Archive for August, 2019

Yet Another Summer Salad

garlic and zest cracked wheat salad

Mediterranean Cracked Wheat Salad from http://www.garlicandzest.com

The weather is definitely cooling. It’s still summer, but we hear and sense Fall approaching. I know this because my husband and I are both back in the kitchen cooking. 🙂 He wokked two meals last week and I made another summer salad. Once the humidity dropped last week I felt energized sufficiently to tackle a new recipe. I decided to make the Mediterranean Cracked Wheat Salad. I’ve made tabouli before, usually from a box mix. I’ve also bought it pre-made from the store. I’ve never done anything fancy with it. As I mentioned in my Wheatberry Salad post, I have always shied away from “things” in my food. I also mentioned that I seem to be overcoming that attitude, thank goodness!

This cracked wheat salad is the last of the recipes I saved at the start of the summer, when I was searching for tasty, healthy food that wouldn’t require heating up the kitchen. This recipe called for boiling some water, but that was it for ‘cooking’. The rest was chopping and combining. I wasn’t able to pull anything from my garden for this salad. I’d already snacked on all of the grape tomatoes and I discovered that caterpillars were embedded in my parsley. Given all my support for butterflies, I abandoned my parsley to the caterpillars and used dried parsley. (If I identified the caterpillar correctly, it will be a black swallowtail, which makes sense.)

IMG_1863

Black Swallowtail caterpillars are welcome to my parsley


I had to substitute on the peppers as well, since I did not find pepperoncini peppers at the farmers’ market. I used jalapeno peppers. I’d like to try again with the pepperoncinis because jalapeno is still a bit hot for my taste. My husband, however, loved it. My other change was to ditch the olives. I don’t like olives. I knew I’d just pick them out of the salad, I wouldn’t eat them, and if I didn’t tell my husband that they were missing he’d never know. 🙂 No olives. I loved the taste and look of the julienned radishes. That’s something that would have never occurred to me. See – learning new things. I followed the instructions to only pour some of the dressing on the wheat/vegetable mixture. When I decided it need more dressing, rather than pouring or spooning it on, I used a fork. That way I was getting mostly the ingredients in the dressing and not much of the oil and lemon juice. That kept the mixture from becoming soggy yet it all got some of the dressing. Next time I will probably reduce the olive oil and juice.

This passed our taste test! We are both enjoying it, it’s going fast. It was easy to make, very clear directions which anticipated things such as liquid remaining after the wheat had been absorbing the directed amount. Definitely another keeper for the kitchen files!

Thanks again to Lisa at Garlic & Zest for sharing the recipe!

Beach Escape

ahh ocean

Ahhhh. Ocean.

I FINALLY made it to the beach!!! Complete and utter thanks to my friend Pam. She called Sunday night and said that her schedule had cleared completely (and unexpectedly) and did I want to go to the beach on Monday? I looked at MY empty schedule and looked at the forecast: in the 70s, partly sunny. That wasn’t exactly beach weather but it sure was a beach schedule. I told her to count me in! We agreed that we’d aim to leave around 10am, which is what I’d normally consider a late start. Ask my family. They’ll tell you that when the kids were little, and we’d head down on a hot summer day, I’d be trying to get them out the door before 8:30 am. There’s a lot to plan for a “beach attack”: beat the traffic, close parking spot to the beach access, perfect spot on the sand, staking out the perimeter of OUR spot to keep others from getting sand on us. If *I* didn’t worry about these things, who would??? Exactly!

Given the weather forecast, given that it was a Monday (a slow beach day), and given that the last week in August either has children back in school or away on family vacations or shopping for school shoes and clothes, I didn’t think a planned attack would be required. I didn’t need to pack much food or drink. I’ve learned that I don’t really eat much when I’m on the beach, and I definitely don’t drink a lot because I hate the trek back to the rest rooms. It wasn’t going to be a hot sun so I didn’t need my beach umbrella. All in all for me it was ‘beach light’. I offered to drive and went to pick up Pam. Of course I was in the convertible and of course the top was down. Is there another way to go down the shore? No. We posed in the car so her husband could snap pictures of us. If there is no photo, it didn’t happen. I guess for ME, if there is no blog post, it didn’t happen. *grin*

View to NYC skyline

View north to NYC skyline. Too hazy for a clear picture.

