Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Back

Remember to move your clocks back one hour tonight. Daylight saving time ends at 2:00 am on Sunday, November 1.

Happy Halloween

Photo by Mansour De Toth

Theme in Yellow
by Carl Sandburg

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o'-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Witches' Spell

Painting by Henry Fuseli

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

William Shakespeare
Macbeth: IV.i 10–19; 35–38

Ilya the Manatee Rescued

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lindberg

Ilya the manatee, who was in danger of perishing in cold New Jersey waters, was returned safely to Florida yesterday. He was found huddling in warmer water from a discharge pipe of the ConocoPhillips oil refinery in Linden. After four rescue attempts on Tuesday, which took more than 7 1/2 hours, Ilya was pulled from Morse Creek, a small tributary of the Arthur Kill. He then spent two days recuperating at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) in Brigantine. Authorites kept Ilya's rescue secret because they were concerned that a crush of media and well-wishers might stress the sea cow.

The rescue was coordinated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Manatee Rescue, Rehabilition and Release Program. They were concerned about Ilya because the water temperature in Morse Creek dropped as low as 53 degrees, well below the 68 degrees manatees need to survive. More than 30 rescuers, including volunteers from the MMSC, ConocoPhillips Bayway Refinery, U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Point Pleasant Rescue Dive Team and the Miami Seaquarium. They used a 300-foot net to maneuver the 1,100-pound, 10-foot-long manatee onto the bank of the creek. Then a crane from the refinery lifted him onto a stretcher which was loaded on a truck and driven to the stranding center. After two days of recuperation, during which Ilya ate more than $300 worth of produce, veterinarians determined that he was healthy enough for the flight to Florida. He was loaded aboard a Coast Guard C-130 cargo plane, covered with wet towels, and flown south. Click here to see a video of Ilya being loaded onto the transport craft.

Ilya is now at the Miami Seaquarium but will be released eventually into southeast Florida waters, pending a proper weight gain and other medical tests. "We like to get them back out as early as possible," said Chuck Underwood, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Jacksonville, Florida. Bob Schoelkopf, director of the MMSC, said, "We're very relieved. We spent a lot of days worrying about him." We did too — this is great news!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves . . .

Our thanks go to the Brickman crew for working hard all day on the Sisyphean task of removing Princeton Landing's leaves.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween's Coming

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Parcel Projects: Parcel 11

Despite today's rainy weather, intrepid contractor L.N. Rothberg & Son began the paving work in Parcel 11.

Attention Parents: Event at Terhune Orchards

Terhune Orchards just emailed about a special session of their Read & Pick Program tomorrow morning from 9 to 10 at the farm. A story will be read about apples, then every child can fill a bag of apples picked from Terhune's own dwarf trees. This is a perfect event for young children and it will be held rain or shine. If it is too wet, apples can be picked from big baskets in the barn. NBC News 10 will be filming the session. There is no charge for this event, but you must call ahead to reserve a space. The phone number is 609-924-2310. Release forms will be required by the TV station. Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road in Princeton.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Parcel Projects: Parcel 11

In preparation for paving work, contractor L.N. Rothberg & Son, Inc. repaired catch basins in Parcel 11 today. Asphalt work begins in the parcel tomorrow.

Nature Guide: Daddy Longlegs

Daddy Longlegs like this one are often mistaken for spiders, but they come from a different order of arachnids, the Opiliones, known as harvestmen. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us about them.

"Unlike spiders, harvestmen are harmless and have no venom glands. They also have no silk glands and are unable to spin a web. Harvestmen usually hunt at night, feeding on insects and other small creatures such as slugs, snails and earthworms. Harvestmen lay only one batch of eggs each year. Adult harvestmen die when the weather gets too cold, but their eggs can survive through winter and hatch in spring. Harvestmen are most commonly seen in late summer and fall, during harvest, which may account for their name."

Attention Parents: Little Pumpkin's Big Surprise!

If you're looking for a sweet story to read to your children for Halloween, Little Pumpkin's Big Surprise! by children's book author Elizabeth Alexander is a great choice. It's the story of a little pumpkin who feels left out until he finds a friend and the wonderful surprise that is waiting at the end of the story. It's perfect for children ages 3 to 7. Click here to order from Amazon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Autumn in Princeton Landing

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall Planting

Thanks to Chris, Steve and our Brickman crew
for the fall display at the front entrance.

The Smith House Garden — Friday, 1:19 pm

Friday, October 23, 2009

Old Oak Removed

We are sad to report the emergency removal of one of the very large old oak trees near The Smith House. A resident passing by on Thursday noticed that the trunk was splitting and reported the problem to management. Property manager Matt Lubas informed the Board and had Silva Guard, our tree contractor, make an emergency inspection on Friday morning. Silva Guard determined that the split was severe. The strain on the tree had even caused steel supporting cables installed years ago to snap. Bad weather expected this weekend would have put even more stress on the weakened trunk, so the big tree posed an imminent danger to nearby homes, The Smith House, and cars and pedestrians on the Loop Road. Our property managers concluded that it was a serious hazard and could not be saved. For safety reasons they recommended immediate removal.

