‘Prasmatic Light’, a refreshing wheat ale with notes of orange peel, peaches and grapefruit. @Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Catskill Living Along The Rt. 28 Scenic Byway – Outtakes

Catskill Interviews, Catskill Made, Catskill Mountains, upstate new york

Being the food and lodging writer for Kaatskill Life Magazine is one of several gigs, most definately a treasured one. I find myself meeting all sorts of folks and tasting my way up and down the Catskill Scenic Byway of Route 28. The following photos are some outtakes that did not see print. Below are links to the articles to read online, with links to their Facebook sites directly following.

*As a photographer for hire well-versed in the hospitality industry, feel free to email me at MoonflowerRA@gmail.com if you are interested having photos taken of your own restaurant  or lodging establishment. 

Kaatskill Dining:

Kaatskill Lodging:

Kaatskill Dining/Lodging

Family table at Cucina Woodstock. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use with permission only please.

Family table at Cucina Woodstock. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use with permission only please.

Bread baked daily in Brio’s wood-fired oven. © Rebecca Andre, Mountain Girl Photography. Photo use with permission only please.

Potato Pancakes topped with applesauce at Brio’s, © Rebecca Andre, Mountain Girl Photography. Photo use with permission only please.

Potato Pancakes topped with applesauce at Brio’s, © Rebecca Andre, Mountain Girl Photography. Photo use with permission only please.

Mouth watering cupcake selection at Bite Me Bakery © Rebecca Andre, Mountain Girl Photography. Photo use with permission only please.

Mouth watering cupcake selection at Bite Me Bakery © Rebecca Andre, Mountain Girl Photography. Photo use with permission only please.

Chocolate & Caramel cupcake at Bite Me Bakery © Rebecca Andre, Mountain Girl Photography. Photo use with permission only please.

Chocolate and Caramel cupcake at Bite Me Bakery © Rebecca Andre, Mountain Girl Photography. Photo use with permission only please.

©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Mellow Critical Listening’, an IPA as smooth as its name. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Woodstock Brewing outdoor seating. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Woodstock Brewing outdoor seating. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Tap room at Woodstock Brewing. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Tap room at Woodstock Brewing. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Pine Hill Arms. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Pine Hill Arms. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Maeve, in charge at Maeve’s Coffee Shop at Pine Hill Arms, and friend. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Maeve, in charge at Maeve’s Coffee Shop at Pine Hill Arms, and friend. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Queen room with kitchenette at Phoenicia Belle B and B. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Violet’s Suite with kitchenette at Phoenicia Belle B and B. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Violet’s kitchenette at Phoenicia Belle B and B. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Violet’s kitchenette at Phoenicia Belle B and B. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Owners Tom and Dana Fraser Violet’s at Phoenicia Belle B and B. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Owners Tom and Dana Fraser at Phoenicia Belle B and B. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Wintertime on the Mill Stream. ©Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Wintertime on the Mill Stream. © Rebecca Andre of Mountain Girl Photography, NY. Use by permission only please.

Railroads in the Catskills busy this Memorial Day weekend

Ben rounds, Catskill Mountains, new york, trains, upstate new york

With CMRR’s Great Train Robbery event, DURR’s first Rip Van Winkle charter run of the season and the new Rail Explorers USA opening weekend in Phoenicia, both Ulster and Delaware Counties proudly demonstrate to visitors the rails are the place to be this holiday weekend.

DURR Rip Van Winkle Flyer charter run on Thursday, May 24.

In Delaware County, although the official opening weekend was held up due to weather induced track repair, Delaware and Ulster Railroad (DURR) ran its first revenue train of the season, a private charter. Folks were all smiles on the beautiful 75 degree Thursday as they gently rocked through the mountains on the the Rip Van Winkle Flyer. A round trip from Arkville to Roxbury and back passes through the quaint hamlet of Halcottsville and provides passengers with bucolic views of Wawaka Lake, the Round Barn and several farms along the way.

June 2 is the official kick off for public rides. Get your tickets at DURR.org. Pricing is:

• $18.00- Adults

• $12.00 – Children (ages 2-12)

• $15.00 – Discount Adult (Senior/Military/Veteran)

• Dogs are free!

In Ulster County, you can participate in the creatively curated Great Train Robbery on Saturday, May 25. This is my personal fav. The website describes it as follows:

“Board our exciting journey back in time as the Catskill Mountain Railroad celebrates the legend of the Great Train Robbery – the classic 1903 silent movie by the same name – shot on the New York state rails. This interactive adventure will kick off at the Westbrook Station in Kingston, NY and travel up the Hurley Flats. Expect the unexpected as this excursion includes a stop at a local festival with live music and vendors serving up some of the best local flavors in town. Seating is open, so it’s suggested you arrive approximately a half hour early and pick your spot in one of our covered flat cars or inside one of our historic coaches. Please make our crew aware in if someone in your party may have difficulty navigating steps and require additional assistance or enjoy and alternate detour.”

