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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Grafton Winter Festival Schedule

Click here for the newly released full schedule of the 2015 Grafton Winter Festival to be held on Saturday, January 24th at Grafton Lakes State Park.

2013 Polar Plunge

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Shadblow Christmas Tree

Shadblow Tree in Winter

It's been a beautiful winter so far, as epitomized by the simple Shadblow tree --
"A symbol of everything that exists in nature..."

See Also
Shadblow Tree

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Steve Earle Coming to MASS MoCA

Credit: Steve Earle MASS MoCA Publicity Photo

Saturday, February 7, 8pm
Hunter Center at MASS MoCA
$22 student + advance / $28 day of / $36 preferred  (25% off through Dec. 31)
Click here for details

A trailblazer of alt-country, a protest singer of fiery commitment, a songwriter of towering ability — Steve Earle is an artist of expansive talents. He’s here, a sack full of Grammy Awards and his gravely, impassioned voice in tow, for a solo show 10 days before the release of Terraplane, a new album of swampy, southern stomp blues. (credit: MASS MoCA publicity)

I've always been a big Neil Young and Bob Dylan fan.  In 1986, a good friend, who knew my taste in music, suggested I watch Steve Earle on Austin City Limits, suggesting I'd enjoy his music.  Bingo!  I've been a huge Steve Earle fan since.  While a multi-Grammy Award winner, and a musician's musician, Steve has never hit it as bit as Bob Dylan and Neil Young.  But he should have.  I have over a thousand iTunes on my iPhone, the leader is Bob Dylan with 43, Steve Earle is at 40, and Neil Young has 29.  Yes, Steve's that good.  I've got my tickets (in this age of $100 ticket prices, $36 is a bargain).  I am really looking forward to the drive over the Petersburgh Pass to North Adams on February 7th!

Give him a try, click on some of the YouTube videos of his songs I've linked below.

The Mountain (yes, that's Steve without the mountain man beard!)
Goodbye (with Emmylou Harris)
You're The Best Lover That I Ever Had
Copperhead Road
Galway Girl
Guitar Town
I Ain't Ever Satisfied 
Down the Road
Christmas in Washington

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I'm on the e-mail list for the Grafton Community Library and the other day I read about the Grafton Community Book Club and their 2015 book selections for the next six months.   The Witch of Hebron caught my eye because somehow I missed the publication of this book which is a sequel to Kunstler's World Made by Hand, about a "post-oil, post-collapse world" which I had read and enjoyed.  James Kunstler, by the way, lives just a tad north of the Plateau.

I usually borrow books from libraries.  I happen to work in a university library, so that's my normal practice.  When the book isn't owned by the library, I then request it through interlibrary loan.  But if it's a book I want to own or have a lot of time to read, I'll sometimes buy it.  If it's just been released, I'll usually get it through but if it been around for a bit, I check, one of my favorite websites.

AbeBooks, which is owned by Amazon (though that's not made obvious at their website), is a fabulous source for used books and new books.  Virtually every used bookstore in the country garners a significant slice of their revenue pie by making their books available (for a fee to Amazon) on this portal.

You can buy the The Witch of Hebron from : hardcover for $16.89, paperback for $12.03, or Kindle edition for $9.99.  I really prefer the hardcover, print format, so I decided to check to see what was available at AbeBooks.  I plugged the title in the search engine and then sorted by "Lowest Total Price " (i.e. price plus shipping).  Up popped a hardcover copy, in Very Good condition for $1.00, plus $2.46 for shipping -- $3.46 total.  This is not an unusual AbeBooks deal.  I placed my order and about a week later it arrived in my mailbox from Hippo Books, a dealer in Toledo, Ohio.  I'd say closer to "like new" versus "Very Good" condition.  I've bought many books from AbeBooks through the years and have been extremely happy with the service.  Only one time did I feel the condition of the book that arrived was less than advertised by the dealer.  AbeBooks is also a great place to check for that ancient book, long out-of-print, you've been searching for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Strange Weather

Last Saturday, November 22, the low was 11 degrees and the lake was frozen over.  Monday, November 24, the high was 59 degrees and the lake thawed.   Now, it's snowing like a "Governor Rick Perry there ain't no such thing as global warming" day.  And yet the lake is still thawed on November 26th!.  My weather station (click on this site for it, or view the feed from it on WNYT NewsChannel 13 weather maps) is 29 degrees.  Weatherman Bob Kovachick tells me it's going to continue to just before daybreak tomorrow morning.  Looks like a test coming up for the new, unproven, snow-thrower.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Berkshire Battalion and North Adams Steeplecats

I grew up a New York Yankee fan.  As a youngster, I wore the Yankee cap all the time, to the point where my grandmother told me I'd go bald if I kept that up.  Guess what?  She was right.  But nowadays, I've lost interest in big league sports.  Steroids, millionaire second-stringers, crazy end zone dances, absurd ticket & hot dog prices, prima donnas....   I enjoy college and minor league sports much more.  So I was very happy to discover, this week, that nearby North Adams, Massachusetts (blue collar neighbor to preppy Williamstown) has a brand new minor league hockey team.  They also have a New England Collegiate Baseball League team.

