Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Mud.

11-20-11 SHORT HILLS: We’re getting more rain. November is already above average for rain fall, and our very wet year continues. It is still quite warm, in the sixties again, but a colder, seasonal weather is due soon. We go to VT tomorrow.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Warm Spell.

11-27-11 SHORT HILLS: It’s been at or near sixty for the past three days and very pleasant. The yard is still muddy from the rain, but the warm spell has resulted in a bunch of wild strawberry flowers and a dandelion opening up in the lawn and a few, scattered forsythia blooms.

The forsythia are the last ones to dump their leaves, at least in this yard. With all the other deciduous plants bare, I have found lots more dead fall from the storms lying on the shrubs. The town finally got to our street to pick up the huge pile of branches, but we are still waiting for the tree people to get here for the big clean up and pruning.

New blooms: dandelion, wild strawberry, forsythia.

Forsythia always puts out a few after a warm spell in the fall.

Forsythia is one of the last to go bare and demonstrates the yellow pigment in the leaves that it shows in the flowers.

Witchhazel is a late bloomer. These small flowers become noticeable when the leaves are down. It has a cluster of three flowers, each with four petals and four of crepe-paper tentacles.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Times Square.

11-23-11 SHORT HILLS: More rain for the past three days, and it’s pretty soggy in the yard. We are still waiting for the clean-up of the broken branches. All the leaves are down, and the gutter have been blown out. I have done a bit more pruning.

We were in the city Saturday to see “Relatively Speaking”, the show with three one-act plays by Ethan Coen, Elaine May, and Woody Allen. The tunnel gods were in a benign mode, so we flew in and had time to kill in Times Square—a show of its own, including, that night, a wedding.

We enjoyed all three playlets. The Woody Allen was the funniest, a succession of one-liners, starting from the point, in a way, where “The Graduate” stopped, but with a few twists.

I got a few emails about a nice article in the Valley News about the Geology web site, link to the right.

Times Square, NYC. Noisy, Glaring, Garish, Crowded, Glitzy, Vibrant and totally Over the Top.

Perfect Place for a Wedding?

Friday, November 18, 2011


Laurel, a friend from the SC coast, saw my picture of the stag and raised me by three bucks.

Velvet covers the new antlers.

And a pair of bobcat kittens with three deer makes a full house.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Near Deer have no Fear.

11-16-11 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday’s sprinkles have turned into steady rain today with more rain tomorrow. It’s warm, in the fifties, the weather gods seem contrite after inflicting that disastrous storm on us.

Speaking of the storm, we are still waiting for clean up and removal by the tree care folks of the big, huge, branches in the pool, and pruning of the traumatised trees. I have removed all the stuff that I can handle and created, in the process, a huge pile of debris in the street waiting for the town to collect. Many similar piles are waiting for pick up all over town.

Our roses are still turning out red, white and pink flowers, and there are still little yellow flowers of wild strawberry in the lawn. The birds are back at the feeders in full force. We have had lots of deer activity in the yard which keeps the dogs alert.

Copper Beech turned to gold a few days ago, now the leaves are cocoa brown.

This doe was actually lying down and eating ground cover, perhaps ivy.

The stag was in the same area as the doe the next day and appeared to be eating pachysandra which would be very unusual for deer. That night I startled another deer in the same spot, but that one didn't pose for me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yard Work-NJ.

11-11-11 SHORT HILLS: I came down on Wednesday and spent yesterday dragging broken branches out of the yard and up to the street. Judy pitched in with the schlepping. We have an immense pile now waiting for the town to pick up or the tree folks to chip up.

But there’s more—now I can continue to cut down broken branches that I can reach and add to the pile. I sliced up a downed medium sized wild cherry yesterday. Each pruning takes broken wood off some smaller tree or shrub that has been bent over and damaged by something bigger leaning on it.

Yesterday was warm and sunny, last night cold and rainy and today cold and sunny and windy.

Burning Bush and Black Chokecherry make and red and orange sandwich.

The row of Burning Bush are quite dramatic, even to Nick.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Yard Work VI.

11-8-11 VERMONT: It was even warmer today, in the sixties. I had windows open and worked in shirt sleeves. We had sun in the morning, but it was overcast by afternoon.

I finished walking the property line and replacing ‘POSTED’ signs, while wearing my red hat. In the woods, there were hundreds of moths, I guess they were moths, that were small, light grayish-brown in color, fluttering around in swarms near the ground and seemed freshly hatched. That’s what a warm day can do. A buttercup was so pleased with the weather that is put out a couple flowers.

After the signs, I worked on the pasture fence, straightening out tired posts. I had previously cut, with the table saw, a pressure treated 2x4 into wedges. With the ground soft from the warm days, I could straighten a leaning post and hammer one of the wedges into the ground next to the post to keep it upright. It worked pretty well. NJ tomorrow.

New blooms: buttercup.

Another attempt to show the trees, fence, road and wall. Imagine that the wall will be between the trees and fence.

Buttercup liked the day.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Yard Work V.

11-7-11 VERMONT: Today started like the last two days, sunny and cold, but warmed up a lot and became partly cloudy. I was working without a jacket and only light gloves in the afternoon. The pond was completely frozen this morning, but is now completely ice free and it’s still in the upper forties.

