Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Musical Afternoon and Evening.

9-28-30 SHORT HILLS: Sunday in SF, we all went to a music event of a type I had never heard of before, ‘SF Music Day Live + Free’. At four performance venues dozens of ensembles played from noon until mid-evening. They each played for about 45 minutes. The audience came and went at will. There were string quartets and jazz ensembles. There was old music and new music, chamber music and creative music and jazz. They covered the gamut from Haydn and Beethoven to Pete Townshend, Michael Jackson and Philip Glass. A great concept.

Among the pieces we heard were string quartets by Quincy Porter from 1935, Dvořák, and Ruth Crawford [Pete Seeger’s mother, BTW]. Who’s heard of American composer Quincy Porter?

Recovered from the red-eye by Tuesday, we went to NYC for the NY Phil at Geffen Hall, née Avery Fisher Hall. We usually allow an extra half hour for traffic on the inbound trip, but since there was none, we were early and so walked over to Central Park by Tavern-on-the-Green. We saw bikers, joggers, strollers, dogs, musicians, horses, diners, sun bathers, police, walkers and a nice Z-shaped fold in an out-crop of Manhattan Schist.

At Café Fiorello we met my Aunt Jean for dinner outside midst the buses and ambulances and commuters. She was on her way to the ballet across the plaza from our event.

This was the fifth consecutive performance of ‘Symphony No. 9, From the New World’ by Dvořák. The reviews have used words like ‘majestic’ in their assessments. I thought ‘majestic’ didn’t say nearly enough. The theme from the Largo is one of my favorite melodies, up there with the ‘Ode to Joy’.


NY Phil ready for the Tuesday night kick-off.

The Green Room at SF War Memorial Veterans Building.

Central Park, west side.

Bridal Path by Tavern on the Green.

Street Jazz in the Park.

Lincoln Center Plaza before the music.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Cal Visit.

9-25-16 LOS GATOS: We came out Friday for some Cal sun and to see the Cal fam. The days here really are cookie cutter copies of one another—cloudless, dry, warm in the afternoon, cool at night. Where’s the fog, humidity, rain, ice, sleet and all the other varieties of eastern weather?

Friday night we all went to a local pasta place, Aldo’s, that was fine, before we went to the Hotel Los Gatos to deal with our jet lag. Saturday we brought pastries to the mountain for breakfast. Later we all hiked the Los Gatos Creek trail, which runs through the center of town, and is very popular with dog walkers and hikers of all ages. It ends at a dam that contains the local reservoir, but some of us bailed before the last uphill stretch.

On College Ave. going back to town, we saw a lot of birds including Steller Jays and Acorn Woodpeckers. We had lunch in town, and Judy and I napped until dinner at Dio Deka, a Greek restaurant at our hotel. It was excellent, but a bit pricey.

Today we go to SF for the afternoon, and then it’s the red-eye to EWR.


Stellers Jay showing off the blue.

Los Gatos Creek and trail.

View from the mountain.

Joey and Murphy.

Acorn Woodpeckers, the one in the nest atop the utility pole has an actual acorn in its beak.

Acorn Woodpecker in a better pose.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Equinox Explained.

9-21-16 SHORT HILLS: We’re back in NJ for a few days before we go to Los Gatos for a visit to the left coasters. We had an inch of rain here on Monday. The ground is still juicy.

It still feels summery here even though tomorrow the Autumnal Equinox occurs at about 10:21 EDT. Equinox means equal day and night, but that isn’t exactly true. Day is still about 10 minutes longer than night. Why, you might ask.

Well, there are two reasons that day and night aren’t equal until the 25th or 26th of the month. The first is that on the equinox, the center of the sun is above the horizon for twelve hours, but we mark sunrise and sunset as the first appearance of the upper edge of the sun to the last sight of the other edge as it sinks at sunset. That adds up to a few extra minutes at both ends of the day.

Also the atmosphere refracts, bends, the light rays from the sun toward us so that it appears above the horizon in the morning a little before it actually rises and appears to set a little after it actually does.

Incidentally, twilight, before the sun rises and after it sets, extends the daylight by about 45 minutes at each end of the day.

At any rate, we are in the dark half of the year until next March.


There's almost always a rose, even in fall.

Bluejay's back. We couldn't use the feeders in Vermont all season because of the presence of the bears  in the neighborhood so it's exciting to see the birds at the feeders here in NJ.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Double Header.

9-17-16 VERMONT: I’ve done chores—screen doors out, glass in, removal of plant supporting rings and stakes, last pond treatment, put away hummingbird feeders, weeding.

The nights are cool, forties, but the days are sunny and in the seventies. The maples are showing early foliage changes, but no color except for distressed trees, which shut down early. The dry summer is the cause of most of the distress. Maybe it will lead to an early foliage season.

