Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monarchs Rule.

7-29-10 VERMONT: I mowed again yesterday cutting, or rather re-cutting, the paths in the pasture. I need another half day to finish. Last night we had a T-storm with lots of L & T, but no wind. The dogs were terrified, as usual, and become very cuddly. There was 0.8 inches in the gauge this morning. Let’s see—I put up a new hummingbird feeder, the old one started leaking, refilled the other feeders, weeded, snipped off a tent-caterpillar tent and fed them to the fish, picked tomatoes.

New blooms: black-eyed susan.

These guys will be Monarch Butterflies. They are presently stuffing themselves on milkweed leaves. I turned the leaf over to get the pic in the first two. The third pic is another plant with a different bug. The long horns indicate the front end, the three legs in front become the adults legs. I'll try to catch the cocoons when they happen. Nice color, huh?

Monday, July 26, 2010

BBQ Sunday in the Rain.

7-26-10 VERMONT: Yesterday we had scattered T-storms, but went to Windsor, VT for the Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition. There must have been 50 or 60 booths BBQing many species of animals plus lots of Harpoon brews. Adina and Craig and Adina’s giant puppy, Theo, who got a lot of attention, joined us. We all overate, got rained on, sampled the brews and had a great time. So did thousands of others. Many of the BBQers displayed their medals and awards.

One of the BBQ booths displayed their trophies. How many animals can you id?

Today, I was back at work, trying to burn off some of those calories. I mowed the tall grass in the pasture around the veggie garden, barns, some of the fence with the DR Trimmer. Before that there was weeding and pruning as always. Today was beautiful, 70’s with a breeze and dry and clear.

We saw two painted turtles sunning on the rock formation by the pond this afternoon.

New blooms: liatris, more phlox, more ligularia.

Pickerel Weed, a shallow water plant with arrowhead shaped leaves and bluish flowers.

Some of the crayfish in the pond have grown just enormous.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First Tomato Thrown Out. The Season Begins.

7-24-10 VERMONT: Today we’re back in the broiler with humidity and sun. Yesterday was cool, misty, drizzly late in the afternoon and over night. There was little measurable rain fall.

Before the rain yesterday, I did more work on the walkway under the deck replacing broken bricks with field stone.

When the culvert was cleaned out by the town a month of so ago, the road crew dumped the load of sand and dirt that came out of the culvert on a swampy area of the pasture. Today I started spreading it around with a rake and shovel which was a hot, sticky, sweaty job that I nearly finished, and it nearly finished me. I downed about three quarts of ice tea afterwards. I’ll let it get rained on and settle for a few weeks before I do the rest.

Before the shoveling, Judy and I picked wild blackberries and had the first few ripe tomatoes. The blue berries are almost gone.

New blooms: aster, rusty foxglove, pickerelweed in the pond. The last two have been out for about a week, but I forgot to mention them.

'Moulin Rouge' sunflower.

Aphrodite Fritillary Butterfly on Joe Pye Weed. Something took a bite out of one of the hind wings, but check out the tongue!

Digitalis ferruginea, Rusty Foxglove

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not 'Cat in a Hat', but 'Dog in a Boat'.

7-22-10 VERMONT: Yesterday we got the rain. We had 0.4 inches in the morning in a thunderless T-storm that lasted about an hour. I was happy with that, but in the evening it got dark about five PM after a bunch of distant lightening and thunder drifted by. Then came the wind, blowing small branches and leaves off the trees, and finally a downpour that delivered an inch more of rain. There was no hail, downed trees or power surges and only the briefest blackout.

Today was beautiful, breezy, sunny and cool, almost too cool. I would have killed for this cool a few weeks ago.

In between I did some pruning, trimming, weeding, and dead-headed the delphinium. Val et al move on to Steve’s family in Maine tomorrow. We will be child-, grandchild-, and guest-less for the first time since early June.

New blooms: golden rod, Casablanca lily, soap wort.

Will the dog tip the boat over? Will the other dog retrieve his ball? That dot in the water on the left near the ball is a turtle's head, and he's probably laughing.

