Hasheesh Row

“Row(Purple Kush)” by hexthat – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – plant used to produce hasheesh

Sick and tired of his medicinal habit and his womanizing, Leila muttered, “You are despicable.”

Hank grabbed the railing of the balcony, his knuckles white. He glared at Leila and gritted his teeth. “You’re a woman, you don’t understand.”

“I have had enough. Go to your medicine, or to your women. I want a divorce.”

Hank’s jaw dropped. Her father supports them. Hank, the money handler says, “I will never give you a divorce, never.”


Indigo Sky book cover

Indigo Sky book cover

My story in “Indigo Sky”, names and exact wording have been changed, was inspired by the real-life of love and hate of a married couple and their escapades. His medicinal habit was founded upon a hasheesh pill he found in his doctor friend’s apothecary.

One morning, in the spring of circa 1854, I dropped in upon the doctor for my accustomed lounge.

“Have you seen,” said he, “my new acquisitions?” A rapid glance showed most of them to be old acquaintances. “Conium, taraxacum, rhubarb—ha! What is this? Cannabis Indica?”


“That is a preparation of the East Indian hemp, a powerful agent in cases of lock-jaw.”

Fitz pulled out a broad and shallow cork to reveal an olive-brown extract, of the consistency of pitch and an aromatic odor. Drawing out a small portion upon the point of my penknife, I was just going to put it to my tongue, when “Hold on!” cried the doctor—“do you want to kill yourself? That stuff is deadly poison.”

Indeed!” he replied. Fitz replace the cork and put it back on the shelf, only to sneak some after consulting the Dispensatory under the title “Cannabis Indica.”.

German postage stamp from 1991, commemorating 750 years of the apothecary profession

German postage stamp from 1991, commemorating 750 years of the apothecary profession

He tried one pill of five-grain weight. On different days, spread apart, he tried more, increasing by five grains each time, all with no effects, until he reached thirty grains. That’s when his life changed. His hallucinations, exaggerated imagination, and potential over analysis on simple subjects, drove him to see his doctor, who said all is normal, you will not die, and gave him a sedative to calm him down.


His fears diminished as his hallucinations increased. It soon became a habit he could not break. It was not long before he wanted more and turned to opium.

There were no rules, no laws, and no comprehension to the effects. Hasheesh or hashish and marijuana, means dry weed, is made from the flower of the plant. According to Fitz Hugh Ludlow’s 1857 book, “The Hasheesh Eater,” how the plant is used depends on where it’s grown. In northern latitudes the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa) grows almost entirely to fiber, becoming, in virtue of this quality, the great resource for mats and cordage. Under a southern sun this same plant loses its fibrous texture.

It is distinguished from its brother of the colder soil by the name Cannabis Indica. The resin of the Cannabis Indica is hasheesh. To all the nations of the East it’s know to possess powerful stimulant and narcotic properties, and is used by all classes of society as a habitual indulgence. Fitz continues in his book, the dried plant is smoked in pipes or chewed, as tobacco among ourselves. The chain of its bondage may last for a long time—where captivity becomes painful. He desired to stop, but had great difficulty doing so. According to his life story, he did finally release himself from the narcotic habit and addiction


A small piece of Hashish, obtained in Paris

Hashish is a sticky, thick, dark-colored resin (like sap), which is made from the flower of the female cannabis plant. Today Hashish is an illegal drug in the United States, Canada, and many other countries.

It is controversial, since some people think it and marijuana should be legal, some think it should be legal only for medical purposes, and some think it should not be legal at all.

Louisa May Alcott is the author of Perilous Play, her story about hasheesh.

Have you ever read anything by Fitz Hugh Ludlow?



Helen Mar Hotel

Helen Mar Hotel

Buzz words . . . Miami Beach, a place everyone wants to be in the winter. It never snows,  and the sun shines mostly all the time. Hush, don’t tell I said it, but Miami Beach is New York City South. Miami Beach isn’t even little New York—it’s big, with the arts,  music, theatre, famous restaurants  and some pretty interesting history. What else? Fantastic shopping, from the outlets to the elite. It’s all here, so is the traffic, the people and the tourists.