There was no trouble getting down to Sandy Hook (Gateway National Recreation Area). There is a fee per car to get in, but I had packed my AARP card in case that would get me a discount. My husband has the National Parks card, but he wasn’t with us and it is not transferable. Pam has one too, but she didn’t bring it. When I asked the gate guard if AARP got me a discount he sadly informed us that it did not. But, he said, given that it’s the last week of the season, and given that I bend the rules sometimes, I’ll let you in for the discounted price. Yes!!! Lucky again! We thanked him, paid up, and headed up the hook. As you may have noticed about me, I have my “usual routine” of things I do and places I go. 🙂 We ALWAYS park at parking lot E. The parking lot entrances were a little different than I recalled, which tends to happen every season. There is sand and dunes on both sides of the road. Winter storms move the landscape regularly. We got down to E and – IT WAS CLOSED!!!! That was unexpected. We discussed turning around to go back to D or heading onward towards the North Beach and Fort Hancock. Northward it was!

I’ve been to the North Beach once, a few years ago, with my niece. It didn’t work for me. It was too far from the parking lot and the beach was too narrow. Look, a bad day at the beach is better than a good day most anywhere else, so if all there is is the North Beach, go. This will sound foolish but we couldn’t find the parking lot for the North Beach. I think, in hindsight, I know where it was, but given my lackluster view of that beach anyway, and the fact that we were having fun simply driving on the hook, we kept going to Fort Hancock.

more ocean

You can never have too much ocean gazing

Fort Hancock is a decommissioned army base. Stealing from the Wikipedia entry I can tell you that:

The Sandy Hook area was first fortified as part of the third system of US fortifications. Construction on the Fort at Sandy Hook began in 1857 and ceased in 1867, with the fort serviceable though largely incomplete.

The initial design of the fort was by then-Captain Robert E. Lee of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The lighthouse at Sandy Hook is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. It was originally 500 feet from the water, but given shifting sands over time, it’s now about 1.5 miles from the tip.

Many years ago my husband (who is a structural engineer) was working on a project that involved rehabilitating the old army barracks and buildings for commercial use. I don’t think anything came of that particular project but as Pam and I cruised through Fort Hancock, we saw a renovated building listed for rent. It was a home, not a commercial building. I would LOVE to get inside there and see what they have done. It would be so cool to live there – during the day. I’d be creeped out completely at night, to be there all alone. The Marine Academy of Science and Technology is there, but it’s not a boarding school. If you click through on the Gateway National link above, you can see that they are now accepting Requests for Proposals “to lease multiple historic buildings for any compatible use of historic buildings, (such as residential, lodging, or business use related to residential or lodging use),commercial use, or nonprofit within Fort Hancock”. How fantastic would that BE, to live/work at Sandy Hook? Oh, if I only had money to invest and an idea to propose.

New beach blanket, traditional red bag

Brand new beach blanket; years old traditional red bag; hidden tag alongs

I do actually have an idea to propose. Many years ago I invented something that every beach goer needs. Pam reminded me of this after we went back to Parking Lot D, trudged to OUR spot on the shore, and set up our chairs, blanket and her umbrella. This year I’ve been hearing a lot on the news about a NJ congressman who wants to propose some legislation or law or something to protect beach goers from fly-away beach umbrellas. I believe it was last year a woman was impaled and died from a fly-away umbrella, so this is a real issue. I don’t believe, however, that passing laws will address the situation. I “invented” my own umbrella anchoring system using just what I found in my car one windy, beach-going day. I had plastic bags and rope. I combined that with the plentiful beach sand and MY beach umbrellas do NOT fly away. Pam and I amused ourselves by designing the retail version of my system. *grin* Anyone out there with an entrepreneurial spirit want to help me copyright my system???

Seagull Lord of All It Sees

Lord of All It Sees

The other “problem” at the beach are the brazen seagulls. Like the deer in my hometown, which now roam the streets in gangs during the daylight hours, terrorizing the local gardeners and car parkers alike, the seagulls down the shore have no fear. They’d walk right up to our blanket. One of them pecked at my sandal. I guess birds don’t rely on smell, but only sight to determine what to eat. Two of them were pecking at my plastic bag filled with sand. As long as they keep their distance from me (and even clapping my hands at them was insufficient for some) and don’t defecate on me or my things, I do like to watch them swoop and soar and love the sound of their cries.

