Sunday, September 29, 2013

Istanbul-First Glimpse.

9-29-13 ISTANBUL: The flight was uneventful, always a blessing. After ten hours in the air, we got to Istanbul at noon, zipped through passport entry, connected with the NatGeo guides who vanned us to the hotel, and we checked in to the Divan Istanbul. We dumped the stuff in the room and took a walk through Taksim Square and a couple adjoining streets. We peeked into an orthodox church and went back to the hotel for a pre-dinner nap. We are seven hours ahead of EDT.

On the drive from IST to the hotel, we saw a clean city with loads of plantings lining the highway, plenty of ongoing construction, and tons of people out and about on Sunday. Most of them were dressed like other Europeans including most of the women. There were some headscarves, used by about twenty percent of mostly older women. The skyline has lots if high rises and loads of minarets.

We got a look at the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus as we went by them in the van. The old city and historic buildings are in the part of the city south of the Golden Horn on the European side of Istanbul. The Asian side is mostly residential, including the home of our guide, Aydin. He and our other guide, his wife Ruya, took us to dinner at a great restaurant that served a bunch of appetizers and a main course of kabab—great. And it left us all 'stuffed'.

Taksim Square, site of demonstrations a few months ago.

Flower stall in the square.

The crescent and star.

The restaurant, we ate on that upper floor.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Turkey Trot.

9-28-13 SHORT HILLS: We are off to Istanbul for the start of our Turkey trip with NatGeo/Lindblad.  We leave from EWR tonight. I hope I can post every day with glorious pix, but we'll see how often we get decent wi-fi at our hotels. The weather there looks pretty much like the weather here.

New blooms: English ivy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chagall in the City.

9-23-13 SHORT HILLS: We did another day in the city last Saturday. We went uptown to the Jewish Museum [92nd and 5th] for the Marc Chagall exhibit. Entry to the museum is free on Saturday, which was a nice surprise. There were many paintings from the WW II era with Holocaust themes.

At closing time, we went downtown on Broadway with no traffic and met Anna and saw her new apartment and met one roommate, Emily, and had a tour of the Village ‘hood. Everybody seems to be a young single, in contrast to uptown where everything was kids and strollers. Anna’s just starting her new job and enjoys a short commute on the 7th Ave subway line to Times Sq.

Expecting a short hop to lower 1st Ave for a bistro dinner with Roger and Leeza, we ran into jammed traffic, repeatedly, and it took a trying hour trying to get near the restaurant. Ultimately we parked and walked, got there, had dinner, and got back to the car just before the rain started.

Two by Marc Chagall from the exhibit at the Jewish Museum on W.92nd St. and 5th Ave.

The exhibit is free on Saturday.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

'Reflecting Absence', the 9/11 Memorial.

9-19-13 SHORT HILLS: We visited the 9/11 Memorial this morning. We drove to Jersey City and took PATH to the WTC station and followed the signs. You need tickets, available on line and at no charge, and go through TSA-like screening before entering the site.

There are two huge, square reflecting pools with waterfalls on all four sides set on the footprints of the original towers. The names of the victims are on plaques surrounding the pools. An oak forest has been planted to the west of the pools. There is also a pear tree that survived the attack and has been re-planted on the site. It is thriving. The museum is uncompleted as are the surrounding buildings. Michael Arad is the architect of the Memorial.

The shell of the new WTC is almost complete. Now there are cranes and construction sites throughout the area. When all the work is done and all the fences and barriers are gone it will be beautiful. As it is, it’s very moving.

Just across Greenwich St. is St. Paul’s Chapel, a pre-revolutionary building, the ‘oldest public building in continuous use’ in the city. It literally lies in the shadow of the newest.

The World Financial Center to the west of the North Pool.

The victim's birthdays are remembered with a rose at their names.

The South Pool and crowds.


St. Paul's Chapel steeple is east of the site surrounded by younger buildings from different eras.

The flag is at half staff because of the navy yard shootings in DC.

Video from the North Pool to the top of the new WTC tower, still under construction.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Worlds Fair, Tunbridge Version.

9-18-13 SHORT HILLS: We came back on Sunday, stopping to visit Maggie at Hampshire College. She seems very happy there. We had a nice lunch in Northampton.