We're very sorry to see the old oak go, but a neighbor's sharp eye and quick action by Matt Lubas and Sal Pirrera may have prevented serious damage or injury.

What's at Trader Joe's

If you're a diehard Trader Joe's fan or just curious about what the specialty grocer has to offer, don't miss the lively article "Let's Try . . . Trader Joe's" by Jamie Saxon in the latest issue of U.S. 1 newspaper. The informative piece shares thoughts and tips on what's available at the store, which recently opened in the Square at West Windsor shopping center on Route 1 at Meadow Road.

Click here to read the article online or pick up a copy of the October 21 print edition. U.S. 1 is available free at many locations in our area. Trader Joe's is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Possible Manatee Sighting in Bayonne

Photo by USFWS

Someone reported seeing a manatee in the Kill Van Kull near the Atlas Yacht Club in Bayonne, but it's unconfirmed. The caller made the report to the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday night at about 8:30. The Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police and the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) were called in, but they were unable to find the manatee and confirm if it was Ilya. Chuck Underwood from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said, "The sighting was only for two or three minutes so, although it seems likely, we can't confirm it." As temperatures fall, Bob Schoelkopf, director of the MMSC, warns that "we're running out of time."

We're not surprised Ilya would be curious about the Kill Van Kull in Bayonne, but we hope he heads south to warmer waters soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One of Our Books on ABC's FlashForward

My godson Thomas Kulik, natural science wiz and sci-fi fan, was excited to tell us some very interesting news. Last week's episode of the new ABC TV show FlashForward featured Birds of North America, a field guide that our Nature Guide Jon Latimer, bird expert and artist James Coe, and I revised and updated a few years ago. This guide is one of the leading authorities on American birds. It has introduced hundreds of thousands to the sport of birding. The book appears in the third episode, "137 Sekunden," which follows a story line about crows dying mysteriously around the world. Thanks to FlashForward for choosing our field guide and to my eagle-eyed Tom for being such a loyal fan — of FlashForward and of our books!

Parcel 6 — 4:56 pm

Someone's been eating the viburnum.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FAQ on Long-Term Reserves

Residents of Princeton Landing are probably aware that the Board of Directors is reviewing the Association's policy on long-term capital reserves and considering adoption of an updated reserve study. I recently wrote a set of "Frequently Asked Questions" to help homeowners understand why it's important for Princeton Landing to have adequately funded long-term reserves. The FAQ explains what a reserve study is, why we have long-term reserves, and what the issue means to homeowners in our community. For those who want more in-depth background, it includes links to additional information on a variety of other websites. Click here to read the FAQ.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Parcel 2 — 5:30 pm

Friday, October 16, 2009

Manatee Stranded in New Jersey

Photo from USGS

A rescue attempt is being planned right now for a Florida manatee stranded in New Jersey's Arthur Kill. The manatee, whose name is Ilya, is huddling near an outfall pipe at an oil refinery in Linden. Marine scientists know this sea cow well. He has been making his way up and down the East Coast for the past 10 years and has been spotted recently in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland.

The outfall pipe is the only place where Ilya can now find water warm enough to survive. Manatees need a water temperature of 68 degrees or warmer. Below that, they become susceptible to hypothermia. The water in the Arthur Kill, located between New Jersey and Staten Island, is estimated to be between 60 and 64 degrees. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC), a rescue group in Brigantine, has obtained permission from federal wildlife authorities to try to move Ilya to their facility. There he will be placed in a holding tank to warm him. After a few days he will be flown to Florida, possibly aboard a military transport plane.

Bob Schoelkopf, director of the MMSC, reports that Ilya appears to be in good shape. For the time being, he is being guarded by authorities in a fenced-off, heavily guarded section of the refinery that is not accessible to the public.

Today's bad weather made a rescue effort impossible, but another attempt may be made tomorrow or Sunday if the rain and wind subside. Charles Underwood, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, said he hopes Ilya can hang on until the storm passes.

So do we.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

94 Acres

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


There are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Sing—and singing—remember
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow
Any more than the wind
Blowing ten thousand years ago.

Carl Sandburg

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nature Guide: Pearl Crescent

The bright orange and black Pearl Crescent, a butterfly we described in spring, can still be seen around Princeton Landing in autumn. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us more about it. (Click on the photos to see a larger image.)

"The Pearl Crescent is a small butterfly with a wingspan of between 1 1/4 and 1 5/8 inches. Its color pattern is quite variable. The upper side of its wings is orange and brown crossed by fine black marks, and has a black border. You may also notice a distinctive dark patch containing a light-colored crescent on the underside of its back wing.

"Pearl Crescents feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, especially asters. They are most often found flying alone in weedy open areas such as pastures or vacant lots, or along roadsides, but they sometimes gather in groups near puddles. Pearl Crescents constantly patrol their area, flying low to the ground and often gliding. They will sometimes approach you quite closely, even landing on you for a moment.

