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October 26, 2014
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Building a new house is always an adventure, and for Paul Plumadore and Jim Tindell of Milanville, PA building their home on River Road has been the adventure of a lifetime.

Country dog, lucky dog!

When Pip and I moved here last summer, the first thing we both noted is that we don’t need to “walk” our dogs anymore. Nope! Living as we do in the middle of nowhere, it’s as easy as opening the door and letting them roam. Mind you, I keep one eye on them as they walk about the property. NYC had many things but not coyotes or bears (the West Village notwithstanding). It also has subways, and often I would take my dogs to work with me, riding on the subway. Well, that is until I saw that my dog Willy looked so stressed out being on the subway, albeit safely tucked into my oversized attaché.  Read more

Knotweed out of control: What’s a homeowner to do?

Knotweed is more than a nuisance. It’s an epidemic in these parts. Dense stands of this noxious, invasive species crowd along roadsides and waterways, affecting ecosystems by pushing out native plants and limiting plant and animal species diversity. Along streams and rivers, it overwhelms native plants that help stabilize riverbanks, increasing the risk of erosion and flooding.  Read more

Do-it-yourself solar

Do-it-yourself (DIY) solar systems are starting to pop up across northeast Pennsylvania, after a series of free public forums hosted by the non-profit group Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support (SEEDS). SEEDS held a series of three workshops in April 2013, plus another session over two evenings in June this year. More than 40 people attended each session to learn how to self-install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on their homes.  Read more

Build a root cellar; For storing root vegetables long into fall and winter

Up from Michael Denman’s self-dug pond, on his land in Grahamsville, NY, a great blue heron swoops low in an attempt to pilfer his brown trout before it recognizes the humans below, abandons its landing and disappears into the woods. We follow a trail around the water, trod many times by his daughter and her horse, Oreo, over to the chicken coop and up stone steps to a gate and arbor overflowing with a massive trumpet vine that leads into the Denmans’ terraced gardens.  Read more

The gentleman farmer; Nice outfit!

I woke up thinking about mowing. Again. This happens a lot between May through October. In my dreams, I find myself having spent what feels like several hours of mowing only to find that I have etched into the field in front of my house what looks like a UFO crop circle. Other times I have an out-of-body experience, and like a Bugs Bunny cartoon I do a “snap focus” high above my property to realize that I have spelled out “Eat at Joe’s” in the meadow in some crazy Etch-a-Sketch pattern.  Read more

Camping in the backyard

When I was little, I would pack up a backpack, grab a flashlight, pillow and blanket and go camping—in my front yard. I had a tiny tent. Each panel was one of the primary colors: yellow, red and blue. I would sleep in my purple sleeping bag, which was pink and fuzzy on the inside. I always brought a book and read it by flashlight way past my bedtime. These are the things I remember.  Read more

Man caves, Backwoods style

[Author’s Note: The men who agreed to be interviewed for this article insisted on anonymity and a promise not to disclose the locations of their blinds. My appreciation and thanks to The Old Man, The Soldier and The Cowboy for allowing a sneak peek into the male mystique.]  Read more

Dressing up

As tender greens begin to come up at farms and in gardens, it’s smart to prepare yourself with a repertoire of dressings that do them justice. Though the smallest, juiciest lettuces call for little more than a light coating of olive oil and lemon juice, we’ll soon be inundated with firmer heads, curly endives, spicy arugula and succulent leaves of spinach. These substantial greens are fully capable of standing up to more robust textures and flavors and your palate will also welcome the exciting variety.  Read more

The joys of foraging

I am generally happiest when foraging. By modern standards foraging is an eccentric pleasure based on an unusual, specialized knowledge. It is a loners’ sport for those who enjoy the quiet sounds of wind in the leaves and birds singing along. But it is not just the wildlife that keeps one company in the woods. When we pick wild plants, we do so alongside countless generations who have survived through just that practice. The knowledge of wild foods is one of the oldest continuous threads of human experience.  Read more

Tips from a professional: Plan, plant, persist & be pleased with yourself

Landscaper Ed Gavalla of Jesse G’s Nursery in Glen Spey, NY is in the business of helping people create special outdoor spaces. His eyes twinkle and his passion for his line of work shows when he talks about the pleasure of creating a backyard dream oasis—a peaceful zone where a person can sit quietly and appreciate the birds, the bees, the flowers and the endless palette of nature’s colors, no matter what the season. In Gavalla’s world, spring should pop with color, summer should be lush and green, and autumn should be awesome.  Read more

