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Monday, October 11, 2010

PARTAY Animals

For all you readers who are fans of picture books, this blog thread will be right up your alley. Lisa and I have been socially active this past summer, more so then we really cared to be - and ended the last two weeks with parties for two separate events - The airing of the DIY Blog Cabin Finale, and Lucas' 2nd Birthday (good as excuse as any to throw a neighborhood party).

I've been working up in Hankins New York the past several weeks for one of my first customers who is doing a little home improvement. And the house above, just a few miles outside of Fremont Center on your way to Callicoon Center, was the inspiration for FarmHouse #1, back in 2002. Just an abandoned old house, sitting there un-used, looking pretty even without tons of mascara. Any time I pass an old abandoned house I always stop to snoop around on the creaky floorboards, water logged plaster and sagging ceilings.

Below is the pond money can buy. It's perfect in every way, with great stone work, fountains and a view across northern Sullivan County fields.

Just to clarify, that's not my pond in the previous photo. That picture comes later. Since we constructed it, a lot more light comes into our morning sitting room, to be sure.

There's Nick our neighbor and owner of Cottage 19, and Lisa, getting ready for a walk with Jake the dog.
And our house (and our son playing on the road).
For the DIY finale we invited the gang over, who consist mostly of NYC expats who relocated 5 or more years ago up here full time. Here's a pic of the yummy mummies sitting down for some homemade pizza prior to the airing (it actually aired the night before and we were showing a taped version).

Note Lucas in the far right, - every picture taken of him for the past 2 years has that old scary woman in the background.

There's Henning from Norway, who works with us and is shown a few times in the show.

and Lisa with the "I'm busy here' look I'm quite accustomed to, with Heather in the background.

The meal was a feast of avant garde homemade pizzas of assorted locally harvested meats, veggies and plants.

That's James sitting on the chair with his eldest son - they live outside of Narrowsburg, NY. James is a painter and we have a few pieces of his scattered around our abode. Darryl B. - maybe the first person I met up here in 2002 while biking past his farmstead in Cochecton.

And Adam "Live Free or Die" Weinrich from New Hampshire, piling it on in our kitchen while no one was looking.

And Jake, locked away in his favorite little mudroom area. Nice little safe spot for him.

Lucas looking Amish and his older friends. He likes older kids and is a bit rough and condescending to those younger.

And then everyone gathered around in our media room pod to watch the grand finale where I was promised I would get a little airtime, after 6 weeks of doing the most amazing imitation of the invisible man during these shows.

So the last episode was cool, and I did get some face time and spoke articulately about demo and dumpsters and trash and they did a nice shout out to me and my team's ability and the houses we create.

In the end, though, it was kind of weird. Here we spent 5 months helping them locate a house, were the creative force behind a national TV show and did some of the most amazing feats of scheduling and construction management ever imagined, and the DIY show spent 6 weeks not even mentioning us, and giving their guys who didn't even bring tools, all the credit.

I mean, I'm no dummy, they have a show to make - but it's weird to have someone completely take credit for your work - I think in most situations, people get slimed, disbarred, suspended and otherwise demoted for such actions but here it was like SOP (standard operating procedure).

Whatever - the whole experience was validating. A seriously skilled and picky scout recruited us, our design abilities were well-received nation-wide, and our talents as a construction crew have never been more tested, or more validated. We kicked some major ASS. Strategic, laser-like, execution. Actually, come to think of it, that's our MO (modus operandus) every day - that's why our customers sign up one day and are sitting in front of the fire in a finished house 4 months later.

But then the real party started this past weekend with a neighborhood soiree doubling as Lucas' 2nd birthday. Turn out was great, no doubt facilitated by the fantastic weather we have experience all summer, and continue to see most of this Fall.

Kelsey, above and below, is Lisa's big party assistant - I was fired numerous times over the course of Saturday morning for not being a good employee and doing shoddy work - like not hanging the balloons at the same height, using my artistic interpretation on the color pattern of the balloons, giving a lot of 'back talk', letting a few balloons escape into the sky - but always hired back quickly since the available labor on short notice was scarce.

Lisa checking in with the cake people with two pots of chili simmering.

I meanwhile wandered off the job with camera to get some nice pics of my pond and the fall colors rapidly expiring.

Now that's a blue sky.

Our good friends Adam and Amy arrive early with our card table that has been missing for months. Adam works at WJFF - the local hydro-powered public radio station that Lisa and I are big fans of. Amy is quite the entrepreneur - she runs Golden Guernsey Bed and Breakfast and now supplies low-key professional catering - Early Bird Cookery - to area home parties, barn parties and other assorted events. This was a huge break-through because there was no one doing good, reliable, tasty catering up here. She'll do your event, she'll do your dinner party, etc...

Lucas trying to look cute for his party in his sweater vest.

My balloon skills on display.

That's our house.

And some homeowners - no one was allowed to introduce themselves, they were only identified by their cottage #. So, from the foreground, clockwise, Justin (Cottage 19), Carolyn & Denzil (Cottage 28), Jason (Cottage 19), Courtney & Bronson (Cottage 22), me (stretching my sweater vest to the limits with my newfound girth) and John (Farm 12, AKA the Mansion).
I think Bronson was cracking a friendly joke about Richard and Nancy of the Barryville Cottage fame ( and noticeably absent!).
Lucas and his FarmAll tractor cake from Pecks. Pedro (Cottage 23) straight back and our neighbor and Lucas' best friend Theresa (think Harold and Maude) to Pedro's left.

Nancy (a friend from way back) and Ben, our friends with kids from Brooklyn, next to Carmello, Kelsey's mom. Erik and Shannah from Lot 45 stopped by as well with Sam and Charlie.

That's our neighbor.

And then the 'opening of the presents' ceremony, which David from Cottage 6 fame texted me before he showed up asking if this was 'one of those parties where everyone sits around and talks about their kids".

There you have. Party is On in the Country.


  1. Mr and Mrs Cottage 34 wish they could have been there for the good times but look forward to future swanky country shindigs.

    Any bear sightings?

  2. Happy Birthday to Lucas. Glad you had a great parteee! Also really happy that DIY finally gave you and your crew the recognition you earned. Love reading your blog.

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  4. i deleted my last comment... it was a duplicate of my first one which never seemed to make it. congrats on getting at least some of the tv time you guys deserve.
    -the c-34's