Wednesday, December 27, 2017

They're Gone.

12-27-17 VERMONT: All the guests are gone, all the food has been eaten. Judy has the house cleaned, straightened up, laundry done. We have survived another Christmas.

The weather just gets colder and colder. It was 4°F this morning, and is predicted to drop into the minus teens tonight with the same conditions predicted for the rest of the week.

New blooms: amaryllis.

Valerie's two amaryllis plants made the trip to Maine and then to Vermont so that she wouldn't miss the bloom. And here it is. It looks a lot like a daylily, it has that same monocotyledon format.

Xmas party...

Xmas party...

The birds sheltered on the porch overnight, staying out of the snow and near the feeder.

The icicle of Damocles. It's ten feet long and sharp.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Xmas Whiteout.

12-25-17 VERMONT: The last storm started late at night and ended about noon. We got maybe ten inches. It was a whiteout for a few hours.

Heavy snowfall...

Near whiteout...

About eight/ten inches.

hurly-burly breakfast.

Kitchen chaos.

By noon the sun was out.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Storm Report.

12-24-17 VERMONT: Two days ago we had a bunch of new snow, and yesterday it rained, freezing rain, that glazed the new snow with ice. I was afraid there would be a lot of damage to trees and shrubs from the accumulation of ice, but there was surprisingly little problem, and, amazingly, the power never went out.

Today the temps are in the upper twenties, I did some shoveling, we went into town for some supplies and are now waiting for the arrivals. Alison and Dan already got here, they came today instead of yesterday because of that storm. Val, Steve, Lucy and Lily are expected tonight, before the next storm starting after midnight.

Tomorrow is our party with the neighbors Katy, Andy and Sarah and Steve, Diana, Clara and Eliza all joining all of us.

New snow for Bally is shoulder deep.

The dogs get tired chasing each other and digging holes. I count on them to break a trail when I'm not using snow shoes, but their trails meander.

Everything obscured by the falling snow.

The dogs are exploring under the barn.

Judy said these snowy viburnum berry clusters were 'santa hats.'

Friday, December 22, 2017

Winter in Vermont.

12-22-17 VERMONT: We’ve been here a couple of days. It’s been cold, and we haven’t done much outside except for a little shoveling. The midday temps are in the teens, and at night it’s near zero. Today it started snowing very early, and there’s about five inches so far.

Before we left NJ, we had dinner at a new restaurant, Marcus B & P, in that gentrified corner of Newark where NJPAC, the universities, museums, WBGO and the FBI are located. Friend Alan came with us, we all loved it. It is another Marcus Samuelsson establishment, the menu and the plates are like nothing else anywhere, everything is unique. It’s an eating adventure, can't wait to go back.

Last night we went to Stone Soup restaurant in Strafford with Donna and Bruce and Shari and Dave. We have been eating there for twenty five years and hope they stick with it.

Tonight there’s a Solstice party at Diana and Steve’s, and later we go back to town to pick up GD Maggie arriving from Boston on the Dartmouth coach. She’s the first of several kids and grands who will be here for the holiday weekend.

Sun and shade. I framed it like this to get the chiaroscuro. The distant hills really were purple in this light.

Now it's overcast.

Early morning pinks before sunrise.

Today we have new snow and cold, in the teens.

The garage roof is about to dump. That red spot is a cluster of berries on the viburnum trying to sneak into the picture from the left.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Saturday Night in the City.

12-17-17 SHORT HILLS: Saturday we saw a new play that actually opens today, Farinelli and the King. Mark Rylance is the bipolar, severely depressed king of Spain, Philippe V, and he dominates the stage, as usual. Farinelli, the equivalent of a rock star in his time, was an Italian castrato and the toast of Europe. Queen Isabella induced Farinelli to come to Spain and sing for the King to try to cure his depression. Playbill says the play is ‘derived from Historical reality.’

The singing, several arias from Handel operas, are performed by Iestyn Davies and James Hall in alternating performances. They appear on stage when Farinelli, acted by Sam Chase, needs to sing. It’s as if Farinelli’s voice is separate from his person, which he hinted at one point. The musicians are on stage with the actors.

I liked it, especially the music. Judy did not.

We ate at Osteria al Doge, a few doors away from the theater, where they have decked the halls for Xmas. The food was OK.

Red bird is dramatic in the snow.

Osteria al Doge restaurant decked out for Xmas.

Seafood platters.

Belasco theater. Lots of candle chandeliers, sconces and footlights, before the performance.

Times Square teeming with crowds and bright as day.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Winter is Here.

12-14-17 SHORT HILLS: We are definitely in the cold corner of the year. The solstice is a week away. It’s windy and cold here with overnight temps well below freezing and barely in the thirties at noon. In VT the temps are hovering around zero, warming up to the single digits during the afternoon.

Last night we had another dusting, only an inch, but it coated all the trees as the sun was rising and looked beautiful for a few hours. This morning the sky was a luminous yellow/orange behind the snow dusted trees. By afternoon we had blue skies.

Over night snow, an inch, covered everything at dawn.

Evergreen trees are white...

Winter is Coming.

The sunrise breaking through the overcast sky.

Deep blue by afternoon.

Monday, December 11, 2017

First Big Snow.

