Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Rant.

7-31-12 VERMONT: We came back up on Monday, leaving 0.8 inches of rain over the past few days there, and finding a whopping 3.20 inches in the gauge here—almost an inch a day while we were gone. The trip up was uneventful.

Lily was here visiting on another day off, and Clara and Eliza joined us to watch Olympic action. There was another judging controvercy—I maintain that the winner of any event should be determined by the most points, fastest time, longest distance and not by form or style that relies on judges to pick a winner. Fans of diving, dancing, gymnastics, etc, disagree. I don’t dispute the athleticism of those events, just the scoring systems that require experts, who have repeatedly been shown to allow personal bias or chauvinism to affect their judging. The secrecy and the complexity of the judging process and of the ruling systems that leave the casual viewer shut out of the decision are also regrettable. Baseball stats are based on performance but not style.

The robins are finally done with the nest by the mudroom door, so I performed major pruning on the Mohican viburnum near that door, the shrub had taken over the whole space, and should have been pruned in the spring, but I had deferred to the birds. The rose bush that was knocked over by the severe wind storm died, and I cut it down as well. I also deadheaded delphinium and foxglove and weeded a bit. The corn and tomatoes are ripening nicely.

New blooms: echinacea, Indian pipe, red lobelia, common mint, Queen Anne’s lace.

Another hybrid daylily, one of the new ones.

And another one, this one is a double, twelve petals instead of the usual six.

Goose-neck loosestrife-I can see a goose's head there.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blue Men and Treetops.

7-29-12 SHORT HILLS: We’ve had daily rain and high heat and humidity, but it hasn’t slowed us down. Friday we saw ‘Blue Man Group’ at the Astor Place Theater in NYC. The show involves paint, music, marshmallows, audience participants, video, glop, plumbing and other surprizes. Judy noticed ‘Für Elise’ played on PVC pipe drums midst a lot of rock music. Great show for adults, better for kids. Afterwards we had dinner at a local spot and dessert at ‘The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop’ on E 7th St in the East Village.

Saturday morning Jon arrived to escort the boys back to San José. But before that, the boys and I, joined by Val and Steve, did the Treetop Adventure Course in West Orange while Judy, Jon and Lucy watched and took the pix.

Today the Californians went home, Judy and I will probably sleep all day.

In bloom [NJ]: rose-of-Sharon, roses, lamium, St Johns wort, foxglove.

Rose-of-Sharon, reliable mid-summer bloomer.
Another Rose-of-Sharon.

Return to TreeTops Adventure.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

River, Netsuke, Planets, Crashes, NJ.

7-26-12 SHORT HILLS: We drove down today, anticipating the severe weather that didn’t happen until tonight. We are having lots of rain with T and L. The trip was uneventful, the car was packed, we had the front, the boys the back seat, the dogs the backback and bags and boxes stuffed here and there.

Yesterday we started with a trip to the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, VT, known as St. J to the cognoscenti. The Fairbanks family ran the Fairbanks Scale Company in St. J for about a century, built and funded the museum and probably most of the city. The museum is in a gorgeous Victorian brownstone mansion filled with birds and mammals from around the globe and cultural artifacts from every continent, including Japanese netsuke. The planetarium is one of the museum’s strongest assets with a great show presented by the local version of Neil deGrasse Tyson.

After going home to feed the dogs, we were back on the road to the North Haverhill Country Fair. Some of us climbed the rock wall and rode the rides, all of us ate midway food and then adjourned to the grandstand for the Demolition Derby. There was smoke, burning rubber, steam, much bent sheet metal, many loud noises from which a victor was acclaimed. The boys loved it. Joey may have made a career choice.

The previous day, whatever it was, was spent on the Connecticut River. We got the boat, Chelsea, out of the barn the day before that, hosed it down, cleaned off the bird and mouse droppings, cleaned all the gear, did some minor repairs and set it up for the voyage. We put in at Wilder Dam and motored to Pirate Island, known to some as Gilman Island. After a picnic on land with swimming and jumping into the water from overhanging trees, we motored on to the Ledyard Bridge and then back to Wilder. The helmsmen-in-training did some of the steering.

New blooms: black-eyed Susan, golden rod.

Rock climb.

Another ride takes off.

The Fairbanks Museum, upper story.

Netsuke. Does the monkey have the snake or the snake the monkey? Neither seems distressed. Perhaps it's one of those odd relationships.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pirates, Lilies, Gile.

7-23-12 VERMONT: We’ve had no rain for several days, and I watered the veggies yesterday, but a T-storm is looming to our west on the radar.

It was a busy weekend. Val and Steve were here to pick up Lucy at the end of her camp session, and Val’s friend Rebecca and her sons, Simon and Toby, were here inspecting a camp for her boys for next year. All four of the boys got along surprisingly well.

We had a picnic at Camp Aloha Saturday afternoon and were back there for the big show Saturday night. The show was ‘Pirates of Penzance’. It was quite enjoyable, especially because there were chairs this year instead of only benches. Steve approved of the selection as well as the execution by the campers. It was a bit shorter than NYGASP’s production, but we hardly noticed and were sure that G & S would have also applauded.

Sunday Rebecca et al left and Lily arrived. Judy and I took the boys to Windsor VT to Cider Hill Gardens for their hybrid daylily sale. We bought six—French Tudor, Lilting Belle, Chicago Knobby, Vanilla Fluff, Cedar Waxwing, and South Seas—[I don’t make up the names]. Back at the house, I extended the hybrid daylily bed about three feet to accommodate the new guests. So far they all seem happy.

Later in the afternoon, Eoin, Joe and I made a quick climb to the top of the Gile Mt. tower. For dinner, we all went for Chinese courtesy of Steve. Lily left after the evening.

Today, after Val, Steve and Lucy left, we all got the boat out of the barn and spent the day cleaning it up and out for a sail or pirate cruise.

New blooms: hollyhock.

This double hollyhock almost looks like a peony.

Beware the pirate crew.
Tailless arboreal creatures.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fair Day.

7-20-12 VERMONT: The weather has been beautiful, no complaints from me at the moment. Yesterday we went to the Bradford, VT fair. It was the afternoon of the first day, and we had the midway nearly to ourselves. Lunch included a bloomin’ onion and pulled pork, but we missed the funnel cake. The boys did all the rides except the flying chairs. I did none. Judy did none. We saw the cows, oxen, sheep, goats, chicks and came home to see the dogs.

I picked a handful of Sun Gold tomatoes today. The corn has tassels and silk.

New blooms: goose-neck loosestrife, Joe Pye weed, soapwort.

I love the helix in the center. These have a double row of petals.
Another hybrid daylily, this one's in pink.
Teacup ride.
So high.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Smiling Cowboys.

7-18-12 VERMONT: This is the summer of the T-storm, one or more every night. Last night we got 1.25 inches, and we had had 0.2 inches the previous nights. The power was out again last night, the generator was working but there’s a problem with oil leakage and the company is out of biz, etc., etc. You all know the story.

The new refrig is in and the old one and the loaner are gone—musical appliances. The screen door is repaired and re-hung. The corn stalks were blown over again and re-straightened up, in spite of the traumata, they are showing tassels. The tomatoes are showing a little color, especially the Sun Gold. I’ve been eating blue berries off the bushes for a few days. A white Rosa rugosa was blown over in the first storm, and after I supported it, was blown over again, this time it’s starting to wilt.

The bed with hybrid daylilies spans the spectrum from reds, yellows, oranges to purples, pinks, whites and one is almost blue.

The boys got out of the pond long enough to take riding lessons. Most folks here ride English, but they’re learning Western. Next lesson is out of the ring and on a trail.

New blooms: more daylilies and more hostas.
Hybrid Daylilies.

Smiling Cowboys.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wind Storm.

7-15-12 VERMONT: Happy Birthday, Judy, today, and Siobhan, yesterday! We celebrated with a Friday night dinner party with the Koreys—Jane’s birthday was just a few days ago. The continuing Birthday Party on Saturday night was at a restaurant.

J & S left today, leaving behind the boys. They, the boys, are wearing out the pond with the rowboat, canoe, floats, rafts. The frogs are waving a white flag. The water is definitely being aerated.

Yesterday we had a intense afternoon T-storm with lots of boomers, rain, 0.75 inches in half an hour, hail and strong northerly winds. The wind blew down part of our best elm tree, an apple tree, lots of branches, half of the corn stalks and tore off one of the screen doors. We also lost electric power, and later the generator broke down. Today we have a gentle rain with still air and only distant rumbles.

I straightened up the corn and am hoping it'll stabilize.

New blooms: helenium.

"Stand by to repel boarders."

Tough week to be a turtle.

Joey working on a new skill.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Invasion of the Frog Snatchers.

7-13-12 VERMONT: The left coasters arrived today—frogs beware. J and S are here for the weekend only, the boys for two weeks, the Hunger Games have begun.

The initial run with the chipper ended up OK, but I burnt the drive belt on the first day and had to replace it which means taking the whole thing almost completely apart and then re-assembling, at least I know the unit now. After that mis-step, many branches and prunings were reduced to chips.

It has been hot and dry, and I’ve started watering all the new plantings. In the veggie garden, the corn is as high as a retrievers eye, and the tomatoes are showing lots of green marbles.

New blooms: Shasta daisy, ligularia, summer azalea.
Pickerel Weed is a pond dweller.

The arrowhead shaped leaves help with ID. The daylily is just a camera hog.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Film Festival

7-10-12 VERMONT: We had a two day film festival, beginning on Monday with ‘To Rome with Love’ and ending on Tuesday with ‘Savages’. Let me say first that they’re rather different. We enjoyed both but loved the Woody Allen, especially having recently been in Rome.

Lily is here again, on another day off with her friend Ana from Texas—a long way to come for a counseloring gig—it must really pay well. Not.

I weeded the terrace beds and am done weeding for a few minutes. Now comes all the pruning of dead wood and excessive growth from the trees in the yard. I will also take down some unwanted woody growth in the pasture. I bought a chipper to dispose of the prunings.

Today Judy and I went to Perkinsville on an errand and then to Chester to see the stone houses. There are about a dozen, mostly on a stretch of Rte 103, dating from the early 1800’s and nicely kept up.

Hybrid daylily.
Two of the Chester stoners.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Dining Out.

7-7-12 VERMONT: No rain yesterday and only a brief shower today, so far. I weeded the beds along the road yeterday and today and hauled an overflowing load to the compost pile.

I was near Browns Nursery this morning and picked up another phlox for the bed I’ve been filling or refilling, Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’.

Yesterday we took rootbeer, pizza and brownies to visit grandaughter Lucy, camping at Aloha. Today granddaughter Lily is visiting on her day off from counseloring at Hive. Yesterday evening we had dinner at Ariana’s Restaurant in Orford, NH with Ken and Jane. Tonight we dine at Canoe Club in Hanover with Lily. It’s a maddening social whirl.

New blooms: delphinium, pickerel weed.

Judy's baby, Gus, looking for a nice, clean towel.
Monarda, bee balm, very Seussian flower.
A pair of hairy woodpeckers. They are almost identical to downy woodpeckers, but have bigger bodies and larger beaks. The male is wearing the red yarmulke.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Soggy Fourth.

7-5-12 VERMONT: We continue to have daily T-storms, and I don’t even have to clear the culvert to make it rain. Each of the last two nights have delivered our daily standard dose of 0.35 inches of rain. 

The local fireworks were rained out. We watched the shows in DC, NYC and some of the Boston show. I concluded that TV fireworks are inherently unsatisfactory—you need the scope, smoke, crowds, noise, bugs, ooohs and aaahs to make it real.

I was back to weeding today after the day off yesterday. I measured the pond clarity again a day or so ago with the tape measure extended on the bottom and got seven feet, one foot more than the previous week’s measure.

New blooms: monarda, bind weed, purple clematis.

This one is a Polygonia interrogationis. The common name is Question Mark, why is that, one wonders.

The daylilies are about peak here, and below...

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Refrigerator Story.

7-3-12 VERMONT: It turned out that the last storm zapped our refrigerator. Yesterday, after dinner, we discovered the ice cream had melted, and then that the freezer and refrigerator were too warm. Resetting the temperatures didn’t help, and, by morning, it was clear that some circuit board was toasted. A serviceman advised us that the repair would be too expensive to justify on an older unit. So, it was off to Home Depot. The new one won’t be delivered for two weeks, but they set us up with a “loaner” until then. I took the opportunity to level the floor in the refrig’s nest. All the floors in this old house are uneven and slope one way or another. I also put a surge protector on the frig outlet.

I feel as though I have control of the weather. Anytime I shovel out the culvert, it rains within a few hours. It happened again yesterday night. After about seven wheelbarrows of sand shoveled out and dumped in a marshy spot, it rained last night. This time there was only distant thunder, but we got another 0.35 inches. This morning the sky was total blue, but I cleared out the culvert this afternoon, and now it’s overcast, cool and threatening.

Back to the garden—yesterday I did a lot of weeding and pruning and added two more artemisia to the bed that used to be the lily bed.

 New blooms: evening primrose.


Rosebay Rhododendron. This one has retained more of the pink color present in the opening flower than the one last month from NJ.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

New Plants.

7-1-12 VERMONT: It has been hot, hot, hot, up in the mid-nineties, no more fires at night, for now. Many cites in the south and mid-west have set record temps.

I have been busy with weeding and pruning, of course, but also hit the nurseries and did some planting. In the bed by the new French doors, I dug out the old soil, some of it, put in a mix of top soil and sand and planted two strawberry foxglove, Digitalis x mertonensis, two silvermound wormwood, Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silvermound’, and one Phlox paniculata ‘Red Riding Hood’. The foxglove is marginally hardy for here, but we’ll see. That bed had had lilies, real lilies, but something ate most of the bulbs this spring, probably a striped rat. The reason for the soil change was poor growth of whatever went in that bed.

Similarly, the bed in front of the old house has been death for plantings, and I did another soil change there and planted two false indigo bushes, Amorpha fruticosa. They are legumes, nitrogen fixers, and should do well. I planted another echinacea, Echinacea purperea ‘Tomato Soup’, and a larkspur, Delphinium grardiflorum ‘Blue Butterfly’, in the porch bed.

I put another Joe Pye weed, Eupatorium maculatum ‘Carin’, in the bed behind the pond and a blue flag iris, Iris versicolor, on the edge of the pond near the drain.

This afternoon we had an intense but short T-storm with a bit of hail and lightning strikes nearby. There was 0.4 inches of rain.

New blooms: mallow.

I was up early the other day and caught this orange sky about 5 AM.
A few minutes later.