Bronck House Museum - Day Trippin' in Greene County, Part II

Monday, July 30, 2018
Continuing with my series featuring the beautiful Greene County, today I take you on a tour of the Bronck House in Coxsackie NY.  Whether you're a history buff at heart, have Dutch blood anywhere in your DNA or simply enjoy beautiful architectural history, the Bronck House has something for you.  We first spotted the Bronck House during our initial trips to Greene County last year when we visited to photograph the Coxsackie Owls and Catskill Cats.  Having passed it a few times now, we decided it was high time we check it out, so after our delicious lunch at Frank Guido's Port of Call last week, we spent the afternoon exploring what is now considered the oldest surviving home in Upstate New York.
Pieter and Hilletje Bronck of Quackebrugge, Holland were married in 1645, both 28 years of age.  In 1652 Pieter and Hilletje came to the New World to begin a new life.  They initially settled in Beverwyck, a fur trading community north of Fort Orange on the Hudson in Dutch Colony of New Netherland (later renamed and developed as Albany NY).  They opened a tavern and brewery there which catered to traders, trappers and travelers.  In 1660 they felt it time for a change, so they purchased land from the native Mahicans 20 miles south of Beverwyck in Coxsackie.  Pieter Bronck was the first European to build a home in Coxsackie.
The first section of the Bronck Estate was built in 1663.  It was a single room, 20' x 20' stone dwelling with a cellar and attic.  That one-room home provided an area for all of the Bronck's living needs.  Seven generations of Pieter's descendants would pass the family dwelling from father to child...276 years of tradition. Pieter died in 1669 but the home was passed down the generations until 1939 when the last family owner, Leonard Bronck Lapman, willed the property to the Greene County Historical Society.  It has remained open to the public as a museum ever since.  What remains today is a collection of buildings, barns, out buildings each unique and reminiscent of a time gone by.




This is the Kitchen Dependency - a detached kitchen behind the main house.  It featured a cellar and loft and was used for cooking and storing food.  (Photos were not allowed inside the buildings.)



1738 brick-covered house on the right - Hudson Valley Dutch architecture








It 




 One of the most interesting stories we heard during our tour.....you all may remember that Coxsackie means 'hoot of the owl'  or 'place of the owl' according to the native American Mahican Indians.  Back when this home was first built, it wasn't all secure like today.  The roof was thatched and the home was often the home to various critters and rodents along with the Bronck family.  Owls were encouraged to take up residence to help rid the home of unwanted four-footed visitors and these large openings in the facade would be a welcome entry for owls and other large birds to enter.  Later windows were added but the openings are large enough that they still accommodate nesting birds and sometimes even owls.  Look closely through the openings and you'll see the glass on the inside of the very thick walls.
The Bronck House is open from Memorial Day through October 15.  It's closed on Monday and Tuesday, but is open from 12:00-4:00 Wednesday-Friday, 10:00-4:00 on Saturday and 1:00-4:00 on Sunday.  Admission is $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for 12-15 yr. olds, $2.00 for 5-11 yr olds and children under 5 are free.  Our tour guide, Shelby, was a walking/talking encyclopedia.  Our tour of just the home and kitchen dependency lasted two hours.  I'm assuming that's longer than the norm and may have been longer and more detailed than necessary.  Having said that, I will say that by the end of our tour, I'm quite confident that Shelby shared pretty much all there was to share about Pieter Bronck, his estate, his ancestors and descendants, the Bronck collectibles and the Dutch establishment in New York.  I can also say we got out money's worth.....many times over.  This is a truly beautiful piece of history, just a short drive from Albany,  a step off Route 9W across from the Coxsackie Correctional Facility.  The address is 90 County Highway 42, Coxsackie NY.  For more information, please use the links included below, including some videos I found online.
There's so much to see and do in Greene County.  I hope this short series encourages you to take a drive to explore for yourself.  Between the Coxsackie owls, the Catskill cats, the Cairo bears, the Bronck House and my next two upcoming posts featuring 'Think Big - A Tiny House Resort' and the 'Mahayana Buddhist Retreat', I promise you'll be heading there soon.  If you happened to miss our  blog post about lunch at Frank Guido's Port of Call.....it's a good place to fuel up before visiting the Bronck House:
Thanks for visiting Life As I See It.  I hope you'll stop by again soon.  If you enjoy the blog, consider subscribing!  No junk, no emails, just each new post in your email.  You never miss a post.  If you're new to the blog, check out my Directory for previous posts including destinations in New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, posts about animals, shops, restaurants, gardens, Food for Thought and more!  Hope to see you back here soon!
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Day Trippin' in Greene County - Frank Guido's Port of Call

