Friday, November 28, 2014

Falling Snow.

11-28-14 SHORT HILLS: Another nor’easter swept in Wednesday and hung around til Thursday. We got snow, about an inch, with a bit of wind and temps hovering around freezing. There was enough for me to shovel the driveway Wednesday night. Elsewhere in the region people got as much as a foot of snow. Many folks holiday travel plans were shredded.

Fortunately, Alison, Dan, Lily and Anna got here on Thanksgiving in the afternoon having survived Manhattan traffic congestion. Everyone ate way too much, of course, but Judy’s feast is hard to resist. I baked a pecan pie to complement Judy’s apple pie and the pumpkin pie I bought [gasp] at the bakery. I expect tonight’s dinner will feature turkey and stuffing.

It seems to me that November here is usually snowless and not terribly cold, or used to be so, but the storms just keep on coming. Is this the consequence of climate change?

Snow falling on an apple tree....

And on a burning bush and another apple....

And junipers....

and a holly and others.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

PHC on Saturday Night.

11-23-14 SHORT HILLS: We’ve been in the deep freezer for several days. Puddles and standing water were frozen, and at least one day the temps didn’t get above the freezing point. Yesterday was milder, and today was in the sixties with rain scheduled for tonight.

Yesterday we saw A Prairie Home Companion at Town Hall, near Times Square, with our usual group—Lynn and Bill and Leeza and Roger—but with the addition of Val and Steve and Anna and Gardner. Everybody loved the show. There were two female guest singers, Kate Beahen and Kat Edmondson, an appearance by Guy Noir, news from Lake Wobegon and a lot of music.

After the show we went to dinner at Lattanzi on W.46th St. The fried artichokes and ossobuco were great. I must add that in our little group, all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are definitely above average.

Above and below - Garrison Keillor and the band warm up the audience just before airtime.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Matisse in the Rain.

11-18-14 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday we had a ton of rain with flooded roads. We were in the city, more about that later. Today started in the twenties, our first hard frost of the fall, and it’s also windy and clear.

Over the weekend we went to a corner of Jersey City called Newport with our friend Alan. Newport is between the entrance to the Holland Tunnel and the Hudson River. There are high-rise apartments and offices, marinas, views of NYC across the river. Everything we saw looked clean, new and upscale. The restaurant where we ate, Battellos, was adequate, but we were PO’d that they didn’t honor the rez we had made to sit at a table with the view.

Judy and I went to MoMA yesterday, braving the rainstorm, to see Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. We bought tickets a few weeks ago when we thought we had an evening event that got canceled. Matisse started using paper cutouts to make collage art late in life. Assistants would pin the cutouts on the wall and frequently re-arrange them at his direction. They started small, but got larger and larger as he developed the medium. The exhibit has about 100 pieces. More info is available on the website.

It was packed. To enter the exhibit there was a maze like the ones at airport security.

MoMA lets one take pix in the museum but not at this exhibit, but I took a couple in the shop where the repro mementoes were for sale. We were early for the show and after the show, we were then early for our dinner rez, so we hit most of the rest of the museum. There is so much iconic art that it’s stunning.

We had dinner at Michael’s, conveniently located a couple blocks north of the museum. It was excellent. We left the city on the tail end of rush and rain, but had no road issues.

NYC from Jersey City-Newport.

Cut-Out Show poster.

Souvenirs of the show in the shop.

Below are a few images from MoMA, perhaps you'll recognize one or two. If you haven't seen these in a while, a trip to MoMA is in order.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wither the Weather?

11-14-14 SHORT HILLS: Remember that huge typhoon in the Pacific near Japan a few weeks ago? Well it’s here now. We went from the sixties to below freezing in two days. Tonight is predicted to be in the twenties, which would be the coldest weather of the season so far for us. The storm tracked northeastward from the western Pacific through Alaska and Canada and then south to the U.S. dumping loads of snow in the Mid-West a few days ago.

Last night we got our first snow of the season, just a dusting, but there’s still some of it here. The cold temps and gusty, northwest wind make it feel like the twenties.

So why do we have early snow in the face of global warming? The atmosphere is heating up and every year sees new records for high temps. Hotter air can hold more water and more energy—hence bigger storms, and it seems, more unpredictable events. At least we don’t need the shovels this time.

Last night snow....

Snow clearing this morning.

Again, last night...