Casablanca Lily. Gigantic and incredibly aromatic.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stars, Rainbows and Moss.

7-20-10 VERMONT: We’re a month past the summer solstice and a month closer to fall. It has turned dry, and I may have to start watering. I did start the soaker hose for the veggies today. T-storms have been predicted every day, but we see them go crashing by to the north or south, but our rain gauge stays empty.

Yesterday faced with an all-day rain, that didn’t happen here, we went to St. J, that’s St. Johnsbury for you flatlanders, and the Fairbanks Museum. It’s a Victorian Era museum, natural history, in a brick Victorian building in a town filled with Victorian houses. It has lots of taxidermy, birds and mammals, minerals, cultural exhibits, and the "Eye on the Sky" weather broadcast that’s a staple of VPR. We went to the planetarium show and weighed our selves on a scale set for moon and Martian gravities. Throw in a slice of pizza, and it was a great afternoon. And they got a lot of rain. We had an evening rainbow.

Today we hiked the nearby brook, now reduced to a trickle. You can see pix of it in the March 23, 2010 post ‘Fast Water’ when it was more prosperous. Now it is easy to rock hop down the middle from mossy block to mossy log. Tonight we had another rainbow, ho hum.

New blooms: milk weed, goose-neck loosestrife.

I say hold the bow, just the rain, please.

Lots of places to cool your weary feet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Camp Theater.

7-17-10 VERMONT: It has been hot, almost 90° every day with frequent, brief showers but only about 0.1 inches or rain in the gauge. It is also muggy with only an occasional breeze.

Val and Steve arrived last night for camp retrieval weekend. Judy and I went to see Lucy at Hive in “Beauty and the Beast”, she was Lefou. They saw Maggie in “Once Upon a Mattress” as Lady Larkin. Tonight we switch performances. It’s hard work being a grandparent.

New blooms: lilies and more day lilies.

Bodacious Lily. My favorite flower is whatever I'm looking at now.

Good Night to Lake Fairlee.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back to Work.

7-14-10 VERMONT: We got another 0.6 inches of rain last night and had a brief shower today with distant thunder but no local electricity. I spent the day outside doing chores but am hard pressed to remember what. Let’s see—fixed a wall, staked flowers, trimmed and pruned, cleaned-up, admired my creations, took pix and probably other stuff.

New blooms: shasta daisy. [forget to mention yesterday]

Shasta Daisy. Great patterns in the center.

Echinacea and Friend.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Floral Explosion.

7-13-10 VERMONT: We came back to VT today after a great dinner last night at Grammercy Tavern with Valerie, Steve, Dan, Anna, Dylan, Bill and Alison. The day before we sent Pam, Eoin and Joe to Dublin from EWR. We were away from July 3—10 days.

The same heat wave that baked the Apple broiled Vermont. There has been an explosion of new flowers popped open by the heat. Here, at least, there was rain, 0.70 inches, with more coming down tonight.

The blueberries are ripening and I picked a quart and also got a handful of tomatoes. The corn is forming tassels.

New blooms: ligularia, more hosta, mallow, spirea, potentilla, more phlox, asian lilies, yarrow, helenium, echinacea, hollyhock, more monarda, joe pye weed, monks hood, sun flower, hybrid day lilies.

The new day lilies are quite distinctive. The basic format is two sets of three petals. Both of these have different sets of petals.

All the petals here are fat and frilly, and of course deep red.

These yellow petals are all spidery.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The East, Harlem and Hudson Rivers.

7-9-10 SHORT HILLS: Another hot and muggy day, but not as hot. Today we were back on the west side to do a Circle Line cruise around Manhattan with a sail by to Ellis and Liberty Islands. The adults loved it, but the boys were bored after an hour or so. The guide was fine, the seating functional, the food adequate and the views sensational. We went under twenty bridges, they said. We snuck out of the Lincoln Tunnel with minor delays on the brink of Friday rush. It’s a pretty good deal, and the breeze on the Hudson was welcome.

The obligatory picture from an NYC river cruise.

