Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nearby Snow.

10-30-13 VERMONT: A taste of things to come with a dusting of snow this morning. Things warmed up a little, and the sun came out, and all the snow went away.

I pulled all the rotted baseboard molding this afternoon and replaced it with white AZEK trim boards. AZEK, made of PVC like plumbing pipes, comes in planks of different sizes. I used 1 X 8 X 8 feet boards, forty feet of it. It looks pretty good.

There was a pileated woodpecker in the apple tree by the deck. The tree has been swarmed by robins, doves and lots of smaller birds all carb loading on the crab apples. The woodpecker ate three apples and flew off before I could pick up the camera.

Morning surprise, only a dusting that was gone by noon. The pileated woodpecker in that apple tree left before his portrait.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crows on the Move.

10-29-13 VERMONT: A very different day, cloudless sky, no wind and temps in the forties. I did more ‘getting ready for winter chores.’ I filled holes in the flowerbeds, Maizie’s contribution to gardening. I cleaned out and cleared the veggie bed, and Brady the horse was right in there trying out the weeds. I replaced two broken fence rails.

The pasture looks like a pasture with all the weeds, stalks, saplings, and shrubs gone, there’s a lot of grass under all the overgrowth.

About a hundred crows were flying around today, all caw, cawing to each other. It was not an organized looking group, but a scattered flock with clumps of stragglers. They went southeast in the morning and west in the evening. A pair of hawks dropped into the crowd but were chased away by the leaders.

Well, I guess there were a few clouds. Mowing the pasture uncovers the grass hidden by all the weeds and saplings. It actually looks like a pasture.

More grassy pasture with pond.

Brady says,"Thanks for the grass and those apples."

Reflections make any photo.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Distant Snow.

10-28-13 VERMONT: Today I finished the beds around the house, including the daylily bed and started on the veggie bed. I also changed the furnace filters and repaired the outside bulkhead door. Josh and his crew were here today to mow the pasture. It always looks great after a mowing. He might bring calves to pasture here in the spring.

Today we had sun, clouds, rain, snow and all assisted by brisk winds—very exciting. It actually wasn’t too bad except during the snow flurry.

Speaking of snow, I could see both Lafayette, along with Lincoln, and Moosilauke toward the end of the day when things cleared a bit. They are all snow covered. A grizzled neighbor says that when those mountains have snow, our snow comes two weeks later.

I forgot to mention what is still blooming, even if most are winding down: asters, hosta, echinacea, cimicfuga, lamium, witch-hazel, chrysanthemum, nodding ladies’ tresses, boltonia, phlox.

Layafette has a cloud shadow on top, Lincoln is to the right.

Moosilauke has two peaks the higher one is on the left.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall Chores.

10-27-13 VERMONT: We’ve been here for a few days, in fact Judy is already back in NJ. I am doing the fall clean up and other chores. I put up storm doors the first afternoon and the next day pulled all the garden hardware out of the beds, border fences, plant supports, and put it all away. I pulled the siphon hoses out of the pond, drained all the hoses and put them away. We put the boat in the barn and moved the picnic table to the terrace. Then I started cutting down all the dead stalks from the beds on the east side of the house, and finished those beds the next day. There were four cartloads of cuttings. It has to be done carefully by hand with a hedge trimmer to spare the biennials and the plants that are still in bloom or still green. Today I did the beds on the west side of the house and got five loads of cuttings to dump in boggy spots in the pasture. Tomorrow the beds north of the house and the outlying beds and the veggie bed are on the schedule which may take two more days.

The pond is down about 7 or 8 inches and looks a bit clearer after almost 3 months of draining the bottom with the siphons. I’m hoping for clearer water when it refills. I drained about one third of the pond capacity—we’ll see.

The fall color here is mostly finished, the best color would have been while we were in Turkey or shortly after. Now the burning bushes, viburnums, beeches still have some leaves and some good color.

