Thursday, December 27, 2007

Breaking ground on 271!

We did it! We finally signed a general contractor!! They started preparing for excavation this week - took off the back deck, etc. So 2008 is going to be the year of the renovation after all! At the moment, they are predicting to be finished in July so we are now scrambling to amass our renovation finances into a liquid state so we can pay them as they go. Since it's a slow time for construction, we're getting the benefits of the GC wanting to keep his guys busy - so he's passing along all his discounts and not taking his usual profit margin. Building supplies have come down since they were first estimated also so we might be able to stay within the budget.....well mostly :-)

We'll start taking pictures this weekend and posting them so you can all see the progress. It's pretty exciting!!!! Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas time in the Country

Today we just got our Christmas tree. Any tree just $30 .... and they cut it down and load it for you! What a deal!! The ones we used to get in Dobbs Ferry were twice that or more and not nearly as fresh. It's up now in our great big huge kitchen and we'll decorate it tomorrow. It's so beautiful up here in the country in every season but it's truly magic at Christmas time. Big vast expanses of land, animals, mountain views.

We've had a few dustings of snow which make it feel more like Christmas but the time has just flown! This fall has been a crazy travel extravaganza and I'm so glad to be back to a semi-normal schedule. Our trip out to see David's family for Thanksgiving was the best part of the insanity. we got to spend some real quality time with Donna, Kenny, Glenn, Jason, Kristen and Delaney ... worth the time and energy to get all the way out there :-)

So Delaney has a web page too!

That little girl has been through so much in her short three years - major surgery to close her cleft palates happened just a few months ago but it doesn't stop her. She's an inspiration to all of us!

More later....we're off to the second neighborhood Christmas party of the night.....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Moving Day!!

OMG. It's finally here. Moving day is Thursday October 11th. The new floors look great in the rental house and we've up to our eyeballs in boxes over here. We're far from done but it feels great to actually be moving this adventure along. We called to get the phone and direct TV and insurance switched over and the guys are here right this moment to plan out the shrub, tree and plant removal/relocation so the excavator can come do his thing. Thanks to my trusty melatonin, I am sleeping through the night and all the stresses I wrote of in past blogs seem a thing of the past! We made lists back then of all the things that were keeping me up at night and yesterday were able to check off the very last things and throw out the lists!! What a great feeling. I need to stop procrastinating the rest of the packing so I'll be going now....more later after we're in the new place.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Renovation Update

Well, we're still not moved into the rental house but things are ever creeping along. We've all but settled on the contractor (need to work with the architect to bring the costs down a bit before it's a go), we have the loan money to get started, and the rental house is almost ready for prime time. Wonderful ServiceMaster swooped in and cleaned out the place - two dumpsters full of carpets, furniture and sheet rock later it is now mold free and no cat smell. Our chosen contractor for our house has been over to the rental and is sizing the floor job now. With any luck, we'll be in sometime this month! of course, we have a little packing to still do --- like most of it. Friends and neighbors are helping with boxes but the lack of a deadline to be out has us feeling under-motivated to pack them. We're hoping to kick it up a notch by the end of the month........more updates to come.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #6- The Music Man

Thirteen Music and Instrument Jokes

1. What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend


2. What is the difference between an Oboe and a Bassoon

...a Bassoon burns longer

3. How can you tell the stage is level at a concert

...the drool comes out of both sides of the drummer's mouth

4. Why do roadies only count to two

...everyone knows you lift on three

5. What is the difference between an onion and an accordian

...nobody cries when you cut up an accordian

6. When is a Viola in tune.

...when the bow is not moving

7. What' the difference between a Viola and a trampoline

...people take their shoes off to jump on a trampoline

8. What is perfect pitch on a banjo

...when it hits all three sides of the dumpster as it goes in

9. Where did they catch the streaker in church the organ

10. How do you tell the difference between a violinist and a dog?

...the dog knows when to stop scratching.

11. Why do violinists put a cloth between their chin and their instrument?

...violins don't have spit valves.

12. Why did the chicken cross the road? get away from the bassoon recital.

13. How do you get a guitar player to play softer?

...give him some sheet music.