Miami-BeachMiami Beach has been one of America’s pre-eminent beach resorts since the early 20th century. In 1979, Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. miamiarchitectural miamideliThe Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and comprises hundreds of hotels, apartments and other structures erected between 1923 and 1943. Mediterranean, Streamline Moderne and Art Deco are all represented in the District. The Historic District is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the East, Lenox Court on the West, 6th Street on the South and Dade Boulevard along the Collins Canal to the North.

South-Beach-Miami-hotelsEach December, the City of Miami Beach hosts Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the largest art shows in the United States. Art Basel Miami Beach, the sister event to the Art Basel event held each June in Basel, Switzerland, combines an international selection of top galleries with a program of special exhibitions, parties and crossover events featuring music, film, architecture and design. Exhibition sites are located in the city’s Art Deco District, and ancillary events are scattered throughout the greater Miami metropolitan area.

Frank Gehry's New World Center

Frank Gehry’s New World Center

Miami Beach is home to the New World Symphony, established in 1987 under the artistic direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. In January 2011, the New World Symphony made a highly publicized move into the New World Center building designed by Canadian American Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry.  The new Gehry building offers Live Wallcasts™, which allow visitors to experience select events throughout the season at the half-acre, outdoor Miami Beach SoundScape through the use of visual and audio technology on a 7,000-square-foot projection wall.

I remember Miami Beach long ago in the 1960′s when it was a sweet small beach town.  Since then, the town has grown up into a mega metropolis.

Have you experienced Miami Beach?



A version of this article, by Michael Kimmelman, appears in print on January 27, 2015, on page C1 of the New York edition of the New York Times, with the headline:  A Chance to Salvage a Master’s Creation

Photo Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Photo Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center in Goshen, N.Y., is on the World Monuments Fund’s watch list.

Unless county legislators act quickly, a paragon of midcentury American idealism will be lost.

Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, in Goshen, N.Y., announces itself as a civic hub. It’s made of corrugated concrete and glass, organized into three pavilions around a courtyard, like an old wagon train around a village green.

A county proposal would tear down huge chunks of it, flatten the roof, destroy windows, swap out parts of the textured concrete facade and build what looks like an especially soul-crushing glass box. Goshen would end up with a Frankenstein’s monster, eviscerating a work that the World Monuments Fund, alarmed by precisely this turn of events, included on its global watch list alongside landmarks like Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.

Haters in Orange County government have been contemplating its demise for years, allowing it to fall into disrepair and shuttering the building, citing water damage after Hurricane Irene in 2011. Pictures of the interior from the early 1970s, when the center was still new, show a complex of animated spaces, by turns intimate and grand. Later renovations ruined the inside, making it cramped and dark. Rudolph was a master of sculpturing light and space, following in the footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose emotionalism he married to the cool Modernism of Europeans like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier.

His style, unfortunately, came to be branded Brutalism, and turned off many. But the government center was conceived with lofty social aspirations, making tangible Rudolph’s concept of energetic governance as a democratic ideal. It was a beautiful notion; and while the architecture may never win any popularity contest, it was beautiful, too, with its poetry of asymmetric, interweaving volumes.

Although the center no longer seems to suit Orange County administrators, it can be repurposed. Gene Kaufman, the owner and principal of Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects in New York City, has offered to pay the county $5 million for the building and restore it as an artists’ live-work space, with public exhibitions. Mr. Kaufman has also offered to design a brand new government center next door for $65 million — millions less than the $74 million county officials allotted some time ago for the plan to tear down part of the building and add the glass box.

But Steven M. Neuhaus, Orange County executive, seems determined to pursue the teardown plan. MidHudsonNews.com quoted him the other day as saying that “construction and deconstruction work” will begin “by spring of this year.” He recently vetoed a proposal that would have allowed the county to sell the center to Mr. Kaufman.

