Friday, November 25, 2011

There And Back Again, A Thanksgiving Tale

Woke up early yesterday morning for the long drive. Where we live in New York City is fairly close to the major highways heading north, so driving to visit my aunt and uncle upstate is easy. It's just a matter of navigating the very twisty, narrow roads as you get closer to the mountains and out into the "boonies," where the trees far outnumber the people.

As I wrote two nights ago, I had rented a Hyundai Santa Fe from Enterprise for the occasion. The car was a brand new 2011 model, and it certainly did not disappoint! For a mid-sized SUV, it had pretty decent gas mileage. I believe the distance between the Bronx and Old Chatham where my aunt and uncle live is about 160 miles, but I only ended up using a quarter tank of gas. Pretty sweet!

My sister brought her crazy dog, Shiva, along. She would not sit still at all the ENTIRE. WAY. UP! But once she got out of the car, she was totally loving all the free space to run around in. I think she got more exercise on this one trip than an entire week in the city affords. Wow!

A few years ago my mother's sister and her husband purchased this old, dilapidated wreck of a house on the edge of a 3-acre plot of land in the middle of the woods outside Albany. I mean, this is REALLY out there in a red riding hood going to grandma's sort of way. Visiting them reminds me a lot of going to college in Vermont, actually. I love how crisp and fresh the air smells outside of the city!

As you can see, the house is looking pretty darn nice now. My uncle put a lot of work into restoring it, and now it looks like a quaint little cottage in the woods. I really like what they've done with the place. Before they purchased it, it had been a hangout for local teens engaged in dubious activities. And now it is the home of a loving couple, their two cats -- and an assorted variety of uninvited guests in the form of chipmunks, field mice, and the occasional bat or two. It's amazing what a little tender loving care can do to bring a community together, huh?

This is Carmen, the Tabby. She looks a lot like our old cat, Tiger. Except she's way fatter! :) She was completely not phased by the introduction of a nosy, rambunctious doggie into her quiet zen solitude of a world, though. She simply took one look at Shiva and then immediately returned to her nap. Their other cat Star, however, promptly ran away and hid in the basement the entire time we were there. Oh well, her loss.

The interior of the house is amazing. I, of course, simply love the fireplace! We all settled down to a nice, if somewhat low-key, dinner while the logs crackled and popped in the background. Surprisingly, no one really pigged out like on Thanksgivings past. We ate well, don't get me wrong. But lets just say I had plenty of leftovers to lug home when the night was through.

I drove back in the complete, utter darkness you can only find up in the mountains away from all the visual pollution of the city or even the suburbs. I had my high beams on for most of the way back to the main highway, all the while expecting Big Foot to come running out of the woods. But all we saw was a scared raccoon scuttling away once. As usual, the road had a couple of a-hole drivers out and about late at night who really should never be allowed to drive, ever -- let alone on a major holiday. The less said about that experience, the better.

But, yeah, it was a great little excursion to get together with the family. We missed having my little brother there, who lives out in Houston now. All in all, though, it was wonderful to be with all my loved ones. And I got us home in one piece, too, so who can complain, right?

Thanks for all the warm holiday wishes on the other post, everyone! I hope you and yours had a great holiday and/or Thursday. I'll be catching up on your own blogs in a little while, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to say . . .  now, BRING ON CHRISTMAS!!!

Yes, this is my absolute favorite time of the year! Whatever crummy, shitty year I might have had before late November suddenly fades away as a distant memory when the holidays finally crop up. It's at  times like this that I wish Americans celebrated more really big, national family holidays. Unfortunately, our history doesn't go back far enough for a major holiday every two months like some countries have. But I wouldn't change anything about this time of year.

This . . . this is all right!


  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful time! I absolutely love that house! Wow, to live out there, so in tune with nature, how incredible is that? You cracked me up with your " red riding hood, going to grandma's kind of way" - Priceless! I'm a big kid when it comes to Christmas so I can relate your giddiness! Let the Christmas count-down begin!

  2. Is that really the same house in all those photos? It just doesn't look big enough on the outside to hold all that comfy interior. Love it!

    Don't know how many holidays you Americans get, but Canada is no older than America and the only long stretch for us is between New Year and Easter. From July onwards we get a holiday every month. It's the Brits I feel sorry for. Outside of Christmas/New Year and Easter, they only have three other public holidays.

  3. Yvonne -- Yes, it is incredible. I'm a city kid, but I also love isolation and nature. The two sides of me are at constant war with one another. :)

    Ian -- Yup, it's the same house! Like the T.A.R.D.I.S. on Doctor Who, it's bigger on the inside. :) Actually, if you look at the shot I took of the side of the house, you can see how it's actually much larger than it looks from the front when facing the main entrance.

    Easter isn't a major holiday here in the U.S. It is to religious folk, perhaps, but we don't get any days off before or after that day. I only consider holidays where we don't actually have to work as worthy of my attention. For us that's: President's Day (February); Memorial Day (May); Independence Day (July); Labor Day (September); Thanksgiving (November; and of course Christmas & New Year (December).

    But I wish we had holidays that last more than a single day.

  4. I love that house. I always wanted to live in the country but the hubby and the kids never agreed :(

    Sounds like you had a great time :) I'm glad

  5. Wow, that house reminds me of one I used to visit all the time as a kid, way up north in cottage country (in Canada), owned by my aunt and uncle (now both deceased) who were more like grandparents to me. Used to spend my days with them during the summer fishing and swimming and picking berries, and at night I'd help bake and write stories.

    Wonderful post. You've made me so nostalgic! Glad you had a great holiday.

  6. That place is georgeous! I like the boonies BTW, lol.

  7. I just loved all of these pictures! The boonies are awesome, really. Beautiful land and home! It just screams holidays and family.

    "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

    "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas..."

    "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer..."

    "Frosty the Snowman..."

    "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..."

    Yep, bring on Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  8. LOL, Frisky. You really do get in the spirit of things, doncha? I like it! :)

    And thanks, guys! My aunt and uncle will be floored to hear so many of you love the house. They really did put a lot of TLC into the place. All the other houses in the area are worth in the millions, believe it or not. They got theirs for a steal, and now it looks like a million.

    Btw, if you remember that somewhat depressing and scary alien invasion story I posted up on here a while back (called Terra Germinatus) . . . this was the setting. That was the house where it all took place! Well, the basement anyway.


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