Friday, June 29, 2007

Travel Day

6-29-07 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday I checked the sprinklers and fixed a couple clogged heads, and cleaned the driveway drain. Today we go to Vermont. NJ has had good rain this last week, but much less in Vermont.

Southern Magnolia.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hot Day.

6-27-07 SHORT HILLS: I made the round trip to return the boys to their rightful owners on Monday and Tuesday. The trip out was combative until the portable DVD started. It ran for about four hours, with a break for dinner. After the battery died, they fell asleep for the rest of the flight. Bottom line—we know them better and they know us better.

New blooms: southern magnolia.

Judy's World.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Homeward Bound.

6-25-07 SHORT HILLS: We all came down yesterday in an uneventful but slow trip. I take the creatures back to San José in a couple hours. We did the Turtle Back Zoo this afternoon. It has been upgraded substantially since we were last there. The playground and reptiles were the biggest hits.

New blooms: daylily.

The End of the Week.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More Relaxation.

6-23-07 VERMONT: There’s more. Friday morning we saw chickens and sheep at Eliza’s house, and in the afternoon, between showers, we went to Old City Falls in Strafford. It was a big hit, but I forgot the camera. We got home in time to go to the early show of “Surfs Up”, it was nice to see the Dude in a new vehicle. Then dinner at Cusanoz and dessert at B&J and bedtime. Saturday started with a trip to the dump, a visit to the Farmers’ Market in Norwich to find a gift for mom amidst all those cookies. Then home for some wiffle ball and a walk in the woods. Some of us found a lot of mud and needed a bath after the walk and before the solstice festival in Norwich with jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, etc. Then back to Murphy’s for dinner. Tommorrow, Sunday, it’s back to NJ, and Monday it’s back to San José with me as animal trainer. I’m not sure, but I bet that I’ll be gladder to see the parents than they will.

New blooms: water lily, more roses, more peony, penstemon. The pasture is a riot of wildflower color, but difficult to capture in a photo, but I tried.

I managed to do a bit of trimming, weeding and garden care and took down a small tree by the edge of the pond that fell in. It had one root, giving it the shape of the letter L, and blew over on a gusty day. Rain-frequent showers, but only 0.2 inches more, leaving us dry for the month so far.

Indian PaintBrush.

Creek Walk.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Relaxing Week with the Grandkids.

6-21-07 VERMONT: Where to start? A couple days after I got back from Montana, Judy left for San José to bring Eoin and Joey back to NJ to spend a week with us. She and the boys arrived Sunday night, and Monday we all came to Vermont. They immediately loved the pond and began harassing frogs, crayfish and newts, rode in the rowboat, fed horses, played with the dogs and took it all in. Tuesday we took the sailboat, without sails, and motored around Lake Fairlee, had a picnic on the water and watched the camps prepping for the kids, dinner at Murphy’s and dessert at B&J. Wednesday we had thunderstorms in the AM, and during the previous night, so we went to the Montshire where two of us ran from exhibit to exhibit excitedly trying everything while the other two of us displayed more restraint. The ball-bearing roller-coasters were a big hit. The water park left two of us pretty well soaked. Then to the market and home for dinner. Phew. Thursday we hiked to Janet’s to see the llamas, ferrets and her other animals, and then back through the woods along Lord Brook, around Steve’s sheep pasture and off to VINS, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, for the raptor show. Half way through we had a pretty violent thunderstorm which got Joey upset. Supper at home after a stop at D&W. Tomorrow’s activities will be organized around the dishwasher repairman’s visit, the DVD also doesn’t work.

Otherwise, we had 1.55 inches of rain when we arrived and another 0.2 inches and more today. The new planting survived with the help of Eliza’s frequent watering. There are moles all over the place and they might have destroyed the smallest elm tree.

In bloom: SHORT HILLS-elderberry, native rhodo, asian holly, hydrangea. VERMONT-solomon seal, columbine, azalea, daylily, stephenandra, daisy, iris-bearded, siberian, and flags, meadowsweet, peony, geranium and cranesbill, rogersia, wentworth viburnum, dianthus, mt. Bluet, lupin, hesperis, valarian, roses, ladys mantle, spirea, weglea, baptisia, diablo.

Roses and Iris.


Three Princes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fish Story

6-15-07 SHORT HILLS: I got back from Montana last night after flight delays on the last leg from ORD to EWR. Tonight we heard the NY Philharmonic at NJPAC. They did the Semiramide Overture by Rossini, Shubert’s Third Symphony, and Dvorak’s Fifth Symphony. It was a summer cooler of a program and done deliciously. The theme in the first movement of the Dvorak is very melodic and very familiar, probably been stolen several times.

Some follow-up on the fishing trip: The Big Horn River has 6,000 trout per mile, according to the wildlife agencies. So, over the thirteen miles of river we cruised every day, and some sections we repeated four or five times, we went over or by at least 78,000 trout and in four days-312,000 trout, not to mention the other fish species. If a hundred fishermen catch thirty trout per day, repeated daily for the season, 8 months, each fish gets to meet a lot of people in a year.

The river discharge is at an all-time low. Discharge is a measure of how much water is flowing through the river bed and is expressed in cubic ft. per second [CFS]. One measures the width of the bed and multiplies by the average depth at the same place for the area of the bed at that point [square feet] and multiples that area by the velocity of the water as measured at that spot, usually over several days, in feet per second to get CFS. The current, no pun intended, discharge is 1200 CFS. It used to be in the 7-10,000 range at this time of year. That would make a wider, deeper and faster river than the one we saw. Several years of drought are responsible for the discharge decline. Climate change, anyone?

The flies look like, well, flies. The most popular is called the Ray Charles, “cuz even a blind man could catch fish with it.”

