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Friday, December 26, 2014

Beacon Bits -- Botsford Briar Bed & Breakfast for a Weekend Get-a-way in Beacon

Long before The Inn at Beacon on Main Street was conceived; years before the Roundhouse opened its boutique accommodations on Fishkill Creek, and even before The Swann Inn opened its doors, the Botsford Briar Bed and Breakfast (BBB&B) was established as the pioneer B&B service in Beacon in 1994. Happy 20th Anniversary!

Located on High Street, its purple turrets and iconic Victorian angles are visible from either Route 9D or as one treks uphill from the Beacon train station. Replete with 92 windows and charming stylized one-of-a-kind guest rooms, the Botsford Briar beckons to short-stay visitors, as well as long-term guests, who want to explore Beacon’s charms.

So BBB&B was the natural recommendation I made to a friend who reads my blog and decided to come for the solstice weekend to have a birthday getaway weekend not very far from upper Westchester in order to explore the shops and galleries on Main Street that she’s been reading about for several years.

My friend stayed for two nights and had several conversations with Shirley Botsford, co-owner and inn-keeper at BBB&B along with Charles Fincham, and learned that the B&B is in the throes of becoming a school for literary and visual arts (Botsford Briar Arts School) with offerings in writing mysteries, learning to sew/quilt/knit, meditation and new topics on the horizon. Shirley, author of Daddy’s Ties, and a local fine crafts artist who participates in gallery showings, has been a dedicated to hospitality and parlor pleasantries since she first hosted meetings in her home when Dia Beacon was first being proposed!

My friend shared some of her highlights of her weekend adventure in Beacon and noted the lovely meal at the Roundhouse after sitting in the lounge “between the fireplace and the falls”; the wanderings into Clay, Wood and Cotton, Hudson Beach Glass, Riverwinds, Beacon Barkery, Gwenno James, Vintage Beacon, After the Barn and other venues along the way. She lunched at the Yankee Clipper because she “likes diners”, had coffee at Beacon Bagels and took note of the other restaurants and boutiques. She liked the pop-ups and the craftiness and appeal of the bicycle menorah and Christmas tree at the Visitors Center. 

We had grabbed a quick and very confusing supper at Dim Sum Go-Go before attending the holiday performance of the family-friendly, slapstick production of Cheaper by the Dozen at the Beacon Theatre. We also went to Dia: Beacon after Sunday brunch when we could comfortably catch up and talk knitting. She was enthusiastic about her weekend ambling about town at a comfortable pace, but she did note that many shops “didn’t open according to the posted hours”, reminding me of the adage about the ‘early bird getting the worm’; and she was taken aback at an unfriendly response at a popular coffee shop when she asked about use of the restrooms before she had a chance to process what she might order.

I was concerned that she may have been disappointed about her visit to my town, and that she would not continue reading my blog, but she assured me that the weekend was a lovely gift to herself and that she was pleased with the sights and sounds reminiscent of Beacon Bits.

Food for thought:  There are many times we may not have an inkling of how our words and actions influence others. In friendship and in relationships with significant others, the ability to influence or persuade one another are an important attribute for a successful partnership. Influence and persuasion require trust. Trust builds rapport. And rapport opens us up into possibilities of learning and growing together. My insider’s view of Beacon allowed my friend to express curiosity and to take a risk. Her outsider’s view made me think about how Beaconites need to continue to grow skills in hospitality for those living outside (as well as inside) the community. We both gained a new perspective. And we both gained the gift of renewed and deepening friendship this holiday season.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Beacon Bits -- A Tale of Two Cities

Last weekend, I attended Yanerella's School of Dance's 56th annual dance recital in the Pete and Toshi Seeger's auditorium at Beacon High School on a Friday night. And on Saturday night, I braved the soaking rainstorm to head to the riverfront to Scenic Hudson's River Center at Long Dock Park to support the annual benefit auction for Common Ground Farm. Two nights and less than three miles apart, but the distinction between the events was quite palpable. Yet I found myself feeling 'at home' in both settings with both groups of unique Beaconites.
Friday's dance recital was marked by frenetic energy. The queue of attendees arrived almost two hours prior to the delayed start time, chatting and greeting friends and families -- aunts, sisters, fathers, cousins, neighbors.  Everything was abuzz as seats were located and the dances began. Dancers of all ages assembling backstage, sometimes accompanied by a dance mom, to change costumes for the next dance routine to be presented on stage: 25 in all -- "Dancing around the world" to Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride, Calabria, Arabian Nights, Back in the USSR, Invictus, Bollywood Dreams. And in between each dance, a flurry of activity for the entourage moving back and forth from the auditorium to the dressing rooms. Cheers and support were constant for all the efforts, talents and hours of practice each dancer brought to the stage. Tears streaming down the faces of grandmothers who watched their grand-daughters tap--flap, shuffle, heel, ball change--the third generation to still be dancing at the studio! Some moms were now sitting throughout the entire show because their daughters were old enough to switch out costumes and get back on stage without their supervision. Tulle, satin, sequins and glam. Photos of the current teachers in the catalog taken when they were 20-30 years younger, in their favorite costumes for one of their own recitals. Beacon's long-term residents--multicultural and multi-generational. Non-stop motion. Organized and planned, but with just enough chaos and crisis to make it exciting. A new dancer confused about the recital routine only brought one of her two costumes thinking one of her dances was scheduled for Friday night and one for Saturday afternoon. Her mom rushing home at intermission and sending her brother back in post haste with only minutes to spare for her to run as fast as she could to quickly slip it on so she could appear on stage, nonplussed, yet heart racing, in the center of her dance troop. Three hours long and just enough time for everyone to rest before it would start all over again the next day, this time, with the youngest dancers being able to stay throughout the entire show.

