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Sunday, August 31, 2008


I imagine this looks much the same as it did when these houses were built in the 1700s. People didn't have grocery stores where they could buy ready-packed food - they ate what they grew, and that meant a garden.

Inside the stockade, space was limited, so a back yard garden would have been for small stuff one wouldn't want to go out to the fields to get: herbs, medicines and flowers.

This particular garden is currently nestled in among trees that are over a hundred years old, but in the days of the early Schenectady, this would have been wide open to the sky.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


In the 1680s, a wood stockade fence protected the settlement from attack. Although those wood walls are long gone, the area formerly enclosed by them is still known as the Stockade.

This is one of the typical homes located in the Stockade district. I forgot to write the date down, but I believe it was built in 1753.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Busy bee

It isn't easy to catch a bee when she isn't moving at high speed, and I consider myself lucky that this one took a moment to savour her nectar find so I could take her photo. I wonder what the honey will taste like?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The grass needs cutting

Yes, the front garden needs weeding!

Between the milkweeds and the creeping ground cover, some of this wild grass took root and now that it's late in the growing season, it's almost ripe and ready to propagate itself for next spring.

I liked the close-up effect, but this is actually quite tall - over 4 feet tall, in fact. I tried to look it up, but I'm not sure exactly what plant it is - for all I know it's an expensive ornamental grass that a bird dropped here after visiting a neighbour.

Nature can be wonderful.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jackson's Gardens

This is one of the formal plantings in Jackson's Gardens, on the grounds of Union College. Standing here, it's a bit of open space, bright and sunny amid the trees.

Stone walls separate the sections, and an immaculate, lush grass lawn carpets the path under your feet.

The little one has spotted the small pool and fountain and can't resist racing off to go see it close-up.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shelf fungi

There are some dark, moist areas in Jackson's Garden on the Union College campus. Perfect for these shelf mushrooms to grow. What an amazing colour to see among the earthy greens and browns of the deep woods.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chester A Arthur

Chester A Arthur, 21st President of the United States, Union College alumnus.

This statue of him stands just outside the entrance to Jackson's Gardens on the north side of the campus. I couldn't resist the juxtaposition of the stolid Presiden and the playful children - almost missed the shot, they were moving so fast!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Monarch butterfly caterpillar

My wife keeps some milkweed around because Monarch Butterflies like to eat them. This is one of the caterpillars, moving around a milkweed leaf. Head is at the left.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jackson's Garden

On the grounds of Union College, not far from the Nott Memorial, one can find Jackson's Garden. Jackson's Garden is 8 acres of paths, plantings and trees that roughly follows along Hans Groot's Kill.

The Kill (local lore is that kill is the Dutch word for creek.) is a slow moving, quiet piece of water. I hope this photo captures some of the peacefulness of the place.

If you visit the Garden in the summer, be prepared for the mosquitoes. With all the water and shade, it's a perfect place for them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Inside the Nott memorial

The inside of the Nott Memorial is very much an open space. The main building is a cylinder, capped by a dome-shaped roof, supported by steel columns.

There are 3 'floors' - balconies is more accurate - that run round the outside perimeter of the building. There's an art gallery on the second and third levels, and seating for a quiet place to study as well.

Curved iron staircases carry you from level to level, although there is an elevator as well. The floor on the first level is exquisitely tiled.

I loved the light coming in through the stained glass windows and the gentle curves of the stairs and walls. Even my 6 year old loved this wonderful place!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunset at the Nott Memorial

The interior of the Nott Memorial is mostly empty space, so the as the sun sets, it shines in the west windows and strikes the east windows, here.

I liked how it looked better in person, but I couldn't bear to not try to photograph it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nott Memorial

This is one of those iconic images of Schenectady. Almost always presented in association with Union College, the Nott Memorial is a spectacular piece of architecture.

It's situated at the east side of an open field; almost everyone takes a photograph looking east. This makes an afternoon photo more interesting than a morning one. Well, more illuminated, anyway!

I like the juxtaposition of the grand old building, with the FW Olin building peering over its shoulder at the left. Olin is the building with the telescope dome and satellite dishes on the roof.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Surprise at the college

I thought I'd go over to Union College and get some photos of the Nott Memorial as the sun was going down. Took the whole family, including the dog. Imagine our surprise when we met a lovely young lady walking her dog... and her conures.

Yes, conures. Plural. This rascal was grooming her dog! He's a Green-cheeked Conure. We were enthralled. Our dog got along famously with hers, and the little one was thrilled to watch the birds walking about.

