Author Archives: JNUrbanski

Meet & Greet Democratic Candidates for the 19th District

In early December, two Meet & Greet events with local, Democratic politicians will take place. Jeff Beals and Brian Flynn are both running in the next election for the NY’s 19th District.

On Saturday December 9th from 3-5pm, Brian Flynn will be hosted by Carla Weinpahl and Dan Weaver at their home in Fleischmanns. I will also be interviewing Brian on WIOX on Monday 27th November at 9am.

This is a great opportunity for everyone to find out what these two candidate’s positions are on everything from jobs to national security. Brian Flynn lost a brother in the terrorist attack on a Pan Am flight in 1988 over Lockerbie and campaigned in Washington for better security on airlines. He’s been campaigning for Medicare for All for a decade and will focus on bringing good jobs back to the 19th District.

On Sunday December 10th from 3-5pm, William Duke will be hosting Jeff Beals at Willow Drey Farm in Andes. 

Weekend Links: Food, Farming & The Natural World

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The New Farmer’s Almanac from the Greenhorns: a compendium of articles, hand-drawn illustrations, poetry and essays on what is happening now in agrarian innovation throughout the country. The Greenhorns are now seeking submissions for the next edition.

Upstate farmers and food producers in Seneca Lake fight to keep their water clean, from Saveur Magazine.

A guide to wild bees.

The Northeast might be overwhelmed with snowy owls, according to Aududon Magazine. There are a lot of mice here for them to eat.

Trout Tales at Spillian, offering “a grand collection of workshops, expos, guided fishing adventures, feasts, art, and much more for you to discover the the mighty trout and its streams and forests in the Catskills”.

Librarians delivering books on horseback.

Daily Catskills: 11/16/17

A high of 46F, windy with a mix of sun and clouds. Late night snow swirls on the peaks, sprinkling the thatched landscape with a temporary dusting of icing sugar.

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The Anatomy of a Bird Box

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A base layer of dirt, then grass, then a thick wedge of insulation and finally, twigs topped off with a small, vacated wasp’s nest and a large insect exoskeleton, probably a caterpillar/butterfly. A once crowded bird box now getting repaired and cleaned out for new tenants.

Monday’s Radio Show: Local Government & Conservation

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After this week’s election victories, Monday’s radio show will feature two prominent guests: Jeff Senterman and Julia Reischel. From 9am to 9.30am, we will hear from Jeff who is Executive Director of the Catskill Center. Many people ask me what the Catskill Center does and now here is your chance to find out if you didn’t know. From 9.30am to 10am, we’ll hear from Julia Reischel, a former local journalist and co-founder of the now-retired Watershed Post, who is now going into politics.

You can stream the show online on WIOX on Monday November 13that 9am. Let’s hope it’s warmer than today’s 22F.

Women of the Catskills

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“There’s this thing happening… the women’s movement, and I want to cover it.”

Writer Nora Ephron uttered that sentence over 40 years ago and, as of last year, during the last election cycle, it seemed like our quest for equality hadn’t really advanced that far. Women still earned less than men for doing the same jobs, women’s rights were being eroded and sexual harassment in the workplace continued unabated. According to one New York City chef, writing in GQ Magazine, whole industries have been marginalizing the achievements of women in the restaurant business for decades. This year, though, we are experiencing a wholesale transformation in our zeitgeist. It’s a paradigm shift of epic proportions. Women are beginning to speak up, becoming more politically active and attempting to effect change by running for public office. “Women hold up half the sky,” the saying goes, and we should have half the representation.

Here in the Catskills, we have a remarkable abundance of female entrepreneurs: women blazing their own trail in this wilderness. The area is filled with strong, female icons, role models, influencers, artists, farmers, scientists and teachers. Last night, election night, saw a female entrepreneur, Julia Reischel, former journalist, take a seat on our local town council and all over the country democratic women won hard-earned seats in local office. Continue reading

Links: Food & Drink

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Despite wearing a watch, and having several electronic gadgets that will automatically tell me the time, I have been doing things an hour earlier since the clocks went back at the weekend. How long has it been? Only 48 hours you say? Feels like forever. Having been a city dweller for most of my life, it feels like city living forces the time on you where as country life coerces you into succumbing to nature’s rhythms (and the weather). I’ve hardly left the house in the past few weeks, but that’s about to change. Meanwhile, here are some links to past Upstate Dispatch posts to some recipes and food reviews to keep you occupied until I get back out into the Catskills.

Recipes:

Beberts Chicken Tagine

Jeanette Bronée’s Roasted Carrots & Prunes

The Bull & Garland Pub in Hobart.

Supper Club at Heather Ridge Farm in Schoharie County.

Fish & Chips in the Catskills.

The best burger in the Catskills (at the time of writing).

