Friday, December 29, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Vermont-No Snow

12-24-06 VERMONT: We have been here for almost a week. There was no snow when we arrived, and there is no snow now. In between we have had a few dustings of overnight snow that disappeared almost with the light of day. We just finished about 36 hours of rain, 1.0 inch, with temps in the 40’s. Through it all the pond has been frozen and the dogs have run across, but I have not tried it. Today is colder and windy with occasional sunshine. The puddles in the pasture are starting to re-freeze. The small pond in the pasture has been re-frozen and re-thawed for a few cycles.

Before the rain started, I burnt the big brush pile of lilac and rose prunings, the debris from the shed repair and dead fall. It got going without any accelerant and was gone in two hours. The next day, during a break in the rain, I used the big magnet to pick up all the nails, staples and screws that burnt out of the wood scraps.

It doesn’t feel like Xmas in Vermont.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Xmas in the Park

12-17-06 SHORT HILLS: The weather continues to be warm. The Alps are having the warmest season in over 1000 years, according to today’s NYT.

In NJ the grass is green, and the only flowers are a few confused forsythia and a couple brown hydrangea. In San José it was in the sixtys during the day and the deciduous trees are just now unloading. I noticed some maples in good color. However, the roses are in bloom as are daffodils and countless other flowers. Evergreen trees are covered with shiny colored balls of citrus fruit.

Downtown we all went to “Christmas in the Park” with Santa, rides, carnival food, many decorated trees, all the seasonal symbols, an ice skating rink and fake snow periodically gusting from lamp posts. These mini snow storms were the biggest hit with Joey.

The St. Leo the Great pageant was enormously enhanced by the presence of Eoin the star sheep. He is the first sheep on the left. Some of the other kinders are donkeys or cows. You can tell form the head gear.

evergreen tree with decorative colored balls.

snow lover.

rose paraders.

star sheep commander--first on the left.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

California Trip.

12-12-06 SHORT HILLS: It’s warm again. Yesterday was almost 60°, the same as the average high as San José, CA, where we’re off to today, and obviously above the average for NJ in December.

We have tickets for St. Leo’s Xmas pageant in which Jon’s first born is starring as a sheep. A very hard-to-get ticket. We’re lucky we didn’t have to use a scalper. Sheep picture to follow the opening night performance.

Garrison Keillor was great as usual, and Roger and Leesa loved the show. The next day the Bach was Magnificat.

Note to Laura B.: If you wear off-the-rack, mass-produced dresses in common colors, expect other people to be wearing the same rag at socials. Really. Show some common sense—wear jeans.

St. Frances of Short HIlls

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Freeze Arrives.

12-9-06 SHORT HILLS: It finally got cold. The last few days we have had frozen mud, standing water is ice, when the wind blows, I’m cold even with gloves and a hat. Forsythia have been opening scattered flowers for a few weeks, but not any longer. Sticks and branches continue to rain down on the yard. The leaves are gone, the gutters are clean. The garden season is done for the year.

relaxing after a year of gardening.

We saw a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” by the Packer middle school Thursday night. Are you surprized, dear reader, to be informed that a relation of ours was in the cast. It was pretty good. I put a few video snippets on You Tube—search for Fiddler/Packer under Music.

the dramatic wedding scene.

Tonight we see “A Prairie Home Companion” in one of the NYC appearances, and tomorrow we hear the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir do Bach at NJPAC in Newark.

This blog has passed the 5,000 hit mark a few weeks ago. Thanks, dear readers.

Monday, December 04, 2006

If You Don't Like the Weather, .....

12-4-06 SHORT HILLS: I had mentioned that our first day in Vermont was warm and balmy.

December flower.

On the second day we had heavy rain, almost two inches.

December Green.

On the third day it was clear and sunny, but very windy with westerlies that blew sticks and branches all over the yard and actually blew over a standing dead tree in the pasture. The dogs helped with the clean up. I would throw a stick in the woods. They would bring it back.

On the fourth day it was cold, in the 20’s, and all the standing water from the rain froze as did about half the pond, no wind no rain. When a sudden freeze happens, especially to wet soil, ice flowers form. They appear in bare soil in shady, mossy spots.

