Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cicada Symphony

We are experiencing all kinds of weird things here in New Jersey. Cicadas are something I categorize with humid, tropical climates. We’ve had the cicada symphony going on now for several weeks. The fireflies have left us and the cicadas have taken root in our treetops. They are so noisy it’s even hard to hear the TV if we have the windows open, which we have tonight. Finally, after record breaking temps for the whole week, we now have a break. Last night after our torrential downpour of rain, complete with a power outage for 4 hours due to a downed line, the cicadas were silent. After that rain I thought they had all drowned. But tonight they are all alive and singing. It’s a strange symphony of sound. From treetop to treetop they seem to be sending signals back and forth to each other. What a noise they all make together! It’s very comforting, but somewhat alien to us. It sounds like we are living in the tropics! They sing in the morning too if it’s hot, but they do their best singing at night. Like now. Awesome.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Trip to Lady Liberty

I know I"ve been bad about adding to the blog over the past week. That’s mostly because my Mom is visiting from upstate New York this week. We like to get her down here about every 5 weeks or so to visit. This time we decided to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island while she was here. We know that Rick’s parents want to go when they come in October, so we really needed to do a “trial run” to get the kinks out. Mom was excited about going and didn’t mind being a guinea pig of sorts.

We left the house pretty early [at least early for us] and it only took us about an hour to reach our destination, Liberty State Park, on the New Jersey side. From here we’d catch the ferry out to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We had advance tickets because we were going to the Swiss Day Celebraton at Ellis Island, so included in our ferry tickets were passes to the pedestal at the Statue of Liberty. Not everyone gets to go up in the pedestal and stand on the observation deck. You must have a pass that is only available in advance. We just lucked out!

We had a short wait for the next ferry since they run every 45 minutes and one had just left about ten minutes before we arrived. We went through security [just like at the airport] and stood in line. It was already hot at 9:30 a.m. and the sun was beating down on us. At least my Mom thought to bring a hat for her head, and many people had brought umbrellas to keep them shaded. We knew in advance it was going to be in the high 90s, but weren’t really thinking ahead as to what that meant. Sunscreen would have been nice to have as well. 
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

First stop was Ellis Island as it made the most sense in the way that the ferries ran. Plus our pedestal passes for Liberty where not valid until 12:45. Here is the museum building on our approach. You can see the Swiss flag and all the white tents set up for the festivites.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I had not realized that when Ellis Island was closed as an immigration station in 1954, that the buildings were just left to deteriorate into sad ghosts of what they had once been to so many people. The new immigration museum was opened in 1990 after being completely restored. The effect is certainly stunning, and very interesting. Many interesting exhibits show the steps involved for the immigrants the moment they stepped off the boats, such as the different exams they had to pass, etc. Wonderful photos help tell the stories. Some photos of people are blown up to huge proportions and the images are haunting. Eerie. Each of them are wearing their native garb. We didn’t go into all the exhibits, there just wasn’t time. The brochure states you should allow 3 hours to tour the museum, and I think I agree. The exhibit that showed the building before restoration is extremely interesting…and haunting. What a lot of work!

We had lunch at the Swiss event, brats and german-style potato salad, but it was too hot outside to do much else. Most of the entertainment would come later in the day. So, after lunch we set off for Lady Liberty. Here she is on our approach.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And another shot as we rounded the corner to dock at Liberty Island with the skyline of Manhattan in back of her. What a lovely day!
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We wasted no time in going to the pedestal since our passes were now valid. The Statue of Liberty was closed to the public between 2001 after the 9/11 attacks and reopened in 2004 with security upgrades. We had to go through yet another security search. This time with a machine I had never seen before but similar to a metal detector. You had to stand there as little puffs of air hit your body from every direction. They said is was a kind of “bomb sniffer” looking for residue of explosive materials on the body. Okay, whatever. We waited again for the next slot to enter the museum in the pedestal’s lower level. While we waited my Mom was pretty entertained just watching the strange National Forest Service guide sitting there as he kept nodding off for a bit of sleepy-time. He sort of came back to life to give his little speech once we were finally inside but I think he would have been happier just sleeping.

Inside the lower pedestal is the original torch that was replaced by the gold one that Liberty now holds. The upper floor houses a museum of the making of Liberty which is very interesting. We spent only a short amount of time here since we still had the observation deck to see and we wanted to be back at the ferry dock in time for 2:15 ferry. Another short wait to board the elevator that would take us up ten floors to the observation deck. Inside the building you can look up through the glass ceiling to see the inner structure of the statue and the spiral staircase people used to climb up! No thank you! Of course, visits to her crown are no longer possible, and the torch has been off-limits since 1916. Here is the inside of the great lady.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The view is really nice from the observation deck and we walked the whole way around it. It is very narrow and only two people can pass…barely. You must walk down about six flights of stairs to get back down to ground level. We were all pretty pooped out from the heat and the constant on-the-go-day, so we were glad to board the ferry [we timed it just right] and get back to our car. Too bad the return trip took us 2 hours instead of the hour that it should have taken due to construction, traffic, and an accident [someone else—not us!]. We finally arrived home hot and tired of being stuck in traffic at 5:00 p.m.

