This blog is about the daily trials and tribulations of living as expatriates in New York’s upstate Finger Lakes Region. It is also a blog about the Cobtree Vacation Rental Resort which my wife and I both own and operate in this stunningly beautiful part of the world. It is a blog about every day life and that of trying to live the American dream! The blog is frank, direct, from the heart and sometimes, of a very personal nature. I do hope that you will enjoy reading it.
The cluttered congestion of city life is often best healed with a weekend escape to the rustic country life. The charm and appeal of small town America can still be enjoyed by people seeking a quiet and simple place to relax. For decades, families have come to find such a haven of peace and tranquility in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Long before cars were available, families and couples in search of adventure from sailing and fishing in the summer to skating and skiing in the winter would make the journey to this history-rich region that is known for its stunning fall foliage using trains and steamboats. Even President Bill Clinton couldn’t resist the family-oriented rusticity as he enjoyed the last few days of his 1999 summer vacation in the area with his entire family. More than a decade later since the President of the United States graced the region, people still journey to the lakes seeking refuge from the congested suburbs to rent summer cottages on the lake in what remains to be a family-oriented area.
From the pristine lakes to beautiful waterfalls and charming villages, New York’s Finger Lakes region offers a delicate mix of rich farmland, 19th-century homes, and red brick downtowns all just a 300 mile road trip from New York City. The scenic route along the Palisades Parkways follows the Hudson River. Enjoy the region’s scenery as traffic moves at a slower pace offering the visitor time to indulge in the ultimate autumn experience featuring deep blue lakes bordered by colorful hills and waterfalls cascading down rocky crevices.
Rich Scenery & World Class Wineries
While the Finger Lakes offer an abundance of activities year round and no shortage of scenic day trips, the paths that offers the region’s greatest claim to fame are the wine trails. The vintners of the region are known for their wines that put even some of California’s best to shame. Vineyards in the region date back to 1829 when Reverend William Bostwick planted the first wine grapes in the area in his very own garden in Hammondsport. The region was once famous for its sparkling wine and sweet table wines but now with more than 100 wineries covering some 11,000 acres of vineyards, there are literally gallons of award-winning wines from almost every variety. Some wineries even feature breweries and distilleries as well. The region has primarily won accolades for its Rieslings and Chardonnays thanks to the introduction of Vinifera grapes. The majority of wineries can be found around Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka lakes.
The wineries must take advantage of the moderate temperatures created by the various lakes’ microclimate which prevents summer and winter weather extremes which would be harmful to the grapes. The scenery and landscape of the vineyards is like no other as wine tasters can road trip from vineyard to vineyard amidst rolling hills, and shades of amethyst and saffron along long vistas of blue water. Parts of Seneca and Keuka Lakes can even be compared to some of the most beautiful vistas found in Burgundy, France. It would be no challenge to spend at least a week visiting all of the wineries in the Finger Lakes region. In addition to the tours, spectacular views, and tastings, some of the family-owned wineries are known for sharing secrets of the winemaking process. There are also plenty of gift shops and local cafes and restaurants in which to enjoy a culinary creation alongside a Finger Lakes wine. With the various wine trails offered, discovering the region and finding your favorite wine is easier than ever before.
A Light Sampling of the Finger Lakes Region
For a shorter overview of the best that the region has to offer, arrange your mini road trip along the following sites which could easily be covered over a long weekend:
- Ithaca: If you are flying into the region, Ithaca is a good place to start. Located at the southern tip of Cayuga, it is home to regional airlines and car rental agencies. You will definitely need a car for this road trip unless you plan to arrange one of the many escorted tours. While you’re in the area, pay a visit to Taughannock Falls State Park where a 20-minute trek will have you enthralled by a 215-foot waterfall.
- Penn Yan: Located on the western shore of Seneca Lake, Fox Run Vineyards is a good start for traditional tours and tasting. The owner, Scott Osborn, likes to ensure that he shows off the entire operation including bottling and grafting as wine is a mystery for many people. Osborn takes pride in his French oak barrels that are handmade and cost $700 brand new.
- Himrod: Without a doubt one of the most spectacular and serene settings of any of the Finger Lake wineries, Miles Wine Cellars greets visitors by vehicle and even boat! But perhaps this winery’s claim to fame isn’t as much in the wine as it is the haunted white house that overlooks Seneca Lake. The owners report that they have been told by clairvoyants that they are home to seven ghosts of which two have been seen by the owners themselves. To no surprise, one of the white wines was named ‘Ghost.’
- Hammondsport: The town of Hammondsport bordering Keuka Lake features two of the best wineries. It is also where the first ever wine grapes were planted in the region. Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars is not only home to award winning wines but also pays tribute to the man who brought the European vinifera wine grape to the region. This is indeed one of the busier wineries as crowds gather in the late doctor’s white farmhouse to sample Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines among many others. A visit to the Château Renaissance Wine Cellars will offer samplings of a variety of drinks from merlot to sherry, and champagnes that are made from 400 year-old family recipes brought all the way from France.
Road Trip Kit
If you’re planning to hit the road for a weekend of wine tasting, it’s always best to be fully prepared especially if travelling in the winter. Have your vehicle and tires inspected for any maintenance issues and ensure that your car insurance is up to date. If you have an existing policy, familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions before packing your bags as the existing coverage may not offer the same coverage when you are overseas. You always want to ensure that you have an adequate level of extended insurance coverage to ensure that you are covered for rental cars, and most especially for emergency services in the event that you get into an accident overseas. If your current policy doesn’t offer such coverage, there are many companies available that offer temporary insurance and some which offer specialized overseas car insurance plans. Before signing onto any rental car company insurance agreement, be sure to check if your credit card offers rental car coverage as part of its package. Don’t forget to obtain an adequate amount of travel and health insurance. It is important to note that some travel insurance policies include extended coverage for automobiles.
Ensure that you have a map of the region on hand so that you can easily navigate if you get lost and don’t miss the additional sights and attractions along the way. Shopping and crafts found at Traders Village in Romulus is not to be missed while the quaint city of Geneva offers a number of Italian and Greek Revival homes including the restored 1894 Smith Opera House where you can still enjoy performances today. The regional wine trails have much to offer including many winery events and festivals to celebrate the holidays, harvest and even new vintages.
For more information, read up on the various wine trails including:
- Cayuga Wine Trail
- Seneca Lake Wine Trail
- Keuka Lake Wine Trail
Canandaigua Wine Trail
Today is my birthday and I have turned 54 years of age. My health is good, I am in fairly good physical shape, our business is running well and it is profitable, I have the best wife in the world (of course) two wonderful son’s, a daughter in law and two grandchildren. What have I to complain about!
Jane and I we will be leaving the USA first for Canada next Friday afternoon (31st May) and then on the Sunday will be flying to England. We will be in England until the 9th of June and then will be flying to Hong Kong. There we will visit Jane’s family returning to England on the 20th June and back to Toronto on the 1st July. We will then come back to Geneva on the 2nd July in time for the 4th July holiday!
We still have not resolved our visa problems although we can get back into the country (we hope, fingers crossed). Our son Daniel is coming over from the 8th June for the whole summer and will be staying at our home here at Cobtree to “ mind the fort” whilst we are away on our travels. I have not seen my family back home in England for 8 years now and have not seen Jane’s family in 14 years!
Our trip is long overdue it would seem.
It is looking like a beautiful weekend ahead of us and for the graduation of the Hobart William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Jane and I wish all of the graduates the best of luck with their future careers and their lives ahead of them.
Meanwhile, we are fully booked this weekend and have been for almost two years now as our vacation rental homes are extremely popular with parents wishing to visit the colleges or for such events as the graduation weekend and parents weekend when there becomes such a huge shortage of accommodations in the whole region. We even get reservations from parents whos children are graduating from Cornell University over in Ithaca at the same time and Itaca is an hours drive away from Geneva!
I have to say that all of our homes here at Cobtree are looking at their best and with all the trees in full leaf, spring tulips and daffodils in full flower and the all of the shrubs and fruit trees in blossom. The many Finger Lakes wineries are all open ready to serve customers some of the best wines to be enjoyed in the whole of the USA.
Welcome to Cobtree - The Real Finger Lakes Experience!
For me, the spring and the fall are the most beautiful times of the year here in the Finger Lakes. Neither being too hot or too cold. The spring and the fall is a time of frantic activity for local farmers too. As spring heralds the warmer weather and the soil becomes drier, farmers till the soil and plant their crops the first usually being corn followed by cabbage and beans and so on.
By the middle of May the winter wheat that was planted the previous fall, is already a foot high, lush and emerald green. Spring is a time when you see so much wildlife abounding, turkeys, deer with their fawns as well as a myriad of birds that have returned from their winter migration.
Spring is also a great time to visit the Finger Lakes as the wineries are now selling new season wines and the many restaurants that abound the area are able to get in more and more fresh locally produced produce to prepare and serve their guests.
One rule for local Americans with minimal investment, paying minimal taxes and with no employees. Another rule for Foreign investors that have invested over $3,000,000 in the local economy with 6 employees and paying extensive taxes!
First letter of complaint :
The Lacey Magruder winery (Farm winery) was granted use of the premises as a farm winery for the sale of wine and other related farm produce per agricultural and markets regulations and town code. Minutes of said planning board meeting clearly defined what the property could be used for and what restrictions were placed on such use of the premises at such time. As far as I am aware, no subsequent applications have been made to the planning board for a site plan review or variances sought from the ZBA or any special use permit sought for any other use than what was deemed as a glorified road stand!
The owners are now advertising live music on Saturday 4th May at 8pm and is charging $15 per ticket. This information can be located on their web site at http://www.laceymagrudervineyardandwinery.com/
We object that we too could be subjected to loud and amplified music much the same as the owners have complained that any weddings held at Cobtree would be. These owners cannot have it both ways. If they wish to hold such an event, they must also be subjected to the same rules and regulations that Cobtree is being put through right now!
This public mass gathering is in clear contravention and breach of their planning consents and I wish to make an official complaint requiring you to issue said owners of the winery a cease and desist notice to prevent them holding any such events unless they too first apply for and be granted a special use permit to hold such events at a farm winery (as opposed to a commercial winery) They are not a commercial winery and do not have any permits or consents to hold such functions.
On the subject of permits. Please can you advise to me in writing by which consent or authority do the said winery owners have to erect an A frame trestle sign in the garden on the junction of West Lake road and Armstrong Road. The town code gives no such authority for them to do so and we require that you require that they too remove this sign which is an illegal sign until such time as they have applied for and been granted a variance by the ZBA
Many thanks indeed.
A copy of this email will be sent by registered mail.
TOWN OF GENEVA
OFFICE OF CODE ENFORCEMENT
3750 County Road 6
GENEVA, NEW YORK 14456
May 2, 2013
446 Armstrong Road
Geneva, New York 14456
Re: Official Complaint: C013-28
Re: May 4th Event at Lacey Magruder
Dear Mr. Lawty:
I have received your complaint and followed up with a site visit to Lacey Magruder Winery on Monday, April 29th. I also reviewed the proposed indoor live guitar performance with Smith Opera House personal that is sponsoring the performer.
Since the event will be conducted indoors, an operating permit is not necessary. You statement that “ this public mass gathering is in clear contravention and breach of their planning consents” is incorrect. The occupancy cannot exceed the posted load and is an accessory use under Town Code.
I have further reviewed with the owners of Lacey Magruder and Kelly Bradley, Director of the Smith Opera House Town codes that must be complied with.
Regarding the A frame trestle sign on the intersection of Armstrong Road and St Rt 14, NYS Dept of Transportation is handling this matter.
If you have any questions, I can be reached at Town Hall or by phone at 789-3922.
William N. McAdoo
Code Enforcement Officer
Town of Geneva
On May 3, 2013, at 3:24 PM, “Bill McAdoo” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Mr. Lawty
> I have referred this matter to our attorney James Wolford.
> Bill McAdoo
Way to go Bill. More tax payers money spent on town legal fees for your incompetence!
Like I told you the other day when you were here. Just do the job you are paid to do and nothing else. Stop getting involved in politics and neighborly disputes and just adhere to the letter of the town code.
You cannot go wrong if you follow these two basic principles alone
My latest email to the following town board members and town supervisor:
Melissa Nault (Chair planning board) Jim Smith (Chair Zoning Board of appeals) Mary Luckern Town supervisor email:email@example.com
The town planning board has made it quite crystal clear what the Lacey Magruder winery can be used for and this type of use was explicitly denied by the board per the minutes of said meeting. Bill McAdoo has no authority to overrule the town planning board, override their processes or determinations. Only the ZBA has that authority.
Moreover, this winery owner complained and bitched about guests of Cobtree holding their own tented weddings at Cobtree even though such use was considered by Bill McAdoo for 6 years to be an ancillary use under the town code. This did not stop him issuing a cease and desist order against us after Pat Riley made allegations at the town board meeting in December 2012.
Never the less, we complied with this order even though we disagreed with such determination. We did not go through with the appeal because we thought that it would be a waste of time believing that what Bill McAdoo says or wants, he will get none the less!