December cold.

Ice Flower.

On the fifth day it snowed. We left, having sampled the entire weather palette there was no reason to stay longer, and we were afraid that locusts might be next.

December Snow.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wither Winter?

12-1-06 VERMONT: We came up yesterday. It was in almost 70°. I started the last of the leaf blowing in the afternoon and got shut down by darkness with just a bit to go. Then the rain started and continues. The storm did take a break today, and I finished the leaves in time to avoid the current deluge. You all realize, of course, that the leaves should be under snow cover or at least frozen solidly to the ground now and the rain should be snow. This picture, if it loads, shows how green, and wet, things are. Yesterday we saw a yellow wildflower in bloom in the pasture, not what December is supposed to be in Vermont.

We went to the Met before Vermont and heard “Idomeneo” with Dorothea Röschmann. She has a beautiful voice. All the singers were right on, hit all the notes and had impressive strength, but she has a very appealing quality to her voice. The set is dominated by a giant head of a vengeful Neptune, who kind of resembled the Neptune in “Pirates of the Caribbean”. This Neptune could make a believer out of Richard Dawkins. The opera was almost four hours long, but the time just flies by when you’re having Mozart.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


11-25-06 SHORT HILLS: Thanksgiving came with two more rainy days. After the holiday it got warmer again and sunny. The girls, actually the two middle-aged daughters, were here with their families for the turkey, and we all got stuffed and played a lot of pool while it rained. [the gardener still rules.] The next day was sunny and we took the dogs for a walk and visited downtown Newark.

Instead of the Xmas season, we should call this time of year the XSmas season. I feel like I gained five pounds Thursday.

Should masked men make you nervous?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ask and ye shall receive.

the little dears

Rain Forest

11-18-06 SHORT HILLS: We have had two sunny days after endless rain. The rain totals for the region are far above normal and approaching twice what we usually get. Welcome to the New Jersey rain forest. It is still warm, in November, so make that the New Jersey tropical rain forest. The mud is ankle deep on the dogs who sometimes forget to wipe their feet before coming back in the house after harassing the squirrels on the bird feeders. Judy mops the floor every six hours.
Almost all the leaves are down. I did the pool leaves again which makes three times this fall. The dogs found a dead opossum in the yard and we saw a second one on the street about a block away. Coincidence? Or is it 'possum flu?
The other night we saw seven deer including a buck with a big rack in a neighbors yard and a flock of turkeys in the same spot the next day. I’m waiting for a moose or lynx in Short Hills.

Monday, November 13, 2006


11-13-06 SHORT HILLS: I spent Thursday through Sunday baby-sitting for Maggie and Lucy while Val and Steve gamboled in Las Vegas. I had a few hours of help from Judy on Saturday when the dogs were resting. The girls are old enough that it was almost easy. While they were in school on Friday, I took the camera and did the Brooklyn Bridge and the Heights Promenade. As you can see it was beautiful. Mid-November and people were promenading in tee shirts. We still haven’t had a frost in NJ, maybe it will cool off by January.

The leaves are falling even if its warm. The rain started again on Saturday and the ground is sopping again. About half of the wood chips I put down in September got picked up with the leaves leaving the mud behind. If the foresters can ante-up more chips, I’ll lay them down after the last leaf has left, and I bet that deals with the mud.
Liberty and the NJ ports.

Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan tower.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good News

11-8-06 SHORT HILLS: How ‘bout THAT election. Well OK. The House and probably the Senate. First, lets investigate, with subpoena power, the vile campaign tricks and racist ads and illegal funding. Next, the thievery of the contractors in Iraq. Anyone for impeachment? Bye, Rumsfeld.

Heavy rain last night and today washing the Republicans away.

Monday, November 06, 2006

More Color

black chokeberry

for burning bush fans

sun and snow

mowed pasture

11-6-06 SHORT HILLS: We had another 0.1 inches in the gauge before I put it away for the winter. There was a second dusting of snow which disappeared with the morning sun. You can actually see the snow melting in the picture.

