Thursday, December 8, 2011

Full Details of Adirondack Economic Development Grants

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the North Country Regional Council Strategic Plan will be awarded a $40 million bonus to fund economic development, one of four regions sop awarded. The complete North Country regional plan includes 70 projects totaling $103.2 million in state support. A number of additional projects were funded through the Mohawk Valley and Capital District regional councils which could also impact residents of the Adirondack region.

According to a statement released by the Governor’s Office, the North Country Regional Council Strategic Plan is designed as a long-term roadmap “to attract private investment, promote and facilitate connectivity between communities, and create a climate that will allow entrepreneurs to flourish. It put forth ways to achieve its vision by capitalizing on the region’s natural assets, talented labor pool, and entrepreneurial population.”

The projects are expected to focus on high-tech and traditional manufacturing, green energy production, agriculture, tourism, and arts and culture. Included are a number of large grants:

$9.9 million will rehabilitate the Newton Falls Rail Project to rehabilitate, reopening the 46 mile Newton Falls Rail Line. This project will service the paper mill at Newton Falls and the operations at Benson Mines.

$900,000 will support improvements to the Village of Gouverneur water distribution system in support of the Kinney Drugs Distribution warehouse.

$4 million will support the development of community rental housing in the area of Fort Drum.

$3 million will support the construction of the new Clayton Hotel along the St. Lawrence River.

$397,000 will restore the 1924 Strand Theatre to the Strand Performing Arts Center in downtown Plattsburgh.

$2.5 million will support the expansion of Bombardier’s plant in Plattsburgh. The project includes a 57,000 square foot increase of the main plant, a 2,100 square foot expansion at the off-site testing facility, and electrification of an additional half mile of railroad track at the test facility.

$1.8 million will expand C Speed’s manufacturing center in Potsdam.

$1.2 million will support modernization new hiring at Saranac Lake’s Trudeau Institute research campus.

$472,000 will be provided to Frontier Communications to increase Hamilton County broadband access. This project is expected to install fiber optic broadband service to several communities that currently have no existing broadband capacity.

A full list of funded projects is available online [pdf]. Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties can be found in the Capital Region section; Fulton, Herkimer and Oneida counties are in the Mohawk Valley region; Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Lewis and St. Lawrence are in the North Country Council.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Adirondack Philosophy: What’s in a Blog?

Three times last week someone approached me in a crowd and asked, “Are you the Adirondack Philosopher?” Since I wasn’t wearing my customary toga, my chariot was parked some distance away and I wasn’t strolling through the square asking leading questions, I was at once pleased and caught off guard.

It is a testament to the popularity of the Adirondack Almanack that this happens as often as it does, and in the most unlikely places. Last week it happened while I was inside a medium security prison, it happened again at a planning meeting several towns away and again at a party where the conversation tended more towards ice climbing than Kant’s moral imperative. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

2012 Great Adirondack Young People’s Poetry Contest

The Lake Placid Institute will be welcoming submissions to its 2012 Great Adirondack Young People’s Poetry Program. One of the Institute’s flagship programs, the annual poetry program established in 1998 is now in its 14th year.

Last year’s judge, Dr Sarah Barber, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Poetry at St. Lawrence University, has agreed to participate in “Words from the Woods” again this year. “We need more poetry in the primary and secondary classrooms”, Dr. Barber stated last year.

The Great Adirondack Young People’s Poetry Program is open to all students grade 1 – 12 (including those home-schooled) within the Adirondack Park. Submissions will be accepted from January 16 to March 1, 2012 by email. Please make sure to include the poet’s name, age, grade, teacher, and school with all poems submitted. Two entries may be sent by each participant to: LPIpoetry@gmail.com.

The selected poems will be published in a book entitled “Words from the Woods”. Each poet is encourage to read their poem to the audience at an award ceremony to be held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. We want to thank the LPCA for generously hosting the poetry awards ceremony each year.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Black Mountain Lodge, Johnsburg

The Black Mountain Lodge is a motel, restaurant and bar located just minutes from Gore Mountain on Route 8 in Johnsburg and just around the corner from Peaceful Valley Road. The restaurant and tavern are located in the center of the strip of motel rooms, with plenty of parking. Built in 1953, the unassuming chalet exterior reflects that history, but the warm Adirondack lodge style of the restaurant and bar reflect recent updates. Kip MacDonald has owned the Black Mountain Lodge for the last six years and can be credited with the tasteful improvements.