Oh, and by the way:

We already knew that temperatures were ten degrees warmer than last year, making fall a little disappointing, but here’s Bloomberg’s official report.

Daily Catskills: 11/02/17

A little warmer at 60F by noon and overcast with scattered rain showers. Always hike in light colored clothing, so you can easily spot ticks crawling up your leg, clinging to the fibers of your trousers like tiny, inexorable acrobats.

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Local Elections & Proposals on the Ballot: November 7th

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Local elections take place next week here in Delaware County, Upstate New York, Tuesday November 7th. Here’s a list of all the offices on the ballot.

There are also three propositions, or “Proposals”, on the reverse side of the ballot that are easy to miss. It’s also difficult to find information on these proposals, even if you don’t have three jobs. Flip over the ballot and vote on these proposals which are, in brief, the following:

1. New York State should have a Constitutional Convention. This is proposed because in the NYS Constitution its required that every twenty years we should have a Constitutional Convention, so there is a public vote required.

2. A public official found guilty of a felony should be stripped of their pension (if that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties).

3. Constitutional Amendment that would create a modest land bank for Catskill (and Adirondack) community health and safety projects involving roads crossing the Forest Preserve. Basically, this will allow local communities to use forest land to re-build their infrastructure, like for example, a bridge that washed away, if they can prove that the land on which the bridge was on, is not viable. Right now it takes years to get permission to re-build a bridge if the land underneath it has been washed away by flooding and the proposed land is in the forest preserve because the forest preserve is protected. The proposal proposes to make it easier for communities to rebuild with one simple amendment.

The Catskill Center supports this amendment. Read their blog post about it.

Go to the Delaware County website to read all three propositions in full.

Upstate Dispatch Retrolinks

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As a friend pointed out, there’s a lot of content on Upstate Dispatch and, moreover, a great deal of content that doesn’t much get read, or hasn’t been read by regular readers.

So, as winter approaches and I scout around for ideas for winter content, I offer some links to past work that are first person articles that are desperately in need of a follow up.

Deer hunting season approaches: a link to a 2015 post I wrote about hunting.

Here’s the first post I wrote about our dog, Alfie and a post on the cost of food.

A guide to safe and considerate hiking in Upstate New York, that needs to be updated for winter. In fact, scroll through the entire hiking section of the site.

My first Catskills 3500 ascent: Balsam Mountain two years ago.

Eat Your Weeds, instead of throwing pesticide on them that ruins the water table.

Scroll through last year’s November. The gift guide still holds.

And finally, writing of gifts, here’s our donate page. UD takes thousands of hours a year to write and does not do paid or sponsored content or advertising.

Daily Catskills: 10/30/17

Last night’s rain storm turns dangerous with blustery winds downing trees, causing power failures and fast-moving rivers, ending abruptly by afternoon. A high of 50F and late afternoon sunshine. Update: snow reported on the peaks.

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Daily Catskills: 10/28/17

A 65F high and sunny with scudding cloud and gusty. The last of the diehard shades hold fast amidst the brush: russets, ambers, umbers and burnt orange shades lingering like the ghost of summer.

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Daily Catskills: 10/26/17

Cold suddenly, like this autumn-summer thing has finally expired. Goosebumps for the first time walking the dog, as we’re showered with burnt orange leaves and a sturdy breeze. Chilly at 52F.

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John Burroughs Needs Our Help!

His woodshed is falling down…

The cost to rebuild Mr. Burroughs’ woodshed is $2000. John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge thanks the O’Connor Foundation for a $1000 grant. Please help us match it.

Find the Woodchuck Lodge donation page here or contribute by mail to Woodchuck Lodge, Box 492, Roxbury, NY 12474

Help Mr. Burroughs rebuild. It’s the neighborly thing to do.

Winter Reading List

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The cold snap has me scrambling for a pile of books. The winter reading list has been hastily assembled from the wish list after a visit to the library.

Agatha Christie, a good teacher for the writer of scripts or dialogue-focused narrative; Pullman, to get lost in someone else’s magical universe; Eddie Izzard, for English humor; Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes astrophysics easy and engaging; Tim Marshall makes geopolitics fun; Salman Rushdie, just because I’ve had this first edition for ten years and never read it; Ta-Nehisi Coates, because he explains it so well in such beautifully written non-fiction; John Burroughs, because that’s required reading for a board member at John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge; Mark Twain, because a dip into Roughing It is as refreshing as a cool drink of local ale.

In the world of physics, you are immortal because the light (photons?) that bounced off you while you were alive will still be hurtling through the universe after you’re gone. I imagine it being a three-dimensional traveling x-ray, but I’m hoping DeGrasse Tyson will let me know. You think about these things when you’re so close to nature and you don’t think she’s watching. Walking the dog on a clear night on top of a ridge is like wading through stars.

