Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene Precautions: Some People Listened. Flowers Continue to Bloom Regardless!

I rode my trusty Fuji racing bicycle today along the beach roads. I was surprised at how many homes were not boarded up. These houses are all beachfront, or directly across the small road from the water. The homes that were properly boarded up look oddly forlorn with the addition of plain plywood window coverings. I think it will prove to be the smarter thing to do, though. I'm not sure who lives in this beautiful vintage home, but they seem to be a lovely older couple and they always have the most beautiful hibiscus, perennials and beach roses.

Meanwhile, a bit further down the street is this newer home. Once an older home is razed, the new one must meet much more stringent building codes for shoreline properties. As a result, they're all much taller than their surrounding, older neighbors. Most of them are huge—as large a house as is possible on their property. A lovely hibiscus anchors the front gardens here.

This huge home has direct water views, but is a bit further inland along this salt water marsh. Every window was covered with plywood. Some owners only covered their largest, full-plate windows.

In soft focus, the homeowner of this three-story waterfront home can be seen on the porch roof. He and his son were installing wooden shutters over the larger plate glass windows. In contrast is this sharply focused beach rose—part of a lengthy stretch of them climbing along a split rail fence. Long Island Sound is just to the right of this photo.

A nicely updated turn-of-the-century beach cottage with its front windows boarded up. The "wave" petunias on the porch are just stunning in person. I love the stone pillars, a reminder of the home's lengthy past.

I'm in love with this shingled home. It's across the street from the Sound, but has water views. The style of the home reminds me so much of the graceful past it most likely has had. Across the street is a mega mansion built in the last 10 years, not my style at all.

A row of smaller, older beach homes, some boarded up, some not. Just a few hundred fee further down the shoreline, homes like this are razed every year and McWater Mansions are built. Nice as they are, and I'm sure they're quite stunning inside, they lack the character of these shingled homes which have seen so many Nor-Easters, hurricanes, Fourths of July, Labor Days and many generations of family fun.

Not quite completely finished yet, he new Madison Beach Hotel. This is next to the older homes in the photo directly above. A lovely, and beloved, turn-of-the-century hotel, The Wharf, was torn down two years ago to make way for this new, much bigger building. I'm not sure how I feel about it. The hotel is about a year late in opening, and has lost funding at least once. The old Wharf had a fun bar with lots of period fishing/waterfront type items, old signs etc. This one will probably be much more upscale in a modern way, not my taste in other words. 

Not coincidentally, I managed to capture a lovely brand new Volvo S60 sedan, in black. As good as it looks in photos, in person, this new medium-sized Volvo is stunning.

Several kayaks had yet to be taken away. I would have thought they would be the first to go. These will become projectiles if the winds are even half as strong as they are supposed to be.

Tuxis Island, a small island just off my town. This is where the annual Fourth of July fireworks are sent off from. Today was rainy and foggy, but I managed to take a nice bike ride and snap these photos for the blog. I could have used windshield wipers on my glasses though!

My trusty ride today, my 1982 Fuji 12-speed racing bike. I'm down to one working brake caliper, the rear one, and I have to hold the gear selector for any gear except for the highest, lol. I'll have it tuned up in the spring. It's still a great bike. Compared to my also-trusty Schwinn mountain bike I use for my daily chores, this one rides like the proverbial Cadillac. It's smooth and so much easier to work up to speed. I use it for all of my longer rides.

A L S O  S E E N  O N  M Y  R I D E  T O D A Y

A closeup of a beautiful pink Hibiscus.

Late summer phlox looked great in front of those latticed porch screens.

I think I photographed, and posted in this blog last year, this seaside garage, but it's so nicely landscaped and designed I had to shoot it again today. 

A closer view of the Hibiscus in front of the garage perennial garden. Several homes along the beach road have Hibiscus plants this year. more than I've ever seen.

Also in front of the garage's picket fence was this beautiful purple Aster.

Another view of the garage perennial garden. The flowers vary all summer long, but there are several plants blooming the entire season.