12-11-17 SHORT HILLS: We’re back in NJ after an uneventful drive down. There is snow in New England, New York and NJ, and, I guess, across the South and Texas. It will be very cold in VT all week, and fairly cold here after it rains tomorrow.

The first snow of the season is always beautiful and exciting, but by March it will have worn out its welcome. I suppose everybody in the eastern US if posting snow pix, but here are a few more.

Snow in VT, you can see the small spot in the pond that hasn't frozen yet.

Snowy trees.

We got about six inches. The sun is breaking through.

In NJ there's a bit less snow that will probably disappear soon.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Weekend in VT.

12-9-17 VERMONT: We’ve been here a few days, and have been doing the final close-up chores. That includes putting away the last of the outside furniture, setting out the snow clearing tools, putting up reflectors around the driveway so the plowers stay in the driveway, changing the water filters and cluster-fly traps. We went to the Xmas tree farm and cut a tree, put it up, and Judy, mostly, decorated it. As a totally fresh tree it will last several weeks.

Judy was nervous about how thick the ice on the pond was, and whether the dogs were safe walking on the ice. They solved the question by walking all over the pond. There is still a one-foot hole in the ice where the springs flow into the pond at the south end.

It’s been in the low thirties during the day and in the twenties at night. It might snow tonight to add to the dusting on the ground.

Yesterday we had dinner with Shari and Dave, and tonight we see them again and Ann and Roger.

Tomorrow we go back to NJ before returning for Xmas here.

Frozen pond with dog tracks. The frozen grass is a perfect place to nap now that the leaves are all down and composted

Periphery of the sunrise. The sun rises here in June and July, but now rises far to the south, rightward in this picture.

Morning dog walker.

Judy's very pleased with her Canada Goose parka.

Bally is always on patrol.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Gone But Not Forgotten.

12-4-17 SHORT HILLS: We didn’t see ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, Saturday night at Town Hall in NYC. We saw Chris Thile emcee the show, which has replaced PHC and Garrison Keillor. Chris is a superb musician, but hasn’t really mastered the art of hosting the ensemble. All the signs for the faux sponsors, Catsup Advisory Board, Powdermilk Biscuits, etc., are gone from the set. Lake Wobegone has evaporated. It’s a very different show. I miss the old PHC.

A Haitian/French jazz singer, Cécile Mclorin Savant, was excellent, and Carmen Lynch did a nice turn at stand-up, the rock band Spoon was overly loud and the lyrics were incomprehensible. Rich Dworsky and the house band are amazingly versatile as always.

After the show, Sarah, Lynn, Bill,  Judy and I, went next door to BXL for moules, frites and Belgian beer.

Here, it’s been warm the last couple of days, and today brings rain. The feeder birds have been active. Vermont tomorrow.

Red-bellied woodpecker, male.

Downy woodpecker, male.

...and female. She hasn't got the red topper.

House finch, is a lot like the purple finch, it's easier to call them all 'red' finches.

Super moon appeared late last night after an overcast day sky cleared.

This morning's dense fog.

The program no longer refers to the show as 'A Prairie Home Companion', but here's host Chris Thile and this week's ensemble of singers and comedians.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Night at the Opera.

11-28-17 SHORT HILLS: The Pella Window team has been here for two days and all the new double-hung windows are in place. There is more outside finish work to be done tomorrow, and there are screens to be mounted. They guys have been very efficient dealing with removal of the old windows, new installations, lead remediation and good at cleaning up.

That's not Scrooge, that's Guiseppe Verdi.

We were in the city last night for a performance of Verdi’s Requiem. We had dinner at Café Fiorello as we often do, and when we came out of the restaurant there were huge crowds on Broadway, in Dante Park, between 9th Ave. and Broadway, and in Josie Robertson Plaza in the middle of Lincoln Center. It turned out that it was ‘The Winter’s Eve 2017’ celebration wherein the Xmas tree is lit and lots of street entertainment happens. Also, all the local restaurants have outdoor booths where they sell their signature dishes to the crowds. The biggest line was for cheeseburger sliders from P. J. Clarke’s for a buck each. I have performer pix below.

The Requiem was conducted by James Levine, now Musical Director Emeritus, and the soloists were from Latvia, Belarus, Bulgaria and Italy. I loved it. Judy and the NYT, not so much. It’s about an hour and a half long, so it’s an early trip home form the opera. There is a lot of dramatic music, and Hans von Bülow, the conductor and composer, disparaged the piece as an ‘opera in church clothes’. I’m not sure what the point of the criticism was.

Be there next year for a fun fete, and you don’t have to go to the opera.

Stilt walker strutting her stuff in Josie Robertson Plaza. She was part of the Alice Farley Dance Theater marching band.

Alicia Svigals' Klezmer Fiddle Express pumped it out under the freshly-lit Xmas tree.

Ascap Holiday Chorus singing on Broadway next to Café Fiorello.

The tree in Dante Park, a triangular sliver of space between Broadway and 9th Ave, Lincoln Center in the background.

The Metropolitan Opera House before the show.

Jamie Levine in silhouette on the poster for Verdi's Requiem.

Waiting to face the music.

The Opera Chorus, soloists and Chorus Master taking bows after all the octaves.