Find more local reading at The Purple Mountain Press on Main Street in Fleischmanns. Buy local. Support your local library.

Daily Catskills: 10/24/17

An overnight rain storm blows into a humid, misty morning at 65F. Tree waving, leaf blowing and the last of the burnt orange brush covered in thick fog. 72F by mid-afternoon and calm with serene clouds. Autumn tells us it’s time to put the hammock away.

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Tick Update

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There’s a saying that goes something like this: “you see what you want to see” and what I’m seeing lately are ticks. Loads of them. I see ticks on my dog from ten paces and now hike with a comb, and remove them before they have a chance to burrow in.

Some observations: I thought that the first tick I pulled off my dog’s hair was a piece of lint, but after looking at it, I issued a shriek and wiped the bug onto the dog bed. The thing then burrowed into the dog bed and, in hindsight, I should have waited to see how long it would take it to realize the bed was not a body. Alas, I just wanted it gone.

I combed a tick off the dog today and the tick is still on the comb, wondering what happened, ten minutes later.

Here are my latest observations:

1. Ticks are easy to spot if you study them for a while. You’re looking for something no bigger than lint, but the big difference between ticks and lint is that ticks are shiny and hard. Moreover, they are always moving, so they might be the size of, or smaller than, lint, but they writhe, and as they do so, they catch the light like little, tiny pieces of polished onyx. They stand out against even black fur, but perhaps that’s because I’m obsessed with them.

2. Ticks are like velcro: very hard to flick off. Don’t flick them. You risk flicking them on yourself, or having them cling to your finger and climb up your arm without you noticing. Use a comb to drag them off. Or firmly grab them and wipe them off onto a tree. Trying to coax them onto a stick will not work.

3. Hike in light colored clothing and be vigilant about checking.

4. Always wear a hat, because once ticks get in your hair, they’re almost impossible to spot until they’re burrowed in and blowing up. Avoid having twigs brush against your neck and shoulders. If you do, be wearing a hoodie or something.

5. To check dark clothing, hold the clothing perpendicular to a light source and watch to see if the lint moves and catches the light.

5. Ticks are killed after ten minutes in the dryer on high. I’ve always used drying racks, but if it’s a choice between Lyme Disease and using more energy, I’m using the dryer. After hiking, disrobe outdoors. Throw your hiking clothes in the dryer, including – especially – the undies. Ticks love the groin “area”. Don’t EVER just air-dry your undies after laundering if you’re an avid outdoorsperson. (Why isn’t outdoorsperson a word?) Ticks can survive any washing machine.

6. Ticks loathe essential oils. Use the oil to kill ticks or repel them. A few drops of lavender oil will kill a tick. Here’s my recipe for the repellent.

Here are links to all my other posts about ticks. Tick tubes, essential oils, and more tick tubes. Get to know these little bugs before they get to know you.

Daily Catskills: 10/23/17

Warm, windy and humid with a moody, overcast dusk and a dip in temperatures. The last of fall is brassy, with dull copper tones, dashes of burnt orange and sienna in the half-empty brush. Apples hang in abundance on bare trees like winter ornaments: a forgotten, wild harvest.

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Cosmik Ice-Cream

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Innovation continues unabated here in the Catskills with the introduction of freeze-dried ice-cream. We’ve already recently heard about the new 100% electric vehicle designed and built here and now we have astronautical edibles. Continue reading

Fall Watch 2017: A Golden Autumn

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This year, the vibrant, yellow fall hues stole the show very early on, at the end of September, and kept their lead throughout the month of October. Golden confetti lay strewn across roads and fields for weeks. The yellows were still in the lead until the reds popped into the mix, but they remain sparse, dull and muted. Some green, on mighty oak trees, still remained as of Monday, when our Daily Catskills coverage unexpectedly withered, shriveling up like our unpicked apples that hang forlornly in the bare trees like forgotten holiday decorations. Some tall oaks on the peaks are still hanging onto their vivid green, but they too are turning golden yellow.

The oranges came out in the last week or two, but they’re dusty and subdued; burnt orange, sienna and burnished copper tones linger amidst the brush.

Temperatures this fall have been about 10 degrees (fahrenheit) higher than last year. We were expecting a glorious, riotous autumn like the spectacular, fiery orange fall we had two years ago, but instead we had kind of warm, extended summer. Summer has stolen our autumn.

Go back in time through Upstate Dispatch’s archives from October 2015 and October 2016 so see just how different it is this year. After all, that’s why we take a picture a day.

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Daily Catskills: 10/14/17

A high of 75F and humid with clear skies and the odd fluffy cloud. Fall is remarkably muted with none of the glorious, fiery colors of last year. This year’s temperatures are about ten degrees higher, which could be the reason for the dull color.

