A Relatively Perfect Day

David, Uncle John, Me, Aunt Anne and Chris

For many, it was a normal Friday. A day to get through before the weekend kicked off. For us, it was kind of like a holiday. You see, may aunt, uncle and cousin’s son were coming to spend a few hours with us in our Massachusetts haven (amazing how close that word is to heaven). Why would they go many hours out of their way to visit us? Because they love us. Which made the day even more incredible.

Expecting them around noon, Chris hit the slopes, trying to catch some runs before it began raining too hard. A tough time of year for us slope-fiends. We embrace the warmth and beauty of spring, but know the fun time on our sloping playground is limited. Then I got a message that they were close, even earlier than expected. Bonus!!!

David, Aunt Anne and Uncle John

It was a bit drizzly when they arrived, but amazing sports that they are, they popped up their hoods and walked outside for a tour of our little ski center. A soaking wet Chris passed us as we headed out, and we said we’d join him soon.

We walked past a small waterfall, which was pointed out to Aunt Anne, since she loves waterfalls so much. Then I showed the lift she vicariously rode on with me and the run we went down together. Strolling past the coffee shop and firepit area and shop, we headed back to the room for our now signature luncheon of egg sandwiches (a fun machine Hudi and Mollie gave us makes those).

Aunt Anne eating our traditional lunch - Egg Muffins
Aunt Anne eating our traditional lunch – Egg Muffins
A few fun finger foods with family
A few fun finger foods with family

Of course I had to take a picture of the handsome chef as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Chris making egg muffins

We have to make the sandwiches one at a time, which might bother some, but we were all of a like mind that this gave us plenty of time to talk and catch up on each other’s lives. I shared my new favorite drink of seltzer mixed with berry tea, and Uncle John shared his train magazine. I swear the man knows everything there is to know about railroads. I particularly love how be brought us an article about the new train bridge in Letchworth, a park near where we used to live.

Train Article in Magazine

Aunt Anne is a big fan of Chris’ art so they spent some time looking at the pieces in our place, and Chris showed her some of the processes he goes through in creating — sharing drawings and such. A very pleasant time!

After lunch, we hit the pool and hot tub. And I got a nice pic of this wonderful couple and some other treasures.

Aunt Anne and Uncle John

I particularly enjoyed having the bonus of seeing David. While he and his brother used to spend time with us every other year, his life got busy with college and all (and our kids grew up and moved out). It’s been a bunch of years since we have seen him. Back in the day, we charted him on our growing wall, and he was so small, you couldn’t even see Chris’ name on the wall above him in a standard picture.

Just look at him now! All grown up.

David is as tall as Chris now
David is as tall as Chris now

Although not so grown up, he won’t take time to play in a pool when given a chance (see images of that on Aunt Anne’s Blog post). She got the action, I got the residual hair style, haha ๐Ÿ™‚

David's fun hair after a swim
David’s fun hair after a swim

They had to continue the journeys so we wrapped up the day with some coffee final smiles for the gift of our time together. I love this image of Aunt Anne particularly because it shows the twinkle in her eye that is familiar to me. And Uncle John is grinning as if he’s already working on coming up with a new pun. I feel the beauty of their souls really shine through.

Visits with relatives really are the best.

Enjoying the Slopes with my Aunt and Cousin

Part 1

Warmer weather hit the Berkshires and Chris and I were ready to really enjoy our “weekend” days (Thursday and Friday). Added to the fun, today I got to share the experience with relatives, including my aunt who also loves snow and mountains. I think a lot of you already follow her, and if not, you should check out her site ๐Ÿ˜‰ She is a brilliant writer who takes everyday life and makes it super fun to read about. Anyway, today she joined us on the slopes — virtually. And my cousin joined in later as well.

At the base we met up on Facebook video from my phone. Any video service would have worked, but this was easiest at the time. I popped in my earphone and held the phone as we went to the ski lift and journeyed up. We showed her the slope we planned to hit, a hotel where a relative had stayed recently, our home and a windmill we would see closer in a bit.

This image was actually taken at the end of the run. It's David and Aunt Anne checking out the slopes.
Actually an end-of-the-run shot

She was very patient as I got off the lift and strapped in. We were able to talk even when the video was shaky, then it was time to hit the hill. I went down a relatively easy trail that I knew I could handle. It was a good day for this. Warm, slightly slushy and some patches of ice, but not terrible, and no crowds.