We had dinner with Denny and Laura-Beth last night. Hanover was packed. We had to park down by the boathouse.

New blooms: toad lily.


More asters, in a different color.

Milkweed pod with orange insects, but I don't think they're monarch butterflies. Dan?

Early color.

We have many old. old, gnarly apple trees, I once counted about 100. Some, like these two, still produce fruit, others are struggling in the shade of forest trees, others are volunteers with small or odd fruit. The ones that produce edible fruit are not varieties that are still in production, but antique apples.

Another aster, in white.

Baneberry, poisonous to humans, but that dramatic look must attract someone.

This interesting flower is called toad lily, another late bloomer.

Today we went to the Tunbridge Worlds Fair, the 145th consecutive, with Dave and Shari. It was packed. We saw the parade of the animals, oxen judging, the oxen and handlers were all in costume and everyone won. There was also a pig show with the pigs and handlers both costumed. The winning pig pair is below. We found the food favs, the midway, avoided the rides and games, saw the giant pumpkins and sunflowers. The biggest pumpkin was 715 pounds and the tallest sunflower was 17.5 feet. A faux Patsy Cline performed.


Dressage practice.

Parade cows.

Follow the leader...


Big pumpkins.

The orange hair and tie should be a clue to who shares the ring with Hillary.

Wistful cow.

Colorful poultry.

Lunch break.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Late Summer in VT.

9-14-16 VERMONT: We came up today and arrived during a rain shower. That was probably the only rain that has fallen here. The pond that had been full when we left, is now back down to five inches low.

The rain cleared, and it was windy the rest of the afternoon. I took pictures and picked tomatoes and corn. The corn was very starchy and neither of us did more than taste it—too bad, it looks great. The tomatoes are still fine. Hundreds of them are on the ground, cracked or split and over ripe. I still picked a load and tossed the split and rotted ones over the fence. A couple hours later, a flock of a dozen turkeys were eating the rejects.

The flower beds all have that end-of-the-season shaggy and over-grown look. Lots of things are still blooming, including the hardy hibiscus that I planted last year. I thought it had died over the winter, but it turned out to be a very late sleeper. I was waiting all summer to show its big red flower and announce its survival, but it waited until we had left to bloom, sometime between then and now. Maybe there will be another flower. Asters are everywhere. They look great mixed with goldenrod.

There is a little early color in the maples.

New blooms: chrysanthemum, hibiscus.


Turkeys, about a dozen, were clustered around the tomatoes beds in the evening eating the rejects that I tossed out of the garden during the afternoon.

Sedum in mostly white....

...and red.

Asters are everywhere. After they have been pollinated, the centers darken. That might be a message to the pollinators to go for the yellow entered flowers. The petals remain open so that the mass of flowers attract the bugs from a distance.

Bottle gentian appears to offer no access to a pollinator, but somehow or other they prosper. Contrast this gentian with the one I showed on 8-7-16.

A mass of goldenrod and asters with a Joe Pye weed stalk sticking up in the middle.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Heat Wave Breaks.

9-12-16 SHORT HILLS: We have just finished a hot spell with high humidity and temps in the nineties. We were cowering inside by the AC. Today is autumnal by comparison, and preferable. There has been very little rain and the sprinklers are back on.

We have had dinners with Bill and Lynn and Lonnie and Bette recently. I have had many compliments on the tomatoes that we gifted to people.

New blooms: a new bunch of leadwort.


New crape myrtle, the other one is more pink than this one.

White snakeroot, Ageratina altissima, is a wildflower [weed, if you prefer] that likes shade and/or sun, has no thorns or burrs and blooms at this time of year all over this yard. There is a cultivar for sale in the nurseries that is probably less invasive. It is usually a foot and a half tall, but can be much bigger. I'm happy to have it at this time of the season when not much is happening.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

New Shrubs.

9-7-16 SHORT HILLS: After a few nice days, we’re back in the heat and humidity. I was using the weed whacker a few days ago, cutting invasive bamboo clumps when I stepped on a ground wasp nest. I got stung twice. The stings are slowly disappearing, but still itch.

I went to Home Depot to get a can of wasp spray and ended up with two crape myrtle ‘Pink Velour’, Lagerstroemia indica, and a butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii ‘Adokeep’ Adonis Blue. The three shrubs went into the area where the big ash came down a year ago. Of course, there was some weeding and pruning done as well.

New blooms: white snakeroot.


One more pic from the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Judy's favorite. All those pilings make this area a little wildlife sanctuary, we saw two groups of birds there, some ducks and some gulls. You can almost make them out on the right.