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Bradshaw Christmas In January 2019 Edition

Well… better late than never. We did our usual 2018 Christmas get-together in Chateaugay in the middle of January, 2019. We played with the Grand-nephews. We bonded over baking bread and sampling all sorts of whiskey. We had a yankee swap.

The nephews and nieces are, thoroughly grown up by now, and we relished the time we got to spend with them. We loved them as kids, and now it’s such a treat to discover that we really like them as adults, too.

The best part for me as always was time spent with these three people. I can always be completely myself around them. It’s not like I have a choice – they were all there for my formative years, so they know what a nerd I am. And what a rotten kid I was – sorry about the electric fence thing in the late 60’s, Angie.

New Years Eve 2018

It’s 1 AM on January 1st, 2019. Beth is asleep. I am blogging. We finished a teeny-tiny bottle of Prosecco, while watching a movie with the cats (Wonder Woman if you must know – really liked it). We did not break out any funny hats or noisemakers. We texted greetings to the kids in Brooklyn, NY and Weare, NH, and Facebook messaged my siblings. That’s as crazy as it gets at our place these days.

We wish all the best to our friends and family, and hope that 2019 is good to you.

Pat & Beth


Old pictures of my family or of my home town are like small, clouded windows into the past.  I want to wipe away the fog that has turned the picture black and white.  I want to peer at them from a sharp angle in the hopes of seeing something that’s just out of the frame.  I want to squeeze through and walk past my stiffly posed ancestors and into the house that I was born in as it was a hundred years ago or more.  There is a picture of my hometown, Chateaugay New York, looking North out of the center of town.  It is the 1870s.  My family’s farm is straight down the road that leads North out of town, or up to the top of the picture.  I know they’re there, frozen in their tracks, caught in one moment of their day, three miles away.  But it’s so close.  I know that intersection. I know that road.  Why can’t I just break the glass and crawl through the window into that sepia tinted world, and walk North on that muddy road to meet my great-great grandparents?


Sliding Towards the Solstice.

This time of year has always seemed to me like the beginning of a three month trip through a long dark tunnel. The light is strange, and the shadows are long.  For a while in October, we could hope for an Indian Summer, and pretend that we didn’t need to find the boots and hats and shovels and scrapers.  Not any more.  There is no snow on the ground yet, but the air is sharp, and when the wind blows, you know that its over.  Fall is gone and we’re heading into the long cold dark.  The days are over as soon as they begin.  If you sleep in, you’ll get six hours of meager, under-water daylight.

Nothing is certain.  We rely on the furnace to keep us warm, and if it fails we’re in trouble.  We hope that the weather will hold and that our sons can come home from college for Thanksgiving.  I hope that the snowblower will start.  At 56 I can still shovel the driveway but I REALLY don’t want to.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and after that the Christmas season will here.  We’ll celebrate the annual effort to hold out against the deepest part of Winter. We’ll all be together, and we’ll enjoy our cocoon of warmth and light. But right now I’m sitting at my kitchen table, listening to the wind and to the leaves rustling against the window.

And I’m thinking about the thin envelop of comfort and safety between us and the dark.

The Bloggess Has Spoken

Jenny Lawson must be spying on me.

A week or two ago, I found a backup of my defunct Typepad blog, and put it back up on the internet on a whim.

And TODAY Jenny Lawson (she of posted an EXORTATION to all bloggers to celebrate  and renew their commitment to blogging:

Holy crap – how did she know? That after blogging about the joys and minor irritations of parenthood I had become distracted by social media? And that I lost a bit of my narrative voice when the kids got older and went off to college?  When did she figure out that I am itching to say something but don’t know where to begin again? How did she know that I was sitting here staring at the “Add New Post” screen on my new WordPress Blog trying to figure out what to say?

Well, godammit I’m back.

Thanks, Jenny.

Welcome Back

I came across a backup of my old blog today, and thought it might be worth resurrecting. I’m a bit more website savvy than I was when I stopped posting to it and technology has advanced a bit, so it wasn’t too difficult to import my old TypePad stuff into WordPress.