Now this winery owner wants to hold functions and Bill McAdoo allows him to do so without any oversight by the planning board? Here we have a determination by an out of control code enforcement officer who is making up the rules as he goes along, tells you one thing whilst doing another, and applying one rule for one resident and another rule for others. We have been forced to apply for an operations permit for the three weddings that are being held at Cobtree in a tent. Here McAdoo is saying that the very same operations permit is not applicable for a building. Absolute hog wash. The operations permit is specifically for a building and does not in fact apply to a tent at all!
This situation has to stop. Bill McAdoo needs to be removed from his position and the town needs to find somebody who is professional, honest and has integrity. McAdoo cannot be trusted and is wholly disrespected by the residents of this town. Ourselves included and, we have a $3,000, 000 investment in this town which quite frankly, we are now considering to withdraw.
What has been going on has already become very ugly and expensive for all concerned. Something has to be done to get the train back on its tracks before somebody gets hurt. I do not mean hurt in a physical sense, I mean hurt commercially, economically and politically by what is happening right now with what is clearly a dysfunctional town hall and planning boards.
Enough is enough
I appeal to your sense of civic duty, your oath of office and your respective duties and responsibilities to all the residents, businesses and tax payers of the town of Geneva. To do the right thing and do something to stop this abuse of power and moral destruction of the town in which we also love and work in.
email to Planning board chair and Zoning board of appeals chair with copy to town supervisor Mary Luckern and Jim Huntertmark on Mon 4/29/2013 8:11 PM
Dear Melissa and Jim,
I am in receipt of a copy of the Lacy Magruder Business plan today and am quite frankly appalled that the planning board and ZBA would entertain such proposals given the objections from this winery owner to our own planned development and tourism development proposals here at Cobtree which, have been so far muted by your respective boards and the subject of much anti Cobtree rhetoric by the owners of the Lacy Magruder winery who have their own personal axe to grind with Jane and I.
Here is some background information that may assist you.
In 2006 having contacted Bill McAdoo about the possibility of turning the old barns and workshop that we owned at 462 Armstrong Road, into a winery. Bill informed me that unless the then overlay district was extended and any part of our property was within 1000 ft. from the center of west lake road, then it would not be possible because it would be considered a commercial use of the property in an agricultural district. He went on to inform us that the ZBA would not likely grant to us a variance. Not knowing then what to do with a 200 year old barn, almost falling down, and other than to have it burned down, we decided to sub divide our property creating a five acre plot to sell.
When the Hundertmarks later purchased the property from Cobtree, Ruth and Jim Hundertmark told us that it was being purchased for their own retirement residence and that the property was going to be used just for themselves as a place to retire to. Two years later we were amazed that they made an application to the town planning board to be able to use the property as a farm winery. However, at that point in time we were still very friendly with the Hundertmarks and good neighbors. We supported their application even going so far as to advise them on some planning issues having decided to research the matter more carefully for them. Remember this too though. Had we NOT sub divided our property or had we been given the correct advice from Bill McAdoo and went on to establish a winery ourselves, the Hundertmarks would never have become owners of the property either!
At the town planning meeting in question, Jim Hundertmark was carefully grilled by the board as to his intentions regarding the use of this “farm winery” and it was made abundantly clear by the board members that whilst he did not require the boards consent to establish a farm winery in itself, being akin to a glorified road stand, he could not engage in any other kind of commercial use of the property or the barn and was prohibited from holding functions, live music, sale of none agricultural products etc.
In fact, from the very day that the winery was opened, the winery has sold a wide array of none agricultural or wine related products in full breach of what the planning board set out to be allowed as a farm winery. It must be clearly noted that a farm winery is not a commercial winery like those established along the lake road and a farm winery is subject to very strict conditions of use.
At the same planning board meeting (which I believe you may have access to audio tapes of said meeting) Hundertmark made it understood that he was looking to sell his wines to a select group of potential customers, those who wanted quality wine and not just an excuse to get drunk. He said that he would be only accepting small groups of 6-8 people, no limos or buses. Fast forward, he has allowed limos and buses at his winery.
What is making Jane and I so very angry is that the owner of this owner of the Lacey Magruder winery has recently and so aggressively and vociferously made such a song and dance about Cobtree holding the few outdoor weddings we used to do here each year because of perceived increased traffic, parking, noise and so on, here we have him arranging “Musical Events” at his winery in much the same vein and with the exact same problems that will inevitably occur.
Moreover, as far as we are aware, the town code does not allow him to hold such functions, serve food, have parties and so on without first obtaining site plan review, variances or special use permit from the Zoning board of appeal. At the very least he would be required to have issued an operating permit in the same way that Cobtree is being made to do so. And what about a so called OPERATING PERMIT. Does he also not require one for such events or gatherings if we here at Cobtree are being subjected to applying for the same?
Heck, there are serious fire and safety consideration for holding an event in a 200 year old wooden barn, to say the least. The septic system that was installed for the two small rest rooms was not and is not designed for anything other than light use. Moreover, their well water only supplies 5 gallons per minute and they do not have any water tanks either! At the very least a qualified engineer or the MRB group would have to certify to the town that the system installed is capable of being used for an increased number of people and that their well water is tested to be potable. Also, if the use of this building is being used for such use with alcohol involved, the property may be subjected to NY State health department oversight or other agencies as well.
Rest assured once both beer and wine is able to be sold this establishment will not just be a quiet, peaceful winery but become much, much more.
Whether or not Jim Hundertmark is just going ahead without such permissions or consents for this weekends advertised event, or whether or not the code enforcement officer Bill McAdoo has arbitrarily given them such permission, is not known to me however, how can Bill McAdoo apply one set of rules and conditions to Cobtree and allow the Lacey Magruder winery to exceed the planning restrictions imposed against them at the town planning board 3-4 years ago (and Jane and I were at that meeting and know exactly what was said and granted to them) Does he have authority over your board or be able to modify the decisions that your boards have made? Is Bill McAdoo perhaps the de facto MAYOR of Geneva and we are not aware of this official capacity?
The last paragraph of this so called business plan makes claim that events would NOT take place after 5pm when the property would revert to the owners private residence. This is absolute hog wash. On the Lacey Magruder winery web site they are already selling tickets at $15 per person for a function this coming Saturday May 4th starting at 8pm You can be quite certain that the Hundertmarks will be holding events late into the evening if their plans are supported and unlike our plans that called for a maximum of 20 functions a year (Proffered only as a negotiating point, as we expected only to be granted maybe half of this amount) The Hundertmarks would be arranging functions and events every weekend from spring to late fall if left unchecked!
The above is a screen shot of the advertisement they are displaying on their web site today and they do not YET have the requisite permissions from either the planning board and or ZBA to hold such an event, now or in the future! Are they thumbing their noses up at your boards already? Clearly what they tell the board and what they plan on doing are two separate things and they cannot be trusted to keep to the consents granted.
We consider rightly or wrongly that what Cobtree has been put through has been an absolute nightmare and yet here we have the very complainant about our weddings and functions at Cobtree either just going ahead without permissions to do what they want to do or otherwise, they have obtained permissions from McAdoo and if so, completely arbitrary and capricious based on the what the town code allows and moreover, complete double standards being applied to what is now happening with the Lacey Magruder winery!
We just do not get it. What is needed here is an investigation and these issues squarely before the general public. Jim Hundertmark claims that he gets on with his neighbors. We are his neighbors on three sides of his property together with and owned by our son Kenneth along Armstrong Road. This is wholly untrue. He is a very unfriendly, unkind and abusive neighbor. He set out to erect a 12 foot high fence on top of the hill without taking the courtesy to tell us about his intentions. He also bitterly complained about Cobtree expanding its development even though we have only ever complied with the planning consents we ourselves were granted by the planning board and ZBA back in 2003/2004
Moreover, we have always kept the Hundertmarks informed of all aspects of our own business and development plans both existing and future
Hundertmark last weekend erected a large sign in his front garden accusing Cobtree of planting trees to obscure their view of the lake. Once again, this was wholly untrue.
Kenneth (the owner of the land in front of their in front of the Hundertmarks farmhouse arranged to plant the trees because he was so outraged by what the Hundertmarks had done to Jane and I and Cobtree)
He had the right do so and has planted over 400 seedlings and trees as the start of a small nursery. Yes, in doing so these trees will grow and block out the lake view from their house and the winery which serves as poetic justice for what they have done to us! However, this was his decision and Jane and I could not persuade him otherwise. He had the absolute right do so under the town code rules as also confirmed by Bill McAdoo. Hundertmark can bitch as much as he likes about this but the town code is quite clear about this.
Anyone has the right to do what they wish to do as long as they follow the rules and regulations which MUST be seen to apply and MUST apply to every resident and property owner in the town of Geneva.
What is very important that each and every resident and applicant must be treated in the exact same way to avoid preferential treatment or discrimination whether or not they are American citizens or not.
446 Armstrong Road
New York 14456
As I was speaking with the town code enforcement officer for the town of Geneva this morning, during the final inspection for a certificate of occupancy for the two new properties we have completed here at Cobtree, a State trooper turned up in his cruiser outside of one of the homes were both in at the time. “I am looking for Robert Lawty” said the trooper. I am he I replied. “we have received a complaint from one of your neighbors said the State trooper. Ah…I replied. In that case I have nothing further to say unless my attorney is present. “You are not under arrest and have not done anything that is a violation or a crime retorted the trooper so why would you need an attorney? I replied well, if somebody has made a complaint about me then I think that I should make any response in the presence of my attorney. OK said the trooper, what is your full name and date of birth so that I can record that you have refused to speak with me?
I gave the trooper my details and then asked the nature of the complaint against me. Well, said the trooper, as I said earlier, you have as far as I can determine not committed any infraction of the law however, Jim Hundertmark owner of the Lacey Magruder winery called to say that you have been emailing him copies of a complaint that you have made against him to the town of Geneva. Moreover, that when driving up the road you “Dipped your finger at him” also, that you have posted on your online blog that he wears a toupee.
I confess said I that I have indeed copied him on correspondence that I have made to the town. I did not think this was unlawful. No said the trooper, not unless you have offensively emailed something abusive or threatening (which I have never done so). I also informed the trooper that I have never dipped my finger at this jerk but on the contrary have always smiled and waved in a very sarcastic manner as if to say “hello good neighbor, how are things going!” Certainly, I informed the trooper, I had posted on my blog that Hundertmark wore a jet black toupee however, my rights to do so are enshrined in the US constitution first amendment!
The trooper agreed with me on this. He said it would be better that I had as little to do with Hundertmark as possible and not to go on his land or visit the winery. This is hilarious as I have no intention of setting foot anywhere near where this idiot lives or works given all that he has done to hurt our business and the offensive nature of his attitude towards Jane and I personally. My goodness, calling the State trooper on something as petty as the above. What next!
I truly feel so very sad for this imp of a human being that is so gutless, feels the need to call in the State troopers for something that is all in his head (or should I say on it LOL)
The answer is Five!
This is a photo of my friend David Patrick Juniors new Home in Hall New York. What a monster! Well Done David. I wish you all the luck and prosperity in the world. You and your wife deserve it!
It would seem that my son Kenneth has turned into a rather clever little arborist and entrepreneur. First he manages to get on the housing ladder back home in England and now rents the property he purchased to pay his mortgage. Over time the property will increase in value and when he comes to sell it down the road, he should be able to make a nice profit too. Next he has persuaded me to use a piece of land that he owns next to Cobtree to start a small tree nursery project and so it was arranged that the first 376 trees were planted today on the western parcel of his property, ironically, up by the Lacey Magruder winery.
Now of course, since the Lacey Magruder winery planted their vineyard on the brow of the hill and between two parcels of land owned by both Jane and Kenneth some two years ago now, we can no longer have the views we used to enjoy looking westward. This however is not a problem for Jane and I as rightly so, Mr. and Mrs. Hundertmark had the absolute right to plant the vineyard under the towns right to farm laws indeed, as Kenneth also has the same rights to plant a tree nursery on his agricultural parcel of land or to farm it as it has been farmed for a millennium. As the saying goes, you cannot have your cake and eat it!
It is a shame of course that as a natural (excuse the pun) consequence of growing a natural living product such is a tree nursery in time my neighbors may no longer be able to enjoy the stunning views they now enjoy looking down over Seneca Lake. Then again, we also do not have the stunning views we used to enjoy looking westward either and our homes are now overlooked by customers of the winery who sit out on their deck drinking wine which has removed a lot of privacy for our guests too. I guess you can call this profound and poetic justice.
After all, the owners of the Lacey Magruder winery has put Jane and I through hell with what they have directly orchestrated with other neighbors and the other political and powerful people at the town hall that “They Know”. The racist remarks that they made against us personally in a public forum were also very unkind, hurtful and exasperated the situation. He himself wholly carries the responsibility for creating along the way the irrevocable bad neighborly relationship that now exists between us.
I am quite certain however, that Kenneth never even thought of this eventuality as he is not a vindictive person or holds a grudge even if his Mother and Father, living thousands of miles away, are being trashed by their neighbors like Jim Hundertmark has done to us. It is simply not in his nature to do so. I think (for what it is worth) that he decided simply that as he has been forced by the town planners to shrink his land holding from 12.4 acres to a mere 3.4 acres to be able to accommodate our own application for major subdivision on Armstrong Road, he feels (and rightly so) that he needs to maximize the best use of the land he has left for the future and has decided that the creation of a tree nursery would be a good use of the land he will have left to farm.