Saturday night's auction was clam and candlelit with music by the trio Tall Country bringing that 'down home' feeling to an otherwise elegant setting. Well presented items displayed for the silent auction set up in the loft and aptly described thoroughly in the catalog.  More items, with their tongue-in-cheek descriptions -- Let's Get It On, Pump Up the Jam, Bite Off More Than You Can Chew, Light Up Your Life, Be the Bagel. neatly waiting downstairs for the one and only Mark Roland as auctioneer. Gift certificates for dinners and gifts, hand blown glass, baskets of organic-gourmet edibles, glamping in the Adirondacks, kayak storage at Long Dock, planted rows of food to be grown and distributed to food pantries silently waiting for the highest bid for the lucky donor who would be supporting the mission of CGF food justice. Sophisticated humor throughout the evening. Beacon's newest residents (10 years or less) everywhere. Professionals, community leaders, movers and shakers. Abundant food donated by Beacon's best. Zero-to-Go for waste collection. Systematic accounting of bids for easy check out. An appreciative and satisfied group of supporters.

Food for thought:  Diversify. Expand your repertoire. Hang out with people who may be different from you or from your usual crowd. Go across your comfort zone. You may just meet your next door neighbor unexpectedly or make a new connection. The future of Beacon's community life will be enriched as we dance together in the fields of green planted for justice.

Looking for some options to mingle? Check out the Mount Beacon Incline Restoration Railway Society (you just missed the annual gala but keep an eye open for a new store front on Main Street focusing on its history and proposed plan to rebuild), the Beacon Sloop Club's monthly potluck meal on the first Friday, and Friends of the Howland Public Library meetings and events. They are all waiting for people like you to join and support their mission while making new friends.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beacon Bits -- "Buy-In" Beacon

If you missed Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, don't panic; everyday can be "Buy-In Beacon" Day -- be it for the holidays or for all the other gift giving occasions throughout the year.

Here's my top ten reasons to shop in Beacon

10.  One of a kind handmade gifts (and a skein or two of yarn) at Clay Wood and Cotton  .........

(And for handmade, don't forget all the pop-up stores around town, and scheduled workshops to make your own gifts at Jessica Wickham's wood studio during the weekend of December 6th and 7th and blowing glass ornaments at Hudson Beacon Glass throughout the month of December and D-I-Y workshops at Nixie Sparrow.)

9.  Warm clothes and boots suited for cold weather and outdoor sports at Mountain Tops Outfitters........

8.  The best of the valley's arts and crafts at Riverwinds Gallery........

7.  The best wine and spirits selection with expert advice about food pairings at Artisan Wine Shop..........

6.  Thoughtful treats and toys for all the furry, four-legged friends in your life at Beacon Barkery........

5.  A unique book about hiking, kayaking or local history throughout the Hudson Valley or a monetary donation for all the wonderful 'free' programming in honor of that special someone on your shopping list who already has everything they need at Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries........

4.  Seasonal plants, festive bouquets or floral home decorations at La Bella Rosa........

3.  A wide selection of gourmet gadgets and kitchenware at Utensil........

2.  Whatever you find (or smell or taste) that you may not have been looking for but that you find intriguing at Heart and Soul........

1.  Something elegant, fashion forward, artistic and custom made for your home or to wear as your signature garment or accessory at Gwenno James........

I bemoaned the fact that another one of my favorites, an iconic hat store -- Jaqueline's --could not make the list this year because it just closed. However, there may be more to report about what this talented creator and purveyor of hats will be planning for the future.

Most important, in the midst of all this shopping, I'd be remiss not to mention Giving Tuesday. While there are a multitude of nonprofits worthy of your donation in Beacon (see my previous blog about becoming a friend of our local organizations), this year I'd like to draw attention to a program taking place at Beacon's two local prisons--Downstate Correctional Facility and Fishkill Correctional Facility--(as well as four other prisons) called Puppies Behind Bars (PBB.) Inmates are trained to train Labrador retrievers to become service dogs for the disabled, those who are blind or for veterans healing from physical and emotional wounds. In addition to the staff for the non-for-profit PBB and the inmates, volunteers from neighboring towns are trained to become puppy sitters who socialize the pups in the community. Read more about this 16 year old program to find out why it is so deserving of recognition as a highly effective, win-win proposition for the rehabilitation of inmates, for the ultimate recipients of the dogs when they are placed in homes, and for those who volunteer to help raise loving companions. Consider giving a donation--or learning about how to become a puppy sitter--it will truly be a gift that keeps giving.

Food for thought:  It's all in the giving. Generosity and altruism are gifts of and for the spirit. So when you are in search of the gifts with monetary value, feed yourself with pleasurable pursuits and worthy causes. You will be giving a gift to yourself as you support local business, meet and greet proprietor-friends, and revel in the assortment of beautiful opportunities that Beacon has to offer.

As you shop, remember to feed your body as well. Make time for a snack or meal at  
Beacon Bread Company, Tito Santana, Beacon Pantry, 
Homespun, Poppy's, Bank Square, Ella Bella's and Beacon Bagels.

And if you need a place to spend an overnight, call ahead for a room at Botsford Briar Bed & Breakfast!