Monday, November 28, 2016

Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg

11-28-16 SHORT HILLS: Today was warm enough for me to get out in the yard and do some cleanup from the windy weather of last week. The wind and rain left the yard and shrubs littered with deadfall. We’re supposed to get rain again over the next few days and more wind.

Yesterday we had a treat. We went to an afternoon concert at NJPAC and heard the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg do three of our favs. They opened with Mozart’s, ‘Jupiter’ Symphony in C Major and continued with his Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat. Radovan Vlatkovic was the soloist. After intermission, they played Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major.

The orchestra is small compared to, say, the Philharmonic, but enthusiastic and led by a young and energetic Conductor, Matthew Halls. They looked like they were having a great time and responded to sustained applause with an encore. When’s the last time anyone saw that at Geffen Hall?

Prudential Hall at NJPAC has great acoustics and is an easy 20 minutes from home.

Intermission at NJPAC, there are people on that top level.

Enough applause for an encore - Beethoven's 'Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus'.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving and Dog Walks.

11-26-16 SHORT HILLS: Thanksgiving has come and gone. We hosted Valerie, Alison, Dan, Steve, Anna, Maggie, Lily, Lucy and Maggie’s two pet rats. The rats didn’t have a seat at the table. Judy’s spread was magnificent, as usual, everyone was as stuffed as the turkey. Nobody got the plague.

After dinner we staggered off to the movies and saw ‘Fantastic Beasts…’, most of us thought it was meh. By Friday afternoon the invading hordes had been repelled, including the rats. We did cleanup, mostly Judy, and later, went to a 75th birthday party for friend Alan, thrown by his daughters Lisa and Tracy. It was great to see some old friends and make some new ones.

Between all the activities, we have managed to walk the dogs in some woodsy spots, as we were bored with the usual around-the-block walks. Twice we went to the South Mountain Reservation, between Millburn and South Orange. The first hike was to Hemlock Falls. The experience was marred by many off-leash dogs let loose by dog walkers, against reservation rules.

The next day we went to Locust Grove where the crowds and dogs were better behaved. We climbed to Washington Rock for the views, but the hazy air stole a lot of it. Today we went west to Loantaka Brook Reservation for a flat walk and bumped into Bill and Bella. The lake there had lots of ducks, scaups, I think, and a solitary swan.

Hemlock Falls at South Mountain Reservation. Dramatic falls when there's more rain.

West branch of the Rahway River in the reservation.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Back in the Second Grade.

11-21-16 SHORT HILLS: Today we did what has become our annual Thanksgiving visit to Lincoln Elementary School in the Vailsburg section of Newark, actually near my first office. We visit Ms. Catalano’s second grade class with Gus the therapy dog. The kids read to Gus, practicing their skills, and Gus practices understanding what they read. Bill and Lynn accompanied us to help with the reading lessons. Pam and Charlie, another therapy team from Creature Comfort Pet Therapy, were there also. We do an Xmas visit also.

Judy, Pam and other volunteers do regular monthly visits for reading, but they don't get fed except at holidays. The Xmas visit is when we bring in the donated stuffed animals, mostly from Vermont, as presents for all the kids in the lower grades.

Ms. Catalano served fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, corn bread, and sweet potato pie for dessert. We all enjoyed, including Gus. After two hours or so, we left the kids to other lessons.

The school desks are all lined up to make a banquet table. Ms. Catalano is dishing in the back.

Reading lesson for Gus.

Inviting, lively classroom.

Pam and Charlie.

Hand made place-mats.

Producing a selfie.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Snow Surprise.

11-20-16 SHORT HILLS: After a couple days in the sixties, we got the snowstorm that ravaged the north and west. We got a dusting over night and some frozen patches in the driveway. No shoveling or salting required. The thermometers say upper thirties, but it must have been freezing at some point,  and that counts as our first frost here.

We saw Moonlight last night. It’s probably not for everyone, but I thought it is probably the picture of the year. The cinematography and casting are special, the story is both touching and haunting. However, it’s December, almost, and other Best Picture contenders will be released soon.

Surprise, but barely got a frost.

Likes bird food.

We still have color, accented by the white.

The magnolia in the center is covered with flower buds.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Burning Bush, Super Moon, Powerful Aida.

11-17-16 SHORT HILLS: We’ve been back in NJ for a few days. Unlike Vermont, there are still lots of leaves here, some still green. The burning bushes are doing their fall fire-dance. I know they are non-native, but, in their defense, they are beautiful, trouble-free and the birds gobble up the berries.

We had a big rain here two days ago and got about two inches and an electric display. The rain helps with the, hopefully, resolving drought. Since the rain, we have had lovely weather with temps in the sixties, a little too warm for late November. I don’t think there has been a frost here yet.

