Friday, December 30, 2011

Many Ways to Use Those Coconuts!

Coconut palm in our backyard.

Every year we try to get better about using all the coconuts that fall in our yard in the Abacos.

Here is what we have tried to do with them thus far:

  • cooking projects
  • arts and crafts
  • drinks
  • garden composting
  • landscaping
  • more will follow, no doubt.
Whatever you do, DO NOT stand under these formidable plants and look up.  


The first problem I encountered, after conquering my fear of being hit by one, is this: 

According to a youtube film I watched, this technique really works. First, take off the exterior layer
Use a knife or your teeth. This fellow can do it  with his teeth in 11 seconds!

Try This!!

That looked so easy!  Let me give it a try.
To be continued.......

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bye Bye, Irene - Updated

She is now officially Little Miss Irene and is downgraded to a tropical storm and is no longer "Hurricane Irene".

Ironically, the minute the announcement went out that she was downgraded, the wind picked up at our place and two big trees came down on our property.  The first big drop was our neighbor's tree and a huge branch dropped on our fence.  The second big tree was on our property and fell across the road, stopping traffic until our village emergency trucks came and removed it.

The winds whipped for quite some time.  In fact, these were the first really bad gusts of wind that we encountered from her of any significance.  Fancy that.


Let me entertain you.  Sit back and relax.  Put on Willy Nelson, and listen to his song while you scroll down through the rest of the photos showing our transition through Little Miss Irene's visit to Hastings on Hudson.

Our story

We patiently waited for her  tantrum to subside so we could take a walk or get out of the house without worrying about a tree falling on us.  Below, is the transition that I photographed from humid, wet Irene, to dry cranky Irene, to bye bye, Irene.




This morning, the 29th of August 2011, the morning after Irene, there were a few "hangovers" to take care of.  Take a look at our Saw Mill Parkway, that is now the "Saw Mill Canal".  Our neighbor photographed people kayaking on it yesterday.  This morning I got shots of it just languishing in the beauty of our sunny, bright, windless early autumn morning.

Anyone want to go kayaking with me? Here is a photo that our neighbor Ron Hollander took of the Saw Mill Canal yesterday. 

Just for the record, we are aware that this is not a happy story for everybody.  They are saying on the news that there were 20 deaths from her, and most of it sounds like people injured and killed from high waters.  We are sorry for what happened.

We have relatives in Connecticut who have no electricity and probably won't have any for days. We have friends in Vermont who are this morning, trying to find their way through a lot of damaged trees.

Before we moved to Hastings on Hudson, we lived on Roosevelt Island on the East River of Manhattan and their tree damage and flooding is considerable. Take a look at their Roosevelt Island Blog. to see the tree damage.    

We have friends in the Bahamas who are wishing for some light in the evening, phone service and some running water.

We are sorry for the damage and injuries that did occur.

These storms appear to be increasing in magnitude.  I hope all of us will start taking note of the scientific evidence we have that these storms, these environmental disasters, are partly caused by human activity over which we have some control.

It was impressive to see the way that a strong mayor and city management affects urban behavior.  Our New Yorkers proved yet again, that  they move quickly when they have to. They efficiently evacuate their homes when deemed dangerous.  They use public transport a lot and walk when they cannot ride.  They may be famously cranky like Irene, from time to time, but they are efficient and quick and full of good spirit.

No doubt, part of this story is just plain mother nature overwhelming us, as she is prone to do.

Bye, Bye, Irene

By the way,  a friend of mine in Australia recommends that we move from Willy Nelson to Leadbelly to get a really good orchestration for the storm. I have to admit.  It really does sound good.  You can listen to it here:  FRANMART BLOGSPOT

Singin' in the Rain - with Irene

It is now one hour into the time when we are supposed to feel the presence of Little Miss Irene.  What we experience thus far is lots of water, lots of rain,.  It has been raining steady for at least five hours now.  Every once in awhile a big gust of wind goes by, but I think wind storms are not going to necessarily be our problem.  Our problem is WATER!  Everything already looks pretty waterlogged. 

Thus far, our house is both high and dry.  We are up on some cliffs, high above the Hudson River.  Here is what it looks like out our window.

From our attic window, the skyline looks like this with  LOTS OF RAIN, LOW VISIBILITY..

Our deck is truly wet now, and the flowers are bowing from the weight of the rain.

That's all for now. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We Plan for Irene

Just south of us, some 7 miles from here, is the northern border of New York City.  We hear through the news that New York City is evacuating some 300,000 people who reside in areas where flooding might occur from the storm  This is what their evacuation zones looks like that they have put into place:


We are up the Hudson River some seven miles beyond the map at Hastings on Hudson. Up here, we do not have evacuation plans,  But many of us work in New York City in areas that are zoned for evacuation, like our son who works near Battery Park, or our friend who owns a business down near the water on the East Side of Manhattan.. 

The Hudson River could flood here in Hastings on Hudson.  But our home is up on the cliffs overlooking the river and facing the Palisades. We do not expect to have problem with flooding like the lowlands might.