The Ben Rounds Band will be waiting for you as you break along the way, playing their recognizable mix of country and rock covers. Ben is a major supporter of saving the rails in Ulster County and has played several fundraisers contributing to the cause, and his music never disappoints!

This is an event for the whole family and not to be missed. Visit CatskillMountainRailroad.com for more details and to purchase tickets. Pricing is:

• $18.00- Adults

• $12.00 – Children (ages 2-12)

• $16.00 – Discount Adult (Senior/Military/Veteran)

•  $0.00- Toddler (Under two on lap)

If you have a little more coin, and energy, you can ride the new Rail Explorers USA rail bikes through scenic Ulster County. Boarding takes place at the historic Phoenicia station, aka the Empire State Railroad Museum.

Rail bikes lined up for their inaugural run following the Rail Explorers USA Catskill Division Ceremony this past Wednesday. Please ask permission for photo usage.

In fact, trail without rail advocates, UC politicians Mike Hein and Kathy Nolan, who some consider to be the driving force behind the currently segmented (interrupted, compromised, decimated, however you choose to view it) rail line, stood on this hallowed ground on Wednesday during the ribbon cutting ceremony for Rail Explorers. Paul LaPierre, on the board  of  the ESRM*, in an unexpected gesture, wholeheartedly welcomed them, thanking Ulster County for its assistance in cleaning up the museam property and for the promise of a permit to keep equipment and cars on the property for repair and display purposes.

I digress.

My point is, if you miss riding along the mighty Esopus, as the CMRR has not been able to operate there since the loss of their lease in 2016, you can still do an eight mile round trip pedal through Mt. Tremper, across Rt. 28, stopping just a mile shy of where the tracks now end. Bring plenty of water and snacks. The beautiful tour, though electric motor assisted on the way back, is still a workout, so eat your wheaties! Bring your rain gear too, as Rail Explorers operates in mild to moderately inclement weather.

For all details and to book, go to RailExplorers.net. Pricing is:

• $42.50 pp (2 persons on Tandem Rider)

• $37.50 pp  (4 riders on not Quad Explorer)

• 10 % Discount for groups of 10 or more

*****
Please stay tuned for full, objective coverage of the Rail Explorers USA Ribbon Ceremony. In the meantime, enjoy this weekend safely, be thankful for every moment given to you and those you love, never forgetting the price paid by those who fight for our country, and their families.

*Please note a previous version of this article referred to Paul LaPierre as “head of the ESRM”. He has since brought to attention he is only a member of its board.

Blenheim Bridge officially sets down across Schoharie Creek

Blenheim Bridge, Catskill Mountains, upstate new york

First official photo of the bridge lowered and set, wood to concrete. Photos by Rebecca Andre of MGPAD, please ask for permission before use.

By Rebecca Andre,  Tues., 5.1.18 – 7:44 pm – North Blenheim, NY

Here is the first official look at the new “Old Blenheim Bridge” across the Schoharie Creek, steel free and solely supported by her arched trusses meticulously perched on the abutments. This is a momentous day.

Almost there!

“We are ecstatic,” said a group of locals that gathered for free hotdogs at Pastor Mike’s church, UMC of Blenheim, the previous Wednesday. The sign at the church declared “almost there” and “free hotdogs” as workers were treated to lunch.

“Almost there” sign at Blenheim UMC

Removal of the last temporary steel supports from the west end abutment

Now, on this first day of May, the Town of Blenheim has officially evened its score with Tropical Storm Irene. Six and a half years ago, the storm claimed victory, with floodwaters devastating the town and in a symbolic flourish, destroying the bridge, leaving the towns folk without their homes and without their bridge.

After a battle that spanned years and multiple appeals to FEMA, hope and the bridge have been restored over the troubled waters of the Schoharie Creek. (Please read the full Kaatskill Life story on the rebuilding of the bridge here and stay tuned for further coverage in the same quarterly magazine detailing the entire move of the 200 ton bridge.)

Completion timeline

Despite some local papers proclaiming the project as “almost finished” Richard Christman, Chief Engineer with GPI, or as he calls himself, “interpreter of the plans and the problems,” says that the projected completion is set for October of 2018. Due to Mother Nature, along with other unpredictables, even this forecast could change.

Stan Graton of 3G Construction, a third generation bridgewright, has hopes his part will be completed sometime in June, that is the building of the floor and roof and the pre-loading of 147 tons. ( An engineering requirement that means approximately 45 gallons of water per sq. foot, i.e. 168 IBC totes pumped full of creek water, must be placed the length of the bridge to test its strength against the 150 person capacity and projected snow load).

“And then we can lock in the center diagonals,” says Graton.