You see, originally it was agreed with the town, way back at the original planning stage of our proposed project in 2003, that all of the properties at Cobtree would be placed on their own 45,000 sq. lots. Now the town has demanded that these lots be expanded to double this requirement that is to say, 90,000 sq. ft. plots and the only way we could gain this much additional land was by asking Kenneth to give up some of the land that we held in trust for him.
Once again, poetic justice to the town who reneged on the original agreement and whom by their very actions and behaviour gave us no choice and forced us into taking out what has turned out to be a extremely expensive article 78 lawsuit against the town and which has cost us nearly $80,000 in legal and professional fees to fight for our legal rights to be able to subdivide the lands we own here in Geneva.
Now the wheel turns once again and the town will now have this neighbor from hell drumming on their door. However, will they deal with him in the same Atrocious, deplorable, repulsive, harrowing, abhorrent, loathsome way that they (the town) has treated our company as well as Jane and I personally, these past three years of our torturous struggle at their powerful hands. After all, you cannot beat City (or town)Hall can you?
We are just small fish in a big pond. A small business trying to make its way. Trying to survive..trying to be successful and, we are. There are some very jealous people around who loath the very idea that outsiders (in fact foreigners) can come into a community and make a successful business let alone, God forbid, they make a profit as well!
At last, the warm weather has finally arrived here in the Finger Lakes and today has been the most gorgeous day so far this year with Seneca lake looking so blue and the water sparkling like diamonds. Our builders had to cry off onto another job today putting a roof on for a customer over on Keuka lake. Not that it matters as there is only a couple of days work left for them to do to be able to complete the two new homes we are building here. We have purchased a whole bunch of trees to plant around the property once it has been landscaped, starting we hope, from this Saturday. Meanwhile, if any of my avid readers of this blog are following our story of the long embattled saga with the town of Geneva, our final stage sub division application, which was heading for a vote at last night’s planning board meeting, was tabled until next month because, would you believe it, the towns attorneys had failed to revert to the planning board with their opinion on a driveway maintenance agreement and driveway agreements. These are legal documents that had to be prepared by our attorney and submitted well in advance to the town for their attorneys to take a look at before last night’s meeting. Sigh…well, we have to be patient for a little longer it would seem.
There is a whole story to tell you about the absolute nightmare that Jane and I have been put through by officers and representatives of the town as well as by several of our very jealous neighbors who simply loath our success and loath use being here. The whole story will be related on this blog in due course and in which I shall name and shame all of the parties concerned. It is an appalling story of a miscarriage of justice and something that should never happen to anybody anywhere in the world let alone this great nation the United States of America.
Here is a tit bit of things to come. Our neighbor, Jim Hundertmark owner of the Lacy Magruder winery on Armstrong Road (Yes, the very same man we sold the farmhouse, barns, workshop and five acres of land to back in 2007, the very same jet black toupee wearing owner from Baltimore that my guest related her story about and which I posted about on this blog (without naming him at the time I may add) a story which has become one of the most viewed stories on my blog being so funny, yes, Hundertmark himself, in a public meeting of the town of Geneva zoning board of appeals, stated and I quote: Why should the town support Mr. and Mrs. Lawty when they are not US citizens and do not want to become US citizens”
As anybody knows, it is not because we do not wish to become US citizens at all, it is because the E2 investment visa that we came to the US to live and work under, currently offers no route to a green card or to citizenship. How bigoted and racial this snake in the grass of an owner has turned out to be. I only wish I had never sold the property to him as he has turned into the neighbor from hell if not the devil himself! Shame on him. Shame on a local business that actually does not support tourism but is out to rake every single dollar it can from selling in my opinion at least, some pretty low quality wines, that actually are not even produced at the winery or with any grapes grown by the winery itself, is produced by another winery on the other side of the lake, bottled for him and the Lacey Magruder winery is not even a member of the Seneca Lake wine trail!
What can only be described as nasty, evil, impish behavior by this man is completely instrumental in persuading the town to put a stop to the few outdoor weddings that we used to hold here each year (around 4 weddings a year where guests used to rent all of the homes together, erect a tent and have their wedding over the course of a weekend here at Cobtree). By complaining and bitching to town councilors and the code enforcement officer, about something we had been doing for over six years, we were stopped from being able to offer outdoor weddings to our guests. Our business efforts for wedding tourism and development was thrown into the dumpster because of what this man has done. No doubt he is so proud of his success right now.
Well, there is an old saying. He who laughs last laughs longest.
Well actually, nowhere at all! Having said this however, I have been very busy, as well as recovering from a couple of surgeries that I recently had. I got an infection in my sinuses which brought me down for a while but now the antibiotics have kicked in I am feeling a lot better now. Believe it or not, I can now breath out of both of my nostrils, something that I cannot recall ever being able to do before! Then there has been the continuing saga with our planning issues and dealing with the town planning board, zoning board of appeals and so on, as well as trying to get the two new properties ready for occupancy next month.
We have been building these two new large hybrid log homes over the past winter and they are now almost complete. What remains to be finished now is some external staining, the completion of the septic systems, dressing the road and driveway with new stone and then, a lot of landscaping. The latter is very much weather dependent and will take some time to complete given all the rain we have been having these past few weeks. This in contrast to last March and April which was so dry. If you would like to see some new photos of the internal furnishings of one of the new properties, click on this LINK. We should be able to create the galleries of photos within the coming week which will be added to the accommodations pages for the two new homes.
Here is a taster of what is to come later next week.
I hope that now that spring has finally arrived, I can try to get back to my more regular blogging.
I have a lot to tell you about!
Not quite I am afraid to say. Usually we can herald the arrival of spring when the Killdeers arrive to begin nesting on our crusher run driveways here at Cobtree. For those avid birdwathers reading this blog, the Killdeer is a Bird and is a medium-sized plover. Adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. They have an orange-red leyering.
Although the Killdeers have indeed arrived (two pairs so far) alas, spring has not yet arrived here in the Finger Lakes and overnight it was bitterly cold and we had about a foot of snow which this morning has turned to a mix of sleet, snow and rain. Simply put, the weather has not quite made up its mind what it wants to do right now!
Fortunately our builders still have some indoor work to do although the weather never seems to slow them down too much unless that is, we have torential rain.
The following text is courtesy of my son Kenneth Lawty.
Gemma (Kenneths wife and of course, our daughter in law) was in labour for 27 hours in total from start to finish. She had a lot of complications and pain but persisted very very well. She couldn’t achieve strong enough contractions so was given powerful hormones to promote labour. This meant the pain would have been unbearable and therefore the decision was made to had an epidural (spine block).
This worked throughout and there was no pain however the contractions were too weak as Gemma had no energy and no food since Friday night as she went into labour Saturday morning at 4 o’clock. They tried to pull the baby out with surgical forceps however a part of her cervix somehow caused him to be trapped behind.
The decision was made to take her into theatre to try use surgical tools but if not then to deliver by emergency Caesarian. During the C section they made an incision too wide and caught an artery causing her to lose 1600mls of blood 60% than recommended. The spinal block began to wear off and they gave her gas and air and fentanyl (strong opioid).
Jacob James Lawty was delivered at 0729hrs 10th March on Mothers Day (In England) weighing in at 8Lb 7oz. Gemma is now recovering with baby Jacob in the hospital.
My Doctor tells me to rest. Easier said than done when I am working hard to supervise the completion of the two new homes currently under constrution here at Cobtree! The project is rapidly nearing completion leaving only the septic systems to be completed and some external works to the two new hybrid log homes as well of course, the landscaping once the spring arrives and the ground is workable and ready to plant grass seed, shrubs and trees etc. It has been a beautiful day here in the Finger Lakes. We awoke to a powdery covering of snow which rapidly disappeared as the day wore on and the temperatures started to climb with blue skies and sunshine throughout the day. More warmer days are to follow but with it will come some rain as well.
So far, so good and the surgery, as far as I am aware, went without a hitch. My nose is not at all painful YET but the throat is very sore right now. Nothing that a little pain medication is not fixing though! My nose is bleeding copiously every so often and I have to use an ice pack on my cheeks or under my chin to help reduce the swelling on my face. I cannot begin to thank my surgeon Dr Gregory Caravale and his team at his office and the team at the Geneva ambulatory surgery center, for all they have done for me as their patient. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this excellent nose and throat specialist (known as an Otolaryngologist (Head and Neck Surgeon) or simply ENT specialist to the layman.
I have suffered problems with my nose and throat since a teenager and now at the age of 53 years of age, I hope the surgery that I have had today will go along way to helping my breathing and my sleeping. Fingers crossed.
Thank you once again Dr.Carvale for everything you have done for me, your expertise, your patience and your kindness.
I refer to the article in the FLT 02/27/2013 edition in regards to the town planning board meeting on the 26th February.
Just to clarify a number of pertinent points. The concrete pad that we installed here at Cobtree last fall was designed so that it could be used for any lawful purpose that the town code permitted and it did not require any planning permissions or building permit for its construction. This pad has not to date been used for any use whatsoever.
Cobtree, consisting of 10 rental units, operates under a special use permit granted since 2003 as a “Motel Complex”. The only occasional outdoor functions held at Cobtree have been for wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners and reunions and have never amounted to more than 4-6 such functions per annum whereby the guests who have rented all of our properties together, have arranged with their own contractors to erect a tent for their own function for a maximum of up to 150 guests attending.
Cobtree has itself never before arranged any wedding at Cobtree but merely providing the open grounds for our guests to be able to do so. We only ever charged a small nominal fee for trash removal and site maintenance. In doing so, we received the tacit approval of the CEO from the very beginning of offering such use of our grounds to our guests.
The plan then was to erect the tent on the concrete pad rather than on the grassed lawn.Rather than arrange to put the tent up and take it down again after each function, we applied to the zoning board of appeals last year for a seasonal use. The area we are talking about here is like putting a postage stamp on a large envelope! We planned on further landscaping the grounds to drive visitors to the region and to develop local tourism for the benefit of the local community and businesses.
To this end we lodged an application last spring to the ZBA and paid the requisite fee. There was arranged a preliminary discussion attended by the chairs of the planning board, ZBA, CEO, town supervisor, Cobtree, and our respective attorneys which we believed was very positive. We cannot therefore fathom as to why our application was never subsequently scheduled for a formal hearing by the ZBA. By the end of the year our attorney pulled the application because the CEO was clearly not doing anything with our application.
We desire only to continue to operate a reputable and successful business venture as we have been doing so for almost a decade. We do not understand where the animosity comes from towards our company or to us personally by certain people and desire that a resolution to all of our difficulties be found. What we have only ever asked for is to be treated fairly and equitably in accordance with our rights under both town code and the municipal laws of New York State.
First there was my very successful gastric bypass almost two years ago. Then surgery for a hernia in the same year, closely followed by a near death experience with a massive heamatoma whilst vacationing in San Antonio in Texas. This year I have had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand and this Thursday I will once again be going under the knife to have uvuloplasty on my uvula and septoplasty surgery on my nose to correct for a deformed septum. I still have problems with my right shoulder which I am suffering from calcific tendinitis. Ah…yes….this is called getting old!
We are just a few weeks out from completing the construction of the two new log homes here at Cobtree. The only thing holding things up right now is the weather. We now need drier and warmer weather conditions to be able to to get started on completing the outside work and to start the job of landscaping around the two new homes. I have not yet been able to take any usable photos of the homes because the work is still going on and the photos would not look at their best for you to view. What I can tell you however, is that these two new log homes are spectacular and I cannot wait to post some updated photos for you to enjoy.
There are many things going on at Cobtree right now in the background as well as in our personal lives. I would very much like to share with you all these events but the timing is not quite right yet to divulge what is been happening in our lives right now. What I can tell you is that in the next few days Jane and I are going to be grandparents once again as our daughter in law Gemma is expecting a baby boy who is going to be named Jacob. I will definately post some photos once he has safely arrived in the world we live in!
First I had surgery on my hand 10 days ago which has somewhat incapacitated me. I will also have surgery on my nose and throat in 10 days time as well! Then, I have been busy, busy, busy with the building project here at Cobtree which is fast nearing completion. This together with getting ready to renew our E2 visas back in London has meant that I have had little time to update my blog as I would like to have done. I hope that in the next few weeks I should be able to upload some more photos of the two log cabins but meanwhile, here is a photo of the kitchen and part of the lounge/dining room area of the new Canadice log home. here at Cobtree
Armed with a packet of documents and application forms prepared by our immigration lawyer in NY City at a cost of some $2200 including filing fees, Jane and I headed to the US Customs and Border patrol offices on rainbow bridge overlooking Niagara falls. Otherwise referred to as a port of entry to the USA from Canada. A two hour dive there and a two hour drive back and the net result was that it was a complete waste of time.
Our lawyer had sent us on a wild goose hunt, a complete red herring. The forms were armed with were useless. The port of entry only processes such applications for Canadian citizens and our own applications have to be submitted to the US Consulate in London. Needless to say, I will be asking for a full refund of the preparation and filing fees that my lawyer charged us!