Our piece of paradise is Jiminy Peak Resort in the Berkshire Mountain Range in Massachusetts (answering her questions from her post here). As I went down the mountain, I kept the camera facing away so Aunt Anne could see the run in front of us. She got to see Chris playing around, demonstrating proper snowboard techniques (not my heel-side only stance). I did explain people who do it right mostly point straight down and not keep going side-to-side as I do. haha.

She saw the mountain coaster, the alpine slide and the pool and hot tub in front of our place. Also seeing how close we are to the slopes. When I was nearing the bottom, my cousin’s son, David, joined us for the run.

It was really fun for all of us, and they agreed to let me take the screenshots above. I hope we can do it again sometime.

This was the Ski Tracks app stat summary for our run together:

In her blog post, Aunt Anne commented that I was telling her about toes and heels. The rest of this post is kind of about that. Once upon a time, a bit over 24 hrs ago….

Part 2 of my fun slope days this “weekend”

Yesterday (Thursday) the slopes were unbelievably perfect for a person of my skill level. As Chris pointed out, you could point straight down and not worry about going too fast.

Ice was rare, and the sun was shining. The rides on the chairlifts were like basking in the sun on a beach (but a bit more fun). I heard robins and phoebes and saw some buds on the trees. And even some friendly faces in the woods ๐Ÿ™‚

Small stump with a smiley face
If you look closely, that little one has a smiley face etched on it. Kind of reminds me of a tree Gumby.

This is always a bittersweet time of year. Summer temps and longer daylight are wonderful, too, but it’s sad to say goodbye to all the beautiful snow. So we are grabbing all of it we can.

This season I was really working on turning right (toe-side) better.

As you can see in this pic, I’m a rather embarrassing heel-rider. Can you tell which part of the board is closest to my heels?

Bottom of a snowboard

The toe-side turns are kind of starting to happen. I don’t have video from today, but I was able to do it at a much faster pace than in times past. Here are some video clips from last autumn and yesterday. Feel free to mute. Some people like the sound of snow scraping, but it can be annoying if you aren’t in the mood.

Here is a clip from November:

And here is a clip from yesterday (March 14, 2019):

Please note how stiff I was and how flat the terrain was in the first video compared to the second video ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m working on relaxing, bending my knees and leaning down the hill before I turn.

If you want to see the entire top half of that run – here it is. Beautiful views at the start:

Jumping back to today. I saw this video of my turns last night. I do see how my right arm is winging out and is quite tense. Today I practiced going down the hill with my right hand pinching the left side of my jacket as if it was in a sling to train myself to not count on it for balance.

Chris noticed I was much more relaxed when holding the phone for my aunt so in my final few runs, I let my right arm hang down, but pretended she was on the other side of a camera and focused on keeping it smooth. It’s really working. Yay!

The Views Here Blow my Mind Regularly

Windmill at hill top
Zephyr, the windmill at hill top
Mountain view
Chris enjoying the view
Clouds and mountain
Clouds extending the mountain view

Yup, God done good! And I’m so thankful to be able to be out enjoying the gifts given.

Starting my Year off Right – On the Slopes Again

Windmill and Slopes at Jiminy Peak
Windmill and Slopes at Jiminy Peak
Windmill and Slopes at Jiminy Peak

According to my Ski Tracks app, January 16 marked my 13th day on the slopes this season. Thank you Jiminy Peak! Pretty good when you consider last year I went seven times before slipping a disc in my back. And half those times were icy days that made the slopes not-so-fun.

Now, as I approach the one-year-mark of my 2017/18 season’s demise, I’m finding myself extra thankful for slope time.

Last summer I wrote about our new place in Massachusetts. We had a feeling we wouldn’t regret getting a place at Jiminy Peak, but we also didn’t realize how great it would actually be. Before we got the place, we talked with friends and locals and heard about the great grooming there. Sure enough, thanks to a bit of cold, snow guns, and grooming, we were able to hit the slopes November 17, 2018.

Since Chris and I can work from anywhere with an Internet, it’s really easy to set up an office slope-side. Check out my view as I work ๐Ÿ™‚

desk and snowy view

You can’t see it in the picture, but there are some trails we can see from our window so when I look up, I can see skiers and boarders coming down.