Back in NJ, the burning bush are brilliant. Here is one for the burning bush fans. I have resisted the temptation to post more than one, but did include an orange Black Chokeberry. I cleaned out the pool area once again and dragged the leaves up to the street for collection by the town. I will need to do that at least once again.

Friday, November 03, 2006

First Snow and Ice.

Burning Bush

11-3-06 VERMONT: We came up two days ago on a warm afternoon and had snow that night. The snow was gone by noon the next day, but things were white at 7 AM. There was 4.95 inches of rain in the gauge, all that just since October 19. The storm with high wind and rain that dumped all the branches on the yard in Short Hills did the same here. I spent the last hour of daylight after we arrived gathering a cart load of sticks and branches. The next day after the snow melted, I did garden clean up and today I did a little pruning and cleared dead fall off the pasture fence. We have a couple broken rails from a fallen maple limb. I prefer doing the garden clean up in the fall rather than damage emerging shoots in the spring with the rake. Also the snow melt in the spring is dependent on sun exposure so some places can be cleaned when other stuff is still under a foot of snow. You have do clean up several times.

The pasture was mowed yesterday and looks great. There is something pleasing and satisfying about the look of a mowed field. Perhaps some part of our sub-cortical brain knows there is nothing in the short grass who wants to eat us.

This morning when I went out in the pasture to do fence mending, that sounds sooo country, the puddles from all the rain had a thin cover of ice. The trees are leafless except for beech and oak that carry a few brown leaves through the winter. Some shrubs, like these burning bush, still have color.

We have dinner with the Hanlons tonight and the Koreys tomorrow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More Culture.

10-30-06 SHORT HILLS: Over the weekend we had rain, about two inches, served with high wind. The wind continued for a day after the rain and ending today. The yard was littered with sticks and branches. A lot of them were standing upright in the ground because it was so wet when they fell. Most of the branches were dead wood—natural pruning. I suppose that the decaying branch litter under a tree actually serves to return the minerals and/or nutrients to the soil that the tree pulled out of the earth while growing that branch. Today I broke up the big branches and cut down bamboo stalk that the storm broke.

Yesterday we saw Lily play soccer, another loss for her team. They, her parents, say it only happens when we, the grandparents, visit. The night before we took Anna to “A Chorus Line” for her birthday. The new production is almost identical to the original. I had a couple flashbacks to when we first saw it in the mid-seventies. The new cast looks a lot like the original cast. Recommended. They made mention of Darvon and Valium, popular, even ubiquitious, drugs then that are much less used now.

Friday we went to the Met Museum and saw to excellent exhibits, the Vollard and the Americans in Paris. Tomorrow we go to Brooklyn for Hallwoeen.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sopping up the Culture.

more vermont color.


10/26/06 SHORT HILLS: Another week has slipped by without a post. I hope I don’t get fired for neglecting the blog. My favorite weather almanac site is up and running again: . Vermont had its first frost on October 25, but Short Hills hasn’t been lower than 35°F as yet. Both areas have had over 4.5 inches of rain this month. Here, in New Jersey, the ash trees are bare and some maples are turning, but oaks and beeches are still green. In mid-Vermont all the leaves are down.

We have had a busy week. Monday we heard “Cav and Pag” at the Met. That Maria Guleghina can really carry a tune. And last night we went to the Philharmonic for Beethoven’s Fifth and a lecture by Peter Schickele . Saturday we will take Anna to “A Chorus Line” for her birthday. Tomorrow we may go to the Met Museum and on Halloween to Valerie’s in Brooklyn for the Garden Place extravaganza. I hope we don’t completely use up NYC.

I have surprisingly little interest in the World Series, but it would be nice if the Cardinals lost. Go Tigers--and Dems.

Here are a couple more of fall color.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fun Week

10/19/06 VERMONT: Wow, I missed a whole week. Time flies when you’re having fun. I blew the leaves again, the whole yard, that took two days and was harder after a rain soaked the leaves and grass. We had two rains in the past two weeks of 0.95 and 1.05 inches.