View of Causeway from mainland to Sandy Hook

View south to causeway, which you can see up close in the Moby’s pictures

We never made it into the water, although we saw many children playing in the waves. We walked down and stuck our toes in, and that was sufficient. 🙂 The sun had come out and we were perfectly comfortable with the breeze off the water. We were close enough that we’d get the occasional sea spray as well. I never even took off my shirt and shorts, finally remembering to apply sunscreen after we’d been sitting for perhaps an hour. My knee felt ‘warm’ and I thought ‘oh oops’. I’m okay. I definitely got color but I’m not burned. I spent nearly all my time in my chair. I got to “test” my new beach blanket when Pam took a walk along the water. A little before 5 pm the breeze picked up and the sun had lowered over the bay sufficiently that it was getting more cold than cool. We’d had a good 6 hours down there so we agreed that we could pack up and head home.

I took Pam for quick cruise of the restaurants on the other side of the river. She said that she and her husband would be up for trying out the restaurant my husband and I scoped out when we were down at Moby’s the other weekend. Yay!! Another dinner down the shore if we can get compatible schedules! In the meantime, I brought a little ocean to share with you.

I’m Adorable, Too

Siri 1

It was pointed out to me that I was NOT giving equal time to all my kitties. GC informed me that she needed more lap time AND she felt that she was not equally represented on my blog. We had a long discussion about this as she sat on my lap and allowed me to make amends by petting her and rubbing her ears. Yes, GC is VERY adorable and cuddly and agreeable. Like the other 2, a tad pushy at times, but she would probably claim that it was not being pushy, but merely claiming what is hers by right. 🙂
Siri 2

They Also Played Baseball

TD Bank ballpark

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater, NJ

This past weekend we met up with a group of friends at one of the local semi-pro baseball teams – the Somerset Patriots, part of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. I LOVE going to watch the Patriots play baseball. It’s good baseball, a great venue, and oh what a spectacle! The Patriots aim to make the entire family happy. Between every inning there is some game or contest or event to amuse the crowd.

There were 10 of us. Seven of us have done this before – we’ve come for several years now, although we missed last year. This was the first time, however, for T & J and their son Greg, age 7. They didn’t know what to expect but we assured them that all 3 of them would have a good time.

the next generation

Indoctrinating the next generation

I wandered over to my neighbor’s to discuss coordination for getting and meeting there. We agreed that we were excited about the FOOD!!! One of the BEST parts of going to the game is that we allow ourselves to eat all the unhealthy food we usually avoid. Two of us mentioned the hot dogs, I wanted the peanuts, and someone else wanted the french fries. 🙂 It says a lot about us, doesn’t it, that we get so excited about such food.

The weather was perfect – it was in the mid-70s and clear. We’ve been there and been uncomfortably hot, we’ve been there and been cold. Had we ordered up the weather, it couldn’t have been better. Sometime after dark when a light breeze began, I did switch seats with my husband so that he was on the end of our arrangement and I was sheltered between him and our friend. Our seats were along the 3rd base line, close to home, and close to the field. We were sitting 5 and 5 to make it easier to chat. Although the seats were good, I like sitting on the 1st base line because that is the home team dugout, and all the silliness is aimed that way. Even so, because of the venue, our seats were good. I loved the opposing team’s uniforms! The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have a real old-time look.

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs

We all got food and drink as soon as we got into the stadium. 🙂 Once we were seated we made an attempt at taking selfies with all of us in view. We did get a few, but mostly we failed. *grin* Two women sitting next to us offered to help us out so we passed our phones to them and got our group shots. What would we do without our cell phones???? We ate, we laughed, we cheered (SOMERSET!!! Patrioooootttsss!!), we took photographs and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. It WOULD have been better had the home team WON but, alas, it was not to be. The Crabs had 5 runs on 10 hits and we had 1 run on 5 hits. It was just not happening.

inflated horses

Inflated horse race

The between inning silliness was great. I don’t know how they pick fans from the stands to participate, I assume you volunteer in advance and get picked somehow. There was a very young girl who was trying to “grill” chicken by tossing rubber chickens onto a grill, while she was cheered on by a cow. 🙂 There was a race between 2 men wearing inflatable rings, that were both donuts and ducks (the decoration on the yellow rings was definitely donuts but they had duck heads as well. I learned that race was backed by one of the sponsors, Duck Donuts. Well of course. There were some “cans’ that had some sort of contest to cleanup mess and put it in the recycle bins. I tuned into that one midway so all I really know is that there were 3 cans: Hair Spray, Shaving Cream and Insect Repellent. I believe Insect Repellent won.

