Central New Jersey

Imperial Band of South River Concert Illustrations

On Sunday, March 3, 2024 we had the pleasure of attending an Imperial Band of South River concert. The band played all kinds of Irish music. I enjoyed watching the movements of the players, how they used their whole bodies to illustrate the sounds with their instruments. I did all my sketching at the concert in a sketchbook; all the color was added later at home. You can see all my illustrations of the Imperial Band of South River here.

trombones at the March 3 concert
The trombone players were impressive, moving their instruments in and out with skill. I loved that an American flag stood proudly behind them.

Richard Golazeski, conductor of Imperial Band of South River
The conductor, Richard Golazeski, sat in this chair and moved his arms with great passion. He really enjoyed all the Irish music.

bassoon player

bassoon watercolor
Here are two of the bassoon player. She used her whole body to play her large instrument.

orange carnation on the table at March 3 concert, watercolor, gouache, and ink
The tables were decorated with orange carnations with lots of green leaves.

My favorite piece was The Parting Glass. When I looked it up, I noted it usually sung with lyrics. It seems to be a bittersweet song about farewells and parting ways. In this concert, the music was all instrument. Beautiful and inspiring.

The concert finished with the music of George M. Cohan, composer of American hits like I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The Imperial Band of South River has concerts 11 times a year, typically the first Sunday of each month except January. The concerts are held in the Imperial Music Center, 48 Appleby Avenue in South River, New Jersey.

Dinner and Art at Bridge Turkish Kosher

bridge restaurant people sitting at tables
My favorite restaurant is the Bridge Turkish & Mediterranean Grill (kosher) on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, New Jersey. The staff makes me feel at home. The decor, inside and outside the restaurant, welcomes a painter — there is so much to paint! And I enjoy my food.

I asked a few friends: Have you eaten at the Bridge Restaurant in Highland Park? What is your favorite dish? Can you tell me what you like about the restaurant?

Here are the responses. I interspersed paintings of the restaurant:

“The food is always fresh and flavorful, the staff is very friendly and accommodating. Always a great experience. Favorite food: doner kebab. And the rice on the side is amazing.”

bridge restaurant exterior sidewalk with logo

“Always consistently good! they allow you to enjoy your meal–you never feel pressured to rush. Friendly service and knowledgeable wait staff.”

bridge turkish restaurant kosher watercolor

“The food is always fresh, at the right temperature. The staff does not try to rush you and the decor is absolutely perfect…”

kosher bridge interior details gouache

“I particularly enjoy the lentil soup, Mediterranean salad, tahini and their bread is amazing!”

bridge restaurant interior

“Love the stuffed roasted eggplant! Rice is amazing! Love the decor: all the vases, plates, etc. Love being greeted by Michael Garber!”

I hope you enjoy this series of paintings and sketches that I have done of the restaurant.

hanging flowers outside Bridge Turkish kosher restaurant
Outside the restaurant there is a little booth where one can be served and eat the delicious food. The hanging flowers are attractive and warm my heart.

Colorful Watercolor Landscape of Pond

landscape colorful version

I posted this colorful landscape of a pond near my work (on Instagram and then on Facebook) – I called it “fake.” A friend said, no, it is real. Another friend suggested we might end up with an debate on what is considered to be real and what is considered to be fake. It is a bit like weeds – do you like it in your garden? Yes? Then it is not a weed.

I am hoping by posting this watercolor I will inspire myself to go back to doing watercolor painting. When life gets busy, sometimes it is nice to do nothing. On the other hand, producing art can be quite satisfying.

What inspires you to paint? Do you sometimes want to do nothing?

Tea Parties and Teapot Sketches

tea party, Alice performance in Rutgers Gardens
Back in July we attended a performance in Rutgers Gardens. Well, maybe performance isn’t the right word. We were told as we entered the woods on the edge of the gardens that we were Alice. Then we met characters such as the Cheshire Cat and the Red Queen. This table displayed the tea party. I really liked the set up. What do you see? I see a tablecloth that looks like a chess board. And teacups. Thank you to reThink Theatrical for a fun evening.

dormouse, mad hatter in Rutgers Gardens
The Dormouse and Mad Hatter were right next to us. In the photo you can see the March Hare approaching. The large green chairs are part of the regular Rutgers Gardens display.