My job allows me to choose the hours I work so I’m trying a new schedule out. Generally I work four 10-hr days, but I’m testing a five-day week. I generally work ten hours on Saturdays and Sundays, which isn’t a problem since the slopes are busier on those days. Then I work for four hours in the morning, and three hours at night. In the morning time, you will often find me working in front of this fire:

Fireplace at Jiminy Peak
Fireplace at Jiminy Peak

In the early afternoon I hit the slopes with my favorite snowboard buddy.

Chris enjoying play time on the beautiful hills at Jiminy Peak.
Chris enjoying play time on the beautiful hills at Jiminy Peak

I work for a few more hours in the evening then either wind down in the hot tub or in front of the outdoor fire as I watch the skiers and boarders. Chris will sometimes grab extra runs then as well.

Happy Chris at slope base
Fire Pit at Jiminy
hot tub at Jiminy Peak

Of course, we aren’t always there. Often we are back in New York, enjoying the beauty of snow there as well.

Snow through Window

The east coast hasn’t had much snow this year, but the slopes have been fine. My last two days there were amazing. I didn’t want to stop. And now we have a load of fresh snow thanks to the latest storm. I can’t wait to get back out there…

Windmills in Winter

We had a glorious night snowboarding a bit ago. At the top of the hill, I sat down for a minute to listen to the windmill and enjoy the snow fairies dancing around me. How awesome is this view and the sound of the windmill in action?

Windmills at Jiminy Peak

I’m a bit late on this post, but it was for Nov 30.

Thankful for Opening Day of Snowboard Season — In November!!!!

Opening Day at Jiminy Peak

It’s November 17. Not even Thanksgiving, and Chris and I got to hit the slopes. Last year was less than stellar as I slipped a disc in my back on Valentine’s day and had to sit out the rest of the season (yes, I slipped it putting on my snowboard boots, which makes me not-quite-so-hard-core, butย  ยฏ_(ใƒ„)_/ยฏ ).

But that all aside, we hit the slopes today, and it was amazing. Walking back to our abode, I commented to Chris that there are just moments that hit you once in a while. Moments in which you are reminded you are blessed beyond blessed, and it would be a crime to not acknowledge that. And we are that. #sothankful.

Opening Day at Jiminy Peak
Opening Day at Jiminy Peak

So for those of you that know and love me (thank you for that). This is the year. I am finally going to get comfortable with turning right. I know I say every year that I will learn to turn right, but last year I actually did it, and I think that doing it on opening day is a good sign that it will only get better. I knowย  I’m flailing a lot, but I’m adding this video as a baseline so I can hopefully see improvement. By the end of this year, I will do it naturally. Right? (Please say yes.)

Figuring out how to turn right and go toe-side.

A Tale of a Turtle

This post is for those who want to take a step back from the chaos of life to view a slow-moving beautiful story. Of course, calling it a story at all is a bit grandiose of me. It’s how my mind perceived it. But here is the simple tale I saw.

Once upon a time there was a turtle. This turtle was on a quest. All its life it wanted to be a rock, and on this particular day, it was determined to find the best place to become a rock. Legend told that it would have to navigate under the bridge of the great unknown before it could become the perfect rock. So it set off toward the bridge.

After making it past the bridge the turtle had a few choices. It could follow its dream to become a rock, make friends with little fish around it, eat said fish, or meet other turtle buddies. For a few minutes, it hesitated. Then it continued on its quest.

When it found the perfect spot, the turtle ducked its head under and let its shell rise in a true rock formation — the epitome of its dream of rock stardom. But all was not simple. In the same arena there was another turtle determined to find a friend with whom to play.

There was Another Turtle Looking for a Friend

But our turtle was a determined sort of soul. It could camouflage and camouflage well, and by golly, it was meant to be a rock. So a rock it was.


Camo turtle
Camo turtle


Meanwhile the social turtle finds our rock star and tries to engage in some play.


It’s not meant to be, however. Sometimes a turtle just needs a bit of its own space. After a minute of “hey, just so you know…I’m here for ya, buddy…” the other turtle goes on its way. Surrounded by fish friends.

