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Friday, July 26, 2013


Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay's House at Steepletop

Several years ago, I read Savage Beauty, a biography of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950).  Quite the interesting woman!  That led to a trip to Steepletop, her homestead in Austerlitz which is on Route 22, just a bit south of Route 90.  At the time, her house was still being restored so you couldn't go in.  Instead, we enjoyed the Poet's Walk, and filed away a "to do" to visit the house when it was reopened -- which it now has, though two of the rooms are still in progress.

Whenever possible, I sign up for guided tours or audio tours of such places.  I figure if I'm going to invest time and money into visiting these places, I ought to really visit them.  So I signed up for both the house tour and the gardens tour.  It was well worth it.  Bob, a retired actor, gave a terrific tour of the house and Peter, the Executive Director of Steepletop, gave a wonderful tour of the gardens and grounds.

This door led into Enda's outdoor bar and swimming pool.  If you broke the rule that you couldn't enter here without shedding your clothes, you were not invited back to Steepletop.  Like I said, a rather "interesting" woman. Read the biography.

The swimming pool.  What looks like chopped off trees were actually arborvitae that overgrew.

Millay's austere (inside and out) writing cabin.

Nice gardens

Bust of Edna St. Vincent Millay by HP Erskine
Edna was not fond of this bust.

Millay and her husband, owned over 700 acres of some of the prettiest land you'll ever want to see.  And quiet -- just what a poet needs.

Beautiful poetry was conjured up on this bench.

Edna's tennis court.

Visit Steepletop!

Read by the poet herself, Edna St. Vincent Millay

At her peak, Millay was a veritable rock star, filling up venues like the Hollywood Bowl.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sweet William

Sweet William
Dianthus Barbatus

Many legends purport to explain how Sweet William acquired its English common name, but none is verified.  I prefer speculation that the flower was named after William Shakespeare.

Sweet William is a favorite name for lovelorn young men in English folkloric ballads, e.g., "Fair Margaret and Sweet William."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I knew we got a lot of rain last night here at the lake, but having driven to work in my pre-coffee stupor, it didn't totally register quite how much.  My pal Andy sent me an email around noon: "Your weather station says we received 4.6 inches of rain since midnight. Is that possible?"  At first I responded that yes, we did get a lot of rain.  But then it seemed wrong... couldn't be that much.  So I checked Weather Underground stations for Berlin and West Grafton and they were about 2 inches less than my weather station was indicating.  I thought, perhaps, the microswitch in my rain gauge got stuck.  When I got home I realized it was reading correctly.  The lake is up 6 inches overnight and, as you can see above, my canoe and the area around it are a tad damp.  Folks, we got 4.73 from midnight until 8pm!  It was a very localized downburst.  Check out the Rainfall Rate graph below for 4 a.m.:

KNYGRAFT2 Weather Graph

Monday, July 22, 2013


Hemerocallis fulva

Also called Orange Daylily, Tawny Daylily, Tiger Daylily or Ditch Lily.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

5:30 a.m. Meditation


I noticed there was a gorgeous sunrise this morning, so went out at 5:30 a.m. to photograph it.  I was surprised to hear the Buddhist meditation drumming from the Peace Pagoda.  It's the first time I've heard it from our dock.   We're about 1-1/2 miles from the Grafton Peace Pagoda.

Found this video on YouTube.  Same drum I heard this morning.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

White Sweet Clover

Sweet White Clover
Melilotus alba

Highly valued as honey plants (the Greek meli means "honey").

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yellow Pond Lily

Yellow Pond Lily
Nuphar variegata

Also called Bullhead Lily.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


With all the lakes on and around the Rensselaer Plateau, this should be of interest to many of you.  A friend recently mentioned the terrific NYSFOLA (New York State Federation of Lake Associations) website to me.  While there are parts of the website that are accessible only by members,  there is much that is open to all who have an interest in lakes -- particularly New York State lakes.  Click here and have a look.  They also have a Facebook page (click here).

From their "About" page:

The New York State Federation of Lake Associations, Inc. (NYSFOLA) was founded in 1983 by a small consortium of lake associations concerned about a variety of problems facing their lakes. Water quality was of concern to nearly all of the lakes, and there was little information available on methods to combat the increasing presence of aquatic invasive species. 

With the assistance of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYSFOLA spearheaded the development of the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program. This model statewide volunteer lake monitoring program has since served over 200 New York State lakes, and it remains an important part of NYSFOLA's mission.....

