Monthly Archives: February 2015

Downstate Dispatch: NYC

© J.N. Urbanski 7.15am Brooklyn

© J.N. Urbanski 7.15am Brooklyn

When cabin fever sets in, sometimes there’s nothing to do but jump in the car and drive to New York City. Book an evening or two with friends, feed sushi to your dog, drink with a million old friends in your favourite bar and exaggerate like a true New Yorker. Driving in the city sharpens the mind as much as a good 25-mile assault course and, once you’ve survived the hair-raising journey, you’ll only be in the city for a few hours when the opportunity for a robust debate will present itself. Quirky customs and foibles are brought vividly into focus when you don’t live here. Strangers receive smiles with downright fascination and will swerve graciously out of the way for your gorgeous dog, but not for you. In fact, NYC dog lovers will converse with your dog like an old, dear friend and completely ignore the human on the end of the leash. Stern police officers on the RFK Bridge will take your toll without returning your gaze and then, out of the blue, light up like a five-year-old and yell: “HEY PUPPY!” after spotting your dog in the back seat.

There’s such a lot to miss about city life: furniture on the street (covered in snow); street vendors selling old, pristine issues of Life Magazine for five dollars; Wholefoods; opening up a coffee shop 7am, for a large tea, croissant and dog biscuit; Strand Bookstore; exciting visits to Manhattan offices bringing back old memories; sushi; La Duree macarons; the sprawling Brooklyn Navy Yards; cyclists; roof farms; the dulcet, reassuring tones of NPR on the radio.

Daily Catskills: 02/24/15

Horrible overnight lows of -17F, causing the rafters to issue the odd cracking sound or the occasional loud bang. -10F at 7am, quickly rising to 0F by 8am and 10F in the sun by 9.30am.  Sunshine blazing through a white, gossamer haze and turning the haze to silky ribbons by noon.

© J.N. Urbanski 10.30am

© J.N. Urbanski 10.30am

Daily Catskills: 02/23/15

10F and gusty at 8am, with powder being blown all over the roads and a thick, white blanket of snow lain over the countryside. A mostly bright morning, with multifarious cloud cover rolling over in waves. Maple tapping should be in full swing. A bone-chilling, windy -2F by 6.30pm with temperatures predicted to plummet to -17F this evening.

© J.N. Urbanski 10am Lonely maple syrup stand that we'll return to in the Spring...

© J.N. Urbanski 10am Lonely maple syrup stand that we’ll return to in the Spring…

 

Daily Catskills: 02/22/15

A balmy 30F at 10am with white light burning through the hazy cloud: a brief respite from the pipe cracking, tree splitting, shoulder hunching, crushing tyranny of the 2015 deep freeze. No wind. The arctic spectre seems to save its wind like a trump card for the coldest, darkest moments. Clear with brilliant sunshine and 34F by the afternoon.

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski 2pm

© J.N. Urbanski 2pm

Daily Catskills: 02/19/15

9F at 7am, lightly snowing and cloudy: knee deep snow. The snow had stopped by 10am, it became clearer over lunchtime until the sun broke through hazy cloud by 2pm. Trees creaked and cracked in the wind as it whipped up powdery tornados. Laundry day feels like its getting further and further away…

© J.N. Urbanski Wishful thinking...

© J.N. Urbanski Wishful thinking…

 

 

Daily Catskills: 02/15/15

6F by 9.30am with blustery winds and sunshine arriving by lunchtime. New England got the worst of the deep freeze allegedly. Update: rising to 7F by mid-afternoon, but feels like -23F. More cabin fever…

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718 Bell by Nousaku, Japanese master metalworkers dating back to 1609.

© Lori Robin at Cheezehound Headquarters

© Lori Robin at Cheezehound Headquarters

 

 

Daily Catskills: 02/13/15

Cabin Fever! Overnight lows in the negative figures: -2F rising to 0F by morning. Some sunshine making up for the frigid temperatures. Only the brave, and dog owners, venture outside. Update to come.

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718 1pm

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718 1pm Catskill Cuisine post by Milton Glaser. “Should you call that meeting?” poster by Wendy McNaughton.

 

How To Get Out Of A Rut

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when one has enormous financial commitments. Moreover, if you have cabin fever, it will be compounding any feelings of stagnation as this fresh snowstorm moves in. Many of us are afraid to take a vacation or even lunch breaks. Some of us feel we can’t leave our jobs because of hefty student debt. It’s tempting to approach a certain age or milestone and resign with a sigh, thinking “this is it”.

It doesn’t have to be, however. Even the slightest actions or chance meetings can trigger profound alterations in your life.

Tips:

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First Person Dispatch: For The Love Of Dog

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Years ago, a new country neighbor confided that whenever her husband went away on business she slept with a loaded shotgun by the bed, but I believe in accidents, sleepwalking and all the other disasters that Hollywood screenwriters can mustre. A shotgun only wakes you up after it has blown off your leg when you knocked it over reaching for a glass of water. A dog, however, wakes you up before something happens (or will ever happen).

Enter Alfie, my first dog, who barks when someone crosses the street a mile down the road, has a sense of smell so strong he can tell that the UPS guy will be here in an hour and follows me from room to room like a family member who’s afraid I’ll commit suicide. I only have to look out the window with a slight frown and he goes to the window and starts barking ferociously. Last night I gasped at a movie and he awoke with a start and issued a dead stare right in my eyes with one ear cocked until he was confident that all was well. He takes his position in the household as Head of Security as seriously as a Black Lab/Shepherd mix can. In Alfie is combined both the sheer comedy of a Black Labrador with the bossiness of a Shepherd. More important, as a first-time dog owner I don’t even see myself as the master of this dog; he’s not my dog, rather I’m his human. I can’t be alone in believing that the master should not be picking up faeces off the road and carrying it in a little bag. No, I am the servant for the next… ever.

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Daily Catskills: 02/09/15

The overnight snowstorm continued into this morning: 20F at 9am. Update: the tortoise of snowstorms… it seemed inconsequential, light and slower than the hare, but steathily dumped a foot or two throughout the day, still sprinkling it like glitter at dusk.

© J.N. Urbanski Midday

© J.N. Urbanski Midday

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 12.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 11.30am

© J.N. Urbanski 11.30am

Catskill Park Awareness Day: February 10th

5798mountain.jpg

© J.N. Urbanski View From Giant Ledge

The Catskill Center, a non-profit organization formerly known as the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, has been an advocate for this area since its inception in 1969, instigated by Sherret Chase, Armand Erpf and Kingdon Gould Jr, to tackle preservation issues and “foster harmonious economic development” in the region.

In terms of conservation, this region has an advantage over neighbouring areas because it supplies New York City with its drinking water, which travels unfiltered to the city in huge underground tunnels. Should anything sully the NYC drinking water supply, a billion-dollar filtration system would have to be built, something that New York State is keen to avoid, so the waterways are protected by regulation. This regulation hampers development, a significant disadvantage to the local economy, so the proceeds from year-round tourism – 2.5 million tourists annually – are our biggest benefactor. The people of the Catskills sacrifice the growth of their economy so that New York City can drink pristine water.

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Daily Catskills: 02/02/15

An overnight snowstorm dumped a foot of snow with two-feet drifts in some parts, burying cars, sheds and outdoor furniture. 18F at 9am with the snowstorm continuing unabated. Two feet of fluffy snow is catnip for the black lab.

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

© Robert E. Block 12.15pm

© Robert E. Block 12.15pm

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

© J.N. Urbanski 9am