Items tagged with 'Siobhan Connally'

A home where you don't have to turn on the heat

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The Capital Region's first Certified Passive home.

By Siobhan Connally

Writer Susan Guthridge-Gould and her husband, photographer Chris Gould are a little passive aggressive.

Which is to say they are aggressive about passive. Their passive home.

The Columbia County couple is building one of the first certified passive dwellings in the region. They're keeping a record of the process on their blog, Newhudsonvalley.com.

What is a passive house?

Lets start with what it's not. It's not to be confused with a solar house - or any other practice of green-construction that uses a complex equation of sustainability and technology to reduce its carbon footprint.

A passive house has only to meet two main requirements:

+ Use 90 percent less energy than a conventional home

+ Achieve that goal through its design and construction rather than mechanical technology.

In other words the house has to rely on its placement in the environment and an air-tight construction to keep it warm in winter and cool in summer.

So... does it work?

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Dogs and their people

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Dog parks -- great for making human friends

By Siobhan Connally

soapbox badgeI knew there had been an effort underway to get a dog park in our town -- on occasion I'd even dropped spare change into a dedicated collection jar at the counter of our beloved coffee joint. But somehow I'd missed the fact that it had actually gotten past the planning stage and into the oh-my-god-you-can-really-bring-your-pooch-there-and-play stage.

I suppose back then I was a little preoccupied. The children were younger. Jobs were hectic. Our dog - a centenarian in dog years - wasn't much interested in play. She was happy just to lay on the hardwood floor wherever the sun was keeping it warm. She had earned her retirement.

Then, one day last summer, she was gone.

It was a while before we were ready to think about dogs.

But recently, with a new puppy chewing on the furniture and the kids climbing the walls, I thought it was time to get a gander at the dog park.

Turns out dog parks -- they're not just parks for dogs.

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Comeback Love

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Peter Golden. His book Comeback Love was first published by the local Staff Picks Press, but will also be released from a major publisher this month.

By Siobhan Connally

Guilderland author Peter Golden's first novel -- Comeback Love, a plot-twisting love story that interweaves 1960s-era political and social upheaval, personal regrets and present-day reckonings -- is being released this month by an imprint of publishing giant Simon & Schuster.

The book's story -- and the story about the book -- are both page turners.

Kirkus Reviews recommends readers "Grab a handful of tissues, think The Notebook and then start speculating on actors best suited to bring Gordon and Glenna to the big screen."

In fact, there's nothing really humble about the book -- except perhaps its beginnings.

Comeback Love was originally published in November 2010 by Staff Picks Press, an endeavor by independent bookseller Susan Novotny, who owns The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza And Market Block Books.

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Walking on eggs

egg hunt crime scene

Let the games begin.

By Siobhan Connally

soapbox badgeI should have known by the barrier that this was going to end badly.

The tape keeping the throng of sugar-crazed toddlers at bay read "CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS." Parents all around us were laying out strategies for their kids, so complex I expected at any moment a mom or dad would pull a chalkboard out of a stroller and diagram the game plans with arrows, Xs and Os.

This was an egg hunt of epic proportions, and we were out of our league.

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MerchNow

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Inside MerchNow's Fuller Road factory

By Siobhan Connally

It's quiet inside the Fuller Road t-shirt factory, but the place is busy. Machines
are carouseling black, long-sleeved sweatshirts as workers oversee the printing and folding and stacking. Thirteen thousand shirts were printed and shipped before the first week of March had ended.

MerchNow makes shirts that bands sell to support themselves on tour. Owners Kate and Steve Reddy employ 95 people, offering a lunch program supplied from local farms and health insurance completely paid for by the company. Their mission is to create a business that sustains people and not just the bottom line.

Merch Now, and its sister enterprises Equal Vision Records and Mantralogy were born out of the punk rock scene and Bhakti yogic practice.

Yes, punk rock and yoga.

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Inside Etsy Hudson

Etsy Hudson. Yep, you want to work there.

By Siobhan Connally

Inside a sprawling, former cannonball factory in Hudson, 17 deeply creative souls mill about quietly creating magic.

Their daily mission? To make Etsy safe for humanity. Well, that and hula-hooping.

Working at Etsy Hudson may be as close to internet superherodom as mere mortals can come.

It also might just be the best job on the planet.

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The winter of our discontent

dragonsnow -Siobhan Connally

Not this winter.

By Siobhan Connally

soapbox badgeWhen snow accompanied Halloween I was ecstatic. Fall masquerading as winter.

Soon it would lower its disguise and candy corn would give way to candy canes. Skiing and sledding and snowmen were sure to follow.

To love winter you must learn to play in it, or so I've been told.

After testing the theory over the past I-don't-know-how-many-winters, I've become a believer.

The problem is always talking yourself into a little faith. Talking yourself into bundling up and leaving the warmth of your house.

Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is ...