More music jokes

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Marina@Momma Writes About Books

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #5: 13 Things about the apartment I share in NYC

I'm in relationship management sales - this basically means I need to keep the client happy, look for new opportunities to help them, and bring in the right resources to assist at the right time. Because my client is in NYC, I spend a lot of time here. Since moving to Ghent, my 45 minute commute on Metronorth has turned into a 2 hour commute on Amtrak. While I occasionally still do day trips, I have realized that being able to stay overnight in the city - particularly when there's an early meeting or a late night (sometimes the best conversations happen outside the office!) A friend of mine who has a similar situation and I are now sub-letting a "pied de terre" in Murray Hill. Here are thirteen things about our little studio.

Thirteen Things about the apartment I share in NYC

1. I'd never want to live here full time but it surprises me that I could be so happy in an apartment the size of a closet on a regular basis!

2. It's great to be able to walk from the train to the apartment to the client

3. It's even better to have a place to take a nap in the middle of the day!

4. Although there's no view out the window, it's amazingly quiet being over the parking garage. You can barely hear any traffic or sirens.

5. Water pressure in NYC is much better than from our well in Ghent

6. It's much more fun to stay here when my friend is here too....but we get much less sleep despite having shared a bottle of wine and great Thai food

7. Coming to the same place every time, being able to store extra toiletries, shoes and an outfit or two, is really convenient - and WAY better than a different high priced hotel room every time.

8. It's a little unnerving to be in a place with 4 locks on every door

9. I love exploring new restaurants and in NYC - there's so many in walking distance!!

10. Having to go out for coffee every morning is a drag. Time to donate a coffee pot to the cause.

11. Some doormen are friendly, some are not. (Note to self: tip big at Christmas!)

12. I never knew there were so many dogs living in NYC apartments! Best doggie spotting times: 8am, 6pm, 10pm

13. It reminds me that we are blessed to live in Ghent with it's wide open spaces, view of the mountains, and fresh air

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!


no nonsense girl

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #4 - Thirteen Things for Which I am Most Grateful

Thirteen Things for Which I am Most Grateful

Wow! Our first year wedding anniversary was August 11th! We just got back from the wonderful Sagamore resort on Lake George where we spent an extended weekend enjoying the spa, the golf, the wine, the food and of course each other. In reflecting on it all this week, it occurred to me that it was about time I did a Thursday Thirteen post on the Things for which I am Most Grateful

1. The universe for allowing David and I to find each other when we were both finally ready

2. Our friends and family for supporting each of us along the journeys that brought us to this point

3. The jobs that allow us to live a comfortable life here in Ghent with the occasional decadent splurge like this weekend at the Sagamore

4. Having someone with whom to share all of this that feels the same way I do

5. Our health so that we can enjoy every morsel of what blessings have been bestowed on us

6. The four seasons of glorious weather we experience here highlighting the power of nature's ability to renew itself

7. Living in an environment that inspires our creativity and shines light on the creativity of others

8. God's grace which is evident every day, all the time

9. The angels performing miracles all around us (many of whom are blogging, artist, author and musician angels that might not even realize how many lives they touch in deeply profound ways)

10. The interconnectedness of everyone and everything and the ability to feel that

11. The ability to turn that TV off!

12. The ability to turn that A/C on!

13. The beauty of diversity in all things

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Suprina @

Milan - zzz @

Lori @

Shannon @

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #3 - 13 Favorite Kid Quotes

Thirteen of our Favorite Kid Quotes

There's nothing like what comes out of the mouths of babes to make you realize what's really important. Although we have no children of our own, besides David's nearly 30 year old son, we are blessed with two wonderful nieces and two amazing nephews that keep us on our toes and laughing all the time. As they were growing up and learning how to communicate, they've said some of the most hysterical and rather poignant things. In our family, their words live on long after they've grown out of them. I've captured our 13 favorites here.

