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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mommies Gone Wild in Cochecton.

Dammit, I can't believe I forgot to change the formatting before I upload all these gosh dangit photos - ever since I strived to be unique and mix it up by formating my pics 'to the left' or 'to the right' it's been all screwed up and my earnest posts are compromised by technology. This pic is an example of some real nice country etiquette from a guy I took to a party.

And here's me and my posse, - Lucas and crazy old Ruby, - cooling it on the couch at our old small farmhouse outside of Eldred, NY

And I had forgotten to shave for a few days and being a manly man my beard grows in rather quickly and Lisa begged me for 'just this one night' to shave the beard but keep the 'stache' so I did and here's the photo with me chummin' it up with Lincoln. Gavin said I looked Armenian and kept telling everyone at the party not say 'Milosevich" near me.

Amy's party was an 'asian-themed' bash and I don't mean that in any sexual way for all those readers who live near the gutter. Here's Doug in his best asian gear, practicing the fine art of quietness, respect, coyness and perversion. That's Amy in the foreground and Emily in the blue shawl and the budweiser.

Here's the big ex-pat Darryl with my boy Lucas, who was up late and getting down with the best of them. Yes, I know for those same readers who wrote us cautionary advice about all the predators who enjoyed Luke's naked pics, these party pics will be equally disturbing. But ole Luke, he loves a party.

Cheri and Lisa getting down.

Emily, Lisa, & Amy tearing it up in Cochecton. The party was really heating up at this point, and all the cares of day time seemed far off and alien.

And here is the reflective Gavin through the flowers, reflecting on the genteel and familial turn of his existence, dispute his best efforts of affrontory, lewdness and bad butt jokes.

And here is Gavin and Emily's weekend guest, Beckles, after having eaten multiple slices of the 'brownies' circulating all evening.

So there you have it- I worked all day to put food on the table for my family and then we partied hard into that soft, country night.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rock the Casbah - Farmhouse 10 Complete

DISCLAIMER FROM THE WRITER - "I tried to mix it up and format the pics differently and it didn't work out so I promise not to do it again, but you are going to have to live with this one since I'm not uploading all these photos again. "

It was a long hard slough this winter, really brutal with crazy cold winter, sleet, ice, freezing temps and a lot of precipitation, but we are on the backside of it now, by no means finished, but the light at the end of the tunnel can be discerned, glimpsed, felt and even acknowledged.

The picture of this classic farmhouse, with wide clapboard siding, the red 6 light door, simple front porch and the barn in the background stirs memories from past and evokes anticipation of the future. Amazing, this house sits on top of 10 acres (soon to be 22 acres), surrounded and framed by perfect old rock walls that some farmer and his sons, moved by hand, a hundred years ago. Since then, the
trees have grown back and the fields have disappeared - but back a few dozen decades ago, a poor farmer and clan called this mountain top part of their 55 acre farm.

I love those crazy trees, with their Joshua tree type branches all wigwaggin' any way they see fit.

People are spending their money quite cautiously these days, but as opposed to the headlines, they are still spending, but they are consuming carefully, thoughtfully - and we are flattered indeed that they believe Catskill Farms is a place that deserves some of their hard-earned savings. Seriously, we get it -
families are spending carefully, and we have been selected as a place to park their future. It's a vote of confidence in our efforts, our quality, and mostly our value.

Bright blue winter sky on top of the hill. This was mostly a somewhat dense forest, we cleared some land to open it up.

Lots of porches, simple lines. We will painting the trim black in the spring, keeping the siding white.

Straight-on shot of house and barn, with twisted tree.
We had our fair share of weather-induced emergencies this winter - anytime the the temps drop to -14 for a week, surprises are bound to happen. We had 22" ice dams on a roof, a frozen heat line in house (no damage), a winter storm that knocked out the electric with -10 temps, freezing rain and iced up roads.

The sun, the brick fireplace, the twisted tree and the simple hilltop farmhouse.
People like this design, and it's inspired by my friend's (yes I have friends) house in Cochecton, about 20 miles northeast.
Speaking of Amy, we are celebrating her birthday tonight (it fell on the 13th, same as mine).