The house trim painting is finished, and the repair of the rotted sills under the old house front door is done. If the weather warms up again, I’ll paint the new clapboards. I still have to replace some rotted, external baseboards and at least one broken fence rail.

Color from burning bushes and viburnums.

Cimicfuga is a late bloomer.

In front of the house--before clean up.

And after.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Frick Collection Special Exhibit.

10-23-13 SHORT HILLS: We had a nice afternoon in the city at the Frick Collection. The museum is the house, its furnishings and art of Henry Clay Frick and his family. He was a coal and steel baron and partner of Andrew Carnegie who built this house on a whole block of Fifth Avenue between 70th and 71th Streets.

In addition to their regular collection, they have a special exhibition of Dutch paintings from the Gallery Mauritshuis. Including Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and works by Rembrandt, Steen, Hals, ter Bosch, Claesz, Fabritius and a few others. A small picture, The Goldfinch, touched me the most. It is a European goldfinch, rather different from the American one and, as you can see, a captive.

The magnificent regular collection has several Turners, Gainsboroughs and Constables among many others, and Holbein’s portraits of More and Cromwell, for Hilary Mantel fans. We’ve been there before, but it’s worth regular visits for the setting as well as the art.

After the museum, we aired out in Central Park before dinner at Café Boulud.

The Frick Collection center courtyard is enclosed and outfitted with a fountain and statuary.

Another view of the indoor pond.

Goldfinch, European, distantly related to the American species. The red face is totally different from our finch's. This seventeenth century Dutch bird is a captive as you can see.

Central Park at 76th St and 5th Ave, with an outdoor pond with mallards.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Night at the Opera.

10-21-13 SHORT HILLS: We were in the city, NYC, Saturday for a night at the opera, the Met, to hear ‘Eugene Onegin’ by Tchaikovsky. Because no one was using the Lincoln Tunnel that night, we zipped in and were early for our dinner res so we stopped in at the Folk Art Museum just across the square from Lincoln Center. They have a quilt exhibition, modern quilts, some with trompe l’oeil effects and a huge weather vane that is a permanent part of the display.

Café Fiorello was its regular cacophony and even bit more hectic than usual, if that’s possible, but we both enjoy the menu and the crowd.

At the main event, the voices, Anna Netrebko and Mariusz Kwiecien as the principals, and the music, Tchaikovsky conducted by Pavel Smelkov, were really awesome.

The sets, however, were dark, drab and disappointing. I remember the Met from years ago when the sets and effects were gorgeous, brilliant and amazing. The sets are an important part of the show and the experience. Some of the new productions I find wanting, they’re stark and colorless and depressing.

Folk Art Museum-quilt.

Folk Art Museum-weather vane with photo of original location.

The Met, before...

and after.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Unknown Shrub.

10-19-13 SHORT HILLS: I think I know everything growing here in our yard, but I still occasionally stumble across something I can’t identify, usually a weed. The shrub/small tree in these pix was an unknown until just recently.

Spring flowers....

Stippled bark....

Fall berries.

So—anybody know it? I do now, thanks to an ID web site. The site belongs to The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech. Using a leaf and following a decision tree on the site, I was able to ID the plant as Winterberry Holly. It’s in the Ilex genus like the more familiar English holly.

There are two iPhone apps that I have tried for plant ID. The first, VTree ID, is also from Virginia Tech and gives you a list of trees found in your area from your location. The list is by Latin name and provides a description and pictures of leaves, flowers, fruit and bark and the ability to email a question to ‘Dr. Dendro’. There is no way to get a name from a leaf or berry unless you email it in. I didn’t try that.

The other app is called leafsnap. It lets you take a ‘snap’ of a leaf while in the app. It sends the picture in and gives you a quick list of possibilities. It sounds great, but didn’t work well for me. It didn’t recognize the winterberry holly, not in its database, and had trouble with a beech tree leaf and an English holly leaf. Both the correct trees were on the list along with twenty or more other suggestions. It got a sweet gum tree with only two other choices. I love the concept, but the app needs work. The database has pix of leaves, flowers, fruit and bark and can be searched by common name as well as Latin name.