I rebuilt the small side entrance to the little barn. It was designed for geese, small enough to keep the larger animals out. It had fallen apart and since there are no geese, I was going to just clean it up and close the entry, but someone thought it gave the barn character and charm and that person insisted that it stay so it got rebuilt.

I cut down most of the garden perennials that had gone dormant and left those still in bloom or still green for the next trip. I pulled up the weed barriers that had been down on top of the wild mint that is taking over the pasture. The barrier had been down for two years, and if that mint is still alive, look out world, its coming for you.

The cimicfuga that bloomed this year has been pollinated and made seeds for the first time. Usually it doesn’t even get to bloom because it opens so late in the season. It is late October in Vermont, and there has been no hard frost yet this year. Global warming, anyone?

I spent the last three night being a book groupie. I followed Alison around to Author/Book events at the Hopkins Center in Hanover and St. Gaudens in Cornish and a home in Orford. She spoke well, and everybody loved her, especially the older ladies, and she sold a bunch of "Double Eagles." Short Hills tomorrow.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Monarch and Geese

10-12-06 VERMONT: After the last post, I did the leaves with the blower. It took almost two days to do the driveway, around the house and the lawn. For about 12 hours the place looked immaculate, then a breezy day and a rain storm yesterday has it looking like nothing was done. I am, however, of the belief that the full mass of all the leaves on the ground is too big a job and that it is easier to push half of them around twice.

Yesterday Judy arrived for the weekend, and we had dinner in town and saw 'Departed'. It was great, great cast, surprises and some good acting.

Today I finished cleaning out the veggie garden, did some pruning and cut up a dead tree that was pinning down the wire fence, and put a new rail in the split-rail fence. I guess it will take another several days to have everything done.

Wildlife: The monarch butterflys were still here as of a few days ago, mostly sucking on the wild asters. I‘ll post a picture of one today on the cimicfuga. The cimicfuga bloomed this year, but usually gets killed by frost before getting this far. It seems to me the monarchs should get going on their migration.

On the way to Gile Mt. the other day, saw a blue heron in a road side stream.

Two days ago I saw a huge vee, actually more of an arc, of geese heading south. The main group must have had 100 to 150 birds. You hear them before seeing them. An advance group of less than a dozen were about five minutes ahead of the rest and were also honking continuously. The honking is probably the two, or more, groups maintaining contact. Is the first group scouting or just separated from the others? They move quickly. They appeared over the north tree line and disappeared to the south in five minutes covering maybe 2-3 miles. That would be 20-30 mph and in 8 hours about 200 miles

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mets, Color, Dogs

Here are Ascutney and Killington on the horizon.

10-8-06 VERMONT: Bye-bye Yanks. Bye-bye Dodgers. See ya next year. The Mets have recovered from their recent doldrums. I guess that good pitching still beats good hitting, but there seems to be no good pitching left. Maybe Barry Zito, we’ll see.

I climbed Gile Mountain, a fifteen minute climb, and had the fire tower to myself for about a half hour on a sunny day. The color was great. On the way down I must have passed a dozen people on the way up. Timing is everything.

Yesterday I started taking the garden down for the winter. I pulled all the border guards, the plant supports, the beetle traps and the electric fence around the veggies and the tomato cages. It took all day. Maybe there are too many beds. More to do today.

Now that all the horses and oxen are out of the pasture the dogs have taken over again. With the full moon, crazy Sam spent hours last night in the pasture barking in her stacatto contralto communicating with other canines in the greater neighborhood. Chloe helped with some of the nocturnal barking job, but most of her energies go into chasing, and barking, she can do both at the same time, at airplane contrails as they pass by far overhead. After breakfast, both of them have been sleeping all morning.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fall Color

10-5-06 VERMONT: I came up yesterday with the air conditioner on and temps in the 70’s. There was 3.5 inches of rain in the gauge, an average month’s worth. Last night we had 0.35 more inches of rain. This morning it was windy, sunny but cool. After ten minutes outside, my hands were cold and my nose was runny. Going to town I had the heater on.