I finished the beds, they’re all clean and put to bed, so to speak, and waiting for that snowy blanket to come, but not tomorrow when it might get to the sixties. I put the reflectors up around the driveway to guide the plowers when that snowy blanket arrives. After that I went about halfway around the property line refreshing, restapling and replacing the ‘POSTED’ signs. This is Vermont, and it is November, and every day the hills are alive with the sound of gunfire.

The road, the tree line, and the fence line. The wall, under renovation, is between the trees and the fence, but doesn't show well.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Yard Work IV.

11-6-11 VERMONT: Today was a re-play of yesterday. The pond was almost completely frozen this morning, but again melted back during the day, although only a third of it. Tonight will be cold again.

I finished the beds behind the house and started on the beds adjacent to the porch. I had to clear the snow free beds first and move the snow piles to the cleared beds to do the beds that had been snow covered. I figured out a way to move the frozen snow by breaking it into chunks and tossing them aside with a pitchfork. That was fast and my hands didn’t get cold. I generated another three cart loads, which seems to be my limit. I should finish the beds tomorrow.

Scott has been working between the pasture fence and the road to rebuild the old wall there. That wall, as they all do, had fallen apart, mostly from time and neglect due to freeze-thaw cycles, truck traffic, tree roots, etc. Lots of rocks are there, many have rolled down the slope toward the road. Since Josh and Kolbi brush-hogged that area and the wall is re-appearing, there are four parallels—the road, the line of old sugar maples, the wall and the fence. I guess I need a picture.

The pasture looks good with brush cut down and a fresh mowing.

Frozen pond, that red tree in front of the house is the apple, laden with fruit, which the birds will eat.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Yard Work III.

11-5-11 VERMONT: It was cold last night. This morning the grass was frosted, and the pond had ice at the north end, where the drain is, the icing continued until about 10 AM when the pond was about one-third frozen. By mid-afternoon, all the ice, and frost, was gone.

Today was cloudless, windless and cool. I got another batch of beds done. I have been avoiding the beds with a lot of snow in hopes that it will evaporate, at least partially, on these dry days. I finished most of the beds on the east side of the house, that’s the pond side, and the pond beds and the day lily bed by the wall. That work generated another three cart loads of cuttings. I have been dumping them on a wet, soggy area in the pasture.

Chloe in the glow of evening.

Frost on the grass and ice on the pond.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Yard Work II.

11-4-11 VERMONT: Today was colder, sunny in the morning, then overcast with a north wind and even a brief snow flurry. I did the terrace and the beds at the north end of the house because they were snow free. I cut down all the dried stalks and dormant perennials, carefully avoiding baby biennials for next season. Then I rake it all out of the beds and haul it away. There were three cart loads today.

Some of the beds on the east side of the house, facing the pond, are almost snow free, and I can do those tomorrow. We’re predicted to be in the twenties tonight.

A cautious apple snitcher at dusk.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Yard Work.

11-3-11 VERMONT: It was overcast and in the forties today with no wind, and that made it a good day to work outside. I pulled all the bed barriers, made repairs, labeled them and stored them in the barn. The ones that were snowed in required chopping out to be removed. I also put the barn windows in the window frames. They come out during the summer for ventilation. I put the small pasture gate away in the little barn. A couple of walks around the pasture with the ladies, and it’s a full day.

Sam pokes around, sniffing everything and ambles at her own pace.

Chloe runs here and there, herding airplanes, warning away trucks and chasing birds.

Vermont aviation is technologically far ahead of the rest of the world. For example, this plane has two wings.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Halloween and Vermont.

11-1-11 SHORT HILLS: Halloween on Garden Place, Brooklyn was the usual craziness. We sat on Val’s brownstone stoop from 5 PM to 6:30 and gave out 1500 tiny tootsie rolls—that’s not a typo. At 7 PM the downstairs neighbors took over and were just as busy. I was pressed into last minute pumpkin carving duty. For the most part the costumes were the traditional heroes and villains from movies, nursery rhymes and TV. There was a family, a school, of fish and SCUBA divers, a refrigerator, cars, Roman litter bearers, Snookis and angry birds. Also a pair of Walk, Don’t Walk signs, and a black-clothed pogo-sticker hopping down the street with ‘Stock Market’ on the T-shirt. The block was in its usual eerie, scary incarnation with pumpkins, spiders, webs, skeletons, ghosts, witches observing.

Today I did more clean-up, pruning of storm damage and have accumulated a sizable pile on the street. The pool is filled with wood, huge maple and elm branches. Frank’s Tree was here to assess the damage and add us to the clean-up list.

11-2-11 VERMONT: Sam, Chloe and I came up today to close up the garden beds and generally winterize. Winterization cannot proceed with snow on the ground which is what we found, paradoxically as that may seem. Hopefully some melting we let us proceed. Brady the horse has returned home for the winter. The ponds are full and draining. Late monkshood is still in bloom. We did get a nice sunset.

The work of the master carver entilted 'Ambivalence' elicited several comments.

Sunset as advertised.

Berry Quiz-Part II.

1. Easy for iMac users.

2. A low-growing evergreen.

Answers: 1. Apple [duh], 2. Cotoneaster.