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

Monday, July 03, 2006

Local Color

Our friend Carolyn came to visit over the past weekend. We were hoping she could stay a little longer, but alas, she had to return to work today. We thought her visit provided the perfect opportunity to visit some of the local attractions we’ve been meaning to go and see. On Saturday we visited Ringwood Manor located in Ringwood State Park. It is a state historic site as well as a national historic landmark. The manor house was first built in 1807, and then added on to after 1850 until 1910, resulting in a mix of styles. The family left the manor house to the state complete with furnishings. The history behind it and the surrounding area is fascinating, but as a manor house it’s a bit depressing. I got strange feelings from walking through it. I am not saying I’m psychic or anything, but once in a while I do experience “vibes” from certain places. This was one such place. The dining room was the only room I got a good, warm feeling from. What I didn’t realize until I came home and did some searching on the web, was that it is on the register of “haunted” New Jersey places! Hey, maybe I am psychic after all! I had no idea. The tour guide never mentioned it. Here is a link to the Ringwood Manor web site in case you’d like to know more. Or this link which will take you to a story about the ghosts.

The next day, Sunday, we visited the Botanical Gardens in Ringwood. Again, this is an estate complete with manor house but we didn’t tour the house this time. The grounds are extensive and we started the self-guided trail around the outside edge. Here the path wound through the woods and by several bogs filled with frogs. They made an odd noise like a guitar string being plucked in different keys. Lots of different varieties of dragonflies whirred past our heads. The best feature of these “outer limits” were the iris [at least at this time of the year] and they came in many different colors. Here is just one example.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I think you could wander around forever and even get lost in that part of the gardens! We finally made our way to the perennial garden which was now in bloom. We had hoped for more labels on plants and trees so we could identify them, but these are pretty lacking throughout. There was occasionally a tag on a tree but never on the ones we found most interesting. I think you need to visit the gardens at least once a month to see all the different gardens blooming. There are Crab Apple Alley, Lilac Garden, Peony Garden, Azalea Garden, and Magnolia Walk, all done blooming now. The tiered gardens closest to the manor house [Skylands] are my favorite. Lots of water features such as splashing fountains, channels of water filled with koi and lily pads, and many kinds of interesting trees. It’s a lovely place all in all, but again we would have liked more identification on things. Such as this tree that just had us fascinated, mostly due to its trunk structure.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
We’ll be going back again, and next month hope to join in on the monthy Sunday tour of Skylands. Here is a link to the site for the Botanical Gardens at Skylands. I’ll leave you with yet another photo, this one taken in the perennial garden. Not sure what it is!
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Thursday, June 29, 2006

After the Rain

Not long after my morning post of yesterday, the rain stopped. It didn’t just taper off, it was more like somebody turned off the faucet. The silence was almost deafening after the constant drumming sound we had become used to. The sun played hide-and-seek with the clouds for awhile, and the dogs and I went outside to walk around the yard and woods. Come with me and see what we found!

The bee balm is now in bloom
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

An Indian Pipe Plant
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

A vine making its way up a tree
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Some tree fungus
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

A slug
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

A turtle
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And a very strange mushroom. We’re going to have to look this one up! It only lasted a few hours so I’m glad I found it when I did.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Enough Already!

I just watched our weather station record our rainfall since midnight to be 2.00 inches! As I type it’s only 7:50 a.m. Wow. The rain is coming down in a solid sheet. I heard it before I got up and thought that it might be the wind in the trees because the noise was so constant. Nope; it was rain. I asked for this, I wanted it to rain. I’m a rainy day lover, which of course we had about once or twice per year back in Colorado. But I’m starting to think, okay, enough is enough already! We had a few patches yesterday when it wasn’t raining and even managed to go for a swim last night. We noticed that we’re going to have to let water out of the pool because the water level is too high for the automatic skimmers to work properly. Good grief!

Seems like a good day to get my painting project started, or read a good book. I’ll just say my Enya mantra throughout the day and then I’ll feel better about it: let the rain fall down / everywhere around you / give into it now / let the day surround you.

To brighten the day, here is a photo of my day lilies in full bloom poolside that I took yesterday. Note the profusion of ferns!! Oh, and by the way, we’re up to 2.13 inches [of rain] at 8:27 a.m.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Monday, June 26, 2006

Our Private Sauna

Hey, I bet you guys didn’t know that our house came complete with our own private sauna, did you? You know by now that we have a pool, but this is something new. All we have to do is step out onto our deck and VOILA! instant sauna! For those of you who are still wondering what the heck we are talking about, picture this. It’s raining. The temperature is 69.3. The humidity is 98%. The dew point is 68.7. Need we say more? I don’t need to mention here that we have the air conditioning on. Now I know the true meaning of the “conditioning” of that particular phrase. Air conditioning helps when trying to breathe liquid air. Good night! [My skin is lovin’this!]

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Slice of Life

I haven’t written much about “Life in New Jersey.” I’m always meaning to, I just haven’t gotten around to it. Today as I went about my normal every-day routine, I was reminded once again about some of the things that I love about living here. Take the grocery for instance. It’s a grocery not much different than King Soopers back “home.” At least at first glance, that is. Grab a cart for yourself and let me show you the highlights!