Both apps are free, and free is always good.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Turkey Left-Overs.

10-12-13 SHORT HILLS: We’re slowly recovering from jet lag and still have odd sleep patterns, but we do have high-speed wi-fi. I’ll post some more pix from the trip with some comments and explanations.

More Istanbul pix:

The Bosphorus, with Europe on the right and Asia on the left, divides Istanbul in half. It runs from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, which connects to the Aegean via the Dardanelles Strait.

The Golden Horn, named for its appearance at dawn, is an arc-shaped tributary of the Bosphorus that separates the European half of Istanbul into the old city, lower and right half of the pic and the newer city, the northern half, seen on the upper left. People are often fishing from those bridges.

Interior of the Hagia Sophia. Central dome at the top and accessory domes.

Yeni Cami Mosque by the Spice Market.

Suleymaniye Mosque.

Interior of one of dozens of rooms in the Topkapi Palace with a domed, high ceiling, tiled walls, high windows and a coppery fireplace on the right.

One corner of one building of Topkapi Palace complex. Note all the domes.

Interior of the Blue Mosque, extensive tiling, central dome at the top.

The Blue Mosque exterior.

A few more pix from Bodrum:

Another view of the harbor with many masts.

Nautical Archaeology Museum with a row of old stone anchors.

Amphora packing. They were terra cotta and used for wine or olive oil.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Last Day in Bodrum.

10-10-13 SHORT HILLS: We’re home after a twenty-four hour travel day including time changes, layovers, passport checks, and five sets of screenings. Adding to the fun was my cold on the last day and a glitch in getting boarding passes for the middle flight from IST to MUC. Anyway I didn’t get to post the last day so here it is…

10-7-13 BODRUM, TURKEY: A lot of Bodrum streets are too narrow for the big bus so we were using vans, and our first stop was at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the INA. They refer to their ship salvages as digs. They map each site in detail and try to recover everything at the site to preserve and restore it all, including the wood from the hull, tools, cargo, supplies down to the olive pits for carbon dating. Their goal is one ship from each century from the Bronze Age ~3000 BC to ~1000 AD, that would be 40 ships.

Metal objects are encrusted in coral and shells and the metal disappears, but can be recovered using the encrustation as a mold to recast the object in epoxy.

Their US affiliation is with Texas A & M, which sends lots of aggie-interns to Bodrum.

Next stop, the waterfront for our afternoon cruise on two Turkish gulets, large, roomy two-masted boats with half our group in each one. The Greek island of Kos lies just outside the harbor to the north and Rhodes is farther off-shore to the south. We anchored to two different spots for swimming in the clear and very salty Aegean. The water temperature was in the seventies. In between swims we were served a lavish lunch.

Back on land we had enough time to pack for our late evening departure before a viewing of our guide, Ruya’s, movie about a remote village and its loss of the old customs and younger generation to the city—very poignant.

Our farewell banquet at the hotel was preceded by ‘tails on the terrace with a sunset and appearance by the crescent moon and Venus in the western sky mirroring the Turkish flag.

Institue for Nautical Archeology-pieces of amphora, a dozen jigsaw puzzles with the parts all scrambled.

Ta-Da, puzzles completed.

Afternoon cruise in a Turkish gulet.

Crusader castle and harbor from the water.


Aegean swimmers invading Poseidon's realm.

The Star and The Crescent ala the Turkish flag. Sunset at the hotel overlooking Bodrum harbor.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Bodrum by Bus.

10-6-13 BODRUM: It was another early travel day. The weather has been the same for a few days—sunny, windy and cool.

We headed south out of Izmir and stopped at a small, mountain village near Selcuk named Sirince, which has been restored and had development controlled to keep it villagey-looking and quaintish. They have done a good job, but there’s not much there except more shopping.

After another two hours, we lunched at lakeside, Natura Panorama Restaurant. Lake Bafa is a brackish lake that was a bay that was silted in at the open end to make it a lake. Nice lunch.

