Marooned In The Catskills (For 24 Hours)

Hello once more! This is a ridiculously early post, New York time. It’s before 5:30 am.

Ugh! It’s also called “jet lag.”

Yes, yes, it’s great to be back in the Catskills for a bit:

Windham Mountain in the distance. [Photo by my, 2015.]
Windham Mountain in the distance. [Photo by my, 2015.]

I wrote most of two novels here. Now you see why! ;-)

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In Our Chalet

Insofar as writing for the third volume is concerned, this ski holiday has been nearly a disaster. This week, I’ve gotten barely a couple of pages done: honestly less than one decent regular day’s work. However, we’re also having a great time – and, in a sense, I’m getting LOTS of new material I can use once home in England and comfortably at my desk.

The chalet owner is a Belgian, well-spoken in English, and reminds us of something of a cross between a pleasant Gerard Depardieu and my (mischievous glint in the eye) novelist uncle. As you don’t know my uncle, that comparison’s incomplete, but naturally I’ll explain more. ;-)

At breakfast, the owner confirms dinner is acceptable each night. (If anyone objects, the chef will do something else for them.) This morning, as her similarly aged English half was sitting at their table, he asked the 30ish, Scottish, female half who was at the bar getting coffee for herself, “Are you okay with the menu for tonight?” She approved quietly. He followed up by asking playfully, “And your lover? Does he approve it too?”

Her husband at their table next to us turned around to me, embarrassed, smiling, shaking his head. Seeing her expression as she walked back to their table, my wife told me afterwards that her face was bright red as she too embarrassingly grinned.

I'm taking pics of food now. A dessert. [Photo by me, 2015.]
I’m taking pics of food now. A dessert. [Photo by me, 2015.]
The owner has told me he used to own an art gallery in Belgium. In the last decade, he has redone what had been a shabby, old chalet. His booming, friendly voice can easily be heard singing or laughing during the day. (We even heard him outside while we were taking a walk our first day.) When I asked him if his chef was French, he joked, “French? No! He’s Belgian too.”

Evenings, they’re assisted by a Polish woman in her early twenties. She speaks French very well (at first we thought she was French until she told us her background), and English passably. The owner clearly relies heavily on her, but she also admits, though, to being a bit accident-prone. “I’ve broken so many wine glasses,” she once laughed to us from behind the bar.

Yes, welcome to France.

The church in the center of La Clusaz. Note the distant skiers on the slope to the left of the steeple, and the gondolas to the right. [Photo by me, 2015.]
The church in the center of La Clusaz. Note the distant skiers on the slope to the left of the steeple, and the gondolas to the right. [Photo by me, 2015.]
The chalet has 14 rooms. The guests so far have been mostly French. But there have been of course some other English-speakers besides ourselves and that English/Scottish couple.

Another, older, Scottish woman, unfortunately took quite a tumble skiing her first day and badly damaged a knee. That ended her skiing week. The other night (her last night), just before dinner, the owner concocted her a drink on the house.

“It’s terrible, she fall on her first day,” he remarked seriously to us. He then winked as he strolled off carrying the sympathetic, surprise glass to her table. “I try to make her feel a bit better.”

Hope you’ve been having a good Thursday, wherever you are. :-)

Like My Alps Hat?

Not bad to see this first thing in the morning on your phone:

Inspirational to see this on your iPhone early in the day. (Temperature in centigrade - it's not THAT cold.)
Inspirational to see this on your iPhone early in the day. (Temperature in centigrade – it’s not THAT cold.)

But it has been much sunnier today than that forecast.

There had been heavy snow for about 3-4 days before we arrived on Sunday, but none last night. Currently, I’d say there’s at least 3 feet of it generally. (The town of La Clusaz is at least 4,000 feet high. In comparison, I’d say Windham, NY is about 1,700 feet.) A shot of a lift I took a little while ago, not far from where we are staying:

A lift station just outside La Clusaz, France. [Photo by me, 2015.]
A lift station just outside La Clusaz, France. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Oh, like my hat? Yes, I really put this photo on the internet. I must be becoming too comfortable with all of this:

image

I’m supposed to be writing, mind you. Being creative. Getting on with things.

Not taking ridiculous selfies. ;-)

Far worse would have been the photo I could’ve shared AFTER I’d taken my hat off. I would have frightened most of you. You didn’t deserve that.

One of the main traits of ski resorts is you will always look a bit disheveled. It’s unavoidable. However, I’ve always noticed here especially in the Alps that you must also strive to look smartly disheveled.