At home in a country inn: Restoring past glories

Travel down any number of country roads throughout the Catskills and one can discover architecture that exemplifies what life was like during the heyday, when the region was known as a playground for those seeking respite from the workaday world of city life. Boarding houses, hotels, bungalows and inns were scattered across Sullivan County, and among them, The Old North Branch Inn stood proud.  Read more

From flea market find to art gallery; Dee Rivera thrives on the art of repurposing

Finding inspiration in items other people get rid of, mixed media artist Dee Rivera creates unique objects d’art that might best be described as three-dimensional collages. Her work is all about putting together parts of found trinkets and everyday items—pieces of jewelry, a handle from an old drawer, a candle holder, an old cheese board, vintage buttons, broken watches, wooden and tin boxes. “I’m always looking for things that have an interesting texture, or shape, or color,” she said of her flea market excursions.  Read more

Creating inspiring spaces in our homes

Having a place to call home is meaningful to most of us. As a poetic ideal, it’s a welcoming environment where we can slip into baggy pants at the end of the day and leave the mad world behind to “just be” without pretense. It’s a place where we can rest, recover and recharge ourselves, as well as our smart phones.  Read more

The green, green grass of home; Sowing, growing & eating asparagus

After enduring a punishing winter, there is nothing more welcome than the first signs of spring poking up from the impossibly barren earth. Out in nature, knotweed, ferns and nettles are among the first things to appear. In my garden, it is the incipient tender green of sorrel, rhubarb and angelica. This year, I hope to be adding asparagus to that list, because we planted a patch last spring.  Read more

Diggin’ the seeds

In some years, the weather is warm enough in March that the fence around my garden can be inspected and repaired in anticipation of the upcoming gardening season. But this year, with snow still piled high, the garden gate has not even been opened yet, so garden activities thus far have been limited to starting seeds indoors.

The biggest challenge with starting seeds indoors is getting enough light to the seedlings once they emerge. A bright sunny window will sometimes do, but most windows aren’t sunny enough for a long enough time, and space in front of them is limited.  Read more

Reuse, recycle, restore it!

“Is it Monday yet? Can I please go back to work?” asks Judy Shaffer, emphasizing the word “please.”

For the past 18 years, Judy has worked side by side with Mark and Andee Weller, owners of Sterling Upholstery Co., Inc.(www.sterlingupholsteryco.com/), located at 50 Neville Rd. in Moscow, PA.  Read more

Spring clean your closet

Spring is the season of renewal and birth. It is a time when we get a fresh start in our lives, and the ever-popular phrase “spring cleaning” enters our vernacular (and hopefully our activity). If you’re anything like me, you often throw things into your closet without really paying any attention; it’s the ideal throw-stuff-in-and-shut-the-door kind of space. You might find yourself looking at your closet and shaking your head or averting your eyes from the horror. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s time to tackle that project and spring clean your closet.  Read more

Love and lilacs; Living history revealed in the Skinner House

When Gina and Tom Kaufmann share how they met, they evoke a scene from the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” They grew up 20 minutes apart on Long Island, vacationed 20 minutes apart in the Upper Delaware River Valley region and even closer on Long Island, but only first met when they went horseback riding together in their mid-to-late teens. Then, there’s the house. They were dating about a year when they first entered the Skinner House, visiting family friends. Gina recalls thinking it would be romantic to live there one day.  Read more

The joy of sleeping in

Listed under the Special Skills section of my resume are ballet, cooking and sleeping in. Just kidding. But really, if sleeping in were an Olympic sport, I would get a gold medal. If you wanted to give me a present, you should give me a day where I can sleep in. As The Postal Service (the band, not the mail delivery system) said, “Don’t wake me; I plan on sleeping in.”  Read more

Alpaca: The new-age Golden Fleece

The Catskills and Upper Delaware River Valley are known for many things: hiking, river rafting, apple picking and the beauty and serenity that a visit to our region provides. Each season has something different to offer to visitors and residents alike, but since the 1970s, a warm and fuzzy attraction has caught on—alpacas. The gentle creatures have been domesticated for thousands of years and the Moche people of northern Peru often used alpaca images in their art. Too small to be used as pack animals, they have been bred exclusively for their fiber and meat, but it’s their fleece that has made the alpaca highly prized throughout the world. Today, alpaca can be found all across the United States, including right here at home, where their incredibly soft hair is made into scarves, hats, gloves and socks, along with stylish high-end garments that are sought after by folks from all walks of life.  Read more