Customized fluted concrete blocks were used in Rudolph's Orange County Government Center, Goshen, N.Y. (1963–71), which narrowly escaped recent demolition attempts. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Customized fluted concrete blocks were used in Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, Goshen, N.Y. (1963–71), which narrowly escaped recent demolition attempts. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

County legislators meet on Feb. 5. They have a chance to override the veto. I gather that local merchants have complained about lost revenue since government workers relocated to temporary quarters after the center closed. They may be pushing for whatever is in the pipeline.

But many people who spoke at a public hearing last month in Goshen endorsed Mr. Kaufman’s proposal. It would save the center, potentially save the county a fortune, bring in tourist dollars and even put the Rudolph building on the tax rolls. Demolishing Penn Station seemed expedient to politicians and other people a half-century ago, when only a noisy bunch of architecture buffs and preservationists pleaded for its reprieve. Back then, Rudolph was a leading light in American architecture, his work the epitome of American invention and daring. He lived long enough (he died in 1997, at 78) to see his reputation decline with the rise of Post Modernism, whose own eclipse has coincided with renewed interest in Rudolph’s legacy.

Orange County legislators should take a look at his Art and Architecture Building at Yale, which Post Modernists had squarely in their cross hairs. Opened in 1963, it was restored several years ago by the firm of Gwathmey Siegel. Ugly partitions and drop ceilings from an unfortunate renovation were stripped away, years of contempt and neglect erased. Cramped, dark, byzantine spaces returned to how Rudolph intended them: light-filled, exalting, with serendipitous vistas and a communal, townlike connectedness. There’s a syncopated flow to the building. The concrete facade, its corduroy pattern bush-hammered by hand, looks quarried from some immense rock. Almost miraculous, the restoration vindicates Rudolph.

History is on the Government Center’s side, too. Here’s hoping county legislators are.

What do you think? Why do we continue to tear down our history?


Red faux painted wall

Red faux painted wall

When it comes to color, interior designers are both scientists and artists. They look at a color the way a botanist might look at a flower: appreciating the outward appearance, the geometry of design, but knowing so much more, how it was created, what’s going on that you can’t see, the history and the effects on the immediate environment.


Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

RED—Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite color, or at least the color he used for accents in some of his best-known home designs is called Cherokee red, a combination of red, brown and orange. In his world, the famous Fallingwater home in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, Wright designated only two colors . . . ochre for the concrete and Cherokee red for the steel accents.


Lips blotted on napkin by Marilyn Monroe

Lips blotted on napkin by Marilyn Monroe

One survey found that people consider red lips as the most iconic beauty mark of all time, followed by ‘smoky eyes’ and false eyelashes. And the most famous iconic red lips belonged to Marilyn Monroe.


Modern oil painting 36x36" (Ingis Claus)

Modern oil painting 36×36″ (Ingis Claus)

Amy Butler Greenfield’s book, A Perfect Red, traces the historical, economic and cultural impacts of cochineal, a bug. Except, for the longest time, Europeans didn’t know if these little cochineal pellets were animal, vegetable, or mineral. What everyone did know is that these pellets, imported from Mexico in the 1500s, made “the brightest, strongest red the world had ever seen,” according to the book. Vast fortunes were created and international intrigue bloomed as countries tried to figure out how to break or duplicate Spain’s hold on the trade of a red dye so valuable that it was traded on commodity exchanges in the 17th century.

Red in language: seeing red, caught red-handed, down to my last red cent, red herring, a red-letter day, like red to a bull, red tape, go beet red, in the red, paint the town red, red-blooded, red-carpet treatment, red-light district, well—you know.red-roses-delivery-globalrose-2


Clever red fingernail polish names: Red Abandon, Little Red Wagon, Don’t know . . . Beets me, Wanted . . . Red or Alive. Life is a Cabernet, An Affair in Red Square, and Breakfast in Red.


red carpetIn the ancient Greek play Agamemnon, when the eponymous hero returns from war, his wife arranges for him to walk from his chariot to the palace on a pathway of the finest red cloth—the world’s first red carpet. Agamemnon tells his wife that such rich dyes (“tinted splendors” in some translations) are not for the feet of mortal man. “I hold such pride in fear.” He tells her. “And bid thee honor me as a man, not god.” Hollywood mortals display no such fear as they walk the red carpet, which they have been doing at least since one was rolled out in front of Sid Grauman’s Egyptian Theater for the premier of Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks, in 1922.