Stan and Arnold (JR) Graton make use of shims during the last connection;  the final setting of wood to concrete

But such activities, including but not limited to, installation of the standing seam metal roof, fireproofing, re-establishing electricity, staining of the concrete abutments, landscaping and site cleanup mean that the bridge is still half a year away from completion.

In the meantime, take a ride to North Blenheim and experience the lifting energy that the rebuilt bridge has bestowed upon this small Schoharie County town. Park by the Blenheim Honor Roll sign, across from the old school house, just shy of the construction site. For safety reasons, please stay behind the orange fence and snap away.

***

Richard Christman, Chief Engineer, watches the final placement

Stan and JR Graton breathe a sigh of relief that the structure they have so tirelessly worked on, built faithfully to original specs and at times with period appropriate (mid 19th century) handtools, sits proud and sturdy across the water

Bridge offices temporarily staged at the bridge museum, previously a school house. Banner boasts the coalition of companies and agencies responsible for the new bridge.

Economy Paving Company, Stan Graton II 3G Construction Inc., GPI Engineering, Expert House Movers, Lamont Engineers, Simmons Recovery Consulting, Hoyle, Tanner & Assoc., P.C., Town of  Blenheim, Shoharie County, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, FEMA

Covered Bridge , symbol of Town of Blenheim

img_3175.jpg

“Old Blenheim Bridge” built in 1855 by Nicholas Powers, drawing by Robert E. Shaffer 12.25.1939

Disappearing Rails: why give a damn?

Catskill Mountains, trains, Travel, upstate new york

– by Rebecca Andre

Updated 12/5/17 – On November 12, 2017 “Disappearing Rails – A Plea To Lawmakers” was released on Facebook. It has accumulated 5,489 views and 223 shares.

Disappearing Rails Plea To Lawmakers from Mountain Girl Photography… on Vimeo.

Above: Still from “Disappearing Rails”, photo credit: Larry Roth

On Monday, November 13 and 14, 2017, all Ulster County legislators received a copy of the Official Release on Vimeo, along with a password. This was so stats could be recordered and number of views would be accounted for.

In the email, they were made aware views were being tracked.

Only 25 people had access to this link: producers, Ben Rounds and myself, along with the 23 Ulster County Legislators.

Views before November 14, 2017 legislature vote: 2

Views up to December 5, 2017, when video password was removed: 6

The lawmakers had made up thier mind. By a majority vote they decided to go forward with the resolutions that brought the demise of 11 miles of Ulster County tracks, forever  severing the Catskill Mountain Rail Corridor.

Was the video was an exercise in futility? That remains to be seen. Pay-offs so far are the introduction of myself as a documentary filmmaker hopeful and the thousands of inevitable listens received  of “Train Used To Run” by Ben Rounds

IMG_3471

Stats page for Disappearing Rails views on Vimeo with password. Proof is in the pudding.

An almost accurate record of that meeting and vote that night can be found at this Daily Freeman article.

My candid record of that meeting, including intimidation tactics, Richard Parete’s vote change and Kathy Nolan’s attempt to change my own mind can be found on this facebook post.

Until the rails are removed, the fight will go on. Until. Please visit the Ulster & Delaware Railway Revitalization Corp website and donate to their legal fund and the final efforts to  Save The Rails.

Change the words “trees” to “trains” and how appropriate are the words of Dr. Suess:

“But now,” says the Once-ler, “now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

*****

Original Post 10/16/2017

Viscose #6 Steam Engine fall run on the DURR

Viscose #6 Steam Engine fall run on the DURR

So you are wondering why you should care about the railroad of Upstate New York when California and Montana are burning and Florida and Texas are drowning. I get it. I sometimes wonder the same thing myself. Then I make a donation to flood or fire victims and move on with my day.

After all, we can’t fix it, right? The state of our country, politically, physically and morally is so precarious right now. I would like to stick my head in the sand and pretend like none of it is happening until a flame or a flood actually reaches my doorstep, or until the insurance drops my family.

Then I will get angry and all kinds of scared.

In the meantime…there is something I can do, we can do. Like donate to the local food pantry, raise money for animals waiting for adoption or vote on a local level believing this vote will actually count.

Also, I can pitch a fit to keep the Ulster County rails in place. At least until I actually see the steel being carted away. I do this not only because I am in love with trains. I do it because of the incredible blow it would mean for our economy and loss to our future generations if these rails were to be permanently deleted from our landscape.

“Future generations?” you ask. And “Who needs train travel? We have planes, and smart cars, etc. Why not just go back to horse and buggy?”

“Economy?” you ask. “Rail upkeep costs money!”

Trains and minimalism go hand in hand.

Well, to address the former, Millennials are reverting back to foot and pedal travel, and car-sharing. The throw-away culture of my generation is becoming a thing of the past.   The core hipster mentality is sweeping the nation: Minimalism.

I can back up the above statement . I’ve traveled Amtrak all over the country. Most recently, between NYC and Baltimore. The amount of young people hopping the train to get out of the city boggled my mind. One vintage Woolrich-clad group was particularly vocal about the horrors of bus travel and the expense of renting a car.