"Pearl Crescents have several broods from April to November in our area, and throughout the year farther south. During winter in the North they hibernate as caterpillars. A Pearl Crescent caterpillar is dark chocolate brown with brown spines and white patches on its head."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

D&R Canal — 12:41 pm

Saturday, October 10, 2009

News From Simply Nic's

You can now purchase Simply Nic's Sweet & Savory Shortbread Bars online at Regional Best and Foodzie. Owner Nicole Bergman tells us that holiday baskets will be available online soon. Click here to find out where you can purchase Simply Nic's products locally or here to place a special order.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nature Guide: Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly

As the weather turns cooler, there are fewer butterflies in our area. An occasional Monarch passes through, heading south to its wintering grounds in Mexico. Cabbage Whites are still around but will disappear with the first frost. Even so, there are some butterflies you can still see along our trails. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us about one of them — the brightly colored Eastern Tailed-Blue. (Click on the photos to see a larger image.)

"Only about an inch long with a wingspan of 7/8 to 1 1/8 inches, the Eastern Tailed-Blue is commonly found in sunny, weedy fields, especially around patches of clover or alfalfa. The upper side of a male's wings is usually blue. The wings of some females are paler blue while others are brown. The color of the underside of either gender ranges from bluish white to tan. If you can get a close look, you may see a very narrow tail on the lower part of each wing, which gives this butterfly its name. You may also notice several distinct black spots on the underside of the wing, along with two or three large orange spots at the outer edge, near the tail.

"Eastern Tailed-Blues tend to fly close to the ground, but they sometimes bask with their wings at a 45 degree angle. During warm weather adult Eastern Tailed-Blues lay three broods of eggs, from April to October or November. The dark green caterpillar hibernates in winter, becoming a pupa and then an adult the following spring."

Good Morning

"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Courtyard Work at The Smith House

Work is in progress in the courtyard of the Smith House garden. Marcal Construction is replacing paving that was unattractive and unsafe. The new walks and patios will be constructed in a running bond pattern of concrete pavers, a sample of which is shown below. Instead of the previous stairway that led up to the courtyard, a more accessible ramp is being installed as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sugar + Sunshine Bakery

If you haven't done so already, be sure to visit Sugar + Sunshine Bakery on Market Street in Plainsboro. Owners Gigi Burton and her husband Ray opened the shop in April 2008. They've built a loyal following — and a stack of accolades from the food press as well, including being selected best of the best by New Jersey Life magazine in their Best Bakeries category.

We can't say enough good things about their delicious collection of cupcakes, which are made daily with all-natural ingredients. Pete Genovese of The Star-Ledger wrote that he had "found chocolate cupcake nirvana." There are no preservatives and no artificial ingredients in any of Sugar + Sunshine's desserts. Everything is made from scratch in small batches in their on-site kitchen. In addition to their extensive variety of cupcakes, they have cakes, pies, cookies, brownies and more. Beverages include Small World coffee, teas, made-to-order hot chocolate and cold drinks without high fructose corn syrup. Click here to see a menu, which includes prices and their hours of operation.

You can check out their website, but we recommend going right over to the Village Center to see for yourself. (You can always join your neighbors later on the Loop Road to walk off those cupcakes.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

D&R Canal Towpath — 12:52 pm

Just Around the Corner

Thanks to property manager Sal Pirrera for relocating the Unsightly Site to a less conspicuous but nearby spot.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nature Guide: Angular-winged Katydid

This Angular-winged Katydid appeared in the front garden today. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer was there to check it out and gives us some information about katydids.

"Katydids are nocturnal insects related to crickets and grasshoppers. They are big and green and have large hind legs and extremely long, threadlike antennae. They also have wings but are poor flyers. When they fly, they hold their wings in a glider-like position and flutter downward. When they reach the ground, they walk to a nearby tree and climb up its trunk.

"Katydids are most abundant in the tropics, but the eastern United States is home to over 100 species. They live in trees, such as cherry, oak and maple, or on bushes or grasses. They feed on the foliage of the plants they inhabit.

"The name katydid comes from the male's repetitive rasping song on summer nights, which sounds like it is calling 'katydid, katy-didn't.' The song is made when a male rubs his forewings together (called stridulation) like a bow on a fiddle. Katydids hear through a structure called a tympanum, which is located on each foreleg. Because they are nocturnal, katydids are frequently heard but seldom seen.

"Katydids produce one generation each year. In early fall females deposit 100 to 150 oval eggs in lines on leaves or branches, or in the crevices of bark. The eggs last through winter and the young appear in early spring. They resemble adults but are smaller and lighter colored."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Diary of a Young Girl

I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.

Don't miss the only known video footage of Anne Frank. The Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam has begun showing it on the official channel dedicated to her on YouTube. The powerful footage was taken during a neighbor's wedding on July 22, 1941. It briefly shows Anne before she and her family were forced into hiding to avoid the Nazis during the World War II occupation of the Netherlands.

Anne Frank died at 15 in the German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, just two weeks before British and Canadian troops liberated the camp. Her posthumously published diary is one of the most widely read books of all time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

94 Acres

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sonnet 15

When I consider every thing that grows
by William Shakespeare

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment.
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment.
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay,
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.