‘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.

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.

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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/

Caregiver’s Cure – Lemon Curd And A Hot Toddy

Catskill Mountains, new york, poetry, Recipes

Today, a recipe and a poem – all in one place.

THIS GIRL 11.6.16

For the few moments each day
when this girl is not thinking about smoking a cigarette,
when she is not overcome with the reality
of cancer running amok in her family,
when she feels slightly stable
and the dizziness temporarily subsides,
ideas pound the brain of this girl.

Unexpectedly becoming a caregiver to a loved one is like landing a job you actually never applied for. I hesitate to even write about my experience over the last eight months, for I am not looking for pity, and I most definately do not want to upset my mother. (Mom – please don’t be mad!)

Yet, I believe what I have to share has the potential of being more helpful than harmful. A rhyme and a recipe…how can one go wrong? It’s a risk/benefit I’m willing to bet on.

They knock on the door, loud at first,
then timid from being ignored.
Ideas of stories to be written,
words to be recorded,
magical herbal remedies to concoct,
money to be made doing the things this girl loves.

Since March, everything has changed with my mother’s diagnoses of stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Obviously, her life has changed the most as she has practically given up her full time job to take on chemo, radiation, major surgery, then more chemo.

Her kids’ lives changed too. But the days of whining are over. My brother, twin sister and I have rotated, making sure my mom is hardly ever alone.  Our aunts and uncles lovingly provide us with respite as well.

Then, my sister’s husband had to go and complicate matters by coming down with AML (Acute Myloid Lukemia) a month ago. Moving from their West Virginia mountain home, they get to live indefinitely at John’s Hopkins, or its vicinity, until his treatments and bone marrow transplant deem him “in remission.”

(Hang in there, the recipe is coming.)

So what do I do when I find myself actually at home, with my daughter and husband? Well since I work from home and live in the vacation capital of New York State, the Catskill Mountains, I take walks in the snow, sit by my fire, write and cook.

Returning home after days or weeks of caregiving is like going on a retreat. And I retreat. Except for social media, I rarely make an appearance.

And this girl, more than life, wants to have fun with her child.

But by the time the evening chores are done,
she will collapse,
her ideas will deflate,
dirty and damp like the dish towel in her hands.
Anything she started will become a sad and lonely project that some other girl,
a girl with more energy,
a girl with less cancer in the family,
a girl who never smoked,
will pick up and run with.
That other girl flies right by her,
forgetting to even wave.

Today, the day before Thangsgiving, I had an idea, and I went with it. An entire day in the kitchen, even if I am not the host of the big dinner this year, will zap me out of my funk.  The holidays will feel almost normal, even if just for a day.

So here is the recipe for Lemon Curd, Ina Garten style (I just love me some Barfoot Contessa). I believe this recipe would impress even the Queen.

lemon_curd_lid

Lemon curd inspiration


OH!  You are probably wondering where the hot toddy comes in. Well I have access to some amazing tea…I love this Earl Grey by Traveler’s Tea. Also, just five minutes down the road form here is Union Grove Distillery, and I use their Vly Creek Vodka as a base for my homemade vanilla extract, so I had some on hand.

Which I needed, for my three year old black lab decided to run away whilst my eight year old daughter was sledding, so that was an entire blood-pressure raising fiasco. A cig was not an option, as I am almost four weeks nicotine free, so a hot toddy was just in the cards.

Back to the LEMON CURD RECIPE:

Makes about 4 1/2 cups

  • 6 lemons, scrubbed (for zesting and juicing)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 stick + 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • generous dash of salt
  1. Zest all 6 lemons with a carrot peeler, avoiding the white pith.
  2. Place zest in food processor (steel blade) and pulse until very finely minced.
  3. Add sugar and pulse into minced lemon zest.
  4. Separately, in a stand-mixer, cream the butter.
  5. Beat the sugar zest into the creamed butter.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add lemon juice and salt, mixing until combined (mixture will have curdled appearance).
  8. Pour mixture into large saucepan and cook over low heat (gas stove) or med. heat (electric stove).
  9. Stir CONSTANTLY for about 15/20 minutes.   Mixture will thicken.
  10. Remove from stove when temp. reaches 170F, or just before simmering. (If you pause from stirring and see bubbles appearing, take off heat)
  11. Pour into glass jars, allow to cool, cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 months. (You may strain over small mesh if the zest bothers you)

The citrus oils that will dress your hands and your countertop will seep into your soul and cleanse you from the inside out

Over heat, the curdled mixture will become as smooth as glass

Despite Ina’s claims, this recipe is not in the “Easy” category, nor does it take 20 to 30 minutes.  Plan on a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours, including cleanup.  I attempted timing this recipe,  but my dog ran away as I was zesting the lemons…

That stated, the buttery yellow outcome, gleaming and shiny in filled jars, will fill your heart with simple glee.  The finished product is insanely perfect for a tart, spreading on crackers, icing a pound cake or spicing up your morning English muffin.

Lemon curd is damn sunshine in a jar

Completing this recipe was only the beginning of my pre-Thanksgiving bake-a-thon.  I went on to make homemade cranberry sauce, a classic pumpkin roll and currant and almond chocolate bark.  Oh, and dinner.

By the end, I was well on my way to being healed, rembering that a caregiver is also in need of care.  If that care takes the form of a dessert filled countertop and a sugar-smudged apron, so be it.