Cave painting

Cave painting

Pinnacle Point is a small rocky outcropping south of Mossel Bay off the coast of South Africa. In a cave there, archeologists have discovered ochre, a red, iron-rich rock used for pigment. The significance of this particular red? Ochre discovered at Pinnacle Point has been dated back to 164,000 years ago, which is potentially much further back in history than “modern behavior” such as body painting and using tools, was thought to have begun. Paleolithic cave paintings dating to 40,000 years ago frequently employed red for animal drawings and hand stencils. When ancient humans decided to get their color on, they often chose red.


red slippersRemember Dorothy’s beautiful, magical silver slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Not silver, you say? Well they started out as silver in the novel but when the new Technicolor process was to be used in the film version, the moviemakers wanted a color that popped—so, of course, they chose red. Ruby red.


Eames molded wood chair

Eames molded wood chair

Charles Eames, with a background in engineering and architecture, and Ray (Bernice Alexandra) Kaiser Eames, an artist and designer, created some of the 20th century’s most enduring designs. Charles and Ray Eames are known for their classic designs of modern furniture and for their pioneering work with materials such as molded plywood, which they created by pressing sheets of wood veneer against a heated mold. Through this work, in the 1940s the couple developed their iconic LCW (Lounge Chair, Wood), which has been called the best design of the 20th century. The Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair Wood Base, currently sold by Herman Miller, is striking in red. Today, the chair sells for north of a thousand dollars and is made in the United States.

A Hindu bride from Gujarat (Wikipedia)

A Hindu bride from Gujarat (Wikipedia)

Red in Culture: Indian Hindu brides wear red saris, in Chinese culture, red-colored eggs are given to babies upon their one-month birthday. Red appears in nearly 80 percent of all national flags. Red is the international color for Stop.


What’s your favorite red—either in your home/office or in your personal life?

Used with permission, © 2014, American Society of Interior Designers.


Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

It slides down my throat with the greatest of ease. Ha! Who said that? That’s a fallacy. Mom made me drink it whenever I got sick. Yuk. Her recipe was unique, hot water, tea, honey, whiskey and milk. It was the worst. I got better fast. I had no choice. If I didn’t get better fast, I had to drink another and another. Horrors.

Here are the details, without milk, according to Wikipedia:

Spiced version

Spiced version

Little Toddy

Little Toddy

It’s called a hot toddy, also hot totty and hot tottie as well as hot whiskey in Ireland. It is typically a mixed drink made of liquor and water with sugar and spices and served hot. Hot toddy recipes vary and are traditionally drunk before going to bed, or in wet or cold weather. Some believe the drink relieves the symptoms of the cold and flu — in How to Drink, Victoria Moore describes the drink as “the vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.”


Traditional Scottish preparation of a hot toddy involves the mixture of whiskey, boiling water and sugar or honey. Additional ingredients such as cloves, a lemon slice or cinnamon (in stick or ground form) may be added.

The Irish version, hot whiskey, generally uses Irish whiskey, brown sugar, a lemon slice with cloves, and hot water.

A common version in the Midwestern United States uses Vernors Ginger Ale, lemon, honey and Bourbon whiskey. In Wisconsin, brandy is often used instead of bourbon.

A common version in Ontario typically consists of heated ginger-ale, honey, and either whiskey or brandy. It is often recommended to heat the ginger-ale before adding the whiskey or brandy, otherwise the heating process will reduce the alcoholic effects of the liquor.

Hot Irish Whiskey

Recipe by Trinka G

“My best friend who just happens to be Irish made this drink for me one cold night in Chicago and since then, I have been hooked! Warning: it is very potent, just one of these will warm you up and basically make you good for nothing afterwards – what a treat! It is super to drink at night if you have a sore throat. My friend said this is what the Irish drink if they don’t feel good but don’t wait until you have a cold to try this recipe!”

