Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Greatest Senator of Our Time

Edward M. Kennedy
1932 – 2009

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on,
the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

Local Music

The Sandy Zio Band will be performing today from 2 to 4 pm on the Green in Princeton as part of the Palmer Square Summer Music Series.

Sandy Zio is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Princeton. Her CD All That I Am, combining soft rock/pop, country and jazz, debuted to very favorable reviews of both her strong voice and great songwriting skill. Click here to listen.

Bring your lawn chair or blanket. Admission is free.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Roger


Roger Tory Peterson, artist, photographer, naturalist and inventor of the modern field guide, would have turned 101 today. Roger's first book, A Field Guide to the Birds, was published in 1934 and was an immediate success. His meticulous illustrations of each bird and brief descriptions of its plumage and behavior became known as the Peterson Identification System. He went on to publish a series of Peterson Field Guides which allowed thousands, and eventually millions, of readers to go outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. Roger became one of the most celebrated naturalists in the world, winning every possible award for natural science, ornithology and conservation.

Birders all over the country think of Roger as a national treasure, but to us, he was an inspiration and friend. He called himself a "student of nature" and taught us to be more watchful and careful in observing the natural world. We were privileged to work with Roger, and his example and encouragement led to the creation of our Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists, a series of guides to birds, butterflies and caterpillars. We celebrate our friendship and admiration for a man whose work is fundamental to modern environmental awareness and our understanding of the need for conservation.

— Karen Stray Nolting and Jonathan P. Latimer

Thursday, August 27, 2009

47 Bells for Senator Kennedy


In Memoriam (Ring out, wild bells)
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

RIng out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year of going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Local Music

Sarah Donner's Indie Music Showcase will be performing tonight from 6 to 8 pm in the courtyard at Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street in Princeton Township.

Sarah Donner is a singer/songwriter and guitarist. A graduate of Westminster Choir College, she is the host and founder of Indie Music Night, a monthly series featuring premium live music, held at Griggstown Pavillion on Bunker Hill Road. Her CDs are Reluctant Cat Lady and The Sleep You've Been Missing. Ian Axel and Bess Rogers will also appear this evening.

This performance is the last of the Summer Courtyard Concerts at Princeton Shopping Center presented by the Arts Council of Princeton and sponsored by the Princeton Shopping Center Tenant Association.

Don't forget to bring a lawn chair. Admission is free.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

May the Wind Be Always at Your Back . . .

Which living person do you most admire?
My wife, Vicki, because of all she does.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sailing on Mya with Vicki at my side
and my dogs, Splash and Sunny, at my feet.

From Proust Questionnaire to Edward M. Kennedy
Vanity Fair, May 2006
Photos: Lauren Victoria Burke (top); Matthew J. Lee (bottom)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Congratulations, Dr. Rona

Our neighbor Dr. Peter A. Rona, a pioneer in the exploration of the deep ocean, is featured in an article, "Diving Deep for a Living Fossil," in The New York Times. Parcel 4 resident Dr. Rona is a distinguished oceanographer at Rutgers University.

Photo: NOAA

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nature Guide: Silver-spotted Skipper



After all the recent rainy weather, the sun was shining brightly today and this Silver-spotted Skipper stopped by to enjoy the lantana.

Nature Guide: American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos — it's everywhere in Princeton Landing — on our roads, in our trees and on our roofs. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer gives us some background on the community's ubiquitous and extremely vocal resident, the American Crow.

"The American Crow is one of Princeton Landing's best-known year-round residents. These large birds have black feathers glossed with violet, black legs and dark brown eyes. Both sexes look alike, but males are slightly larger. Crows are often confused with Common Ravens (Corvus corax), but ravens are much larger and have longer wings and heavier beaks. A raven's tail is tapered at the end, which gives it a diamond or wedge shape compared to a crow's shorter and squarer tail.

"American Crows are a very social species and live in extended family groups. Pairs mate for life and establish a new home territory and nesting site each year. Young crows, which do not breed until they are from two to five years old, often stay with their parents and help them raise later generations of nestlings. Families may include more than a dozen individuals and contain young from as many as five different years. During winter they congregate in large numbers and sleep in communal roosts.

"American Crows are considered one of the most intelligent birds, although there is little scientific evidence to prove it. They are good learners and problem-solvers, and are especially resourceful in their food habits. Some crows have even been known to make and use tools.