A friend posted her colorful teapot on Facebook this summer. I was inspired. I had a busy summer of work and family events, but while riding as a passenger in a car on the way to see my daughter perform in sleepaway camp as the Wicked Witch of the West, I produced this teapot sketch:

teapot sketch

A few weeks later while in a hotel room I did a colored pencil sketch of the teapot:
teapot colored pencil sketch

I am a fan of fanciful teacups and teapots – to sign up to read more of these posts by email, please click on the teacup in the sidebar of this blog (should be down at the bottom if you are reading on a phone).

Thank you for visiting – I plan more sketches in the future!

Swamp, Lake or Golf Course?

moon
We were visiting my in-laws who live near (10 minutes by car) the Jersey Shore. I woke up early as usual (see moon above), and I went on a little expedition to the lake I mean swamp I mean wet, watery, swampy area that sometimes has birds near a golf course.

jersey swamp
I had once visited this area with my mother-in-law and my daughter. At the time I had an old phone, one with a poor camera. Of course, we saw a heron (see heron photo here). So this time I was prepared with my large fancy Canon, but no heron at all. Not even a bird. I could hear them, but they didn’t land. The day before I came with my daughter; we did see a colorful butterfly flutter around the plants in the distance. But that was Shabbat, and I had no camera at all. Often in life you have to just take what you can get – I noticed in my 2011 post I was complaining that my kale did not germinate. Well, this year it did! We shall see if any seedlings grow nicely into plants.

log in swamp
So looking around, what else was there to see? I did see this log – although it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

lily pads
I looked in the water to one side, and these lily pads floated on top of the lake swamp.

yellow flowers near swamp
I did see these little yellow wildflowers aligning the edge of the watery swamp.

orange wildflowers
Some lovely orange wildflowers were off to one side, further from the water.

orange wildflowers near swamp

sprinklers at golf course
Off in the distance I could see the sprinklers starting for the golf course.

Sandy Hook: Nature and History

Sandy Hook cove
One of my favorite places in New Jersey is Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook is a little peninsula (a hook?) at the top of the Jersey Shore. On one side there are ocean beaches with places for parking and restrooms. On the other side are little cove beaches. At the far end are a lighthouse and historical buildings.

We first went to the ocean side – it was crowded, and the waves were strong. We then decided to drive closer to the lighthouse, parked the car, and discovered the little cove beach at the top of this post. We swam, had lunch and discovered various beach items.

Sandy Hook lighthouse
I wanted to climb to the top of the lighthouse, but my daughter did not. This is a lesson in patience – I make lists in my head of stuff to do when I have the opportunity. We did watch a movie in the little house next to the lighthouse all about piping plovers, and how they on the threat of extinction list. I suppose I would have to wake up early in the morning and go with another bird lover if I wanted to watch the plovers on the beach myself.

mortar battery at Sandy Hook, NJ
A good number of the buildings at Sandy Hook were once upon a time used by the U.S. military. Above is a mortar battery at Sandy Hook, built about 1898. You can learn more about Sandy Hook and how it was used to defend New York City on this National Park Service article.

horseshoe crabs
I saw these horseshoe crabs (deceased!) on the beach, so I took a photo.
Some facts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation website:

Four species of horseshoe crabs exist today. Only one species, Limulus polyphemus, is found in North America along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Mexico… Horseshoe crabs are not true crabs at all. Horseshoe crabs are more closely related to arachnids (a group that includes spiders and scorpions) than to crustaceans (a group that includes true crabs, lobsters, and shrimp). Horseshoe crabs are often called “living fossils” because fossils of their ancestors date back almost 450 million years–that’s 200 million years before dinosaurs existed.

A scene I found beautiful:
Sandy Hook scene

I did post about Sandy Hook way back in 2009.

Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens

Shakespeare in Rutgers Gardens - character scene 1
Last week we had the great pleasure of seeing Midsummer Night’s Dream (yes, the play by Shakespeare) in Rutgers Gardens. The play was low budget with wonderful acting, simple modern summer clothes for costumes, and a Starbucks cup was a prop. I am not sure which character was which, but the above female whom I think played a male was the first actor on the stage. The first scene was outside the log cabin. We the audience had to move around with the actors from scene to scene within Rutgers Gardens. It seemed OK at first, but by our tenth time moving, it was a little bit too much up and down. I went with my daughter who had never seen Shakespeare before. I think she might enjoy the kind where you sit in one spot, and the actors wear costumes. When I grew up in a Boston suburb, we used to watch Shakespeare plays by the Charles River (I remember The Tempest, for example). And when my husband lived in Manhattan, he had the opportunity to see Shakespeare in the park.