This is one of the publications they put out.  Click here for more information and  click here for an order form.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Butterflies are attracted to Rudbeckia hirta when planted in large color-masses.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Longleaf Pondweed

Longleaf Pondweed
Potamogeton Nodosus

Also called American Pondweed, they have two different kinds of leaves -- oval ones that grows up to five inches atop the water, and elongated ones that grows up to 8 inches underwater.  Blooms from June through August. Pondweeds provide food and cover for aquatic animals.

Hand-pulling Longleaf Pondweed to control its spread in small waterbodies for recreational and aesthetic reasons, has been found to be effective. (AN AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT PLAN UPDATE FOR NAGAWICKA LAKE, WAUKESHA COUNTY, WISCONSIN: 2011).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ulysses Franklin "Frank" Grant

I was in Williamstown this afternoon and came across this memorial to Frank Grant, one of the greatest baseball players of the 19th century, in front of the Where'd You Get That!? store on Spring Street.

As always on this blog, click on the photo to enlarge.

Daisy Fleabane

Daisy Fleabane

Erigeron annuus

Monday, July 8, 2013

Common St. John's Wort

Common St. John's Wort

Hypericum perforatum

Widely known as an herbal treatment for depression.   People who take it may develop increased sensitivity to sunlight.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oxeye Daisy

Oxeye Daisy
Leucanthemum vulgare

Farmers don't care for these since, if eaten by their cows, it can cause an undesirable flavor in the milk.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cumulonimbus Cloud

Cumulonimbus Cloud
click to enlarge
The lake dodged a thunderstorm last night, but I think it hit Hoosick, in the direction of this cloud.  This cloud would have scored straight 5.9s were it not for the controversial French judge who scored it a 5.7.

A cumulus cloud that exhibits significant vertical development (but is not yet a thunderstorm) is called cumulus congestus or towering cumulus. If enough atmospheric instability, moisture, and lift are present, then strong updrafts can develop in the cumulus cloud leading to a mature, deep cumulonimbus cloud, i.e., a thunderstorm producing heavy rain. In addition, cloud electrification occurs within cumulonimbus clouds due to many collisions between charged water droplet, graupel (ice-water mix), and ice crystal particles, resulting in lightning and thunder.   

National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office - Louisville, KY

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th Parade - Berlin, NY

Sharon Klein
Berlin, NY Town Historian
Grand Marshal 2013 July 4th Parade
Sharon Klein is a native of Berlin and a charter member of the Taconic Valley Historical Society.  She attended Berlin schools from kindergarten through grade 12 and is a graduate of Hartwick College.  She taught business education at Berlin Central Schools for over 20 years and now serves as the Berlin Town Historian.

This year's theme was "American Adventures."
Lewis and Clark Expedition
Taconic Valley Historical Society

Manhattan's Macy Parade has the Santa Claus grand finale.  I don't know about you, but I'll take the tractors at the Berlin July 4th Parade.

Firewood Raffle
Berlin Central Schools Scholarship Fund

The Red Caps Band
Berlin, NY July 4th Parade

The youngster to the right knows how to enjoy a parade!

Common Dandelion

Common Dandelion
Taraxacum officinale

Taraxacum seeds are an important food source for certain birds.[

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Prunella vulgaris

Also called Self-heal.  Widely used as an herbal remedy for throat ailments.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Who'll Stop the Rain?

KNYGRAFT2 Weather Graph 

    High:                                             Low:                                      Average:
      Temperature: 86.5 °F 41.5 °F 61.3 °F
      Dew Point: 73.0 °F 37.0 °F 56.6 °F
      Humidity: 100.0% 32.0% 86.1%
      Wind Speed: 11.0mph from the SSW - 0.5mph
      Wind Gust: 13.0mph from the ESE - -
      Wind: - - SSW
      Pressure: 30.25in 29.36in -
      Precipitation: 8.55in

These are the charts for my weather station for last month.  Take particular note of the daily rainfall chart.  The total rainfall for the month was 8.55 inches.  That's a lot.  My weather station is in its third year.  Rain for for June of 2011 was 1.06 inches and for 2012 it was 2.51 inches.  

By the way, I believe TV station WNYT (channel 13 - NBC affiliate) has the best meteorologist team.  They are really top-notch.  Of course, I'm slightly biased since the Grafton temperature readings on their weather maps pull my weather station's data real-time.