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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cornflower

Cornflower
Centaurea cyanus

Also called Bachelor's Button, Bluebottle, Boutonniere flower, Hurtsickle, Cyani flower.  It is now endangered in its native habitat by agricultural intensification, particularly over-use of herbicides, destroying its habitat.  In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love; the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man's love was not returned (thus the name Bachelor's Button).
It was the favorite flower of John F. Kennedy and was worn by his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. at his wedding in tribute to his father.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine
Lupinus perennis

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Purple Foxglove

Purple Foxglove
Digitalis purpurea

The original source of the heart medicine digoxin, (also called digitalis or digitalin).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sheep Laurel

Sheep Laurel
Kalmia augustifolia

Also called Lambkill (it's poisonous to livestock).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Stillwater Wood

Stillwater Wood
726 Hudson Ave., Rt. 4
Stillwater, New York
We've been looking at furniture to make efficient use of space in our mudroom and the loft over the A-frame half of our house.  The thinking turned to unfinished furniture.  It's widely available online, but we thought we'd like to actually see the pieces.  A Google search brought up Stillwater Wood, so we decided to take a drive up Route 40 to Schaghticoke Fairgrounds and then west to Stillwater.  It turned out to be a very fruitful trip.  If you've never visited it, be sure to take in the Stillwater Blockhouse -- a short walk south of Stillwater Wood -- if you decide to take a drive there.

Stillwater Wood is in a large factory building on the shore of the Hudson just north of Mechanicville.  They have a huge selection, which you can get an appreciation for by going to their website's image gallery.  I think their prices are quite reasonable and the workmanship excellent for unfinished furniture.  Much of what they sell is made elsewhere, although they do custom work there as well.  They charge 1/2 the price of the item if you want them to polyurethane the piece (1 coat inside, 2 outside).  They only charge $35 for delivery to Grafton.

 
The larger unit to the right is headed to our mudroom.
 
 
One of these will also find a home in our mudroom.
 
 
This $49 bench, with room underneath for footwear is headed to our mudroom.


This "cube" will be another mudroom footwear storage unit.

 
This is just a fraction of their showroom.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Goosh-Bomb!

Goosh-Bomb!
During Tuesday's Dunham Reservoir hike, and while doing some cross-country ski trail maintenance yesterday, I stepped into a number of goosh-bombs.   Back in the 1980s, during a hike at Fish Creek Pond in the Adirondacks (it was a rainy season much like now),  my daughter Annie, approximately age six at the time, suddenly exclaimed that she had stepped into a "goosh-bomb."  I hereby unveil her appropriately coined word for official entrance into the American lexicon.

Definition of goosh-bomb:
goosh-bomb noun \ˈgsh-ˈbäm\
A rounded and slightly raised segment of earth that provides the false impression of a dry, safe haven for one's foot while avoiding otherwise obvious wet targets.  The foot is consequently sucked into a booby-trap swamp and emerges after breaking the vacuum via considerable force and having one's socks oozing with the muddy native geology.

Today's the first day of summer.  Summer solstice was at 5:04 a.m. this morning.  The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet's semi-axis is most inclined toward the star (sun) that it orbits. Earth's maximum axial tilt toward the sun is 23° 26'. This happens twice each year, at which times the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or the south pole.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Orange Hawkweed

Orange Hawkweed
Hieracium aurantiacum

Also called Devil's Paintbrush

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hike to Dunham Reservoir

Trail to Dunham Reservoir
Grafton, NY
The sky was blue.  The sun was shining.  The forecast called for an occasional shower.  A good day, I thought, to finally hike to the Dunham Reservoir.  We brought the rain jackets along, but we'll leave them in the car.

There are many trails within the confines of the Grafton Lakes State Park (GLSP).  However, not well known, are the trails to the Dunham Reservoir on the south side of Route 2.  Click here for the Trail Map - Grafton Lakes State Park


The sign above should probably be at the parking area instead of the beginning of the trail, given there's 50 yards or so of high grasses between the parking area and the trail head.

Park in the small, non-descript, parking area maybe a hundred yards west of the loop to the main Grafton Lakes State Park entrance. We took the "Gartler's Trail" (GA), which is marked with yellow trail markers.  There could stand to be a few more markers at the beginning.  There was one point where we had to back track a tad to get back on the trail.  But it is a really nice short hike.  It took about 45 minutes to reach Dunham Reservoir.


Rensselaerswyck Renter's Wall

It's hard to take a walk in the woods of Grafton and not run into a rock wall from one of Stephen Van Rensselaer's Rensselaerswyck tenants. (See: "Anti-Rent War: Tins Horns and Calico")



Wildflowers were in bloom everywhere.  A very large deer (too quick for me to grab the camera.  Lots of interesting trees.