With the sun today, the color is brilliant even though we are past peak here. Peak is a spotty concept in that around the corner the trees are in a different phase and a mile further south trees are still green. Sun exposure, hill tops, valleys all affect the timing of color development.

The veggie garden is littered with a hundred of so rotting tomatoes. I did salvage a couple dozen ripe and green ones. We have half a dozen ripening pumpkins from soccer ball to softball in size.

New blooms: cimicfuga, chrysanthemum, more sedum, asters, witch hazel.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

San José

Blue Heron



10-3-06 SHORT HILLS: We spent the weekend with Jon and Siobhan and Eoin and Joe in San José. We went to the San José Mission and the Santa Clara Mission on Saturday and to Alum Rock Park on Sunday. In the park, a canyon between to mountains in a range to the east of San José, we climbed the South Rim Trail almost to the top and saw deer and feral, perhaps, cattle and some west coast jays. Back at the bottom we saw a Blue Heron working the creek. The boys loved the hike and the wildlige sightings, and so did I. Judy and Siobhan did a lot of “are we there yet” on the climb. The mountains are mostly sandstone with the beds folded E-W. It was a nice visit. The Sunday night red-eye left me exhausted, as usual. Their weather is the same as ours is now.

Today I pruned the bamboo, taking out all the dead, near dead and drooping stalks. It totaled three car loads of cuttings to the dump. Vermont tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Reunion and other stuff.

I seem to be on a weekly posting schedule. I guess plant growth is slower in the fall, sorry, faithful reader, for my inattention.

I was outraged, yes outraged and appalled, to see that a performance of the opera "Idomeneo" was cancelled because of fear of attack by Muslims. This quote is from the NYT today:

"The Deutsche Oper Berlin said Tuesday that it had pulled "Idomeneo" from its fall schedule after the police warned of an "incalculable risk" to the performers and the audience."

Mozart! Now they're after Mozart. Judy and I are seeing the Met's "Iodmeneo" sometime this fall. I didn't realize when ordering tickets what a courageous political act it was.

When the furor over the cartoons in that Danish newspaper arose, every newspaper in the West, or the World, should have published those cartoons every day for a week. The Pope should have explained his remarks a few weeks ago, but not have apologized. These attacks on free speech and free press are not to be tolerated. Get over it, you crazies. If you don't like it, just say so. We'll talk. Nobody likes beheaders. And you editors of papers, why do you roll over for this intimidation? Pretend you're reporting another story about a blowjob and a head-of-state.

OK. Mood Change. My fiftieth high school reunion took place this past weekend with events sheduled from Friday to Sunday. Judy went to three things with me, under duress, but probably had a better time than I did. And I loved it. I saw many people I hadn't seen since graduation and, almost, picked up conversations where we had left them fifty years ago. One hundred of about 130 living classmates showed. We graduated about 165 in 1956. Some of us are clearly identifiable and some not. People came from all across the US and Canada and Europe. No politics or war was discussed, only bio snippets and grandkids. It was exhilarating. I think it was the affirmation that all those other folks are out there and all still in business, even if retired.

In the garden, I spread another load of wood chips and covered all the bare patches in the lawn. There's not much green visible. I hope the chips work out better than the straw did.

When the chips are down.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chipping In.

9-21-06 SHORT HILLS: Just a couple days left until fall officially begins and I start a new photo album in iPhoto. The weather remains pleasant. Today Frank’s Tree left me another load of chips, at 7 am, twice the size of the previous load. It probably represents a whole days work for them. I’m guessing they are glad to get rid of the chips. Anyway I started moving and spreading the chips on bare, grassless and muddy spots and got about half done. That took about 4.5 hours. Hopefully as the chips decompose they will be replacing some of the top soil lost to erosion.

Well, how ‘bout those Mets! Now if they can remember how to hit leftys and find some healthy starters it could be a fun post-season. The Giants had a pretty good outing in Philly too.

Fanny had some inflammatory lumps removed, probably foreign bodies like burrs or thistles. To keep her from scratching or the other dogs from licking her we dressed her in a tee shirt which works perfectly and looks quite chic.