The interior is straight-forward, clean, and functional.
Brick fireplace, bluestone hearth, lowboy radiator and black glass jelly jars for lighting.
A large 3 piece basemoulding sets this room off nicely.

Looking down the stairs, to the red double action barn door, and the horizontal wood 1x8 stained wainscotting.
This staircase is 4' wide, which is really a luxury.

Shot from the dining room - hand-hewn barn beam, horizontal wainscotting, red dutch door, jelly jar, 1x12 yellow pine flooring stained red mahoghany.

Now, the kitchen is very personalized with some fancy appliances, distressed black cabinets, rocket blue countertop.
This pics captures the essence of our homes - radiator, simple kitchen, jelly jar, wide plank floors. and an apron sink.

Below we have the open distressed shelves, the 12 light doors, the sliding barn door and industrial range.

Refrigerator, barn door with large track and handle, and back door.

Below is a pic of some fancy porcelain tub fixtures back-dropped with some simple white subway tile.

The red tile, white grout line in the basement bath.

Funky black on white floor tile, and the old style sink (below) complete the guest bath.

His and her faucets for those busy Sunday mornings after an all night jam, or even a baby washing tub for that first year of youngster bathing (would even work for twins).

And the master shower, doubles as a steam room, with the new glass door and simple porcelain shower faucet handles.

One of the things we like to do is to clad the foundation going to the basement with some brick - changes the entire feel of 'going downstairs'.

Well, there you have it. Another masterpiece, brought to life by the successful collaboration between Catskill Farms and the soon-to-be homeowners. Each home is unique, inspired, carefully planned and quickly assembled.
For those who say 'you can't have it all' - we say 'pa shaw'.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Micro Economics - Another House Sold

We got another one today. Another house closing, introducing another person to the glories of perfect country living in a perfect little house. If you remember back in November, I surmised that by following this blog over the next 2 months, a reader could have some added perspective to all the 'end of worlders' out there, spewing their toxic brew of pessimism, negativity and general self-indulgent projections based on the latest news article they read (or watched). Well, here we are, today, closing on the 5th of the 6th house we had lined up to sell. We are batting 1000%, not one deal fell through, or even got that hairy, complicated or fearful. I built a great house, we found the comparable sales (or even more intelligently, built houses for which we knew comps existed), our clients kicked it with some great and timely design collaboration, and then each and every one of them lived up to their word and when I was finished with the house, they bought it - immediately, without any problems.

And that's the deal - a handshake, really - no bullshit. I'm going to build a great house fast, and when I am finished, you will buy it, without excuse. It's a serious process - and it's enlivening to see everyone working hard to fulfill their word -

Dean, who is closing today on Cottage 13, on Friday the 13th, on Feb 13- the date of both mine and JamesK's birthday, and my attorney's b-day, and our good friend Amy's. During the final walk-thru at Cottage 13 the other day, Dean was telling the story about how he found our site one night randomly, decided then and there to buy one, called me up the next day, and sent $10k to 'hold his place in line'. It was a leap of faith on his part, doomed to complications and unmet expectations in most scenarios - but not this one, where his faith in what can be achieved with sincerity, hardwork, integrity and honesty was bolstered, renewed, affirmed. 100 pages of legal contracts is never as foolproof of two parties interacting honestly.

Lisa, Lucas and me are on a road trip to Burlington, VT, one of our favorite out of the way destinations - about 5.5 hrs from Eldred, NY. Just in case you don't believe me,-

Pretty nice drive for a Thursday afternoon. Here's a view from our room out onto Lake Champlain.

And little Luke in our Living room.

A closeup of his red cheeks on the red sofa.

And a shot of the big full moon about 6am on Tuesday outside of Albert's farmhouse.

And me and Jack having a drink while watching the superbowl. Niether of us are super big sports nuts, but this was worth watching. It was Lucas' first. Behind me is a 'green frog humidifer' that Curtis bought for me - it humidifies by steaming out through its nostrils. Jack is the head school master at the terrific montessori school in Glen Spey NY. The school is one of the only private schools around and its located on 80 acres of flowers, gardens, sheep and trails.