First of all, the entrance routes you right straight past the bakery where all kinds of baked goodies reach out to grab you. Sometimes these items just jump up into the air and literally throw themselves into my cart as I try to hurry past them. I just can’t bring myself to put them back after all the effort they’ve made to escape from the boring confines of their display [grin]. For me it’s particularly hard because there are all kinds of Italian-style cookies and confections that I had growing up as a child in New York, that I haven’t seen in years and years and had totally forgotten about. It’s a bit like pushing a cart down Memory Lane. I have to steel myself against it all sometimes, especially as I go by the Kaiser roll section, the crumb buns [like smallish crumb coffee cakes with a layer of crumb topping on them that takes up about 2 inches of their 3 inch height], or if they have just put out fresh Black & Whites. What? Don’t know what Black & Whites are? They call them cookies but they are really more like small iced cakes that have one half iced with white icing and the other half with chocolate icing. Yummmeeee! Unlike cookies because the consistency is like cake batter, but they are only about 3/4 of an inch thick and quite large, about 5 inches in diameter. Here is one before I gobbled it up:
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
Enough about bakery items!

This grocery store plays oldies over the sound system, mostly hits from the 60s and some 70s. It’s not uncommon to find folks singing along as they push their carts up and down the aisles. I’ve even caught myself singing right along with them! Today there was an oldie from Tommy James and the Shondells that reminded me of my first “real” boyfriend. The other day I heard a song I don’t think I’ve heard in decades: Itchycoo Park. Anybody remember that one?? Maybe I’m showing my age here!

In the produce section,there are smooth, elongated globes of little baby eggplants [both white and purple], large bundles of asparagus [again two colors: white and the usual green], and baby artichokes. Today they had a huge display of portabello mushrooms and I couldn’t resist buying one. The best thing is buying basil. Instead of already cut basil in a plastic case at an exhorbitant cost, here you can buy a gorgeous basil plant, roots and all, in a clear plastic open-ended sack for around $2.99. Just put it in your window and add water to the roots when they get dry and it will last a couple of weeks!

Veal is plentiful here and there is always a good selection of breasts, shanks, chops, and scallopine. Another thing that you won’t find back in King Soopers, is meatloaf mix [or it can be used for meatballs]. This is a package that consists of three kinds of ground meat: beef, pork & veal, all about 1 pound each, and trust me, it makes great meatballs and meatloaf! The fish counter has fish I have never seen before, such as blue fish. Most everything in there is fresh and not frozen, and just about any kind of fish you might imagine.  One of my favorite things to buy is a fresh filet of sole stuffed with shrimp. There are clams galore, but I don’t know what to do with them yet. That needs some exploring.

Then there is what I call the “Italian aisle” because it’s jammed full of all shapes and varieties of pasta, all kinds of sauces to go with it [like clam sauce, pink vodka sauce just to name a couple that are unusual to me] and all kinds of imported Italian jarred delicacies such as 15 different kinds of bruschetta toppings, fire-roasted peppers, cherry peppers stuffed with mozzarella and proscuitto [these are HOT!], and so many other things I can’t list them all here.

Finally we come to the check-out. Here if someone forgot their little grocery discount card, the checker will just ask the person in back of them if they can use their card! Imagine how that would go over in Ft. Collins. But people here just hand over their card to help out someone else. You want to use my card? no problem, here ya go! Amazing. You are also expected to help sack your own groceries, so no lounging around as your groceries whizz past on the little conveyor belt. Get to work! We’re used to the question paper or plastic?, but here it’s a combo of both. They put a paper sack inside the plastic sack for heavy items. That way you have the strength of the paper sack, but the practicality of the handles on the plastic one. Makes sense to me!

After the grocery store I head to the gas station to fill up the tank. We still have Colorado plates on both vehicles, so we look a bit out of place. I pull up to the pumps and the attendant comes over to see how he can help. What?? you’re saying to yourself, isn’t she going to get out and pump the gas herself? NOPE, sorry, against the law to do that here in Jersey. No self service allowed! HAH, I can get used to this real fast, especially when it’s raining. Anyway, I am digressing as usual. As I put my window down he says to me, long way from home, aren’t you? I reply that in fact, I am really only a few miles from home since I live here now. He continues to chat me up about Colorado, did I miss all that snow on top of the mountains? was I ever afraid of starting an avalanche with just my car radio? Then he goes on to tell me that his boss went to Colorado last year. Oh, I say, what did he think? did he like it there? He looked at me a bit queerly and said that no, as a matter of fact his boss didn’t like it much at all. Too “square” he said. Square? I countered. Yeah, you know, you look out the window of the plane and all you see are square pieces of land. No twists, no turns, everything was square, not like around here. Yes, I said nodding, I see exactly what you mean. After a five minute discussion he finally asked which grade of gas I wanted and how much. You gotta love how totally unfriendly the people are around here. At least that’s what people told me to expect. How nice to be surprised for a change.

And those are only two examples from today alone. There are many more that I could recount here such as our mailman who introduced himself and welcomed us to the neighborhood [his name is Dennis], or the man [Rick] that owns the dry cleaners when he found out I was from Colorado asked my opinion on whether they should choose Aspen or Vail for their ski holiday at Christmas [and in exchange he told me about a restaurant that they held their son’s Communion celebration in], or the elderly customer in the wine store that offered to carry out my case of wine since he couldn’t bear to see my ‘nice choices’ end up on the pavement, but I think you’ve got the idea.

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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