Thursday, September 09, 2010

Winding down and gearing up (and quite possibly long-winded)

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Has it really been one whole week since I last blogged? It doesn’t seem that long. I guess I have some catching up to do. It’s going to be a long one, so please bear with me as I wade through the goings-on of the past week +.

We had a good Labor Day weekend and the weather was glorious. We didn’t do much of anything, just some yard work such as emptying the deck flower boxes of their past-their-prime petunias, one of the signs of a winding down of summer.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The petunias may have been done with in the flower boxes but they managed to seat themselves in various places, such as the potted palm that has been spending the summer outside

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

and also poolside.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The weather has taken a turn since my last post. Nights are cooler and every day we have less sunlight. The sun has a hard time getting above the trees for the better part of the day. The pool deck is covered with bits and pieces of acorns that continually drop from the big oak tree at the far corner, making loud thonks! whenever they hit. Fall is in the air.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Earl completely missed us and all we got was a bit of wind on Saturday. Since he passed by our weather has been just beautiful: blue skies and cool days. Perfect for throwing the windows wide open and letting the breeze blow through the house. I have to admit though that we needed to close up the house on Sunday night because it was too darned cold! 47 degrees F overnight!

The heat wave of last week did allow the pool to recover slightly in temperature (74 F) and we went for what we believe was the last swim on Friday night. With the past few nights dipping down into the 50’s and high 40’s, the temperature has tanked back down to 70 F again. I don’t think it’s going to recover this time.

We’ve had this visitor several times in the front yard. Eating acorns I’m thinking since it is always in the same spot: under the oak tree.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The only thing really left blooming in my yard is the overgrown morning glory vine that is threatening to take over the deck and Rick’s weather station. It got a late start this year.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Another sad thing on the winding down side of things is that we had to euthanize our old kitty, Vincent van “Goatee” last week. He was our little “Frenchman” kitty that came with us when we moved back from France. He was 18 1/2 years old and failing in health. It was hard to make the decision to let him go but when friend Carolyn visited and she sat down and talked to him, the end result was that she agreed it was time. Over the past year we’ve known that he probably had cancer from the results of his blood test and he had to live in an x-large doggie airline crate because of his lack of bathroom habits. He stopped taking care of his fur and it became matted, fell out and never regrew. We nursed him along but his quality of life confined to a crate was poor.

Over the past month or so he started looking very gaunt and was really nothing but skin and bones. With our three week vacation looming, we knew we could not leave him with a cat sitter coming in once a day, and feared that he would pass while we were gone. Here he is with eBay in better days, and getting a treat on Christmas three years ago. It’s hard to remember that he ever looked that good; he’d been failing for so long. Sleep well, sweet Vinnie.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And the gearing up, you ask? Well, I was gifted this gorgeous fig tree by a neighbor.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

It came complete with instructions for its care.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And figs!!!!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Some of which we’ve already harvested and eaten!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And the biggest “gearing up” is of course for our westward trek to our cabin back in Colorado. Next week this time we’ll be somewhere in Indiana! Lists are being made. Piles of things to take are starting to accumulate in the spare bedroom.  Recipes are being poured over and rated (or not) as cabin meal candidates. The Suburban got washed and awaits its interior cleaning this weekend and the donning of its roof rack and storage pod. Soon, I tell the dogs. Soon you’ll be running free over the high prairie—and Bella—you’ll be swimming in the beaver pond. And your Dad and I will be sitting on the screened-in porch after dinner listening to the coyotes sing.

Very soon.

Thanks for slogging through this week with me!

Friday, August 27, 2010

BBQing with bears and other things on a Friday

Last night just as we were preparing dinner, Hailey started barking and looking out the sliding screen door in the sun room. We looked out and didn’t see anything and told her to be quiet. A few minutes later she was barking again. This time I stepped outside on the deck to take a look. Sure enough, I saw a big black object down by the back fence in the woods. I went to get the binoculars to take a better look and when I got back the object had moved. Yes, for sure: a bear. A big one. It was on the inside of the fence, in our yard and seemed very intent on eating or digging something up. It must have heard us talking, but didn’t even raise its head.

Rick pulled out the grill and we continued with our dinner plans, all the while having a bear in our woodsy yard munching away on his dinner. Life here is so weird sometimes and what is even stranger is that it doesn’t seem all that strange to us to have it include bears at close range.

Today would have been my mom’s 84th birthday. Happy Birthday Mom wherever you are. We still miss you like crazy. It hardly seems possible you’ve been gone from us for three years now.

Bella, sweet Bella, turned two years old yesterday. She got toys and bones. She was like a little kid going from one to the other.

My friend Carolyn arrives later today to spend the weekend with us. Included in our plans are the Renaissance Faire tomorrow (so I am airing out my wench costume), canoeing on Green Turtle Pond, attending our neighborhood block party for a while on Sunday and hopefully taking a dip in the pool since it’s supposed to be hot again. A full and fun weekend!