Duke and Lysander
This is from the first scene – I am fairly sure the woman on the right is the Duke. The guy in the back is Lysander (the other main male lead was Demetrius – I get the two confused. One was in love with Hermia, and the other was loved by her). My daughter was even more confused – she had no idea what was going on at all. But she was happy to see one of her theater friends there. She said everyone was laughing at certain parts, and she did not know why. We figured some of the audience knew the play well (one of my friends did), and others like us were fairly clueless.

Nick Bottom
This actor was Nick Bottom. I enjoyed his antics. I think he was supposed to be putting on a play within a play. We never got to see the end of this production because it started to thunder and lightning at the end. But we did see a lot.

Hermia and Helena
The actress on the left is Hermia (note the Starbucks cup). The one in the blue who is on her knees is Helena. And in the back is much of the audience!

Queen of the Fairies
Here is the Queen of the Fairies (Titania).

Puck with King of the Fairies
On the left is the fairy Puck (he causes a lot of trouble, putting people to sleep and having them fall in love with the wrong people). On the right is the King of the Fairies. I am pretty sure that is a woman dressed like a man.

Puck
Here is Puck, who causes (or seems to) a lot of the mix ups and inconveniences. Spraying fairy dust is a dangerous art form.

Nick Bottom donkey
I believe Puck is one who turns Nick Bottom (above) into a donkey. That’s a pretty good donkey, isn’t it?

Hermia and Oberon
This is the finally scene we were able to see. After this, it started to rain. Soon came thunder and lightning. Hermia (the one with a Starbucks cup who is in love with Lysander and loved by Demetrius) is on the left; and Oberon, King of the Fairies, is on the right. I had to use my flash on my camera because it was getting dark.

You can learn more about Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens on the Rutgers Gardens website. The theatrical group is called re-Think Theatrical – I hope they do more.

Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed outside? Which play?

Rutgers Plant Sale: Snapdragon, Petunia

Rutgers Plant Sale - Rutgers Gardens
Every year in early May there is a wonderful plant sale at Rutgers Gardens. I went with a friend on Friday and met another friend there. I bought: snapdragons, petunias, Rutgers tomato plants (I’ve been growing those for the past few years – not too big, not too small, and they are developed at Rutgers!), two kinds of rosemary and some broccoli plants. Here’s to praying that the broccoli plants do not get eaten by a ground hog or by deer. A friend sent a link to wolf urine packs – should I try those? Another idea was sticking garlic near them. We shall see. One friend bought swiss chard and eggplant; another friend purchased a variety of cilantro. All the plants at the sale are top quality. Last year I bought a hydrangea plant – the leaves got eaten by a deer before it flowered, but happily this year despite being only sticks in the winter it is now full of green leaves again.

snapdragon yellow in front of magenta
Here is one of the snapdragon plants now in front of my house. I got a mix of yellow and magenta/pink snapdragons.

petunias
My petunias are now planted in a sunny corner of my yard, at the edge of the sidewalk and the driveway.

tulip
This tulip is growing in front of my porch. No, I did not get at the Rutgers Plant Sale, nor did I plant it last fall. The tulips that are growing on my block seem to be the ones that survived being eaten up by deer.

strawberry plants
Finally, my strawberry plants (which I planted about ten years ago?) have those white flowers. Next step: juicy red strawberries! No more hunting for half decent organic strawberries in the store. For two weeks, we get a marvelous treat. Must make sure to pick them – last year we were too busy and neglected to pick the last bunch (they turned to mush on the plant).

Good news! I got my watercolor paints out again today (they’ve been away in the closet far too long). I did a quick painting of my garden using an exercise from One Watercolor a Day. Soon enough, I will have a watercolor that I will post on this blog. Stay tuned!

Melting Candles, Daikons and Raritan Avenue

You plan, you plan and God laughs. I had certain ideas about how to focus this blog once I renamed it Sketching Out, but my mind is not there. So I apologize for the potpourri of this post.