"The nest of the American Crow is a bulky construction that resembles a basket of sticks. Both parents build the nest, but the female does most of the work, especially near the end when they are lining the nest. The whole process can take more than two weeks to complete.

"The common call of the American Crow is a harsh 'caw,' but they also make a variety of rattles, coos and clear notes. Crows are aggressive and often chase away larger birds including hawks, owls and herons. If you hear a number of crows cawing loudly, you may find them harassing a Great Horned Owl — we have at least three living in our vicinity."

Photo by Gilles Gonthier

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Board Meeting Schedule

The FVCSA Board usually holds an open meeting on the fourth Tuesday of each month. However, due to late summer vacations and a light business agenda, there will be no public Board meeting on August 25. Instead, the directors will meet in a short executive session. The next regular open meeting of the Board of Directors will be on Tuesday, September 22, 2009, at 7:30 pm at The Smith House.

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer — the Board will see you in late September.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trader Joe's Update

Customer Relations at the corporate offices of Trader Joe's told us yesterday that they do not yet have a definite date for the opening of their new store in the Square at West Windsor shopping center on Route 1. At this time there are signs up saying the store is accepting job applications.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Parcel 6 Evening Sky — 7:59 pm

Forrestal Campus — 3:45 pm


Local Music

Tomorrow, Saturday, from 2 to 4 pm, the Christopher Dean Band will be performing on the Green in Princeton as part of the Palmer Square Summer Music Series.

The Christopher Dean Band is a blues and soul band from Central New Jersey. Leader Christopher Dean, a professional guitarist and singer, plays various styles of guitar ranging from Delta, Chicago and Texas blues to jazz, folk, country, R&B and pop. Previously he and his brother, bassist David Foti, toured worldwide and recorded two albums with Big Jack Johnson. Christopher's solo CD, Dogged 'n Driven, was followed by the band's Three Times A Fool. Their latest CD is Where I Need To Be.

Bring your lawn chair or blanket. Admission is free.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Free Movie Night

Click here for details.

Local Music

Tomorrow night, Thursday, The VooDUDES will be performing from 6 to 8 pm in the courtyard at Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street in Princeton Township.

The VooDUDES describe their music as a mix of New Orleans funk, blues, boogie-woogie and honky-tonk with a pinch of Zydeco, Southern soul and Caribbean party music. They cover old favorites and perform their own original songs. The band has been featured in music festivals around the country and toured in Canada and Europe. Their CDs include Wake the Dead, Night of the Living 'DUDES, Block Party and their latest Let 'Em Roll!

This performance is one of the Summer Courtyard Concerts at Princeton Shopping Center presented by the Arts Council of Princeton and sponsored by the Princeton Shopping Center Tenant Association. Concerts will be held Thursday nights until August 27.

Don't forget to bring a lawn chair. Admission is free to these events.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cost Savings

Property managers Matt Lubas and Sal Pirrera are reporting very good news regarding cost savings for the community on the Princeton Landing website and in the September newsletter. Great news like this bears repeating, so here are some of the accomplishments of the Board of Directors and Signature Property Group that have saved the community more than $100,000 this year.

In previous years the Association employed an insurance consultant at a cost of $18,000 a year. This year the Board eliminated the insurance consultant and hired a new broker, Felsen Insurance Services, which provides consulting services at no extra charge. The former insurance consultants were terminated in April, saving $12,000 for 2009. In addition, Felsen has been able to negotiate some lower rates on premiums, resulting in an additional few thousand dollars in cost savings. Total insurance-related cost savings so far in 2009: Over $15,000.

In the area of pest control, management negotiated an annual contract with JRG Termite & Pest Control instead of a charge per service call as was done previously. (JRG also agreed to offer discounted rates to homeowners for treatment within their homes.) In 2008 the total to JRG was over $25,000. The annual contact for 2009 is $9,600. Total pest control-related cost savings: Over $15,000.

In the past a tennis company has been contracted to install and remove the nets and windscreens at the tennis courts in spring and fall. This year management installed the nets and windscreens themselves. Installing the nets and windscreens in spring and removing them in late fall incurred a cost of $1,200 per visit. Total cost savings by Signature: $2,400.

