Monthly Archives: December 2014

Daily Catskills: 12/31/14

Officially in the teens, the temperature this morning was 17F, with a 4 degree rise to 21F by lunchtime.  Fast flowing water is no match for the chill, and the ice is framing even the sides of even the bigger falls.

© MGP&D  Seventh and Final Day of the 7 days of waterfalls: Stratton Falls

© MGP&D – Day 7 and Final Day of The Seven Days of Waterfalls: Stratton Falls

Daily Catskills: 12/30/14

Temperatures began at 20F this morn.  By 3pm, the temp was…still 20F.  Instantly, ice has begun to form in the steams, bordered by a light layer of snow that fell last night.

© Mountain Girl Photography & Design -   Day 6 of the Seven Days of Waterfalls: Ice Begins to Form

© Mountain Girl Photography & Design – Day 6 of the Seven Days of Waterfalls: Ice Begins to Form

 

Daily Catskills: 12/29/14

A plethora of oversized fluffy flakes started falling as this shot was taken.  The day started at 28F, up to 34F, and by the end of the day, the tops of the mountains will be white again.  The cycle of water falling from the sky and falling over the rocks continues.

© Mountain Girl Photography & Design - Day 5: Name-less Falls Around the Bend

© Mountain Girl Photography & Design – Day 5: Name-less Falls Around the Bend

Daily Catskills: 12/25/14 Christmas Day

This Christmas morn dawned with an unusually warm temperature of 40F, only dropping a degree or two as the day went on.  Gusty breezes blow, and tumultuous water flows due to recent rains and the snow melt from the high peaks. Merry Christmas!

© Mountain Girl Photography & Design Day 1 of The Seven Days of Waterfalls: Cape Horn Road Falls)

© Mountain Girl Photography & Design – Day 1 of The Seven Days of Waterfalls: Cape Horn Road Falls

Daily Catskills: 12/24/14 Christmas Eve

A misty, hazy 42F at 10am and a very soggy start to Christmas Eve with half a foot of snow and overnight rain both replenishing the aquifers and inundating dirt roads, forest areas and fields. The rain began at midday and by 4pm had turned dirt roads into soggy messes. Drive safely and Merry Christmas.

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm

Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 12/21/14 Yuletide & The Winter Solstice

An overnight dusting of snow had clad every branch with fresh powder. 30F at midday. The afternoon sky appears to be a hologram varying between gunmetal grey and chalky white. Today is Winter Solstice, officially the first day of winter, which is hard to believe because it started snowing in November, not including a little test run back in October. The northern hemisphere of the earth is pointed the farthest away from the sun and, tonight begins its slow return towards it until the June Solstice of 2015. The ancient tradition of Yuletide began at sundown last night and will end on January 1st, 2015.

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.30pm

 

Daily Catskills: 12/20/14

28F at midday with steady snowfall for most of the morning, but faded quickly to 25F by 2pm. Mostly cloudy: the low sun managed to bleach through the hazy, foggy cloud occasionally during the afternoon to reveal the brilliant, icy blue above. Looking forward to the solstice here at Upstate Dispatch.

© J.N. Urbanski 1.38pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1.38pm

 

Saturday Shopping: Local Honey

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Honey: a form of address, miracle food, medicinal unguent and mysterious immortal time traveler, having been found in Egyptian tombs intact, it has survived thousands of years. If only those crusty, aged urns of the amber nectar could speak, they could convey untold stories. What honey’s secret to eternal freshness? Lack of moisture, according to the Smithsonian Magazine and a combination of the following factors that produce a rare quality.

First, the aforementioned low moisture content can be survived by only very few bacteria who technically suffocate in the honey. “They just die,” writes Natasha Gelling, quoting Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute at University of California. Honey is a sugar and it’s hygroscopic, meaning that it contains very little water in its natural state, but “can readily suck in moisture” if left in an open container.

