Chasing trains

Catskill Mountains, trains, Travel

Steam and Diesel locomotives side by side DURR

I was a virgin train chaser until this weekend. Now I am an addict.

It is not every day a steam locomotive and diesel engine share the same track in a small upstate New York hamlet.  Train chasers travel all over the country to capture a shot like this. I needed only to drive down to the bottom of my hill.

If you are not a rail fan, you most likely will not understand the adrenaline rush and pure joy that comes from chasing trains.  No, I am not talking about traveling along a stretch of highway parallel to the rails, speeding up or slowing down to stay in synch with the train. This is dangerous.

The safer form of chasing trains entails researching and choosing a train you wish to photograph, mapping out strategic stops for photography ahead of time, and following the train from its departure station to its arrival station and back.

I was a virgin train chaser until this weekend. Now I am an addict.

It all began while location-scouting for an upcoming documentary project (about trains, of course.) I got wind that the local tourist train, Delaware and Ulster Railroad, had rented a steam engine this weekend for a “Haunts of Rip Van Winkle abbreviated rail tour. The steamer would come to my town, “turn around” and head back to the station.

Twice this weekend, overlapping departure times of the usual 116 diesel pulling the silver liners  all the way to Roxbury, NY from Arkville, NY caused these two historic locomotives to pass each other like two ships in the night.

Above is the money shot, a still taken from the video footage I captured of the event.

But true passion is never satiated, and I was not going to head back up the hill to my house. I rushed out to Rt. 30 (adhering to speed limits, of course) and hurried up and waited until the steamer rounded the curve with the Round Barn as its backdrop.

Running back to where my car was parked, across the tracks and across the road, I worked off the morning’s pancakes.

My next stop was at Kelly’s corners, and I kneeled down, prayer like, camera resting on the guardrail, and snapped shot after shot of the steamer crossing the bridge over the East Branch.

By the time I got to the parking lot at my last stop, the motley crew of chasers I had inadvertently joined had grown. A friend I wasn’t expecting to see was there. We hugged. The sun was shining. The whistle floated towards our ears, the scent of coal teased at our nostrils, we all took our places. We waited.

The wait climaxed into 10 or 15 seconds of the train’s approach, sun on her nose, brakes screeching, steam filling the cloudless sky, and following her cars with my lens.

Most of my footage from today is being kept under wraps for the above mentioned project. I really can’t wait to share it with the world. The world of rail fans that is!

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.

 

 

Kindred Spirts – a poem

outdoors, photography, poetry, Travel

Young caribou | Newfoundland

I got so close to her

I could see the glint in her eye.

With every step,

both our hearts pounded.

Exposed, but not in danger.

Alone, but still safe

as a swaddled baby.

Oh, sweet caribou,

don’t run away.

All that is pointed at you

is my lens.

becca andre | twenty sixteen

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

Penn Station 7/17/16 – a poem

Catskill Mountains, new york, photography, Travel

image

I will not watch your bag.

I will watch meandering passengers of all shapes and colors
passing me by with glazed confusion distorting the light of their eyes,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will sit here, talking to a friend, sounds of our synced laughter lost in the crowd,
lost among the cries of tired babies and complaining elders,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will drag my luggage up steps for some city-fresh air on 33rd Street,
and notice how the cabs have become almost comically small,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will hear an announcer warn, “If you see something, say something,”
and I will steal a suspicious glance your way,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will avert my eyes from the disheveled ones with hands out,
wondering what story got them to this begging place,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will watch a heron, in his blue majestic stance, grace the edge of a Jersey swamp,
and count the colors of the storage containers as we drift by,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will relish the private concert of my iPod on shuffle,
sounds of Natalie, Bocelli, Cash, Chapman and U2 until I doze,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will attempt to decipher the graffiti that almost passes as art on the metal fences,
and wonder how they appear, as I never see a spray can wielding culprit,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will write my run-on sentences, all day long, passing time on the Empire Service,
but my dear stranger, this world has me just skeptical enough to say…

I just can’t watch your bag.

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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

 

moonlighting reporter in 2015

blog, Catskill Made, Catskill Mountains, new york, photography, upstate new york, Watershed post

Following the dream to become a published, paid writer this year has led to some incredible learning experiences.  Whether reporting a news event here in the Catskills, promoting a non-for-profit event, writing editorials and essays, or, my favorite, photo journalism, I am constantly fulfilled with my work.

Home Office

Home Office

Finally, I am doing what I love.  Reaping the benefits of involved pitches, copious interviews, and being in the right place at the perfect time.

Working together with editors that are professional and experienced provide me with that much needed extra set of eyes.

Folks that ask me what I do often scoff at my answer:

“I’m a writer, a photographer.”

“What else do you do? You know, to actually make money?” they ask.

THIS is what I do.  I write what I see.  I ask questions.  I take my camera with me everywhere.

And I get paid.

Any questions?

THANK YOU FOR READING:

Along with a photo-essay in the upcoming Catskill Outdoor Guide (print) and some work done for Delaware County Times (print) here are some published articles available online:

Watershed Post Contributions

Catskill Made : Survival: A guide to making your home in the Catskills

Catskill Made: Poem: House of Secrets

Catskill Made: The Moon as a muse – her phases and their meanings

 

How to Keep the Local Music/Art Scene Alive

Ben rounds, blog, Catskill Mountains, music videos, photography

The local music movement depends on small businesses working together. Its a symbiotic relationship.   The bar in town hires the band. The band hires a promoter/photographer/blogger. Its a busy night (as a result of the crowd-pleasing band being there) so the wait staff does well on tips.  The audience is impressed, someone grabs a business card, checks out the website, and hires the band for their next event.

And so the cycle repeats.

The following is an example of how this all works: A local favorite, the Ben Rounds Band, was hired by a local venue.  A photographer (me) put together the promotion of the event, and proceeded to video the 1st set.  Next, an exciting new collaboration between the promoter (me) i.e.  (Mountain Girl Photography & Design) and Fred Cristiani, aka bass player for B.R.B. then led to the latest production by MGP&D…a band booking demo complete with a fun time-lapse.  Next, an employee of a local business hired the band for their upcoming outdoor celebration.

Above: One of the many Ben Rounds videos on YouTube

So do yourself, your favorite local band, and your community a favor: watch and share this booking demo, hire local bands, or at least support them at their gigs.  Show appreciation by tipping the band, and keep them in mind the next time you want to hire entertainment.  You will be supporting not just the local music scene, but local artists who specialize in the promotion of music, local restaurants, and everyone in between.

Keep the local music scene alive!

(Find original blog post here, for my client Ben Rounds.)

Watch the fun “My Dog LiL” video that chronicles the day of a three-legged Jack Russell Terrier!