Ingredients for one drink

Hot Irish whiskey with cloves

Hot Irish whiskey with cloves

8 whole cloves
1 (1/4 inch thick) slice of lemon
1 tablespoon white sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger Irish whiskey

I did not know that whiskey, when heated, reduces its numbing effectiveness. Did you?


  1. “Definition of Hot Toddy”. Princeton WordNet. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  2. Nigel Slater (March 13, 2011). “Nigel Slater’s classic hot toddy recipe”. The Guardian. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  3. “How to make a Hot Toddy”. LifeOverHere.com. January 3, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  4. “Wisconsin Winter Toddy”. Princeton WordNet. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  5. “Glossaries: India”. Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive. Macquarie University. 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2012. Toddy: palm wine made from the sap of the palmyra palm.
  6. “Hot Toddies”. Conan’s Pub. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  • MacKay, Charles. A Dictionary of Lowland Scotch (1888)

Chicken soup made with love or hot toddy made with liquor . . . What’s your pick when you have a cold?



No more cookies . . . not in any Connecticut Costco. After trying David’s Butter Pecan Meltaways, I needed to buy more for Christmas. They come in a can for all reasons, all seasons, for trinkets, sparkly stones, and surprises. Top it with a bow and it’s a great gift.

Port Chester, NY had two pallets. “It’s not too far, maybe you could go there,” said the salesman. There really wasn’t enough time to make the trip. This was Wednesday, I wouldn’t be able to get there until Friday. They could all be gone by then, but maybe they could hold five cans for me.

At first Dave Somella, Assistant Front-End Manager at the Port Chester store, said, “We don’t usually do that. But call tomorrow—if they’re close to running out, then we’ll hold them for you.”

I was worried.

“Would you hold ten cans?” Dave agreed. I would pick them up in two days, Friday, late morning. Perfect.

During my Wednesday afternoon workshop, I got a message to call home. This didn’t sound good—Tom never calls when I’m in a workshop. He told me that our granddaughter Rebecca, had been rushed to the hospital, unconscious and unresponsive.

It seemed like forever until we got to New Jersey.

In the midst of all this, I remembered Dave. I had to tell him I wouldn’t make it. I called, but he hadn’t gotten to work yet. The voice on the other end said, this is Lou Mendes, Store Manager, “Can I help?” he asked.

“Yes. Dave has cookies on hold for me, but I can’t come. I’m at the hospital with my daughter, Linda. My 23-year-old granddaughter is on life support. Thinking about cookies now is odd, I know, but it will probably be two weeks before I can come. I need them for Christmas and I’m worried that you will run out. I don’t know what to do. What do you think?”

“Let me see what I can do, I’ll call you back.”

The doctors and staff did everything possible with tender, loving care. On that fateful Friday, two days after she arrived, she passed away.

I found a message on my phone from Lou. He said, “I arranged to have the cookies delivered, please call me.”

“Lou,” I said, tears streaming down my cheeks, “My granddaughter has passed away.” But thank you for taking the time to help me get those cookies. How can I pay for them?”

“Please don’t bother about that now—take care of yourself and your family. When you can, call me. Here’s the phone number for the person who will deliver the cookies to you. Call her.”

Lecia Lindsay beat me to it. I called her back. “Lou at the Port Chester store left me a message to call you,” I said.

“I have your ten cans of cookies. Where should I bring them?” Seems her North Plainfield, NJ store was out of them, but her friend Cynthia Barton from the Bridgewater, NJ store brought her the cookies.

Lecia was at the house in a half hour. I had my cookies and I had new friends. It was amazing.

“Oh my goodness. How can I thank you?” She wouldn’t take any money for the delivery. She said, “Please don’t, I did this from my heart.”

I called Lou a week later to pay for my ten cans of cookies.

Lou said, “The cookies are on me.”

“Thank you to the folks at Costco, who are the gracious gardeners that made my heart blossom.”