It is possible that we might get strong gusts of hurricane winds that topple trees because the tree roots have lost their hold owing to heavy rains. It is also possible that we could have wind damage, considering our height above the river.  But as of now, this is all speculation.

In any case, most of us are hunkered down and are following instructions to get to safe quarters and stay there until the hurricane passes by.

We can forget about public transport in NYC this afternoon because they are shutting down the subway system, stopping the buses and also the Metro rail lines.  That is really amazing.  New Yorkers are big public transport users. I cannot imagine what people will do if they want to get around.  New Yorkers are also good walkers and bikers, which they might do as a last resort.

When all transportation pretty much stopped on September 11, 2001, many of us put on our shoes and walked out of the city.  So it wouldn't be the first time that walking would become the "transport of choice".  However, given the size of the storm expected, I imagine that people won't walk around much either.

I just went up to our attic and took a video of how our skyline looks this afternoon.  When the film starts, we are looking Northwest toward Nyack and the Tappanzee Bridge on the Hudson River.  when the film ends, it is aimed south toward New York City, almost to the George Washington Bridge.Tomorrow, I will try to photograph this same scene again to see how it changes.  Here is a video of our skyline at 3:30pm today taken from our attic..


 Our public library is on the river, next to our train station into the city, a 32 minute train ride from here. One looks down at the Hudson River.  I noticed that big ships had come down the Hudson River to get away from the potential violence of the ocean these next few days. 

Big ships were coasting into the river, and just hanging out there, for the moment.  You can see them through the trees from the Hastings Library.

Hastings Train Station with New York City in the Background
The sign says SERVICES SUSPENDED at the train station.

Although not deserted, our village is almost completely empty of people.  Few cars are in the area.

And the library is closed on Saturday, which is most unusual.

Photo of library taken through the window.

This is how we look today, the day before Hurricane Irene is supposed to hit us.  She is due here in our backyard at 8am.  So when we get up in the morning, I will try to re photograph a number of these places so that you can see the difference.  Until then, pleasant evening!

Miss Irene Didn't Miss Much

Here we are, waiting for cranky Little Miss Irene, our uninvited guest, to arrive.  We have been watching her roll along for quite some time now.

We were most worried and concerned when she rolled over our settlement in the Bahamas and held her eye to the Abacos for most of Wednesday. We heard stories of surges, whipping winds, pouring rain. We were so relieved to find out yesterday that our neighbors are all safe and sound, and that no homes are seriously injured in our area of Bahama Palm Shores and Casurina on the Great Abaco Island.  We are grateful for that.  Its satellite cays also appear to have made it through without too much trouble.  We now hear mainly about brush and downed trees on the road, no electricity and water, no phones.  Hardships, but manageable.  I should point out in case some are wondering, the most recent news from down there says that there is now electricity and internet in Marsh Harbour.

The entire time that the hurricane whirled over the Bahamas, spitting rain and shoving sand and water around, the only news we could get from here in New York was an enormous amount of scary hype indicating that the hurricane Irene was headed toward us, on the East Coast.  Now, I do not feel that it is unimportant that the hurricane is coming our way, mind you.  But it saddened me that so little time could be found by our national reporters to tell the story of these very brave island families, hunkered down, and reporting out to the rest of us mainly through Facebook (when the electricity was on) and through satellite phone (when it was not) as to how they were faring.  We are so grateful for their safety through this terrible storm.

The Abaco Islands is an area where people from Canada and the United States and from countries of Central America have second homes, in addition to the many first homes of Bahamians  Without these brave local Bahamian reporters, mostly reporting on Facebook, we would have no idea how our settlements fared and would still be wondering what happened. 

Irene actually is headed here today ( I am saying this just in case someone managed to never turn on the TV or the radio or speak to anybody for the last 5 days), and I thought that just for the record, I will put up some photos as we go along, of what is happening in our backyard.

I doubt that it will have any of the extreme shaking and blowing that we saw in the photos of our neighbors in the Bahamas putting up with a Category 3, but one never knows.  But since I am here in New York, I thought that it might be "pay back" time and that I should photograph for others what we are getting here in the NY area, actually, reporting from Hastings on Hudson, New York, a rivertown, just 7 miles north of New York City.

For all you Bahamians who have second  homes, children, brothers and sisters, parents and friends in this area, and to all our friends who do not live in the New York City area, here is how it looks, thus far.

 It is not actually a sunny day.  The grey fog covers us so heavily that we cannot see the Hudson River in the distance.  It has not yet started to rain.  The light is such that it is good for photographing flowers.  Our side yard looks very peaceful, like this:

As of 12 noon, it has started to drizzle.  Outside it is quiet.  Few cars go by.  Perhaps one or two per hour, at most.  I think everybody is at the grocery store and at the hardware store getting supplies.  We stayed home today and just filled up our canteens, buckets and extra pails with water in case we lose electricity later.  We have cleared off our decks, checked all the windows to make sure they are properly closed.

