Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello, 2013.

12-31-12 VERMONT: It’s another overcast day. The sky was clear last night, giving us a lot of moonlight, but it looks like more snow now. We did another snowshoe trek around the pasture with the dogs. Yesterday’s wind as created snowdrifts on all the downwind slopes that are quite deep.

It has been a succession of dinners out for us. We been at Ken and Jane’s, Steve and Diana’s, Donna and Bruce’s and tonight we do New Years Eve at Stone Soup, maybe we’ll be awake at twelve, but probably not.

Happy, Happy everyone.

Have a seat!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

More Snow, More Geology.

12-29-12 VERMONT: More snow today, at least six inches since mid-morning, with a few hours to go. It’s in the low twenties, but there’s no wind, so today’s snowshoeing was comfortable. Everything is white, and the snow is piled up on every surface.

Snowy Woods.

Whiteout-another six inches, so far.

Back to the pond ice—notice in yesterday’s pix the close up of the uplifted part of the ‘island’ that there is a crack through the middle perpendicular to the edge. When that small section of ice was bowed upwards it cracked because it can’t stretch or bend.

Now, if you will, think of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, actually paired ocean-bottom mountain ranges located mid way between the Americas and Europe and Africa, extending almost from one pole to the other. The ridges are sliced by transform faults that cross the ridges at right angles to the segment of the ridge they intersect. [Wikipedia has nice articles on both the ridges and transform faults, and Google Earth shows them both.] If you visualize the ridges from the side running from pole to pole, it is obviously a long arc, not a flat line as it might seem when looking downwards at it, because the earth is a sphere. As the ridges are pushed upward and away from each other by the magma upwelling between the two ridges, the ridges, being solidified rock, are unable to stretch under this upward force and crack, forming the transform faults. As the ocean bottom is carried away from the spreading center these cracks are propagated and lengthened and extended. The ice demonstrates a mini-example of the formation of a transform fault.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pond Tectonics.

12-28-12 VERMONT: The neighbors arrived yesterday morning to clear the pond again, but were confronted by eight inches of snow, a much more formidable job than the previous day’s work of three inches. We all decided that it would be easier not to clear the entire pond but create a track around the outside by shoveling some snow inwards and some outwards, leaving a mound in the middle and a track around the mound. They had drilled into the ice a few days before this and the thickness was three inches which is OK, but not optimal for a lot of activity.

When they were almost finished, the weight of the snow mountain in the center caused the ice around it to crack, leaving a central ‘island’ which partially sank on one side. Six cracks spread radially outward from the island quite symmetrically. Everyone fled the ice.

Greenish pond water overspread the half of the island that was depressed until it reached its buoyancy point. One small section of the island, that was not awash, actually popped upward along the fracture line and then cracked perpendicularly to the fracture.

The weight of the piled snow in the center of the pond caused a central island to crack and detach from the ice plate and send out radial fractures.

The far side of the central island sank because of its weight allowing the greenish pond water to flood onto the surface soaking and melting some of the snow mound. It stopped sinking when the buoyancy point was reached. On the near side of the island, a small segment of the ice was uplifted has a crack perpendicular to the uplifted margin.

Close up photo of the uplifted segment, with a 'transform fault'.

I couldn’t help but think of analogies to Plate Tectonics. The first one that came to mind was the depression of continental plates by glacial ice allowing the ocean to flood the land. An example of this happening occurred during the melt down after the recent ice age. Huge lakes formed as ice melted but the water remained trapped behind dams of ice and morainal debris. One such lake was Lake Vermont filling the present Lake Champlain and much more of western Vermont. When the dam broke, the fresh, melt water from the lake drained out the present St. Lawrence valley, but because the weight of the ice had depressed the continental plate, which rebounds very slowly, the ocean water back filled the valley creating the Champlain Sea. Whale fossils have been found in the present Lake Champlain region. When the continental plate did ultimately rebound, the sea water drained and was replaced by fresh melt water.

More examples after I do a bit of research.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Looking Just Like Winter.