A very worthwhile trip despite the long ride home! And to think we live that close to sights like that! Two more photos of the Lady and I’ll leave you to it.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Coloring outside the Lines

I guess I’m just one of those people that as a child I always colored inside the lines of my coloring book. I tried very hard not to let my crayon make any kind of mark beyond the lines. This could be more telling about my personality than I had realized before. As a child I pretty much obeyed rules that were set down by my elders and wasn’t easily swayed by the cliques in school that always seemed to be pushing the limits. Pretty boring kid, huh? I am not saying I was a saint, mind you, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten an “A” in cathechism class with a “B” in conduct! Probably from talking too much.

I think many people that grew up in New Jersey had blank sheets of paper for coloring on instead of a coloring book with carefully drawn lines. Why, you ask? Because they like to drive over the lines clearly painted to designate my side of the road vs their side of the road. More often than not, they’ll have their wheels either right smack in the middle, or just over the line into my side. The first few times this happened I would grumble “stay on your side!” and continue to complain to Rick about their driving habits. He looked at me and asked me if I had never colored outside the lines. You know, he said, some people just color differently. Hence, my title. It got me to thinking that it would make a great personality/temperament test to sit people down with a coloring book and crayons and see what happens.

I would not think about taking up more than my fair share of the road. Obviously this does not enter into their realm of thought. But what happens when two people “coloring outside the lines” meet in the middle because neither one can keep to their own side? Some drivers hog the road more than others and you never know who you’re going to meet coming around a corner on narrow, twisty roads. Maybe I’m thinking a little deep here this morning, but this could apply to more than just driving.

So far, so good. I’ve learned to stay well onto my side just in case. Let them color as they choose as long as no one gets hurt. Who am I to judge? Maybe I’ll learn to color outside the lines too. Hmm…maybe not. Well, maybe just a little.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Talk to Me

I had another conversation with Rick at the dry cleaners yesterday. No, not Rick as in husband Rick; Rick. You know, he owns the dry cleaners. What? You don’t know anything about Dry-Cleaner-Owner-Rick? Sure you do, I’m certain I mentioned him [maybe just in passing]. I guess I’ve been remiss in telling that story and the other stories along the same lines.  I guess I always meant to, but just have not sat down to do it. Some days I get the urge to write and others I just don’t. The words don’t come. Today after having another one of those kinds of days when people just strike up conversations, I think it needs to be said. I must have a sign on me that reads “Talk to Me.” What is it about myself that encourages people, strangers mostly, to talk to me? I don’t think I look all that friendly. Is it something about my body language? Am I wearing a goofy smile I don’t know about? I honestly don’t know. But talk to me they do. We’ll start with episodes about a month ago that ties in with the one with Rick today that reminded me I need to write about this.

There are two dry cleaners within a close distance of the house. The first time we needed dry cleaning done I had to choose between the two. Each is located at a strip mall next to a grocery store. Both groceries are different, and maybe one is closer than the other. It’s pretty much a toss-up. One looks all industrial and like a typical “Chinese laundry” and the other looks less hectic. I chose the smaller, less hectic one because I was going that direction. On dropping off the clothes, the guy behind the counter says he’s doing a survey because he’s done some advertising lately [probably trying to keep up with the other cleaners who are always busy] and wants to know why I chose to come to his. I hate admitting I’m new to the area, but it’s the truth, so I tell him the truth. I said, I’m new to the area and I had my choice between shopping at Shop Rite or the A&P today. The A&P won, so here I am. He then asks where I came from. When I told him we had moved from Colorado, the next thing I know he’s asking me for advice about which ski town they should take their winter vacation in. Vail or Aspen? We have a long discussion about this [I say Aspen is the place] and he recommends an Italian restaurant that he likes. He tells me they had his son’s communion celebration there. He welcomes me to the community.

I was just browsing the magazine rack in our local Eckard drug store. A man was on his knees stocking magazines. He asked if he was in my way. I said, no really, you’re fine. He said, actually I’m not fine at all. My knees are killin’ me. I really need a knee replacement but I’m taking this medication for my heart, so my doc says no go on an operation. Too risky. I murmur my regrets and say something about being sorry. He goes on to tell me more. About how he needs to have these injections [some new technology that is less invasive than surgery but better than cortisone shots] but for one reason or another [you see, I am not that good a listener!] he can’t have the injections just yet, he has to wait. In the meantime he’s just miserable and he can’t exercise like he used. to. He used to do a mile a day, jogging. Not now. He was losing weight before his knee started up. He was really proud of himself and the doctor even commented on his loss. All through this I am just nodding and interjecting, gosh, how awful or some such inane chatter. I don’t think he cares what I say, he just wants someone to talk to. After about ten minutes or so, he looks up from his task of changing out the magazines and says, I’m really sorry for keeping you like this and telling you all my troubles. Thanks for listening to me. I say, no problem at all, glad to help.

