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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gettin' Ready for Christmas

Here's Lucas with Santa on a train ride in Honesdale PA. Asked what he wants for Christmas, he said 'trains, lions and Thomas.' But we will back to that a little later...

My good friend David, who is the official stat keeper of all things real estate in Sullivan County, posted there were 9 sales above $300k in Sept-November. Our homes are not included since they are not sold or listed through the official Multiple Listings Service (we sell our homes privately, direct to the client). Interestingly, we sold 4 homes over $300k in the months Sept-Nov, meaning if you add our homes into the mix we owned 31% of the entire $300+ market - take out the 2 super-high priced aberration sales and it rises to almost 40%. Catskill Farms owns 40% of the Sullivan County sales above $300k - and why shouldn't we - the houses look good, they work, they are unique, they come with a great piece of land, close to town. In sum, they require very little compromise to embrace, to enjoy. People can envision a very easy upstate transition in our homes - and that gets them to pull the trigger - not an easy action in today's real estate reality.

A couple of weeks before Christmas while his Mom was in VA for her grandmother's birthday, Lucas I made a weekend of it - spotted all over town like Santa and the NORAD tracking. We were there, then here, then over there... We definitely were on the move, across several states, with common themes of trains, friends, clients, and parties.

It started out in Livingston Manor, first visiting the legendary surveyor George Fulton, then heading down the street to a big model train setup. We got to see the train go round and round a few times, while also learning a lot about the guy who set it up and back problems, life issues and so on and so forth.

He's sporting his snowgear that he wears at his pre-school.

The next morning we started off with some pancakes at the Whistle Stop, one of Sullivan County's best diners, in Narrowsburg NY. It's right along the tracks, has a great train motif running through the place from the menus to the wall borders to the posters of assorted trains.

Across the street is an 'antiques' store with this random Thomas engine sitting out front. Perhaps a trick out of the McDonalds playbook - appeal to the kids to get the 'rent's to stop.

Then Joe and Robin were in the house, checking us out and getting excited about possible homes and choices. They are coming back up next week to delve in a little further. We have a lot of commitments for next year already - The Big Barn, Ranch VI, Farm 18, Barn VI and now it seems maybe (and I shouldn't be saying this) maybe Cottage 38 - presently a hole in the ground in Stone Ridge NY - may have a deal going on it. Plus a guy is doing a house inspection on the Shack next week. Pretty busy indeed. Merry Christmas to Me.

Sometimes I take Lucas on my Saturday appointments. He always an unpredictable element to the whole situation. People without kids are little intimidated sometimes by the kid thing - the crumbs, the outbursts, the amusing things that come out of their mouths, the naps, the meltdowns, the general variable of having something a little beyond our control in the mix.

In Eldred, a couple of guys who bought up the 'corner' the other year do a Santa thing - putting a big tado on the back of an 18 wheeler and going around from Town to town - eldred, narrowsburg, liberty, and a whole bunch of towns in between.

Po;ice escort and all. I had just stopped by Heather's MicroCottage before Santa's expected arrival, and shared some beers and she had some friends up and their kids and then we all headed over to The Corner, where I kept losing track of Lucas, who would dart in and out of packed crowd.

The GingerSnap man, and the other guys... That's Lucas next to the guy in the red hat sporting his stripped cap.

The toymaker...

and believe it or not, that's Janice and Vinny (janice is my assistant) on the traveling Santa caravan.

The manger scene.

And some Santa time who got rushed by the kids. Lucas had no problem pushing his way to the front, same thing happened at Halloween.

They even had a caroler along for the ride.

Candy cane never hurt anyone.

Then high-tailed it down to Region General Store, opened this year by the Owners of Cottage 17. Showcased in this pic are Jason and Justen from Cottage 19, and Jeanne and Deb from Cottage 14 (real old-timers). That's Deb hiding, which we pointed out just makes people look all the more.

Fun picture - Heather from the Micro Cottage in the front left, and behind the twig reindeer is Jim and Mark from Cottage 24, two of the nicest guys I know - they had their parents with them. That's Jeff from the new barryville wine store next door cut off on the righthand side of the picture. I don't know of any store less kid-friendly in terms of general reachability of most fragile products, and here there were like 5 kids bumping into stuff, knocking into stuff, touching stuff. I had to get Lucas out of there before he did some real damage.

So we meandered up to Courtney and Bronson's Cottage 22. They had invited us over from general get-togetherness and to talk about this new building they had bought in the neighborhood. I think Lucas' first actions were to crawl on the ottoman, then get his dirty shoes all over their couch.

Surprisingly, he wasnt nearly as impressed as I was at the two rad cherry motorcycles in the basement, which we finished last year. Courtney and Bronson have two English Bulldogs - I think they are English Bulldogs, anyway.

He didn't like the motorcycles but he loved the stone bulldog door stop that weighed as much as him - so he started lugging that around everywhere he went.

And after all the festivities were over, Courtney went in for the 'meltdown save', like trying to pet an angry cat...

She lost - Lucas went to the floor, and did his best dead-weight imitation, which is pretty good by anyone's measuring stick.

And on Sunday we went to Honesdale for a Christmas train ride through the PA countryside...

With a singing and mandolin playing elf,

(picture of the snow breaking train engine)

Rudolph was along,

and so was Santa (note my narrative trick of starting with the ending topic - just seen that done in "The Debt", a real tried and true technique of suspenseful story telling - The 6th Sense was another among many that used it successfully).

And then we went to Hawley, PA to pick up some gifts and best of all, add to my antique typewriter collection. This was a real winner - I've never seen anything like it.

I thought this was pretty funny, with benches labeled according to political inclinations.

And they had some big draft horses doing a loop de loop around town.

And what all-american town would be complete without a huge, giant blow up snowman. Which reminds me of a funny story from the couple who just signed up for Farm 18 - they said one of their problems in finding a home up here was a seemingly pretty fair request that no above-ground pools, blow up Santas, or multi-purpose blue tarps be visible from their front porch.

Ice Bears Melting,

So it's Christmas and I'm in NYC. Saw the Knicks play today, first NBA game of the season due to the strike. It was like a TMZ episode - Bloomberg, Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Matt Modine, Alicia Keys, Whoppee Goldberg and a bunch of others were there rooting away. DMZ did the halftime show - jeez, you ever want to see the diversity of NYC, go to a Knicks game, that's for sure.

Merry Christmas to all.

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