Cottonwoods and Russian olive trees on the Bighorn.

Blue Heron.

Merganser with lady Mallard,

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fishin' Trip

6-14-07 HARDIN, MONTANA: The trip wraps up this morning. Ken and I go to the Billings Airport in an hour or so for the flights back to Newark. The previous two days Jon and I fished all day on the first and half day on the second. We continued to catch lots of trout, rainbows and browns, both days and got pretty good at it. Jon caught a white fish, about the same size as the trout, and we both tried catching carp for a while. The carp are bigger than the trout, like shallow backwaters, and behave differently on the line. The trout jump and swim from side to side, but the carp go in a straight line. I hooked one that towed the boat almost a quarter mile, upstream, before breaking loose. We never saw it, the water was murky there and we never got it to the surface. After that episode, we couldn’t hook another one there, they avoided the boat. When we went to where they were jumping, they disappeared and reappeared elsewhere. When we went to that new place, they reappeared at the first site. Smart fish.

Yesterday we went out with Adam, Dell was off, and did the lower half of the river. We got lots of trout, mostly small, 10 to 12 inches and one big carp at a different slue that I caught and landed. It was 27 inches, not very big for a carp. As you can see, they look like torpedos. It was pretty heavy, felt like a small bag of fertilizer.

After fishing yesterday, Jon and I went to the Big Horn Battlefield site. It is only a few miles from the lodge. They do a nice job explaining the events and letting you walk and drive the site.

Part of the Big Horn Battlefield and what eastern Montana looks like.

Owl and Carp.

Carp-27 inches and heavy as a bag of fertilizer, small bag.

Great Horned Owl-again.
More text to follow, gentle reader.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Big Horn River


The cotton in Cottonwood.

Great Horned Owl.

Picnic on the Riverbank.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fly Fishing

6-11-07 HARDIN, MONTANA: Today was our second day of fly fishing. Yesterday Jon and I had lessons for about an hour, and then a day of fishing from the drift boat with our guide, Dell. The boat is a large dingy with upturned ends, each end with a chair for the fisherman. The guide sits in the middle and rows, down stream, taking the boat from side to side to the places where the fish hang out, and sometimes back upstream for other runs through a good section. We cast the artificial flies, no live bait is used, into the indicated spots. All the fishing is catch-and-release. The largest lures don’t have barbs on the hooks. The river is the Big Horn, from a put-in site below a Yellowtail Dam for about thirteen miles to the take-out site. The guide’s car is moved from the first place to the second while we are on the river. We put-in at about nine AM and finish about six PM. Lunch is served by the guides on riverside tables they set up with linen and tableware when the group stops, more or less together. The picnics are prepared by the lodge and are excellent. Our party of eight uses four boats and four guides all moving at about the same rate.

Jon and I each caught fish the first day, but today Jon caught a 23 inch rainbow trout, in a section of the river callled the landing strip, that fish was the bigger than any caught by Eagle Nest Lodge guests today. Several of the experienced fisherfolk promise to catch bigger fish tomorrow. My biggest fish today was 19 inches, pretty big, but not in the same category.

In addition to the fish, we have seen: muskrat, bald eagle, great blue heron, killdeer, ring-necked pheasant, turdey buzzard, canada goose, mallard, great-horned owl, osprey, red-winged blackbird, magpie, kingfisher, merganser.

After we got back there was a thunder and hail storm and another excellent dinner and another early bedtime.

record setter.

two rainbows.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Eagle Nest Lodge

6-9-07 HARDIN, MONTANA: We arrived in the late afternoon after two flights, Newark-to-Denver and Denver-to-Billings, and a car ride to Hardin on I-90 at the fish camp on the Big Horn River. It is rustic, but not old. Eight of the ten guests are in our party. Tomorrow is the first day of fly fishing for Jon and me, ever. We did have a lesson in casting out on the lawn. Everybody else seems to be an old hand. I’m counting on beginner’s luck.

Eastern Montana, despite its name, is the plains. The land is grassy and flat-to-rolling. Where there is any pitch to the terrain, river erosion has exposed sandstone beds.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

South Mountain Reservation.

6-6-07 SHORT HILLS: Judy and I took a couple of walks in the South Mountain Reservation. We visited the new dog park, and then I went to the waterfall. The reservation is huge, several square miles in area. It is bisected by the Rahway River which runs between the two basaltic ridges that form the park. The ridges are a failed rift zone that formed when Pangaea began to split apart. If things had worked out differently, Short Hills would be on the beach, and Newark and New England would be in Spain or Morocco. Instead the Atlantic Ocean is where it is, and we have a park.

Some of the vistas are as pretty as anything you will see anywhere, if you avoid the trash and graffiti. Presently in bloom in the park are: tulip tree, catalpa, wild rose, raspberry, privet, honeysuckle vines, and mt. laurel, looking especially good. The native rhododendron, near the river there’s a stand that must be an acre, are about to pop. Except for a couple of spots that are planted, all the vegetation is on its own and everything is a volunteer, most native but some introduced species that have spread from cultivation.

The views to the east from the top are of Manhattan and the Verrazano Bridge and to the south, from Washington Rock, of Millburn. This last site is of Revolutionary War significance and has its own plaque. There were lots of dog walkers, hikers, skaters and bikers. Bikes are only allowed on the paved roads.


Rahway River, West Branch.

Mountain Laure.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Peonies Rule.

6-2-07 SHORT HILLS: Back in the land of summer heat and humidity. I came down on the 31th. When I left, it was in the sixty’s, and when I arrived, it was in the ninety’s. The ailing rhododendrons look worse. Everything else looks pretty lush.

New blooms: mountain laurel, more rhodos, privet, more azalea, tree peony, peony, iris, english holly.


tree peony