racing cans

Recycling race

The other inflatable race had fans riding inflated horses. It’s apparently not as easy as you might think, as we witnessed a wipeout near the turn for home. 🙂

Dancing dinosaur

Dancing dinosaur

There was the traditional throw-rolled-up-tee-shirts-into-the crowd, accompanied by a dancing dinosaur, for reasons I know not.
We also watched the healthy foods race. 🙂 Blueberry won, which is NO surprise to me. Blueberry is my favorite out of the represented foods.
racing foods

There was the traditional race around the bases where the mascot Sparkee races a (very) young fan. In all the years I’ve been going to the games, I have NEVER seen Sparkee win a race. *grin* By the way, Sparkee is the mascot because the team’s first manager, and current manager emeritus, is Sparky Lyle.

Sparkee

Sparkee

The team has two mascots, Sparkee and Slider. I’m not sure why they added Slider but it could have been because there was way too much love for Sparkee to handle on his own. There used to be a third mascot, General Admission (yes, dressed in old-fashioned uniform), but I haven’t seen him in ages. I DO have a picture of him with my son, however, which is why I know he existed.

Slider

Slider

The Somerset Patriots host fireworks after many of the home games. They post the fireworks schedule on their website and it is a key factor in which games we go to see. I didn’t remember the fireworks as being anything very special in prior years, but this year was great. I don’t know if it’s me, or if fireworks have gotten better, or what, but there is no question that the fireworks I’ve been observing this summer have been much higher quality than my memories of prior shows. As usual, despite saying there’s no point in taking pictures of fireworks, I did it anyway. I took a video so you can enjoy the show too!

It’s NOT a Weed!!!!

false starwort with canna lily

Boltonia Asteroides False Starwort

It’s my Boltonia Asteroides – False Starwort! Apparently it blooms in August and September and can grow to 4-5 feet tall. YES!!! The article in Backyard Gardener.com goes on to say that “The Boltonias, because of their great height, are highly desirable in large perennial borders because the plants literally bear thousands of star-like flowers.” I’m so relieved. I KNEW I’d planted something there deliberately. I must have switched my markers when I was planting. Either that or I have been misremembering which plant grew tall. 🙂 I do like tall flowers.

false starwort

Flowering False Starwort

On the other hand, I’m fairly certain that I DO have a weed that has been trying to pass itself off as a cosmos. It is growing where I planted the cosmos. I thought it was a wonderfully healthy cosmos. Then I realized that it was too hairy and too thick to be a cosmos. I’ve seen this imposter before – it’s a weed. 🙂 It doesn’t flower. On the other hand, I rather like its hairy leaves. It gets to stay even though it has no flowers. But NEXT year I’ll pull it if I recognize it in time.

cosmos imposter

The Imposter – It’s NEVER going to flower! But it is hairy!

The grape tomatoes are coming in! I lost the first crop to some hungry predator a few weeks ago when I did not spray stinky repel-all quickly and abundantly. I was determined that *I* would get to eat THIS batch. And I did. And they were yummy. 🙂 I didn’t share at all.
grape tomatoes

I had a new butterfly today as well – the Common Buckeye. It was much less skittish than the Painted Lady the other day. I could step nearer while it was on the flowers and it didn’t dart away. The black swallowtail was back later in the afternoon as well. We’re all enjoying the not weeds. 🙂

common buckeye butterfly

Common Buckeye butterfly enjoying the flowering mint

If I’m In, I Want Out

thermometer

In the musical ‘Cats’, there is a song about the Rum Tum Tugger. The song is take from T. S. Elliot’s book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (as are most of the songs in the musical).

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:[1]
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he’d rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he’d rather chase a mouse.

It has been another hot and humid week – real feels in the upper 90s. If you are not in air-conditioning, the humidity saps your energy. I worked from home earlier this week and nearly had to set up an IV for myself to drip iced coffee. Last night the rains came through and broke the heat wave. I woke this morning to temperatures in the 60s.  Ahhhh.