That requires a particular skill. A deftness with attire. I’m working on it, but I don’t think I’ve mastered it just yet. :-)

Good Days And Bad Days

It’s a beautiful late afternoon now after a snowy, cloudy start here in La Clusaz, France – about an hour’s drive from Geneva, where we’d landed yesterday afternoon:

Snowy hillside, just outside La Clusaz, France. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Snowy hillside, just outside La Clusaz, France. [Photo by me, 2015.]

Where we’re staying…. the chalet owner and staff…. let’s just say there seems some future story “material” here. ;-)

Out and about today, my wife also said she saw some #jesuischarlie signs around some ski lifts.

Simultaneously it’s a lousy personal “anniversary” today:

Black

I “borrowed” that black page idea from Tristram Shandy. It pretty much sums up how I feel over her death February 2, 2014.

Although we’re on holiday, that doesn’t mean all is forgotten. She’s been on our minds and in our conversations a lot more in recent days. I suppose “one year” is one of those “milestones.”

Hope you’re having a good day, wherever you are. :-)

To The Ski Slopes… And, More Importantly, After

We’re having some necessary electrical work done. The power’s switched off in the house (here in Wiltshire); I’m “tethered” to my phone for some internet. Nothing to do now but wait as the electrician – a nice guy – gets on with things.

Earlier, I was having a look around at some of my “web presence,” and noticed my Gravatar:

My Gravatar.
My Gravatar.

I know lots of people use Gravatar. However, there’s a tendency we all have, I think, to spread ourselves out “too much” over the net. I know there are sites I’ve long ago “abandoned,” but I’ve probably still got something up there, someplace. (A couple of weeks ago, out of the blue I got an automated email from Classmates.com that someone “remembered me.” I didn’t know “Classmates” even still existed? And how many of you had a My Space page you’d forgotten about?)

Anyway, here’s a bit of insider info about my Gravatar. The background photo is of a ski slope in La Clusaz, France. I took that picture about a decade ago.

Mrs. Nello has always been an excellent skier; she’s done it from childhood. I learned in my early thirties, when, I suppose, we all become a bit more physically risk-averse. I can do it, but I never fell in love with skiing the way she has.

Too often, I just fell. Come to think of it, I’ve fallen down in some of the most gorgeous ski resorts in the world. In western Canada. In Italy. In France. Uh, and in the Catskills too. ;-)

I never really hurt more than my pride, thankfully.

We’re going back to La Clusaz for a short stay in January. I always wanted to glide down a slope rather like David Niven in The Pink Panther, but I never managed it. Trying to do so is made all the tougher by so many around you whooshing by and taking it all so seriously that you’d think they were looking to World Cup qualify or something.

Regardless, as there was for Mr. Niven, for me there absolutely needs to be a brandy at the end. Or maybe just forget the skiing entirely, enjoy the views, work on “Book Number 3,” and have a brandy? The latter sounds like a great idea!

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world. :-)

Morning Mist

Happy Saturday! How about an “uplifting” photo?:

Morning mist below Windham Mountain (left) and Hunter Mountain (distant, right), in the Catskills. [Photo by me, 2014.]
Morning mist below Windham Mountain (left) and Hunter Mountain (distant, right), in the Catskills. [Photo by me, 2014.]

I grabbed that about 45 minutes ago. I’m a “morning person,” as you may know. Even on the weekends!

There’s still plenty of snow visible on the ski runs on both Windham (left) and Hunter, but brown patches are increasingly obvious. Spring has arrived. Skiing is finished until November.

Have a good weekend, wherever you are. :-)

Ski Runs

Starting Friday a bit early, and I thought I’d post this. Yesterday was a gorgeous Catskills day. I grabbed a photo of Windham Mountain ski resort, looking up from the car park, toward the lodge (l) and the condos (r):

20140306-134924.jpg

While the air was cold (about 20F/ – 6C), the strong sun was warm. (Today will be a bit cloudier.) It’s definitely feeling like March. Ski season doesn’t have much longer to go ’round here.

Catskills Dawn

I posted this to Twitter a few days ago, and thought I’d add it here too:

20140126-170421.jpg

I snapped that from our house: the sun, behind clouds, rising in a frigid sky over Windham Mountain. The ski runs are visible.

Wow, is it uncommonly cold again today. Woke up this morning to -4F/ -20C. Brrrrh.

Have a good day, wherever you are. ;-)