Second, honey is very acidic with a pH value between 3 and 4.5. “The acid kills whatever wants to grow there,” states Harris. Next:

“Bees are magical,” Harris jokes. But there is certainly a special alchemy that goes into honey. Nectar, the first material collected by bees to make honey, is naturally very high in water–anywhere from 60-80 percent, by Harris’ estimate. But through the process of making honey, the bees play a large part in removing much of this moisture by flapping their wings to literally dry out the nectar. On top of behavior, the chemical makeup of a bee’s stomach also plays a large part in honey’s resilience. Bees have an enzyme in their stomachs called glucose oxidase (PDF). When the bees regurgitate the nectar from their mouths into the combs to make honey, this enzyme mixes with the nectar, breaking it down into two by-products: gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. “Then,” Harris explains, “hydrogen peroxide is the next thing that goes into work against all these other bad things that could possibly grow.”

So, with honey being thick enough to put on wounds and containing just enough hydrogen peroxide, it’s the perfect healing unguent. Store your honey in a sealed, airless jar and it will never spoil.

Manuka honey, which is made in New Zealand from the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium, is the basis of Medihoney, which the FDA approved in 2007 for use in treating wounds and skin ulcers.

You may not be surprised about colony collapse disorder if you’re familiar with the large-scale, commercial beekeeping industry. Rather like industrial agriculture in its approach, facilities keep millions of bees in expansive fields that look, ironically, like military graveyards. Commercial “migrant” beekeeping outfits also rent bees out to large-scale agriculture, transporting hundreds of hives on enormous trucks with the bees in them and that’s before you add in pesticides and GM crops. It must be confusing and highly stressful to be a commercial bee.

There’s more urgency than ever to support locally-produced, small-batch honey. The Phoenica Honey Company, based in Phoenicia, New York, buys raw honey wholesale from apiaries in Ulster County and infuses it with natural additives like cinnamon, lavender, star anise, ETC. Proprietor Elissa Jane Mastel buys organic additives where she can and never heats the honey to above 112F and has plans for a thyme and pecan infused honey. The resultant infusions are light, delicate and perfect with tea. Phoenicia Diner and Mama’s Boy Coffee in Phoenicia and Bumble & Hive in Rhinebeck serve Elissa Jane’s honey.

At Griffins Corners in Fleischmanns, Chase Kruppo is developing Chasing Honey Farm, a new honey haven, on a family plot of five acres. It’s a new long-term sustainable agricultural venture wherein members can “buy-in” on a beehive and either, receive the honey from their bees, the proceeds from the sale of their honey at market, or a combination of both. Chase’s mission is “to create jobs, craft superior honey, and aid a declining bee population”. Watch a video presentation of Chasing Honey Farm here.

“Honeybees pollinate one third of grocery produce and it is vital to the Upstate region to secure the food it produces by supporting its pollinators,” says Chase. “46% of bee hives reporting in New York State were lost last winter due mainly to starvation and excess moisture. Part of the 2015 expansion project of Chasing Honey Farm is the creation of an apple orchard, vineyard, and plantings of white currants, lavender, and mints. Creating summer-blooming food sources for honeybees help the hives build up honey reserves for winter.”

No honey can be certified organic because bees can roam up to five miles away from the hive in every direction, but if we all planted bee-friendly, pesticide-free vegetation, it would help keep local bees healthy.

Local, Antique & Vintage Holiday Gift Guide 2014

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Go to Blue Barn Antiques, in Shandaken/Phoenicia for some excellent bargains on high-quality antiques like this Rockwell-painted plate (above) for $15. There is still a pile left with different Rockwell paintings. Other utterly gorgeous vintage and antique dresses are still there alongside modern artisanal products like Pillowtique’s pillows and handmade crafts.

Continue reading

First Person Dispatch: Phoenicia Diner

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

No words can possibly describe the Wild Hive Skillet Polenta with Eggs and sauteed greens. The menu offered “sunny side up”, but the server offered them whichever way I fancied, so I took them scrambled and they were cooked to perfection: lightly buttery and moist. Was there cheese in the Polenta? Who knows? There was something magical in there, whatever it was, that made me feel like going straight to the Blue Barn and spending $36 on an antique red silk dress from Shanghai. Last time I did that it was the biscuits and gravy from Diner in Williamsburg, and two dresses from Pima Boutique in the Girdle Factory on Bedford Avenue… circa 2001. Remarkable dining experiences that make me go shopping are as rare as rent-stabilized apartments.

Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 12/11/14

Another day of monochrome skies from which fickle flakes continue to fall in the Catskills.  Temperatures only rose from 22F in the morning to 26F by lunchtime, with “feels like” temps only in the teens.  Still, ice has yet to form on the frigid fast moving waters and streams.

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

© Mountain Girl Photography and Design

 

Daily Catskills: 12/6/14

A hazy, misty morning with overnight ice on dirt roads melting to slush in the morning rain. 38F at midday. Update: charismatically misty and raining like a Thomas Hardy novel for the remains of the day. Only down to 34F by 6.42pm.

© J.N. Urbanski 2.40pm

© J.N. Urbanski 2.40pm

© J.N. Urbanski 11.47am

© J.N. Urbanski 11.47am

2014-12-06 14.42.18

© J.N. Urbanski 2.42pm

 

Saturday Shopping: Vintage & Antiques

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The artistic and entrepreneurial spirit is thriving indomitably in the Catskills where you’ll increasingly find more accomplished artists, tastemakers and downright fascinating people bringing their urban pursuits to the country. Furthermore, most businesses worth spotlighting here in the Catskills seem to be owned by women. Faye Storms has owned Blue Barn Antiques on Route 28 in Shandaken since 1979, having moved to the Catskills from NYC. “My husband brought me up here to recover from a sports injury and I fell in love with the place,” she says. “Then he put a bid on the store after we got married”. Storms learned the antiques trade after she bought the property, went to auctions, studied books, talked to people and set up the store. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband got into reproduction furniture which made them hugely popular. “There was nothing like it in the area at the time. We had cars lining up down the street.” The property has an interesting history having been a farm, a store and a luncheonette with a dancehall stage at the back that is still intact.

A graduate of FIT in New York City, Storms is also an accomplished artist  – something that antique store owners seem to have in common in the area – a town council member and a real estate broker. She has firsthand knowledge that game changers and influencers, artists willing “to take a gamble or leap of faith” are pouring into the area and buying up property with the intent to start enterprises and encourage growth in the area.

Blue Barn’s prices are also reasonable, making it the place for an exciting bargain. A red, antique, ankle-length dress made in Shanghai, pictured below was $36. The store is also frequented by stylists for motion pictures, dinner theatres and fashion shoots.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

There are two buildings on the Blue Barn property: a one-storey building (pictured top) and a two-storey building next to it, which Storms is slowly turning into a dealer center with all different dealers of various wares in addition to antiques like clothing, arts and crafts. You’ll find Theadora Anema’s Pillowthique, which featured early on Upstate Dispatch.

From 12pm to 5pm this coming Saturday December 6th, there will be an open house at the Blue Barn.

Blue Barn Antiques, 7053 State Route 28, Shandaken, (3 miles west of Phoenicia), New York. Open winter hours: Saturday and Sundays, 11-5pm.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

Daily Catskills: 12/2/14

21F at 8am: a cobweb sky dissolving in a brilliantly sunny dawn and snow making on Belleayre Mountain. The temperature rose to 30F by 1pm, as ominous cloud cover rolled in, then rapidly back to 27F at 3pm. A flurry of crunchy snow that began at 3.30pm had turned into a blustery whiteout by dusk.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.15am

© J.N. Urbanski 8.15am

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski 4pm

© J.N. Urbanski 4pm

 

Art: Catskill Coloring Book

© Alix Travis

© Alix Travis

Catskills’ artist Alix Travis has released a coloring book based on her own drawings for ages 7 and upwards. The book, priced at $15.50, will be available at the Commons Gallery, Margaretville, when it opens for the new show December 2nd to 31st,  “Abstracts by Christopher Engel; Sculpture by Anthony Margiotta; Figures by Alix Hallman Travis”, the reception being December 6 from 3pm to 5pm.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 4.16.56 PM