We’ve had four days of rain in a row this week with yesterday finally clearing up and being lovely and should continue to be so through most of next week. It’s supposed to be back in the mid 80’s again. The difference is that instead of getting in to the high 60’s at night, it now dips down to the 50’s. The pool does not like 50 degree nights. No sireee. It didn’t like all that lovely rain either. So, it remains to be seen if we are brave enough (and hot enough) to get into 72 degree water; a full ten degrees off from where it was.

I’m starting to think about what we need to take with us to the cabin and gathering stuff up and putting it in the spare bedroom. Trying to decide what our meal will be. We’re looking forward to it! If you want to read the cabin blog entries from past years, I’ve now created a category called “Cabin” over on the right hand side of the blog. Clicking on that link will bring them all up. Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trash, bears and alarms

Tuesdays are trash days around here. Since we’ve moved here we’ve had a trash carrier that came at or after 7:00 a.m. Starting this year they switched carriers and our trash pick-up is now at 6:00 a.m. instead of 7:00 a.m. For us this is a huge difference since we are not early morning risers. We are doing good to shush the dogs when they start stirring at 5:30 to appease them until we really want to get up at 6:30.

So, that being said we have started to put our trash out the night before because we are
a) still asleep when they pick the trash up
b) too lazy get up before they come

So be it.

All has been well until two weeks ago when we looked out the window after the trash had been picked up to see that there was trash strewn all over the street. Crap. Bear(s). We picked up what we could and thought that was the extent of it. My neighbor Kim informed me that there was still trash in their woods across from our driveway. Sure enough, when I went over there with gloved hands, our trash was everywhere.

What I picked up might just prompt all of you out there reading this to think about just what you discard in your trash. You toss it away in the hopes that no one ever sees it, but let me tell you when you pick it up after it being strewn all over the neighbors’ woods, you just might want to give it a second thought. Really, How embarrassing! Gross. The bear obviously took all the good stuff and left the rest.

But, once again, I regress.

Tonight when Rick got home I had collected all the household trash, which he so sweetly took out as his weekly household chore. Not more than one hour after he did so, I happened to look out to see our trash cans toppled over and trash bags out in the street. I said “Rick, crap. Looks like the bear got into our trash already.” He went out and started up the driveway to pick it up. I heard him saying “shoo” (kind of of like Meryl Streep in Out of Africa) rather loudly and “leave that alone!”

Gosh. I didn’t see anything.

Turns out, the bear was right there and he didn’t see it until he got up closer to the trash. He was clapping his hands and yelling, saying things like “shoo” and I was panicked. Heck ... he was pretty close to a bear eating garbage and he was afraid for me while we were washing the car? I think this posed a more dangerous position, given that this bear (according to Rick) was about 300+ pounds and not a homeless cub. Yikes.

The bear took off into the woods and we gathered up the trash bags, loaded them back into the trash cans and carried them back down the long driveway and into the garage.

Guess the alarm will be set early tomorrow.

Sigh. Life with bears in the wilds of New Jersey.

(Not trading this rural-bear-dense-life! even if it means a little less sleep!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An unreal experience

Let me ask all of you a question. How many of you have had the experience of washing your car while a bear looks on?

On Sunday morning Rick decided to give Mia a much needed bath so he pulled her around in front of the house where we are able to access the hose from the back yard. The turkey had been around, so I had scattered a few handfuls of seed and cracked corn.

We were almost done when I heard a sharp, loud snap of wood. I looked up to see a bear approaching through the trees. I whispered quietly to Rick “there’s a bear coming!” When it broke through the trees I could see that it was the same yearling cub from Friday. It seemed to walk on tippy-toes over to where I had scattered the handfuls of food, watching us out of the corner of its eye. So, there we were. Rick and I froze for a few seconds wondering what to do next since the bear was only a mere 15 feet away from us with the car in-between us. We could not believe it.  It didn’t seem to care about us being there at all! I was too stunned to even try to go back in the house to get the camera, but oh what a photo it would have made.

When I opened the car door to do the inside of the window the bear spooked and ran off into the trees but within two seconds was right back again. Rick didn’t want to go around the side of the car that the bear was on which was of course the side we still needed to finish up. I stepped up to the front side of the car (but not in front of it) to get the hood, keeping an eye on the small bruin the whole time.

I wasn’t afraid; it’s weird. Here I was ten feet from a bear and I was not in a panic. I don’t know how to describe it but a mutual unspoken trust seemed to hang between us. I won’t bother you if you don’t bother me. I moved slowly. A few times when Rick moved the bear took a few steps back eyeing him warily, but that was about it.