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A Halloween Journey with Cara Cruickshank

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“Security is mostly a superstition…Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” -Helen Keller

I first heard a little bit about the artistic director Cara Cruickshank recently through a fellow board member at Woodchuck Lodge. Every year she creates a magical, dusk wonderland in Big Indian called The Halloween Journey that seems quite hard to resist: “a community event for young, old and everyone in between”, now in its eighth season. This year’s event will take place on October 27th and 28th beginning at 5pm in Big Indian, NY.

Sounding rather like a cultural treasure hunt designed “to promote wonder instead of fear on Halloween”, the journey features legendary characters of Catskill history and folklore. Rip van Winkle, Sojourner Truth, Catskill poet John Burroughs, “fairies, animal spirits and other fanciful creatures come to life, sharing their respect for nature, inspiring wonderment and appreciation for the treasured Catskill region”.

As night falls, the patron is welcomed with a bonfire, live folk music, hot apple cider, homemade chili and seasonal treats before the adventure begins.

Tickets range in price from an Early Bird Special that’s $15, to a VIP package for $150 that includes a “private tour, after-party pass, secret treasures and treats”, to a Deluxe VIP Package that includes hotel packages and much more. You can buy a ‘Wizard Pass” for $15 or example, that will allow you to skip the queue to the event.

Halloween Journey this year is non-profit, in partnership with the Pine Hill Community Center, The Catskill Center, and 100 Thousand Poets for Change. We are sponsored by Woodstock Healing Arts, Catskill Native Nursery and Manhattan Youth.

The New Hiking Trail at Woodchuck Lodge

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“A fawn is spotted, too, and ‘fawn-lily’ would be better than adder’s-tongue. Still better is the name ‘trout-lily,’ which has recently been proposed for this plant. It blooms along the trout streams, and its leaf is as mottled as a trout’s back’. – John Burroughs

I’m proud to serve on the Board of Trustees of John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historic lodge, which was writer and naturalist John Burroughs’ last home. Burroughs was primarily an essayist, who wrote for the still-published Atlantic Monthly, born in 1837.

Country board meetings of our fabulously eclectic group are always a complete riot accompanied by homemade produce like goat’s milk cheese, cornbread and cake. We are an eccentric and creative bunch. It takes countless, volunteer man hours to maintain historic sites like this across the region and the Lodge is free to visit during the summer. Donations are welcome!

Please join us for what might be our final event of the season on October 29th: the unveiling of the first part of Woodchuck Lodge’s new Trout-Lily trail. This new trail is actually part of a partially restored footpath that was originally developed by Dr. John Lutz, great-grand nephew of John Burroughs and founder of Woodchuck Lodge, Inc.

The event entitled, A Celebration of Gratitude, will begin at 1pm at 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474. Children are welcome.

All are invited to take a stroll on the trail, say thanks to its builders, and enjoy local cider, doughnuts, and other refreshments.

Daily Catskills: 10/09/17

71F by mid-morning, humid, with patches of morning fog and occasional turbulent breeze scattering the leaves. Surly. Update: 77F high with a strong, leaf-churning wind and more rain.

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Planting Garlic

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Garlic goes in about a month before the first frost of the season. One clove, planted two inches deep (with four inches between cloves) will grow into one bulb of garlic by next spring. The garlic pictured above is German hard neck garlic and the cloves are huge and juicy. The reason farmed garlic is so much bigger than wild garlic is that every year the largest cloves are planted, yielding bigger and bigger produce. Go to our Instagram feed to see footage of the planting.

Daily Catskills: 10/04/17

Clear skies and a 75F high. Warm in the sun, but cool in the shade. Humid and slightly steamy. Fall is slightly late out of the gate.

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Daily Catskills: 10/03/17

A clear, frosty morning, rising to a high of 67F. Initial muted dashes of red amidst the yellowing. Fall has yet to show its true colors.

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Saving Seeds: Sunflowers

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Sunflowers are astonishingly beautiful and uplifting, towering over the farm like sentry guards radiating happiness, accumulating and distributing sunshine. They’re also packed with thousands of highly nutritious, edible seeds. Once they start to droop towards the ground, you may have to compete with the birds, chipmunks, and squirrels, who climb up them in search of the seeds and break the stems. When the blooms are resting on the ground, like they’re on some floral time-out, they seeds are fair game. You can either wrap the live heads in paper to stop animals from eating them, or you can cut the heads off completely even before they’re ready to harvest.

The seed is the white pellet underneath the yellow face of the bloom (pictured above). They develop a black strip as the flower dies, eventually turning a dusky, dark grey/black (pictured below). They are even delicious like this without any cooking, and packed full of raw nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin B-6 and high in potassium and magnesium. Continue reading