12-27-12 VERMONT: We arrived long before the storm did. The snow didn’t start until late at night. When we arrived, I shoveled the deck and steps, filled the feeders and watched Diana, Eliza and Clara clear the pond for skating. The pond had about three inches of old snow, as did the deck, and after about an hour, both were clear.

This morning everything has about six inches of new snow with more every second. It’s in the thirties and there’s almost no wind, so we’ll snowshoe around the pasture to get the dogs aired out later.

The chickadees and nuthatches are working the feeders. Yesterday when I went to fill the feeders, I found that a red squirrel had eaten through the plastic cover of the feed bucket and eaten the top two inches of the sunflower seeds, of course leaving all the empty husks. The squirrel was still in the garage jumping around up above the rafters and complaining about the invasion of his [her?] space. All the fussing attracted the dogs who ran around the garage floor barking and chasing the squirrel up above. None of them got anything out of the exercise, except exercise.

Eliza and Clara moving snow.

The pond is hockey rink sized, and almost clear.

Oops, not clear. The great thing about shoveling snow is that you get to have all that fun all over again almost every day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


12-25-12 SHORT HILLS: Judy did it again, another Xmasopalooza, last night. The crowd was delighted and thrilled as usual with the hors d’oeuvres, entrees and sweets. They were mostly oiled up to start which helped with the successful reception of the offerings. Much Prosecco was imbibed. In attendance—Bette, Lonnie, Bill, Lynn, Robbie, Chrissie, Alison, Dan and later Alan and part of his family dropped in. There was a bit of snow during the evening.

We all got a late start this morning, but rallied in time to get out for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ which everybody liked. Vermont tomorrow before the next storm.

Morning After.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa and the Mayans.

12-21-12 SHORT HILLS: There’s been a lot of rain this week, with more last night as a fast moving storm soaked us. The wind tore our aged flag into tatters. We bought a new one from Annin today after our visit to the travel doc who punched us full of holes for the upcoming trip to the Amazon. Short Hills is still struggling with the clean up from Sandy, piles of branches are still all over the streets.

Santa has been delivering bags of presents, donated by families in NJ and VT, to the kids in Newark that she regularly visits at Beth Israel Hospital and Lincoln School. I’ve noticed that, in NJ, a Subaru substitutes for a sleigh.

Today brings the Mayan Apocalypse, it’s hard to believe that, centuries ago, the Mayans were able to predict the Republican behavior so perfectly.

Santa has been delivering stuffed animals, books and games to kids at Newark Beth Israel and Lincoln School in Newark.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy.

12-16-12 SHORT HILLS: Hectic Holiday Happenings Highlighted by HJF. Where to start? We went to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart for their annual carol sing. It’s a great venue with great music and, if you like carols, the CD is available on their website, That was Wednesday, I think.

Thursday we were off to Brooklyn for the Packer Middle School performance of ‘The Little Mermaid’. It was opening night and the audience was agog with excitement. The taut and compelling dramatic and emotional content of this theatrical offering was almost too much to bear for some of the younger attendees. Granddaughter Lucy was dominating as Queen Triton.

BTW granddaughter Maggie’s and her friend, Hope’s, music video has become a You Tube hit that has had over 120,000 views in a week. It can be seen, heard and downloaded at: You could also Google ‘wesinghappysongs’.

Saturday was back to the city for ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, Garrison and the gang were good as ever. Itzhak Perlman played a subway violinist on Guy Noir. After the show we dined at BXL with Leesa and Roger, our theater companions.

Cathedral Basilica Carol Sing, lit up and candlelit.

Queen Triton.

'A Prairie Home Companion' warms up.

Times Square with lots of Santa's.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Birthday Boys.

12-12-12 SHORT HILLS: This is the last triple number date until the next century, unless they add a month to the calendar this before the end of 2013.

We came back from California on the red eye, arriving Monday AM, and were home before daybreak. We picked up the dogs after 9 AM and were pretty much done for the rest of the day after that.

The warm spell over the weekend, now gone, encouraged the forsythia to pop open a few flowers, probably the last blooms of the year.

Last night we had dinner with Bill and Lynn at Taste of Asia in Chatham, excellent as usual. They are off to Cancún for the weekend.

Lurking in the yard.

Birthday boys: Nick, 10, and Gus, 5, both have birthdays tomorrow.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

California Dreamin'

12-9-12 SAN JOSÉ: We have been here for the weekend visiting the left coasters. As is always the case when coming to California from the east in the cold seasons, the flowers are such a nice surprise. It’s in the sixties in the afternoon and forties at night and sunny this weekend.

We saw the new house today and were very impressed by the views from high up the mountain. The house needs a bit of work, but has enormous potential. The views of mountains and of the bay including San José and Oakland are spectacular. The surrounding property is forest and meadow and there is a nearby open-spaces preserve. We look forward with anticipation to see what they do with it all.

It's always nice to find a rose.

The house and driveway.

Views of the bay.

Even the nearby junk piles seem classier than usual.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

More Climate Change.

12-6-12 SHORT HILLS: Today we’re cooler again, but it’s supposed to be warmer and rainy for the next few days. We will be in San José for a weekend visit.

The weather report on TV this morning, NBC I think, showed a map of snow cover for the US, lower 48 states, with almost no snow. I found a couple maps on line that also showed that same thing. I also found a map that shows the expected amount of snow cover for 12/25, admittedly later in the season, but similar to the map that they showed for today’s date that I couldn’t find.

The above map of the US shows the usual extent of snow cover for Xmas. The southern extent of snow cover usually follows a line along the southern borders of NY, MI, WI, MN, SD and most of the Rockies and Cascades. Follow the purple swath.

Here is the present snow cover showing almost none in the lower 48 except for a bit in the northern Rockies.

Here's another showing the dearth of snow. The morning weather news on NBC said this lack of snow was a new record for this date. New weather records seem to be set frequently, but mostly for warmer conditions not cooler.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Now It's Warm Again.

12-4-12 SHORT HILLS: We came back to NJ on Sunday, driving through dense fog that gradually lightened up as we got further and further south. By mid afternoon, we were back here and the sun was out and it was warm enough to hose the Vermont mud off the Subaru.

Yesterday it was in the sixties and pleasant outside in shirtsleeves. That last snow was completely gone, and I did the clean up. A few bamboo stalks were broken by the storm, and I cut down a sprawling dead yew tree and the remnant of a dead rhododendron. All of it went to the dump in one big carload. Today is another warm one as we close in on the winter solstice. The xmas tree, a balsam fir, seems happy in the living room.

The NYT reported yesterday that the atmospheric CO2 levels were up significantly in 2011 and will also be so for 2012.

How to deal with temps in the teens, the hood is off only for the pic by phototog Judy.

Mt. Moosilauke looking quite white on top.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


12-1-12 VERMONT: It has been snowing almost continuously since we’ve been here, but no more than a couple inches of actual accumulation. It was quite cold, but is warming up tonight and tomorrow is supposed to be way above freezing with rain. We will be on the road back to NJ.

Last night we saw an excellent performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ at Thetford Academy, with a neighbor in the cast. Today, after a dump run, we went to a cut-yer-own xmas tree farm in Lyme, NH and cut our own holiday tree. It’s tied to the top of the Subaru for the run to NJ. Tonight we had dinner at Salubre in a very, very quiet Hanover.

Lafayette and Lincoln the White Mts, looking very white.

Ducks, enjoying the snow, on the unfrozen Connecticut River near Lyme, NH.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Cold Returns.

11-29-12 VERMONT: We arrived yesterday afternoon under overcast skies with temps in the thirties. All the ponds on the road are frozen. There were pockets of snow in the hollows of the pasture, and more now since we had a dusting of snow late last night. Today is quite wintry with a puffy breeze, glimpses of the sun, and the thermometer edging up from the teens to just above freezing. More snow is predicted for tonight.

The dogs are having fun running around the pasture, sniffing the deer poop and playing ball-toss. We walked around with them but were glad to get back inside to huddle by the fire. It takes some exposure to the cold to get used to it as each new winter season starts. I seem to be less tolerant of it than I once was.