Back to the drawing board and yes, with new attorneys this time around!
My Auntie Peggy passed away last night back in England. She was a kind woman and I shall miss her very much indeed. Auntie Peggy was the last of my Mothers sisters still alive but my Mother still has two brothers still living, Uncle Ted and Uncle Mick (who I once lived with too as a child). My auntie had been suffering from mesothelioma which she likely contracted when she used to help my Uncle Norman when he worked as an electrician in various factories when he was still alive.
May you rest in peace Auntie Peggy.
Please send this information to everyone you know and put it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Thank you. E2 visa holders (Our family included) desperately need your help with this request please)
We would like to bring to your attention a group of Legal Immigrants, who are living in the US on an E2 Treaty Investor Visa.
The E2 Treaty Investor Visa is a Non Immigrant Visa, which can be granted to a national of a treaty country, of which there are around 75 all over the world. There must be a substantial investment made into a business and the business must provide significantly more than just an income for the investor and family. In other words there must be employees.
The visa must be renewed every few years, by attending an Interview at a US Embassy outside of the US and showing continued growth and job creation.
Currently the E2 Treaty Investor Visa does not lead to the investor and family being able to attain Legal Permanent Residency – Green Cards – to stay in the US long term, and this is what we would like to see reformed.
Upon research, it was found that the E2 Treaty Investor Visa is the only Non Immigrant visa that requires a substantial investment without leading to Legal Permanent Residency.
Our hope is that E2 Treaty Investor Visa holders who have reached certain criteria, could then look at future stability and a permanent home in the US. This would not be a blanket change for all of these visa holders – we feel it should be earned.
From data recently collected, from
251 businesses, we have the following figures:
Number of Employees – 3373
Original Investment – $71,218,886
Turnover (Sales) 2010 – $194,312,065
Turnover (Sales) 2011 – $229,687,666
We believe there is anything between 30,000 and 100,000 E2 Treaty Investor businesses in the US. This is based on Data from the Department of State that shows between 25,000 and 30,000 have been issued each year for the last 5 years. However we do know this includes renewals, E2 Manager and E2 Essential Worker visas, as well as original applications for E2 businesses. There is currently no official data of the individual breakdown.
We know that greater business development could be achieved by E2 Treaty Investor Visa holders, if, a pathway to Legal Permanent Residency was available. The current situation leads to these visa holders not having a secure platform on which to make business decisions and plan beyond their next renewal. With expansion would come the opportunity to offer more jobs to more US citizens.
E2 Treaty Investor Visa holders pay taxes, buy houses and vehicles, spend their hard earned money here and contribute to their local communities.
You may ask why changes have not been made to this visa before now – well it has become very clear to us that not many politicians, or their aides, know much about this visa. We are a very small group of immigrants compared to many others. But does that make us any less deserving of reform? We also believe that we are the first group to try and bring this to the attention of Washington.
Life can be very tough for the E2 Treaty Investor Visa holder. We cannot retire on this visa, even though many have been here for 20 years or longer, paying into the Social Security and Medicare Fund. Our children ‘Age Out’ at 21 and have to be given other visas in their own right. The only real viable options are an International Student visa, having their own E2 business, with all of the same issues, or marriage. These children are not entitled to Social Security Numbers and therefore are unable to work and learn the worth of money or of a job well done.
Our hope is that Reform for the E2 Treaty Investor Visa can be considered within any current Immigration Reform that are going to be proposed.
I am pleased to announce that these two new log homes are well on schedule for completion in the spring. Today the light oak, hardwood flooring for the 2nd floor of Canadice log home was completed and work will start on the second floor tomorrow which, should take about two to three days to complete. Then the builders will start installing all the internal doors and trim.
Meanwhile, the sister home of Canadice across the driveway which is Canandaigua log home, is being internally log stained and this work should be completed by the end of next week ready for the flooring to be laid as well.
The weather has been reasonably kind to us and I hope that it will not be too long before I can post some updated photos of the two homes as they progress further along.
I apologize that I have been remiss in not blogging more frequently than I usually do these days. Ironically, there has been a lot of things going on as well as my having to supervise and push forward the building of the two new log cabins at Cobtree to be ready for the spring. By the end of the day I have been simply exhausted and with little motivation to post on my blog. I beg your indulgence and understanding for the time being.
However, the pure economics of running a small business, such as ours, is always a challenge with ever rising costs and ever increasing property taxes as well as balancing the needs of our guests. Afforability plays another important factor as to what we can afford to supply as part of the already high quality of accommodations that we rent here at Cobtree. This week for example, we bit the bullet and swapped out all of the older style televisions in the living rooms of all of our properties for modern high definition flat screen televisions with HDMI. We also installed televisions for all the master bedrooms at Cobtree as well.
This upgrade alone cost nearly $3000 but we think this is what guests have been keen to point out to us they want from us and we hope that they will enjoy them!
This means that each home has two televisions in them now and the main television in the living room supplied with Time Warner cable. The secondary televisions in the bedrooms benefit from the basic cable package but does not have a separate cable box but do benefit from built in DVD players so if you are planning to stay with us, please bring some DVD’s with you to enjoy whilst you are here.
Jane and I went to see a showing of this movie this afternoon at the Geneva Movieplex on Hamilton street and have to say that this was an amazing movie. I also came across this review of the movie and think it worth sharing with you. I pretty much agree with all that the reviewer writes although, I thougtht that Russel Crowes performance was also very good and whilst he is not the worlds best singer, he certainly can carry a tune all the same. Colm Wilkinson plays the part of the bishop in this screen version of the play and as anybody knows, Colm Wilkinson does indeed have one of the finest tenor voices in the world today.
Happy New Year from Cobtree Vacation Rental Resort in the beautiful Finger Lakes of upstate New York in the winter!
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And old lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
And surely I’ll buy mine
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne
We two have run about the slopes
And picked the daisies fine
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot
Since auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne
We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun till dine
But seas between us broad have roared
From auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne
And there’s a hand my trusty friend
And give us a hand o’ thine
And we’ll take a right good-will draught
For auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne
Dedicated to Miriam E. and Robert A. Dorn
As I had to reluctantly make a few stops in our busy shopping district the day after Christmas, passing the crowded parking lots and lines of shoppers literally stretching out of the store entrances, I couldn’t help but recall an experience I had as a teenage department store stock worker. I know that Christmas was only five days ago, but I must tell this Easter Weekend story.
It was Easter Saturday 1968 and I was working at Abraham and Straus at the Walt Whitman Mall, in Huntington, Long Island. I was stocking the shelves with some last minute sale items and it was 8:59 AM. Ok, so you might be asking yourself, “How could I possibly remember an exact time that morning 44 years ago?” Well, the store always opened precisely at 9:00 AM (not 8:59 or 9:01, but exactly at 9:00 AM. Only this time, there was a long line of people, mostly women, standing in front of the stores many glass doors. There were store clerks there with their keys ready waiting for the clock to strike 9:00.
I was walking across some isles and had a large stack of sale candy, which had just been marked down to almost nothing. I thought to myself, what an orderly crowd, I was so glad that crowd was not made up of kids because they wouldn’t have been so polite and mature. I could see my boss, who was across the floor in the back, working on a display rack and waving to me.
Just as the doors were unlocked, everything changed. Those orderly, mature, seemingly calm and adult-like people, instantly became a stampede, an out-of-control mob, a figurative tidal wave of pocket books, scarves (women often wore scarves on their heads back then), eye glasses, cigarettes, determined faces—-it was all a blur, really.
Within what seemed like seconds, I was spun around, like the cartoon image of Road Runner passing Wiley Coyote at warp speed in the dessert, spinning him around. The only sound I remember was one woman screaming, “Here they are” (the sale candy) as she ran towards me. The only sensation I remember was pocket books and finger nails hitting me as women reached up and grabbed one, two or three boxes each.
The next thing I knew, I was tucking my shirt back in, recomposing myself, combing my hair, asking myself, “Did those women really take every single one of those 48 boxes of candy from the carton in my arms in seconds?” As I approached the display rack where my boss was putting the finishing touches on the attractive candy display, she asked “Bob, where’s the candy, we need to get this finished?” Honestly, I would have given anything to see the expression on my face. Clearly, I was bewildered and dazed. I believe I had just been molested by a crowd of sale-seeking women on a mission.
Actually, I take it back; I think a group of children would have been better behaved.
Have a great week and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Our guests arrived promptly on time and together we sat down to eat our Christmas dinner together. After consuming the great gourmet delights I had prepared throughout the morning, we started to play the game of mahjong together. Although Jane knows the game well, I have seldom ever played the game but our friends Phil and Carol took to the game like ducks to the water even though the mahjong set is a traditional Chinese set with Chinese characters. During the afternoon, two other friends, Todd and his wife Teresa, stopped by and they too started to play the game with us and what a lot of fun it was. Later, I faced time with our sons Kenneth and Daniel in England as well as a quick hello to our Granddaughter Olivia.
We tried to call a few friends around the world as well as locally but everybody seemed to be occupied as we were unable to get hold of any of them. Never mind, we shall try to do so over the next few days as it is important to Jane and I to touch base with all of our friends and family at this time of the year. All in all we had, how we say in England, a spiffing day today.
It snowed over night and the ground is covered in a white snowy blanket. The clouds over the lake are dark and ominous and so perhaps more snow is on its way later in the day. The photo I took looking Westwards shows the progress of our two new log cabins here at Cobtree which will be ready for renting this spring. Meanwhile, I am busy preparing Christmas dinner and we have our neighbors coming over to join us at around 12.30pm Here is a menu of todays gatronomic delights:
Sausage Rools made with homemade Mille-Feuille (Puff Pastry)
Lobster Thermidore Appetizer
Beef Wellington with a rich sherry and mushroom gravy
Green Beans, stir fried with garlic
Brussel sprouts finished with bacon bits and toasted walnuts
Potato Au Gratin (Potatoes cooked in the oven in a rich cheesy sauce)
Christmas Pudding with a rum fudge sauce
Chocolate cake with whipped cream
Red Cat wine for my neighbor who loves it (Yuk!) a
Chiantti for Jane and I
Coffee and Liquers
Merry Christmas everyone!
A Christmas Prayer
Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
by Robert Louis Stevenson
In search of even more maple dining room chairs to furnish our two new log homes at Cobtree, I discovered a gem of a company on Craigslist.org at the following link. This company sells a myriad of items from furniture to shelving, to totes and containers and much, much more. The owner “Scott” has a large inventory of items for sale and I believe has a very special niche market for what he sells. Scott can be contacted on 315-589-9497 after 1pm daily and his warehouse is located in Williamson NY.
Reposted as received from our friend Robert Dorn this morning and Dedicated to Miriam E. and Robert A. Dorn
I was talking with my father in law tonight at dinner and our conversation about a paint job I will be doing led to his recalling a ladder incident he had while working many years ago with a neighbor. A ladder he was standing on slid down the side of the house, breaking through a window as it fell to the ground. Fortunately he was uninjured but embarrassed. I then shared a ladder mishap story involving my car.
I am sharing this incident for two reasons: I want to prove to you that I have a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at myself; and I thought I would give you a chuckle.
One evening I loaded my Chevy Nova Hatchback with some painting supplies and an eight-foot wooden step ladder, which I had done several times before. So this should have been quite simple task. However, I forgot the fact that due to the contour of the front windshield and back glass hatch lid, in combination with the slanted top step of the ladder, it only fit if the correct side was facing up. For some reason this one particular day, I was in a hurry and mistakenly placed the ladder upside down. When I slammed the back hatch lid, something did not seem right. Whereas normally doing so caused a little air pressure resistance as it was closed, this time it went quite easily. In fact, I remember asking myself why this would be the case as I walked to the front of the car. Much to my surprise and chagrin, I saw the top of the ladder sticking out of the front windshield. Yes, I actually broke my front windshield with the ladder! How could I have been so careless and foolish?
But the story doesn’t end there—I did something equally foolish the very next day after dropping off the car at the auto glass place. A few hours after Deb followed me to the glass shop and gave me a ride home I suddenly realized I had not left them the car keys in the overnight key drop. So I quickly dialed their number and blurted out my apology for forgetting to drop off the key, promising to return immediately with the key so they could complete the work. The clerk I spoke to snickered a little at first but then composed himself and responded: ” Mr. Dorn, your car is ready, we replaced the windshield. You can come and pick it up now”. Again, in a hurry, and not thinking clearly, I inquired “But sir, how did you get into the car?” Again regaining his composure, he responded “Mr. Dorn, we simply reached through the broken windshield and unlocked the door”. I imagine that he laughed and laughed after we hung up and told his colleagues about the idiotic conversation he had with this customer.
My my, how kind this clerk was! I admit I appreciated the respect and restraint he exhibited.