1. "Good job catapillar!"
  • Emily Age 2 - after watching a catapillar crawl all the way from one side of a bench to the other, mimicking her mother who often positively reinforces her own behavior with the same words
2. "It's ok dad, I'm not one of the nerbus people"
  • Tommy Age 4 - after getting a pep talk from Aunt Cindy along with some worry dolls prior to going in for surgery.
3. "David, you are NOT innocent"
  • Emily Age 8 - after turning around to see who threw something at her to see David pretending he was not involved
4. "We saw lots of rockets, but no Kennedys"
  • Tommy Age 5 - describing his visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
5. "That's ok, no one knows what a Kennedy is anyway"
  • Emily Age 7 - her response to Tommy's comment in #4 after all the laughter died down
6. "Baby Jee and Mah Joe too"
  • Emily Age 2 - her description of the Holy Family
7. "They're not birds yet, they're just skin"
  • Daniel Age 4 - describing the newly hatched robins in the nest outside his kitchen window
8. "Dad, dad, back up. What's an event?"
  • Tommy Age 6 - after his dad had told them how exciting it was that they were about to witness an important event and a lengthy description of what a solar eclipse was
9. "Wow, Aunt Kathy sure has a lot of shoes!"
  • Tommy Age 4 - settling down to sleep in our bedroom and looking into our closet with a hanging show bag with just 40 pairs of my extensive collection hanging there.
10. "You need a different pair of shoes for every day"
  • Emily Age 4 - after lining up 10 different pairs of her own shoes during play with Aunt Kathy and the Playmobile families they were taking on a pretend ten day vacation. (a girl after my own heart!!)
11. "No wifes!"
  • Tommy Age 3 - when I tried to put the queen character into the Playmobile castle David and I built for him for Christmas that year.
12. "Here me go!"
  • Daniel Age 2 - prior to fearlessly throwing himself down the hill on a new Christmas sled next to all the bigger kids
13. "Cee Cee, will you please stop talking to me?!"
  • Tommy Age 3 - trying to take a nap in his car seat but being asked all sorts of questions by his Auntie Cee Cee thinking she was keeping him creatively occupied during a long car ride.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!


misty dawn

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #2:Thirteen Things I Love about Columbia County

Thirteen Things I Love About Columbia County

1. The Purple Mountain Majesty. Nestled between the Catskills and the Berkshires there are many view of mountains almost everywhere you go in this beautiful valley. But there might be no better view than the westerly one right off our back deck. In the morning and the evening purple mountain majesty exists in all it's breathtaking glory!!

2. The Country Sounds. It's so quiet and rural here that you rarely hear anything but nature....birds singing, crickets chirping, chipmunks scampering, frogs peeping, woodpeckers pecking, hummingbirds and dragonflies whirring. It is amazing lying in bed just listening to God's glorious symphony.

3. The People. Everyone is SO nice. The people here are so unassuming, trusting, non-judgemental and would do anything for you. The first weekend we were up here David went off to buy us a broom. Agway was having a sale on pretty blue grills so he impulsively bought one not quite realizing that it wouldn't fit in his car. Another customer in line saw his plight and said "where are you taking it?" When David told him, he offered to load it in his pickup and follow David home with it. This is just one of the many examples.

4. The Neighbors. I lived 12 years in the same town house in Westchester County. I knew only my immediate neighbors by name, never was invited over, never had anyone at my place. Here in the country, neighbors come to greet you as soon as you move in and we became friendly with three sets of neighbors almost immediately. We have each other over for dinners, share stories, laugh a lot, and of course help each other out on just about everything. It's a great feeling to know we're all in it together.

5. The Food. Farm fresh food is growing all around. As we've mentioned in our blog previously, we live in the middle of organic, biodynamic farming country. Not far from the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park we often get graduates coming to this area to set up new restaurants. Many take advantage of being here to use the freshest local farm ingredients and the results are delectable! It's hard to stay in and cook for yourselves when the local chefs use the same farm fresh ingredients, combine them in their amazing way, with prices so reasonable! Some of our most favorites include Swoon KitchenBar, The Red Barn, Local 111, The Blue Plate, Baba Louie's and Lipperas at the Chatham House.

6. The Art. In the middle of this paradise are some of the most amazing artists. There are showcases of local work up and down the streets of the main streets of most of our country towns (Hudson, Chatham, Claverack, Kinderhook....) and in almost every restaurant there is local art hanging on the walls that you can purchase. One of the highlights just down the street from us is the spectacular ArtOMI - with a modern outdoor art sculpture park viewable from the road enticing you to stop and explore.

