Monday, December 22, 2008

Hanukkah in Santa Cruz with Micah and Family

We arrived in Santa Cruz on the 17th after a somewhat difficult flight. We were scheduled to transfer planes in Las Vegas but the airport was socked in by a once in three decade snowstorm. We had to divert to Burbank and catch another plane to San Jose where Micah picked us up. There was quite a bit of turbulence on landing and takeoff at Burbank because we came in during a downpour. It is great that the Southwest is getting all this rain and snow, but maybe they could have spared it for our trip?:) Of course our luggage didn't make it until the next day, but we always pack our 'carry-ons' with that in mind. I guess we are really having a semi old fashioned winter. I do understand that, even with all of this snow and cold, we are on track to have the 9th warmest winter on record. I guess we have really forgotten what a 'real' winter is really like.
Santa Cruz is cold and rainy, but compared to the Adirondacks, it is a generous relief.
Pacific Ave. is full of holiday shoppers and street performers. The ethnic, racial, cultural diversity is a pleasant mind opening after the mono-cultural/racial/ethnicity of the Adirondacks. It is sometimes frustrating to deal with the isolated folks who think of the United States as a white anglo protestant country. I wish I could bring them out and spend some time in a place like Santa Cruz with them and talk about what it really means to be an American.

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah and we had a gentle generous celebration with good food, singing, candle lighting and gifts.

Here is a picture of me peeling potatoes for making Latkes.




















Miguel Lighting Candles

















Juan Watches
















Samson with his new hat
















Esther

















Micah Prepares appetizers

















Natalia



















Naomi's new Jacket

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brrr.....!

Temperature is 8.5 below zero F. And, we have 8+ inches of new snow. Winter is really here. Leave for Santa Cruz on Wednesday, thank G-d.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December Drive

Driving home from the transfer station in Schroon Lake. Thinking about my place in the world and what meaning my life has - you know, the usual preoccupations of mind when going to the dump. (By the way, I'm definitely not an ironic or sardonic person. I'm grindingly serious.) Looking at the open water of Paradox Lake. Thinking about how forbidding it is on this cold December day with furious flurries of snow and a cold wind and stone gray subdued white/brown/green landscape. The open water itself is so dark and has such depth to the darkness like inkiness. Thoughts of how trite my thoughts about it are. How lacking my descriptive powers. How inadequate to the power of what I'm seeing. Can't think of anything to describe such an amazing phenomena as that dark water so moving and frightening and awe inspiring and so black like you can see down into the depths of the blackness and it doesn't end - just snuffs everything out. And then I think I would like to be able to describe things like a poet describes things? My lip curls at the thought that I could do such. I remember how Marilynne Robinson so amazingly described the water under similar conditions in Housekeeping and made it such an important part of her book. It was the numbing welcoming nothingness that called to life. Then I thought of the book How to Read a Poem, by Hirsch and remembered that he says that the reader is essential to the writer. There is a dynamic energy between the Poet and the reader. This made me feel somewhat more connected to what I was seeing and to creative effort. In the face of lack of descriptive powers, I can at least read and be awed and pass it on.
While thinking about this relationship between the poet and reader, I drifted to the Kabbalistic Mystics of Safed who thought of the vessels containing the creative energy of God as having shattered upon creation - the force of creation was just too much to be contained. These mystics saw the job of humans as having to find these shards of vessels and reveal them and prepare them for the return to the creative source. For the mystics, this was done mostly through the meditative efforts of study and prayer. This struck me as not too different from the relationship between the poet and reader. Reader, critics, teachers, book groups, all read and explore the text, comment on it, and pass it on to others. And, all of this creates a 'public' for poetry which affects how the poet conceives of his/her work and continues the creative process. Then my mind wandered further afield and I thought of Thoreau who chastised the Town Fathers of New England for missing the boat by not designating a 'cloud watcher' to appreciate the beauty of all the clouds that passed overhead. In a sense he saw that no one was meditating on the creation so that it could become part of the creative process. This, of course was also reiterated by Edward Abby in Desert Solitaire as he was sitting in the shade of his trailer in Arches National Park spending a hard day watching the clouds overhead. So far, I'm stacking up ways to feel connected to the world at a pretty good rate and giving myself some pretty good company. I'd say it's a pretty good afternoon in early December in Paradox.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Below Zero and FSC Timber Harvest















The picture above is of the skidder used to bring logs from the woods to the landing where they are cut to size and loaded on a truck for delivery to the mill.
Last night was the first of the season with below zero temperatures. It was 3.6 below zero early this morning - a real signal of the onset of winter. Yesterday our logger moved his skidder onto our property as a signal to begin our scheduled harvest. This harvest is being conducted according to Forest Stewardship Council standards which means that it is being done with the highest standards of environmental sensitivity. We are particularly proud to be a part of this effort sponsored by the Resident's Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. This will be the second harvest on our property under these standards and our third harvest in the last 8 years. So far we are happy with the results and the value of our forests has been enhanced. The following is the website for the organization.
http://www.fscus.org/

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tovah in Paradox

Bekah, Mitch, and Tovah came to visit in Paradox this weekend for a last get together before we take off to California and a visit to Samson, Esther, and the family out there. We gave Tovah a refurbished sled that was Samson and Esther's ten years ago. It needed a sanding, a little tightening of some of the joints, and a new coat of stain. A few ribbons made it more festive and Tovah had a little 'fun machine'. Here is a video.
video



It's a little hard to hear, but she says: "Let's do it one more time." at the end of the ride and at the end of each ride. And, there were many rides. You can guess that the adults were tired long before Tovah.