Perhaps I may be forgiven I believe in saying that I thought that winter would never come. We had been experiencing such mild weather throughout the fall and leading up to Christmas that I thought that it could well be that for the first time since we moved to the USA that we would not have a white Christmas this year. The night before last it was forecast for snow but what was forecast as snow turned into torrential rain and it must have rained over an inch during the night. At one time the wind howled and the rain cracked against our window panes with such ferocity. This continued until around lunch time yesterday when suddenly the temperature dipped and by the evening it had started to snow. Last night we went to our friends home down in Geneva and had a blast until just after 11pm when we returned home, myself once again pretty cut with all the drinks Matt Parrott loaded on me as well as some pretty damned good food that people brought with them to pass around. Thank you Matt for such a great time at your party.
This morning we awoke to white winters wonderland albeit, the snow has since pretty much been blown away here on the Hill on Armstrong Road. We are about fifty percent booked over the Christmas period itself and this weekend we are pretty much fully booked now. We have just one opening for the new year and so as the saying goes, get your skates on if you wish to come and stay with us over the New Year period here at Cobtree. Many of the wineries are still open, as our numerous quality restaurants nearby and around the Finger Lakes.
The photo here shows the landscape here at Cobtree this morning after it had stopped snowing. The wind had soon blown most of the snow down the hill into the lake. Canadice Log Home on theleft of the picture at the back and Canandaigua Log Home to the right of it, are both progressing well and are on schedule for renting in the spring. These two new homes will become the flag ship of quality for our homes here at Cobtree, not that is to say, that all of our homes here at Cobtree are well appointed.
Both now have the roofs, doors, windows and porches on and the electrical and heating installation to Canadice is almost complete. I have been busy purchasing furniture and other items for the two properties so that we will be ready to go once they have been completed in th spring of 2013.
“The pen is mightier than the sword” is a metonymic adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracyfully:
True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyze the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!
Good people of the Town of Geneva, New York who may happen to read or to follow my blog. I humbly beg that you forward an email from your email contacts to all of your friends living in our township asking them to visit my blog at this link www.cobtree.com/blog and to request that they in turn forward the email to all of their own email contacts.
I ask that you do this so that they may see firsthand what the elected councilors and town officials have been putting our business through these past two years and to make up their own minds whether or not we are truly the villains, the ogres that town officials the like of Councilor Pat Riley believe us to be.
I further ask the good people of this town to understand that we wish only to be good neighbors and to continue to operate our successful business here at Cobtree, which in turn brings prosperity into the community in which we all live and work.
Moreover, I ask that you remember that the voting public of this town are mightier than its town officials because, you have the power of your vote to make political changes to the composition of the town board at the next town elections and to elect those leaders who will make a difference to how our town is managed and run if like me, you consider the current board to be out of touch and out of control.
We have received a number of telephone calls from guests that have already reserved their weddings for 2013 and 2014 in light of the earlier blog that I posted regarding our ongoing battle with the town of Geneva regarding our planning issues here at Cobtree. I am sad to say this is nothing new to us and whilst the town is effectively trying to damage our business by their shameful bullying actions and behavior, this has been going on now for over two years now. In the process we have racked up a legal bill for us of some $78,000 and counting. We were also forced into suing the town earlier this year as well.
Although we are for the time being at least, withdrawing our application to the towns zoning board of appeals to be able to erect a seasonal tent, which we had planned to have remained statically erected between May and October (Our peak rental season here in the Finger Lakes), we never the less, do not require any planning permissions to erect a temporary tent on behalf of our guests for holding a wedding at Cobtree which lawfully is considered an ancillary and temporary use to the guests rental of their property (s) here at Cobtree.
Therefore, nothing will change regarding the reservations already made by our guests or indeed, any future weddings here at Cobtree (Unless of course, a Judge ordered to the contrary but on legal advice obtained from our attorneys would be most unlikely that the town could obtain such an order from the courts as we are not in any way in contravention of any NY State or local laws in what we do here at Cobtree).
In essence, we are simply going to be acting as a go between the tent rental company (Spatola’s) and our guests making the reservations for our rental property (s) and the use of our grounds as an ancillary use to the guests rental of our property(s).
Of course, we hope that the difficulties we have been experiencing with the town, will come to a mutually acceptable conclusion in the near future and hopefully we will be once again left alone to get on and do what we do best which is to develop tourism here to the Finger Lakes.
Thank you for your continued trust and your understanding.
Note: All of the photos below were taken during our trip to Las Vegas and were added to the blog upon our return.
Buzz, buzz, buzz. It’s the alarm clock buzzing to wake us up at 2.20am this morning. By 2.45 we are heading out of the door, into our Honda pilot and a one hour drive to Rochester airport in the pitch black darkness of the night.
The airport was eerily deserted as we arrived, parked our car in the long stay car park and headed into the terminal itself. There was hardly a soul around at 4am and the check in desk for US airways was not yet open either. A short time later and the airline staff arrived to help us check in and then it was the fun and games of going through the airport security and the stress that this all entails. This is not. I may add, my favorite part of air travel and I am certain that anyone who has recently travelled by air will attest that this part of the fun and games, actually sucks!
Mc.Donald’s opened at 4.30 once we got to the other side of security and so after consuming half of an egg Mc.Muffin (a sandwich created by an Englishman no less, as well as a huge seller for Mc.Donald’s) a cup of coffee and a hash brown (Jane consumed the other half) we together with our son Daniel and his friend Brad, who we consider like an adopted son, went to our gate and immediately boarded our flight to Ronald Reagan airport in Washington D.C
There we will connect with our flight to Las Vegas and should arrive there by around 11am PST.
Jane has planned out a great schedule for our stay in Las Vegas. Horse riding at Red rock canyon, a flight over the Grand Canyon, the boys are going out for a whole day Rock climbing at Red Rock canyon just to name but a few things planned during our visit to Nevada.
Jane and I are not into gambling albeit no doubt, I will feed the hungry tigers (Chinese name for a slot machine) when passing through the lobby of the Caesars Palace resort where we have booked rooms for the 5 days of our mini vacation. I say mini vacation because of the few days we are away from Cobtree however, I am conscious that unlike in England, where I am originally from, most Americans only get 2-3 weeks a year paid vacation whilst back home we get 5-6 weeks paid annual vacation on average.
As we arrive at Washington D.C the landing had to be aborted at the very last moment due to low visibility. After circling around the airport for a further twenty minutes the pilot was able to punch the aircraft through the fog and have just landed arrived at our gate and in an hours time will begin the second leg of our Journey to Las Vegas.
We are now nearing our destination and are just one and a half hours out from landing at Las Vegas and currently flying over the Arizona desert. Looking down on this very inhospitable sandy landscape it is not difficult to see why those who venture out into the desert for a little fun, could easily end up losing their lives. This is simply nothing out there that could support human life that is unless, you happened to be Bear Grylls!
The novelty of flying certainly pales after six hours in an aluminum cylinder together with another hundred plus travelers. Time starts to pass sooooo slowly and once the person sitting next to me got tired with conversation and went to sleep it got so very boring. The two boys by now have woken up and are now playing with their own IPhones whilst Jane, bless her is reading a book as she always likes to do when she can. We are not sitting together this leg of the trip because we got seated separately I in 4C and Jane in 5C. Isn’t it said that behind every successful man there is a woman!
Meanwhile, Daniel is chatting away with Brad and both looking down over the desert. No doubt Daniel would love to be down there exploring and surviving such an inhospitable, aridly dry and hot place but I for one count my blessings that I am flying safely above it.
Well… Not quite. It should be what you win in Vegas stays in Vegas. How so, I hear you ask?
Yesterday, in additional to meeting up with Bumble bee from the tranformers movie I played slot and put in $10 and got out zilch. Later in the day the Hungry Tiger swallowed another $10 and again I got out zilch. Third time was the lucky one I played $10 and I got out $208 and then, I walked away.
This morning I played $20 and zilch. So, $50 in and $208 out no bad but, if I I do not stop, then what I won in Vegas would stay in Vegas!
We went to bed at 10pm last night which was 1am EST and almost a whole day since we set off From Geneva. At 5am Jane turned the light on and woke me up. She could not sleep.
Unlike the vacation homes we rent a hotel affords little privacy. You simply cannot go into another room like you can in our well appointed properties at Cobtree.
So, I got up, got dressed and together we walked down the strip to the Mirage hotel where once, it seems a life time ago, Jane and I also once stayed in.
Jane played $1 in a $0.01 cent slot machine and she played that slot for twenty minutes before losing her $1 after first winning and losing $0.50 cents. Ah! Jane, the last of the big spenders. In contrast, Daniel lost $160 on black jack last night too.
I heard Daniel creep into their room last night at 2am after going to the nightclub here at the Caesars Hotel in Las Vegas.
Later this morning we are going to the Red Rock Canyon to some horse riding for two hours as well as to do some hiking in the dessert. At least we will be well away from the strip and the slot machines.
By the way, I met a couple of real angels last night on the strip. Now, where do I find those fifty virgins?
We had a great day today here in Nevada. Our horse riding in the Red Rock canyon was excellent and the scenery was beautiful. I played $5 on a slot machine and won $25 and cashed out with $20 before going to bed at midnight but not before watching the girls dance at the Pussy cat dolls tables at the Caesars Palace. Tomorrow we will go out to the dessert for a couple of hours hike.
Can you imagine sitting down and watching paint dry on a wall? Well, that is how I felt this morning walking along a rocky, dusty trail in the Nevada desert near Las Vegas, more precisely the the Desert national wildlife range. After an hour of walking along the trail that pretty much goes nowhere, nothing to see other than the distant mountain ranges that encompass the range, the very occasional bird or butterfly, this place is absolutely desolate.
Jane and the two boys can enjoy the few energy bars and bottled water they brought along and I will leave them to their own devices to get on with it! I for one have better things to do with my time than what is akin to walking aimlessly in the desert with the feeling of watching paint dry! Adios Amegos!
6am and the Caesar Palace hotels upper floors are quite. Not so on the casino floor where the cards are being shuffled and the roulette wheels spinning and the slot machines whirring around with all the cacophony of sounds that they make. Yes, this is after all a city that never sleeps, just like New York!
I played a dollar in a one cent slot. Won a dollar and lost a dollar before printing out my winnings from the machine. The days of cash winnings from the machines has been replaced by the electronic sound of jingling coin however, you collect your winnings in the form of a barcoded ticket which you take to another machine to dispense cash or you take it to one of the cashiers cages to redeem.
As I type Jane and I are in a 14 seated mini bus heading out to the airstrip at the town of Boulder some 45 minutes North West of Vegas. Here we will board a small propeller plane to go around the Grand Canyon. Now we all know his the Grand Canyon was formed don’t we? Erosion and ground heave? Nah, without being racist, a tight fisted person lost a quarter down a rabbit hole and dug out the Grand Canyon trying to retrieve it! Come to think about it, wasn’t that one of the forebears of my good friend Glen Quackenbush? He! He!
Here is a photo that I took from out of the window of the small plane that we flew over the Hoover dam and the grand canyon in. on the way out to the Grand Canyon. Last but not least, a photo of Brad eating his steak at the Outback restaurant in Las Vegas.
SUNDAY MORNING 9AM-December 2, 2012
Here follows a copy of my friends weekly blog which I thought would be nice to share with everybody.
Forgive me for seeming to dwell on the recent hurricane, but I wanted to share something quite positive about my experience just yesterday on the Rockaways (Long Island south shore community hit hardest).
I had an occasion to spend a brief afternoon in the Rockaways yesterday, helping our son, Dave, move back to Brooklyn from his apartment in that devastated area. I was struck by the amazing presence of NYPD and NYFD personnel, and scores of iridescent-vested volunteers helping all over the Rockaways as well as Cross Bay Boulevard which is one of the major access roads. Without any exaggeration, there were literally hundreds of police cars and patrol men/women all over the place, especially at every single intersection. Now, the power has been back on for over a week and yet, there they are still, expediting traffic, helping folks, keeping order, etc. The devastation is extensive, boats piled up on top of each other, ruined cars rusting and clearly now junkers being cleared away by heavy equipment. Sand everywhere, household debris (furniture, sheet rock, insulation, siding, etc. etc. piled high at the curbs) and contractors all over the place. While there were place that were hard to get around due to all the debris and service vehicles, there was at the same time a prevailing sense of order and almost tranquility.
I was in and out of his apartment building, loading a work van and my car and many people, apparently residents, passed by. Most of them said hello and a couple of them asked if they could help me load a dresser into the van (David had gone inside and it appeared as if I were attempting to lift the dresser myself, which I was not). But the point is, people were as friendly or perhaps even friendlier than I have ever seen them in New York. It reminded me of San Francisco a little, an extremely friendly city. I wanted to drive down to the Breezy Point area (where my Deb spent most of her childhood summers) where the 110 homes burned, but felt that one more onlookers car would not have been appropriate.
I credit Mayor Bloomberg with the extraordinary extended service of NYPD and NYFD in this situation. But I also credit the residents themselves. Even my son’s landlady was extremely understanding and accommodating as David requested breaking his lease so he could move closer to work in Brooklyn. It will be some time before all the apartment buildings and houses are repaired and back to normal. FEMA has also had a major presence as it systematically processes claims and helps many people, owners and tenants alike.
Wow! The helpful and cheerful spirit that abounded yesterday in the Rockaways was heartening and even inspirational.especially after people have endured such loss and major disruption.
Have a great week everyone.