7. The Architecture. In addition to many fabulous old farm houses and barns dotting the area sitting on land with to-die-for pastoral views, there are some real architectural gems here too such as Olana, the perian style home of Hudson River painter Frederick Church, the Lukyas Van Alen and several other historic homes that you can tour.

8. The Music. Some call this the NY side of Tanglewood. One of the reasons we moved here was to be close to that amazing summer classical music venue. But since moving here we've found so many other things right here in Columbia County to assauge our musical cravings like the Mac-Haydn Theater, the Ghent Playhouse, the Taconic Hills Performing Arts Center the Spencertown Academy, and PS21 - Performing Spaces for the 21st Century.

9. The History. As well as the historic homes I mentioned in #7, there are museums everywhere. We have yet to explore them all but they include the Shaker Museum, the Columbia Country Historical Society Museum , the Fire Museum of Hudson and much much more.

10. The Traffic. There is none! Even when we were just weekending here, the Taconic Parkway was almost always an easy ride. The occasional accident or construction slowed you down every now and then but even on major travel days like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving you rarely hit any traffic.

11. The Train. Ok, so the trains are often late, especially those coming from Canada, but hop on that Amtrak and you're in NY City in 2 hours. There are only 5 stops max, and some are express trains with even fewer. You get a glorious view of the Hudson River out the window, there are electrical plugs in every seat for charging those attention splattering appliances, and the parking is still free at the Hudson station!! I have found it a great way to gear up or wind down from my day.

12. The lack of Starbucks. Believe it or not, there is no Starbucks that I have come across yet anywhere in Columbia County. Thank Heaven! We are particular about our coffee - grind our own beans fresh every morning - but we much prefer the local organic at the Muddy Cup or free trade beans we get at Hawthorne Valley Farm to the overroasted acidic taste of the popular coffee chain's. Heresy, I know.

13. The Peaceful Feeling. There's a feeling of peace here that you can feel just driving up. You step onto our deck, catch a glimpse of the unobstructed mountain view and the stresses all melt away. Sitting on the deck with a cup of joe in a zero gravity lawn chair, all seems right with the world. Guests have told us this is why they keep coming back.

And that, my friends, are just thirteen of the things we love about Columbia County! There are so many many more. The four seasons, the beautiful hiking trails, the quaint little towns,.... I could go on and on. But enjoy these thirteen. And Happy Thursday!!!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Man Versus Chipmunk

The man who did the last renovation of our house ten years ago told us when we bought the house that he had "disposed" of quite a few chipmunks while working on the house. Now, we live in the country, in the middle of the critters habitat, so I expect to see and encounter wildlife big and small all the time. That's one of the reasons we are here.

I also feed the birds. With that blessing comes curses. Birdseed attracts critters and stalkers of birds. I am content to let nature play out its drama. Of course, squirrels are the most famous invaders of the bird feeders, and the constant struggle of keeping them away from the bird feeders is the stuff of funny late night stories around the dinner table with our neighbors.

Last year at a craft fair, I bought a bird feeder that really does keep the squirrels out and lets the birds in. The birds like it. The squirrels have quit trying.

During the last year or so we have had fairly moderate weather and the chipmunk population has grown. I watched in horror this summer as the chipmunks finally figured out how to get up the pole, and into the bird feeder.

These are not the same chipmunks who sang, "please Christmas don't be late..." in the animated cartoon I used to watch when I was growing up.

I am shopping for a slinky to put around the pole. I am told that will keep anything from climbing up to the feeder. Somehow I really believe it will just be more entertainment for the chipmunks.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #1

Thirteen Things keeping us up at night about Our Renovation

1. Rental house. The renovations will be so disruptive that we decided to take the bold move of moving out while they are happening. We had hoped this would lessen the stress of it all - allowing us to move in all our furniture and belongings instead of storing them somewhere - and give the contractors free reign to do more at the same time. But we signed the lease for our rental house prior to doing a final walk through and the house is SO not ready for us to move in. The owner died and her estate is being handled by her sister in the mid west. She's a farmer so she doesn't quite have the business acumen that your typical landlord might. She's trusting us to throw out or save anything left over from the previous tenant or her sister, clean up the basement (including water damaged mattresses and old cat litter boxes) and fix appliances, etc...sending her the bills of course.....but it's a huge job!! At the moment, it is NOT lessening stress. We are hiring a Basement Clean Up Crew and Movers to pack all the left over things in the house. Once that's done, maybe I can sleep again.