Not two days after this Rick [as in husband, not the dry cleaner owner]  and I are in the grocery on a weekend doing our shopping. An elderly woman looking rather confused came up to me and asked if I knew where the pastina was? I must have looked at her a bit strangely, as she said, you know, it’s the tiny pasta, do you know where it is? I’m over 80 and I hate shopping these days. I can’t seem to find anything. I tell her she doesn’t look her age. She giggles like a girl, and goes on to tell me she’s been married for 60 years and her husband is not doing very well. She needs the smallest pasta for him because it’s the only thing he can eat anymore. It’s a trial she tells me, looking out for him. He’s not what he once was and can’t remember much. I don’t remember much either unless I write it down, and most times I can’t remember to write it down. She shakes her head sadly. Rick by now has come looking for me to see what it taking me so long. I tell her I think it’s in the next aisle over. When I leave her she is still looking in the same spot. So, I go over to the pasta aisle, find her pastina for her and take it to her. Is this the right thing? I ask her. She says YES! this is what I was looking for, thank you so much!

Yesterday I dropped off the dry cleaning and Rick was at the counter. This is only the second time I’ve seen him. He asked where my accent was from. Accent, me? Really? I don’t have an accent I think to myself, or is it the abscence of a New Jersey accent that tips him off? The minute I say I’m not from around here, he’s ahead of me and says, You’re my Colorado customer, I remember now! Which town did you tell me, I can’t seem to remember. Was Aspen or Vail the better place to go? I need to write it down so I don’t forget. We straighten out his vacation and he asks me how I’m liking it here in NJ. He asks if I’m ready for our heat wave coming this weekend. I say no, and he says oh, it probably doesn’t get that hot back in Colorado, huh? I straighten him out on that one too and our conversation reverts to snow removal on the streets. We compare NJ to Colorado. Ten minutes of chit-chat later and I’m on my way.

I’m not complaining. I don’t mind taking the extra time to chat with people. And if I can help them in some small way, either by listening or lending a helping hand, all the better. I also learn by listening and exchanging information. But I’d still like to know if this happens to everybody or is it just me?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Up a Tree without Mom: The Bears Visit Again

Yes, again. She came back! Only this time she didn’t come into our yard. I was out scooping the yard with most of the dogs. I heard a noise in the woods and looked up, and about that time Hailey heard it too. What I saw was a bear on the other side of the fence, about 30 feet away. Hailey ran over to the fence, barking. No, I told her, come here Hailey, come on, quick! Alex came over and started for the fence and somehow I managed to get him to listen to me too. I made a game out of running back to the house and put them all inside. I yelled for Rick—Rick! the bear is out there! We walked back over to the part of the fence where I had seen it but neither one of could see it. Okay, bear left. I went back to scooping and Rick went back inside. I stared into the woods. I swear that black over there has got to be a bear. I looked closer. Yup, definately a bear sitting there looking at me, only a bit further away this time. I go back inside to get Rick again and my trusty camera.

We watched for a few minutes. I think it’s not the momma bear since I don’t see any cubs around. Just a large black bear at the foot of a tree. The bear seems to very interested in the tree and keeps looking up. I move a little closer [after all the fence is between us and with no cubs I doubt it will bother me] to get a better shot. The bear looks at me and turns around and stands up to full height with its paws raking at the tree. Rick says, that’s a big bear! At the same time the bear is making rather ominous noises, like huffing in short breaths and little groaning noises. Hmm…this doesn’t sound good.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We retreat backwards and watch. Rick says, I wonder why it seems so interested in that tree? We look up. Rick thinks he sees a blackish blob in the tree but can’t tell what it is. I look further up the tree and see a bear cub just dangling in the notch of the tree! Yup, Rick’s blackish blob is a cub too! They look just like little monkeys hanging there.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
OH NO! We’ve been messing with momma and the babies, not just some bear! Yikes! I think it’s time to head back inside and leave them alone. They look stuck up there to me, sure hope they can get down. The neighbors start out for a walk with their dogs and Rick goes up the drive to warn them. They aren’t too bothered and continue their walk but they can see the cubs in the tree from the road. Time passes. I keep walking out the front door and looking over at the tree to see if they are still there; they are. At this point I am wondering if we are going to have to call 911 and have a ladder truck come out to rescue the babies. Rick thinks I’m nuts. Lynne, they’re bears for god’s sake, not cats. They’ll get down when momma thinks it’s safe. Okay, sure hope so because I want to go for a swim.

So, I go out and take the solar blanket off the pool and do my skimming [not much of interest in my net today]. Just before changing into my suit I go out to check again and Rick comes with me. We don’t see the cubs in the tree anymore, so we start walking to the edge of the woods. OOPS, one of the cubs is just coming down and nearly at the bottom of the tree. We can’t see momma but we know she’s got to be there. We start walking backwards very s-l-o-w-l-y and go back inside. We didn’t have long to wait until she came out of the woods with all three cubs. Here she is forming her very own 4th of July Parade down our driveway with our neighbor’s flag in the background.

Happy 4th! Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

About

Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved back to my 'home' state and I am living in NoCo (Northern Colorado).This blog will be about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2018 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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