The Hudson is clean enough for this cormorant to make a living.

The Empire State Building enjoys new popularity since the Percy Jackson books became a hit.

The little lighthouse and big GW Bridge.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Intrepid Lion King Tut.

7-8-10 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday we took the boys to the production of “The Lion King” running in an enormous Broadway theater. I, expecting to be bored, loved it. The animal costumes and representations are brilliant, the sets colorful and inventive and the music vibrant. The plot, well, it is a cartoon. I suppose that everyone who might read this post has already seen it.

The under twenty-one set loved it also. After the show we did a bit of Times Square, in the oppressive heat, visited the M&M store, and had dinner at an NYC deli.

Today we visited the aircraft carrier “Intrepid” at a west side pier in the morning. The boys love everything to do with war and weapons. We saw the ship, the planes, a submarine and an SST. They did some kind of flight simulator movie. We finished in time to make the 2PM display of artifacts from King Tut’s tomb back in Times Sq. at the Discovery Center. We got out of both Gift/Souvenir Shops nearly unscathed.

New blooms: St Johns Wort.

St. Johns Wort. These two shrubs nearly died but may did put out a few flowers and may survive.

Judy after I told her that the boys would be gone in less than three days.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Met.

7-6-10 SHORT HILLS: Today we went to the Met, braving the 102°F. [with high humidity], parking in the museum garage and avoiding the outside except for the bamboo labyrinth on the roof garden. Inside we did the Greeks and Romans, the mummies and temples, then the war tools, then the lunch, then the bamboo, and then the Picasso.

We saw the Egyptian artifacts-

Then armor, swords, spears, lances, knives and guns-

The Picasso exhibit-

And here's how we felt after all that.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Hot Time on the Fourth.

7-5-10 SHORT HILLS: We all came down from Vermont to NJ on the 3rd. We dropped Lily off on the Merritt Parkway where Alison and Anna were waiting. Judy and the boys and I got here in time for the heat wave. It’s been in the high 90’s every day.

On the Fourth we went to the town fair and the boys did rides and Eoin did a wall climb. We watched Revolutionary War re-enactors fire a cannon. We grilled for dinner and then did the fireworks at Millburn HS—great show. Today I picked up Pam at EWR. She is here for a visit with the boys and NYC before taking them back to Dublin for a few weeks. We were planning walking trips around the city, but with the temps at 100°, we will do inside stuff. Probably the Met Museum tomorrow.

The plants seem to be enjoying the weather, except for a few dry and droopy shrubs that I watered. I re-set the sprinklers for maximum watering. Viburnum berries are turning red, and so, with any exertion, are we. I did a bit of weeding, cleaned the driveway drain, cleared a few fallen branches and got drenched in the effort.

In bloom: southern magnolia, hydrangeas, lamium, roses, spirea, rhododendron, hosta, rose-of-sharon.

Southern Magnolia, three sets of three petals in creamy white.

Purple Hydrangea.

Blue Hydrangea.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Gile and Cardigan.

7-1-10 VERMONT: It has turned cold again. It’s in the low sixties and windy with mostly overcast skies and showers—a shivery day. We, Lily, Eoin, Joe and I, climbed Mt. Cardigan. Generally regarded as not hard, we did it, round-trip with a hour for lunch on the top, in 3.5 hours. Thanks to a terrible fire in the 1850’s, the top is mostly bald with a fringe of vegetation. After the fire, the soil on the top was washed away leaving the bedrock of Kinsman grandiorite, a type of granite. The rock has a speckled gray backround with large chunks of white feldspar and whitish quartz veins—kind of like a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. Cherry Garcia, anyone. The top was cold and windy, but we found a nook in the lee on the south face for shelter from the north wind and had lunch. The boys found a niche that they said was warm.

The top from the lower summit. Those little black vertical sticks on the granite are hikers.
Tonight we have a fire going.

Two days ago, we four did Gile Mountain as a warm-up, a quick up-and-down the mountain and fire tower.

New blooms: filipendula, monarda, Stella D’Oro day lily.