picking the perfect brew so we all got different flavors and shared sips.

I think my favorite story about this place is that they really celebrate mother’s and have a special day for moms every year. But they have that special day after Mother’s Day so there is no conflict with family celebrations. Love that!

One of the Snow’s dogs was interested in watching children play, another was resting, and the third spent its time eeking up on the bench and as close to Jason as possible. This cracked me up so I made an animation (staying away from the word gif on purpose to avoid controversy). Is this the sweetest thing or what?

Dog kiss

Seriously. Just look at the love. Heart melt!

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We spent the evening at a burger joint that still has me salivating. But I forgot to take images. On the walk back home, we humored Chris by going on Rte 66. As the song says:

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way it’s the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66…

The next morning we rose relatively early and went to a fantastic coffee shop before leaving. This place has bands and church services at times, I hear, and it also has the best muffins I have ever eaten. Can’t believe I didn’t take a pic. I’m seriously slacking on my job.

Our plan was to drive to Columbus and spend the night. We drove through some hairy weather again, saw a massive fire (I’m guessing from some of the super-scary lighting we saw), but pushed on through to get to Houghton because our car was making some interesting noises.

Remember how we were worried about its making it through the trip? Yeah. We remembered that, too. We churned into Houghton at 3 am ET after 16 hrs of driving (Chris totally rocks. I was working about 9 hrs of it. He did all the driving). After sleeping a few hrs, we crept off to our home in northern NY. And made it!!!!

Back to Mom, my lack-of-beach, and local rainbows.

Now we are closing the chapter on the out-west trip for the year and starting to plan our next life adventures. Starting with a new-to-us car hunt. Anyone have a Honda Fit and/or Chrysler Town and Country you are trying to get rid of? You know how to reach me…. 😉