Monthly Archives: April 2015

Catskills Then and Now: Lake Switzerland

Built in 1907, the dam that created Lake Switzerland was later thought to be structurally unsound and removed. Just to the right of today’s picture is the road and the spot on which the St Regis Hotel still stands. If you look at the postcard of the St Regis Hotel, it will give you an idea of the area covered by the lake. In the right of today’s picture are some white concrete barriers where the bridge used to be. The image at bottom of the post is the view of the St Regis today from other side of the bridge.

© J.N. Urbanski 4/30/15 11am

© J.N. Urbanski 4/30/15 11am

Postcard courtesy of Jeanine Pascarella

Postcard courtesy of Jeanine Pascarella

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Catskills Conversations: Jeanine Pascarella

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

How long have you lived in the Catksills?

I moved upstate with my family in 1979 when I was nine years old and my parents were partners with my mother’s parents – my grandparents – at the Emery Brook House, that’s now the Evergreen. They ran it as a German Cuisine bed and breakfast.

Were you born here?

I was born in Huntington, Long Island.

So what made your family move to the Catskills?

Well, my grandparents had found the area. They had a boarding house in Rockaway and the area was being developed so they had to sell, or were bought out. I don’t really remember the story of how they left Rockaway, but they were looking for a German community and that’s how they wound up in Fleischmanns. There was a nice German community here and they were looking for a similar situation to what they had left: a boarding house. So when they contacted a real estate person in the area, the real estate person told them about the St Regis, which is huge and much bigger than anything they had envisaged managing, so they then found the Emery Brook and that’s where they settled.

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Compost

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If you have acreage, there’s no reason not to compost. Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and it can be replenished with organic material like kitchen food scraps, peelings, dead leaves, tea bags and coffee grounds. Another astonishing statistic: the USDA reported in June 2013 that it estimates that food waste in America is 30 to 40% of the entire US food supply and it goes into landfill every year. Seattle recently made it the law to compost and, here in the Catskills you can have your food scraps taken away, but there’s no reason why you can’t just make the compost and throw it in your forest or on your garden. Nature consumes all.

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Catskills Conversations: Lorraine Lewandrowski

Lorraine Lewandrowski does not live in the Catskills, but our radio interview and half of our phone conversations, which are always fascinating, take place in the Catskills, so I’m printing them here. Lorraine is an agricultural lawyer and dairy farmer with 60 cows in the Mohawk Valley, New York. She is a very active spokesperson for the farming community, speaking at agricultural conferences and writing articles for trade publications. She tries to do things like link deep rural farmers with urban food groups. Lorraine is a descendant of Polish immigrants who arrived in the valley about 100 years ago and one of a long line of farming advocates. Her grandfather was one of the founders of a co-op, of which her father was the president for many years. She’s on Twitter with 15,000 avid followers.

I’ve never met a dairy farmer and lawyer before.

There are a few of us around. Actually, I know some attorneys and dairy farmers in England and we keep in touch on Twitter to compare notes on contracts and things that are going on. In fact, I keep in touch with farmers in Wales, New Zealand, Australia, all over the place and to the best of my ability in France. I’m not that great with French. We try to share information that way. The global corporations have far more extensive communications networks than we do, but this is a way of us getting at least some idea of what’s happening.

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A Tasting in Arkville at Jack’s Bread Breakfast

Dinner at the breakfast & lunch joint! Arkville Bread Breakfast, home of the Catskills’ legendary fish and chips will host a tasting, starting at 5.30pm on Saturday April 25th. Address: 43285 Route 28, just after the Crossroads at Route 38 in Arkville, New York.

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Catskills Conversations: John Hoeko

© J.N. Urbanski 4/2/15

© J.N. Urbanski 4/2/15

John Hoeko, a lifelong fly fisherman, owns Fur, Feathers and Steel in Fleischmanns. He’s writing a book about his life and times and his work with the Catskills waterways.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

My whole life, except for one day. I was born in Jamaica, Queens. My grandfather was Chief of Radiology in a hospital in Queens. He thought that the local hospital here in Margaretville, the old one, was too provincial. So he insisted I be born in New York City.