Before we left Vermont, we went to the Tunbridge Worlds Fair on Saturday with Lily and her friends Stephie and Emily. We saw cattle, oxen, sheep, chickens, goats, duck, pigs and tractors. We heard country music and ate pulled pork, bloomin’ onions and other fair food. We saw champion pumpkins and sunflowers. We watched the rides and the games and the crowds.

Last night we had dinner in Montclair with Dan, Bebe and Ron before we went to Dan’s talk at the Library. There was a pretty good turnout and several copies of Toms River were sold and signed.

As we edge our way toward the Autumnal Equinox, the weather is getting cooler, at least last night. I’m sure there will be more hot days before there’s a frost.

Gentle giant. Oxen are draft animals and wear a yoke so the team of two can pull in unison. The horn's sharp tip are removed to prevent injury and the horn is capped with a decorative ball. The horns are necessary so their heads don't come out of the yoke.

Another giant, a pumpkin-squash weighing in at 450 pounds.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just Blogging in the Rain.

9-13-13 VERMONT: We came up a few days ago just before it started raining. It was 97° when we left NJ and still in the nineties here when we arrived. The first night we had a dramatic series of T-storms with enough wind gusts and bursts to fill the yard with branches and to knock trees down on our road both to the south and north of us. We didn’t know we were trapped because the roads were clear by the time we went out the next morning.

The power went out in the early evening, and the generator went out during the night. The old house furnace fan went on even though it was still hot—electric surge from lightning? The phones, too, were out. By the next afternoon the furnace and generator were both serviced, just in time for the next rainstorm. The rain was supposed to end this morning, but at 5 PM it’s still coming down.

We have had lots of sympathetic notes and emails from friends about Nick, including an entry on the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center Facebook Page with many sweet comments.
We thank everyone for their kind words and thoughts.

Friend Katie brought us Forget-Me-Nots and Nodding Ladies Tresses in honor of Nick, and a beautiful note. I'll plant them tomorrow.

New blooms: chrysanthemum, boltonia, more asters.

Bottle Gentian, shockingly purple, were used in colonial times as a source of dye. These are the flowers not the buds, they don't open up any more than they are now. How do they get pollinated?

Turtle Head looks like a turtle head.

Autumn Sedum.


Monday, September 09, 2013


9-9-13 SHORT HILLS: Sad news today. Nick died this morning.

Judy sent out an email, “Our beloved big boy, Nick, died today, suddenly, of a heart attack. He was at home, in the garden. Everything about nick was oversized: those paws, that head, his generous heart. A therapy dog for nine and a half of his eleven years, he brought comfort, joy and hope to thousands; especially inner city children in crisis. There is no doubt, that as I write this, he is riding on angel wings to dog heaven.”

Sweet Nick 2002-2013.


9-9-13 SHORT HILLS: The weather has become autumnal for the past few days, in the fifties at night. It has been dry, and I’m running the sprinklers again.

Judy and I have both done some weeding, but there are plenty of weeds to go. A large branch of our elm tree drooped over the summer and was hanging inside the pool fence. It wasn’t dead. The leaves stayed green and alive. I pruned a lot of the foliage, shortening each branch and taking about six feet off so that it no longer reached the ground. With the weight reduction, the branch bounced up a little and seems stable.

In bloom: I forgot to mention last post—hosta, clematis.

This Clematis is a volunteer and, probably, an example of the native vine.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Back in Short Hills.

9-1-13 SHORT HILLS: We have been back in NJ for a few days. It doesn’t feel at all like fall here. The days have been identical since the rainstorm on the day we arrived—hot, humid, overcast skies and still air. Strolling around the yard is enough to raise a sweat. Things here are weedy, and many trees and shrubs have dead terminal twigs hanging from branches, the work of the cicadas, now dormant for another seventeen years.

In Vermont I noticed that autumn sedum and bottle gentian were opening up before I left.

In bloom: crepe myrtle, St. John’s wort, roses, rose-of-Sharon, lamium, wild asters, other fall wildflowers.

St. John's Wort, one of several Hypericum species.

Crepe Myrtle, one of several Lagerstroemia species.

Roses also come in thousands of species and varietals.