Tiffany style lights and sconces add an air of sophistication and the heavy weave of the textured moose-themed curtains enhance the Adirondack flavor. Three-quarter pine paneled walls are accented by painted upper walls in a muted persimmon shade. An upended canoe suspended above the bar serves as overhead glassware storage. The stone fireplace, centered between the restaurant and bar, adds warmth to all patrons. Rustic pub tables provide seating beyond the dozen barstools at the bar. The angular, C-shaped bar is made from a pine slab with rough bark edges and occupies the back end of the restaurant. A deck off the back of the bar offers outdoor seating for up to 12 people in the summer season. A collection of 50 or so caps adorns the wall and ceiling near the bar. The story goes that one person tacked their cap on the ceiling and it just snowballed. Not to be excluded, we left a Happy Hour in the High Peaks hat for the collection. Tasteful outdoor-themed signs and beer advertising adorn the walls, accented by a display of antique woodworking tools.

The Black Mountain Lodge is a favorite among winter skiers and spring and summer rafters. A seasonal homeowner we interviewed describes it as reasonably priced, good food and family friendly, but did note that the bar and restaurant can get very busy during ski season. No official happy hour is offered, but some drink specials are available throughout the year. A selection of flavored vodkas inspired Pam to try something new suggested by the bartender, Sarah. A few draft brews are normally available, though the taps weren’t working at the time of our visit. Kim was disappointed, but chose something from the long list of the reasonably priced domestic bottled beers. The restaurant menu includes sandwiches, burgers, seafood and home-cooked favorites like chicken pot pie and meatloaf and, for the more sophisticated, duck and prime rib.

Live entertainment on a small solo or duet scale is occasionally provided. The Black Mountain Lodge is closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but otherwise is open 7 days a week year-round, serving dinner from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. If you’re staying in the area, the motel boasts 25 no-frills, clean, comfortable rooms at a fair price.

Well known by Gore Mountain skiers, the Black Mountain Lodge almost escaped us. We’re glad it was recommended to us. With friendly, welcoming patrons and staff, it is an Adirondack venue worth a visit any time of year.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sandra Hildreth: A Local Lesson in Art History

What follows is a guest essay by Sandra Hildreth, a member of the Adirondack Artists’ Guild. The Guild is a cooperative retail gallery with 14 member artists, located at 52 Main St. in Saranac Lake. Gallery hours are 10 – 5, Tues – Sat, and 12 – 3 on Sundays. 518-891-2615.

The current featured artist exhibit at the Adirondack Artists’ Guild in Saranac Lake could easily be a lesson in art history. Nancy Brossard is a well known local artist who lives between Tupper Lake and Childwold. Brossard primarily paints Adirondack landscapes in the tradition of “en plein air” artists, that is, outdoors, on location. Her works interpret the environment in wonderful animated brushstrokes, reminiscent of some of the French Impressionists, but faithful to the Adirondack views they portray.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review of ‘The Climbing Dictionary’

I’m a Johnny-climb-lately. After moving to the Adirondacks, I spent most of my outdoors time hiking, backcountry skiing, or paddling. I had no interest in rock climbing—until I finally tried it a few years back.

I quickly discovered there’s a lot to learn apart from the techniques of actual climbing: rope management, gear placement, belaying, anchor building, rappelling, and how to open a beer bottle with a carabiner.

And the language. Like most sports, rock climbing has its own lingo. A bumbling climber is a “gumby”; a perfect climbing route is “splitter”; a route over “choss” (loose, friable rock) is “mungy”; and “deadpoint” is the apex of a “dyno,” or jump move.

All this can be bewildering to a newbie (or “n00b”) who encounters such terms for the first time in articles, books, and conversation. Thankfully, Mountaineers Books has published a guide for the perplexed: The Climbing Dictionary (softcover, $14.95) by Matt Samet, a veteran climber and writer.

The book defines more than 650 terms from rock climbing, bouldering, and mountaineering. Many of the definitions are illustrated by drawings by Mike Tea, an artist who works for Black Diamond, a manufacturer of cams, nuts, and other climbing gear.

In most cases, Samet does more than just define a word; he illustrates usage with humorous quotes and provides word histories that are like small windows onto the history of climbing itself. Did you know that before climbers wore helmets they sometimes protected their heads by stuffing mittens and newspapers under wool hats?