In a pretty exciting development even for a person pretty used to exciting developments (both good and bad), Catskills Farms was awarded a pretty prestigous award from the Hudson Valley Builders Association - at their annual Pinnacle Awards, Cottage 8 was selected as the 'best new home under 2500 sq ft'. Now, we've won that award yr after yr up here in Sullivan County, but the Hudson Valley in a much more competitive playing field - Counties of Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess - Towns of New Paltz, Chappaqua, Monroe, Rhinebeck, Red Hook, etc... It's a big accomplishment, and what's amazing is this builder's association plucked a house from way up in Sullivan County, but also that they chose a house that was 810 sq ft. In a era of McMansions, this was a major gesture to the future of homebuilding, and once again, Catskill Farms finds itself positioned well to take advantage of the next trend of homeowner preferences (small, modest, affordable). Although, when you think about it, it may be their next trend, but for us, it was our trend 2 yrs ago. I'm sure there will always be a living to be made when you consistently identify trends 2 yrs ahead of the crowd.

Below is the house we are selling today. The design was chosen from among thousands of possibilities, and its reality is as exciting as the aspiration of the sketch we started with. With its metal roof, weathered brown siding, stone cladding the foundation, and traditional porches, windows and trim, the house and design evolved into a home.

Private, pretty, punctual and perfect.

Cottage 13 is about lines - vertical lines of the roof, horizontal lines of the siding up to a steep vertical climb of the structure, vertical porch rails, ...

The side view into the fireplace room and the kitchen, as well as the rustically designed back porch, to be screened in the the future.

Bucks County ledgestone rock, simple mantel, english chestnut floor with a satin sheen, looking into the kitchen.

The kitchen is simple and functioning, with higher than normal cabs on the refrigerator side and open shelves on the opposite. Plank white washed wood walls, subway tile backsplash behind the stove.

The Kitchen, seen as descending from upstairs.

Simple stone counter, faucets, sink and plank seamed walls. Couldn't be nicer.

A great big shower, with frameless glass door, seat in the shower, and 2 rain shower heads.

The all important mudroom, with double door closet, bluestone floors chipped retangular instead of irregular.

The downstairs bath, with the clawfoot tub, telephone faucet and shower curtain surround.

Kitchen shelves, radiator, dishwasher and farmsink.

Apron sink, looking out into the woods.

Radiator art, for keeping warm, drying out the boots and glooves, or to a quick butt heat boost by using is a seat. I love how these guys look - as far as I am concerned, it's like art.

So, there you have it - another house successfully designed, sold, positioned, built, and sold. Now, while that may seem like the exciting part, - to me - it's actually begins when the house enables a busy person to slow down, a stressed person to relax, a professionally myopic person to look around and see, smell and touch the wonderland of leisure.

I'm not making light of the frickin' depression (their words not mine), but when we tried to make reservations in Portsmouth New Hampshire at one of our favorite hotels, The Wentworth by the Sea, it was fully booked, as was its restuarant. Then we changed direction and headed north, and Burlington's Hilton was fully booked, and the Marriott overlooking the big lake didn't have many rooms remaining, and the place where we wanted to have an 8 course champagne tasting menu dinner on valentines day was equally full. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but that's a good thing, I think, and winds its way back to what I've been saying. Sure, we are going through a correction/recession/resetting or whatever you want to call it, but it has happened before, and unless this is truely the end of the line, America's future still has some blooming left to do.

Probably not the end of the line observations -

  1. I am not having trouble financing my new or existing businesses.

  2. My customers are not having trouble financing their purchases.

  3. Hotels where I am traveling too are booked.

  4. Most people still have jobs.

One of my customers gave me a big slap on the back the other day and thanked me for allowing him to buy one of my homes, because it kept him from putting his money into the stock market back in August.

Well, I need to get back to my relaxing, Dean is probably minutes away from closing the deal at my attorney's office, and all is well at Catskill Farms, where easy living grows and prospers in these hills called the Catskills