Cadet Chapel

Cadet Chapel

Not far from the Verazzano Bridge, I went to a school in the Fort Hamilton area in Brooklyn, New York, a school of the same name, ‘Fort Hamilton’, overlooking the Hudson River. Looking back, I didn’t appreciate the privilege to be at such a beautiful location everyday.

Part of the score

Part of the score

This past Sunday, I visited another school, fifty miles from New York City, West Point,  also a beautiful location, in the mountains that overlook the Hudson River. I think the whole world descended upon the Cadet Chapel at the US Military Academy to hear Handel’s Messiah. Cars were parked end to end, far as we could see. There was not one small space left. Tom dropped me off, thank goodness, and finally found parking, but he had to walk miles uphill in the pounding wind. westpoint red 1200px

All the red seats in this picture were overflowing with guests (we saved one for Tom) to hear the Cathedral Choir with other choirs, and the West Point Academy singers, perform.

Gail, Joanne, Tom, Paul, Stephen

Gail, Joanne, Tom, Paul, Stephen

The sounds of the music filled the spaces of the cathedral as it wound in and around the massive, majestic neogothic architecture. Our daughter-in-law, Joanne (in the white blouse) participated in the Cathedral Choir. She invited lucky us.

West Point, from Phillipstown. engraving by W. J. Bennett showing the original buildings of the United States Military Academy

West Point, from Phillipstown. engraving by W. J. Bennett showing the original buildings of the United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, The Academy or simply, The Point, is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in West Point, New York. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus’s neogothic buildings are constructed from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination complete with a large visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army.

The Continental Army first occupied West Point, New York, on 27 January 1778. It became the oldest continuously-operating Army post in the United States. If you love American history, here’s a boat load full.

Where’s your favorite place to hear Handel’s Messiah?



foxEveryday, when we go for our morning walk, we spot the neighborhood red fox. I think the fox is more frightened by us, than we are of the fox. But is the fox really a danger?

Here’s the word about the red fox in Connecticut. It is widespread and abundant in Connecticut. The population that exists today is made up of hybrids, a result of interbreeding between native red foxes and the European red fox, which was introduced into the eastern coastal areas of the United States in the mid-18th century. The native red fox was a boreal species that historically occurred in the northern regions of North America and at higher elevations (montane areas) in western areas. Foxes are members of the dog family, Canidae, just like domestic dogs and coyotes.

Red foxes occur over most of North America from Baffin Island, Canada, and Alaska to the southern United States, except for coastal western Canada, Oregon, and California, the Great Plains, the southwestern desert and the extreme southeastern United States.

The red fox is best identified by its reddish coat, black legs and ears, and long, white-tipped, bushy tail. It has an elongated muzzle, pointed ears, and a white underside. Other color phases are uncommon but include silver, black, and a cross, always with a white-tipped tail and dark feet. The tail is proportionally longer than the tail of a coyote and, when the fox is running, it is held horizontally behind the animal. Red foxes weigh between 7 and 15 pounds, averaging 10 to 11 pounds, and measure between 39 and 43 inches long, including the tail. Males are slightly heavier and generally larger than females.

The gray fox, which also is found in Connecticut, is often confused with the red fox because of the rusty red fur on its ears, ruffs, and neck. Although somewhat similar in size, the gray fox has a gray coat, with a whitish belly, throat, and chest, and a shorter muzzle and ears. It also lacks the white-tip on the tail exhibited by the red fox.

redfoxcubs2smHabitat and Diet
Red foxes prefer to inhabit a mixture of forest and open fields. They use the transition zone or “edge” between these habitats as hunting areas. Suburban and urban areas are commonly inhabited.

The red fox is an omnivore, meaning that it eats both plant and animal foods. Food items include small rodents, squirrels, woodchucks, rabbits, birds and eggs, amphibians, and reptiles. Foxes also will eat vegetation, fruits, nuts, insects, carrion, and garbage. Red foxes may partially bury, or cache, excess food, cover it with soil, grass, leaves, or snow, and mark it with urine.