Many of the words are merely useful, such as the names for gear (ice screw, etrier, deadman anchor), but others exemplify the wry, irreverent outlook on life that seems indispensible to people who risk their necks for fun. For example, someone who “craters,” or hits the ground after a long fall, is likely to become “talus food.”

Samet captures this spirit in his definitions and exemplary quotations. Here’s his entry for blog-worthy: “Any rock you’ve ever climbed, videoed, and shot photos of … and uploaded to the Internet. In alpinism, any diversion, no matter how insignificant, from an existing climb is usually blog-worthy.”

Sometimes, though, the author strains too hard at humor, especially in his quotations. He illustrates the use of headlamp with the following: “Dave-o and Sha-Nay-Nay had to open a bivy a half-mile from the car because they spaced their headlamps; then wolves ate their faces off in the night.”

Never mind that the non-imbecilic have no need for a definition of headlamp; the quotation fails to illuminate meaning and it fails to amuse.

That’s OK … we all have our gumby moments. If you love climbing, you should enjoy this book.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine. Click here to read his article about climbing Chapel Pond Slab.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Chili Full Moon Ski, Snowshoe

Though chances of snow in the Adirondacks for this weekend looks to be slim, the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb will still hold its first Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe and Chili party on Saturday, December 10 starting at 6:00 p.m.

According to Program Director Rebecca Oyer the focus of the event is to get people outside so if the snow isn’t available for this first event, the trails will be open to families and guests for a moonlit hike.

“This is the first year that the Adirondack Interpretive Center will be open for nighttime cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, says Oyer. “People can come and either bring their own skis and snowshoes or borrow the snowshoes we have here. We also have child sized snowshoes available.”

Oyer encourages families to try snowshoeing around the Newcomb facility when the snow does come because it is a free opportunity to try the sport. She wants to remind people that snowshoes or skis are required on the Newcomb trails when there is snow.

“This first event will most likely be a hike. Each full moon event will start with a chili and cornbread meal and a quick orientation. If anyone has any questions about the menu, just give me a call. People are going to have to sign in once they get here for safety reasons. We want to make sure we know who is out on the trail,” insists Oyer. “The focus is being outside and having fun.”

Oyer says after the quick orientation participants are encouraged to go out and enjoy the 3.6 miles of trails on their own. Then people will return by 7:00 p.m. for fireside hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. There will be full moon events each month through March. The cost for each event is $5.00 per person, which covers the cost of the food.

The other full moon Chili and Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe dates are January 7, February 4 and March 10 so mark your calendar. Rebecca Oyer at the Adirondack Interpretive Center can be reached at 518-582-2000.

Photo courtesy Diane Chase.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks (Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities) available online or bookstores/museums. Diane’s second guidebook, Adirondack Family Time from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, in the four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities will be stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Local Winter Atheletes World Cup Results

It was a successful World Cup week for several Lake Placid area athletes. Many posted their first top-10s of the season and two raced to career-best World Cup finishes.

Alpine Skiing
Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tommy Beisemeyer (Keene, N.Y.): The FIS alpine World Cup series stopped in Beaver Creek, Colo. last weekend, Dec. 2-5. Weibrecht skied to a World Cup career-best 10th in Saturday’s Super G. The finish matched his career-best World Cup downhill result, also in Beaver Creek, in 2007. In Friday’s downhill race, Weibrecht was 32nd. Beisemeyer did not finish Sunday’s giant slalom race.

Biathlon
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.): The IBU Biathlon World Cup series opened in Oestersund, Sweden. In Wednesday’s, Nov. 30, men’s 20 km race, Bailey skied to a ninth place result, while Burke was 58th. Bailey and Burke both had strong results in Friday’s, Dec. 2, 10 km sprint and Sunday’s 12.5 km pursuit. Bailey finished a career-high fifth Friday, while Burke was 12th. Burke’s best finish from the weekend came on Sunday when he completed the pursuit ninth, while Bailey posted a 13th place result.

Bobsled
John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.): The FIBT World Cup bobsled series got underway over the weekend, when the world’s top sliders visited the 1976 Olympic track in Igls, Austria. Napier piloted his sled to an 18th place finish in Saturday’s two-man race and followed up that result with a 12th place showing in Sunday’s four-man event.

Nordic Combined
Bill Demong (Vermontville, N.Y.): The FIS World Cup Nordic combined series visited Lillehammer, Norway. Demong was 25th Saturday, but was disqualified at Sunday’s event. He will compete next weekend, Dec. 10-11, Ramsau, Austria.