The famous "hanging tree of Bartler's Trail.

Cool mushrooms!

Yet another interesting tree.

Dunham Reservoir
Grafton Lakes State Park
And then the rains began
Paul Caiano, newschannel 13 meteorologist, does a thorough weather report every morning at 6:53 a.m. on WAMC's Morning Edition.  He usually lets you know that the coldest spot on the face of the earth is minus 40 degrees in the Nunavut Territory and that the last reported sighting of hail was somewhere in Bulgaria.  Well, if he asks, let him know that there was a downpour followed by 1/4" pellets of hail on the Dunham Reservoir Gartler's Trail yesterday afternoon at 2:45 p.m.  I was too busy protecting my iPhone from getting drenched at that moment in time to worry about filming the hail.  (Note to self: always take a Ziploc(R)  plastic bag along on hikes... ).

Not another soul encountered on the hike.  A little used gem.  Treat yourself to a real nice walk in the woods right here in Grafton.

Other Hikes
Grafton Lakes State Park Hiking Trails
Grafton Lakes State Park Trails
The Long Pond Environmental Education CenterMattison Hollow
The Long Pond Environmental Education CenterSnow Hole
Robert Frost Stone House and Museum and Trail
RRR Brooks TrailTrail Map - Grafton Lakes State Park
SVC Trails

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Winslow Homer Exhibit at The Clark

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Williamstown, MA
 
We took the 17 mile drive to Williamstown yesterday for a respite from "the rains of 2013" and to take in the Winslow Homer - Making Art, Making History Exhibit at The Clark.  It was in the building pictured above.  The older, white facade building is under repair, and a spectacular new addition is scheduled to open next year.  Not a reason to wait, however, as this exhibit -- if you're a fan of Homer, as I am -- is well worth it.  I've been to The Clark three or four times, but not since moving to Grafton.  With the major refurbishments done on the house, there's now a lot more time for "the good stuff" -- like a trip to The Clark.

We took the audio tour.  I believe it really adds to the experience.


"Robert Sterling Clark declared Winslow Homer (1836–1910) to be among the greatest artists of the nineteenth century. Acting on this belief, Clark bought more than two hundred of Homer’s works and eventually owned more works by Homer than by any other artist. The breadth and ambition of Clark’s collection, more important than the large number of works it contains, make it the finest gathering of Homer’s art assembled by any individual since the artist’s death." - The Clark


Eastern Point
1900
Eastern Point is my favorite.  Purchased in 1923.  Sold in 1929 (stock market crash might have had something to do with that).  Wisely, reacquired in 1954.
 
Undertow
1886
Inspired by a rescue Homer witnessed.  It's an amazing painting.
 
Lobby at The Clark
I love this place!
 
A Street in Venice
c. 1880-1882
John Singer Sargent
Okay, MASS MoCA is interesting.  But I prefer the Homers, Van Goghs, Remmingtons and Sargents found at The Clark.  I can't wait to return.

Click here for a video on ClarkNEXT -- what's coming next year.  It is going to be truly spectacular.

The Clark
Williamstown, Massachusetts
 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

West Point

General Dwight Eisenhower and Jefferson Hall
I attended a conference this week at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  A very interesting and beautiful campus several hours south of us just below Newburgh.  Jefferson Hall,  the USMA Library, shown above is fabulous.

Thomas Jefferson Holding Court in Jefferson Hall



Jefferson didn't own a Kindle.  He did, however, design this unique revolving stand with five adjustable rests for holding books.


On the right, Ulysses S. Grant, Class of 1843.  On the left, Robert E. Lee Class of 1849.
View from 5th floor of the library, out on the Class '75 Terrace.  That's Doubleday field to the right. 
 
One of the persistent myths of baseball history is that Doubleday invented the game in 1839, although he was in West Point at the time. To his credit, Doubleday never claimed to have invented baseball. Neither his letters nor his diaries nor his New York Times obituary ever mentions the game, and he was never inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


A left-field box seat in one of the library's reading rooms.



There are statues of generals everywhere you look on campus.  My favorite is this one of George Washington.

The Thayer Hotel
I stayed at The Thayer Hotel, a very historic and beautifully renovated hotel with a fabulous restaurant.  I want to return someday soon, tour the West Point Visitor's Center, and take the guided tour of the campus.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pink Lady's Slipper

Pink Lady's Slipper
Cypripedium acaule

Sometimes called Pink Moccasin-Flower.  A somewhat rare native orchid, these should never be picked or transplanted.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Starflower

Starflower - Trientalis borealis
Primrose Family: Primulaceae

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wallflower

Wallflower (Erysimum)
A member of the botanical family Brassicaceae (the Mustard family).