Berkshire Battalion
Click here for the Berkshire Battalion website and here for their Facebook page.  The Battalion play in the Federal Hockey LeagueClick here for a team map.

North Adams SteepleCats
Click here for the North Adams SteepleCats website and here for their Facebook page.  The SteepleCats play in the New England Collegiate Baseball LeagueClick here for a team map.

To date, six SteepleCats have made it to major league baseball.

Click here for a tour of Joe Wolfe Field -- home of the SteepleCats.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cool Tiny Cabin!

I'm intrigued by the tiny house movement.  I think most of us buy way more house than we need -- myself included.   Apparently other do too -- my "Tiny House Movement" post has gotten more hits than any others since I've been doing this blog.

I love our place on Taconic Lake.  But... if I ever win the Lottery (which I won't, because I prefer to do my gambling on the stock market), I may have one of these cabins built for me in the remote woods of Maine.   Check out the plan and other photos of it. It's designed by David Vandervort Architects.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Petersburgh Views

Click here for a very interesting blog post someone put out on Petersburgh and the Taconic Trail history that includes some nice photos and postcards.  Hard to believe that Petersburgh once had three general stores!

Friday, October 17, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Click on photo to enlarge

I'm a long-time advocate of the luncheon walk. I learned years ago that a one hour walk at noon-time does wonders for me.  It clears my mind and answers to problems just pop in my head.  So, even when I'm extremely busy, I take the luncheon walk.  Several days ago, I went strolling through downtown Troy and spotted the above plaque on the front of 225 River Street -- Some Girls boutique.

A Visit from St. Nicholas (credit: New York Historical Society)
Click on photo to enlarge 

225 River Street, Troy

See also
Twas The Night Before Christmas Began in Troy

A Visit from St. Nicholas

Friday, October 10, 2014


On the way back from my recent trip to the Hudson Valley, I stopped at Golden Harvest Farms in Valatie and stocked up on  Honey Crisp apples and apple cider.  Oh... yeah.... and I stopped in their Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery.  I figured it would be interesting to see.  It was.  I partook of the taste test.  I left with a bottle of  Cornelius Apple Jack (named after Cornelius Murray a long-time Golden Harvest Farms Jamaican migrant worker).  Yes mon, just ask Roy Thompson.  As Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino) would say: Hoo-hah!! By the way, if you haven't watched Scent of a Woman in a while I strongly recommend you enjoy one of the best films of all time.  Filmed, in part, at Troy's Emma Willard campus.

Click here for the story of how 60 pounds or 1-1/2 bushels of apples and two years of aging is turned into one bottle of Cornelius Apple Jack at Golden Harvest Farms.  Grown, harvested, pressed, fermented, and distilled at Golden Harvest Farms.

Click here to learn how to drink whisky apple jack "like a Sir."  (Click here to order those glasses.)

Click here for apple jack sipping music.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Locust Grove

Locust Grove
I recently attended an event in the mid-Hudson Valley and stayed at a hotel in Poughkeepsie.  Returning on a gorgeous day, I decided to visit Locust Grove, the home of artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse.  In the 1990's, I used to drive by this place on the way to work and never took the time to visit. While I don't think it's worth a drive just down there just to visit this house, I do think it's worth it if you have other reasons for being in the area.  One might be to visit the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt or Val-Kill the home of Eleanor Roosevelt -- both  Hyde Park.  Yes, separate homes.  Another reason might be to experience the new Walkway Over the Hudson.

I've taken quite a few tours of historic homes, but I place this one near the top.  Excellent tour guide and excellent access.  Plus beautiful grounds.  There's also a small museum of his artwork and morse code paraphernalia.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum)
White Snakeroot contains the toxin tremetol.  Swallowing milk from cows that have ingested White Snakeroot can be fatal There was an epidemic of this in 19th century northeast United States.  Lincoln's mother reportedly died after ingesting snakeroot-contaminated milk.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Garage Final Touches

The hand-split cedar shakes finally arrived from British Columbia (ordered via Build Direct).  I spent this past weekend on the ladder installing them.  I do not like heights, but I do like how this turned out.  Our house is sided with the same shakes, so this ties the garage in, architecturally, with the house. I love the look of hand-split cedar shakes, plus they need no staining, painting or maintenance.  They are strong, insect resistant and last for years.  They can also be used as a roofing material, though I prefer our forest green shingles for that.  If you have an interest in cedar shakes, go to YouTube and search "hand-split cedar shakes," and you'll find out how they are made by hand.