Princeton Landing has 31 water meters that monitor the water usage for the irrigation system, The Smith House, the pools and the homes in Parcel 1. Management has been devoting a significant amount of time scrutinizing every one of the water bills and further investigating any spikes in usage, estimated versus actual readings, necessary repairs that are the responsibility of the water company and negotiating credits for over billing. So far in 2009 the total charges that have been reversed are around $7,000.

Also, because we have had so much rain this year, the irrigation system has run much less often. This will result in a large savings on the water bill. Management will report back on the actual dollar amount, which is still being calculated.

Mulch is an extra charge in the landscape maintenance contract with Brickman. Only two parcels, which had not been mulched last year due to projects in process, received mulch this year. In 2008 the community spent $64,521 on mulch. In 2009 only $6,700 was spent. Cost savings: $57,821.

You may have noticed fill dirt in the parking lot at the tennis courts. Management was able to secure approximately 120 cubic yards of fill dirt at no cost to the community from L.N. Rothberg & Son, the contractor who recently completed the paving in Parcel 1. This enabled the association to complete grading, seeding and drainage projects throughout the community. If we had to pay for this fill dirt and for trucking fees, the cost would have exceeded $3,000.

The Board of Directors and Signature Property Group continue to look for ways to save and contain costs. As they report these outstanding accomplishments, we will pass the news on to you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Eric Mintel Quartet: Today


The Eric Mintel Quartet braved the heat today on the Green at Palmer Square to give an energetic performance of their distinctive jazz. EMQ features (left to right) leader Eric Mintel on piano, Nelson Hill on sax, Dave Mohn on drums and Dave Antonow on bass. The quartet will return to Princeton on Friday, October 16, for a concert at the Robert L. Solley Theater in the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.

Local Music


Today, Sunday, from 1 to 3 pm, the Eric Mintel Quartet will be appearing on the Green in Princeton as part of the Palmer Square Summer Sidewalk Sale. Don't miss this great opportunity to catch the professional jazz group perform again locally. Click here and here for more information on the Eric Mintel Quartet. Watch this video of their recent appearance at the Bristol Riverside Theatre in Bristol, PA.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Julia Child


Bon anniversaire, nos vœux les plus sincères
Que ces quelques fleurs vous apportent le bonheur
Que l'année entière vous soit douce et légère
Et que l'an fini, nous soyons tous réunis
Pour chanter en chœur: "Bon Anniversaire!"


" . . . no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing. This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"
— Julia Child, My Life in France

Julia Child would have been 97 today.

"Good Morning . . .


. . . what we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000. "
Hugh Romney, aka Wavy Gravy, August 16, 1969


Click here to listen to "America" by Paul Simon, performed at Woodstock by Bert Sommer on August 15, 1969.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Local Music

Tomorrow, Saturday, from 2 to 4 pm, the Karl Latham Group will be performing on the Green in Princeton as part of the Palmer Square Summer Music Series and the Summer Sidewalk Sale.

New Jersey native Karl Latham is an internationally recognized drummer and educator known for his ability to play a variety of musical styles — jazz, avant-garde, funk, rock, Latin and more. He has performed with notable artists in the New York area and in California and has toured extensively in Europe. Latham has released two solo CDs, Dancing Spirits and Resonance. Click here to listen to his music.

Bring your lawn chair or blanket. Admission is free.

Flashback



Here's something that will make you feel like billion year old carbon — this year is the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You Are Always Near




If you haven't seen the hauntingly beautiful video of Kseniya Simonova's winning performance on "Ukraine's Got Talent," it's definitely worth a look. The 24-year-old artist specializes in sand animation, a style of live performance art. Kseniya uses sand and a light box along with dramatic music to tell a story of love and war set amid the turmoil of Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during World War II. Click here to watch the video.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Local Music

Tomorrow evening, Thursday, Rackett will be performing from 6 to 8 pm in the courtyard at Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street in Princeton Township.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Rackett, their MySpace page says, "Sound Like . . . two college professors, a graduate student, a lawyer and an IT guy playing electric rock accompaniments to lyrics penned by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet." That lyricist would be Irish-born Paul Muldoon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Princeton University professor and poetry editor of The New Yorker, who was described by The Times Literary Supplement as "the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War."

The self-described "three-car garage rock" band began in 2004 and features (left to right) Stephen Allen (keyboards, vocals), Nigel Smith (bass, vocals), Paul Muldoon (lyrics, guitar, percussion), Bobby Lewis (drums) and Lee Matthew (lead guitar, vocals). Rackett plays venues in New York City and tours the US and Europe. The band is currently working on its third CD. Read more about them on their website and click here and here for their music and video.