• • •

I have some photos that are supposed to go with a post called Fermenting Daikons. What is a daikon? It is a strong and long white radish. I bought one for a dollar at the organic stand at the Highland Park Farmer’s Market. Here is one photo:
daikon radish

So you will have to come back to learn how to ferment a daikon. Hint: the only ingredients are water, sea salt and a daikon. Update: here is the post on how to ferment a daikon.

• • •

Last night we walked down Raritan Avenue (was it hundreds? or thousands? Probably close to one thousand) in support of Israel. It was a peaceful march. Lots of smiles, some hugging, parents of IDF soldiers (yes, we have quite a few in this community) glad to receive support. In the short rally at the end, one of the topics mentioned was the appreciation that the U.S. Congress has given funding for the Iron Dome, and how local groups such as NORPAC have played an important role in meeting with senators and congressman to get funding for the Iron Dome.
walk for Israel on Raritan Avenue

soldiers we hug you
The sign reads (in Hebrew, loosely translated by me) “Soldiers of the IDF, we hug you from a distance!”

rally for Israel
Thank you to the owners of the old Y property who allowed us to use the space for a few speeches, including a moving one about a soldier (a family member of the speaker) who had just been killed while on duty.

You can watch a video of walkers down Raritan Avenue in support of Israel in this nine minute video by Gary Leslie.

When I posted some photos on Facebook, I had a few people in Israel thank me. But all I did was post a few pictures … I don’t have to go and dodge missiles every time a siren goes off. My friends and family in Beit Shemesh have been going to the shelter perhaps five times a day? But that is nothing compared to those who live in the south of Israel. People who are handicapped just have to stay in the shelter. Or pray the missile won’t hit them.

• • •

“What can I do?” seems to be on the mind of many. Here is a guest post on my friend’s A Mother in Israel blog with 21 Ways to Help Israel. Personally, I decided to give to the Lone Soldier organization because I know too many lone soldiers (a Lone Soldier is someone who serves in the IDF and whose immediate family does not live in Israel). And then because one of my friends in Israel recommended it, I also sent a donation to A Package From Home.

Excerpt from a note by a friend in Beit Shemesh (who grew up in Edison, NJ): “The situation here is very tense. Everyone knows someone who is down in Gaza fighting for us. Everyone has experienced a Tzeva Adom (Red Alert) at least once in the past few weeks. Everyone is on edge about possible kidnaps, airstrikes, and the war. Despite all this, life goes on here. People still go to work and sit in the same boring meetings, kids still go to the parks, people still go shopping, and see movies. Life must continue here or the Terrorists win.”

Rutgers Gardens in October

Rutgers Gardens flowers
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite places in central New Jersey: Rutgers Gardens. Rutgers Gardens is maintained by staff, students and volunteers. You can learn more on the website for Rutgers Gardens.

bench garden area
There are various garden areas within Rutgers Gardens. The one above with the bench is part of the rain garden. Vegetation in a rain garden area needs to be acclimated to prolonged periods of inundation, followed by equally prolonged periods of drought. From the Rutgers Gardens website:

Rain gardens look attractive when newly planted, but can and often deteriorate over time with the invasion of unattractive weeds and a resulting decline in vigor from the ornamental plantings as they become ‘choked-out’. The intent at Rutgers Gardens was to design and develop a garden that had all the positive environmental aspects, yet remained attractive throughout the year with minimal maintenance.

yellow flowers Rutgers Gardens
These attractive yellow flowers are part of the Donald B. Lacy Display garden. Wish I knew the name of the yellow flowers (and those red pom ones as well – maybe a kind of Gomphrena – maybe Gomphrena globosa ‘Fireworks’). I believe the magenta/purple pom ones I showed last week are Gomphrena globosa. Some of the flowers and vegetables are grown inside a fence with a gate, and the public is not allowed to enter, but it is easy to peek in and view.

fall foliage raritan river
One of the great features of Rutgers Gardens are the hikes you can take – we like taking the walk that goes along the Raritan River. There was some colorful foliage but not a lot. I like the pretty colorful reflections in the river.

As I said on the Rutgers Gardens post last week, we saw two chipmunks. Here’s one more photo of the chipmunk in the woods:
chipmunk at Rutgers Gardens in woods

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