It was clear for the super moon. I tweaked the camera settings and got a nice hand-held shot.

We heard Aida Tuesday night at the Met. It’s a gorgeous production with great, carved deities, stone temples and live horses in the triumphal march, my favorite scene. Liudmyla Monastyrska, a Ukrainian soprano, sang the title role. She has pipes powerful enough to wake the pharaohs and rock the opera house. There were some empty seats, but the audience loved it, there were ‘bravas’ and a standing O.

Before the opera we had dinner with Richard and Elaine at Café Fiorello. Last night we had diner with Bill in Chatham, and today I go back to Lincoln Center to meet old friend Dr. Donald for lunch.

Fiery burning bush.

Red burning bush and orange chokecherry.

More burning bushes. [I know they're a non-native, but they feed a lot of birds.]

My shot of the super moon. [Hand held, BTW.]

Curtain call with standing O for the cast and conductor of Aida. Liudmyla Monastyrka is in blue.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Early Snow.

Early snow on the mountain tops....

Snow, looking pink at sunset, atop Lafayette and Moosilauke will probably be there until spring.

A few minutes later, more pink.

Even turning the pond pink.

Another Dark Day.

11-11-16 VERMONT: I just realized, while typing in the date, that it’s almost one hundred years since the end of WWI. The armistice ending WWI started on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The observance was originally called Armistice Day.

Today here is turbulent with gusty winds and overcast sky occasionally letting the sun through and occasionally raining.

I’m done with all the cleanup and winterizing. All the beds are cleared. The shovels are out for clearing the deck and doorways. The reflectors are up for the guys who plow the driveway. The furnaces have been serviced.

We’ll be back in NJ after the weekend.

That's ice on the end of the pond, a few days ago...

Actually, about half the ice has melted at his point.

Today is windy with dark clouds but blue poking through at times.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

‘And darkness fell over the earth…’

11-6-16 VERMONT: ‘And darkness fell over the earth…’ It’s not about Trump, or not just about Trump, but it’s about the time change. I always hate the change back to EST and the early darkness. I understand that kids need morning light to go to school, but the darkness at 5 PM is depressing.

I haven’t said much about politics this election, but I’m definitely with her.

Well, back to the gardens, I have finished the front of the house and the north terrace beds and the hybrid daylily bed. It took another two days with 3-4 cartloads, or tarp loads, of cuttings and rakings each day. The weather has been cooperating. It’s been in the forties and breezy with occasional sun. The wind does make the tarp hard to use because it gets blown around. Yesterday there was still air after a morning drizzle ended. Today I do the veggie bed.

First time we've ever had a cardinal at our feeder in VT.

Pink clouds...

Bigger pix.

Apple eaters, there were about six robins in this tree eating the apples. Nice to see that somebody has a use for the crab apples. I'm a little surprised that these guys haven't moved on and are still here.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

More Cleanup.

11-3-16 VERMONT: I did the front of the house from the driveway to the front door. Four cartloads went to the spot in the pasture where I dump it all. That spot is a marshy area behind the little barn. All the garden debris keeps the area a little drier.

Today we’ve had about 10 or 12 hours of hard rain, which kept me out of the gardens. I ran some errands and did some inside chores. It is still warm, in the fifties, but will be colder over the weekend.

Cleanup challenge.

Mission accomplished.

Rainy day off.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Vermont Cleanup.

11-1-16 VERMONT: I came up a couple days ago to do the fall cleanup. I have to wait until the perennials are dormant so that they are not harmed by cutting down the dried up stalks. If it’s not done, the debris interferes with re-growth in the spring and leaves behind plant diseases, mold and mildew to infect the new growth. I’ve done two days of work, those work days are shorter now than they used to be, and have cleared most of the beds between the pond and the house. Three cartloads of cuttings were dumped in the pasture.

Today was gorgeous, in the fifties and sunny this afternoon. This morning everything was white with frost. It was in the twenties last night. Yesterday and the day before were overcast and rainy, except yesterday morning, which was snowy. There was no accumulation, but I waited until things warmed up and dried out before going to work.

In early October things were very dry here, the pond was several inches low and the little pond in the pasture was empty and dry. Now the big pond is full and was actually draining yesterday, and the little pond is half full.

Flowers were still in bloom when I arrived—feverfew, cimicfuga, monkshood, loosestrife, witch-hazel, and sedum.

I had dinner with Cousin John yesterday and we plan to do it again tomorrow.

East side of the house when I arrived. Most everything was dormant.

After everything was cut down and carted away....

.... So that it will look like this again next summer.

I filled this feeder, it's SRO.