Monday, September 18, 2006


9-18-06 SHORT HILLS: The weather remains beautiful for late summer, warm with cool nights and less humidity. We had a nice rain a few days ago. The tree that had fallen was taken down, and I had the arborists leave the wood chips. I spread them on some of the muddy areas where the dogs have destroyed the grass. It was about four or five yards worth and took most of the day to move from the driveway to the yard, say 50 wheelbarrels full, and spread around. I’ll ask for more chips to get the rest of the muddy areas covered. Grass seems an impossibile dream with dense shade and four big, active dogs.

Yesterday we brought the indoor plants back in from their summer vacation outside.

We have very little in bloom now: the last few rose-of-sharon, hydrangas, hostas, fall wild asters and other fall wildflowers [weeds]. The shrubs have ripening berries that the birds pick off as the color appears.

The early summer was wet, but August was dry and we ran the sprinklers until Labor Day. Either the early wetness or later dryness was bad for the English ivy which has mostly disappeared from lots of places, but will, hopefully, return on its own.

Monday, September 11, 2006


9-11-06 SHORT HILLS: It is a beautiful day just as it was five years ago this date. I have been avoiding all the ceremonies and replays on TV and talk shows “where were you”s as so much overload, at least for me. I remember. It was life altering and a historic watershed. I get no solace or reassurance from all the blah, blah, blah.

Obviously most of the subsequent reactions and responses on the part of the administration have been misplaced and gotten us into the present Iraqian quagmire and alienated us from a lot of the rest of the world, blowing off the sympathy and good-will of honest folks everywhere. The incumbent executives have also used and turned what happened to their own purposes to advance their own agendas and their own re-elections, playing on people’s fear of recurrences, to the detriment of our national interest.

I feel angrier at them than at the perps.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Two at Shea

9-6-06 SHORT HILLS: I got to NJ last night in the rain. We lost a red maple with a rotted trunk that went down during Ernesto and have lots of branches scattered around. Most of the other stuff looks OK at first glance.

Today I went to Shea for the day time double-header against the Braves. I took Mid-Town Direct from Millburn to Penn Station and the #2 train to Times Square and the #7 to Shea—travel time 2 hours—in time for a hot dog before the Anthem done very nicely by the cast of Spamalot. The Mets won the first 4-1 and the second 8-0 with lots of good news in both games. Should I post my score card? Nah. Slumping bench players in both games got hits and pitchers all pitched well. Carlos Beltran’s knee is OK, Shawn Green woke up. José olé olé is very exciting. Carlos Delgado hit one out. The reverse trip home was no problem. I read the New Yorker in the morning and the Post in the afternoon.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

9-4-06 VERMONT: The Monday of Labor Day weekend is always a downer even now that I don’t have to go back to school or, worse, work. It remains cold here, but today was pretty and nice. Ernesto was rained out by the time he got here and contributed only 0.25 inches and no more wind than the average rainy day. Yesterday I was depressed, but today, with a bit of sun and a shovel, I felt better.

Saturday we went to an auction preview in Haverill, NH and saw nothing interesting except “free hostas” that a neighbor had dug up a left by the roadside. I passed them by on the way out, but took them on the way home as no one else was apparently interested. Today I planted them near the lily bed by the porch, filling that section and eliminating some scruffy lawn. I cut each of them into two or three pieces and had enough to fill the whole area. Add water and it’s a full day. I also transplanted the garden herbs to a large pot, two actually, one each for here and for Short Hills where I go tomorrow.

I’ll also bring down dozens of tomatoes and some corn and the remaining dogs.

Sunday Judy left in the morning. I did repairs to some heating ducts in the old basement and a few other indoor chores while it rained. In the afternoon I went to the preview at Wm. Smith’s auction which was held today. There was lots of very nice stuff, but I’m auctioned out. None of the things Judy was interested in were worth a trip back to bid.

Trips to town and back have been exciting. We have seen a flock of turkeys and a pair of fawns several times. I’ll post pictures tomorrow.