Note the lamp adjacent to the side door.  I wanted the capability of turning this on and off from our mud-room in the house.  I figured I'd have to lay some conduit and install 3-way switches.  But Ben Krahforst (ACT Electric, Petersburgh), who wired our garage, clued me in on wireless switches.  I ordered  a SkyLinkHome switch and receiver in the garage and a SkyLinkHome switch (programmed to "mate" to the above receiver) in the mud-room.  I ordered these from and installed them myself -- very easy.  Now we can turn that light off from either the house or inside the garage.

I also installed the Chamberlain Ultra Quiet Garage Door Opener.  I hope it's the last garage door opener I ever have to install because I've put in several and they are always fun.  I think "ultra" quiet might be a slight stretch, but this opener is much quieter than most. 

Sometime, in the coming months, I'll be making a cedar flower box.  But, the next project on the list is crawl space dehumidifiers and sump pumps.  Something about this rainy year.....

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wild Hydrangea

Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea aborescens)

Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea aborescens)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Destination Williamstown

Images Cinema - Williamstown, Mass.

We journeyed over to Williamstown again Saturday night and enjoyed a nice meal at the The Purple Pub and took in Begin Again at Images Cinema.  My Custom Pub Burger (I selected: Angus Beef, sauteed mushrooms and pepper jack cheese) was excellent.  As was the draft Brown's Cream Ale  However, I must say, Constant Companion's BLTA (applewood smoked bacon, fresh arugula, sliced tomato, aged cheddar, avocado, garlic aioli) with some of the best housemade kettle chips I've ever had was the winner -- I'll be ordering that next time.

Images Cinema, like most cinemas, shows some ads on the screen prior to the feature film.  One of them caught my eye -- Destination Williamstown.  This is a really nice website providing all kinds of event information and things to do around Williamstown.  "The creators of Destination Williamstown are a group of community members who love where we live and want to share it with the world." 

I recommend bookmarking Destination Williamstown and signing up for its e-mail newsletter.

Nice quote from Destination Williamstown's banner:
“One of the loveliest communities in New England. Williamstown, Mass., in the northwest corner of the state, is a pastoral, historic town where great art is housed in intimate settings, where academics mix with outdoorsmen, and where a weekend escape can involve everything from eavesdropping on world-famous professors in a village coffee shop to walking the northernmost reaches of the Appalachian Trail.” – The New York Times

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hop Clover

Hop Clover (Trifolium aureum)

Hop Clover (Trifolium aureum)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Evening in Williamstown

Pera Mediterranean Bistro - Williamstown, MA

Thursday night we drove to Williamstown to celebrate Constant Companion's birthday.  First on the agenda was Pera Mediterranean Bistro on Spring Street.  I had observed, several times while in Williamstown, how it attracted a nice crowd and my visit to the website further perked my interest.  It was a beautiful evening, so we dined outside and Pera exceeded our expectations. We shared a terrific flat-bread appetizer. I enjoyed scrumptious perfect scrod. Constant Companion raved over her watermelon salad (a special) with grilled shrimp, walnuts and feta cheese. The key lime pie for dessert did not disappoint. Fahri Karakaya, the owner, who is very friendly, has created a winner.

Images Cinema - Williamstown, MA
Next on the agenda, Words and Pictures at Images Cinema, two doors down from Pera and "the only year-round, nonprofit, independent film house in the Berkshires."  Before moving to Grafton, Spectrum 8 in Delmar was a frequent outing choice.  We both enjoy quality foreign and independent films and at least one of the eight screens at Spectrum 8 was always showing a good film.  Images Cinema only has one screen, but the theater management has solved the problem of "too many choices" -- they select the best film for you.  This evening it was Words and Pictures, a good film.  Now showing Begin Again, perhaps an even better one.

A five star outing in my book.  Williamstown is a scenic 17 mile drive from the lake via Toad Point Road and Route 2 over the Petersburgh Pass for us.  It's a bit of a brain teaser to me that Williamstown is 17 miles from our home, while Troy is 20.  The Pass makes it seem further than it is.  We recently declared it our "big city" home base.  So we opened accounts at the Williamstown Savings Bank and find ourselves doing our grocery shopping at the Stop And Shop, and stopping at Wild Oats Market for our favorite hard to find choice olive oil.  The culture, the "feel," and the beauty of Williamstown are hard to beat in my book, though I'm not about to give up rural life.

See also: Papa Charlie's Deli 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grafton Inn Historical Marker

Grafton Inn (NY) Historical Marker
The Grafton Historical Society, with the permission of the Inn owner, just installed a historical marker in front of the Grafton Inn B&B.  Kudos to GHS!

I love these markers, the information they provide and the interest in local history they encourage.  This type of  historic marker is no longer installed by New York State, but the New York State Museum has a webpage "How Do I Get a New York State Historic Marker?"  Many of these historical markers are made today at Catskill Castings Historical Markers.

See also: Grafton Inn B&B and Hezekiah Coon Inn

Grafton Inn B&B

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014