Elsewhere, ski jumper Peter Frenette (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) and biathlete Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) did not compete last weekend. Frenette is gearing up for his first international competition this season, a FIS Cup event, Dec. 17-18, in Garmisch P., Germany. Meanwhile, Cook is preparing for next weekend’s IBU Cup in Ridnaun, Italy.

Photo: Tim Burke.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adirondack Wildlife: The Pileated Woodpecker

There are only a limited number of sounds that can be heard outdoors during the winter in the Adirondacks. While most of these noises tend to carry only short distances, there is one that is loud enough to travel well over a hundred yards. Even when the limbs and boughs are coated with an audio-absorbing layer of snow, the voice of the pileated woodpecker periodically breaks the silence and resounds through our mature woodlands.

Ornithologists are generally of the opinion that the pileated woodpecker uses it piercing, high-pitched “kac-kac-kac” call in winter to maintain contact with its mate during its daily search for food. Unlike most birds, once an adult male and female pileated woodpecker have established a pair bond, they tend to remain together throughout the entire year in the territory that they have claimed. Throughout the day, the birds routinely venture to various areas of the forest in search of clusters of invertebrate matter, especially carpenter ants that have taken refuge within the trees. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Astronomy: The December Night Sky

Hope everyone has a great and safe holiday season. Here are some objects for the unaided eye for the month of December. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your naked eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. You may still be able to see some of these objects in a green location. If you aren’t in a dark sky location you may still be able to see these objects with a pair of binoculars or telescope. Snow will add more light pollution due to light reflecting off of it.

You can find help locating the night sky objects listed below by using one of the free sky charts at Skymaps.com (scroll down to Northern Hemisphere Edition and click on the PDF for December 2011). The map shows what is in the sky in December at 8 pm for early December; 7 pm for late December.

If you are not familiar with what you see in the night sky, this is a great opportunity to step outside, look up, and begin learning the constellations. The sky is beautiful and filled with many treasures just waiting for you to discover them. Once you have looked for these objects go through the list again if you have a pair of binoculars handy, the views get better!

New note: Measuring Degrees with your hands, proportionally works for people of all ages. Extend your arm out and do the following.
Width of your pinky finger is 1°
Width of your ring, middle, and index finger equals 5°
Width of your fist equals 10°
Width from tip to tip of index finger and pinky finger stretched out equals 15°
Width from tip to tip of your thumb and pinky finger stretched out equals 25°


Meteor Showers
Geminid meteor shower peaks this month on December 14th with a possibility of 120 meteors per hour. Again another meteor shower that will be hard to catch due to an 89% full Waning Gibbous Moon. I would still suggest giving this meteor shower a look because even the brightest ones can’t be outshined by the Moon. Best viewing time for the Geminid’s is early morning on the 14th with the radiant being between the stars Castor and Pollux (the two brightest) in the constellation Gemini. The meteors in this shower often produce fire balls entering Earth at 21.75 miles per second generating a multi-colored display of whites, yellows, and a hint of blues.

The Moon
December 5th Jupiter will be 9° to the left of the Moon.

December 6th Jupiter will be 6° below the Moon.

December 10th is the full Moon also known as the Christmas Moon, Bitter Moon, and Snow Moon.

December 17th is the Last Quarter Moon which will be visible from Midnight into the morning. Also on this night you can find Mars 8° to the left of the Moon.

December 19th Saturn will be 13° down and left of the crescent Moon.

December 20th Saturn will be 7° up and to the left of the crescent Moon.

December 22nd Mercury will be 9° to the left of the very thin crescent Moon in the morning.

December 23rd Mercury will be 6° above the very thin crescent Moon in the early morning.

December 24th New Moon also referred to as No Moon. Best night to star gaze!

December 26th Venus will be 7° to the right of the very thin crescent Moon.

December 27th Venus will be 7° above the very thin crescent Moon.

Mercury
On the morning of December 23rd Mercury reaches it’s greatest elongation meaning it will be the highest in the sky that it will get for quite a while. If you look East Southeast in the early morning before the sun rises you’ll see Mercury 9° to the left of the Moon on the 22nd, and 6° above the Moon on the morning of the 23rd although you may have trouble seeing the Moon as it will be a very thin crescent Moon.

Venus
Looking Southwest after sunset you’ll see Venus, the brightest object about 15° above the horizon. Venus will set at around 6pm. On the 26th and the 27th Venus will be close to the Moon.