New blooms: bottle gentian, more sedum.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Not a Working Dog

Sheep Dog Trials

8-28-06 VERMONT: Two rainy days in a row. We got another 0.6 inches. It remains cool. We are wearing pants, sox and jackets instead of sandals, shorts and tees. The leaves are definitely turning, and it seems early.

We went to the Scottish games in Quechee over the weekend and watched border collies in a sheep herding competition. Some are young. They push the sheep around and usually panic them and don’t get the whole course done. The old dogs work more slowly, just nudging the sheep and get all the handler wants done. It is wonderful to see an experienced dog respond to the whistles and voice commands from across a hillside pasture. Also, another opportunity for fair food and a micro-brew.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Early Fall

8-23-06 VERMONT: We had a late shower and rainbow yesterday with 0.05 of an inch and a cool, sunny day today. I finally spread the lime I bought in the early spring. The lawn above the pond was finally dry enough. I checked the pond pH before and will check it again after the next few rains to see if it goes up from Ca,MgCarbonate [lime] washing in the pond.

More signs of fall. I put up traps for cluster flies on the house windows and baited and set mouse traps.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gardener to the Rescue

8-22-06 VERMONT: Another beautiful day in the Upper Valley. Over the weekend we had rain, which we needed, 1.2 inches. The pond had dropped an inch or so, but is now back to full. Yesterday I found three hostas a blood root and a maiden hair fern underneath the stephanandra in BBP which had rolled over them. I leaped into action and rescued them from the darkness. The hostas went into a bed with kin, and the blood root and fern into the north lower terrace shade garden. Some stephanandra shoots came out with the refugees, and I put them in the propane tank bed. A little dirt to fill the holes and everything is well.

We are living on party leftovers and corn. Yesterday we picked the first tomatoes. Jon and Siobhan sent us peaches from San José via FedEx. They arrived with a few losses, but the survivers are excellent. We also picked wild blackberries, and Judy is making peach and blackberry pie today.

New blooms: wild morning glory, first fall sedum.

Turkey, Opera and Helianthus

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Anniversary Party

8-19-06 VERMONT: On the 16th we threw a party to celebrate our 45th anniversary. We had about 70 guests. To expand the size of the house, in case of poor weather, we had tents put up on the deck and yard adjacent to the house. The tents gave the place a festive look. The canapes came from the Hanover Coop, but Judy did the rest of the cooking herself. The food was great. Apparently the wine was good also. The guests included our family, the extended family, local friends, college friends and some NJ friends and was a good mix. I made a short toast, to thank Judy, and concluded with a quote from Ben Franklin, “three things you can count on are: a good dog, an old wife and ready money.” It still works. Ben died in 1790, the year before this original house was built. Neighbors from the road brought a llama and an alpaca to amuse the kids. The kids, our grandkids and grand neices plus other kid guests, could barely be diverted from frog harrassment and playing in the row boat to eat.

By noon the next day, the house was emptied of all guests and the tents had been packed up and taken away. The rest of the day we cleaned up, put away, picked up, swept, and got everything back to normal.

Yesterday Judy went to an auction, and I did yard work including planting a gift day lily, Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Ethel Smith’. I also watered for almost the first time this summer. It has finally dried out, the pond has dropped an inch and a few plants have started to look dry. The jury is still out on the Mosquito Magnet.

Last night we saw the Opera North production of ‘Il Trovatore’ at the Lebanon Opera House. Three of the four principal voices were great, the orchestra was fine, the staging, sets and acting were primitive. Understanding that it was local, I enjoyed it; Judy was less tolerant. On the way to the opera, the traffic, us, was stopped by a flock of turkeys on the road, perhaps fifteen. Today we are supposed to get a bit of needed rain.

New blooms: helianthus, another helenium.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


8-13-06 VERMONT: The last few days have been not cool, but cold. We have been in pants, jackets and I had socks on for the first time in two months. Today was slightly warmer. A few days ago we had another 0.3 inches of rain.

The yard work has been maintenance weeding, watering, trimming and pruning. I did replace some turf, torn up by the dogs, with new sod from the pasture. The tomatoes are slowly ripening and the first few have been consumed. We have corn every night. Three pumpkins are now in the little green stage.