The beach rose "fence" mentioned above. I really hope we don't get the 80 mph winds forecast for us. I can't imagine these plants looking like this if we do. Long Island Sound is to the left and behind those hedges. These homes are on the opposite side of the little road in this area. Each house has its own private beach and old-fashioned wooden-planked boardwalk leading to their beach and cabanas.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

$1.19 Car of the Week Trifecta

Well, it took several months, but I finally have collected all three bodystyles of the Cadillac CTS—the original sedan, the Sportwagon, and the new Coupe. I would have liked to find them all in the same color, but beggars can't be choosers, lol. I'm lucky that my Stop & Shop grocery store stocks these inexpensive Matchboxes and Hot Wheels at all. 

I remember Matchbox cars costing close to a dollar apiece back in the 1960s, perhaps 79¢, so it's a really good deal for them to cost only $1.19 forty years later. Of course, they're not made in Britain anymore, but the scale and appearance is still really good. I'm a bit picky when it comes to tiny cars. They all have stamped-in taillights, but many are painted body color, a no-no for me. I will only part with my $1.19 if those taillights are painted red. The same with headlights—the "better" Matchboxes, like these Cadillacs, have tiny decals embedded in the headlight lenses for an even more realistic appearance.

M E A N W H I L E — I'm done with Hurricane Irene preparations. I've taken in all of my potted plants, the porch furniture, cut all of the blooms from my zinnias, dahlias and marigolds, and moved my collections of glass items away from the windows. If it doesn't rain in the next 1/2 hour, I'm going to take a bike ride down to the shore to take some photos of the waterfront preparations. We're supposed to have an unrelated thunderstorm this afternoon, and Irene should be here starting in the wee hours tomorrow and last all day. At least it seems as if the brunt of the storm for us will happen during the daylight hours, always less nerve wracking than a middle-of-the-night storm when you can't see what all the snapping and crashing going around you is. I'm positive I'll be without power for a day or five, but as soon as I can post, I will. I won't be outside like it seems every TV news anchor does these days, but I'll snap some photos looking out the windows during the storm.

S I G H TS   &   S O U N D S — Even without leaving the yard, and even though we're at least 12 hours away from feeling any of the early effects of Irene, it's clear that change is afoot. I can hear many hammers pounding away in town, plywood window covers, for sure. Looking up, flocks of birds seem to be getting out of town, raucously announcing their departure. Crows, ducks, geese, all squawking incessantly as they fly away. On the other hand, car traffic across the train tracks is down to a bare minimum. And I think Amtrak might have suspended some trains. I haven't seen a train in a couple of hours.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pre-Irene Yard Views

Hurricane Irene is bearing down on us. Even though it's a few days away, landfall is slated for Sunday late afternoon/evening, we're apparently right in the bull's eye. I'm pretty sure the yard will be a complete mess afterwards. We have a lot of ancient trees around here that might fall, and I'll probably be without electricity for a few days. I thought I'd capture the yard in all of its late August glory before Irene visits. Above, I think the golden yellow of a sunflower contrasting with the bright blue skies of late summer—one of the prettiest color combinations available to a gardener.

Note: The link furnished above is to a blog by Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan from WVIT 4, Hartford, CT. I find his writing to be very clear and concise, and I get more out of reading the forecasts than I do watching the usual 3-minute TV segment. I'll be keeping track of the storm through Ryan's blog.

The first wild Thistle is blooming alongside the veggie garden. The birds and butterflies love these purple blooms.

A bright pink Brandywine heirloom tomato, just ripe for the picking! It's on my windowsill as I type this. Each tomato is almost a full pound in weight and five-inches in diameter.

The second Brandywine plant is a bit later to ripen, but has six tomatoes maturing. That's a lot for an heirloom plant in my experience.

A surprise awaited me in the garden this morning—a Heavenly Blue morning glory! I thought I was only going to have bright pink glories this year, but this blue plant has snuck in. I'm thrilled!

The lone blue blossom amid a sea of magenta. The combination will be really beautiful this fall. I hope the plants, and the garden, survive Irene.

I am just as much in love with sunflower buds as I am their blossoms. The shapes of the bud are so alien looking!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Tigers Are Back!

