Thursday, October 22, 2009

"It is an ancient mariner..."

And so it begins. Impulsively.

Putting out of my mind all the reasons I have read/heard/been told that a writer/professor/grown-up shouldn't have a blog, I begin this one. It may be a chronicle of my first winter in upstate New York, or a serious blog about literature or writing or something I've gone to school to write about, or the story of our new house...but really, I think it will end up being whatever I want to write at the time and largely unedited. Which is precisely why I shouldn't be writing it out here in public.

We bought our first house and moved into it a week ago...except that we are still moving in, really, carting things a few boxes at a time from the old apartment (whose lease expires at the end of the month). Our house is in the orderly, clean, War of 1812 town, Sackets Harbor, NY. We are the harbor of Black River Bay, which is part of Lake Ontario. When you hear about huge piles of lake effect snow up here, we are the lake. They tell me it jumps over us and lands on Syracuse, which I not-so-secretly think is too bad because I wanted to see snow higher than my head. They tell me I'll see plenty, though, even here.

Our house is small overall, but it has a big, green living room with a skylight and a door leading to a wall. (We call that The Door of Perception.) The bedroom is tan, and we are going to decorate it to look like the Wichita Mountains area of southwestern Oklahoma because my husband is homesick not for our home in Eastern OK but for the plains and the prairies. The other bedroom is now the gun room, and it is gray and accordance with the entire weird house. You have to step up into it because half of our house was built in the late 1800s and the other half in the 1970s or so.

The kitchen is small but extremely efficient, with brand-new cherry cabinets and drawers that shut themselves quietly if you but tap them. And a refrigerator that makes ice and water. (On purpose, I mean.) The dining room is not one anymore. It is red, and we have made it into a library since we seldom actually eat in the dining room anyway. (I know, I know...but at least we don't have worse habits.) The bathroom is small and beige, and very well-caulked. It used to be badly caulked and navy blue, but my mother-in-law came for a week and civilized the whole house like a renovating whirlwind. Where she goes, I shall go. Her people shall be my people and her god, my god.

The outside of the house has gray siding, a red door (that goes to a mudroom/sunroom that is going to be mine to decorate) and red around the windows. That is the part that is by the road. The back part of the house (the new part) has brown wood siding and a large deck that is just waiting for bluegrass musicians to play on it next summer. (In another blog I'll tell you about the surprisingly large number of bluegrass music in upstate New York!) We are going to fence the backyard for Tula (our black and white shelter cocker spaniel), but first we have to go to the Municipal Building to get forms to fill out telling the Village Planning Committee what we mean to do. They have to invite us to a town meeting to have our fence approved. People sure get in your business in Sackets Harbor...but I think that is why the town is so pretty and safe, so I don't mind. (My husband minds very much. He misses the lawlessness of the plains.)

In work news, I was responsible for the English department meeting lunch today, and I took white chili (my Aunt Sharon's recipe) and a Rachel Ray chicken, rice, spinach and black-eyed-pea soup (much better than it sounds). It was a success, thank goodness. English department lunches get competitively good up here, so I'm glad everyone liked my offering. I love my co-workers here already, and I was glad to feed them.

Putting it all in the car this morning made me think of church, and how much work it is for the women in the generation above me to cook all that food then get it into the car. I should be back home, doing my part. Instead, I am here, having this adventure. As usual. I always wanted to be the older cousin who came in from New York every few months with cool clothes and good books in her bag. I guess this is as close as I'll get. I'm sure not complaining, though. I can't believe my good fortune. I've been lucky to live several places when I thought I'd always stay in Oklahoma. I know I'll go back there, not to jinx my life on the icy know I mean I'll go back there if I go back anywhere. I'm Creek; I have to go back. I'm glad I'll go back with stories of other places, though...stories of this place, where snow piles up over the windows and a man comes out every morning in the summer to water hanging plants on main street and wipe off the streetlights and everything looks like a children's book illustration and nothing, nothing seems to ever be dirty.

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