Mars
Rising around 11pm in the East is Mars reaching 45° in the sky by sunrise. Mars can be found within the constellation of Leo. To the naked eye it will look like a star with a reddish hue, slightly brighter than the brightest star in Leo – Regulus. Mars will be above the 3rd Quarter Moon on the 17th.

Jupiter
Jupiter rises before sunset and is in the South East after the sun finally sets. Jupiter sets around 3am throughout the month of December. Jupiter will be close to the Moon on the nights of the 5th and 6th. If you happen to have a pair of binoculars you can view the Moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – as they orbit around the giant gas planet as the pattern of the Moons change daily.

Saturn
Saturn still comes up early in the morning before sunrise in the Southeast and will reach up to 30° above the horizon this month. Look for Saturn on the morning of the 20th to see it 7° above a thin crescent Moon.

Pegasus
Straight overhead will be the constellation Pegasus. This constellation is easy to spot due to there being 4 stars that form the Great Square of Pegasus with a seemingly empty area inside of it.

Pisces
To the South of Pegasus is the constellation Pisces. Easily found following the right side of the square of Pegasus south until you reach the keystone of Pisces.

Andromeda
To the East of the square of Pegasus, attached to it in most drawings of the constellations, is the constellation Andromeda. If you find the bright star Mirach and follow the chain of stars to the North it will bring you to the Andromeda galaxy in clear dark skies.

Triangulum
The constellation Triangulum is to the South of Andromeda. Made up of only 3 stars forming a triangle shape.

Pleiades
A great grouping of stars in the constellation of Taurus the Bull. Looking at it has always reminded me of a smaller version of the little dipper. In dark locations you can see anywhere from 5-7 and possibly a few more stars in this grouping. It has also been called the seven sisters and is actually a Messier object, number 45. These are very hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. This grouping of stars has quite a bit of history in mythology. It rises about 45 minutes earlier than Orion in the East.

Andromeda
The Andromeda Galaxy cataloged as M31 is visible to the naked eye in the northeast. The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way lying about 2.5 million light-years away. If in a dark enough location the light produced by this galaxy is roughly the diameter of 5 moons in our sky.

Perseus
The Double Cluster, cataloged as NGC 869 and NGC 884 is a beautiful cluster that shows quite a group of stars with the naked eye. M34, which you may need to wait until around 11pm for it to be high enough to see is nearly a moon-diameter wide and is a fairly easy to see open cluster.
Look for a grouping of stars around the brightest star in Perseus, Mirphak.

Cygnus
North America Nebula (NGC7000) – The unaided eye sees only a wedge-shaped star-cloud which may be quite dim, or not visible at all. In dark skies it should pop out a bit. Located near the star Deneb. M39 an open cluster patch of stars northeast of the star Deneb. The Northern Coalsack spans across the sky between the stars Deneb, Sadir, and Gienah in the northeastern portion of Cygnus. If you don’t know which stars of Sadir and Gienah just find Deneb with the map and look to the east northeast.

Ursa Major

Very low on the horizon at sunset and not rising back into the sky until after midnight. Mizar and Alcor is a double star in the handle of the Big Dipper. Was once used as a test of good eyesight before glasses. Mizar resolves into a beautiful blue-white and greenish white binary (double star system). They are labeled on the map I linked to above.

Photo Above: Star trails taken by Michael Rector.

Photo Below: The radiant of the Geminid Meteor Shower. The red dot shows the radiant of the meteors and the position of the Moon at 3:30am on the morning of the Peak. Screen grab from the astronomy freeware Stellarium.

Michael Rector is an amateur astronomer with his own blog, Adirondack Astronomy.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Adirondack Canines: Doggone Good Friends

In an eight-month span in the 1930s, two Ticonderoga canines made headlines for something dogs are known for in general: loyalty. Few relationships are more rewarding in life than the human-canine experience, as anyone reading this who shares a dog’s life can attest. For those who have children as well … some might be loathe to admit it, but dogs provide many of the same positives without all the complicated baggage. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Double H Ranch’s Adaptive Winter Sports Program

Sometime in early January, the first participants in Double H Ranch’s Adaptive Winter Sports Program will begin arriving at Double H’s facility in Lake Luzerne. The program offers children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to participate in downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Around 30 children per day typically participate in the program, which runs every winter weekend from January through March. Most children participate for 3 or 4 days over the course of the winter, and five Family Sleepover Weekends allow the entire family to participate in winter sports together.