So you’ve lived here in Fleischmanns ever since?

Yes, my parents originally lived off Ellsworth Avenue, while they were building our house.

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Catskill Interiors

The Four Seasons room at Spillian, because in the Catskills you’ll catch all four seasons in one day.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Weekend treats… the set of Proof at the STS Playhouse, which finished its run yesterday.

© J.N. Urbanski The set of Proof at the STS Playhouse, Phoenicia

© J.N. Urbanski

The hallway staircase at Foxfire Mountain House, adorned with Moroccan tile.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

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Proof at the STS Playhouse, Phoenicia

ProofFlyerThere’s still time to catch Proof written by David Auburn at the STS Playhouse on Church Street in Phoenicia this weekend, starring Jennifer Paul, Farrell Reynolds, Stephen Powell and Kimberly Kay. Last night’s show was remarkable: deeply engrossing, funny with excellent performances from the cast. Proof explores the world of madness and mathematics.

From the director, Wallace Norman:

“When rehearsals began it was asked, ‘What the hell IS a proof?’ A mathematical proof is an argument, which convinces other people (usually mathematicians) that something is true – incontrovertibly. There is a precise vocabulary and grammar that underlies all mathematical proofs. The vocabulary includes logical words such as or, if and Q.E.D.”

Further shows tonight April 18th at 8pm and tomorrow afternoon, April 19th at 2pm.

The Three Muses: Esther De Jong

© MGP&D

© MGP&D

And another muse makes three: Esther De Jong will be reading on Saturday night, in an evening of poetry and music at the Joma Cafe in Shokan.

Esther De Jong has been writing poetry for five years, with last two and a half intensively. She has always read poetry because it’s a great inspiration for painting. “I started reading more and more and one day felt the urge to write it myself. Right now I’m studying the official form, the educational part of it, but before that I was writing whatever came to mind.” De Jong’s poetry career developed because it was more accessible than painting. With painting comes physical baggage to be carried like boxes, easels and brushes. “A notebook fits in the purse.”

CANDLES by Esther De Jong

Two stumps sit on the windowsill

Lost romantics, almost burned out

Their melted wax dripped onto the floor

Still virgin white, just no longer saintly.

 

The Three Muses: Becca Andre

Becca, of The Three Muses, will be reading at the Joma Cafe on Saturday night.

AMTRAK

Sometimes-
I wish I had stayed in St. Paul,
holding on, one night longer, to that stolen kiss
with my crystal flute playing friend.

But then, I would have missed my only night in New Orleans:
arriving late to a B&B,
hanging on the porch dripping of sweat and the blues.

Ahh, there was no resisting
that first barista-made coffee
and the art laden sidewalks of Portland.

Then, there was Dallas.
I never got his name, but that two-steppin cowboy
floated me across the Red River dance floor
making me forget all about my broken heart…
for three minutes, maybe four.

And El Paso, make me smile.
staring across the Rio Grande for a while,
so close to romance with the conductor of a train…
but no, I had to hop a bus to Tucson,
weave my rented Chevy through Sedona,
to stand glorious and triumphant
on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

All this, after my night spent on the wooden bench
of a depot in San Antonio,
listening to the thunder roll from the storm that left me,
delayed and betrayed.
BUT, I was in Texas, so I almost stayed…

And never, never will I forget that ride along the rails
of the Pacific coast.  Landing in Sacramento,
with only my camera and clothes,
standing at the Hard Rock Cafe,
staring at the giant spinning guitar,
(that sidewalk singer,
I swore he called out my name).

Until this day,
I wonder if I should’ve stayed
in Sacramento,
Just stopped right there, started life anew.
This I wonder often…
Yet it is “no” that I conclude,
for none of these places, these cities, these towns would ever do.
Because none of them,
not one,
held the sweet promise of meeting you.

©2014 Becca #43

The Three Muses: Melissa Zeligman

Zeligman_RumiMelissa Zeligman has been writing poetry all her life, but seriously since 2007, prompted by a love affair that unleashed a torrent of creative energy. “I met a muse,” she says. “I had always been a creative person in general, but after that, I started writing poetry, painting and photography.”