But the train only takes one out of the city into the Hudson Valley. After all, it can’t travel along the west shore of the Hudson. Oh, wait, yes it can. Proof positive this past weekend, Oct. 14 & 15, when the Amtrak Autumn Express found its way tunneling under then crossing over the Hudson, for a sweet and well-spent $169.00 a ticket. I know of a train enthusiast that was flying out from California and spending two nights in a NYC hotel to make this historic run.

Back to logistics. If you want to travel via train to actually visit or stay in the Catskills, you better hope you have a friend you can presume upon to pick you up at Rhinecliff. But you probably don’t, so you will be one more scale on the snake of vehicles slithering along Routes 17, 87 and 28. And, thanks to AirBnB, a house-sharing phenomenon, this congestion is only going to increase exponentially over the next few years. (I am surrounded by AirBnB rentals. Four to six cars in the driveway of a house that sleeps six to eight people is the norm.)

Wait, I’m getting ‘off track’ here…entering into the reduced environmental impact trains afford us…Have you seen the amount of cars overflowing the trail head parking areas?

To quote Steve Porter and Ken Anello, co-chairmens of the U&D Railway Revitalization Corp  (UDRRCorp)in their February 7, 2017 letter to Gov. Cuomo, “A revitalized railway has the possibilities of increasing the usage of the area by the most number of visitors with the least carbon footprint.

But the Govenor has yet to respond to this letter he received from UDRRCorp, a non-profit organization with a mission to “preserve and protect the entire Ulster and Deleware railroad corridor.”

“Rail travel is far from dead and being old fashioned.” writes Steve Porter in ‘Why Trains Are Good For Ulster County’. “More areas are starting to use trains to provide options for transit. No, it’s not going to replace the auto. But our culture is changing and cities and communities are going to be connected by more than just roads and bike trails. At least the progressive communities will.”

As the UDRRCorp would say, “Imagine the possibilities.”

Imagine less cars.

Imagine if the AirBnB-ers could car-share to Kingston and travel by train to innumerable destinations in the Catskills? They could plan to spend the week in one town, or if they want to explore, they can put on their hiking shoes.

Imagine climate-conscience youngsters hiking from Pinehill to Roxbury finding it’s just too long of a trek for them. They could, theoretically, take a train, do dinner at some overpriced, hand-cut-ice-serving-boutique restaurant and head back to their AirBnB one county over.

Imagine skiers leaving Kingston, destination Belleayre. This is not a far-fetched stretch (well, maybe the completion of the proposed resort is). In our not so distant past, trains used to carry vacationers to the doorsteps of Catskills’ resorts. Even Amtrak sees the positives of a rail line heading up country to deliver riders with the new and highly successful  Winter Park Express weekend train between Denver Union Station and the high-country ski resorts.

Imagine in vogue upstate nuptials taking place on the train. Considering the weddings exploding all over the Catskills, imagine photo shoots, rehearsal dinners or even bachelor parties on the train. Imagine all the intoxicated wedding-goers having a safe option for commuting.

Imagine none of this happening if the rails are removed.

It won’t happen tomorrow, next year, or 50 years from now. Because once the rails are ripped up they will never be re-built.

Thank you to George Bain and Ken Anello, Co-Chairman of UDRR Corp for these numbers I used for these beautiful shareable MEMEs!.

“The real problem would be the permits,” says George Bain of the UDRR Corp. “A railroad does not need a permit to maintain or repair itself unless it involves the waterways nearby. [Re]building a railroad would require permits and planning that would take decades.”

Another issue holding up all we can imagine for the rails (for example Rail Explorers) is the FEMA repairs Ulster County has yet to make after the severe flood damage between Shandaken and Phoenicia that Irene left in her wake.

I’m sure Thomas Cornell, the businessman responsible for the commencing of Rondout and Oswego original railroad construction in 1866  is restless in his grave. As are the many men who sacrificed blood, sweat, tears and even their lives to build these rails only 150 years ago.

The rails connect to the past while they serve the present, and can connect to the future. -Larry Roth, UDRRCorp

Should the rails be ripped up, I will have to tell my daughter, who was blessed with the travel bug and an adoration of trains like her mother, that the rails going through her town may not be there one day. That the precedent being set by removal of this seemingly unimportant set of tracks is that rail travel will soon be obsolete. That maybe when she, or her own daughter, is 21, soul-searching and forced by her inherited wanderlust to travel West, she won’t be able to cross this country on a train.

My daughter on CMRR’s ever popular Thomas the Train a few years ago.

Trains and sustainable tourism go hand-in-hand

Now to address the economical positives of keeping the rails in place, I mention my personal favorite: sustainable tourism. This article ’38 Reasons To Save The Rails’ is much more detailed than these few paragraphs, and compiled by experts, so please be sure to click on the link and read.

