Saturday, December 31, 2016

Q4 - Misc Recap

Some highlights of the fourth quarter:

  • Trip to D.C. to see the Notorious RBG live in her first speaking role in an opera!  Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment."  The show was at the Kennedy Center, and was really well done.  The lead male (a tenor) easily hit the notorious nine high Cs of his aria - and then showed off by holding the last one extra long.  But RBG stole the show just by being there and reading her lines from the back of her props.  The guy sitting next to me was a Vietnamese citizen attending college in Indiana; he told me RBG is his idol.  He is in love with the idea (or perhaps the ideals) of the American justice system.  He hasn't actually done much traveling in the U.S., but he got permission from his parents to fly out for the opera.  While I was in town, I went to the National Zoo, the U.S. Botanical Garden, and a few museums.  One of my fellow guests at the B&B was in town to see the giant pandas.  She is apparently obsessed, and is seeing the world one zoo at a time on a quest to see giant pandas.  
  • Black belt testing for B & L.  So proud of both of them!!
  • Thanksgiving in Florida, Christmas in New Hampshire.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Nature Walk / Bird-Watching Tour of BBG

The guides, a husband-and-wife team with a scope, were quite good.  We saw a red-tailed hawk, a turkey vulture, many white-throated sparrows, some mallards and black ducks, robins, cardinals (both male and female), a blue jay, and - most thrillingly - cedar waxwings.

Mallards always remind me of Suzie, who loved them.

A single rowan tree, its berries at just the right level of ripeness or fermentation, was alive with cedar waxwings.  The guides trained their scope on it, and I went back home to recharge my batteries and get more pictures in the late afternoon.  Unfortunately, only the close-ups really came out well; the photos that were intended to give a sense of scale and presence are singularly unimpressive (it's hard to distinguish between dead leaves and live waxwings, as you can easily in person).

Who is that masked bird?  Only the Waxwing knows!

Toward the end of the day, I also saw the red-tailed hawk again, much closer, with its back to me and the lowering sun, take off from its perch and fly away in a spectacular flash of red-gold.

The seeming yellow drips of wax on the tip of the tail were amazingly vivid through the scope.

The berries are always sweeter on the other end of the branch.

Trying another angle!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Warm Election Day in Cold Spring

In prior years, I made a point of going to the polls during obvious off hours.  Since I wanted to go hiking today, I figured I'd at least try to get to the polls super-early, like around 6 a.m. when they open.  The best-laid plans etc., etc.  By the time I got there, the lines were the longest I'd ever seen, looping around the building's lobby.  I seriously considered giving the whole voting thing a miss -- after all, NYC is a sure thing no matter what I do.  Stalling for time, I turned around and headed to Starbucks.  Thus fortified, I reluctantly went back to see how things looked.  It was worse - the line was now out the door!!!  But I now had food and drink, as well as the final Sookie Stackhouse book, so I was able to pass the time pleasantly.  Once I got into the voting area, it was really chaotic.  We had to stand in multiple lines, which crossed each other at times.  Worst of all were the line(s) to mark our ballots; it would have helped if poll workers stood by to help maintain order and keep things moving along efficiently (e.g., pointing out when marking stations opened). 

However, I was still done by 8 a.m., so it wasn't that bad.

Up in the Hudson Highlands, the day started clear and cool.  I went up Washburn (white) to Nelsonville (green) to Undercliff (yellow), then walked down Fishkill Ave to Main Street.  The library was open, so I took a quick look.  They have some good selections.

Over the course of the day, it warmed up a bit - the puffy jacket came off on the uphills, and by the time I reached the rolling approach to the summit, my long-sleeve fleece was also tied around my waist.  Yes, I was in short sleeves for the descent!

In the local neighborhoods I passed through on my way down to Go-Go Pops, there was some nice synergy with foliage, signs, doors, and cars.

As for the election, I went to bed around 11 p.m. after the electoral maps were starting to become fairly clear.   I woke up around 3 a.m. and found out the results.  It's been a grim election cycle indeed from my point of view, as no foreseeable outcome would be a "win" for the country.  On balance, I was hoping that Clinton would win very, very narrowly and that the libertarians might gain enough traction to be invited to participate in future debates.   This did not happen.  Now, my liberal/progressive friends are succumbing to bleak despair -- they are assuming (I think wrongly) that a vote for Trump is a vote for bigotry, hate and fear.  I think the story is more complex than that, as the few Trump voters I know personally are not so motivated.  There is much to lose, and much to dread, with a Trump presidency, but there could be a silver lining.  Who knows - maybe he or his appointees will have some helpful new ideas.  (Other than building border walls and alienating our remaining allies, as those ideas do not seem particularly helpful, or even particularly new.)  And maybe, just maybe, the nation might possibly reawaken to the importance of constitutional limits on executive power. 

Saturday, November 05, 2016

More Autumnal Splendour

Northern gate to the native flora garden

June peak, my petal!  (Don't they know it's November?)

The rock garden was replete with pops of color:


lavender & bee

I was feeling oddly lethargic, so I exited at the southern gate and crossed Flatbush Avenue...

... entering Prospect Park near the carousel.

I headed toward Grand Army Plaza, and paused to watch people playing on the incredibly inviting DO NOT CLIMB sculpture.

Then, wandering among the quiet streets...
There's always someone who can't be bothered to clear out the cobwebs, eh?