I bought and set up a Mosquito Magnet. We are waiting to see how much, if at all, it helps.

New blooms: goose-neck loosestrife, clematis.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Winding Down

8-9-06 VERMONT: Another pretty day, but a bit cooler. I spent the middle of the day in the company of the string trimmer and two extension cords doing the front of the house, the driveway, the roses and behind the pond. I used up all the string and had to reload. I transplanted two lilac volunteers to the lilac bed in front of the old house from BBP and a diablo from the driveway bed to the side of the yard below the garage. Add in some weeding and watering and its a full day.

The night before we had dinner at the Hiley’s in New London and actually remembered how to get there. Tonight Lucy had a dinner guest her camp friend, Leah. We had a cook-out and our corn and our tomatos, the first of the year for both. Two thumbs up from everyone. The pumpkin vines have delivered, the first, still green and softball sized, but growing.

The shadows are growing longer on sunny days, a flock of starling, maybe fifty, were in the pasture working on the horses’ food, some place in New Hampshire was 37° last night, a few leaves have started to turn. When we hit August 21, the sun will be half was back to the equator from summer solstice for next month’s equinox. The month after that it will be half way below the equator on its way to the winter solstice. Almost time for sweaters and flannel.

New Blooms: more phlox.

Monday, August 07, 2006

New Sumac and Oars

8-7-06 VERMONT: The day started with an intense, short rain storm that dumped 0.20 inches in about an hour. The rain was followed by hot humid and sticky air. I bought and planted two more of the Bouncing Bette and two Rhus typhina ‘bailtiger’, staghorn sumac and put them in the spot where the wentworth viburnum died.

I also changed the oars in the rowboat. I had bought a pair last year at auction for a couple bucks anticipating that they would be needed soon. It was a job sorting through all the available locks to make a fit. A bit of weeding and pruning and the day is over.

i apologize to all the poop fans about not detailing the amount of aged sheep, ox and horse poop I added to the planting mix.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Campers and Flowers

Happy Campers
8-6-06 VERMONT: Two beautiful days in a row. Yesterday I bought 15 perennials at Browns: 4 Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violet’, Blazing Star; 3 Hosta ‘Obscura’; 2 Saponaria officinails ‘Nina’s Dark pink’, Double Bouncing Bette; 2 Monarda didyma ‘Blue Stocking’, bee balm; 2 Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’; 1 Baptisia australis, false indigo; and 1 foxglove, Digitalis parviflora ‘Mild Chocolate’.

Today I planted, some this morning and some this afternoon, in between Judy and I visited Maggie and Lily at Hive, their camp, with a lunch of Chinese. The girls are both doing quite well, enjoying camp, going on hikes and canoe trips, what could be bad?

Oh yes, the plants mostly went into the propane tank bed and the hostas into the hosta bed that never recovered from the trauma of the trampling by the painters.

Friday, August 04, 2006

New Lily

8-4-06 VERMONT: The weather is back to normal Vermont, clear, cool at night, little breeze, blue skies. We got another 0.3 inches of rain over night, another thank you due to the rain gods. Browns nursery is having their annual sale. I’ll probably hit it tomorrow.

New blooms: glorious casablanca lilies open this am.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


We're Havin' a Heat Wave.

8-3-06 VERMONT: The heat wave continues. Usually it is cool enough at night here so that sleeping is comfortable with just a window fan, but the last two nights have been bad. Last night was complicated by a four hour power outage [say that fast four times] that shut down the fans. During the day yesterday it was so hot that I worked up a sweat taking a shower. The dogs have been living in the basement which is about 60°. With these conditions, T-storms are expected. We have seen a few slide by to the north, but we only got a peripheral sprinkle.

The veggies are ripening. Tomatoes are full size and have turned whitish on the way to reddening, and the corn ears are filling out. The pumpkin vines have loads of fowers but bear no fruit.

New blooms: goldenrod has been out for at least a week. I deeply apologize for neglecting to mention it at the appropriate time.