What’s Going On With Your Lawn?

This question has been asked more and more these last few weeks as the first 15 feet or so of road frontage have continued to grow, uncut since last fall. As the grass reaches up to a couple of feet in height, we thought we’d offer you the story, a bit of an explanation of sorts.

Last fall we enlisted the help of Whitham Planning & Design in developing a master plan for Grayhaven. We needed a plan that would help us develop the landscape into a fun, family friendly space where we could host events, entertain guests, and that highlighted the beauty of our unique natural location in the Inlet Valley.

The plan they created is beyond awesome! They incorporated all of the things we were hoping for and intuitively saw things about the property that we never would have imagined, but are so happy they did. In addition to the thoughtful and beautiful design, the Whitham folks created something that we could achieve in stages, over a period of a time. Being a small, mom and pop shop, we are doing a lot of the work in stages, and a lot of the work ourselves.

Where to start?

Excited to get the ball rolling, one of the first questions we asked ourselves is “what will this all look like?”. Something simple, that we could easily do ourselves, was to continue mowing the areas that would remain lawn, and allow the areas that would be future berm, wall, hedgerow, plantings, mulch, trees, and garden – to grow. Enabling us to interact with the physical space the way it is envisioned, rather than in the abstract (as on the paper plan), intricately mowing the Whitham Design patterns became our new obsession, and the lawn our new medium.

As the lawn began to grow longer in these areas we continued to ask ourselves, “should we mow?”, “let it grow?”, “what to do?”. A few weeks back, a friend texted us after driving by, “lawn mower broken?”, “Ha! No… Avant-gardening!” we replied. They shot back with an article on NOT mowing the lawn. And soon we discovered that he, along with many others, were actually really into it! “You know”, another friend casually states, “Cornell doesn’t mow in front of the Johnson Museum“…

Soon guests are commenting on it. “We stopped mowing our front lawn too.”, says one guest, “The neighbors don’t like it, but we thought what’s the point of using all that time and gas to mow. Now we have good pollenating insects, birds, beautiful wild flowers and a whole new ecosystem to enjoy. We love it.” A few days later another guest comments on how they desperately want to let their side yard grow, “but what would the neighbors think?”.

Sure, some don’t like it. That’s fine. And for those solely interested in a singular type of road appeal, well they are welcome to keep mowing. For us, letting the grass and wild flowers grow helps to drown out some of the visuals of the highway and traffic. It also helps us turn away from the road and turn toward our beautiful back yard of 11 acres, where we continue to work on our awesome landscape plan and find a peaceful place to enjoy nature, watch the birds, have a barbecue, play bocce or molkky, have a fire, watch an outdoor movie, relax in a hammock and most of all, have fun.

If you have any questions about our developing landscape, feel free to stop by anytime during office hours to walk around the property and check out a large print out of our master plan. Or just shoot us a message 😉

A Bit About FBM + Grayhaven

Steve Crandall and I met briefly in 1993 when he worked for my dad at Pete’s, one of the last remaining neighborhood grocery stores here in Ithaca, NY. Steve stocked coolers which mostly meant hanging out in the back drinking strawberry milk. If I remember correctly, that’s the same year Steve moved to Indiana, into the famed 1201 house, and he gave me a ‘Breakdancing Fat Bald Men’ t-shirt on his way out of town.

Fast forward through 26 years: FBM went from making t-shirts and sticker packs to a full blown machine shop that builds kick ass bikes from scratch. Steve has remained an integral part, and ever creative force, in the rollercoaster that is running any small business, in this case FBM. He’s had 10 life times worth of adventures, moved from Indiana to Ithaca, traveled like a vagabond, maybe lived in Ohio, and eventually parked a bus in Richmond, VA where he really seems to like it. In that time, and in the midst of a couple of other careers, I’ve built sticker packs and sold t-shirts for FBM at contests, worked as their secretary for brief stint in the late 90’s, baked cakes, housed 2000 wayward BMXers, and made one very weird FBM ad for RIDE magazine back when magazines used to exist.

Steve and I have remained good friends, both living our own weird outsider life a few states apart. Steve as an artist / writer / BMX rider in Virginia or wherever he happens to end up next. Me as a baker turned barber that’s restoring a once decrepit old motel called Grayhaven in Ithaca, NY with my husband, Mark. (I wrote more about my friendship with Steve in an old, not quite but almost abandoned, blog a few years back. It’s HERE if you’d like to read it.)

