Banner Photo Caption

Total Pageviews

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 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.

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.

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.....

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, 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 

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Junco in a Basket

Dark-Eyed Junco
Last year, it was a robin who decided the electrical service box on our outside house wall was a great spot for a nest and a place to raise a family.  This Dark-eyed Junco and his mate live, along with a passel of newborns, in a hanging plant basket over our deck.  They were skittish at first but now think I'm a Junco, or at least Junco-friendly.  The babies are too deep in the nest for me to try and photograph them. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pure Americana

Friday, July 4th, at 11 a.m., be there or be square.  Take a time journey back to a simpler time and enjoy the historic Berlin 4th of July Parade.  This year's theme is "Imagine This!"  Click here for more parade information.

A quality parade like this doesn't just happen.  A lot of people put a tremendous amount of work into it.  Plus, there are considerable expenses.  Donations are needed.  Make your contribution payable to the Berlin July 4th Parade Committee and mail to July 4th Parade Committee, P.O. Box 66, Berlin, NY, 12022.

Video of the Red Caps marching band in the 2013 Berlin July 4th parade

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garage by Amish Road Crew

Look familiar?  A sight not unlike the delivery, covered last November, in the post The Shed Man Delivers.  Only this time it was the Amish Road Crew, from New Holland, PA,  installing our new garage.  That's a serious flat-bed truck, not a buggy, and serious power tools were utilized (in addition to traditional hammers) throughout the project.

They arrived around 5:30 pm on Tuesday and the four crew members immediately went to work in an attempt to beat the forecast deluge on Wednesday afternoon.  Watching them in action is amazing -- they all know their roles.
Video of Amish Road Crew unloading
These guys weren't that big, but they were lean and strong.

 Video of the guys in action -- they move fast!

Yes, I asked if they were okay in my photographing this project.  The reply: "No problem!"  The fellow behind the window in this video, however, was a tad shy.

I struggled with the Pennsylvania Dutch English. I could handle "Oooh yaah, shay Jake, hey howa doo dee gables looook?" 

After several hours of evening work, this is how it looked and their off to the Grafton Inn Bed & Breakfast, which the guys later gave high grades for lodging and breakfast. They also gave two thumbs up to the Man of Kent for the burgers they feasted on for dinner and to Grafton's Town Store for the scruptious turkey foot-long subs I treated them to for lunch.

I spec'd the exact same Chateau Green roof shingles we had put on our house roof about a year ago.  They go well with the surrounding hemlocks.  I didn't intend to make this guy the star, but he was clearly the least shy of the four crew members.  I think he actually enjoyed being photographed.   He was also a good conversationalist over lunch and the only guy who correctly identified the junco who lives, along with her babies, in a nest in a hanging flower basket on our deck.


Unafraid of heights.  Slaps that automatic nailers around with conviction.

We elected to upgrade to permanent/rigid stairs versus the pull-down type. 

I'm six feet tall and I can stand up in the center of the the loft.  There's a window on each end for cross ventilation (ditto on the first floor).

The Amish Road crew did a nice job matching the forest green on the windows and doors to the door of our house, the gray walls to our gray deck.  Our house is sided with hand-split cedar shakes, so I had the Amish Road Crew leave the "triangle" section over the front overhead door with uncovered Tyvek.  To architecturally blend the garage in with our house, I will be putting up the cedar shakes myself.  Up until a year ago, Curtis Lumber carried them in stock.  Unfortunately, such is no longer the case.  They aren't locally available in Curtis, Lowes, or Home Depot.  I had to scour the Web and place an online order.  They ship from British Columba in a month.  I'll cover that in a post when completed.  I learned a lot about cedar shakes this week. I will also be lining up a local contractor for the electrical wiring.

The garage design is Behm "Craftsman Style 1-Car" (Behm Design 384-6).  I purchased this 384-6 design via Amazon because I could get it cheaper that way.  The siding on the garage is LP SmartSide Lap which is resistant to termite damage and fungal delay -- helpful here being on lake.

A job well done by the Amish Road Crew at a very affordable price.  A great bunch of extraordinarily polite and competent guys.  It took them a total of about 14 hours  (the last two in pouring rain) over two days to install the garage. They left the site cleaner than they found it -- not a single nail to be found on the ground!  I sent them each home to Pennsyvlania with a jug of local maple syrup,

Rolling back the camera....  The Amish Road Crew doesn't do the foundations for sites as far away as Grafton.

The foundation had been installed by D'Agostino Concrete (Troy/Brunswick) several weeks ago. The base beneath the foundation had been excavated and built up by Duane Goodermote Construction (Berlin).  Duane put the base down last November, so it had time to settle, though I noticed no settling whatsoever.  He did our mound septic system several years ago.  He also did the base for our shed and put down stone on our driveway.  Duane and Jarod, his able assistant, are definitely the "go to" guys for this kind of work.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hike to Berlin Mountain

Berlin Mountain, at 2,818 feet above sea level,  is the highest peak in the Taconic Mountain range and is the highest mountain in New York State not in the Catskills or Adirondacks.

From the intersection of Route 22 and Route 2 in Petersburgh, drive 5-1/2 miles east over the Taconic Trail to the large parking area on the right.  This is the same parking area used for the Hike to the Snow Hole.  The trail head is at the southwest corner of the parking area. -- see above.  There are other, unmarked trails with entrances off this parking area so be sure to go to this spot with the sign-in log and the blue Taconic Crest trail markers.

The trail is fairly well marked.  There's a somewhat steep climb right near the beginning.  The rest is moderate. The total distance, out and back, is 5.5 miles -- about a 3-1/2 hour hike.

Not too far in, you'll hit this "Y" that isn't marked well.  Bear left, else you head down to the west.

Much of the trail looks like this.

When you come to this "T," turn left.  

En route, a beautiful fern meadow.


ATVs are prohibited

ATV damage - proof that the Plateau's literacy rate has yet to reach 100%.
Click here for one reason not to invest in an ATV.
Click here for another.

Wildflower meadow

Approaching the peak

The peak!

Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Mass. is visible

Other Hikes
Fitch Trail Hike
Grafton Lakes State Park Trails
The Long Pond Environmental Education Center
Hopkins Forest
Mattison Hollow
Mattison Hollow
Park-McCullough House and Trails
Merck Forest & Farmland Center
Robert Frost Stone House and Museum and Trail
RRR Brooks Trail
SVC Hikes

See also

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fitch Trail Hike

Fitch Trail is a nice easy to medium difficulty hike on Bee Hill Road in the Town of Williamstown, Massachusetts.  From the intersection of Route 22 and Route 2 in Petersburgh, drive 2.6 miles east over the Pass to Bee Hive Road, which will be on your left as you come down the Massachusetts side of the Pass.  Another .6 miles on Bee Hill Road (drive slow -- it's a rather narrow two-way dirt road).
The trail head parking area swings off to the left of Bee Hill Road.

The trail sign is right at the end of the parking area.

The trail is well-maintained, well-marked and soft to the feet.  It zigs and zaps to the crest of the mountain -- a steady, but enjoyable walk.

Many very old trees.

Thank you Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation!