Wednesday, October 31, 2012


10-31-12 VERMONT: Sandy turned out to be a true horror and a killer. The storm surge, 14 feet in NYC, was the worst yet recorded and caused most of the damage, especially to shore front communities in NJ, along the Hudson River, on the Long Island south shore as well as the Sound shores. The high winds contributed to the shore damage and did much mischief in towns like Short Hills where hundreds of trees came down, bringing down all the wires as well. Most of New Jersey is without power, as were we. NYC below 42nd Street and Long Island are also black. Val’s family in Brooklyn Heights never lost power. There was probably no more than a half inch of rain, our sump pump never ran, even before we lost power.

We spent two days in the dark, literally and figuratively, using candles, flashlights, the fireplace, listening to news on the car radio and using the cell phone. We had no TV, Internet, home phone, power, but did have hot and cold running water, like 1950’s motels used to advertise. Cell phones were unreliable because of damage to their towers. The experience was a taste of post-apocalyptic life.

Kings Super Market, open on Tuesday morning [!], had a sign in the window this morning saying, ‘No Ice, Batteries, Bread or Matches’. We saw gas lines with 20 or 30 cars, and decided to flee the scene. Feeling a bit like traitors, we drove to Vermont, which we had just left on Sunday. North of Hartford there was no sign of storm damage. Here there was rain, but no power outages, in a place where one outage a week is good electric service. So, we are orphans of the storm, but must return by Tuesday to exercise another type of power, voting.

Still some nice color in VT.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Scare.

10-29-12 SHORT HILLS: We drove down yesterday morning under overcast skies, but with no more than an occasional drizzle and no wind. After getting here, Judy went food shopping, and I closed all the storm windows and switched the outer doors from screens to glass, and brought in the light weight outdoor furniture. This morning we have wind gusts, moderate at worst and a few showers. I cleared all the driveway drains and the gutters that face the driveway on the first story. They were full and so are all the others, but I’m not comfortable enough on an extension ladder any more to do the higher gutters.

I’ve been watching the TV networks this morning, seeing all the reporters on various beaches getting wet and wind blown, the weather people in front of the maps and the anchors at their desks all saying how horrible it’s going to get, worse than ever before, and scolding all the locals who refuse to evacuate. The locals are there mugging in the camera shots from the remote sites. The newsfolk all seem so pleased to be getting all that air time and are barely able to contain their glee while telling us this will be the worst disaster in all of human history.

Here are a few more pix from the VT clean-up.

The bed below the deck before and after the clean-up.

The beds in front of the house before and after cleanup. Judy's help cut the time needed for the clean-up in half.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ready for Snow.

10-27-12 VERMONT: Yesterday Judy and I both put in a full day on the flower beds, cutting down the stalks, raking up the dead leaves and hauling it all away. We did the whole front of the house, the north terrace beds and some of the beds behind the pond. We both did about six hours with the tools and dumped about eight cart and tarp loads. Today we did another hours worth to finish up for the season—let it snow.

Alison and Dan arrived yesterday. We spent the evening in Hanover with them and the girls and were back in town for the tailgate party at midday, even though the football game is at night.

Tomorrow we all head back to the NY metro area to be home before Sandy the Frankenstorm arrives.

The beds all tidied up, even Gus is impressed.

The terrace beds are ready for snow. The only times we get to see the walls are for a while in the fall before the snow and for a while in the spring before the gardens pop.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vermont Clean-up.

10-25-12 VERMONT: We came up yesterday, driving through rain and fog until we crossed the border from Massachusetts to the Holy Land and then the sun came out. The beds are all pretty much dormant, and so it’s time to cut everything to the ground except the biennials which need to be saved for next years flowers.

Last night we had dinner with Anna and Lily and two of Lily’s friends, Caitlin and Stefani, [I hope those spellings are OK, but it would be a lucky guess.]

Today I started on the beds and had some help from Judy after she took care of her stuff. I did the driveway and the driveway beds, the beds behind the new house, the bed below the deck and the beds below the apple tree. That took about six hours and generated four cart loads of stalks and leaves that now cover muddy spots in the pasture.

All the leaves have been cleared by the yard guys, who also mowed the pasture. Everything looks neat and tidy. I have to remind myself that everything is dormant, but not dead.

There is some color, these burning bushes are showing redness.

Bed waiting to be groomed. If it's not done, all these stalks will be flattened by the snow cover and, in the spring, will be a tangled snarl and impossible to clear without destroying the new plants.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Early Fog.

10-20-12 SHORT HILLS: We had an all day rain yesterday, but today it’s going to be sunny. Now, in the early morning, it’s foggy, all the rain is evaporating and saturating the air. The effect of the fog changes the familiar into the exotic, the expected into the alien. The color is pretty good, but dimmed and diffused by the fog, and, at the same time, lit up by the rising sun. I braved the wet grass and leaves to try and capture the effect.

Burning bush starting to ignite.

Sweet Gum.

Sugar Maple.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Color.

10-16-12 SHORT HILLS: We’re back to seasonal weather, today is breezy, sunny, fifties, and the only precip is leaves. Next week, we will be a month past the autumnal equinox and the sun will be halfway between the Equator and the southern-most point of its journey.

The new grass is coming in well where the oak tree was removed. I’m pretty much caught up on chores here, but plenty of work remains in Vermont for next week.

Beauty Berry, aptly named, neon purple and enjoyed by the birds.

Dogwood showing nice color.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leaf Season Continues.

10-13-12 SHORT HILLS: We’ve been catching up on chores and errands and time slips by. Sorry about the five day silence. We almost had a frost last night. It was in the low thirties. We have had another half inch of rain. The ash trees are almost completely leafless, but the usual holdouts are still green. Maples are beginning to color.

Our Vermont correspondent reported snow flurries yesterday afternoon. I think the changes are happening earlier than last year, but tomorrow afternoon is supposed to be back in the seventies.

Some maple color, but not peak here yet.

Ash tree leaves are down, but won't be raked up.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Chill in the Air.

10-8-12 VERMONT: The last two days have been chilly, enough to wear a coat, have your nose run and see your breath. It’ll probably get warm again, but this is a sample of fall to come. There was no frost.

Yesterday I went on a hike for the UVLT [Upper Valley Land Trust] led by Roger and Ann for about seven of us. It was an easy walk in the woods with nice views at the end, followed by wine and cheese.

Today I was back at work cutting down all the corn stalks, pulling up the tomato stalks and cutting down an unruly wild rose that was intruding on the good roses. I cleared out the bleeding heart bed on the patio.

Short Hills tomorrow.

Hike in VT, views in NH.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Turkeys in the Rain.

10-6-12 VERMONT: Yesterday was gorgeous, after the morning mist burnt off, things dried out and it got up to the seventies. We started the workday by putting all the benches and outdoor furniture away in the cellars.

Then I started taking down the veggie garden, first I pulled the electric fence and the watering hose and then the tomato cages and the supports that I had made when the corn stalks were blown over. Those worked out pretty well, by the way.

After I stored all that stuff in the barn, I went to work on the garden border fences. Judy had pulled several of them up, so I just had to fold, tie and label them. It doesn’t sound like so much, but it took all day.

Today started overcast and began to rain hard in the afternoon. I finished the garden work in the morning before the rain. All the fences are stored, and all the supports, stakes, hoops, ties are put away in the garage. More of them will probably appear when I cut down all the dead stalks after a hard frost. Now the perennials are mostly still green and some still flowering.

A flock of six turkeys cruised the yard in the afternoon, ignoring the rain. They were busy eating something [seeds?] in the grass as they moseyed from one side of the yard to the other and then crossed the road.

New blooms: cimicfuga, witch-hazel.

Yesterday: Chloe doesn't mind the wet grass. Notice that the sun is out, by mid-morning it was beautiful and clear and dry.

Turkeys came out of the woods and were busy eating something in the grass as they strolled through the yard....

and headed across the road.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Drizzle and Fog.

10-4-12 VERMONT: We got here in the mid-afternoon yesterday after a trip up through the rain and mist. Everything here is soaked. There are puddles and standing water everywhere. The rain gauge was filled to the top, it records up to five inches, but was filled beyond that at least another inch. This morning was foggy, in fact the whole day was foggy with drizzle. The ceiling starts at the treetops.

The fall color is probably at peak here. Every year I point out that color is quite variable from neighborhood to neighborhood depending on sun exposure, altitude, micro-climate, tree species and, of course, latitude. That said, the color is good here and would be far better with some sunlight, and we might get some tomorrow.

New blooms: monkshood, asters, sedum, boltonia.

When it's really wet, odd things pop up. Anyone know this mushroom?

The color is probably at peak here.

A little sunshine will light this up.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

“L’Elisir d’Amore”

10-2-12 SHORT HILLS: It’s been distinctly autumnal this week, but is supposed to be warmer, with rain, the next several days. There’s already 0.2 inches in the rain gauge.

We’re still in Italian mode, we heard Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” at the Met last night and ate at CafĂ© Fiorello before the opera. The meal and performance were both great. Anna Netrebko, one of my favs, was Adina and Matthew Polenzani was Nemorino.

When we walked to our seats in the orchestra, the curtain showed an Italian plain, with vineyards and distant hilltop villages, and the village piazza stage set in the first act were just what we had been seeing on our trip. So, I will show a few more pix from Apulia. Also, I don’t have anything new to show.

Vermont tomorrow.

More Italy: St. Oronzo, patron saint of Lecce, high atop a pillar in the central piazza.

Pompei, Apollo, reproduction of the statue found in the ruins of his temple.