2. Hiring the right contractor. We've got a great architect on board as David has mentioned, Bill Wallace of Wallace Design. He's helping us review bids from contractors using his detailed plans and ultimately we will choose one. But there are so many horror stories about low ball bids and contractors not living up to their end of the bargain. What are we getting ourselves into?!

Punch List. Usually the punch list comes AFTER the work has begun. Ours started long ago due to the whole moving out to not-ready-for-prime-time rental house. Not being a list person though, I've only recently written it all down....the act of which was very helpful in helping me sleep at night. It could have it's very own dedicated Thursday 13. Hmmm, maybe it will be a regular Thursday feature.

4. Our Finances.
Last year when we decided to do this, we were sitting pretty. Two incomes, a good year for commissions, our pockets bulging from our very timely Westchester townhouse sale. Now? David retired two months ago, my client has had a bad year so revenues have not matched our forecast, they changed our sales plan to make it even harder to make any commissions and we've spent lots of the townhouse proceeds on things like the wedding, the honeymoon, the architect.

5. Decisions Decisions!
It's only the tip of the iceberg but we're already having to make some decisions so the contractors can give us realistic bids - where to locate the fireplace, how far out to push the walls, how high the ceiling in the great room should be, whether to put on a screened in porch or finish the basement guest suite now or later.....I've started reading books and magazines on renovating but at the moment it's quite overwhelming! We watched the neighbors build their house over the past year and a half and have an idea of what's yet to come.

6. Saving the gardens.
Many wonderful perennials planted by the previous owner come up here that will have to be relocated or ripped out - including a beautiful lilac bush reminiscent of my home growing up in Rochester, NY, the scent of which makes me cry every spring thinking of my mother. Also there's an amazing clematis that survived a near death from over zealous weeding, tons of purple and yellow iris, thriving spectacular spiders wort, bee balm, multiple rose bushes and climbing roses, rose of sharon, tulips, daffodils, a vibrant yellow daylily, several trees and much more. My uncle who has been a landscaper in his prior life took a walk around with me and told me what he thought was worth trying to save and what was not. But I'd like to try and save it all!!

7. Rental House gardens.
Apparently the former owner kept beautiful gardens but most of it is now overgrown and filled with weeds and poison ivy. Some of this is right next to the house, growing up through planks in the porch, etc. I am hoping to line up my uncle to do a major clean up of these gardens but right now the thought of it all makes me itch!

8. Pests.
Ok so I am bug phobic. Living out in the country, there are lots of them. We have our house regularly treated for ants, bees and rodents. The rental house on the other hand.....standing vacant for months and a bad tenant for the year before that means this place is in sad need of pest control. We went over there the other day in the evening (bad move because it was so close to bedtime) to stumble over a major wasp nest in the deceased owner's car that has been sitting in the driveway for three years. Who knows what's in the basement - i won't even go down there until that cleaning crew comes.

Water. In the country there is no such thing as city water. We are all on wells. While well water is wonderfully rich in minerals and the plants love it, it does a job on pipes and fixtures and sensitive skin if not treated with the right stuff. The water conditioner at the rental house is in sad shape...neglected for who knows how long. We just need to get the water guy out there but until then it sits on the punch list.

10. Cars and Dogs.
There are tenants with two dogs living above the barn at the rental house. The dogs are large but friendly ... so friendly that they jump up on your car if you don't get out fast enough for their taste. The last visit over there left nice big scratches in our BMW drivers door. With the garage full of the deceased owner's stuff, we won't be able to put the car in there as we had hoped. We will need to figure out some way to protect the cars.

11. Cleaning out. Our closets, attic and basement are full with clothes and shoes and stuff that we (especially I) haven't worn or used in years. This move will be a great time to purge the stuff I don't need....have a big yard sale, give away to charity, simplify my life! Yet this is a traumatic thought - what if I need it someday, what happens when I lose that weight and can fit into some of that stuff again, how could I get rid of things that my mom, friends or other relatives gave me even if I don't like it without hurting their feelings or losing a memory?? This has always been an issue for me. I read wonderful blogs for inspiration like Christine Kane's that address this very topic but at the moment it's one of the things that keeps me up at night.