Even with only heritage rail companies running on sections of the Ulster and Delaware corridor, the amount of money being brought to these towns served is indisputable. Here are CMRR numbers for their last full season, 2015.

\

Remember the traffic jam in Arkville, Delaware County the October weekend the Viscose steam engine came to DURR?(pictured at top of this article)

If you are reading this and don’t know where Arkville is, well, that’s my point. There are small towns all up and down the state funded Scenic Byway (Rt. 28)  where regular, working people live. People who own shops, cafes, real hotels, etc., that would only benefit from a train delivering hundreds of potential customers to their doorstep. Folks that never see the tourist dollars spent in Kingston.

This is what I mean about economy.

This is what I mean about making a difference locally. It really is not that complicated.

So you can’t damn the floods, or put out the fires, or fix a Texan’s home. But you can vote for rail/trail supporting legislators. You can attend a rally and make some noise. You can even contribute to the cause by actually buying a ticket for one of the train excursions still offered, and encouraging your friends to do the same.

By the way, The Polar Express is back!  Thanks to a temporary permit procured by CMRR for short excursions out of Kingston that began this fall. That’s a mere 25,000 person guaranteed increase in ridership during the months of November and December.

To take a train ride in Ulster County, click here.
To take a train ride in Delaware County, click here.

If you are so inclined, you can even reach deeper into your pockets and show a little love for the big undertaking that is my first documentary: Disappearing Rails. A short film to raise awareness about the importance of of keeping Upstate New York heritage rails in place for our economy and future generations.

Filming for this documentary, the brain child of Ben Rounds, local musician and major proponent of the railroad, begins this Sunday October 22 during his Whistle Stop Tour. We hope to include footage form this tour along with original Ben Rounds music to produce a small teaser of the film before year’s end. But time is of the essence, and so is money!

The reporter in me will make sure the film addresses both sides of the issues. Historians will be interviewed, along with rail/trail activists and trail-only supporters. Politicians will be given an opportunity for an on-camera interview. If they decline, that will be documented as well.

And if the rails are ripped up during production, well, it will be on film. For all the world, or at least the State of New York, to see, and to know, who is responsible. I am not being dramatic here, Ulster County’s opening of bids to remove rails was slated for October 12 and has been moved to October 19.

IMG_3307

If you would like to show your immediate support for the rails, here are details of the Whistle Stop Tour. Show up! At one, or all stops. Your presence will make a difference.

Whistle Stop FINAL simple

If you are more of a behind the scenes supporter, or a business owner directly affected by the fate of the rails, consider being a sponsor. Ben and I are funding the teaser on our own, but the film itself is going cost too much money without outside contributions.

All sponsors will receive thanks plastered throughout our promotional campaign and spending will be transparent in readily available reports.

And don’t forget the contribution to the Karma Jar. 🙂

What is written here is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to educate yourself about the possibilities in store as long as the rails are kept in place, please go to:

http://udrrcorp.com/wordpress/about

http://www.udrrhs.org/html/udhistory.html

http://savetherails.org/wordpress/

Layered, with poetry, weekly photo challenge

Catskill Mountains, outdoors, Photo of the Week, photography, poetry, upstate new york

Layered is the theme for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge  that I have decided to participate in for the rest of the year.  How appropriate, as today at 4:02 pm is the time of the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night are about the same length.

Result: I will be forced to blog at least once a week. I will be forced to take a new photo (i.e. take a walk) or at least re-edit an existing one. If I decided to follow this week’s template, I will be forced to write new or re-examine previous poetry.

Today, I decided on the waiting woodpile as my subject. Stacked in late July, I have been waiting patiently to enjoy the fruits of my labor via a warm and comforting fire in my cabin’s wood stove. Still waiting…

Waiting wood pile on first day of fall

Waiting wood pile on first day of fall

COVER ME IN ORANGE | rebecca andre

Surround me

with an abundance of citrus-coloured coals

that promise a winter-long fire, an amiable warmth,

that seeps into the logs and into my soul.

Allow me

to lay down and nap on a fragrant fabric of leaves,

leaves like crunchy clouds, that take on cookie-cutter shapes

of hearts and stars and diamonds.

Carve me

a smirking pumpkin, a face eerily lit in the evening,

turning to a crooked grin in the morn,

as a layer of shimmering frost smoothes its sinister edges.

Let me

pass time at my stove, instead of my desk,

whipping up spiced cakes and all sorts of gourd-inspired dishes,

finished with nutmeg and cloves and mace.

Layer me

in scarves of crochet, in flannels and corduroys.

Camouflage my abundant curves in sweatshirts and woolen jackets,

as I dream of knee-high leather boots.

Cover me

in the handsome hue of autumn.

Dust me with its cinnamon scent…

Cover me in orange.