I can’t wait to give a jar to my mom.

img_2068-1

Mom’s first walk to the water, four weeks post Whipple surgery

This girl hides in the woods when she isn’t stuck in the city,
She tucks her chin and goes unnoticed.
For now.
But she has plans.
Plans that are brewing, are steeping, are simmering, deep inside.
When everyone gets better –
When she gets better –
this girl will return to her former glory.
So if you are reading this,
be sure not to forget
this girl’s name.

Check out Mountain Girl Made, where select tea blends, photos and poems are available for purchase. Shop small and support local.

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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

 

WATER. FALLS.

blog, photography

A GUARANTEE

Some days, problems pile up like heavy drifts of snow against a fence line.  Through the help of friends, family, creative thinking and down right hard work and determination, we shovel our way out of the drift. Eventually, the snow melts…

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

…revealing the ground once again, as we witness the transformation of snow into water. It evaporates and falls back to earth as precip of one sort or another.  This incredible cycle, is highlighted here in this NOAA and NASA Science on a Sphere movie….  a project tirelessly worked on by my amazing twin sister of Verglas Media.

Water Falls Movie Trailer

Water Falls Movie Trailer ©2013 Verglas Media

Here in the CATSKILLS, NY, we are blessed with water in its most beauteous state (snow) on a regular basis.  We ski, we photograph, we relish inside by the fire when it snows.  When the inevitable melting happens, most of the time, we are sad to see it go.  Unless it is  February or March, when we are so over all the winter activities and we just want to get our hands in the earth and some sun on our skin.

A GIFT

What melting snow leaves behind is not just a muddy slush, but a torrent rush of water, quenching our thirsty streams, our rivers, our reservoirs.  Raging over rocks, this Water Falls, skimming the banks of engorged rivers, and eventually plummeting over the cliffs, filling our senses, forcing us to acknowledge the simple gifts in life.

Lower Mine Kill Falls  ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Lower Mine Kill Falls ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

A GIG

Over the last year, I have been blessed with intriguing creative assignments from several clients. I call these “gigs”.  The latest gig is periodically documenting, through photos, the weather for an online magazine.  This week, beginning on the Twelfth day of Christmas, I took the assignment very seriously, and decided to showcase the amazing water in the region through “The Seven Days of Waterfalls”  We are at Day 5, and I am particularly in love with the image below that I captured today. Notice the slowed down, veil-like movement of the water.  Now take a moment to drink in the beauty of the mountains.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for Upstate Dispatch.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for UD.

To all my family, friends, and fellow bloggers, may you have a peace-filled, joyous year to come.

Snow Melts |  Water Falls | Writing Soothes | Photography Inspires

How Houses Haunt Me

Uncategorized

Ever since I was a little girl, I used to pretend houses that didn’t belong to me were, indeed, my home.  The first house I coveted was the grand farm house belonging to the landlord of the farm we lived and rented on.  Gabled, with a wrap-around covered porch,  drawing rooms and fireplaces, a bright sunny kitchen and a cozy dark paneled study.  I was in this house only once, and it grabbed at my imagination, made me yearn for something that was, and never could be, mine.

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

As an adult, this fascination with abodes that weren’t mine found an acceptable outlet:  Frequenting real estate open houses.  The ultimate opportunity to observe another’s home, decor, way of life…and an opportunity to daydream about inhabiting these rooms, the changes I would make, and what would stay exactly the same.  It was a fun exercise, a good way to pass the time on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Today, while shooting the Catskill landscape for an online magazine Upstate Dispatch that I am a contributor for; after over a year of being satisfyingly settled in a cabin on the side of a mountain, I once again, found myself fantasizing…about a house that was not my own.

*the above house is not the house discovered today…that is a secret not to be revealed at this time.

This was not just a house.  It was a moderately sized, stone front cottage, at the top of a dead end road, with a view that was anything but dead.  With a view that forced me to inhale, made me feel alive with the beauty that even if I shut my eyes, would be imprinted on my brain.

I had discovered the perfect property.  Uninhabited, with grass that had gone to seed, and tall proud spikes of the mullein plant, and dried teasel blooms, sharp and eager on the border.  Mature apple trees, and maple trees, all in groupings of three.  Despite their lack of recent care, whoever had planted them so long ago had done so with intention.  And above the cottage, a little further up the drive, an amazingly in-tact barn.

And a pond.  The perfect circle of water.  A crooked bench beckoned to me, but this was my first visit, I was worried about being overly intrusive, so I resisted the urge to plant myself on the edge of the water and disappear in the tall grasses that swayed so carelessly with the last breezes of summer.

Peering in the windows (How could I not?) was not a disappointment.  Empty, but clean, with an “updated” kitchen and a wood stove and french doors separating two downstairs rooms.  There was a curved stair case that  led to a cozy attic bedroom where romance and babies and sleep promised to dwell.

The inexplicable feeling of longing, of belonging, that accompanied this property was disconcerting, as if I had been there before.  I often feel this way about abandoned homes, that are left alone at the best, but more often then not, discarded and disregarded in a state of irreparable damage.  I wonder of the living and dying that happened in that house, and in this way, the old homes haunt me, no matter what time of year.

Visiting these properties is a pastime I relish, especially in these mountains, where one can climb a mountain road, and breathe in a view of the world on some lost and forgotten property.  All the while, staying completely out of view from the world.

  ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Remains ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Yellow Barn…similar to the one on our childhood farm. ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design