After a bout of writer’s block a few years ago, she was inspired by a friend to start publishing three lines of poetry a day for extended periods, which she did on her Facebook page Girl&Muse. The above poem is her “fantasy that Rumi and Mirabai should have gotten together”.

She will be reading on Saturday at the Joma Cafe.

 

 

Poetry in the Catskills

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Urging

A rupture

Unraveling

Steers the bloom…

 

April is Poetry Month and next week there are a couple of noteworthy events to celebrate the season: The Three Muses at the Joma Cafe in Shokan and Poetry in Your Pocket hosted by the Roxbury Arts Group.

For Poetry In Your Pocket day, RAG is celebrating by placing poems in the pockets of community members and encouraging them to read them aloud throughout the day.

RAG “would love the opportunity to highlight the work of our local and regional poets! To be included, send your poem to doug@roxburyartsgroup.org by April 17”.

 

Catskills Conversations: Todd Pascarella

© Jeanine Pascarella

© Jeanine Pascarella Brian Mulder and Todd Pascarella (right)

Former Mayor of Fleischmanns Todd Pascarella is embarking upon a new effort to keep us all in good spirits. Union Grove Distillery in Arkville is due to open this year, producing vodka to start and eventually offering aged rye whiskey and aged rye bourbon.

When did you move to the Catskills?

I moved to the Catskills in Spring 2001. I was drawn here partly because of my experience of going to college down in Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I grew up in Long Island and it was quite a contrast from the life in Long Island to the way things were down there: the natural beauty and the niceness of the people down there. I decided to try and move up here by myself as a yearlong experiment and I moved to MT Tremper. And I started meeting a lot of people who I was fascinated by, so I decided to buy a fixer-upper house in Highmount. I lived in that for a couple of years and that’s when I met Jeanine.

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Transplant Tales: Jessica Vecchione

© Jessica Vecchione Selfie with Drone Camera

© Jessica Vecchione Selfie with Drone Camera

Jessica Vecchione is the founder of the Catskill Mountain Film Festival and is a documentarian, videographer and photographer.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

I moved up here in 2001, three weeks before 9/11. It was such a shock. We had no cell service and I don’t think we had even gotten our dial-up yet. I had no idea that anything had happened until the afternoon when I heard some phone messages. It really did seem like everything changed after that. [House] prices went up. They were still very affordable but they were much lower before when I was looking in the period before moving, late August.

What made you move here?

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Daily Catskills: 04/09/15

Jack Frost has cut his expert swathe across the mountains. A frozen, overcast landscape, 31F at 7am and every single bud, blade and branch coated in a thick, icy mantle. Icy granola stuck fast to the entire deck and sides of the house. Overnight thunder, lightning and hail set Spring back again. Update: 36F mid-afternoon with the ice being noisily blown off the branches by the wind.

© J.N. Urbanski 8am

© J.N. Urbanski 8am

© J.N. Urbanski 8am

© J.N. Urbanski 8am

 

Transplant Tales: Keith Carollo

Photo courtesy of Keith Carollo

Photo courtesy of Keith Carollo

Entrepreneur Keith Carollo closed his NYC business and moved to the Catskills full-time with his husband Chris. They are both pursuing careers in the arts, with Chris directing the local school play.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

We’ve lived here full-time for about a year now and we had our home four years before we moved here full-time. It was just a weekend home.

What made you move here?

It was for financial reasons really. We had a business that we closed and at the same time, they were increasing our rent in the city, so it just seemed like it made sense to come here where our expenses would be lower. And that became the next adventure for us.

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Daily Catskills: 04/06/15 Before & After

We’re having extraordinary weather. This morning was like a Christmas Winter Wonderland and this afternoon snowmelt gushes down the mountains while the thermometer hit 60F at 4.30pm. Here are the before and after shots from today. The first picture taken at 7.45am and the second taken at 3.15pm in exactly the same place.

© J.N. Urbanski 7.45m

© J.N. Urbanski 7.45m

© J.N. Urbanski 3.15pm

© J.N. Urbanski 3.15pm

Daily Catskills: 04/06/15

38F at 8am with bright sunshine burning through hazy cloud cover. A disconcerting inch of overnight snow coated every leaf and branch and thick mist hung in the valleys. Update: the haze cleared, snow melted quickly from branches. 55F at 2pm and sunny.