So here it is. Not sure what I’m going to do with it, but I got a kick out of the old posts, thought others might too.

Wild Leeks – Succulent Stinky Solitude

Angie and Anne were in town this weekend. As soon as they got here, Angie handed me a ziploc bag.  "Dave said to give you these.", she said. It was a ziploc sandwich bag full of wild leeks no doubt freshly picked by Dave in some secret spot deep in the Adirondacks.  I gazed at the bag in disbelief, then clutched them to my chest in joy.  "Oh happy day!", I said with no sarcasm or irony.

Wild Leeks (Allium Tricoccum – also known as Ramps) used to grow in dad’s woodlot when I was a kid. I remember walking through a patch of them and smelling a distinctly oniony smell.  They only show up for a few weeks in the spring.  I always picked a bunch when I found them, brought them home and ate them raw.  I ended the practice at around the age of 15, when I acquired a steady girlfriend. Wild leeks and youthful romance do not mix.  In fact wild leeks and human companionship of any kind do not mix. 

While they taste like a rich combination of a sweet onion and garlic, the resulting bad breathe will knock a buzzard off a shit wagon. Eat enough of them, and the smell literally comes out of your pores for a couple of days.  My best friend and I once got thrown out of history class for eating them during class.  I can still remember Mr. Cook pointing to the door and saying "Out – both of you! Come back when the stench is gone!"   He wasn’t overreacting. We were eating them by the handfull out of a brown paper bag.  The stink must have been apocalyptic.

Anyways, I held off on eating any until Saturday afternoon, when all the womenfolk were off at Cindy’s shower. I ate a couple of them, and discovered after a thirty year layoff that I still love the damn stinky things.  As a scientific experiment I located a small boy (Matthew), and breathed on him to judge the effect. Not surprisingly, he clutched at his face and tried to crawl under the couch, so he could tear the nose off his face in peace.

Anyways, I ate a few more tonight. Beth didn’t really complain (bless her heart), but she didn’t kiss me goodnight either.  She knows I’m indulging in a little Allium Tricocum related nostalgia. I froze the rest, since I won’t have time to make leek soup till next week at the earliest. Supposedly blanching and freezing take care of a lot of the stink.

Are they really that good? Yes they are. They’re delicious. That’s not the only reason for my fixation with these things.  The thought (and the stink) of leeks brings back memories of wandering my dad’s woods on cool, sunny spring days. It was just a few acres of trees, but it was peaceful, remote and quietly beautiful.  I used to slog through hay fields and pastures on foot to spend a few hours in the woods,  just to be alone with my thoughts.

Anyways – thanks Dave! You made my weekend. 

Matthew Moment #2 – Gross Oneliners

Matthew’s latest joke:

A guy walks into a restaurant and orders The Regular – and they serve him a dead revolutionary war British soldier.

It’s gross but it does prove he’s paying attention in history class.

Matthew Moment #1 – Naming the Band

Matthew and his best bud Kevin were trying to decide what to name their band (assuming they ever form one).

Kevin favored "Food Fighters"

Matthew came up with "Middle Aged Crusaders" 


Turbines on the Tundra

041208_042_resized_to_70_pctI was in Chateaugay a couple of weeks ago and got my first look at the wind park. There are already a bunch of wind turbines in Ellenburg and Brainardsville, with 72 turbines planned for Chateaugay.  With 86 turbines each with an output of 1.5 Megawatts, that’s 129 MW total.  That’s a significant amount of power.

These things completely dominate the landscape. They’re 260 feet to the hub of the rotor, 389 feet from the ground to the top of the rotor when it’s at 12:00.  When they’re turning (and a lot of them are now) the effect is like something out of a science fiction movie.  When you look at the towers it looks like the future has finally arrived. We may not be zooming around with personal jetpacks or colonizing remote planets,  but there are giant windmills in Chateaugay.

It’s strange to see such big changes in Northern Franklin County.  The area has been in a long decline since the demise of family farming.  Most of the changes we’ve seen in recent years are consist of barns and falling down and  fields turning fallow. It’s not often you see something new spring up.

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