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
When John and I retired and began our new hobby, day tripping, one of the first things we noticed was the vast array of interesting places that were within a short drive of home.  We discovered so many places that, although we are both native to the area, we had never visited.  Those places included the popular Grafton Lakes State Park, the Central Park Rose Garden, Fort Ticonderoga, just to name a few.  I think many folks travel to the coast, to other states or even to other countries in search of adventure and beautiful vistas when the reality is, our own home state offers a huge array of history, recreation and great food.  One area which wasn't on our radar until a couple years ago was Greene County!   We made our discovery the first year we heard about the Cat'n Around Catskill exhibit and we've been going back ever since.  If you've been reading a while, you've probably seen my posts about the Bears of Cairo, the Owls of Coxsackie  and this year's Cat'n Around Catskill exhibit (links at the end of this post).  Today I'm bringing you the first of a series of posts featuring some gems of Greene County that we happened upon this season during those hunting expeditions that are too good not to share.  I begin the series with the sponsor of one of the Catskill cats, a restaurant that has everything to offer, Frank Guido's Port of Call Restaurant.
Frank Guido's Port of Call is located at the end of Main Street in Catskill, right off Dutchman's Landing where the Catskill Creek meets the Hudson River.  We've been dying to get back to Catskill ever since photographing the Catskill cats just so we could enjoy a meal at this most amazing venue!

The "Cat-ch of the day" isn't too shabby either!  Honestly, not to get off topic, but is this not the most creative and beautiful cat?  It's only fitting that such a fabulous feline should be perched next to a restaurant with views like these:





We arrived at the Port of Call at noon, just as they were opening, so we scored a wonderful seat under the canopy.  It looks empty in these photos but by the time we left, most seats were filled.
It was a gorgeous day, warm but not humid and just enough clouds in the sky to make the view picture perfect.  Our waitress was awesome - efficient, friendly and full of great suggestions when I asked for recommendations.  I can't imagine there's anything on the menu that wasn't insanely good, but I decided to order the lobster roll with their fresh tomato, cucumber and red onion salad.

The menu didn't specify and I didn't ask whether it was a hot or cold lobster roll and as you can see, it was a cold one.  It was perfect - a very generous portion of lobster with diced celery and just enough mayo to do the job without being overdone.  The roll was perfectly toasted and buttery.  The salad.....well that was just as my mom might have made....freshly chopped seasonal veggies lightly dressed in oil and balsamic.  John eventually settled on a fish sandwich.  For his side, he selected the pasta salad.  Once again, this side salad was so fresh and clean tasting, it was obvious it was just made fresh today, with just the right amounts of additives (celery, onion) and good 'ole Hellman's mayonnaise.  If I didn't know better, I'd have thought my mama was in the kitchen!   It wasn't too hard to clean our plates!  This is perhaps the best food I've had in ages.  I decided to live on the wild side and since I wasn't driving I also ordered the Port of Call punch.  O....M.....G....talk about delicious!  You can get a glimpse of that in the photo with my lobster roll.  It was really just what the doctor ordered for a beautiful lunch on the deck - refreshing, cold and only made me a tiny bit tipsy!
What I didn't realize until researching for this post, the restaurant's kitchen was damaged in a fire on May 25th. Rather than let their 33 staff be out of work, Mr. Guido put up a temporary outdoor kitchen under a tent, scaled down their regular menu and carried on. Frank Guido is no stranger to adversity. It seems in the ten years in business at this location, they've also suffered two floods. After Irene, they had to knock the whole building down. (according to an article in Hudson Valley 360 (https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/article/port-call-stakes-tent-reopen-after-fire-decimates-kitchen).  We noticed the food seemed to be coming to us from outside the building, rather than from inside, but we had no idea it was being prepared in an outdoor kitchen!  Talk about rolling with the punches!  We lingered over lunch to enjoy the view and as soon as we were able, we headed to the next item on our agenda, the Bronck House in Coxsackie.  That will be Part II in my next post.
If you're looking for a fabulous venue for a delicious, fresh meal, we strongly recommend you take a drive to Catskill and visit Frank Guido's Port of Call.  You can also find their other restaurants in Kingston - Mariner Harbor on Broadway and Little Italy on Thomas Street.  For more information:



Come back soon for a look at the 1600's estate of Peiter Bronck followed by more interesting stops in Greene County.