Here is how it looks at 1:36pm. Our deck shows a touch of rain.  And you can see from the photo below that the clouds are becoming more dense.  Signing off for now.  More to follow.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July, the Hot and Sultry Month is Upon Us

     the day before,
steam rolls off the grass,
sun melts hot colors of summer flowers
shade comes in sliced pieces
shattered by tall grasses
wind sneaks through bushes
 frenetically waving

Black and white of winter,
Browns and oranges of autumn.
Have disappeared forgotten.
Winter Memories Shown Here

Orange lilies bob their heads
reaching out above the hydrangeas
delicate flickering petals flying
sedately touching summer hot streams of light.

Orange lilies dominate.
Last year it was hot pink phlox.

The garden shifts its mood
which way the seeds blow
how seedlings survive winter storms,
which roots drink in cold spring rain
absorb or radiate this simmering heat
sometimes leaves just shrugging down and hanging there
waiting for water.

Stonework defines the landscape.
However, the bushes and trees reinterpret the lay out to suit their own needs.

View from Attic

From the ground

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dressing Down to Dress Up

I love putting fresh flowers together from the garden.  It dresses up everything, except me.

I used to wear formal suits and heels but now my work dress is "garden casual".   I  wear a pair of old hiking boots with white sports socks, worn out shirts, baggy pants covered with paint stains.  To top it off, I wear a big hat the covers my face and protects me from the hot mid-day sun.
Here I am on the steps getting ready to head out to the garden.

My office

Project Number 1

Typical work site for Project # 2

Staff meeting - just the way I like it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cheap Fun

Due to the pleasures of grandchildren, I have not written very much on my Blog this spring.  But after spending almost a month on the west coast, we returned to New York to discover that New York is hot and humid!  And the garden looks great.  The peonies have already come and gone, but the roses and lilies are flourishing.

As for grandchildren, I highly recommend the following incredibly expensive toys:  water, a bucket for pouring, and a water hose.  After cardboard boxes and a rubber ball, water is the best toy ever invented.

Children also revel in playpens, if one needs a way to contain them for a few minutes.  But they have to use it as a group.  Its more fun.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring is here for sure

 When this Azaelea bush is in bloom, I know that for sure, spring is here.  It is such a splash of color, just before everything else comes out in bloom.  Without exception, it is the first bush in our yard to be in full color and always contrasts with the brown bushes and trees that will bloom a few weeks later.

The giant peony is also set to bloom, and looks lovely with the tulips tucked underneath.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Posted by Picasa

Spring is here, and the outdoors has shifted from frozen and cold, to cool and beautiful. My Australian friend recently reminded me in my "Spring is here" blog, that it is autumn there.  But spring is here, for sure.

I took some shots of the yard and tried to record the sound of a bird that I like.  I wish that I knew the name of the bird, but I don't .  I have concluded that he is a small guy and not so colorful, because he is hard to locate.  He has a high whistle, like the sound of someone whistling to bring in the cattle or sheep.  I love the sound of it. It is a sort of high "da dee dee, dee, deee.". Unfortunately, he only sings when the video is not running.    If I ever do catch the fellow singing in one of my videos, I will add him to this site.

For my kids, I captured their father heading out the door with the compost.

Take a look, click here:  

 Composting in the spring

Your Dad misses you.  He and I had to pick up the slack on many of your old jobs that you left behind when you headed for college.

I remember one cold wintry day when our daughter walked in the door with the compost bucket in her hand and said "Well, that is that last time that I'm doing that", with her head all wet, and her feet all muddy.  And it was.  We let her get away with it because he helped out in so many other ways.

As for the boys, I recall them taking the compost out every once in awhile, under duress.  But the end result, thanks to all their dedicated work, is lots of flowers and very rich dirt in the side yard.  Thanks, kids, for all those buckets that you carried.

Joe and I drove past our neighbors and three little kids were having an egg hunt, with their Dad watching them from the front porch.  One of the little boys was so excited that he forgot to run, and stood frozen in place just imagining where an egg might be, with the silliest grin on his face, his shoulders all scrunched together and wringing his hands with delight, that big silly grin on his face.  He was about 6 years old.  We cracked up laughing at him.  It reminded us of the many egg hunts that we had in our side yard.  Joe and I also used to hide the kids annual art supplies along with the colored eggs.  Our kids found hidden in the yard, sidewalk chalk, squirt guns and art materials, like crayons and paint sets.

We used to have a contest to see who would find the last colored egg.  I think one of the eggs actually made it to the 3 or 4 month mark before it was found.  No one ate it.

Here is our back yard during a lovely spring rain.  Click here:  Backyard in spring

Friday, March 25, 2011


Colors Galore

Space to Explore
We arrived on Saturday to be met by perfect weather, peace and quiet, and so much color that it was hard to know where to focus one's eyes.

Coming from the black,browns and dull greys of winter in New York, then to the pastel colors of the Abacos is really staggering.

Even though there has been limited time to play on the beach, those few moments that we had are so memorable.  The water is crystal clear.  We saw dolphins, Bally hoo, baby baracudas and jacks.  Joe almost bumped into some angel fish with his head when he was snorkeling out front.  They were so close that he couldn't see them.

Just beautiful.  I will always miss this place.