Another hour in the bus brought us to Bodrum, a prosperous, coastal, resort city with a bay on either side of a central peninsula. The hillsides rising up from the sea are all covered with white buildings with tile roofs and lots flowers. Both bays are filled with sailboats. The castle on the peninsula was built by the crusaders and later taken by the Ottoman Empire. The castle is now the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Several sunken ships have been recovered from as far back as the Bronze Age, 3000 BCE. Recovered artifacts and even parts of the ships are on display.

We spent a few hours there after checking into the Marmara Hotel. It’s a lovely place overlooking the whole city. A group dinner in the downtown restaurant district finished the night.

Crusader Castle.

The bay to the south.

Saturday, October 05, 2013


10-5-13 IZMIR: It was another early start, busing to Ephesus. Ephesus was an ancient port city, conquered by Alexander and later by the Romans. Paul worked there for a few years converting pagans to Christianity, and it was, supposedly, where Mary lived out her life.

Archeological work has restored some of the site, and it gets an onslaught of tourists every day. There must have been fifty buses when we arrived. The site was crowded, but the tour doable. We entered the site and followed a marble road, rutted by chariot wheels, to a huge amphitheater.

Then we moved on down the next marble road, with curbs on both sides, to the agora and the Celsus library. The two-story library is reconstructed and full of architectural and sculptural details. We also went through the terrace houses, where the Ephesus 1% lived, very impressive, many rooms, frescos and mosaics, indoor plumbing and central heating.

Moving up the next road we saw temples, public baths, a brothel, a memorial to Trajan, city hall and a small theater, among other stuff. The site is littered with hunks and chunks of marble, some gathered with others that have like markings and patterns. It’s like a huge jigsaw puzzle in 3D but only partly assembled. Judy and I were there in 1985 and were impressed with the amount of progress that has been made.

We left the site for the nearby town of Selcuk and visited the Saturday market before an excellent lunch. After we ate, we saw the house in which Mary lived after the crucifixion and after her care was entrusted to the disciple John. The evidence supporting the claim seems pretty thin. Moving on, we saw the Basilica of that same St. John, which might be built on his burial site. Above the basilica is a Muslim citadel from the 1100’s. Below the basilica is the site of the Temple of Artemis, the patron goddess of Ephesus. The temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Ephesus, by the way, once a city more than 250,000 fell into decline after its harbor silted up in the 6th century. It is now a few miles away from the Aegean.

Ephesus amphitheater.

Celsus Library and the Gates of Mazaeus and Mithridates on the right.

Detail on the Library.

Interior of a Terrace House.

Looking down the road to the library.

The Saturday market at Selcuk at lunch time.

Friday, October 04, 2013

More Pix of Cappadocia and Izmir.

Red Valley strata easily differentiated by color.

More strata in the Valley.

Judy thought the camel was 'adorable'.

Dervish dancing demo.

Goreme cave monastery.

Hittite style vases on the right.

10-4-13 IZMIR: We left Cappadocia in the early AM, flying to Istanbul, the domestic airport on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, and after an hour layover, flew to Izmir on the Aegean coast. Izmir is a bustling, big modern city, almost glitzy home to 5 million, with trendy stores, I am informed, and lots of stiletto heels tap-tapping down the sidewalk. After checking into the Swissotel Buyuk Epes, huge and modern, we walked along the waterfront, passed two demonstrations against the government, one in front of the mayor’s house and one in front of the labor admin. At least that’s what we think the sites were.

We then veered into the shopping district and saw food, clothes, housewares, shoes, bridal wear [ware?], sweets, live birds and you name it. Under Aydan’s guidance we tried teas and water pipe smoking [just a puff]. Later Judy, Bill, Lynn and I found a restaurant along the waterfront for a fish dinner. We ate inside because of the wind and cool weather.

Beer on the beach.



Glass buildings...

Water front....

Out door eating, but with the wind, not too popular.