The house was in a bit of disarray when we arrived—gremlins or hobbits or students had been here and left the heat on in part of the house and a few lights lit.

We hadn't been here for a month or so, and the neighbors were curious when we arrived.

The mid-afternoon sun is already near the horizon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wet Snow.

11-27-12 SHORT HILLS: More weather today. We’re getting a couple inches of wet snow, the temp is just above freezing and there is no wind at all, only silent snow. Snow is a nuisance, injures shrubs and trees, needs shoveling and plowing, causes accidents and makes walking treacherous. Nevertheless, it is beautiful when freshly fallen.

Vermont tomorrow.

A little red in the white.

More of the white.

Clinging wet snow coats every branch.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beware of the Ball, Gustavo.

11-25-12 SHORT HILLS: It’s cold again and windy, and we have a nightly frost. There are still a couple tattered looking roses hanging on.

Judy, Alan and I went to the opera last night. After a excellent feed at Café Fiorello, we crossed Lincoln Square to the Met and heard the new production of ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ by Verdi. The new production, modern dress with images of Icarus, falling from the sky with melting wings, shown in almost every scene has had mixed reviews. I liked it, Judy didn’t. The orchestra and singers were excellent, no controversy there. Conductor Fabio Luisi and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, as Amelia, we thought, were especially deserving of the standing O that they got.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More on the Storm.

11-21-12 SHORT HILLS: Our clean up from TS Sandy is done, but many in town are still working on it. The sides of the streets are still littered with cut up trees and broken utility poles. The shore areas are still disaster zones.

The beachfront towns are, for the most part, built on barrier islands. These islands are constructed by tidal action and made out of the beach sand. Their continued existence depends on a stable sea level, but the sea level is rising because of the continuing climate change. The carbon dioxide [CO2] atmospheric concentration is going to rise further and cause greater increases in global warming and higher sea levels unless the increased consumption of fossil fuels is frozen immediately. Good luck with that.

This catastrophic storm offers a preview of what will ultimately happen to the shoreline in the future. The barrier island will be taken down, rebuilt off the new shoreline, and then re-moved and rebuilt again and again. This environment is not going to be stable, and building there is a high-risk undertaking. Society will not be willing to subsidize those risks very long. It is a financial loss for the second-home folks, but disaster for the full-time people.

Typically, there is a shallow bay behind the barrier islands. During this last storm, and others, the ocean and bay, in various places, were connected by the high water.

The pix below were posted on the web, and I got them in an email. They are from Wildwood, NJ, a southern coastal resort near Ocean City, NJ.

Shark swimming near porch during Sandy, Wildwood, NJ.
Another view of shark in town.

Attempt at a closer look. The photo, taken from an email, isn't big enough to get much detail.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Clean Up.

11-18-12 SHORT HILLS: There was a frost this morning, but by midday it was in the fifties. I was outside for the first time in two days after a nasty, but short cold. I continue to turn big sticks into little ones by breaking them up. If they lie flat on the ground, the grass covers the sticks, and they slowly disintegrate, adding to the organic layer of the soil. The large ones go off to the dump.

The largest of the branches we lost was about eight inches in diameter and a couple others were not quite as big. Those I cut up and left where they were after freeing anything they had pinned down. There’s only one more load to go to the dump tomorrow, and then we are officially cleaned up. That will happen just in time for me to bake a pecan pie for Thanksgiving.

This photo came in an email, two albino moose, wow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We Play 'Pick-Up-Sticks.'

11-15-12 SHORT HILLS: Congrats to R. A. Dickey for the CYA, I expect the Mets to trade him any minute now.

We are back in seasonal weather, mild mid-November, means a jacket if you’re out at night. We have been out at night, having dinner with Alice and Irving last night and Bill and Lynn the night before and Bob and Christine coming up on the weekend. It’s not Tampa, of course, but it’s busy for us in NJ.

Judy and I started on the Sandy cleanup and delivered four carloads of branches to the dump today and will do another bunch tomorrow.