 

 

Flash Mob Marks End Of Summer

Catskill Mountains, halcottsville, Music, music videos, new york, outdoors, upstate new york

Halcottsville, NY – Labor Day weekend for the Catskills has come to mean an influx of  Air BnB hipsters, long lines at the store, a four day seafood station at Freshtown, actual real traffic jams, fireworks in the park, and packed farmers’ markets.

The weekend would not be complete without the Halcottsville Flash Mob, a tradition that keeps on growing.

Carried out by the local neighbors and weekenders alike at the Seuss property, the gathering begins around 7pm, but the preparation begins weeks earlier. You see, the whole point is for the DURR passengers, onboard the dinner/music train that runs from Arkville, NY to Roxbury, NY, to get treated to dancing torches in the Seuss’ back yard that appear from the darkness just as the train slows to the perfect viewing spot.

I guess you kind of have to be there…

In case you weren’t, here is a fun edit I did of the almost seven minute event, now under three minutes, as I took liberty to focus on the highlights and re-arrange the song a bit. I hope Johnny Cash and Blues Maneuver don’t mind too much.

Halcottsville Flash Mob Torches for the Train to Ring of Fire 9.2.17 from Mountain Girl Photography… on Vimeo.

A fire dance flash mob choreographed to “Ring of Fire” by Johny Cash performed by Blues Maneuver on 9.2.17 in the small hamlet of Halcottsville, NY. (Please note, song was re-arranged for post editing purposes)

Through closed windows

I can hear the sound of water rushing.

I know there is a photo screaming to be taken.

But that requires rising up 

from this alter of depression –

my bed.

At 3 pm I decided to meet the schoolbus.

It’s sleeting now.

Staring at my keys with longing,

I leave them on the counter.

Forcing my feet into boots,

I go outside.

Holding the camera to my breast

I take the first timid steps.

It’s such a small reward I am headed for –

A photo of a waterfall

I’ve seen a thousand times before.

But the only escape,

for me,

from this prison of blues

is through pictures and rhymes,

with water as my muse. 

december one twenty sixteen | becca andre 

MY REWARD: PHOTOS BELOW


Like what you see?  Like to drink tea while you read? Visit my online store MountainGirlMade.

Catskill Mountains, outdoors, photography, poetry, Uncategorized, upstate new york

Food photography – waste not, want not 

outdoors, photography, Recipes, upstate new york, Watershed post

In another life, I worked as a set stylist at QVC Studios for several garden vendors. Working my way up from water girl to head designer took three years, and I learned a lot.

For example, always provide the host/talent with an unadulterated product to sample on air. Hide it behind the basket of gleaming strawberries (sprayed with vegetable oil). Make sure there is a real tomato sitting on the cutting board next to the knife, so he or she doesn’t try and cut a fake one. Be sure to warn of the blueberry pie (with shaving cream whipped topping).

When all else fails, hide in the green room. Because the cringe-worthy moment will eventually occur. It’s live TV. You will sink in your seat, and cover your eyes, perhaps let out a whimper, or a scream, when the host moves to sniff a silk rose that just got touched up with a spritz of spray paint…

What does all this have to do with food photography?

Many tricks of the trade make food that has been photographed inedible. I hate waste, and I always try to come up with edible ways to stage my food shots. Just in case I get a snack-attack on set.

  • Rinse fresh veggies in a colander just before the shot, they will glisten for the photo, and will also be ready-to-eat.
  • Cook the ingredients separate, when possible, and not all the way. Stage for the shot, (less-cooked veggies have better color) then throw back into the pot and finish cooking for dinner.
  • Use daylight whenever possible, it makes everything look more appetizing and you won’t need to trick the lens.
  • Cut the pie, quiche, lasagna, etc. once it has cooled. Less chance of a soupy shot. Then re-heat and eat!
  • Always have fresh herbs on hand…that splash of green injects any food photo with life. And any dish with flavor.

Ok, that’s enough, I’m not giving away anymore trade secrets.

Below are photos taken at one of my favorite eateries here in the Catskills, Zephyr Restaurant, along with shots for restaurant articles in Watershed Post (Two Old Tarts & Bite Me Bakery) Sometimes I take my family on a trip without even leaving the kitchen, I include those shots as well.

Apologies, should you become hungry…

Lemon tart @ Two Old Tarts in Andes, NY | Cupcakes @ Bite Me Bakery in Shokan, NY

Above: Yogurt and berry parfait @ Zephyr Restaurant in Pine Hill, NY Below: Lemon curd hostess gifts and spiced cranberry compote

An evening visit to Japan, perfectly artificially lit, totally consumed

Revisiting Quebec City one morning: Alton Brown’s blender crepes, both savory and sweet


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Catskills’ St. Patrick’s Day parade, brush fires & burn ban

Catskill Mountains, new york, outdoors, photography, upstate new york

Sunday, March 13th proved to be not only a gorgeous day for a small town parade, but also dangerously dry in the Catskills. (Scroll to end for parade slideshow)

Five days after the Hubbell Homestead Fire  in Delaware County, brush fires continue to pop up.