Once again, there are Tiger Swallowtails in the yard. I photographed this variety here last year, just about a year to the day. And once again, this particular Tiger Swallowtail has a piece of his wings missing. I think it must be quite an "eat or be eaten" yard when it comes to the littlest of critters. I'm continually amazed at how "friendly" the swallowtails are. They flitter around from flower-to-flower, within inches of my camera, seemingly unfazed by my presence. In contrast, the Monarchs are much more skittish, and it's hard to capture their images without using the zoom function. This year's crop of Tigers seem to be paler in color, more of a cream than the almost butter yellow of last year. I guess all sorts of environmental factors come into consideration. We've had much more rain this year, with fewer extremely hot days. We've also had Black Swallowtails this year, captured digitally here in July. I'm not positive, but considering the timeframe, the swallowtail caterpillar I shot with my camera earlier this summer, might have been one of these Tigers.

They love my zinnias.

It's quite easy to see in this view why they are named Tiger! They are about 4-inches long and wide.

Captured mid-flight leaving one zinnia for another, I love this photograph! All photos clickable to enlarge, as always.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photopourri, Floralphernalia

The first arrangement of flowers from my garden. They seem to be later than usual. Zinnias, Dahlias, Sedum and Dusty Miller sit on the arm of my late grandmother's turn-of-the-century wooden Morris chair. One of her handknit seat cushions can be seen above the flowers and one of my "Not Wrapped Too Tightly" footstools is to the right. The more colors the better!

This variety of Hydrangea is in its final color change, from white to pale blue to pale purple to this almost-burgundy.

My first Dahlia to bloom this year. I didn't get my usual corms this year, nicely marked in packages, and bought these as small plants from a stand in front of a private house. They were only $1 apiece, and I spent quite a few minutes picking out 5 plants with colors that would compliment each other. They were all marked by the homeowner/grower with the color/variety. Only thing is, all five plants are actually the same color, lol, this not quite yellow with a tinge of pink and white. They're nice though, and I'll be able to practice my arranging skills using monotones.

The second variety of Hydrangea is blooming for the first time this year. It's bright white and has very sparse flowers. I love the mix of full blossoms on the outside and the tiny closed ones on the inside. This is the fully mature flower, the center ones don't open or get any larger, I'm not sure of the name of it.

The same "tableau" as in the post below, but this time with the thin golden brocade curtains shut. This western window lets so much sun in at this time of year, I have to close the curtains most days or the apartment turns into an oven. I love the golden color that these curtains impart the whole room during the late afternoons.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cranberry & Cobalt in the Sun

(click to enlarge)

I've been cleaning and rearranging my apartment to help myself feel better. I've gathered some cranberry and cobalt glass items in the western livingroom window. The afternoon sun really illuminates them. These are a collection of old family items, thrift stores, gifts and even a WalMart purchase or three. The glass shelf they're sitting on is the rear window of an antique family car, probably one of great uncle Art's mid-1920s Buicks. When the sun is just right, the edge of this piece of glass is a really bright chartreuse, really distinctive. 

The begonia in the middle was a gift from my friend Mary. She clipped some leaves off of her large plant to propagate a new one—something begonias do readily. After several weeks, no roots appeared. She brought the rootless leaves over to me one day, knowing my bright green thumb might help. I kept them in water another 6-8 weeks and still no roots. As a last ditch effort, I planted them in good potting soil, in one of my hand-painted clay pots. New leaves started appearing in less than a week! I have no idea why they didn't root in water, but the plant is doing really well right now so I won't think about it anymore!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer's Flying By

The seasons are changing again. Yes, it's still quite warm, summer will technically be summer until the end of September, but the air is different now, the nights are different. I'm not looking forward to the coming fall and winter. Let's enjoy the sights of summer while they're all around us! All photos clickable to enlarge.

This small Monarch butterfly has been visiting my zinnias recently.

I planted bright magenta morning glories this year instead of the blue variety. They're just starting to flower, and like the cool nights of September and October more than the wilting heat of summer.

My now almost nine-year-old "annual" begonia is doing really well in this humid, rain-filled summer.

None of the sunflower seeds I planted this season came up, but this "volunteer" from last year is more than 8-feet tall.

A wild sumac is flowering on Pink Gardens' property.

The "bleu-cheese" pumpkins are flowering quite regularly now, but have yet to develop any fruit. Yes, that's a bee in the center of this blossom. All of our squashes and pumpkins have the same color flowers, no matter what variety they are. Their shapes vary slightly, however.

A pink zinnia glowing on the east side of the vegetable garden. They're so bright and saturated with color it's almost impossible for my camera to capture them.

