76 Rochester, NY

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Itchy to spend our first Christmas in two years with our kids, we rented a car early and began drifting north Where we could, we shunned the Interstate to enjoy a slower pace and wider scenic variety. We felt like we were driving in an old faded newspaper photo as we drove north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Muddy grays and blacks smudged and faded by fog were the colors of the day. Scenic overlooks provided vistas of grays and blacks with the occasional accent of faded red on old barns. We had the Parkway virtually to ourselves. Many minutes would pass before a car or an occasional bicyclist would pass. It was a leisurely way to head north.

The beer froze. The turkey carcass still provided good pickings, but now instead of the warm, steamy, moist charcoal flavor of a few minutes earlier, the flavorful meat was cold and filled with ice crystals. I chipped out a piece of now frozen fresh-baked apple pie and sucked on it like a Popsicle as I headed back to the fire. Twenty to thirty of us stood around the fire, turning slowly to keep backsides from freezing in the sixteen-degree air. We were enjoying Linda and Steve’s annual solstice party. While we all had the option to duck into the house and warm up, most stayed outside enjoying the fire and company. Steve kept the fire roaring, and we all had a grand time participating in an ancient ritual.

Our stay with Linda and Steve allowed an opportunity to see the latest evolution in their ever-changing house. It took a minute or two to locate our bedroom as the door had disappeared. Bookshelves in the newly emerging library stretched across the door. It took a bit of searching to figure out how to swing the bookcase aside and gain entrance. As we tucked ourselves in, we felt like we were part of a mystery novel exploring secret passages.

Sometimes waiting really pays off. The doctors had figured Debbie would deliver on 12/16. We were staying with Debbie and Jeff helping out and waiting for the baby. Jeff headed off to work. I took the opportunity to begin to learn some of the “http” stuff needed to make the Web do all the linking. My background music was Ruth and Debbie chatting as they did Christmas cards together and planned a grand Christmas day feast. As they got into meal planning, I finally had to stop and listen. This wasn’t meal planning it sounded more like dance choreography. They were figuring out who would do what in the kitchen and when so as to keep out of each other’s way. Now that’s planning.

Mike rigging power feed. Steve and Don holding ladder

It sounded innocent enough. Mike needed to install a weather head and line feed to the meter box. We volunteered to help. It would be a great opportunity to again see Cindy and Mike’s forty acres and the new pond (Lake Mike) and curving driveway that had been added. Our little expedition headed out– Mike and Cindy in their van filled with Mike’s electrical contractor tools, Ruth and I in our rental car, and Linda and Steve in Steve’s pickup with the key piece of equipment– a very long extension ladder strapped on top. The story of what happened next is best told after a few beers around a warm fire. Little things like a fierce wind, below zero wind chill, having to hack grooves in the frozen ground to get a stable ladder base, rush back to remind us of the cold. Then there was that feeling of helplessness as we tried to keep the ladder from blowing off the pole while Mike, half way up, hung on looking for all the world like a scene out of a keystone cop movie; except that a fall would have been real. We regrouped, added clamps to hold the ladder, guy lines to work against the wind and then all slowly froze as Mike worked 30′ above us in the blowing gale to run the power feed down the pole. As we retrieved various tools and packed to leave, I wondered if I’d ever be warm again. Never did get a chance to really check out the new lake; however, we’ll be back in warmer weather to poke around the beautiful setting.

Danielle Eve Kalen

We found a Christmas snow as we got up Christmas Eve morning. Three inches of light fluffy snow turned the scene outside Debbie and Jeff’s home into a winter postcard view. Debbie and Jeff had gone to the hospital the night before as a precaution at the doctor’s suggestion. The phone rang and a tired, but oh so happy sounding Jeff told us about the arrival of Danielle Eve earlier that morning. She weighed in at 7lb 3oz and mom and daughter were doing just fine. A few hours later we formally met our now 12 hour old little one marveling once again at the miracle of birth and loving our first look at our first grandchild and her radiant mom and proud dad.

The doctor had good and bad news regarding Ruth’s condition. The good news is that her overwhelming desire to continually hold Danielle would subside. The bad news is she has “babyshopitis” and there is no know cure. It appears Cindy may have inherited the condition from Ruth. The symptoms are obvious–an uncontrollable urge to check out every baby shop in the area. Cindy excelled in making her first visit to a baby shop within an hour of learning she was an aunt to a baby girl. Out she went to get a non-generic outfit.

Niagara-On-The-Lake was a wonderful, but all-too-short diversion. There in a unique B&B we met up with our Canadian sailing companions Marilyn and Tom and Barb and John. Friends since our first venture down the ICW and over to the Bahamas together, we’ve kept in touch slowly growing and strengthening our friendship. This past summer we cruised together in the North Channel. Now we were together again for an evening of swapping stories and enjoying each other’s company. The next morning our hostess provided a stunning breakfast. Reluctantly we headed back to Rochester, but then there was that overwhelming urge to hold the baby.

Following the New Year celebration as it circled the world was fun. We’d click in and watch the celebration in a new time zone as we partied at Cindy and Mike’s. The fireworks on the Eiffel Tower blew us away. It will be hard to top for memorable fireworks displays.

Time came when we reluctantly headed back home. It had been a magic holiday. With long last hugs and one last cradling of Danielle in our arms, we were off. We shunpiked across New York enjoying the countryside. The flu hit me hard that evening, and the remainder of the trip back was miserable.

Our first potential buyers have come and looked at Tranquility. Nice comments, but no offers to buy yet. Now that we have her in show condition, we no longer feel like she’s our home. We feel like we are the temporary caretakers for a new owner. It’s a sad feeling especially since we love the boat. With the holidays over we are hoping interest will pick up. We’ll stay here a few more weeks in Palmetto, FL and then begin moving again.

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