And this morning.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Native vs. Invasive.

11-11-14 SHORT HILLS: Now it’s warm again here. We walked the dogs this morning and admired the leaf color of the Japanese maples, viburnums, flowering cherry trees, dogwood and burning bushes. The brilliant red of the burning bushes makes them stand out at this time of year.

I know that Euonymus alatus, the burning bush with the winged twigs, is an Asian native and is considered an invasive shrub here. It is illegal to import it in MA and NH. It shares its Genus, Euonymus, with over a hundred other species, some, such as E. americanus and E. atropurpureus, are native to North America and similar to E. alatus.

My experience with E. alatus is that it does spread in this yard, but is easy to control, is eaten by deer, is easy to transplant, if you wish, and is not disease-free. It is one of many shrubs with red berries at this time of year, all of which seem to be enjoyed by the birds. The birds spread these shrubs by eating the fruit and pooping out the seeds, with a dollop of fertilizer, where they perch.

The birds also spread grape vines, poison ivy and other vines by the same technique. I find the vines, native or not, to be much more ‘invasive’ than the shrubs and far harder to control.

Other non-natives in this yard include English holly, Siebold viburnum, Japanese maple and cherry trees, Asian holly, most of which have also spread on their own.

The other point about what is ‘native’ or not is that the native flora are now different than they were in the past, and will be more different in the future, all because of progressive climate change. For instance, southern magnolias, M. grandiflora, are now planted all over town, but couldn’t tolerate the winters here thirty or forty years ago.

Soon we’ll have citrus and coconuts in Vermont.

Burning bush in red and black chokecherry in orange.

More burning bush.

More red - male red-bellied woodpecker. He probably aids and abets in the spread of the invasives.

Congrats to Maizie and Judy - certified by a second pet-therapy agency.

Balfour has been with us for a year now.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Ahh, the Theatre...

11-9-14 SHORT HILLS: We saw The National Theatre production of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ I won’t say much about the subject, but the performance are all excellent, especially that of Alex Sharp, a very recent graduate of the Juilliard School. The sets and staging are dramatically original and electronic. The title is taken from a Sherlock Holmes story. See it!

We ate at Chez Napoléon, a fav, before the show. Easy trip in and out.

Excellent theater, the sign says it all.

The 'graphic' stage set, drawings on the floor appear on the walls, etc.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Judy's Pix.

11-7-14 SHORT HILLS: Here are some pix that Judy took of our neighbor’s farm…

Pasture Master.

Ladies who lunch.

Sugar shack, busy in maple syrup season.

House and barn.

Wood shed.

Old plow.

Our garage ready for the season.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Sight Lines.

11-5-14 VERMONT: There was a dead tree that fell recently but was hung up on some saplings. It was just a few feet into the woods at the edge of the yard. I cut off the suspended branches and let the rest fall to the ground to prevent its becoming a hazard. I cut up all the small stuff so it will disappear among the leaves on the ground. All the chores are done for now.

Today was quite warm, perhaps sixty. We visited Arnie and Phyllis this afternoon, and we had dinner at The Base Camp [Nepalese] with Ken and Jane yesterday. Monday we had dinner with Lily at Murphy’s.

When all the leaves are down, as they are now, sight lines open up, and it’s possible to see houses that are hidden when the leaves are on the trees. You can also see through the trees and see the shape of the land in the forest. In a few weeks snow cover will begin to accumulate and change the look of the terrain again. The open forest and good visibility is why hunting season is in November. There is a similar, but shorter, period in the spring when the snow has gone, but before the leaves are out.

Shhh...Don't wake the sleeping beds. This is the only time when we see the walls and actual beds. Soon snow will cover everything, and then new growth will start in the spring as the snow melts down.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Cold and Windy.

11-2-14 VERMONT: We came up yesterday, driving through rain that tapered off as we got further north. It was cold and wet here, and we had a frost last night. Today was dry, cold and very windy. I was doing the remainder of the flowerbed clean-up, and the wind blew the rake out of my hands at one point. The beds are now finished thanks to a better grip on the rake, and I can go on to the rest of the winterizing chores.

The forecast is for the twenties tonight, then warming up over the next few days. The dogs thought it was a perfect day for swimming. They are so full of energy now. This is their kind of weather.

New blooms: a couple roses.

Moosilauke again, with more snow and white clouds. Can you find the mountain?