I guess you could say that FBM and Grayhaven were born to collaborate. The happiest moments of my life have been found in the freedom of pedaling around on my bike, and traveling both alone and with loved ones exploring new and old places with open eyes and an open mind. For me, FBM embodies much of this sentiment, as does Mark and I’s latest adventure: painstakingly restoring an old motel on 11 beautiful acres called Grayhaven.

People often comment to Mark and I that we’re really tied down with Grayhaven, or about how much work it must be. While both of these things are partly true, the larger and much more important piece for us is the desire to create, and in essence recapture, some of the very best parts of driving around and exploring the US. Offering people the experience of pulling into a new town, and staying somewhere that captures the spirit and uniqueness of that place. In a sense we are pushing against the sameness that most hotels offer. Grayhaven won’t feel like every homogenous room and lobby you’ve ever been in. For folks that want the homogeneity that’s fine – there’s plenty of it out there for you, in fact there are 20 places right here in Ithaca, it’s just not what you’ll find at Grayhaven. Similarly, there are probably 100 bike companies that offer the exact same bike, made in the same factory, but branded with a different company’s name. That’s not what you’ll find at FBM.

Steve has been a huge supporter and cheerleader for Mark and I during this motel restoration project. Offering an extra hand when visiting for FBM business, but most importantly, offering words of support and encouragement when the trials of running a small business (and following your heart) start to become too heavy to carry.

We’re happy to celebrate 26 years with FBM this week. Hope you’ll join us for a BBQ and movie here at Grayhaven Motel on Friday night, and we hope you’ll swing by the machine shop on Saturday for a tour of a real mom and pop bike company living a little bit of the human dream here in Upstate NY.

XOX – Alexis

July at the Grayhaven

We’re settled well into summer and are happy to ring in the first weekend of July with another awesome art opening, food from the Good Truck and a late night movie screening. Open to all Friday July 6th 5pm – 9pm. This month’s artist is Joshua Swartwood. Movie screens at 9pm.

Guests have been enjoying walking the property trails, fire pits, games of bocce in the front yard and swimming at our neighbor parks Robert H. Treman and Buttermilk Falls.

On July 20th we’ll be celebrating with FBM bike company with a cookout and screening of BMX bandits as part of their 25 year anniversary weekend of fun. Open to all Friday July 20th 7pm – 10pm. Movie screens at 8:45pm.

Hope you’re all enjoying the summer, look forward to seeing you soon!

xox Grayhaven Motel

DKA Retreat 2018

We hosted our first retreat last weekend. 50 Ithaca college cinema students descended on the property Friday night and had two and a half days of bonding, games, food and great activities. It was an absolute blast. 

Can’t wait to for summer reunion and wedding season and more retreats and group meetings to come. 

Gallery Night: Just a Kid from Akron

Join us Friday February 2nd, 2018 from 5pm to 9pm for art, beer, snacks and a nice warm fire.

Works by Adam Brazil, curated by M. E. Grimm

In “Just a Kid from Akron”, Adam Brazil evokes memories of a blue-collar upbringing through media-based assemblages. Examining working-class desires such as lotto, beer and sports, Brazil’s work conjures the nonproductive consumption of time as personalized art-objects that promise pleasure as a temporary refuge from the monotonous toil of subordinate employment.

Continue reading “Gallery Night: Just a Kid from Akron”

Gallery Night: Dead President

The old wall to wall carpet is gone, walls painted, gallery rail hung, wood stove cleaned and seasoned. The guest lounge is fully lounge ready and we’re excited to host our first gallery night opening next Friday, January 5th! 

Join us Friday January 5th, 2018 from 5pm to 9pm.

Dead President by Lauren Valchuis

Dead President re-appropriates ephemeral imagery of mid-century American political figures, namely that of John F. Kennedy, highlighting the pop cultural context and propaganda mechanisms in which they were originally produced. Through framing and exhibiting imagery extracted from vintage magazines, the idealization of an imagined present/past and the subsequent tragedy of its eventual demised is pondered. Join us on Friday January 5th 5pm – 9pm. Show runs through Jan. 18th.

Continue reading “Gallery Night: Dead President”

Remember the time we bought a motel?

That’s right. The time we were totally and completely out of our minds and bought a motel on 11 acres of woods and marsh land with a creek, a turn-of-the-century boarding house, a carriage house turned motel, two tiny cottages and a 10 room classic motor lodge in all it’s mid-century glory. Not to be forgotten are a few little shed-like structures and a pretty sweet garage.
We closed on the property and business mid Fall so we’re about 3 + months and 175.2 projects in. Simultaneously excited, inspired, terrified and driven. We’ve been posting photos of some of the renovations on instagram. Thanks for joining us for the ride!