26 March

The Spirit Of Light. A Warm, Crisp Spring Day. Cutting Limbs for Bishop Gibbons

by Jon Katz

We sat out in the afternoon sun for an hour today, celebrating the end of a calm and peaceful weekend. The only interruption was the hammering of the people working to save our storm-damaged roof. Even that didn’t break the spirit and beauty of the day.

Maria spent an hour or two trimming white birch off our fallen White Birch limb. We have two bags of discarded and wanted debris that she and her students are turning into beautiful art. Sue loves recycled wood.

Sue loves all unwanted things, from pine cones to wood, vintage clothing, acrylic paints and canvases, old jewelry, and anything else her students can paint on. She turns everything into art, even abandoned wedding dresses.

You can send these things to Sue Silverstein, Bishop Gibbons High School, 2600 Albany Street, Schenectady, N.Y., 12304.  She’ll do the rest. Thanks.

I have no doctor’s appointments this week, I’m free to get to the Mansion, to Bishop Gibbons and do my blog and photo work.

21 January

Photo Journal, Sunday, January 21. Snow And Ice And More Snow And Ice. Getting Old, Charming Donkeys, Slippery Ice, Photos And A Limb Monster(Can You See Him?) And Home Delivery For Hens Who Don’t Tip

by Jon Katz

The donkeys worked me over this morning, whinnying, braying, and batting their big brown eyes at me. They seem especially eager for company, and for some alfalfa cubes. It’s the weather; they can’t go out and soak in the sun and graze.

I resisted them for a bit, then finally caved. Lulu’s eyes get me every time.

The new thing is rolling storms; they come and go, switch from rain to snow and ice, and last four days. We lost power a little bit last night but got it back quickly. This morning, there was a cake of ice everywhere. I feel for the real farmers, out in this muck all day and much of the night.

I bought a retracting black cane to help steady me in ice and snow until I get my shoe brace in a few weeks. I might need it beyond that, but I don’t know. My body tilts when I walk, and the cane helps me steady myself.

I was very reluctant to get even this thin carbon retractable cane; I thought I’d look like an older man.

But then, I felt I was an older man, and it was time to own up to it.  The cane will help keep me from falling.

One of the exciting things about age is that I am never old inside of my head, only from the outside. I think that’s a good thing.

We are staying close to the farmhouse; our only excursion was to go out for breakfast, now a weekend tradition, and spend the rest of the time blogging (I go out several times looking for pictures.) I’ll listen to folk music on the Cafe Lena Stream tonight and start a new mystery.

More mystery writers’ recommendations are pouring in; thank you. I’m writing them all down.

I like taking pictures in the storms, sharp contrasts evocative images. There is beauty in it. We’re supposed to get a big storm on Sunday, I’m thinking about how to capture it. Maybe from inside the Pole Barn.



Maria got out the snow brush and cleaned the windshield. The ice has frozen a bit, but with the engine running, it melted quickly. We both are good at this, but she doesn’t care for me running around outside on the ice.



I keep wanting to take a photo of our fallen birch limb because it looks like some giant lizard if you see the trunk as an open mouth. Can you see the monster here?


Chickens have a good life out there in their dry roost.

Maria sent me out with some leftover Sherpa dumplings we got in a Korean restless (we didn’t like them).

I delivered to the roost, where the chickens hung out all day due to the snow and ice, which chickens do not like. I opened the side door, and they ate every bit. There was no tip. They really are imperious.


Three points – the tree, the statue, and the pot for flowers. I love the line and shape. I call it the Three Points In Snow Photo.

The sheep never cease to surprise me; they always find a way to graze, even in falling snow —Liam at the gate.


Snow Dog In A Storm. Those eyes remind me of a baby seal. She’d love to live out in the snow.



One more time. At the end of this cold, rainy, and snowy day, the donkeys tried again to lure me into another alfalfa cube. This time I said no for a change; my feet were cold and wet. They have perfected the art of looking piteous; I have not perfected the art of saying any to them. At least I don’t do it naked.

13 September

A Changing Landscape, A Fallen Tree

by Jon Katz
A Fallen Tree
A Fallen Tree

At our farm, in our life, a changing landscape.The big old pine tree that shaded us in the garden is gone, toppled over. It missed the Dahlia garden, it took down some big limbs of the apple tree, it spared our fence by landing squarely on a fence post, it changed our view. In a sense, our landscape is opened up, it was not a beautiful or graceful tree, unlike the apple tree and the white birch that survived the storm. The wood from the pine tree is neatly lined up, it will go to our neighbors who have outdoor furnaces, they take soft wood.

The collapse tree was ugly, a kind of scar in our yard, it is good to have it cleaned up.

We are grateful the other trees were spared. We did lose one of the Adirondack chairs, it will be simple to replace. Our life is a changing landscape, it’s not the landscape that matters, it’s new eyes to see it.

29 January

Photo Journal, Sunday, January 29. Images Of A Dark Night And Gray Day. And Shades Of Edward Hopper.

by Jon Katz

Good morning from this gloomy Sunday here at the farm. I’m taking the gloom head-on.

It’s a gray and colorless day outside, so I decided my photographic mission was to see the gray as beautiful and capture the feeling of it.

Last night, we went out to our new favorite place to get food, the Shift Food Cart, which sits three evenings a week outside the Argyle Brewery in the middle of town. I am addicted to photographing the Shift wagon at night; it feels like pure Edward Hopper.

People eating or visiting the brewery can come right outside and order some excellent food.

We had a sweet and quiet evening at home together capping off Maria’s birthday.



The donkeys and Zinnia gave me a chance to capture the gray pasture; I just overexposed the image of the three of them.





The fallen white birch limb looks pretty sweet in a gray coat.



I am also hooked on watching the birds zoom in and off the bird feeder; they have so much energy and focus.

Maria and I are going to Bennington today in search of some snails and shrimp for our newly revamped fish tank. She loves snails. We find the tank soothing and peaceful.

More later


Our back porch, waiting for spring on a gray day.

22 January

A Friendly Whale? A Mysterious Sea Creature? An Extinct Dinosaur Whale? The Magic Of Photography. Does This Photo Touch The Monster In You?

by Jon Katz

Something drew me to take a picture of our White Birch’s fallen limb every day, but I couldn’t figure out why.

Photography is like that, sometimes the camera has a mind of its own and leads rather than follows.

The other night, I dreamt about this limb; it was a friendly sea creature swimming towards me out of curiosity and perhaps concern.

It wasn’t a nightmare; I never felt I was in danger. But I realized the limb did look a lot like a sea creature heading toward me with it’s mouth open, either in smile or hunger. Now I know why I took the picture; the image touched the monster in me and in many of my dreams.

Sometimes I see a genial whale coming to say hello. Sometimes I think I’m about to be some monster’s lunch.

I wonder if the image touched the monster in anyone else?

Bedlam Farm