I’m working from home today. For the first time in forever (or so it seems) I am wearing jeans, not shorts. I brewed myself HOT coffee. (Although I really do like iced coffee in the hot weather, hot coffee far surpasses it for that first “make the world bearable” sip. 🙂

brewed coffee

Second cup. The one that is the luxurious savoring, as opposed to Wake Me Up

As I brewed a second cup for myself, I thought about how wonderfully cool and pleasant it was. I thought that despite loving the heat, there is nothing as refreshing as when the weather changes and you get those cool fall days. How good it feels not to be HOT! I took a look at the thermometer and saw that it had still not reached 70 (sorry for the poor angle on the thermometer, but it was that or glare).

As I looked at that 66 degree temperature, appreciating it, I thought – if this was the winter I’d be FREEZING at this point. 🙂  I push the thermostat up to 72-74 in the winter. If this was the fall or spring I’d be running my gas log fireplace to take the damp chill out of the air. *grin*

If it’s hot, I want cold. If it’s cold, I want hot. I’m a curious cat.

BC in my lap while I work

I’m a Comfortable Cat. I get to stay in her lap when it’s not too hot. Purr

Wheatberry Salad

Several weeks ago when it was too hot to cook and I was looking for cool salads, I saw a recipe for Wheat Berry Salad. Whole wheat, cracked wheat, bulgur wheat, tabouli, couscous – they are so similiar and it’s hard for me to figure out if they are the same thing or different. Wheat berries, on the other hand, triggered a pleasant memory. Many, many years ago our friend invited us to dinner in her sukkah. She’s an excellent cook. Her background is Iranian, and she often serves food that I would normally not eat if I were not a guest. *grin* My mother brought me up to be a well-behaved polite guest – you eat what you are served. 🙂 Our friend served a wheat berry salad. The reward for being a polite guest is that sometimes you learn to like something new, that you never thought you’d like. So when the wheat berry recipe popped up in my search, I decided to save it and try it.
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Following this recipe meant first I had to find wheat berries. After trying several local stores I ordered them (and some cracked wheat) online. (The cracked wheat is my next new venture – stay tuned.) The recipe also calls for things that in my past I would have told you I don’t eat, and would have been cause for tossing the recipe. That would include nuts and dried fruit. I don’t like “things” in my food. *grin* Or so I thought. Anyway, I made the linked recipe just as it stands. It is DELICIOUS. I love the texture and the flavors. I think it will work well in fall, too, because of its harvest colors. My husband and I both made large inroads into the bowl of wheat berry salad. Definitely a recipe to keep and repeat!

Thanks to:
Wheat Berry Salad, Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger, Posted on the Food Network website

A Day at the Museum

temple of dendur

Temple of Dendur

Oh wow, you do NOT want to be wandering around NYC in August when the temps are in the 90s and the real-feel is in the high 90s. But that’s where you could find me yesterday. My cousin was in town for a few days and I went in to the city to meet her. She was traveling with a friend who’d never been to NYC. Normally I’d say let’s cram in everything we can but I knew the heat and humidity would knock us out. We agreed to go to a museum (air-conditioned) and then we’d go stand in the line at the TKTS booth and see what else we’d do. I wasn’t planning to stay in the city for an evening show, but hanging out at Times Square in line can be its own amusement. It’s a great place for people watching. My goal was to see my cousin Robin so I didn’t really mind what we did as long as I was not pounding the pavement all day.
mounted knights in armor

We agreed to meet up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I always say I don’t like museums but I’m realizing that is not true. I do like museums. What I don’t like is having to look at paintings. When my son and I were in Venice in the Doge’s Palace, I finally cracked and told him we had to leave. I simply could not look at one more painting of a duke riding out to greet a pope. As long as we could look at architecture and artifacts I was fine, but the endless paintings broke me. I don’t spend much time staring at artifacts, either, and only read the placards if the item is unusually interesting. I’m sure there are those who would call me ‘heathen’ and they are probably correct. 🙂