Roxbury Fire Department Fire Chief Ken Davie went on to explain the lack of snow load this year has left the ground unsaturated, and allowed for grasses to stand tall and dry out, instead of flattening down.

Sunday’s St. Paddy’s Day festivities were still underway when a 12:48 pm tone rang out at the Roxbury Fire Department.  With the majority of the firefighters and trucks at the parade in Halcottsville, it was a scramble to reach the Denver brush fire.

Roxbury Fire Dept Hville parade 2016

Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department in Halcottsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Den1ver brush fire

Smoke in the valley

Denver brush fire 3

Brush fire at 23 Slauson Hollow Rd. of Salley’s Alley, Denver NY

Denver brush fire 2

Extinguishing the flames

denver brush fire 4

According to  Chief Davie, fire took less then 20 minutes to put out completely

Chief Davie reported the resident of the house below the caught field had been burning a bit of brush in a barrel, and a spark flew.

“People need to be aware and pay attention…there is a brush fire in Davenport [Delaware County] right now…there could possibly be 1/2 a dozen fires by the end of today,” said Davie.

The NYDEC has issued a burn ban beginning March 16, 2016 and ending May 14, 2016.

According to the March 13 press release “all residential brush burning is prohibited in smaller communities during the state’s historically high fire-risk period from March 16 through May 14,” said  state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens.

“This time of year has the most risk of fires and the risk is even greater this year due to the extremely mild winter we’ve seen across the state,” Commissioner Martens said.

hville st p day parade mr saftey 2016

Ignoring the ban is a serious offense:

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC’s website.

“It’s a danger zone right now,” said  Fire Chief Ken Davie.

Parade photos by Mark Andre  |  Fire photos by Rebecca Andre

 

Artie Martello – Man of magic and music

Catskill Interviews, Catskill Mountains, Music, new york, photography, upstate new york

Sometimes the secret is better than the trick itself.

Artie Martello at open eye

Martello at Open Eye Theatre

Artie Martello has been a magician for parts of five decades.  Martello is also the soothing voice and producer behind “Mostly Folk”, a regular podcast that showcases musical talent to the world over.

In his Halcottsville, Delaware County, NY community of the Catskills, Martello goes by “Artie”.  He is, of course, the go-to magic and music man of the area.

Sitting down for a chat with Martello at the Mostly Folk Studio, which is nestled in a private, wooded, mountain-top miniature paradise, is an experience all to its own.  Martello’s credentials are amazing, and weave themselves in and out of the narrative of how he came to be known as ‘Magic’.

“I’ve been an entertainer all my life.  Any teacher is an entertainer.”

Starting in 1967, Martello worked as Supervisor of Speech and Hearing at St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf .

“Deafness is probably one of the most severe handicaps,” says Martello.  “To be born deaf is probably the most debilitating.”

Yet this is the audience for which he first choose to perform his magic.  In the classroom, at school assemblies, etc, thusly dubbed ‘Magic’ by his students.

The deaf children were a tough audience.  They could not be distracted by vocal cues.  Martello honed his art before these good-natured critics resulting in the smooth slight-of-hand and manipulation we see in his acts today.

The Raising of  a Magician

Many people get into magic because they are shy.  Believe it or not, I’m an introvert.  But I can get on a stage and entertain and interact and act…and that is the essence.

In the early days of television, Ed Sullivan was the master of showcasing true talent.  Martello remembers watching Cardini (Richard Valentine Pitchford) stumble onto stage, seemingly inebriated, dressed to the hilt in a top hat and white gloves, wowing the audience with his never ending supply of cards and cigarettes that would disappear to, or appear from, thin air. 

“I saw that, I thought, I want to learn that.  And eventually, I did learn,” remembers Martello, as he names Cardini  one of his “greatest influences.”

At age 10, fate moved in and moved along the budding magician.  For right next door to the Martello’s new family home in Woodhaven, Queens, was a Navy magician.

“He would show me simple card tricks, and I would go out of my mind,” says Martello of the most magical influence of his young life.  This Navy magician kindled young Martello’s interest in magic by also giving him the magician’s Bible at the time, “The Modern Conjuror” by Charles Lang Neil.

From Martello's Magic Book Collection

From Martello’s Magic Book Collection

Life eventually got in the way of Martello’s interest in magic, until he reached his early 30’s, and Doug Henning started performing magic on TV.  This grabbed his interest, and Martello once again found his love for magic ignited. Purchasing magic tricks and practicing/performing on his students became the norm.  Eventually he  was doing library shows and stage performances.

Of the different branches of magic: stage (think Las Vegas), TV only (think David Blaine), birthday party  & educational (think traveling with lots of props), and parlor magic (think small private parties with fancy guests) Martello’s favorite became parlor magic.