Our son Daniel, who is visiting from England, informed Jane and I that he would like to visit Las Vegas whilst he was here across the pond (Atlantic ocean) and that he would like to go together with us both and his close friend Brad Howard whom many of you will know, is akin to our adopted son.
As we had a substantial amount of US Airways dividend miles that have accrued over the years, we were able to redeem these for two of the flight tickets and we were also able to get a great deal on the other two flight tickets for the two boys. As well as this, we were able to obtain a fantastic deal for two separate rooms and for 4 nights at the Caesars Palace Resort in Las Vegas, which is located on the main strip downtown in the city. So, we shall soon be leaving for another short mini break.
Ironically, we live in this beautiful place called the Finger Lakes with all that it offers to guests arriving to stay with us from all over the world yet, when we go away, we choose to visit the very cities and towns from where our own guests come from to stay with us. Now isn’t this weird?
The windows are in one of the two new log homes and the lower floor windows in the second home. The electrical and heating installation commenced on Tuesday and we should have heating in both properties within the next three weeks. All is going to plan it would seem. Next will be the installation of the tongue and groove pine throughout each cabin and then the upper floor siding on the outside of the buildings. I ordered the kitchens from our local Lowes store yesterday and here is the design for them.
We have recently been made aware that an unauthorized party has been reaching out to owners on the Flipkey and Tripadvisor web sites posing as a FlipKey or TripAdvisor representatives in an attempt to solicit payment from property owners. These calls are not associated with FlipKey or TripAdvisor and both companies are investigating and pursuing the matter further in an attempt to locate these criminals. FlipKey accounts remains secure and if you are ever unsure whether you are speaking to a FlipKey employee on the phone please feel free to call them directly at 1-877-FLIPKEY (354-7539) in the U.S. or 617-849-7015 internationally.
Some people down at the Hall diner, where I have breakfast most mornings, feel that my job is an easy one. Well, I have some off the press news for them, it is not an easy job at all! Take this morning for example when I observed out of my office window that there were 11 Indian guests who had travelled up to stay with us from Ozone Park in New York, who had only paid for 4 guests staying at the property.
This coupled with the fact that the property that they stayed in was only equipped and insured for 8 people sharing made this quite unacceptable. Once again I had to confront the guest about this. However, my job was made a little easier this morning because these 11 guests were all posing outside the property taking a group photo together! The net result was that they had to pay an additional $432 for the additional occupants staying at the property over and above what they had paid for. I think that you will agree that this is no chump change is it?
Next on the mornings agenda was to repair the kitchen sink in one of our brick built house where the pipes were leaking and just needed the nuts tightening up. Now this was an easy job!
Thanksgiving feast with friends this afternoon. What a great time had by all on a gorgeous day here in the beautiful Finger Lakes.
The homemade menu with local produce sourced where possible.
Tuscany Soup with leaks, celery, potatoes, chicken stock, herbs, seasoning and spicy pepperoni served with dinner rolls and butter
Chopped heart of Romaine lettuce salad with cucumber, tomatoes, Mandarin oranges, spring (green) onions dressed with a champagne, orange vinegar and olive oil dressing
A shoulder joint of oak smoked bbq roasted pork cooked over charcoal in the “beast”
Baby yellow potatoes with salted butter, chopped parsley and chopped fresh spearmint (from our garden)
French dwarf beans stir fried with butternut squash seed oil, finished with prosciutto ham
Baked Cauliflower in a four cheese sauce
Home grown plum and dried apricot pie
Éclair balls filled with custard and dipped in chocolate, dusted with powdered sugar and decorated with sprigs of fresh spearmint
Whipped heavy cream with powdered sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice
A bottle of white wine from Sheldrake winery
A bottle of white wine from Long point winery
Freshly brewed Starbucks latte (using my new Starbucks Verismo “Pod” coffee maker)
Grand Marnier orange Liqueur
Lindt & Sprungli Swiss made milk chocolate
Calories per serving? Let’s not count today!
Happy thanksgiving everyone and I hope you also enjoyed your own thanksgiving dinner too!
This afternoon I took this photograph of Canadice Log Home now under construction here at Cobtree. There was no building activity here today as traditionally Mennonites take the first Monday off after the deer hunting season opens. Today alas was noexception and as before posted, this will be a short working week with the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. I went shopping this morning and it was bedlam down at our local Wegmans store. I could not believe how many people were shopping on a Monday morning! BJ’s however, was not so busy though.
Tomorrow morning the crane will arrive to start setting the trusses for Canandaigua Log Home, the sister log home of Canadice. With a little luck, the roof and shingles will all be on by Friday afternoon and then next Monday our builders should then start putting the windows into both of the prioperties. So far, so good and we are on schedule for completion next spring ready for occupancy in April 2013.
I cannot help but contemplate how quickly the days, weeks, months and years slip by and with them the four seasons of the year. No sooner do I lament the passing of summer into the fall and then arrives this morning the heaviest frost of the year, announcing that winter is on its way in earnest. Our oldest son Kenneth travelled back to England yesterday after a 10 day vacation with Jane and I. The time certainly passed in a blink of an eye and we are already missing him so much. However, our youngest son Daniel who arrived from England last Sunday, is going to be staying with us until the middle of December so at least we have one of our boys with us over the thanksgiving this year.
Time flies and this week has been as hectic as last week. We took our boys to the Waterloo outlet mall, East View Mall, shopping around town, a reception organized by the Seneca Lake Winery association, hosted by the good folk of the Zugibe winery on East lake road and food catered for by the Ventosa winery. At the latter function we ate some great food, tasted some great wines and the chef of the Ventosa winery prepared and served some of the best tasting Tuscany soup that I have ever tasted. Kudos to the chef! Together we went to Vonnies boat house and grill a few times together and on Wednesday night we went out together with our adopted sons” Matt Parrott and Brad Howard over to the Sakura Japanese restaurant in Canandaigua where we had a blast! Afterwards we stopped into a bar we had never been in before called Dons which is located on the 5 & 20 coming back from Canandaigua. This was a lot of fun too.
Meanwhile, the building works have been progressing and the second cabin being built here at Cobtree (aptly named Canandaigua Log Home) is ready for the roof trusses to be installed next Tuesday and weather permitting, the roof and shingles should be finished by the end of next week too. It will of course be a short working week with the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. We took delivery of our new rack cards earlier in the week. These were designed for us by the In House graphics, Inc. team and printed by the Geneva printing company, Inc.
Tomorrow is the opening day of the gun season for Deer hunting and no doubt we will awake to the sound of gunshot.
Our trip to Boston via a night’s stay at the Hotel Skyler in Syracuse was a welcoming break for Jane and I. We left Cobtree just after lunch on Monday arriving at our hotel around 2pm. After checking in we went out together for lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant before going back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. Monday evening we went to a small family run Indian restaurant and enjoyed some great tasting Indian food even though the restaurant itself was a little bit shabby for our taste. Then it was off to see a Chinese acrobatic troupe perform at the Syracuse arena and what a fantastic show it turned out to be too.
Then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep in a tastefully decorated room and a comfortable bed. Tuesday morning we were both up with the lark by 6.30am and we then set off on our journey to Boston which took us another 4 and a half hours from Syracuse. Arriving at the Boston Plaza hotel and towers on Tuesday afternoon, to find the hotel swarming with security and TV crews for election day with the hotel being used as the campaign headquarters for Senator Brown (who subsequently lost the vote). The hotel was old, outdated and not worth the money we spent on the room charge. We would certainly not recommend this hotel to anybody visiting Boston!
Never the less, we overall enjoyed our stay in Boston once we had picked up our son Kenneth from Logan international airport on Tuesday we went to the no name restaurant together for dinner. We had been to this restaurant three years ago and remembered that the food was very good back then. Not so this time around. It was in a word “disgusting” and we will never be going back to that restaurant again. This restaurant specializes in fresh seafood but what was served up to us I think our dog Cheeko would have snubbed his nose at. The fish was not fresh, was bland and overcooked and the French fries were soft and limp. Then it was back to the hotel to set Kenneth’s bags down in the room before we went next door to an Irish pub together. Here we met up with some Compadres from Liverpool in England and together we had a whale of time and got absolutely plastered on three bottles of chardonnay between drank between Kenneth and I alone and he then went on to drink some whisky as well. It was as much as I could do to focus my eyes and stagger back to the hotel room. I recall nothing more until Wednesday morning when I awoke to such a hangover not experienced for so many years!
We then walked to the nearby Chinatown for a Dim Sum breakfast together. Although I was able to eat something I was still very much hung over and so was Kenneth. I was still so tired that I actually put my head on the table and started to sleep! We then got into a taxi and went back to the hotel and Kenneth and I slept until nearly 1pm until we were able to recover from the previous night.
In the afternoon we visited the State House which was well worth the visit and, was free. I even got to see the Governor of Massachusetts who was giving a press conference at the State house. Wednesday evening our friends Robert and Deb Dorn came into town to meet up with us for a meal at a very good French restaurant that we had discovered. The food was phenomenal and we had such a great time together before sadly we had to say our au revoirs and head off to the theatre to watch the Blueman group perform. This too was a terrific show and most entertaining. When we left the theatre, there was a two inch accumulation of snow on the sidewalk from the storm that had blew in that afternoon. Then we were into Thursday. Breakfast again at the Dim Sum restaurant followed by some shopping at a nearby Chinese supermarket before setting off back home to Geneva arriving back here around 4.30 in the afternoon to pick up Cheeko from the home of our friends Glen and Susan Quackenbush (Thank you both for taking good care of him for us once again. We both owe you so much!)
Meanwhile, our Mennonite builders had been very busy here at Cobtree whilst we were away and had even managed to get the roof on one of the cabins we are building. They had also started laying logs on the second cabin and should have those completed by next Wednesday if the weather holds out. So, there you have it. A quick precise of what we have been up to this past week. This weekend we are once again fully booked here at Cobtree with guests taking a wine tour together. Some guests will be enjoying a campfire here tonight and if the night is anything like it was like last night with clear skies and sparkling stars on a black canvas, they too should have a great time keeping warm by the fire and enjoying some drinks together. Just don’t get hammered like Kenneth and I did in Boston as tomorrow you will regret it!
Our grounds contractor, Todd Hoover from Hall NY, is coming over this morning to consolidate the stone for the concrete patio we are building for hosting future weddings receptions and reunions on here at Cobtree. This pad is going to be a “T” shaped brushed concrete pad measuring 42 x 62ft and with a 20 x 20ft area which creates the “T” which will be used for the catering or bar area of the patio. A 40 x 60ft tent with the 20 x 20ft addition will then be erected on this patio when we host these functions from May through October each year for up to 150 guests attending.
It has to be stated that we do not allow our properties here at Cobtree to be used as party houses in themselves and we will only allow specifically arranged functions using the patio we are now building, in conjunction with renting our properties together at Cobtree and that the reception area with or without tent is provided as an ancillary use to such rentals of the site. In this way we can continue to provide our guests a magnificant place to hold their wedding, rehearsal dinner or wedding reception overlooking Seneca lake and located in a beautiful, economical and safe environment for our guests to enjoy.
Monday we battened down the hatches for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. It arrived here in the Finger Lakes during the evening. After hearing the howling winds outside, the lights flickered on and off a few times but stayed on albeit, we lost cable for almost 16 hours until the service was reconnected. Not because the cable went down but rather there was an electrical breakdown somewhere or other and so the cable company, Time Warner, were without electricity to operate their own relays.
So much for battening down the hatches though. On Tuesday morning all the plastic sheeting and canvas used to cover materials and equipment on our construction site had been torn to shreds by the wind and the rain. Here we had only three inches of rain overnight whereas in Manhatten (New York City) they had three feet of rain overnight!
Most certainly the Finger Lakes region dodged a bullet and the Hurricane headed north into Canada sparing the region for the most part. Tuesday morning was pretty good with just a few showers however, in the afternoon the rain intensified some what. Throughout the day I was working four feet down in the ground in a trench helping my friend Todd lay water lines to our two new log homes. Our Mennonite builders did not work on Tuesday because of the storm but by the end of the day, I was absolutely knackered. Wednesday it rained on and off never the less, our builders were able to progress the work and today they completed the shell of one of the new homes ready for setting the roofing trusses tomorrow morning at 8.30am when the crane arrives.
The windows have been ordered from Marvin Windows through Quackenbush hardware store in Hall NY and these should arrive in two weeks time, as will all the bath tubs and showers for these 4 bedroom and four bathroom homes now being built ready for renting starting next spring.
The building work is very much on schedule and by next week our builders should start erecting the second home here at Cobtree and laying the logs for that house too. Jane and I are going to Syracuse on Monday afternoon to see a Chinese acrobat circus and staying overnight at the hotel Skyler before driving across to Boston on Tuesday to welcome our son Kenneth arriving from England. Next Wednesday we are meeting up with friends in Boston and then Jane, Kenneth and I are going to see the Blueman group perform. We will be back to Geneva late Thursday afternoon next week, bringing Kenneth with us, of course!