To be clear, this is all outdoors, on the walk next to the memorial. What a wonderful surprise!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Great Escape

It was another so-so weather day, and the water reminded me of the day at the Great Escape, so I decided to post a sunnier photo!

I couldn't resist the colours in this one, and I somehow managed to catch the little one at just the right moment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reach for the sky

This grape vine is 3 years old, and I'm hoping to train it to run on a trellis in my yard. It seems to have a mind of it's own though, and it climbs ever higher by the day. I love how exuberantly hopeful it is!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great Escape

Took the little one up to the Great Escape / Splashwater Kingdom up in Lake George. There's been an amusement park there since I was a boy - back then, it was called Storytown, USA. Located in a wooded area off NY route 9 just south of Lake George, there's something there for just about every age range.

It's currently a Six Flags affiliate, which means more 'thrill' type rides, and more teenagers. Why not? They have the money... Anyway, in and among the big name rides are a few remnants of the old Storytown. There are the Swan Boats, the train, Alice in Wonderland, the tram and this lovely old swing ride. Very gentle, one goes round in a circle and centrifugal force gently pushes one out to the side. Perfect for the young and the young at heart!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Toad in the yard

Bufo americanus, the Eastern American Toad. These guys are found all over New York, even in the city.

The little guy has a friend down the street who caught two and decided to share one with us! He's in an old, unused fish tank (with moss, grass and sand) for the night, but we plan to release him into our garden in the morning.

They eat bugs, which is a Very Good Thing in my opinion! He ate two grasshoppers this evening...

To take this photo, I put him on my knee and used the flash. I rather like the dark background. The flash didn't seem to bother him as much as quick movements did.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Garbage day

Here, the city collects our trash. The 2007 budget allocated $5.6 million US to collect the city's trash! The city has a fleet of garbage trucks, recycling trucks and even some trucks to pick up old appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and stoves.

The night before pickup day (or the morning, depending on how early one rises) we take our trash to the curb. Our garbage gets sorted by type:
  • Lawn clippings and yard waste goes into brown paper bags to be composted
  • Plastic containers go into a labeled recycling bin for recycling
  • Glass containers go into another labeled recycling in for recycling
  • Paper and cardboard get bundled together for recycling
  • Finally, garbage like plastic packaging, food containers and the like go into plastic bags, bound for the landfill
It isn't the most glamourous of subjects, but the men who collect this trash deserve a big Thank You from all us citizens who benefit greatly from their hard work.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The corn is as high as...

Well, it's taller than a 6 year old! This is a community garden in the city, in the neighbourhood where I grew up. I normally have a small garden of my own, but I've been tempted to join in with one of several community gardens to help out.

The corn is growing nicely; I'd estimate it's about 8 feet tall.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mont Pleasant Family Festival

Monday, the 4th was the 2nd Annual Mont Pleasant Family Festival, held at the Orchard St Park. This is the neighbourhood where I grew up, and it was a bit strange to see it as an adult. The Fraternal Order of Eagles has a barbeque, the United Way and the Literary Task Force of Schenectady County sponsored the many free items (books, do-it-yourself ice cream, several fun 'science' experiments and more, Ruth Pelham and the Music Mobile were here as well as the Capital District Community Gardens Veggie Mobile. Also, Graceway Ministries brought a bus with puppet shows and Schwann's Ice Cream brought a truck with free treats and some 'for sale' items, with proceeds going to United Way.

This photo is of Ruth Pelham. She's leading an impromptu band of 'cardboard box guitars' made by the children out of cardboard boxes that soda cans are delivered in and rubber bands. She pre-cut a hole for the sound box, and has the children use the cut-out circle to create the guitar bridge. Then they colour them and have a concert with their completed instruments. Not only can they be played as guitars; flip them over and they double as drums, too!

Ruth rocks! It was nice to see the good turnout.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

'Yuan' - Garden

Sculpture in the rose garden. The inscription reads: Variation on the Chinese character YUAN - garden. Sculptor - Robert Blood.

It's nestled up by the hill in the back of the garden; a very shady, relaxing spot to be on a hot summer day. Roses all round, trees to cool; a tranquil spot in the heart of the city.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Theme day: Metal

I don't have Eric's graceful Tour Eiffel, but Schenectady is known for one metallic item: Trains.

This is the wheel of a locomotive, resting on a rail. Both made right here in Schenectady. Nature has provided some other objects made in Schenectady: maple seeds trapped between the wheel and rail.

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