Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rain and More Rain.

9-30-15 SHORT HILLS: We never saw the eclipse because of the cloud cover. It has rained each day since the eclipse, more each day for a total of about two inches. It has been very dry so the rain is welcome, but Hurricane Joaquin may come ashore here and bring much more rain, more than we want.

Vermont tomorrow.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Piano Night.

9-27-15 SHORT HILLS: We heard Lang Lang play solo piano last night at NJPAC. He did works by Tchaikovsky, Bach and Chopin and a couple brief encore pieces for a good two plus hours of piano playing. He is a huge talent, without doubt.

Lang Lang has been criticized for what seem to be affectations of emotional ecstasy while playing. They may or may not be affectations, head thrown back, languid hand gestures when the hand is not on the keyboard, but I find them distracting and even irritating.

I have decided I prefer piano and orchestra playing together, working with, off and against each other rather than solo piano. I enjoy the interaction and competition between the soloist and the group.

Back in the yard, it remains dry and the temperatures are cooling off. I hope it stays clear for the big eclipse tonight.

How 'bout those Mets?

NJ Performing Arts Center, Prudential Hall, Newark. The lobby before the show.

NJPAC stage awaiting Lang Lang. The empty seats were full at kick-off.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Walk in the Park.

9-23-15 SHORT HILLS: The Autumnal Equinox is here. Today is supposed to be in the eighties, and it doesn’t feel much different than the rest of the week—dry, sunny and warm.

The Vernal Equinox of 2016 will occur on March 20 at 12:31 AM EDT. In 2015 it was also on March 20, but at 6:45 PM EDT. If you add up the days from March 20 to September 23, it totals 187. The total days from today to next March 20 is 179, which means that the wintery half of the year is 8 days shorter than the summery half. Check out my addition for yourself.

Why is that? The Earth’s orbit is an asymmetrical ellipse, and the Earth is actually slightly closer to the sun during the winter and so moves faster along its orbital path at that time. Winter is colder for us because the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. Don’t you feel better knowing that Spring is only 179 days away?

Judy, Maizie, Bally, Gus and I went walking with Lynn, Bill and Bella last Sunday on the newly opened trail at Giralda Farms Preserve at Loantaka Brook Reservation near St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. The trail is flat, longer than a mile, circles a pond, and is popular with hiker, runners, bikers and dog walkers. We saw a raptor making lazy circles in the sky and then settle down on a treetop. A red-tailed hawk, I think, because the under side of the tail isn’t barred or striped.

Who's walking whom?

Red-tailed hawk, I think, above and below.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fall Arrives.

9-19-15 SHORT HILLS: The Autumnal Equinox arrives in a few days, September 23, and Fall begins as the sun deserts the northern hemisphere for six months. The days are still hot here, in the afternoon, but the nights are cooler, in the fifties. Our shaggy dogs seem peppier with the lower temps.

We had a very welcome rain last week, but now things are getting dry again, and the sprinklers are back on. There is no rain in the forecast for the next week. All the non-gardeners and non-farmers are delighted with the weather.

The fall berries are ripening. Most of them are red, probably so the birds can easily find them amid all the green leaves. The plants depend on the birds to eat the seeds for the fruity parts and then poop out the actual seeds with a dollop of fertilizer. It’s a symbiotic and complex system. Climate change affects where the plants can live, and where the birds can live. Those new habitats may not be mutually compatible—then both plants and birds suffer.

Bally says, 'Enough summer already. I'm wearing a fur coat.'




Linden viburnum. If those berries turn blue, then it's an arrowwood viburnum, which has a very similar look.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ash Tree Threats.

9-15-15 SHORT HILLS: We have been besieged by electricians and plumbers repairing the problems that come up in an old house. Everything seems to be working at the moment inside the house.

In the yard there’s a problem with the ash trees. They are being attacked by a bug, a leafhopper, which carries a microbe that clogs the circulation of the trees. The trees die from this attack, which is similar to what happens when Dutch elm disease attacks elms. We have about three dozen ash trees in the yard, and five or six are already in decline. The disease is treated by force-feeding the trees. There is no specific agent to kill the pathogen.

The Emerald Ash Borer is another harmful insect that is present in NJ but not locally, as yet. It is also an ash tree killer. This will be a very different yard without the ash trees.

New blooms: white snakeroot [actually just ID’d it], hibiscus.

We brought the indoor plants back inside today after their summer vacation on the patio. This hibiscus seemed to like the move.

The pond at The Farm, a local nursery, also has ducks and a heron. We were there for a couple house plants that Judy needed.

