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Thankful in 2021

Like many Americans (and Canadians, though strangely much earlier than the USA), I spend some time Thanksgiving morning going over all the things I’m thankful for, mainly focusing on the time since the last time I did it. Research tells us, over and over again, that gratitude exercises make for a better mindset, promote happiness, and help with interpersonal relationships. It’s a great life hack, and something I try to do regularly. Thanksgiving gives an opportunity to cast a wider net, though. This year, I wanted to do this a bit more public.

So what am I thankful for this year? So. Much.

I’m thankful that Danica, Grace, Clare, and I made it across the country safely in our move to New Hampshire.

I’m thankful that no one in my group of family and friends have been permanently affected by COVID sickness.

I’m thankful that both Danica and I have jobs, and we’re able to work remotely, enabling this move.

I’m thankful for our beautiful house and view we just moved into in Newbury, New Hampshire.

I’m thankful that both Grace and Clare are doing well at Mount Royal Academy (Grace achieved high honors for the first quarter!) and have made friends in their classes.

I’m thankful that Eve is doing well pursuing her art career back in Oregon.

I’m thankful that we’ve found a great parish in St. Patrick’s here in New Hampshire.

I’m thankful for my team’s in Ireland and India at McAfee Enterprise.

I’m thankful for my health, especially after the scare in South Dakota (damn SVT!).

I’m thankful to all my friends back in the Pacific Northwest, that I miss dearly.

I’m thankful for all my family, both here in New Hampshire, and back in Washington State.

I’m thankful for my country, with all its successes and failures, especially during these turbulent times.

I’m thankful, most of all, to Jesus Christ.

The important thing for me to constantly remind myself is to not take any of this for granted. Almost every one of those items above could change in a heartbeat, literally. In the immortal words of Tom Keifer, you really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

And on that happy note, I’ll leave those of my generation one thing to ponder deeply on this day of feasting: the lead singer of Cinderella, Tom Keifer, turned 60 years old this year. (!)

You’re welcome.

Officially “Moved” In

Last Friday, Danica and I finally signed the paperwork and became homeowners again. That capped almost exactly 5 months of living nomadically. Many campgrounds and many Airbnb’s later, we’re done. Saturday we met the movers at the house, as well as my Aunt’s husband Ed and his grandson (who graciously offered to drive over some items in another storage unit in Franklin), and we had our stuff. Then the fun began.

Almost every room was like this Saturday!

It’s amazing how much stuff people accumulate. I think Danica and I probably better than most when it comes to the culling of errata, but we’re certainly not minimalists, as you can see. (I’ve toyed with that aesthetic for many years, but it runs up against my collector nature, too. Oh well.) We read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” years ago like many others, and we did go through a pretty significant paring down of things in the house. When we were packing for the move to New Hampshire, we again go rid of a lot of things we didn’t need or didn’t want (or pay for) move across the country. But still.

I’m a firm believer in the maxim that you will fill whatever space you’re allotted. It’s almost a sub-conscious thing, and takes considerable effort to not let that happen.

This is a smaller house than we had in Tigard, but a bit, when comparing livable areas. The big difference with this house is we have a full basement (or as I’m told you absolutely are required to call it, a “cellar”), where to store things. This means we can use the garage for cars and exercise, bedroom closets for clothes, etc., and not use them for things that aren’t fit to purpose. In the end it should result in a more livable, peaceful domain.

As we’ve told the girls, this is a journey, not an event. It’s going to take literally months to unpack, catalog, sort, and store properly all the stuff we have. On that road, we’ll probably eject more things from our holdings. Hopefully the inverse of that maxim is true (for us) and we’ll fit the space, but shrinking, rather than growing.

Mt. Sunapee Ski Swap

One of the main benefits of living in the area we moved to in New Hampshire is the close proximity of skiing. I grew up on the mountain, specifically Mt. Hood in Oregon. To people in the Rockies or Sierras, I’m sure they’d fine many faults with the terrain and snow quality of the Cascades, but it is a Big Mountain with plenty of steep and broad skiing. Powder is a bit hard to come by, but not unheard of, and the pack is usually pretty good.

I’ve only skied New England once, in the early 90’s, and it was a like going on an ice rink, but on skis. Snowmaking should have solved some of that problem, though. I think the draw, though, that overrides the potential quality of snow and terrain is this: quantity has a quality of its own. When you live less than 15 minutes from the parking lot from the nearest chairlift, your excuses not to get some turns in after work go down to near zero. That’s the hope!

In preparation for the winter, yesterday we went to the Mt. Sunapee Ski Club’s annual ski swap, and it was great. Masked crowds went from table to table getting used — and cheap! — equipment for the impending season. I didn’t need anything, but the girls definitely required outfitting. No matter what Danica and I tell them, they still insist on outgrowing their previous year’s stuff. So for Grace, new boots and poles. For Clare, skis, in addition to boots and poles. Next week after we get our stuff delivered to the house, we’ll still have to go through the rest of the gear, but that’s the big stuff. And the nice thing? The final bill was just over $100. Noice.