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When Our World is Full of Sunshine, Someone Else is Experiencing Life's Darkest Storm

Sunday, July 15, 2018
 Even in your brightest moments, it's good to remember there is someone experiencing their darkest storm.........

This was one of the tranquil scenes John and I were experiencing last Sunday afternoon as we drove the back roads of Fulton and Montgomery Counties.  These roads are often the direction we head when we're in need of some recharging, some quiet, some peace.  It's on these roads we are able to get back to basics and soak in the simple gifts God has provided.....the beauty of the landscape, the deep blue skies dotted with airy, drifting clouds, an expansive view of the amazing world we live in.  It's a place where we can observe the most faithful and simplest living people, the Amish, on their farms.  On Sunday it's not easy to spot them compared to other days of the week when you can see them plowing the fields, milling lumber, tending their crops.   Sunday is their day for worship not work.  Only the little children at play are in sight on Sundays.  You don't see miles of laundry hanging on clotheslines on this, the Sabbath day.  It's a strong reminder of how it used to be decades ago when Sundays were family days, when stores and gas stations were closed and we surrounded ourselves with family, friends and fellowship.  We slowed down and took a pause to savor the important stuff.

It was probably one of the prettiest days we've seen in recent weeks with the clear blue sky, low humidity and bright sunshine.  Scenes like the one above - so beautiful it almost made me breathless with joy and gratitude.  Riding along it felt the world was perfect and peaceful.............yet no matter how beautiful our view, not everyone was enjoying the same kind of day.  Not everyone was feeling the same peace, the same serenity, the same 'all's right in the world' kind of day we were enjoying.  My peaceful afternoon came to a screeching halt when my cell phone rang just as I passed this tranquil view.
Last week some very close friends of our family closed on the sale of their house on Saratoga Lake and began their journey to Alabama where they were beginning a new chapter in their life.  Al & Veronica were moving to Alabama to be near their daughter, Charlene, and four granddaughters.  They had purchased property and planned to build a home right in the same development of Wetumpka.  On July 5th they began the long drive to Alabama.  They arrived on July 7th, a day that should have been the start of a wonderful new adventure, but before the day was done life would take a drastic turn and what should have been a day of celebration turned to the darkest of tragedies. That evening Charlene's husband shot and killed Charlene, shot their three triplets, poured accelerant throughout the house, started it on fire then shot and killed himself.  Thankfully their oldest daughter escaped.  One of the triplets, Cadence, died from her injuries, the surviving two, Patricia and Katherine, who were shot multiple times, underwent surgery and are recovering.  Hearing my mom relay this story as we parked along the side the road felt like something out of a dream, a terrible, horrible dream.  Stories like these don't happen to people we know, they happen to strangers on the news or in t.v. dramas.  They don't happen to wonderful friends, happy families, beautiful children, wonderful moms.  But according to the news my mom was relaying, that's exactly what happened, a beautiful mother, wife, teacher, Air Force veteran lost her life to the hands of her husband - a 20 yr. Air Force veteran.  According to the published press, illegal drugs may have played a part, but what is wrong with our world today that people can become so distraught, so insane that they'd take the lives of their own flesh and blood.  How does a father shoot his 12 yr old triplets multiple times?  How does this happen?  As I edited the photos from this day I noticed something that sort of illustrates this.   In this first photo, everything looks perfect and in tact.......no problem here.
When we look closer, we realize nothing is in tact...

In fact, it is obvious that things are about to implode and soon collapse, not unlike so many folks walking around today.  Are we missing the signs?  Are we ignoring the symptoms?  How can we fix this broken world where people can look fine on the outside but be so broken on the inside?  Something has to be done.
But, in the depths of despair, in the darkest of times, that's when people come together. Friends and strangers come forward to support, to love, to pray, to mourn.  The local community where Charlene lived has come together to mend the brokenness and help put the pieces back together.  A furniture store is donating a bedroom set for each of the girls, a gas station donated a year's worth of gas, a rent-free home has been donated for the time it will take to build a new home, and a Go-Fund Me has already collected $46,000.  Many other fundraising efforts are also underway in their local community.  None of this will bring Charlene and Cadence back, but I know that the love and support is helping Al & Veronica face the challenges that now lie before them.  Nothing can help their broken hearts, only time and God's grace.  I struggled all week about whether or not I should tell this story.  I didn't want to prolong the pain of the event, but in the end I felt it was important to share because it demonstrates that tragedy doesn't just strike 'other people', it also strikes people we know and love, people who don't deserve it, people who have spent their lives doing things for other people.  Bad things do happen to good people and in this case, terrible things happened to some of the best people I know.  If you feel moved to help this family out, I'll leave links at the end of this blog.  I'd ask that you keep all of them in your prayers tonight - Al, Veronica, big sister Adrianna and recovering triplets Patricia and Katherine as well as the rest of the family who are helping during this difficult time.  Life can be cruel and unfair.  It can test our will, challenge our endurance and test our faith.  I don't know why things like this happen and I so wish they didn't, but my faith assures me that God has a plan and I know He'll be present as this plan unfolds.  A God who created a world as beautiful as ours, a God who created people as good as Al and Veronica, does not desert us in our hour of need.  Please keep them in your prayers and look for links to donate at the end of the rest the images from of our ride.