We see more deer in NJ than VT. There were four others a few houses away.

Is he giving us the raspberry?

This wildflower, or weed, if you prefer, grows everywhere in the yard, sun or shade, wet or dry. It blooms in the Fall, has no stickers or nettles and is not nasty looking. After a brief internet search, I ID'd it as white snakeroot, Eupatorium rugosum. Welcome.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Visit to NYC and MMA.

9-13-15 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MMA, to see the John Singer Sargent exhibit, which closes soon. There are rooms full of people from the turn of the previous century, including writers, artists and sculptors and their families, such as RLS, Claude Monet and Augustus St. Gaudens. The important objects, faces, some clothes are done in detail, but less important things and background are not detailed. It’s like a photo where the face or flower is in focus and the rest of the picture is out of focus. The Monets are done in an Impressionist manner. Later people are done in charcoal sketches. We also hit the roof garden and some old favorites. Worth a visit.

We got more rain last night and everything in the yard looks perky now. We got two inches in total.

New blooms: white star clematis [forgot to mention last time].

I just found this shot in my phone. I took it when we were looking at a house in Vermont with friends.  How big was that tree when the barn was put up? How long ago?

From the Sargent exhibition at the MMA - 'Madame X', was originally painted with the right strap off the shoulder, which caused such a scandal that Sargent fled Paris for London, and he repainted the strap as you see it.

Sargent/MMA 'Lily Millet'.

Sargent/MMA, 'Mrs. Hugh Hammersley', quite a dress.

Sargent/MMA - wife and son of Augustus St. Gaudens.

Diana/MMA by St. Gaudens stood atop Madison Sq. Garden in a previous incarnation.

From the MMA roof garden looking toward Central Park South. The clouds did deliver rain later in the day. That tall skinny one is the new, ultra-expensive condo building on 57th St.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NJ Report.

9-10-15 SHORT HILLS: We’ve been back here for several days, but just today got back on line and got back telephone service. Comcast took five days to get our services restored. It seems obvious that they need more technicians and a higher level of customer care. I wonder if Verizon is any better?

There has been no rain here or in Vermont for about ten days, but today everybody gets well. It’s been raining on and off for since 2 AM.

I had a lunch in NYC with friends Roger, Paul, Alan, Alan and Mike yesterday.

In the yard I have been watering. The sprinkler system has been running, but six sprinkler heads were malfunctioning, and the system doesn’t cover the whole yard even when working properly. I fixed the defective heads, but this soaking rain is what the yard needs.

El NiƱo has returned. We expect a mild, dry winter, and California should get that rain it needs so dearly.

In bloom: hosta, rose of sharon, rose, plumbago, tutsan, butterfly bush, caryopteris, wild strawberry, lamium, hydrangea.

Caryopteris is a great fall bloomer, here being assisted by a friendly bee. It will flower until and into November.

Butterfly bush has been blooming all summer. There was a big yellow swallowtail butterfly here yesterday, but he refused to properly pose for the camera.

Roses have rebounded from the hard winter.

Plumbago is a pretty ground cover with late in the season, blue-gray flowers.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Road Trip.

9-5-15 VERMONT: ‘All good things must come to an end.’ I have heard that said over and over again since I was a kid. Usually when I was doing something that I liked, and when my parents or other authority figs were bored.

Speaking of authority figs, Judy has declared, 'Summer has ended. It’s time to go back to NJ.' Tomorrow everything goes into the cars, and we drive back to Short Hills. We’re traveling on Sunday, hoping to avoid the Monday traffic.

Looking forward to dinner with Lynn and Bill tomorrow, upcoming theatre, concerts and operas, and then back to VT for the leaves in October.

Vivid phlox.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

River Trip.

9-2-15 VERMONT: It’s hot again, in the eighties, but only in the fifties at night. We canoed on the Connecticut yesterday, putting in at North Thetford and paddling upriver into a little southerly breeze and a little current. Neither seemed like much of an impediment, but we got back in half the time. We saw a pair of kingfishers who stayed well away from us, and a blue heron who was equally as cautious. On the way back, we saw three buzzards circling near the launch site.

As we left the launch area a nearby church struck eleven, but we couldn’t see it until the trip back.

I’ve been watering the new plantings because there’s been no rain for several days, but tomorrow is supposed to be wet.

New blooms: autumn sedum, turtlehead.

Turtlehead - looks like a turtle head.

Autumn Sedum.

There's a kingfisher in the center perched on the dead tree.

Vermont shore with cornfield.

North Thetford church told us it was 11AM when we started paddling.