Black-eyed Susans in the front yard of the house. It has been a VERY buggy year. Every blossom and leaf of every flower and vegetable in the yard has been bitten, eaten and spit out, lol. We keep an organic yard, so no pesticides are used. We just have to think of it as growing a colorful salad bar for nature's creatures, large and small.

One of the strangest variety of Petunias I've ever seen. They're chartreuse and pink, and the blossoms vary from almost solid pink, to solid chartreuse, to pinwheels of both colors. This is a single plant! The flowers are so thin and fragile that if an insect even flies by, they rip and tear. It's planted alongside bright orange single marigolds, a purple tradescanthia, and a pale pink Verbena, which isn't visible in this photo.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Repost and Update: '33 Continental Awarded!

My good friend, Barry Wolk, of Michigan, just wrote to tell me that his 1933 Continental Flyer has won a couple of awards this summer. In his words:

BTW, the '33 Continental Flyer you scouted out for me just won "Best Unrestored Car" at the Krasl Concours and second place in the Hagerty Youth Judging at the Concours at St. John's, formerly Meadow Brook.

This car was located near me, and I went and looked it over before Barry bought it, otherwise sight unseen—story below. I decided to repost this original story from last February in honor of the great showing ths car has made in its first midwest summer car show circuit. Big round of applause!

Meanwhile, I continue to recuperate, relatively slowly. I have two good days, and a bad day. I've been taking some photos of the gardens and will get around to cropping/resizing them to post in the not-too-distant future, hopefully. Thank you to all that have written to me or left comments on the blog.


A gorgeous example of Art Moderne sculpture, the hood mascot for the 1933 Continental Flyer. The Continental's motto printed underneath this ornament states, "Powerful as the Nation." All photos in this post are clickable thumbnails and enlarge nicely.

Last October my friend Barry Wolk from Michigan, asked me if I would take a look at a car for him. It was located in nearby Deep River, Connecticut, and was a one family-owned 1933 automobile, a Continental Flyer sedan. What I found was not to be believed, outstanding in almost every way for a 77-year old manufactured item.

Now right off the bat, it's not a Lincoln Continental, it has no affiliation with Lincoln whatsoever. It was built by the Continental Motors Company, and was produced in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan, in 1933 and 1934, The Continental was an offshoot of the DeVaux automobile, and was available in a 4-cylinder Beacon, a 6-cylinder Flyer and a slightly larger 6-cylinder Ace. Less than 4,500 were produced in those two years. The Flyer sedan I looked at in Deep River, which Barry bought shortly afterwards, has to be the best one in existence today. It was owned by one family from new, had been garaged and cared for by a very meticulous man, an engineer of sorts that kept the car in immaculate condition and spent years improving some of the mechanical parts, and was passed down to his equally fastidious and caring son in the 1960s. When Barry asked me to go take a look at it, he told me it was in good condition, but I had no idea it was going to look the way it did. It was truly a time warp. 

And since he has owned it, Barry has been bringing every single piece of it back to like-new, or better, condition. Barry is a collector of art and cars, and his "Continental Collection" includes Lincoln Continentals, a Continental Mark II convertible, a Mark III convertible, a mid-fifties Chris-Craft Continental motorboat, a '55 Porsche Continental cabriolet and now, this 1933 Continental Flyer sedan. For much more about Barry's collection, click here. For a piece of art I've created for Barry, click here.

Kit Foster, a renowned freelance writer in the automotive history world, has blogged about the '33-'34 Continental automobile before. For his piece on this car, click here

Hemmings Motor News' Daniel Strohl, has written about Continental Motors and the Continental cars, here. And for a bit more about the DeVaux automobile, the predecessor to this Continental, click here

Now, let's get to the good part, lol, the photos!  These were taken in Connecticut the day I saw the car. I sent these to Barry, and he made his decision. He writes that the car is REALLY shiny now, and the mechanicals have been given a thorough going over as well. Keep in mind this 77-year old car is almost all original, although the upholstery was redone at some time in the past.

The odometer shows just slightly more than 50,000 original miles! I've helped Barry with the typography to restore the center gauge, which is for gas level and engine temperature.

The famed Continental "Red Seal" engine, versions of which powered some of the most revered cars of the 1920s and '30s.

The original brochure.

For more photos of this outstanding automobile, click "Read More" and jump to the next page.