12. Losing our view.
We wake up every morning to a killer western view of the Catskills - purple mountains majesty right our our bedroom window....not to mention the sunset!! The rental house, while sitting on 10 acres and only a few miles away, does not have anything like this view. We will miss it tremendously!!! The comforting thought is that when we get to move back there will be that great room we dreamed of on this gorgeous view.

13. Moving back.
In a year or so we have to that move all over again - pack up all our stuff, decide what to purge, what to keep, where to put it.......of course there will be many more closets and storage spaces by design in the new dream house so this will hopefully be less stressful that the move we're about to do but currently it still makes the things that keep me up at night list.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Christine Kane at

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

House makeover - Before

Many of you may know that we are renovating our house in Ghent, NY. To make it easy to follow that action, I will make updates to our blog to show how bad the fever has gotten. Here are the before pictures.

This is the south side of the house that will be extended to make the master bedroom. We are planning lots of closet space for shoes.

This is the West side of the house that we are planning to extend and make into the living room. A guest bedroom will be added as a walk-out below the living room.

We have been working with Bill Wallace of Wallace Design for the architectural phase of the renovation. We have refined the plans in preparation for bids from contractors. Bill has been a tremendous help in refining our desires down to what is doable in our budget. Of course, the phrase that starts with, "we might as well ..." will impact the budget and the timetable.

We have rented a house close by and we will move all of our things to the rental house while the renovation is underway. It will make Kathy's life a lot easier while working from home, we will be out of the way of the contractors, and it will ensure that our furniture stays clean. I had forgotten how difficult moving is, and getting the rental house ready has its own challenges.

We are very excited about this work, and we would like to fast forward to have it all complete tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Spring in the Valley

Winter came late to the Hudson Valley, waiting until January to really get started, and then striking really hard with some really big snow storms. It snowed and rained all the way into April, and then the sky seemed to clear. Spring came to the valley in the course of what seemed like a few days. The tulips survived the deer with a little help.

Most of the land in the valley was part of the Livingston land grant, and it has been preserved in orchards bearing Apples, Cherries, and other fruits. Many of the farmers grow their produce, fruit, and livestock with organic methods. We thought for a while that the Organic label was just a way to paste a higher price on the food, but once you taste an organic tomato you can't go back. Well, at least you can tell the difference in the middle of the winter when someone brings you a tomato that's been shipped in a rail car from Mexico.

Kathy and I have met Jeff Gimmel, the chef at Swoon Kitchenbar in Hudson, NY. Jeff is determined to use the local supplies from the organic farms in the area, and when matched with his culinary skill, the result is outstanding. I had the opportunity to make the rounds with Jeff as he went to his suppliers on a Thursday morning. As we drove south from Hudson, the cherry trees were in bloom and the trees had been recently trimmed. The branches on the ground were loaded with flowers. The whole field glowed.

With the bloom of spring come more changes for us. We are about to hire a contractor to renovate the house, and we have rented a house within a couple of miles for the duration so a move is afoot. I retired from IBM at the end of April, so I am onto the next thing in my career. With spring comes the promise of all things new.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Returning Home

Hi all - it's been a whirlwind three weeks and we can't believe it's over.

New Zealand was the most gorgeous country I've ever been to date and one we will definitely be going back to someday. An incredible vista around every corner - from air, road or sea. We packed a lot into our 9 days there. You heard about Auckland and Marlborough in the last update. Queenstown is where we spent the remaining 4 days and it was beyond compare.

The beauty of the surroundings made us feel God's presence every moment of the day and night. In addition to being one of the places Peter Jackson did a lot of filming for Lord of the Rings (we got to stand on Middle Earth!!), it's a place where lots of crazy folks come to do their extreme sports - gliding off mountain tops, bungy jumping off bridges, luging down steep inclines, jumping out of planes, etc. We took pictures of all that insanity but the boldest we got was a speedy (and sometimes wet!) jet boat ride up and down the Dart River in Glenorchy. We also took a scenic ride to Milford Sound and back in a tiny little plane - swerving through mountains, glaciers and over the bluest waters you've ever seen. Yours truly did just fine in the co-pilot's seat - giving David hope that I will be able to go flying with him when he completes his pilot training.