This went on for a good ten minutes and it was really getting ridiculous. I mean, here we were calming buffing the car next to a bear! Who would believe us? Never in a million years did I ever think a bear would knowingly get that close to us. Just as Rick was going to get in the car and back it up so we could finish the other side, Bella saw the bear from the computer room window and started barking. That did the trick. The bear took off and didn’t come back.

I think it’s a female. So she’s going to have a french name for bold and daring: Hardi (pronounced ar-di).

I took these photos of Mia today in approximately the same position that she was in while we washed her. Just use your imagination.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Here I stood right next to the car in the same position that I was in while the bear was there.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And here I am including a photo taken of the bear on Friday. You can see the same tree stump by the bear.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

It’s not something either Rick or I are going to forget very soon! I guess I am going to have to quit feeding my turkey.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Summer thoughts, katydids and a yearling cub

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Whew. Summer is packing a punch this year. Even though I’ve been enjoying this weather from a pool perspective, it’s getting a bit old. Lots of sun and no rain. It’s starting to feel like Colorado around here, and that is not necessarily a good thing since no one here can water their lawns because most of us are on wells in the country. Even people in larger towns do not have the in-ground sprinkler systems that are absolutely necessary there. Our lawn is crisping up and there isn’t much we can do about it. We water our new landscaping in the front only as needed. Where is the rain? I am tired of seeing the relentless sun every day!

The season is starting its decline though. The sun’s angle is lower week by week. Areas of the pool that used to stay in the sun until late afternoon are now shaded. Soon that will lead to a cooler pool temperature than the steady 82 degrees that it’s been maintaining for a over a month now.

At least one person is benefitting from all these brown, crispy lawns. A man who owns a company spraying lawns green with dye is making lots of money. Can you imagine? What does that say about us culturally? We’re so into our green perfect lawns that we would dye them green and potentially harm the environment? He states that his dye is safe for children and pets but I have to wonder. Unless he’s using food coloring! Will the grass need its roots touched up as well?

The other morning I was in the computer room when I heard Bella bark. I thought she wanted to go out, but when I got to the sun room she was looking up at the screen door. Clinging to the inside of the screen was a large green bug. mom, there’s an intruder in the house and i don’t know what it is! Me either, Bella. Never seen one like this before. When I tried to capture it to take it outside it emitted a noise not unlike a cicada, only it wasn’t a cicada. This got everyone’s attention, cats and dog alike. what is that thing?  I took this video so I could try and identify it later on.

Katydid from Rick & Lynne Robinson on Vimeo.

Bella was very intrigued by it. I think it was injured to begin with because it could not fly away.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The next morning there was another one clinging to the outside basement wall of the house. I took photos and headed off to Google it. I typed in “green bug that looks like a grasshopper but is not” and came up with a solution. Meet Mr./Mrs. Katydid.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We’ve long thought the the cicadas were getting back up from something else like crickets, and here is the proof. But why haven’t we ever seen one before?

The turkeys come around every day and I usually give in and feed them some sunflower seeds and cracked corn. I have one that comes all by itself early in the morning and it just stands there looking at the house, willing the front door to open and for me to come and throw a few handfuls of food out. The other day around midday the big turkey family came (three hens and assorted aged babies) and I went out to feed them. The dumb clucks left instead of hanging around to eat the food and I figured the squirrels, birds and chipmunks would make short order of it. When I looked out an hour later this is what I saw instead.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

oops. I’ve done this countless times before without bear visits. Trust me, this was not intentional! Not the same little cub as in the previous post; this one is probably a yearling.

what do you mean this isn’t my food bowl?
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

who is that crazy lady hanging out the window up there talking to me?
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

i think i heard something
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Right after I took this photo the cub ran off into the shelter of the woods and halfway up a tree. I don’t know what it heard that spooked it, but it was afraid of something. A few minutes later it decided it was safe and back it came.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I’ve been keeping my eye on these grapes growing by the side of our street. Concord grapes. They are tasty and sweet but have a lot of pits! If we don’t get some rain they will just turn into raisins on the vine! I hope not as I plan to snatch them the minute they get ripe.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We had a full weekend with a picnic to Bear Mountain, dog walks, farmer’s market and pool time. On Saturday night we did something we’ve talked about doing for a long time. We “camped out” in the cabana for a while. After our nighttime swim we brought out the air mattress and pillows and just lay there listening to the cicadas (and katydids!). We both fell asleep and sometime later I felt Rick shaking me awake. Time to go back inside before the dogs miss us.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
(taken this way on purpose! I happen to like warped nighttime photos.)

Sorry for the rambling post about a mishmash of things. I just sat down and started typing and this is what came out!

I have more to share this week with photos of our drive to Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain on Saturday and the surprise we got on Sunday morning while washing Mia, so stay tuned!


Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved once again, this time to North Carolina. Here I write about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2023 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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