Nothing, but it actually snowed a bit later that night!
Got the right at opening, and found a huge line.
5 minutes later – fast line!
New England, so more orderly than you’d think.

Almost…

Super stormy day here in New Hampshire! We’re down to the last part of the journey into our new house. There’s still things that could go wrong (where’s some wood I can rap my knuckles on? Hard?), but right now the final walkthrough with the builder is today, closing on the mortgage is next Wednesday, and move in is next Saturday – 8 days away. And what do you know? Possibly snow next Saturday.

I did go out to the house yesterday for a quick check, since I was in the neighborhood. The inside is pretty much done, with only a couple fiddleybits still pending. The outside was being focused on pretty hard when I was there, with the back patio being put in. So close.

Problems in Rural America

This is a bit of a rant, but I’ll keep it short. Danica and I absolutely depend on good Internet connectivity for our work. When we originally were going to purchase this land and build a house in Newbury, NH, the first thing we did was ensure we had decent cell connectivity on the property, and then ensure that there was high speed Internet available. Luckily for us, all the houses next to us had just — the year prior — got fiber, so we were golden. I called TDS Telecom to ensure we were good, and they said, yep, no problems.

Fast forward to today. Tomorrow is our installation, so I can be certain of being good on Day One. I get a call from TDS Telecom, saying, oops, there was a mistake, and it looks like it won’t be available until January. So, we’re scrambling now. The only other solution is satellite (and no, Starlink isn’t available until mid-2022). Very expensive, high latency, with very high bandwidth overage fees — and oh, a required 2 year contract. So this afternoon I’m making the drive up there and see how our Verizon hotspot serves us. It’ll be an interesting holiday season!

Hiking the Sunset Hill Trail in Newbury

Yesterday was a brisk, sunny day in New Hampshire, and we didn’t have anything on the schedule that was pressing. So, after running a couple quick errands, we drove to the trailhead of the Sunset Hill Trail in Newbury and did a bit of hiking. It was perfect weather — in the high 40’s and the ground was mostly dry. Depends on the species of tree, but these still had a bit of cover left. In a few weeks all the deciduous trees will be bare. Winter is coming.

As the article said, there were huge logs put in several stretches of the trail you had to navigate that were put in for erosion mitigation. Great opportunity for me to put on my Teaching Dad hat. Even though I was actually wearing my Grandpa’s Sox hat. After about an hour and change, we made it to the summit.

Lake Sunapee!

A great hike! Of course, us being us, there were some minor injuries — I ripped my hand up a bit on a fall (got tripped on a huge hiking stick), and a couple of the family band got some minor twisted ankles. Lesson: everyone in the family needs honest-to-God hiking boots now for New Hampshire, and I shouldn’t run alongside kids with hiking sticks!

And no, Tigli was NOT tired after this hike.

Old New Hampshire Houses

One thing I’ve noticed since moving to New Hampshire is that a lot of the very old houses have a placard by the door that says the year they were built. Late 1700’s and early 1800’s are common. It gives some perspective to someone coming from a state that was founded in 1889 (Washington) and 1859 (Oregon).

We considering buying one of these old farm houses for a while, but discarded it in favor of building new. I just suspected that I wouldn’t have the time to give the house the kind of effort that it required, and these old houses require a lot (unless you have the money to have someone on call all the time, like in Murphy Brown — remember that show?). We’re now staying in one of those houses in Sunapee. I don’t know how old it is, but at least 1800’s — it doesn’t have said placard. And I’ve discovered another reason why building new might have made more sense. I don’t know how prevalent this is in these ancient abodes, but jeez, head trauma!

Crack! Yeah, the only person that’s escaped rubbing their sore skull has been Clare. I’m sure you get somewhat used to it over time, but probably not 100%.

Almost Done!

After work today, I visited the house to drop off a thermostat (after going with Ecobee, it’s hard to go back), but honestly, to check out the progress. It’s been several days since I’ve seen it, so I was antsy.

Appliances in!
Siding almost on!

Due date is the end of next week, and talking to the foreman… probably? Most likely? Crossing fingers.

Cold Morning in Sunapee

Now it’s starting to feel like winter. Yes yes, it’s coming. 28F when I took Tigli out for her morning walk, and my gloves are still in storage. Builds character, though. Just a couple quick photos that I snapped, as it’s worth it.

Leaves are just about gone!
Sunapee Water Works.

Halloween In Sunapee

We were almost to the new Airbnb on Sunday afternoon, and discovered that the street it was on was closed off for a “trunk or treat” town event. Now, Sunapee is a town of about 2000 people, depending on the season (probably way less post-summertime). It’s an old town, dating back to the early 1800’s, and definitely has that New England feel. It definitely felt more… Halloween-ish.

Luckily the girls had their costumes, so we were able to take advantage of the discovery and do some early trick or treating.

Candy seeking kids (and grown ups)
The most patriotic severed leg in New Hampshire.
Hole in One gets you a full size candy bar!
The take.