R is for raptors. When the blue jays seem particularly agitated roundabout Exit 151, it's time to head to the Montclair Hawk Watch, a tiny NJ Audubon Society sanctuary perched atop a cliff on the side of First Watchung Mountain. During the fall and spring, it's not rare to be able to see thousands of migrating raptors in a single day – the Hawk Watch, celebrating its 50th anniversary year, has the log books to prove it. Amazing to relate, this twice-annual spectacle takes place in one of the most highly urbanized environments in the U.S.; the lookout can be reached by public transportation. I just ride my bicycle. As it's not easy to photograph birds in flight, I've borrowed this photo of a broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus) from the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
NB. The Hawk Watch observation platform is broad and very secure, but the short hike, steep stairs through a narrow cleft in the cliff, and metal ladder climbing to the platform may pose a physical and/or mental challenge to some. Appropriate clothing and sensible shoes are a must. Also, watch out for poison ivy!
And R is for ramie and rayon. Not among my faves.
S is for Sky Mirror. There's something wonderfully engaging about Anish Kapoor sculptures, and this temporary installation at Rockefeller Center is no exception. Its reflective surface and concave shape invite the viewer to peer at it, walk around it, explore its context. See more views here.
And S is for silk and suri alpaca and soy silk and stainless steel.
T is for tomato. Every year, one of my gardening goals is to keep some tomatoes in salad-worthy condition through the New Year, or at least through Christmas. Soil viruses are the enemy roundabout Exit 151, and I've succeeded only once. Some years the season is over in September. [Sigh] At least these felted beefsteaks will last longer than that.
And T is for Tencel.
U is for ubiquitous, an attribute sometimes identified with divinity. I don't pretend to understand how some things catch fire in the knitting universe and suddenly are EVERYwhere. Whether it is merit or faddishness or a volatile mix of mass and class appeal. Or perhaps there are undisclosed promotional considerations or powers laws at work. Or, indeed, if knitting itself hasn't reached – or perhaps passed? – a zenith of popularity. Is some kind of crest-and-crash to follow? However that may be, here's some of my participation in knitting trendiness: mini-version of Clapotis by Kate Gilbert, Lantern Moon sheepy tape measure, and Yarn Harlot bookbookbook the first.
And U is for umingmak or oomingmak, also known as qiviut or musk ox (Ovibos moschatus). Another fiber I'd love to use some day.
V is for vote and Get Out the Vote. Today is General Election Day all across the USA. My polling place is a primary school, which remains in session on Election Day and also holds a bake sale. It may not look like much, but humble appearances belie the great power inherent in free public education, free elections, and a little free enterprise.
Three districts vote at this poll. Today there were three electronic voting machines, one for each district. One malfunctioned, but poll workers were well supplied with Emergency Paper Ballots. Turnout was heavy!
During this long campaign season, I've had ample occasion to reflect that negative advertising would seem to seek not merely to smear the opponent, but also to create aversions strong enough to suppress voter turnout. I would hope it's not that easy to persuade citizens to voluntarily give up the exercise of their franchise – if you have the vote, use it. In New Jersey, polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. For nationwide information, see Vote 411 or Election Protection 365.
And V is for vicuña, said to be the most luxurious fiber in the world (I got to pet some at MDS&W), and for Viscose, which is not.
See the rest of my ABCs.