But the real reason Martello became a magician is simple.  He explains in all sincerity, if the day were to come when a woman asked if he was a magician, he wanted to be able to answer truthfully: “Yes, because when I look at you, every one else disappears.”

IMG_3170

Artie Martello, photo by his son, Timothy

Magic moves to the Catskills

I love this area.  And I hate the beach.  This is the kind of environment I enjoy.

Performing professionally (for money) didn’t really happen until Martello’s full time move to the Catskills in 1999.  After teaching at NYU, Hunter College and St. Joseph’s, Martello decided he wanted to spend more then just summers in the Catskills.  He also served as the Chairperson of the Committee On Special Education in the Margaretville School District for 9 years.

While his friends fled to the Hampton’s in the summertime, Martello came to the Catskills, not because of Woodstock, but in spite of Woodstock, remembering instead the boarding houses his family rented in Cairo that he visited as a child.

Starting out in Pine Hill, and eventually locating to the paradisiacal property in Halcottsville, those first years found Martello staying in a tent, then the shell of his house, serviced by an outhouse and the water he carted up from Hubbell’s artesian well down the road.  The home that started out as a shell in 1972 slowly morphed into the residence of solitude he and his wife Rain now enjoy.

Magic for a Cause

For me, magic isn’t about big illusions, its about entertaining people, making them laugh.

Nowadays, most of Martello’s performances are geared towards charity and  fundraising, despite the fact that the New York State Council for the Arts does not consider magic a performing art.  This is contradiction  to the fact that the United States Congress has officially declared magic as a performing art.

What does this mean for Martello personally?  NYS funded art programs are not contributing to paying for his charity performances. 

Yes, he still is willing to perform for money, but most would find compensating a seasoned magician of his caliber for time, energy and experience just a bit out of their price range. 

“$500.00 for an hour and a half show is reasonable,” says Martello, uncomfortably shifting in his chair. “You get what you pay for.”

“I have a tremendous inventory of magic,” explains Martello.  For example, his snake basket is worth $300.00.  And the box of cards in a bottle made and sold by his friend Jaime Grant goes for $100.00. Good magic costs good money, for two main reasons.  First, the cost keeps the magic out of YouTube hobbyists and those that look to expose the tricks. Second, the time investment in practicing.   Six months of practice goes into just one show.

Artie Martello Wizard smaller

Props, props and more props…

Mostly Folk Studio puppet smaller

‘David’ carved by Martello himself, ala Michelangelo

Mostly Folk Studio puppet 1 smaller

Replica of ‘Jerry Mahoney’ who starred in his own TV show of the with owner Paul Winchell, circa 1960

“[The show] may seem extemporaneous.  Its not. It’s scripted and planned, and then I insert what is right for the moment.”  In fact, that audience interaction Martello sculpts so artfully is one of the things he loves most about magic.

Then there is the loading, hauling, unloading and back again of stage props.  At 72, or any age for that matter, this is a most arduous task.

So instead of using magic as a source of income, Martello uses it to give back to the community: an annual show for the Open Eye Theatre in Margaretville, along with a show he has done to support the Heart of the Catskills Humane Society are just two examples. 

This coming spring 2016, Martello plans to perform an adult-only magic show  to raise money for the Halcottsville Fire Department.  Keep an eye on the HFD facebook page for details!

The Magic of Mostly Folk

My friends wanted to hear this kind of music.  So that’s what I did.

Martello’s background of listening to early rock & roll and graduating to folk rock led to his love for folk music.  On the radio, he found a disconnect – no stations were playing this type of music.  When an opportunity presented itself to do a radio program at a local station, he decided folk would be his niche.

Well, Mostly Folk.  Mixed in with a bit of Indie Rock, Country and magic, of course.

'Mostly Folk' Studio

‘Mostly Folk’ Studio

After his almost four year stint with local radio, Mr. Martello moved toward an industrious undertaking: bringing Mostly Folk into the modern digital listening arena.  He is currently pulling off perhaps one of his greatest feats yet:  a world wide podcast broadcast from a little hamlet in the North Western Catskills.

About three times a week, the self-funded Mostly Folk studio puts out meticulously produced shows that showcase new, local, or little-heard artists in the folk and indie world.  Truly a gem, Mostly Folk has led to new friends and new fans in the music industry, connections crossing over distance and age.  Listeners in Australia, China, Alabama or the Catskills are treated to the smooth intros of Mr. Martello and the music he chooses to put together for each hour/hour and a half show he produces.

“The podcast has afforded me an opportunity to allow anybody who wants to listen to just click, and listen.  Anytime. It’s always there, it never goes away.”

If that isn’t magic, what is?

*******

List of Links:

Magic Website

Mostly Folk Website

Halcottsville Fire Department – Upcoming Fundraiser

Find Artie on:

Itunes

Mixcloud

Facebook

Twitter

All photos ©2016 Rebecca Andre