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Building a human habitat

Building a human habitat

To get help from a Habitat for Humanity, a household needs to be making less than 60 percent of local median income; in Ulster County, that’s about $48,000 for a family of four. Habitat seeks to help families that are living in unsafe or overcrowded housing, or paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent. That’s a description that fits a shockingly large slice of the local population.

Bugs — a satire

Bugs — a satire

New York State’s political world was turned upside-down this week by the abrupt resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been credibly accused of being a meat suit filled with centipedes.

Moving on up

Moving on up

“En garde!” the director called. The gym echoed with the clang of blade on blade, and the squeak of shoe on polyurethane. My heart hammered in my chest — was that nerves, or just the tight embrace of the fencing jacket I hadn’t tried to squeeze into since 1998? One point, I prayed, with fervor. Don’t fall, don’t die, don’t be a wreck. Just land one touch.

Will the blue wave reach the 102nd Assembly District?

Will the blue wave reach the 102nd Assembly District?

In a normal year, Republican Chris Tague would be a shoo-in to succeed Pete Lopez in the 102nd Assembly District. But nothing about this year is normal. Democratic voters are more invigorated than they’ve been in generations, a key factor in a April 24 special election that is likely to draw only the most fervent true believers to the polls. And then there’s the independents, who make up fully a quarter of the district’s registered voters. If they’re looking for a Trump surrogate to punish, Tague — a Trump delegate back in 2016 — is conveniently at hand.

The Wench Mill

The Wench Mill

A hollow place in the ground, a ring worn down by bare feet, a shaft hitched to a stone that grinds on and on. The story of the Wench Mill has no moral, except that it should never have been at all.

State Land tax cap: From the Department of Bad Ideas

State Land tax cap: From the Department of Bad Ideas

Environmentalists, local governments and landowners’ associations don’t generally see eye to eye on local land issues. It takes a truly terrible idea to get them all on the same side and sending joint lobbying delegations to Albany. Something like, say, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal to reinvent the way state forest land gets taxed in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks.

Maple tappers branch out

Maple tappers branch out

It’s Maple Weekend across New York State this week, and sugarbush tappers are opening their saphouses to celebrate the harvest. On tap for the weekend: pancake breakfasts, leaf-shaped candies and clear bottles full of sweet amber, a taste of fresh sap out of a bucket. It’s about as traditional as it gets. But if you look closely, the landscape is shifting. As the climate changes, the trees change too — and tappers follow.