Is this what they mean by a Red State?

More redness.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back to Mild Weather.

11-12-12 SHORT HILLS: Today the temperature is almost 70° and yesterday was also in the sixties—so much for the snow. Dense fog this morning burnt off quickly. There are a few flying insects darting around, presumably hatched after the storms. A few of the trees still have leaves, Japanese maple, beech, oak and dawn redwood. The redwood took a beating in the storms, branches are scattered around the yard.

We are all mightily relieved by the election results here in the blue states. Congrats to Nate Silver and the FiveThirtyEight blog for getting it all almost perfectly right and for the success of his book. I went to that site no more than once an hour during the campaign. Pollster at the HuffPo also did a great job. BMN, as per Jon Stewart, has been correctly re-named.

New blooms: witch-hazel, wild strawberry.

Witch-hazel has four sepals, four ribbon-like petals, four stamen around the stigma.

Witch-hazel clusters have a delicate aroma.

Thursday, November 08, 2012


11-8-12 SHORT HILLS: We actually got the six inches of snow they predicted, delivered with a big dose of wind. This morning the air was still and trees and shrubs were buried in the snow. By mid-morning the sun was out, it was in the forties and the driveway was plowed. I don’t think there was any new, major damage here. We never lost power, but others in town did, and many new outages are reported for the region.

Speaking personally, I’ve already had enough weather for the rest of the month.

Some folks are fine with the snow.

There's about six inches piled on everything. Can you find Chloë?

Bushes and branches are bent over, but not broken.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Now It's Snow, the Locusts are on Deck.

11-7-12 SHORT HILLS: Bizarre is the word for what the nor’easter is doing today. We have high wind, of course, and snow. Yes, I said snow, a couple inches so far. We were relatively lucky here to not have major tree damage in the hurricane last week. We did have many broken branches down, and some branches still hanging in the trees. Other parts of town lost trees, hundreds were brought down.

This storm, with snow and more wind, while some trees still have foliage up, will probably do what Sandy didn’t do to us. Did I say that it's freezing?

We‘ve had power since Sunday, friends just got power back today after a ten day outages, but what’re the chances of heavy, wet snow causing new outages—could that happen? I’m sure it’ll all be worse in the coastal towns that were ravaged by Sandy because they’re expecting another storm surge tonight.

Burning bush and chokecherry in the snow.

Fortunately this apple is leafless.

Another burning bush going from red to white.

Monday, November 05, 2012

NJ Update.

11-4-12 SHORT HILLS: As we drove down Great Hills Rd. on our arrival yesterday we could see the light at the top of the driveway was lit, telling us from a block away that our power was on. Inside, the phones, TVs, and Internet were working. Life restored to normal—for us, but many are still in the dark, and many others are homeless.

The clean up in town is progressing, but will take weeks. The town management gets credit for coping and the updates are excellent. The schools are still closed. We vote at an alternate site because Deerfield School has no power.

Would you believe another nor’easter this week, bad news for those in the coastal wreckage.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Back to NJ.

11-3-12 VERMONT: The Millburn/Short Hills web site says that power is on the way, and some of our neighbors already are up, so we will head back to NJ tomorrow. It’s getting colder here, seasonally so, and there may be a frost tonight.

The enormity of the damage caused by Sandy to the Jersey shore, Staten Island, and the Atlantic shore of Long Island is astounding and should be alarming to anyone living near sea level. It has to get worse as the sea level rises further, which is inevitable.

The bird feeders have been busy since we’re here. We have lots of chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, evening grosbeaks, mourning doves, rock doves and red squirrels.

"My little chickadee..." WCF.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Now Do You Get It?

In his news conference yesterday, Andrew Coumo, Governor of New York, pointed out that the storm of the century now occurs yearly. We have had three such in the last two years, Irene, Sandy and the Halloween storm of 2011. Since there is no global or national will to actually address Climate Change and since the global temperature will continue to increase for decades even if carbon emissions were capped, which they won't be, and since sea levels will continue to rise, NYC will need a levee system, and the barrier islands are in serious trouble if not doomed.