Update: Friday 9.56 am
Here is a photo taken from the 2nd floor bedroom of the new cabin. In two words ” Simply Stunning”
Hurricane Sandy is moving steadily northwards towards the eastern seaboard of the USA and with it is forecast torrential rains. If the meteorologists are right and the storm meets with a cold front coming in from Canada, we could have some serious snow as well. All this of course makes for some careful planning on our part with the building works going on here at Cobtree on the two new cabins. This afternoon we, as the expression goes, battened down the hatches and securely covered everything in readiness for the potential weather storms ahead if the hurricane stays on its current track. The coming week may prove a difficult week to keep our construction work going however, we are planning to be able to continue working on the first floor framing for the one cabin where the first floor log work has been completed (today) and then there is some framing that can be carried out in the basement of the other cabin.
Meanwhile, the septic tanks arrived this afternoon and were “planted” in the ground and filled with water so that they do not float out of the ground should we have a deluge of rain in the coming days. Just like a ship that floats through displacement, these massive concrete septic tanks with a holding capacity of 2000 gallons can actually float out of the ground if not half filled with water as ballast.
On a positive note, last Tuesday night, we were granted the set back and area variances we sought from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the town of Geneva and can now move forward with our major sub division through the site review process by the town planning board. This has been a long and expensive struggle for Jane and I and now hope that we shall within the coming months come to the end of this long saga.
This weekend Cobtree is hosting the wedding of Christian and Hana Smith. A very large tent has been erected as well as a delightfully quaint wedding arbor decorated for the fall. We are expecting an attendance of some 150 guests to arrive today. The wedding took place out on the lawn and here Cobtree has pleasure to introduce to you Mr and Mrs Smith.
The US military had intelligence that there was a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) somewhere along the road and military personnel were dispatched to try to locate and diffuse it. The soldiers certainly found it when they were thrown off of their feet and only then to hear the big bang of the explosion. Despite their protective clothing the soldiers suffered massive injuries. One lost both of his arms and the other shrapnel wounds to his face. He was the lucky one.
This somber story was related to me yesterday by my friend whose son in law was the soldier who got injured from the shrapnel from the bomb. My son Kenneth is scheduled to go to Afghanistan next year with the British Army Medical Corp and it frightens my wife and I that our son could be being potentially placed into harm’s way when these maniacs place these IED’s deliberately to maim and kill our military personnel as well as civilians too. They certainly do not play by the Marquis of Queensbury Rules or for that matter, any other rules of engagement. The Taliban just want us out of what they perceive is their country and at any cost.
I have no answer as to whether or not our nations should be in Afghanistan and fighting this war. I am however troubled that we, like the Russians before us and the British back in history, will end up achieving nothing unless the Afghanistan security forces truly are able and strong enough to continue the fight after the allies have long left the country. My thoughts and my prayers go to these soldiers who were wounded in this bomb explosion and hope that my friends brother in law will have a speedy recovery. I pray that his colleague will have both the strength and will to overcome the terrible injuries he has suffered from losing his arms and the long road ahead of rehabilitation.
What a terrific night out Jane and I had last night at the West Lake Road Fire House annual dinner and prize draw held each year here in the town of Geneva. We enjoyed a few drinks together with neighbors and friends and each ate a NY strip steak with baked potato and side salad. To top off the evening I won $150 in the prize raffle before going home pretty much inebriated and then straight to my bed and fast asleep in minutes!
The first frost of the winter arrived this morning after the overnight temperature plummeted. Our contractors generally do not work over the weekend and so today is remarkably quite here at Cobtree. The temperature has meanwhile risen and it is nice and sunny outside. We are fully booked this weekend and all of the guests have gone out for the day, many have gone on wine tours as I did see two limos arrive to collect guests to take them. This evening Jane and I are going to go to the West lake Road fire house to attend their annual dinner. They cook great steaks and there is a chance to win some great raffle prizes too.
The log kits arrived a day earlier by tractor-trailer from Tennessee and we almost had a disaster when the forklift and operator we had arranged to unload the truck did not show up claiming that his forklift had at the very last moment broken down. Fortunately there was in place a plan “B” and at short notice we were able to put this into action. In fact, everything went really smoothly and the truck was unloaded in less than 3 hours. Then, the truck with its driver was off up to Buffalo NY to pick up yet another load.
Already the porch deck of one of the new cabins has been erected. Each post measures a whopping 8 x 8 of pressure treated wood and each costing $84 for a 12 foot length (there are 5 of these for each of the log cabins alone). The basement walls have been plastered with cement and tomorrow the, over dig area will be backfilled with washed stone. That leaves just the glass block basement windows to be installed tomorrow and the masonry work will be complete.
Within the coming week, both porch decks will have been completed and the building of the main log structure will be started in earnest. As you can appreciate I have been very busy managing this property and helping out where I am able to do so. Excuse me therefore if my blogs are as less frequent as they usually are whilst things settle down!
We are planning on building yet another property here on Armstrong Road on a piece of land that sits just in front of the farmhouse that we used to own which is on it’s own sub division and which has fantastic views overlooking Seneca Lake. This property will be built to be occupied as our own personal home to live in and as an investment for our children to one day inherit. I have today arranged a percolation test to be carried out, once the soy beans have been harvested off of the field and then we can plan where we will locate the property to get the best views and easy access onto Armstrong Road itself. I would anticipate construction to start in the late spring of 2013 if everything pans out.
This will then allow us to rent out the property that we currently live in at Cobtree and which would then allow us to rent out the 10 the rental homes we already have planning consent for. In time we would then be able to offer accommodations for up to 84 people sharing and have our own home overlooking the development from a great vantage point in front of the old farmhouse where we once were going to live ourselves!
Once again we have a wedding party staying with us here at Cobtree this weekend. Although a tent is not being erected (The guests chose not to pay for the requisite rental fee for using our grounds to hold a function) the properties being occupied are only being rented together for the accommodations this time. I observed the bride and bridal group out on the grass yesterday afternoon on a fine fall day with the pastel fall colors of the trees behind them; taking photos together and the lovely bride all dressed up like a meringue in her traditional white wedding dress. She sure did look very beautiful, as did everyone else with her that were all dressed up to the nines!
What was annoying however was that when Jane and I came back last evening from the local Chinese buffet, there was a large white Ford SUV parked right outside of our own home which remained there all night and prevented us from parking our own car in our own driveway!
Meanwhile, the building works are progressing quite smoothly and the deck is already on one of the homes and the second will be finished by Tuesday. The log kits arrive on Wednesday next week and the main structures will then start to be erected. There will be a ton of things to do and to coordinate as we move into the fall and winter months.
Let’s face it; we all want something for nothing don’t we? Imagine if you will that you went into a restaurant to order a meal for you and your guests, place your order for the meals and then invite other guests to join you, order additional food and then not expect to pay for them!
Or another analogy, suppose you rented a room for two people in a hotel and then invited a couple of friends to come and stay in the room together with you. (Yes, it happens all the time you know)
Do you think for one moment that the hotel management is not going to add the additional occupants staying in the room to your bill when you check out?
Now, let’s say that you rented that same room and invited over a bunch of guests to have a party in that room. What do you think the hotel management is going to do about this scenario? You can bet your life that they would knock on your door and ask them to leave the hotel or get the cops to throw them out!
Our rental policies are not dissimilar to the above whereby our rental rates are dependent on occupancy. We include in our rentals a base number of occupants sharing and then this number may be increased to the maximum occupancy permitted in the property.
We rent our accommodations under the strict understanding that they are rented to the renter for the occupants that form part of the original booking and not, a whole bunch of other people visiting them and then using the property for a cook out or a party.
If however, guests wish to host a reception or gathering of people in excess of the number originally booked for, then it is possible to do this either by renting one of our meeting rooms or through the erection of a tent for a given number of people. This is however, only possible against payment of a rental charge for such ancillary use to the rental of two or more properties.
I am intrigued to know therefore, what you the reader of the above would think, if having reserved a number of properties for a given number of occupants, a guest were to then subsequently arrange for an additional 30-50 people to turn up for a BBQ at the rented properties, with all the additional cars they would arrive in, trash, wear and tear on their use of the grounds, accommodations, restrooms etc. and to cap it all, wish to erect a tent and expect that there would be no additional payment due because it had not been specifically discussed hitherto.
In point of fact, all of our fees are clearly defined in accordance with our rental policies and as stated in our online rates, terms and conditions of rental, terms and conditions for holding a reception and written so as to be crystal clear as to what is being agreed to by everyone concerned.
It is pouring with rain here today in Baltimore. It really sucks and makes Jane and I feel so depressed! Still, in a city you can always find something to do indoors and so we are setting off to see the Baltimore museum of art this morning. We had a nice meal last night at a Greek restaurant in the Falls area on what was a gorgeous day here.
Perhaps later in the day we can find an indoor market to do some shopping however, we are finding out that Baltimore is far more expensive than the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York!
Jane and I are going to be catching an Airtrans flight from Rochester NY tomorrow morning at 8.10 am and heading for the city of Baltimore in Maryland for a three day mini break at The Hyatt Regency Hotel. This five star hotel is located by the inner harbor and near to the conference center and aquarium. We have been both looking forward to getting away after a busy summer season this year here at Cobtree. For those who avidly follow this blog, I apologize that I may or may not get an opportunity to post whilst I am away but will certainly do so if I can!
last night we had yet another tented wedding here at Cobtree and our guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves and they even stopped the music dead on time at 10pm so as to keep our neighbors from hell happy too!
Some months ago I started to look into the possibilities of expanding our business here at Cobtree, especially into the receptions that we occassionally hold here each year (about 8-10) First stop in the process was to contact my immediate neighbors to see what their thoughts were on our planned development here and this of course included Ruth and Jim Hundertmark, our immediate neighbors who live at 462 Armstrong Road. Back in 2007 we applied for and were granted a 5 acre minor subdivision to allow us to sell the old farmhouse and barns that we used to own tothe Hundertmarks. They subsequently moved from Baltimore where they used to live and work. Ruth used to work as a systems analyst for the department of social security whilst Jim was a barber and part owner of a bar in Baltimore at the time.
Ironically, Jane and I fully supported the Hundertmarks in their quest to establish a farm winery on their property and we also supported them in their planning applications with the town of Geneva and attended the planning meetings in full support. They were granted the permission to establish their farm winery and whilst there wines are pretty mediocre to say the least, at least they are trying to make a go of making wine here in the Finger Lakes under the Lacey Magruder wine label. Their business venture is now in it’s third or fourth year.
When I approached them about installing a crusher run car park area and a concrete pad that could be used as a patio or covered for an outdoor wedding, they both could not have been more pleased that we could potentially be attracting more guests to stay here at Cobtree and which in turn could feed their own business as a farm winery. In fact, when I asked Jim Hundertmark for an easement to put a pathway between the car park and his winery to allow our guests to walk up to his winery, he was more than happy to agree to do so.
No problems it would seem, we had their full support. Fast forward to last nights zoning board of appeals meeting at the town of Geneva and Lo and behold, the wheel had turned and without so much of a phone call, letter or email to voice any concerns or objections, the Hundertmarks objected and I quote:
Imagine my complete amazement that our neighbors , for whom we have supported throughout would behave in such a duplicit and gutless manner. It is so hard to understand when people you have helped in the past would for what ever their reasons, turn against you and stab you in the back.
A couple of months ago I received a call from Jim Hundermark complaining that the low voltage dusk to dawn sodium light, that we had installed at the rear of one of our cabins to light up the parking area, was too bright. It is in fact a standard light that you would see on many farmers barns in the area and shines a yellowish light no brighter than a street light. After complaining that he could not see the stars clearly and that we were turning day into night, I used black paint to paint two thirds of the plastic globe so that the light was direct away from his property and only shone in the area of the car park itself. Would you not say that I did the right thing and was being just a good neighbor?
He on the other hand started to erect a 9ft fence around his pitiful sized vineyard (less than one acre!) and only begrudgingly stopped the work when I pointed out that the fence looked like an open prison on the brow of the hill. Of course, he had the right to put the fence up under the right to farm regulations but, he did not consult his neighbors as we did when we wanted to plan our own development here.
Armstrong road also runs parallel with the Hundertmarks farmhouse and so any cars coming up or down the road would shine their lights into his house anyway. We know this to be true because this is the house we once lived in. Being so close to the road (Just 20ft away) the noise from cars also penetrated the house. Good God, don’t they know that J C penny sells some very good black out curtains if they are troubled by car lights coming up or down the road or even when cars are driving around our development at night too!
We are also well aware that there is a noise ordinance in effect in the town of Geneva between 10pm and 8am and we always ensure that if there is any amplified noise being created after 10pm that we ask guests to turn it off off. We have been here since 2004 and not once has any neighbor ever complained about noise levels or the fact that guests sometimes enjoy a campfire under the stars. Neither have we been troubled by the local sheriff or received any citations or nuisance letters from the town.
No wonder there are so many neighborly disputes, that can sometimes result in unpleasantness and which the police and the courts end up having to deal with when, neighbors behave in such a duplicit and gutless manner like these neighbors from hell!
Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 10:24 am
By JIM MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org
GENEVA — Construction is under way on two new cottages at Cobtree Inc. off Armstrong Road.
When complete, they’ll bring the total number of buildings to 10 and increase the resort’s sleeping capacity from 52 to 80. Each of the new log homes will feature four bedrooms and four baths.