Trumpet call harmonica

Trumpet Call Diatonic Harmonica in G, catalog #504471, ca 1915

I was able to catch a train around 9:00 am, which got me into the city around 10. I’d normally have walked from my house to the station, about a mile, but I had a late start. I had already decided I should drive because I had no idea how much walking I’d be doing and I figured I might need to conserve all that foot and leg energy for later. My cousin and I texted while I was on the train. They were walking to the museum. *smile* I usually walk about midtown when I’m there. First, it’s very expensive to take a taxi. I have no problem with the subway but it doesn’t always go where I want to go. In fact, walking is often the fastest way to get anywhere, assuming you are not traveling great distances. I have no problem with walking 40 blocks or so as long as I’ve got the correct footwear. I don’t think, however, that they had grasped exactly what it is like to walk over 40 blocks in NYC (I believe they started over on Lex and 49th).

nagphani horn

Nagphani, India Late 19th Century, catalog #500781

Robin and her friend were thinking of having breakfast someplace and then going to the museum. Based on their progress at the point when my train got in, I figured I’d meet them up at the museum. Penn Station is at 33rd and 7th, the museum is at 83rd and 5th. That is about 3.5 miles. I decided to break with family tradition and take a taxi. My mother NEVER took taxis. When she and her friends got up in years, she was always offended when they’d insist on taking a taxi. I don’t think my mother even took the subway much. She WALKED. I could imagine her scorn at my indulgence, but at that point it really seemed the fastest and coolest way to get uptown. Even if I took the subway I’d end up walking across the park to get from the Museum of Natural History to the Met.

whistling jar

Whistling Jar, Chimu culture, Peru, 1000-1476, catalog #501305

I got in the taxi and asked him to take me to Madison and 82, figuring that Robin would be breakfasting somewhere near the museum and I wouldn’t have to wait for the taxi to make the 2 left turns to get to the museum. That bit about the left turns might sound odd to those of you who have never traveled in the city, but trust me – when the cross town streets get crowded, trying to get around a block can take a significant amount of time. While we were still heading uptown on Madison, Robin told me that they’d gone into the museum. At that point I told the driver to take me there directly.

grogger (cog rattle)

THEY call it a Cog rattle; WE call it a grogger. 15/16th century. #503725

There was no line to get in yet so I cruised in and met up with Robin and Kevin. I’d enjoyed getting a half-price rail fare because I’m a member of AARP (thanks to my husband, who signed me up WAY earlier than I could have joined on my own *grin*). There is no AARP discount at the museum nor was there any reciprocity with my membership in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Full price time. Neither Kevin nor I had had any breakfast at all so we headed straight for the American Wing Cafe for coffee. Ahhhh. I needed that. 🙂
The Astor Court

We decided to wander about instead of taking an introductory tour. The American Cafe is directly behind the Temple of Dendur, which is a “must see” if you are at the museum. We started there. Next we headed to the Arms and Armour exhibit. I’d actually been to both places only 18 months earlier, when my husband and I had been in the city for the day and dinner, but they are both well worth multiple visits. I wanted to show them the Astor Chinese Garden Court. Although we had maps, parts of the museum were under renovation, so we kept getting directions to the elevator to get to the Asian Art exhibits. I kept insisting we could walk, so we ended up wandering through other exhibits as we attempted to get there.

japanese striped bowl

Neriage marbleized stoneware, Japan

I’d never been to the musical instrument exhibit before (galleries 680-684). Having just toured the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix 2 months earlier, I found the instruments more interesting and intriguing than I might have in the past. There are so many different ways that people make music. The materials and the shapes and the combinations – absolutely fascinating. If you look at the map (the link above) it APPEARS that you can walk from the musical instruments area to the Asian Art wing. Appearances can deceive. I finally gave up and we took the elevator to the Asian Art.

glass deer

PixCell (Glass bead) deer, Japan, catalog #76970

We must have gone up only a 1/2 floor. We barely moved, and then the doors on the other side of the elevator opened and we were in Asian Art. As we stepped out we saw/heard a tour in progress. The docent was describing the glass deer (well, that’s MY term for it) by Kohei Nawa. I’d seen this deer last trip as well. It is a taxidermied deer, covered with glass balls of varying sizes. I find it both attractive and a tad repugnant (because it seems disrespectful of the dead deer).

koi pond

Koi pond in Astor Court

But at last we found the Astor Court. I LOVE this spot. I know that there are no chairs there/places to sit, because if there WERE, the place would be packed with folks sitting there in serenity. My memory told me that when I was there in January, there had been flowering plants. There were none there at the moment, but when I checked my photos I saw that for once my memory was right on target (unlike my memory of walking to the Astor Court *grin*). We all loved the garden and spent a little time there simply enjoying it, and watching the koi.

