Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Back in NJ.

8-31-16 SHORT HILLS: We’re back in the humidity and heat, hiding in the AC. We walk the dogs before 9 AM. We have been getting organized and settled after the summer in VT. Judy is sorting the many stuffies by size for later distribution to the facilities she visits with the dogs.

I filled the bird feeders. Something I haven’t been able to do for months because of the bear situation in VT. There are always a lot of chores that need seeing to but it’s too hot outside. I did walk around the yard to see what’s in bloom. Some of the flowers are just the last few from things that are usually early of mid-season bloomers.

In bloom: rose of Sharon, aster, strawberry, caryopteris, abelia, vinca minor, roses, spirea, hydrangea, lamium, hosta, leadwort, white-star clematis, sow thistle.

Rose of Sharon is a late season hibiscus relative that comes in several flavors like this...

...and like this. It's a tall shrub.

Abelia is another late season bloomer. It's a low mound most of the summer.

Sow thistle is about two feet tall-a dandelion on steroids-but a weed.

Caryopteris is another late season flowering shrub that gets to three feet or so.

From VT: Santa's sleigh filled with toys and two golden reindeer...

...and Corn pickers.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Closing Up.

8-27-16 VERMONT: More rain yesterday morning, 1.15 inches. The pond is full and draining. The dry spots in the yard are green. We are starting close-up and car packing.

Anna and Gardner arrived for a semi-surprise weekend visit, arriving late last night. Today they are off visiting the Northeast Kingdom. Tonight we all go to the Canoe Club for dinner.

Judy and I picked more tomatoes today for the tomato fairy to distribute in NJ. She picked and cooked and froze a bunch of corn yesterday.

Tomorrow we will pack the cars with the zillion stuffed animals donated by folks up here for Judy to take on her pet-therapy visits that she does in Newark with Gus and Maizie. Thanks again to all the contributors.

New blooms: turtle head.

Kingfisher the rain and mist.

The red belt marks a female.

The usual unruly crest is slicked down by the rain.

This deer was just outside the yard in the pasture ignoring us and the dogs while eating fallen apples. The apples on the ground actually ferment in place making them more attractive to the horses, deer, turkeys and whoever.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

To-Do List Done.

8-24-16 VERMONT: We had another 1.05 inches of rain, and the pond is almost full. Yesterday I treated some outdoor wooden stuff with water-seal, and today I replaced a broken fence rail. Both days Judy and I both picked tomatoes and have bags full in the freezer and on the kitchen table. Everything is crossed off my To-Do list, so I must have forgotten to put some things on the list.

Debbie and John were here for dinner last night and a slide show of Tanzania and Svalbard, which they actually asked for. Tonight we have dinner in town with Dave and Shari at the tapas place.

New blooms: white lobelia.

Cabbage White butterfly enjoying an early aster.

Gus, Bally and Maizie are packing their tennis balls for the trip to NJ.

Ligularia dentata making a late season appearance.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fair, Corn and Coyotes.

8-21-16 VERMONT: Friday we went to the Cornish, NH Fair with Lucy. Maggie was on her way back to Amherst via Amtrak, and Val was working. We saw the midway buzzing, rides swirling, swinging, swooping, circling, bouncing and some doing all those things at once. None of us did any of them. Judy and Lucy shopped while I searched for the vender that sold bloomin’ onions, which I found.

It could have been the best bloomin’ onion ever—crisp without any sogginess or doughiness. The sausage and peppers, pulled pork and funnel cake were fine. Between courses we watched the horse pulls and saw cows and oxen, sheep, chickens and roosters, bunnies and old tractors.

Saturday morning Val and Lucy left, weighed down with corn and tomatoes. I finished the priming and finish painting of the repair work of the last few weeks. Today I was back in the yard pruning hydrangeas, viburnums, apples and lilacs. Tonight we’re getting rain, very much welcome.

It’s high tide in the veggie garden. We’re giving away as much as we can and will bring a lot of produce home to NJ at the end of the week. That’s right, the Vermont portion of the summer is almost over. The blueberries are done, the apples are starting, but many less than last year. We will get some apples in September.

We saw a fox on the road a few days ago, as well as turkeys, and a coyote had a quick drink from the pond in the afternoon. We have been hearing them, coyotes, at night fairly often, but seeing them is very unusual. It looked like a yellowish, medium-sized dog. They rarely have like the traditional coyote styling because they are inbred with wild dogs.

New blooms: Joe Pye weed, ligularia dentata.

Red Admiral working the clematis. He/she was there for hours.

Judy picking corn. That thing in the background that looks like a little TV set is the solar-powered fence charger to keep the critters out.

Cornish Fair midway.


Horse pull.

Shopping opportunities are always present.

Friday, August 19, 2016


8-19-16 VERMONT: We have a monarch, one female, in the pasture working the mint along with dozens of bees.

First Monarch we've seen this year. A female working the mint.

Another with some bees.

And another.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Creeping Toward September.

8-18-16 VERMONT: We had another 0.25 inches of rain. At the end of July El Nino was over after a year, which is a longer run than usual. During El Nino the northeastern US is typically dry, which we have been for about a year. Since it ended we have been getting rain. I put the hoses away.

I finished the repair work today filling and caulking the gaps, all small gaps, of course. In the winter when it’s, say, 12° and windy, every pinhole lets a draft in the house, so I try to seal everything. Tomorrow priming and next week finish painting. Actually tomorrow is the Cornish Fair.

