Monthly Archives: April 2021

Catskills Conversations: Amy Masters

A YouTube interview with Catskills artist Amy Masters, who I last interviewed five years ago in 2016 in her gorgeous studio, designed by Ted Sheridan, when she was working on print making. Yesterday I spoke to Amy about how her pandemic has been, what she has been working on and her plans for 2021, which includes opening a gallery on Main Street in Fleischmanns, Upstate New York this coming summer.

The Upstate Dispatch You Tube Channel: Laura Silverman of The Outside Institute

It’s always a joy to interview Laura Silverman, founding naturalist of The Outside Institute. We caught up with her just before the holidays to see how she had spent her quarantine, what she was working on, and her thoughts on the pandemic and beating the blues by getting back into nature.

The Upstate Dispatch Homestead Is For Sale

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

As the saying goes: the only constant in life is change, and I am moving on to pastures new. Upstate Dispatch is hopping over the mountain to a new HQ. We are selling the homestead in which I quarantined alone during the pandemic with my dog Alfie, the homestead that we spent over 10 years developing – for these recent events, no less – which is featured on this blog. Scroll through Upstate Dispatch and see how the property has grown over the past decade.

It’s not perfect, and we spent our time paying much more attention to the outside than the inside because we were establishing a homestead first and foremost. The focus was mostly on the land, and it’s truly a sweet spot, zoned agricultural, between Fleischmanns and Red Kill Mountain, situated on a secluded dead-end road, on top of a mountain at 2,200 feet on 6 acres with magnificent views especially in the winter.

Half of the property – the three-acre field – is old pasture land lined with stone walls in which we have built a full, fenced garden with raised beds, bee hives with electrified enclosure and a fruit orchard, set amidst a mix of rolling lawn and wildflower meadow, with mullein, mint, lilac, forsythia, masses of wild thyme, trout lilies, wild strawberries, wild blackberries, a line of young hemlocks, an ancient apple tree and a small-but-expanding ramp patch. In the orchard, we have ten apple trees, peaches, plums, eight hazelnut trees, Concord grapes, rhubarb, lilac, over-wintering sage and pears. The other half of the property is forest with its own trail and a small clearing within it, in which stands the house. In our woods, over the years I have foraged mushrooms: chanterelles, turkey tail, boletes, morels, ghost pipe and medicinal reishi.

The southerly views were a source of strength throughout the pandemic. From the deck you can see Belleayre Ski-Mountain and Slide Mountain to the south, and Brush Ridge and Halcott Mountain to the east. The views are mostly filled in with a line of towering oaks during the summer, but you don’t need them then, because the sheer beauty of the property is more than enough. The three-acre field used to be all hay. When the realtor showed us the property, we got out of the car – remember getting rides in cars? – and my husband walked towards the hay and then slowly took off at a cantor until he disappeared and all we could see were the soles of his feet rising up and down in the tall brush, arms outstretched as if he were conducting a grassy orchestra. I turned to the realtor and said: “I think this is the one”. The oaks also serve as privacy from your lovely neighbors on the ridge which is a subdivision of nine houses.

In the depths of winter, with the panoramic views, you can see the weather approaching from hundreds of miles away. For years we would work at our dining table that was situated in front of large-paned sliding doors and watch nature in all her glory. Sometimes a dense chalky cloud would loom into view, hover briefly over a neighboring mountain as if it were merely stopping to drop someone off, and engulf its peak, silently laying a white cap of snow like it was a huge machine icing a cake before moving slowly on. Storm clouds would glide past in the middle distance like floating balled up socks, flashing erratically, dropping blurry sheets of rain like shower curtains, exploding with flashing lights and emitting furious, powerful thunder that made the house shudder. 

Continue reading