FLW fabric boucle damask

FLW fabric boucle damask

We wandered through the Asian Art exhibit. We had one last “planned” stop in the museum – Schumacher’s Taliesin Line of Decorative Fabrics and Wallpapers Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,1955 (gallery 599). We found our way there (by this time I asked for directions every time I saw a museum worker). I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was expecting MORE than what was there. It’s a very, very small room – about the size of my son’s bedroom. Even so, there were FLW patterns, so we had the FLW experience.

flw fabric damask

FLW fabric damask


We made sure to wander through the Gift Shop on our way out, but we all nobly restrained ourselves from buying anything (and we each had things in our hands at one point so you know it was difficult).
flw fabric

FLW fabric

Next on the agenda was heading back to midtown to wait in the TKTS line so Robin and Kevin could get show tickets. It was 2:30, and it was hot and humid. *smile* We all opted for a taxi back down to Times Square. Ahhhh. Air conditioned. No walking. We got there about 10 minutes before the booth opened. It’s become so efficient and modern since I last stood in the TKTS line. In MY day, sonny, they only took cash at the window. You didn’t know what was available til you got to the counter and could peer behind the agents. Now everything is computerized, there are sign boards out front, they take credit cards. 🙂 Ahhh, technology. While Kevin and Robin waited in line, I sat on the big red bleachers and watched the people. They joined me, waving their prize – tickets to Tootsie!!!
Book Our Shoes Our Selves

I decided that they NEEDED to see Rockefeller Center (I have a sentimental attachment as I used to work at 30 Rock, back in the days when it was the RCA Building). We walked over there and took photos. I had NO IDEA that in the summer they put in a SANDBOX in the middle of the promenade! You know I went straight over and sat down in a chair and wriggled my toes in the sand! From there we headed over to The Playwright, a restaurant on 49th. As it happens, I have fond memories of this restaurant as well, as my son and I had dinner here one day when we were doing a day of TKTS – matinee in the afternoon, show in the evening. 🙂 We hung out drinking and eating and chatting for about 2 hours. Then I headed for the train home and they headed to the theater. All in all, a lovely day in the city, despite the heat and humidity.

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Times Square as seen from the big red bleachers

Caught in the Act

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Painted Lady butterfly

The black swallowtail butterfly has been much more cooperative than the orange and black butterfly. The other day I managed to catch a few photos of her, although she moves so fast! She is much more aware of my presence than the black swallowtail, which allowed me to get close enough to take several decent pictures. This butterfly moved every time I moved. All the photos are just that bit out of focus, but I think she’s a Painted Lady. Now that I’ve gotten this close, I’m wondering if it is this butterfly I’ve been seeing or if I really was seeing Monarchs earlier in the season. Maybe I’ll have another lucky day and will be able to catch her, or other butterflies in the act! I’m happy to see that they are enjoying the zinnias as much as I am!

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Wings folded

I love the tropicana canna lilies. They are simply stupendous. I was listening to a garden show this morning that was explaining how I should dead-head the flowers, but it sounds a bit tricky. Apparently the new flower is growing right next to the old flower and if you cut in the wrong place you lose the new one. Sounds too risky for me to try. She was also giving instructions on how to dig them up to over-winter them. Sigh. I suppose I SHOULD try to do that – the plants are so expensive, and I do want them every year. But by the time it’s digging-up time, I’m really “over” my garden. 🙂
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I have also figured out that what I thought was the false starwort is actually the butterfly weed. And what I thought was the butterfly weed is probably some huge weed weed(you can see it behind the cosmos and zinnias and to the left of the canna lilies – it’s green 🙂 ). I guess the false starwort died. I started reading to see what I’m supposed to do with the huge butterfly weed seed pod. Apparently I should harvest it, which seems to be easy but messy. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so confused is that I tend to buy very tall plants – ones that grow to be 3 feet or taller. Butterfly weed does NOT grow that tall. It’s possible that at the point when I planted everything I knew that and knew what I was doing. 🙂 I must have ordered them because I wanted to support the butterflies. 🙂 That’s actually ironic, because I NEVER see butterflies over in that part of the garden. I guess they don’t like marigolds.
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I KNOW that I bought, planted and HAVE the Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop). I’ve posted pictures of that here. I also know that I planted things where those 2 huge weeds are growing. I’m waiting to see if they flower – it looks as if they might. But they are NOT false starwort by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s the bottom line – they will flower and I’ll decide whether or not they stay, or I’m going to pull them out.