Life History
The breeding season is from January through March. After a gestation period of 51 to 53 days, females give birth to a litter averaging 4 or 5 pups. Red foxes may dig their own burrows but they usually improve an abandoned woodchuck burrow. It also is common for foxes to den in the crawl space under decks and sheds. Most foxes have more than 1 den and will readily move their young if disturbed. The pups stay in the den until they are about 4 to 5 weeks of age, after which they emerge and begin to play outside the den entrance. Both adults care for the young by bringing food and guarding the den site. The pups are weaned at about 12 weeks and join the adults on hunting forays, learning to catch food on their own. The young disperse from the family unit in fall and will usually breed during their first winter.

redfoxandmousesmct-govInteresting Facts
Red foxes tend to be solitary, usually hunting alone. They can be active at any time of day, but appear to hunt most often during dawn and dusk. It is not unusual to observe foxes during daytime. They remain active all year and do not hibernate. The normal home range for a fox is about 2 to 4 square miles in Connecticut, but it may vary depending on the abundance of food.

Foxes are quite vocal, exhibiting various barks, howls, and whines. The sounds vary from a short, sharp “yap” or bark, followed by a “yap, yap,” to a combination of screeches, yells, and long howls. A common report to the DEP Wildlife Division involves the sounds made by red foxes (e.g., a raspy, single syllable scream or bark, repeated regularly every 3-10 seconds).

fox sleepingFoxes are important predators of prolific prey species like mice, rats, and rabbits. Adult foxes have few predators, although coyotes likely will not tolerate foxes within their territories. Several studies have found that red foxes only occur in the gaps between the larger territories of coyotes. The relatively recent expansion of coyotes throughout Connecticut may have displaced red foxes from much of their prime habitat.

Foxes can carry the organisms that are responsible for several contagious diseases, such as mange, distemper, and rabies. Sarcoptic mange is sometimes deadly to foxes and coyotes. It is caused by a microscopic mite that lives in the skin. Animals with mange lose hair and weight; their skin becomes cracked and encrusted with heavy scabs. Infected foxes usually die from the affliction within 2 to 4 months. Humans can contract the mite from infested coyotes, foxes, and dogs, but the disease is less intense, consisting of a mild form of dermatitis.

Raccoon rabies is the most common strain of rabies found in Connecticut. Raccoons are the primary carrier but foxes also can be infected. Foxes are the primary carrier of different strains of rabies that occur in other regions of North America. Most red foxes die from rabies too quickly to spread the disease to other animals or humans. Nevertheless, animals that appear sick or are acting abnormally should be avoided. The following symptoms may indicate the presence of rabies or other neurological diseases in mammals: unprovoked aggression, impaired movement, paralysis or lack of coordination, unusually bold behavior, and disorientation. The local animal control officer or police should be contacted if assistance is needed with a potentially rabid animal. If you are unable to contact local authorities, call the DEP at 860-424-3333.

Living with Foxes
Foxes commonly live in close association with human residences and communities where they can find plenty of food, water, and cover. They frequently inhabit yards, parks, and golf courses, especially areas that adjoin suitable, undeveloped habitat. Foxes can become accustomed to human activity but are seldom aggressive toward people. Problems associated with foxes include depredation on domestic animals, perceptions of danger to humans (healthy foxes pose virtually no danger to humans), and their potential to carry disease organisms. The mere presence of a fox should not be perceived as a problem and foxes need not be feared. However, those who are uncomfortable with the presence of foxes can take certain actions to reduce the chance of problems:

Do not allow pets to run free! Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, and small dogs on a leash and under close supervision at all times.

NEVER feed foxes! DO NOT put out food for any mammals. Feed pets indoors. Clean up fruit dropped from trees and bird seed below feeders. Secure garbage in animal proof containers and store in a garage or shed. Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause foxes to act tame and may lead to bold behavior over time.

Close off crawl spaces under decks and sheds. Foxes will use these areas for resting and raising young.