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Melody Howarth's Nassau toy hospital

Melody Howarth working

Researching and restoring

By Siobhan Connally

She started out using simple techniques of filling and smoothing -- techniques she'd learned from her father, an auto body repair man who taught her how to fill and sand damaged car fenders when she was a teenager. After that, she studied with professional conservators to perfect her skills. A few ad hoc apprenticeships and correspondence courses advanced them further.

Along the way Melody Howarth discovered she had a talent for bringing crumbling antique playthings back to a more youthful life. Today, that skill has made the Rensselaer County resident sought after by private collectors and museums worldwide.

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Unoccupied

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To occupy or not to occupy...

By Siobhan Connally

soapbox badgeIn 1992 the pro-choice movement was nearly 20 years into its official existence and I was a year out of college.

I had, of course, formed an opinion: I was young, unmarried and sexually active.

However, I wasn't politically active.

When I attended my first rally in front of the Lark Street Planned Parenthood I was there as an observer. Sure, I was partial, but I was also curious.

Sign carrying young women, like my then self, paced the sidewalk in an orderly oval. Standing well across the street, women and men my current age and older stood stock still with their crucifixes and doll-baby effigies. Some brought their own children, a presence I assumed was a political statement in and of itself.

As I gawked behind my camera's viewfinder, I came to the surprising conclusion that this was no place for me.

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Duncan Crary, downtown disciple

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Duncan holds a piece of the now-demolished Troy City Hall as he looks out of his downtown Troy apartment window.

By Siobhan Connally

Duncan Crary has been in love with Troy since he was a child, "hatched," as he puts it, "on a cul-de-sac in the American suburbs" in Delmar.

"Suburbatory."

Maybe it was the defiant brownstones, or the alleys that time forgot, that turned his head. Most likely it was the comic-book shop on Fulton Street. Troy was where he wanted to be.

But it wasn't until his teen years, when he devoured The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler's attack on suburban sprawl, that he understood and could articulate why.

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Turkey time at Coldwater Creek Farm

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Gobble. Gobble.

By Siobhan Connally

James Kromer doesn't talk turkey.

So as he was driving 200 squawking, day-old chicks by car from a 50-year-old turkey farm in Boston to his Coldwater Creek Farm, his family's 26-acre property in southern Rensselaer County, he just cranked up the tunes.

"They just chirped the whole time. After about an hour and a half it bothered me so I turned up the radio and opened up the windows for some white noise," laughs Kromer, an accountant by day, who is marking his second year raising antibiotic-free, pasture-raised white Broad Breasted turkeys for Thanksgiving.

So, how does an accountant end up raising 200 turkeys?

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Shaker Mountain Canning Co.

By Siobhan Connally

Kristen Greer wanted to to help increase access to fresh foods in New York City.

That's how it all began.

Greer, a New York City food policy advocate and part-time Rensselaer County resident also had a background in finance. She was volunteering with the board of Just Food to help bring more fresh foods into the city, when she discovered a need: a way for farmers and food entrepreneurs to turn their bounty into products that would last well past the growing season.

The idea for Shaker Mountain Canning Co. was born.

Today this small company near the Rensselaer County/Columbia County line cans everything from tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to fruits, jams and butters and it's opened up a valuable conversation between farms and food producers.

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Film Columbia 2011

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The screenings are at The Crandell Theater in Chatham.

By Siobhan Connally

FilmColumbia -- the annual film festival in Chatham -- has become very popular.

So popular that the all-films pass for this year's festival, which starts next week, already sold out. But tickets are still available for most of the individual film screenings and events.

As in year's past, this year's lineup includes a handful of much-anticipated films.

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A concrete vision of the future for skateparks in the Capital Region?

skateboard Chatham

The Chatham Skatepark

By Siobhan Connally

A tiny modern cityscape is taking shape in the heart of Chatham's bucolic countryside. But you won't find buildings at the end of its sidewalks, and the only traffic will come by skateboard.

When it's finished in late October, Chatham Skatepark will join only a handful of outdoor skateparks in upstate New York including the skatepark at East Side Recreational Field in Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park Action Park, Blatnick in Niskayuna, Copake Skate Park, Oakdale in Hudson, and Saugerties skate park.

It will also be one of only two concrete skateparks between Montreal and New York City that offers bowl skating.

The $120,000 park is $20,000 from completion, and Chatham recreation director Shari Dixon Franks isn't confident they'll reach their goal.

"With the economy as bad as it is, how can you ask people for more money for a skatepark?"

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Signs of the times at the Columbia County Fair

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The poultry barn at the Columbia County Fair

By Siobhan Connally

They hop-skipped through the entrance gate and high-tailed it to their favorite place at the fair, the 4-H Cloverbuds barn at the Columbia County Fair, where all life's questions boil down into one chirping, downy-fluff yellow argument:

Which came first the chicken or the egg?

But in place of the newborn chicks we expected to find huddling under heat lamps in the familiar plexiglas pen, there were only two tiny bantams strutting about in the diminutive exhibit space.

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