© J.N. Urbanski 8am

© J.N. Urbanski 8am

© J.N. Urbanski 11am

© J.N. Urbanski 11am

Daily Catskills: 04/05/15

Alas, we seem to have taken turn for the worse… 36F at snowing at 10am this morning. If it doesn’t warm up, we’ll have snow all day. The only saving grace: Easter chocolate. Update: the snowfall got heavier in the afternoon and into the evening.

© J.N. Urbanski Noon

© J.N. Urbanski Noon

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Transplant Tales: Tim Trojian

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

“…the mountains feel like they’re hugging you and holding you in”.

Tim Trojian, one of the proprietors of the Foxfire Mountain House in Mount Tremper has, for the past year, been living in the establishment while he oversees its renovation.

What made you move to the Catskills?

I was looking for a place with my wife Eliza, where we could start a business that would allow us to be together. She has been working in television all her life and we were trying to find a good location. I have been a chef and an hotelier all my life. The Catskills are perfectly situated being two hours from NYC, where Eliza could work while we were getting this project up and going. We could have the amenities of the city, but still live in the country, which we love.

Where are you from?

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Daily Catskills: 04/03/15

50F at 9am; the air thick with fog and unexpected birdsong. Overnight rain had rendered the ground sodden and trees dark with damp. Fog on the mountaintops, mist in the valleys melting snow revealing a nascent landscape. Update: a high of 59F with thick cloud and fog all day. The sun made a brief appearance.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.30am

© J.N. Urbanski 8.30am

© J.N. Urbanski 8.30am

© J.N. Urbanski 8.30am

Foxfire Mountain House: Opening June

© J.N. Urbanski The main house

© J.N. Urbanski The main house

Up the hill behind the train tracks of the DURR opposite The Emerson, a new inn is being fitted out with ten rooms, restaurant, bar and lounge named The Foxfire Mountain House. Most of the furnishings are second-hand items found in the Catskills, with the decorative Moroccan tiling found in a warehouse in Brooklyn. There are still chairs to be sanded, beds to be built and raspberry banquets to be fitted, but proprietor Tim Trojan hopes to be open by June. An adjacent cottage has been ready for a while and has been rented for weekends on AirBNB. Tim owns the inn with his wife Eliza Clark a television producer and Eliza’s daughter Arden Wray, a photographer. He’s been directing the renovation for the past year, but the style has come from his wife Eliza who produced renovation television shows.

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On The Fly: Trout Season

© J.N. Urbanski Junction Pool, Roscoe

© J.N. Urbanski Junction Pool, Roscoe

“…. but when I’m alone in the half-light of the canyon, all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Black Foot River and a four-count rhythm, and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually all things merge into one and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” Norman McLean.

The ethereal magic of fly-fishing had hitherto failed to capture my heart or my interest until I recently gathered that it’s akin to Buddhism in that one desires the fish, but if it is not attained nobody (literally) has suffered. In fact, I stand corrected: remove all desire for the fish and you have the Buddhist ideal: it’s all about the joy of nature, being in the moment and not what you catch. No, it’s about standing knee-high in a stream, as fast as a boulder, while the water bifurcates around your legs and babbles past, twinkling in the early morning sun like a handful of glitter was tossed downstream with it. You’re meditatively casting, casting, casting… You are one with the line as you tempt the fish with the best flies you could find. Come late Autumn and the close of the season, fly-fisherman I know have, in conversation, wistfully lamented their absence from the stream, nodding their head ruefully, staring into the middle distance and conjuring the great Esopus in their minds. Don’t think I exaggerate.

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Daily Catskills: 04/01/15

18F at 7am. Freezing lines hampering early morning cast-off on the first day of Trout Season at Junction Pool, Roscoe “Trout Town”. Sunny at 8am. Update: 39F at glorious clear skies with light winds at 1.30pm.

image

J.N. Urbanski 8.30am

© J.N. Urbanski 6.45am

© J.N. Urbanski 6.45am