This performance is one of the Summer Courtyard Concerts at Princeton Shopping Center presented by the Arts Council of Princeton and sponsored by the Princeton Shopping Center Tenant Association. Concerts will be held Thursday nights until August 27.

Don't forget to bring a lawn chair. Admission is free to these events.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Princeton Farmers' Market — 11:42 am

Simply Nic's


Simply Nic's, a line of all natural sweet & savory shortbread bars, is one of the vendors at the Princeton Farmers' Market every Tuesday. Kristin from Simply Nic's is shown here with a display of Cardamom-Candied Ginger, Lavender, and Rosemary bars in two- and six-packs. Owner Nicole Wilkins Bergman of Princeton was inspired to create her cookies by a sweet & savory shortbread recipe from her Dutch mother-in-law. Before starting Simply Nic's, Nicole served as chief of protocol for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. Read about her melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies on her website and in a story in the latest issue of Princeton's U.S.1 newpaper.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Parcel Projects: Parcel 2


A major maintenance project is now underway in Parcel 2. Contractor Rainbow G & J Painting has begun the first phase of the work, starting with the replacement of siding and trim as needed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nature Guide: Monarch Butterfly



Today this female Monarch butterfly appeared on lantana plants in Parcel 6.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Local Music

Tomorrow, Saturday, from 2 to 4 pm, SunDog will be performing on the Green in Princeton as part of the Palmer Square Summer Music Series.

SunDog, the rock band from Hillsborough, performs a wide range of music, including classic and contemporary rock and pop, and country and southern rock. SunDog members Joe, Chris, Debbie, Billy and Phil are known for their strong lead vocals and signature harmonies, electric and acoustic guitars, synthesizer effects and sax. Their CD Painted Sky features their own original music.

Bring your lawn chair or blanket. Admission is free.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nature Guide: Skipper Butterflies




These Skippers appeared on lantana plants in Parcel 6.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Local Music

Tomorrow evening, Thursday, the Alfred James Band will be performing from 6 to 8 pm in the courtyard at Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street in Princeton Township.

The Alfred James Band is a cello-driven acoustic rock band from Ardmore, PA. The band was founded in 2001 by Alfred Goodrich (Hun School '94), who is the only cellist in the world playing a black five-string carbon fiber cello — standing up. "Better Days," the first single from AJB's album Lucky If Easy, was featured on the NPR program, All Songs Considered. It received the highest rating of any artist on the program.

This performance is one of the Summer Courtyard Concerts at Princeton Shopping Center presented by the Arts Council of Princeton and sponsored by the Princeton Shopping Center Tenant Association. Concerts will be held Thursday nights until August 27.

Don't forget to bring a lawn chair. Admission is free to these events.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Princeton Farmers' Market


Witherspoon Bread Company, the artisan bakery in Princeton, is a regular vendor at the Princeton Farmers' Market every Tuesday. Ian from Witherspoon is happy to assist with a selection of their breads and other products. Today's sampling included croissants, baguettes, assorted ciabattas, organic dipping oils and focaccia seasoning. Click here for the store hours and address.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nature Guide: Skunks and Raccoons

There are a number of animals found in Princeton Landing that are active at night and sleep during the day. These animals are called nocturnal. They have highly developed senses of hearing and smell and especially good eyesight at night. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer discusses two of them — skunks and raccoons.

"Everyone knows when a Striped Skunk has been around, even though they may not have seen it. The evidence of a skunk's presence often lingers long after it has departed. But a skunk's strong scent is only released when it feels threatened. There is no problem when it is left alone.

"About the size of a housecat, this beautiful mammal is black with a white V beginning at the top of its head and dividing into two white stripes along the sides of its body. The length and width of the stripes vary, and the bushy tail may have a white tip.

"A Striped Skunk spends the night feeding on mice, eggs, insects, grubs, berries and carrion. At sunrise it returns to its den, which may be a burrow in the ground, under a building or boulders, or in a wood or rock pile. Males live alone, but several females may share a den. Striped Skunks do not hibernate and may appear on warm nights during winter. A litter of five to nine young are born in early May. They may been seen in late June or July following their mother in single file.