Protect livestock. Foxes will prey on small livestock, such as ducks, chickens, rabbits, and young lambs, but generally do not bother larger livestock. Livestock can be protected with secure pens, coops, or fencing. Make sure the enclosures prevent entry from above and below as foxes will dig or squeeze under poorly maintained fences and may climb over small fences. Most predation occurs at night so it is particularly important to provide protection at that time. Some electric fence designs can provide good protection.

Use frightening techniques. Human presence often is a deterrent to foxes. Foxes that travel into residential yards can be harassed or scared with loud noises, bright lights, or spraying water from a hose. Disturbing a den site physically or with unnatural odors (e.g., moth balls) during spring may prompt foxes to move to another den which may be farther away.

Trapping and Hunting
Foxes are classified as furbearer species, and thus Connecticut has established regulated hunting and trapping seasons. Hunting and trapping can be used to regulate fox populations while providing recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women. Nationally, millions of dollars are generated every year from fox pelt harvests. The silky, dense fur of the red fox is more valued than the fur of the gray fox, which is coarse and thin. Live-trapping and relocating foxes is not recommended because the state’s fox population and fox “problems” are widespread, and relocated foxes can cause problems in new locations. Removing problem foxes through trapping or hunting is only recommended during designated seasons or in situations where individual foxes show a pattern of preying on livestock.


Poor little fox, it scampered, as fast as it could, when I yelled in its direction. Does your neighborhood have a resident fox? Do you keep your pets restrained and safe?

Logo The Technical Assistance Informational Series is 75 percent funded by Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration – Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Program. The P-R Program provides funding through an excise tax on the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. The remaining 25 percent of the funding is matched by the Connecticut Wildlife Division. (rev. 11/2010)




Espresso factory

Espresso factory

I don’t remember when I had my first cup of coffee, but I do remember when I had my last. Today, after a long afternoon workshop, painting Coney Island round- about swings.

Espresso factory

Coney Island round-about swings








The coffee tasted good. It refreshed me with just enough caffeine to replenish my energy.




Needs cream?

Needs cream?

Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0–5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of many studies; however, results have varied in terms of coffee’s relative benefit. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, the diterpenes in coffee may increase the risk of heart disease.

Lavazza espresso regular & decaf

LavAzza Espresso regular & decaf

Coffee cultivation first took place in Abyssinia. The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. In the Horn of Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in local religious ceremonies. As these ceremonies conflicted with the beliefs of the Christian church, the Ethiopian Church banned the secular consumption of coffee until the reign of Emperor Menelik II. The beverage was also banned in Ottoman Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons, and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.

Coffee for two

Coffee for two

What’s your take on coffee? Or do you prefer soda or tea or something else?


The autumn leaves

The autumn leaves

On that day, that fateful day when the wind and rain tore the red and gold leaves from their bones and they fell at my feet–inspiration flooded my soul. Imagine what it must be like to have such a short life. Sprout in spring, fizzle in fall. I picked one up, the one floating in a puddle and pondered its life.

We aren’t the only ones that have a life. So does a leaf, the lowly leaf. It lives long enough to filter the air  you breathe, to fill those empty spaces between the bones of a tree, to add color to the container you call your world.P1120623

Japanese maple leaves

Japanese maple leaves

It’s hard to believe that small spring bud pushing it way out on a tree branch will blossom into a handsome colored shape, some pointy, some rounded, some straight, some huge, bigger than a man’s hand.



All those hard-working leaves have done their job and fall off the tree before the onset of winter. They get raked and  bagged and get trotted off to the landfill . But hold one deciduous leaf up by its stem, look at it. I mean really look. It has several life lines. A leaf is basically the power generator of a plant. Leaves have specialized cells that carry out photosynthesis when exposed to sunlight. In photosynthesis, sunlight, water supplied by the roots, and carbon dioxide from the air produce oxygen and sugars (stored plant food).

The visible lines running through the leaf blade are veins that carry the water and nutrients involved in photosynthesis to and from the rest of the plant. The network of veins includes a mid-vein (aka midrib) that runs through the center of the leaf. Secondary veins branch off from the midrib and tertiary veins branch off the secondaries. To read more click this link.

What’s your favorite . . . spring time or fall time?