Dinner Down the Shore

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I think it must have been the fried clams at the county fair. In the middle of the week my husband suggested that we go down the shore for dinner on Saturday – he had a craving for fried seafood. “Down the shore” – that’s a Jersey thing. You go down the shore so you can go to the beach. I have still not made it to the beach this summer but I’ve been down the shore for dinner twice. 🙂 I am a Jersey girl through and through. We’re the best. Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen know that. *grin*
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There are many places we like to go for dinner, but one of the most fun, most convenient and ultimately least expensive is Moby’s Lobster Deck. It’s owned and run by the same folks who run Bahr’s Landing restaurant (which has been there for over 100 years). We learned about Moby’s from friends of ours when our son was still in single-digits. As you can see from the pictures, it’s not much to look at. It really is a seafood shack. You go to the window and place your order and get a number. Then you go up on the deck and hangout and wait for your number to be called. I seem to remember that when we first started coming the picnic tables were covered with red and white checked plastic tablecloths, but I may have added that memory on my own. What I do know is a factual memory is that my son snitched a piece of fried food from his dad’s plate without asking. He’ll never do that again, because when he found out WHAT he ate, he was not a happy camper. *grin* I don’t remember it if had tentacles or suction cups, but my son did NOT want to be eating it. Some lessons are best learned first hand, pun intended.
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When we left the house it was hot and sunny. Of course we took the convertible with the top down. It’s the best way to go down the shore. 🙂 (It’s the best way to go most anywhere, as I think I’ve mentioned.) The weather was perfect and traffic was light, despite it being a Saturday. We were doing something a bit different than our usual down the shore trek for dinner. We left around 2:30 pm (we had a stop to make on the way). We figured we get there around 3:30 or so and have an early dinner, before the crowds started coming. I’d not had lunch yet so that timing was going to work for me. We took the local roads, not the highway, which led to an interesting observation by my husband. He noted that in one short stretch of road we’d passed FIVE pizza parlors. 🙂 We immediately began counting pizza parlors the rest of the trip. That led us to the all important question: Are there more Chinese restaurants or pizza parlors? I will tell you that we asked Siri, and she failed utterly. But I think we may have discovered the beginning of a new car travel game.
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We were on the last stretch of road on the way to Highlands. There is one hill you climb, and then start down again to the coast. As we crested the hill I thought I was seeing smoke. My husband said no, that’s fog. Sure enough, as we came down the hill, it was fog. What a sea change from when we left! I have been down to Sandy Hook in the rain and the fog, so it was not a new view for me, but it was a bit uncommon. We do tend to go down the shore in nice weather, not fog. I actually enjoy a bit of fog in the mornings, or late afternoons when we are staying for a week. There is something so soothing and exotic about a touch of fog with the salt air, and the sound of the water. I will tell you that when there is NO fog, you would be seeing the sandy stretch of beach on the other side of the Shrewsbury river.
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You can see by the pictures that we did indeed beat the crowd. We had a lovely dinner listening to the seagulls (wow, those are BIG birds) and the water lapping against the pier. My husband indulged with fried clams and steamers. I had a fried fish sandwich and corn on the cob.
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We had time after dinner to drive a little further to what used to be one of our favorite restaurants. It has changed ownership, name and menu. When I’d checked it out online the menu was not especially appealing – it wasn’t seafood oriented anymore. They still have the tiki bar and live music, but I’m not sure that will be enough to pull us back. There is another restaurant next door, that we have always observed, but never investigated. This time we found a place to park the car (parking is an issue in that area – not many spaces for out-of-towners. We wandered over and discovered that this place had a VERY interesting menu, as well as 3 different seating areas – the outdoor tables with umbrellas, an open-air covered area, and then the inside typical restaurant area. We decided we’d really like to try that restaurant next time. It’s going to take a bit of planning, however, because parking really is an issue down there. Too bad they don’t offer valet parking like our old favorite does. That was, I confess, a big lure for that place. We headed back to the car, and I cruised a few more blocks, scoping out where we might be able to park if/when we return. There did appear to be hope of spaces about 2 blocks away, so it’s certainly a stronger possibility now. *grin* All we need now is to find a time to get back there.
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