"The Raccoon has a reputation for cleverness. It is known to open garbage cans and unlock screen doors. Often a raccoon will stand on its hind legs to examine objects with its dexterous front paws. It is even known to dunk its food in water before eating it.

"A raccoon's most distinctive markings are its black "bandit's mask" and the alternating light and dark rings on its tail. Its body fur is a gray mixture of salt and pepper hairs. Raccoons eat almost anything, from fruits and nuts to insects, frogs and fish. In autumn they eat voraciously to buld up fat needed for winter. An adult can reach a weight of 30 pounds.

"During cold spells in winter raccoons stay in dens in hollow logs or rock crevices, but they do not hibernate. Their young are born in May or June and stay with their mother until fall. She uses a low twittering sound to reassure her young and growls or snarls to indicate anger."

Photo by Bernard Landgraf

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Where Does Our Money Go?



Previously we posted an overview of the FVCSA 2009 Operating Budget and a breakdown of expenses in the budget category called "administrative expense." In this post we will review "grounds & landscaping," the Association's biggest expense category. FVCSA expects to spend $1,058,124 for grounds and landscaping this year. The chart above shows where this money goes. You can click on the arrows at the bottom of the image to see the breakdown in a table of percentages. Click the box to the right of "Slide 1/2" to see the charts in a full-size window.

The landscape maintenance contract with Brickman is the Association's largest single expense. It makes up 56% of the grounds and landscaping category. The Board of Directors has asked Brickman to prepare a landscape master plan for our community. Having a long-term plan may help the Association spend its landscape dollars more wisely and limit or prevent increases in these costs. Once a plan is prepared, it will be reviewed by the Board and by the Landscape Committee. The Board will also seek input from the parcel committees and from any other interested residents.

With abundant rainfall this summer, irrigation expenses will probably be lower than budgeted. However, any savings may be offset by other costs. For example, nearly all of the amount budgeted for 2009 snow removal has already been spent. If we incur additional snow removal expenses in November or December, expenditures for the full year may exceed the amount budgeted. At 16% of this category, snow removal is a major expense. But we cannot control the winter weather, so it is a difficult cost to control. Our property managers obtained competing bids for the 2009 contract. The rates charged by our longtime contractor Shearer Penn were found to be quite competitive.The only other option to reduce this expense would be to provide a lower level of service that may not meet the expectations of many of our residents.

Trash removal costs are also a significant expense, taking 12% of this category. Some residents have suggested reducing this expense by having trash pickups once a week instead of twice. Signature discussed this with our trash removal contractor and found that reducing pickups would save only about $10,000 annually. That may seem surprising, but the explanation is simple: trash disposal costs are based on the volume of trash removed, not the frequency of pickups. Our contractor assumes we will continue to dispose of about the same amount of trash even if pickups are only once a week. However, the Board will discuss the idea when the 2010 budget is prepared to see if the community thinks the cost savings would be sufficient to justify the change.

We'll end this post by mentioning two smaller expenses. Landscape replacements and improvements are discretionary to some extent. If the community adopts a long-term master plan, these expenses could be controlled and may be reduced. On the other hand, tree maintenance costs are likely to remain a significant expense and may increase. We are fortunate to have something many communities don't — a large number of mature trees. But our beautiful trees need to be pruned, treated for pests and diseases, and removed when they die or become a safety hazard.

It is important to understand what it costs to run our community and how the Association spends the money that comes from the monthly maintenance fees we pay. This post is the last of our three-part series on the 2009 FVCSA operating budget. We hope these posts help our readers in the community understand where our money goes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Attention Parents: Butterfly Festival

On Saturday, August 15, from 10 am to 4 pm, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association will hold its 9th Annual Butterfly Festival.

This festival is an event the entire family can enjoy. There will be naturalist-guided tours of the Kate Gorrie Memorial Butterfly House, nature hikes, live entertainment, children's actvities, demonstrations and exhibits about the environment and conservation. Food from local vendors will be available.

There will also be a Butterfly Costume & Hat Parade, open to both children and adults. To participate, you must register at the Membership and Development Booth between 10 am and 12:30 pm. The parade will be held on the main stage at 12:45 pm. Click here for an entry form.

Admission is $5 per person or $15 per carload with parking provided across the street from the Watershed Association courtesy of Bristol-Myers Squibb. No pets allowed. Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is located at 31 Titus Mill Road in Pennington. Click here for more information.