Val, Maggie and Lucy returned from college visits for Lucy. They saw UVM and McGill, I think I mentioned that before. A little perseveration never hurts. Lucy liked them both.

New blooms: sedum, tree hydrangea.

Sedum, another sign of Fall.

Another Sedum.

This clematis is also a late bloomer. It grows from the ground every season and covers that corner of the deck. It's swarming with bees.

The tree hydrangea is another late bloomer. The hydrangea bushes bloom in July. That little retriever cutout guards the dog graves.

Monday, August 15, 2016

And Then It Rained.

8-15-16 VERMONT: We had a rainy weekend with a total of two inches that got everything soaked. There was no runoff because the ground sopped it all up. There was another shower a few nights back, the Perseid Meteor shower. I was out on the deck for about fifteen minutes and saw eight shooting stars, three of them dramatic.

The repair work on the house continues. I replaced two deck posts on Sunday, and repaired the bottoms of two exterior doors Friday. Today I started the last section of the old mudroom back door. New things keep coming up. Scott is doing the repair of the deck drainage. The runoff from the roof and deck washed out a big hole under the deck. He is rebuilding the top of the wall below the deck and re-grading and filling the holes with gravel.

Val, Lucy and Maggie arrived tonight as the first stop on a college tour going to UVM and McGill in Montreal. They leave for Burlington in the morning.

New blooms: white star clematis.

Perhaps a Pearl Cresent working the pasture mint. We used to have dozens of Monarchs at this time of summer but none this season. I might have seen one on the road last week.

Morning mist after a rainy day.

The corn is ready. We had them for lunch and dinner today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Blueberry Wars.

8-10-16 VERMONT: It rained this morning for a few hours, I’m guessing a quarter inch that was most welcome and unexpected. I probably would have watered if it hadn’t rained. The days have not been that hot.

About noon it cleared up, and I went back to work replacing dry rot at the base of the back door of the old mudroom using new pressure-treated wood and PVC planks. I think the worst of it is finished, but you never know what’s behind a small spot on the surface. I also have two outer doors to do.

We have been eating tomatoes and giving them away for a couple weeks. Corn next week.

New blooms: monkshood.

Can you fine the blueberry bandit? Look for an eye in the center of the pic.

Another thief, perhaps he considers them family.

Indian pipe with last years dried stalks behind the new flowers. Mostly white, it has a faint pink tinge. It has a parasitic relationship with tree root fungi, so its living is derived from the sun via this white pine and its root fungi. It is, therefore, an obligate myco-heterotroph.

Monkshood has intense color.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Dry, Dry, Dry.

8-7-16 VERMONT: I replaced a rotted section of a window frame. It wasn’t close to the ground and shouldn’t have had a water problem. I saw no sign of insect infestation, nevertheless it was bad and came out.

I also replaced lattice that closed the north end of the deck. The dogs had chewed it apart to nest underneath the deck and dug up a bed in the process. It is now enclosed with pressure-treated plywood and the bed restored in part. The bed is fenced off now.

Today was some garden catch up on watering. Since the rain last week it has been dry. Today was lovely—warm, breezy, not humid, but I want rain.

Last evening we had a great dinner at Cloudland Farm Restaurant in Pomfret with John and Gretchen and Ann and Roger. It’s a beautiful spot with extensive views and a post-and-beam building. They serve one meal to everyone each night—there are no choices. It’s BYO booze and hors d’oeuvres on the porch.

New blooms: more phlox, gentian, mint, first aster.

Helenium make a big splash of color.

Gentian with opened flowers, later in the season, I'll show bottle gentian. The flowers all look like the central one on this plant but don't open. It's more purple in color.

Blue lobelia with red lobelia in the background. It's a complicated little flower.

Mint. All the bugs, bees and butterflies love it. It's quite an invasive nuisance. It used to be covered in Monarch butterflies.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Repair Work on Feet.

8-4-16 VERMONT: We finally got rain, most of it on 8-1-16, but some the day before and some the day after for a total of 0.8 inches. We need about 5-6 inches to catch up, but any is welcome. The grass turned green again, and everything seemed to perk up.

Granddaughter Maggie was here for most of a week convalescing from a sprained foot acquired as a passenger in a car crash. The driver was unhurt. By the time we took her back to Amherst, she was almost off her crutches. She needed to get back to her apartment to see to her pet rats. They seemed none the worse for the lack of attention. A friend was feeding them.

I’m continuing to do repairs. One of the porch pedestals was rotted at the base. I chopped away at it to find the lowest 7 inches and a section of the decking was completely bad, and so I cut it all away, leaving the pedestal hanging in air. I replaced the deck, about 8 inches, and the inner part of the pedestal with pressure-treated wood and the cladding with Azek, a white, PVC wood substitute.

We have lots of blueberries and tomatoes, but the corn is a few weeks away.

New blooms: black-eyed susan, lobelia, liatris.

Butterfly weed is fairly vibrant orange. there's a wasp or ant in the middle.

Here's the pumpkin cart with new parts and droopy flowers as the rain began.

Rain storm, finally. Those vertical streaks in the image are raindrops.

Liatris is another flower with a stalk of blooms, but this one blooms from the top down. Most flower stalks bloom from the bottom upwards such as lobelia below and delphinium, foxglove, evening primrose, and lupin all blooming now.

Lobelia, most of ours are blue and a few in white. this red is the first this year.