Click this link to subscribe to the full article in the Finger Lakes Times today.
The longest day for me this year was yesterday. Although I awoke at the same time I always do yesterday morning at 6.30 am, at 12.46 in the early hours this morning, I cannot sleep and so have been catching up on several emails and making some changes to our web site etc. Yesterday was indeed a long day. Three Mennonite masons finally showed up, as did our grounds contractor, and in one day a massive amount of work was achieved on our building project. The forma drains for both the two new log homes were assembled ready for the concrete to arrive mid afternoon as well as the dropped footers dug out using the excavator on site. In between all of this activity, I helped my ground worker lay polypropylene geo stabilization fabric for placing over 220 tonnes of stone on top to form what is the new driveway serving these two new log homes being built here at Cobtree.
The concrete arrived (together with the code enforcement officer (building inspector if you are from England) at 2.30 pm and the work geared up a notch and really commenced in earnest. And what a job this was filling the forma drain and footers with over 30 cubic yards of concrete (three large concrete mixer trucks). By the day’s end I was exhausted and ready for my bed but alas, could not get myself off to sleep.
Our ground worker arrived yesterday morning together with his son to help him with the work (as he promised he would do so) Together we installed the drainage tiles to serve the basements of the two log homes we are building here at Cobtree this fall and winter and ready for the spring. Two holes have been dug out for what will be the walk out basements of each property as well as the foundation footers dug out ready for the mason to install the forma drain tomorrow morning, ready to pour the mass concrete for the footers themselves.
This building work and building site has been arranged to have a very minimum impact to our guests as work is to the West of the existing homes which still have their own stunning views over Seneca Lake. Indeed, the new homes will also have their own panoramic views over Seneca Lake as they will be elevated some 5 feet out of the ground. This photo shows the view over the lake from ground level so you can imagine how beautiful the view will be from the elevated decks and looking out of the French Doors of the living room when the homes have been completed!
The last picture of the day is my friend Glen Quackenbush who showed up like a bad penny in the middle of the morning after his way back from breakfast at the Ponderosa restaurant located in downtown Geneva.
We held our pre-construction meeting this morning in the meeting room of the walkout basement in Conesus log home here at Cobtree. The meeting was attended by our main builder Adam Fox from Penn Yan, our mason Elvin Brubacher and his colleague from Dundee, Steve Perry from Knapp and Schlappi builders merchants in Penn Yan, our HVAC engineer Leonard Martin, also from Penn Yan, our architect Daniel Long from Geneva, the code enforcement officer for the town of Geneva William McAdoo and last but not least, myself.
We all ate freshly made donuts washed down with copious mugs of freshly made filter coffee as we perused the plans together and went over some of the finer points of this building project. The only person missing from the meeting was our groundwork contractor (Who I shall not name here) who was otherwise engaged on another building project and could not make the meeting. It was considered regrettable by the other contractors in attendance as his work is critical to the start of the project. Without his work starting on time or his input, nothing can move forward or be achieved. Needless to say, everyone was concerned that the project could not get underway this coming Monday without the critical work being carried out.
After the meeting I did catch up with our grounds contractor and he assured me that he would be moving his excavator here this afternoon and that over the weekend he will be getting all the drainage tile dug in as well as all the infrastructure needed to get the mason started on building the foundations for the two new log homes. He told me he would not let me down and not to get so worried! Yeah, right…talk about one minute to mid night! Now, I mentioned in my title ” Builders the most unreliable people in the world but perhaps with good reason” . This because by the very nature of their work, which is so weather and materials dependent, it is easy to have an over run on time on any given project and this can then easily delay their moving onto another job which of course in turn, can delay the start of the next job.
The best laid plans of mice and men, again!
We had a wonderful stay at the Cobtree. The accommodations were excellent. The rooms were clean and spacious. The views from our log cabin were amazing. It was extremely peaceful and relaxing. Robert and Jane were excellent hosts. We found both of them to be friendly and very focused on providing excellent service to their guests. They provided excellent suggestions for restaurants too!
We would definitely recommend this location for vacationers to the Finger Lakes.
Sal & Roe Tocco
The important things in life is depicted in the photo below that shows the portable toilet that arrived today to serve the builders that will be starting to construct the two new log cabins here at Cobtree over this fall and winter months. Almost looking like the Tardis from the cult British TV series “Dr Who” (except that is an old fashioned police telephone box which is dimensionally transcendental inside and the acronym TARDIS standing for “Time And Relative Dimension In Space”). I hope that when our building contractors enter our blue porta John that they will not get lost in space but perhaps will become transcendental if they smoke any weed whilst they are in there! No danger here though as Mennonites do not touch the stuff!
We are now in possession of our two building permits that allow us to start construction on the two 4 bedroom and 4 bathroom log homes we are building here at Cobtree. Construction will start this Thursday or Friday (weather permitting) and the first stage of the project is to get the driveway extension in place and the parking areas next to the new homes. Then there will be put in place some basic infrastructure such as a water supply and also drainage. Over the weekend the basements will be dug out and on Monday our masons will arrive to start work on the footers and floors. This will be followed by them laying the concrete block work and later the pouring and leveling of the troweled concrete floors.
Within the next two weeks the decks should both be on and ready for the log home kits to arrive from Tennessee on the 10th of October. As you can see, I am going to be a busy little bee for the foreseeable future!
We closed on our new construction loan with our bank yesterday afternoon and the log homes are now on order for delivery 10th October 2012. We are still waiting for the code enforcement officer at the town of Geneva to issue the requested two building permits that will then allow us to start construction. Our NY State registered architect has supplied the CEO with all the information required and has we understand, addressed any issues that were raised with the application. We had hoped that these would have been issued prior to our closing on the loan but hope that these should be issued within the next couple of days. We shall see!
Our son Kenneth is coming over from England for 10 days in early November so we are excited about this as well, our son Daniel is also coming over to be with us in November too. Good news all round.
Jane and I attended the business after hours at the Bank of the Finger Lakes last evening. There was a good turn out, the food was good, the wine was excellent and all in all we had a great time chatting away with other local business owners and professionals as well as meeting up with some of our friends that attended too.
Today is the “Big day” for the bride and groom and whilst we had rain this morning the afternoon became a beautiful fall day with a good breeze but no rain. As I type this blog I present to you Mr and Mrs Simmons from Canandaigua, New York who right now are having a whale of a time under the big tent together with their many guests. Congratulations to the newly weds on this auspicious day.
I am hearing some terrific music put on by the DJ and the guests clearly are having a wonderful time as the sun begins to set here at Cobtree.
I saw this solid maple wood chest of drawers being sold by a young lady in Ithaca and as advertised on Craigslist. It is made of solid maple wood and all the drawers of high quality dove tailed maple wood with good quality plywood at the bottom with solid brass handles we purchased this chest of drawers for a mere $100. Of course, Jane and I had to drive an hour across to Ithaca but it was well worth the drive. Loading the furniture onto our trailer was not difficult at all as the owner had placed slider pads under it and I was able to back straight up into her garage.
On the way back home along the side of Cayuga lake and up route 86 North, we stopped off at the Glenwood Pines Restaurant for something to eat. We had never eaten there before and sadly will never eat there again. The food as we would say back in England, was bloody awful. We ordered the Friday night fish fry special which was a piece of haddock that must surely have been cooked at lunchtime it not only looked awful, smelled awful but bloody well tasted awful! For once I did not complain, I was too tired and so was Jane so we left this shoddy run down restaurant with it’s appalling food and lousy customer service and came back home to raid the refrigerator.
Still, $100 today purchased us a great solid wood chest of drawers. Tomorrow morning I am going over to Penn Yan to purchase a couple more solid maple chairs that I also found on Craigslist which are advertised for $10 the pair!
Not quite! Jane and I have in reality been very busy indeed these past few weeks. Although summer is winding to a close our rentals have been extremely busy here at Cobtree and this year has exceeded our expectations despite the recession we are in. In addition to running our everyday business together, we have been on a buying spree purchasing used furniture to place into storage for our two new log homes that are planned to be built this fall and over the winter months. It is quite amazing how time has a habit of rapidly slipping by and we have so much yet to get organized as we move up on the calendar into the pre-construction phase of our planning.
This week we are expected to close on our commercial loan with our financiers and should this week be applying the building permits. To this end, a meeting was held today with my architect and the CEO of the town of Geneva so as to go over the project and review the site plans and the construction plans together before the building permit application is submitted by the end of the week. Once we have closed on the loan we will be ordering the log home kits from the mill down in Tennessee for delivery around the 10th October. Meanwhile, we have to get the driveway in and some groundwork carried out by the months end so as you can appreciate, this all takes time and planning to be able to keep things on track. We only hope that our building permits will be issued expeditiously so as to keep our construction start date safe.
Of course, there are a lot of people in the background waiting to pick up tools and to start the project from the ground workers, builders, electricians, plumbers and so on. All desperately looking for work in the recession we are in where very few (if any) new construction has been going on these last two years in the region! As the saying goes, everybody has to eat and to feed their own families too.
What hurt us immensely today however, was the receipt of our school tax bills in the mail which collectively have jumped over $9000 this assessment year. We still have the Ontario county tax to follow on the heels of the school tax later in the year to boot.
Quite frankly is scandalous the level of taxes we have to pay now and just think, we do not mercifully have to pay a town tax in Geneva (Not yet at least!) I feel so sorry for the multitude of private owners who own properties on the lake who must be devastated by the level of their assessments this year and the associated taxes they now have to pay. How can the town justify raising taxes to such a harsh level when everybody is struggling to make ends meet and keep their families together as well as being able to continue to live in the homes that many have lived in all their lives.
Particularly the older folk who’s family have flown the nest and living on a subsistence income from what savings they salvaged from the recent financial crash. I do not know what the solution is but I do know that things cannot go on like this without people suffering and the society that we live in start to crumble.
What a beautiful view of the harvest moon here at Cobtree as it rises over Seneca lake tonight.
I have to confess that I have been extremely busy these past few days with one thing or another. First it was picking apples and preparing them for freezing in individual Ziploc bags. Next it was two laundry baskets of plums from just one of our two plum trees and again, cutting them in half, removing the pit, stewing them and placing in individual Ziploc bags to place into the freezer.
Then there has been mowing the lawn, working on the plans and documents with our architect and our engineer for the new log cabins we are going to be starting to build later this month (if everything goes to plan that is), assembling photos to give to our designers In House Graphic.Inc for them to prepare our new rack card and, all of this together with running the day to day business, taking telephone calls and reservations etc. it has indeed been a very busy few days.
Then to cap it all, my good neighbor and friend Phil was taken ill and had to go to the emergency room diagnosed with extremely painful kidney stones which he now has to have zapped when next the mobile kidney stone zapping unit rolls into town!
Oh! by the way, did I forget to mention that we are going to be Grandparents once again and here is the scan of the child to be! Congratulations Kenneth and Gemma, way to go!
These young ladies had a whale of a time this weekend here at Cobtree. They also enjoyed a great day out yesterday when they went out in a white stretched limo on a wine tour together.
Congratulations to the bride to be!
It’s official. We are fully booked for the upcoming labor day weekend here at Cobtree. If the truth be told, we have in fact been fully booked since just after memorial day weekend this year and yet, each and every day over the last two months or so, we have received ever increasing telephone and email inquiries as to the availability of our rental homes here at Cobtree.
As much as we would like to be able to rent to people we simply do not have the capacity to do so. Everywhere in the finger lakes the hotels, motels and vacation rentals have been fully booked for months in the region. The motto of this story today on our blog is to book early so as not to be disappointed especially for any national holiday weekends in the USA.
Already we are feeling sad now that our friends from Canada have bid us farewell to go back to their home in Canada. We had a great time during the past five days of their visit to us. On Tuesday we rented a boat from nearby Roy’s marina and together went out fishing and boating out on Seneca lake. Here is a photo of Christina holding my fishing rod when we first went out in the morning onto the lake. Unfortunately, she dropped and lost the rod offshore in Glass factory bay when a wasp startled her and so never did catch a fish. If you find the rod, do let me know!
Later in the day we went to the Belhurst castle for lunch and I have to say we were most disappointed by the quality of their buffet which was simply awful. They really do need to do something about the standards of their food down there or they will lose their customers. After lunch we went tubing out on the lake together. Here is a photo of me enjoying the fun too and not to be left out of the fun, here is a photo of Cheeko out on the lake together too. On Wednesday we drove over to Ithaca to walk up to the Taughannock falls but we were disappointed once again because there was almost no water at all falling over them due to the recent absence of any rainfall. Fast forward to Thursday when we had a terrific day out horse riding out of the Top Rock Stables near Watkins Glen.
Top Rock Stables – Kevin G & Terri L Kelly
Offers guided trail rides through the pristine beauty of the forest, lush vineyards, and the spectacular view!
Address: 1544 County Road 23 – Watkins Glen, NY 14891-9757
We had a real blast riding along trails and through the woods and to the Cayuga Trail State park where Jane and I both climbed the fire tower for stunning elevated views over two lakes!
What a great time we had together with our friends right here in the Finger lakes where there is so much to see and to do.