In Milford Sound we took a cruise through the amazing glacially formed fiordland and were greeted by many seals and a huge pod of Dusky Dolphins. We met some great people along the way and enjoyed the fresh seafood and incredible wines every chance we could. We took a ride to the other side of Lake Waitapitu on the TSS Earnslaw Steam Ship and rode the gondola up to the top of one of the Remarkable Range mountains (where the paragliders jump off!!) and back down.

David honed his wrong-side-of-the-road driving skills as we drove off to historic Arrowtown (main site of New Zealand's gold rush) and the Otego valley wineries who specialize in Pinot Noir (our favorite!) Since David was driving he just tasted but we brought back some to the room for later indulgence :-)

Last night we spent a wonderful evening back in Sydney at the Park Hyatt right on the water near (under!) the Harbor Bridge. It was romantic and a nice way to end this fabulous honeymoon. Now we await our 20+ hours of flying - back through Tahiti to New York. Hope all is well with you and your families and we'll talk to you all soon.

Marlborough NZ

Hi all - All's well with the traveling Jacksons. We're about to leave for Queenstown but we had a marvelous time in wine country and catching a bit of email from the airport internet connection. We had our own villa all to ourselves here with two full bedrooms and baths, a kitchen, BBQ, laundry, etc. It came at the right time for us to refresh all the clothes so we have something to wear on the next part of our journey!

We had great fun visiting the wineries here - it is very hard to leave as we know we can't get many of them in the US yet - some they only sell here at their "cellar doors". The people have been so nice and the food organic, fresh and some of the best we've had in addition to sauvignon blanc and pinot noirs to die for.

David is a practised wrong side of the road driver now after our drive through Picton, Havelock, Nelson and Richmond. We did a full loop - on the way out admiring the amazing Marlborough Sounds - it's stunning beaches, inlets, etc and through the mountains on the way back . It was a very special day!!

Lots and lots of pictures coming when we get back home. I might need two websites!!!! We realize of course that we have much more to see here that we just didn't have time for so if any of you are planning your own NZ adventures, count us in - once we recover from this one!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Great Barrier Reef update

Hi all - we are about to leave the idyllic Whitsundays and head to New Zealand. The Beach Club on Hamilton Island was a fabulous five star tropical paradise....starting when they met us at the airport, tagged our bags and whisked us off to our room in a golf cart past the infinity pool overlooking the Bay. Our bags were waiting there of course, as were freshly poured tropical drinks as they showed us around this beautiful place.

It was hard to leave the hotel at all these last three days but we did manage to squeeze in a snorkeling and diving tour out to the Great Barrier Reef. Yours truly was deathly ill on the 2 hour rocking and rolling over the open much so that I opted for the expensive but scenic helicopter back rather than set foot on that boat again. But once at the pontoon, I was able to do some of the most amazing snorkeling - the colors of the reef and the fish were like those pictures you see in books but don't think could possibly be real. David was able to do a guided dive and get up close and personal with several of the sea creatures - captured all on a DVD we'll be bringing home.

My trip back in the helicopter was the best way to see the reef in all it's glory - you can't believe the size of it until you see it from the air. The colors from there were even more spectacular. They felt so sorry for me that I got to sit in the copilot's seat and had an extended trip as we dropped a few others off at other islands on our way back to Hamilton Island. I brought a little white bag with me just in case but there was no need for it -- I loved every second of my personalized tour with the pilot. He flew me over Whitehaven beach, the heart reef, all of the other Whitsunday Islands and many other scenic extras. During the wait for the helicopter, I got to meet some lovely folks from Perth (Western Australia), another honeymoon couple from Boston, and a couple from Canberra. All of us were last minute helicopter bookings because of the traumatizing ride out there.

Now it's off to New Zealand for something completely different!! Wine country touring is highest on our list but we hear the sights are spectacular there as well. More later if there's an internet connection. Otherwise, talk to you all when we get home!!