Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cat-n-Around Catskill

Finding ourselves in Catskill last Friday, we were introduced to the town's annual Cat-n-Around Catskill cats on display.

More than enjoying the free parking (well, our spot anyway), we had a lot of fun just running around and looking at all the fun cats.

In particular was Pat Feinman's Cat House Kitty (below), which we loved, because Pat designed our "fabulous" kitchen that we will love forever and she was smart and easy to work with. And even if Kenneth did nix the back splash tile, we did find some great replacements as well as other really cool tiles for the fireplace hearth. For more info about what Pat and Art do, visit Functional Sculpture.

While we were there, Pat's husband Art started talking about her jewelry line, which pretty much left my two male partners (a Scotsman and a Brit) at a complete loss for words. Truth be told, I was speechless too, in a "Wow, this isn't your normal small-town shop-talk banter" kind of way, rather than a "shocking, I'm just shocked" and shaking my head in a prudish recoiling kind of way.

The topic at hand (or wrist) had to do with Pat's newly-designed bracelets that look like a certain female body part ("Rhymes with Delores"). Made for the "woman who celebrates her femininity" (okay, I'm down with that), I'm sure there's a market for it and I'll be sure to check out the wrists on the gals in Park Slope the next time I'm back in the 'hood. Delores bracelets aside, she's got other gorgeous silver items like the less racy dragonflys.

Still, the cats in Catskill are supercool and we're hoping to make it to the big cat auction in September!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Goats

So, we drove past a friend's place down off Rt. 22 the other week, and while I asked (and did not receive) permission to publish a little post about his idyllic farmhouse (he's a lawyer, so I won't push it) ;-), I couldn't resist putting up this awesome photo of one of the goats at his place (so sue me).

Seriously, have you ever seen such a happy goat?

Reminds me of a song my mom used to sing to me:

"Oh, Mares eat oats,
and Does eat oats,
and little Lambs eat ivy,
a Kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you?"

Hmm...do goats eat oats?
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere...We Hope!

We're heading back Upstate tomorrow to swing by the house and check on the progress of renovations and to meet with Kenneth Young, our design maven/taste master (he basically makes sure any reno work we do is in "good taste." This week it includes looking at tiles for the fireplace hearth and getting approval on the kitchen and tiles that we have already purchased.

Mostly, I'm just excited to see how the flowers are doing, as things keep springing to life up there.

Below, you'll see my new bed of impatiens that I planted (after ripping out some rather sad pachysandra that got gobbled up by some rooty mess of somethingorother.) The impatiens are just left-overs from our city garden...next year I'll plant lavender and heather, maybe some rosemary, as well as plenty of mint for my mojitos!

In addition, here are some some of the incredible poppys that were planted by the previous owner (along with those purple irises and a ton of wildflowers). They are so gorgeous that we bought more seeds earlier this year (one of John's birthday gift for me :)) and we put them down in a few bald patches (result of digging to put in a propane tank and extra soil from said tank) around the property.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Land Rover Event

As current lessees of an LR3 and former Range Rover owner, yesterday, John and I played hooky and went up to Rhinebeck, N.Y. to attend the Land Rover "Choice of Experts" event at the Astor Courts, aka Astor Casino.

The building is obviously impressive (and a perfect spot for a Land Rover event). Designed by Stanford White, the place is home to the first residential indoor swimming pool in the U.S., as well as a gorgeous indoor clay tennis court. Apparently the place had fallen into total disrepair when, four years ago, a family bought it and brought it back to its "original splendor," all the while adding a few modernities such as a Sub-Zero fridge in the designer kitchen and modern plumbing.

At the event, we both had a chance to drive a car of choice (we had pre-selected the LR3 to learn more about its handling). Travis took us out and I jumped at the chance to drive first (sorry John!). We drove through mud and ruts and weaved (slowly) around tree trunks, over logs and rocks, etc.

Then it was time for "The Cliff." At the top of this 30+ ft. drop where I couldn't see the bottom over the hood, Travis had us put the car in some kind of special self-drive, downhill mode (the yellow button), and after a bit of prompting by Travis and white-knuckling by me, I "drove" down this drop. Here's the photo that John took looking down the hill:

After that, we went around and drove through a "river," where the water came up near the window and I half anticipated alligators at the door.

Then John took the wheel...

Following the drive, we were welcome to explore the house, sit-in on a cooking demonstration and enjoy some crab cakes and shrimp salad.

It was Cutter, the household's Golden Retriever, however, who stole the show for us. Not sure if it was John's usual wonderful ways with animals, or the potential for food scraps, but Cutter was the perfect ending to what this public relations person would consider a flawless event.

Thanks Land Rover! Bye-bye Cutter!

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The House

Welcome to Just Off The Taconic, the blog about our little slice of heaven in the Hudson Valley (E. Taghkanic), Our House, and some of the things we do out and about in the area.

John (my wonderful husband and best friend in the whole wide world...) and I first saw The House last June. After a two-and-a-half year search for the perfect property in the region (that was within our budget, etc.), we closed last August. Soon after, we spent a week settling in -- and trying to survive without the comforts of a nearby bodega and automatic dishwasher. While we did OK without the bodega, we realized that we really couldn't survive without a dishwasher and decided to have "a little work" done on the place.

"A little work" originally included a new kitchen to make room for that badly-needed dishwasher, knocking down a wall to make the "main floor" an open plan, adding French doors to access the porch (not to mention a cat flap for Mido, our little orange wonder kitten), and possibly finishing out a basement area to make an extra guest bedroom (to turn it into a proper 3 BDRM home).

In January, we drove up the Taconic State Parkway in an eerie snow squall to find that the power line that led into the house had been compromised. Water had gotten into the electric line, corroded it and finally just disintegrated it, leaving us with a house that was more ice box than anything habitable. The good news was that we later found that the pipes didn't burst (nor the toilets, or anything really).

The bad news was that this delayed the reno work that we would later learn would also have to include a new heating system (due to do a dangerous electric heating system that had been put in when the house was built), new electrical wiring throughout (due to a hungry mouse nibbling on the wires) and some other stuff that, quite frankly, I've just blocked out, but which I hope John will detail in later posts.

In the meantime...to get us started...here are the "Before" photos for your viewing pleasure:

Above: The House. I believe this is from the realtor's page as it looks like early spring, when the house was listed in 2007.

Above: the massive 18' x 18' porch.

Above: Our kitchen, sans diswasher.

Above: Our living area...but we really couldn't manage living with that wallpaper.

Above: Massive porch, interior.