Social Turtle Leaves to Find New Adventures

I see two endings for this. Take your pick depending on your mood:

  1. And they all lived happily ever after.
  2. A Simon and Garfunkel connection:

I am a rock, I am an island. I am shielded in my armor, Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.

https://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/paul+simon/i+am+a+rock_20262017.html

 

Perception

When visiting museums, I appreciate the art. This is true. But even more so I appreciate the creativity spawned by the living art around me.

On a visit to The Clarkย  I looked at the works of some of the old masters, and I totally appreciated the talent while I was there. Then I moved on.

When the day was over Chris and I realized we missed a really cool part of an exhibit (Jennifer Steinkamp: Blind Eye) and decided to go back to the museum the next day ( a great perk of this museum deal we signed up for) . Since we were in art-mode we watched a movie entitled Renoir, and suddenly, I was seeing things in a different light.

When we went back the next day, we visited the Renoir paintings we had seen the day prior, and suddenly I found myself analyzing the brush strokes, color choices, and I related to the passion of an artist who wouldn’t let go of his gift even if his hands were in excruciating pain. The paintings took me to a completely different realm of appreciating than the day prior, thanks to some time and the film — another beautiful form of art. I think his son would have approved ๐Ÿ™‚



The exhibit we missed was a computer rendering exhibit in which the artist used programs like Maya to create magnificent art. I was intrigued by the actual images, while Chris was absorbed by the display itself.



How did the cameras work and show the full canvas? I never would have thought of that if he were not in the room. But it certainly added to my experience. Thanks, Chris ๐Ÿ™‚

A few days later we were talking with some of our kiddos, and I was rhapsodizing on the museum experience, expounding on how it was so much more than the art itself. It was about how people reacted to the art, and the history behind it, and all that jazz. Even the walk through the woods between buildings was beautiful.

We saw a tree that had fallen, and I thought it was pretty cool. My imagination kicked in, and I wondered how and when it fell, and I imagined the new animal homes the fall created. A children’s book was niggling in my brain as Chris commented on the amazing support system that naturally occurred under the tree in the fall. At least until rot kicks in. It made a natural bridge with support. Without his eyes and comments, I don’t think I would have seen it, but it made the experience all that much more magical.



CJ pointed out that it’s like that for him on the slopes when he is with friends and students he teaches. He observed that is was really interesting to see the lines they chose to navigate down the mountain. Apparently one friend has a really unique eye, and the lines he chooses bring all sorts of unexpected adventures ranging from new trails on new hills one didn’t previously notice to complete drop-offs (ack!).

My eyes have been opened to the importance of perception and seeing what others’ see. It’s so interesting!As you might have noticed in past posts, I’m kind of into quotes. So I’m going to leave off with this one that I love:

No two people see the external world in exactly the same way. To every separate person a thing is what he thinks it is — in other words, not a thing, but a think.Penelope Fitzgerald

Museums

I think I might become a museum junkie. I’ve been researching the treasures of Massachusetts and have found some incredible deals. Back in my other post, I talked about the importance of being back in the art corridor for my artist husband, but the actual reality of it is pretty fantastic.

After spending a few decades in the boondocks, where large art museums were a long drive from me, the proximity is a treat. We had different, natural art in those years, and believe me I met many artists (musicians, performers, masters in kitchen arts, etc) who are amazing, but I did not have easy access large places one can stroll through on a rainy day.

For a few weeks, we researched — read tons of pamphlets, hit web sites and talked with locals and tourists. Then we took the plunge and purchased season passes for the Berkshire Museum and for Mass MoCA. This gives us all sorts of opportunities to see lots of exhibits and artistic styles as well as to attend performances and go to openings and other activities. My favorite part of our plan is that the Berkshire Museum membership came with reciprocal passes to over 1,000 institutions (art and science) across the US. Even Utah ๐Ÿ˜‰ (that’s where the majority of my kids live).

img_6689

One of my favorite parts of the passes is that we can go back any time we want this year, so we don’t have to feel rushed. If we only want to pop in for an hour, that’s okay.

I love the inspiration one derives from a museum visit. And I also love the human connection — the vibe of appreciation from other gallery viewers. The paintings and educational tidbits on the plaques link me to the past and spark my imagination in a way I haven’t felt in a while. I mean, really, did you even know that some snakes change their sleep cycles from diurnal to nocturnal? I never knew this before. I’m certain there is a children’s story in there somewhere.

Imagination officially ignited. This is good stuff.