To Donate to the Orsi Family:
https://www.gofundme.com-loving-the-orsis
Redland Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Organization is accepting monetary donations for the family. Checks need to be written to “The Orsi Fund” and mailed to the 
Redland Elementary School at 495 Scholars Drive Wetumpka, AL 36093
A card drive is also underway to offer encouragement and support to the sisters. If you would like to participate, cards can be mailed to the:
The Gab Salon and Spa, 
102 SW Main St #A,
 Wetumpka, AL 36092
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Shades of Tranquility at Shades of Green in Charlton NY

Thursday, July 5, 2018
Gardening is the work of a lifetime:  you never finish.
-Oscar De Laurenta

I'm pretty sure Wynne Trowbridge, the master gardener and architect of Shades of Green can relate to this quote.  If you've been visiting Shades of Green for a few years or more, like I have, you know that this enchanting garden is a never-ending work of art evolving from year to year, improving where one wouldn't imagine any room for improvement.  We made our annual visit to Shades of Green last week - just before the heat wave arrived, thank you very much, and no matter how many times I visit, I'm always awe-struck with the beauty within this shady piece of heaven.

If you happened to read my earlier post about my landscape project this year (https://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/2018/05/one-yard-several-gardens-and-two.html), you might remember that I felt confident that this year's visit to Shades of Green would be easy on my wallet since I have no room for any more plants.  I'm here to give full disclosure.......I might have lied, or at least shared some overly optimistic thinking.  If you've already been to Shades of Green, you would have realized how unrealistic my prediction was and you probably laughed at my lofty expectation.  And you would have been justified in doing so because I did not leave empty handed and let's be honest.... I never do, and I highly doubt anyone does.  And why would you???  That being said, purchase or not, visitors to Shades of Green take away so much more than a trunkful of green goodness.  They take away serenity, a slower pulse, a ton of inspiration and maybe a few mosquito bites.  Have you figured out yet that I love Shades of Green?  Who wouldn't?  Shades of Green (http://www.lotsahosta.com/) is so fabulous, this year they are part of the Secret Garden Tour of the Saratoga Soroptomist International!!  But that's a secret.....so shhhhhh!  For more information on that (this weekend, shhhhhh) you can click here: https://soroptimistsaratoga.org/node/91  For a little preview of what visitors will see, here's a few ;) photos of our visit:

Look closely at the big guy loitering on this leaf!!

Charm in a Potting Shed

Hostas for as far as the eye can see......






















Lime Ruffles Coral Bells

I went home with three small size hostas: Pure Heart, Mighty Mouse and Church Mouse, along with the Lime Ruffle Coral Bells which I potted in an old urn with this stunning sweet potato vine....

What a spectacular shopping venue, right?  I'll take it over the box stores any day....awesome quality at competitive prices, set in the most magical of settings!  Whether you garden in sun or shade, whether you garden or not, you can't miss a visit to Shades of Green.  I promise it'll have you searching for a patch of shade anywhere in your own yard or patio.  You'll find more than hosta at Shades of Green. You'll find loads of Heuchura, Brunera, Astilbe, and many more shade loving plants. Shades of Green is located in Charlton NY at 2036 Cook Road and is open Tues-Saturdays.  Check the website http://www.lotsahosta.com/ or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Shades-of-Green-Nursery-) page for specific hours and information.  Thank you Wynne for always making our visits feel like time spent with an old and dear friend and for not holding me to my word when I say I'm only here for a visit ;)  You know me well enough to know that would never happen.  Now that the heat wave is over, make a date to get over to Charlton soon, maybe even this weekend for the Secret Garden Tour!  Thanks for stopping by for a visit to Life As I See It.  I hope you'll be back soon and will share today's post with your shade and gardening loving friends!
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