The program takes place on Double H’s ski slopes, which are equipped with a double chairlift and snowmaking. Like all programs at Double H, the Adaptive Winter Sports Program is offered completely free of charge to participants, and thousands of children and their families have been served since the program’s inception in 1998.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Selected Holiday Art of Kathy Ford

Courtesy of the artist, here is a selection of Kathy Ford’s holiday glass paintings from the past twenty-five years (click below)

1987 Goose with Wreath

1994 Angel

1996 Kids Making Snowman

1998 Skaters on Pond

2000 Santa with Horn

2003 Little Girl with Snow Globe

2006 Carolers on Main Street

2008 Angel with Dove

2009 Little Boy Looking Up Chimney


Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Window on an Adirondack Holiday Tradition

Kathy and Lonnie Ford own a small hillside home in Saranac Lake. They’ve lived there for three decades, raising two sons along the way. The dominant feature of the 1931 Sears catalog bungalow is a large plate glass window installed by the original owner to support his wife’s cultivation of African violets. For the past 25 years Kathy, who is Production Supervisor and Senior Designer at Adworkshop in Lake Placid, has used the picture window for pictures: as a temporary canvas for her annual holiday greeting to neighbors and passersby.

The tradition was inspired by memories of smaller holiday window paintings made by Kathy’s mother. Since December 1987 Kathy has painted colorful images, from outdoor snowscapes to warm indoor scenes, across the eight-by-six-foot window. Lonnie, as chief window washer, is also in charge of setting up the floodlights that keep the mural visible after dark.

Over the course of 25 years, the composition of Kathy’s paintings has grown increasingly complex and detailed. What began as an image of a goose nested in a wreath had developed by year 20 into a three-point perspective Victorian streetscape, complete with carolers and a horse-drawn carriage.

As she swept this year’s mural sketches out of view, Kathy suggested that the 25th installment may be the most ambitious yet. For a project that most years takes up to 50 hours to complete, Kathy expects to spend over 60 hours this year.

The trick to this unique holiday offering is in the technique. As the windows are painted from the inside to be viewed from the outside, Kathy must apply the opaque acrylic paint in reverse sequence, moving from the finest detail to the most general shapes. It is an artistic discipline dating back to the Middle Ages and goes by the name “verre églomisé,” or in German, the appropriately tongue-twisting “hinterglasmalerei.” In any language it is an artistic challenge roughly similar to reproducing a Vermeer upside down and behind your back while gripping the paintbrush between your toes. The result—in Lonnie’s words—is “a Norman Rockwell from the outside and a Van Gogh from the inside.”

For all the effort, these ephemeral works of art remain only through the holiday season. Early each new year, Lonnie, as self-described art assassin, scrapes the paintings off the window in long acrylic ribbons.

To view the completed mural, drive or walk by the Ford’s at 194 (formerly 91) Lake Street (the hilltop section between Lake Street’s two intersections with Petrova Avenue) after the end of the week, but before the New Year.

To see some of Kathy’s paintings from previous years, see the following post.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Louise Gaylord Mystery Set in the Adirondacks

Known for her unexpected twists and well-researched storylines, Louise Gaylord features an Adirondack mystery in Dark Lake (Little Moose Press, 2011), the fourth installment of her nationally acclaimed Allie Armington series.

When asked why the Adirondacks is so special to her, Louise said, “The first time I came up here I hated it. My husband’s brother said we were going to the club. A club to me meant a place for a dress and heels. They took us out to a camp with no electricity or running water for five days. It was quite a shock and I didn’t want to come back. But then I came back again and again and again, for over 40 years. It became my heart’s home.”

In the new book the brave and intelligent Allie Armington returns after 15 years to her aunt’s cottage retreat in the Adirondack Mountains where she spent most of her childhood summers. She anticipates a happy reunion, but instead finds her Aunt Sallie dead, and a close-knit community trying to portray the tragedy as suicide to keep it out of the news. Allie must clear her aunt’s reputation, navigating her way around a compromised police department, wealthy neighbors with agendas, and a drug conspiracy that gets wackier every second.

Gaylord got the idea for the murder mystery series after spending three months on a grand jury panel in Texas. The series includes three prior novels to Dark Lake, with stories ranging from the Southwest (Anacacho and Spa Deadly) to New York (Xs).

Gaylord’s first Allie Armington Mystery, Anacacho, won the National Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery/Suspense and many other awards. Gaylord divides her time between homes in Houston; Santa Barbara, California; and Old Forge, New York.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.


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