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.

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

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!

Notes on Newark and Declining Cities

Avon Avenue Shul in Newark, now a church
Last week Rutgers Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy hosted a talk by Professor Kenneth T. Jackson on Newark’s Decline and Resurgence in the 20th Century. The talk was available via webcast to those watching from a distance. I managed to listen to much of the talk. My apologies to Prof. Jackson for any remarks I may have misinterpreted.

Professor Jackson spoke on the history of Newark, New Jersey and gave possible ideas for reviving the city in the near future. Newark is the largest city in New Jersey. Back in 1890-1900, said Professor Jackson, Newark leaders decided not to annex various neighboring areas when they had the opportunity. This meant that there is little room for larger single family homes in the city, and so when people wanted to own a house, they had to leave the city. The riots in the 1960’s signaled an end to the city’s prosperity, as people who would previously visit, for example, department stores in the downtown stopped doing so. Much of the city’s decline, he suggested, was due to choices of the leaders; he gave the example of Atlanta as a city that worked with African American leaders to keep the city safer and more economically stable. A similar city in decline would be Detroit. Professor Jackson didn’t have much good to say about Lewis Danzig, a city planner for Newark in the mid-twentieth century. Currently, the State of New Jersey pays for much of the Newark public school system, as the city itself can not afford to do so. He feels Cory Booker, the current mayor, is working hard for the city, and he hopes he will succeed.

Another failure in Newark history was poor land use control. Newark was home to various industries such as tanning, brewing and leather goods. Newark allowed factories to be located near neighborhoods. Agent Orange was manufactured in Newark.

Professor Jackson did not devote much time to Newark’s Jewish history, although he did share the slide of the shul that was converted into a church on the top of this post (see another New Jersey shul that is now a church). In the earlier half of the twentieth century, Newark had a vibrant Jewish community. My husband, who grew up by the Jersey shore, remembers old-timers talking about “Shabbos in Newark.”

At the end of the lecture on Newark and declining cities, Professor Jackson shared a few points about how Newark might be revitalized:

  • Newark’s crime rate is very, very high. In contrast, the crime rate in the Bronx has gone down. The crime rate needs to be taken under control.
  • The city should welcome gays and artists.
  • People need to be seen and walking around and not afraid to do so. If the public has the perception that crime is going down, it will help the crime rate go down. If you believe it is safe, it becomes safer.

One of his favorite suggestions for the revival of a city is sidewalk cafes – people get outside together in public in a social manner. He had many examples of cities that have declined and cities that have been revitalized – one he mentioned that experienced revitalization after a long, long period was Athens.

• • •

Are there declining cities where you live? Are there cities that experienced decline but now enjoy some revitalization? Finally, if you live in a part of the world far from New Jersey, have you ever heard of Newark?

Nature Notes: Rutgers Gardens

There are some lovely paths by the Raritan River in the back of Rutgers Gardens. We enjoyed walking through nature last Sunday.
red leaf among greenery
Some leaves were changing to red; not all the leaves looked so healthy. I wondered if it was because of the dry summer we had.

lily pads
Is this what Monet saw before he painted his famous lily pads?

I believe this pretty lavender flower by the river is a cleome.

I was excited to see milkweed, as Michelle of Rambling Woods has talked about it on her blog as attractive to butterflies. And I even saw some milkweed aphids, too.


girl man nature
And since many of you enjoy seeing my family, here’s my husband and daughter. The chocolate around her mouth is probably from an Oreo cookie, which may not be a very natural food, but it’s in her nature to enjoy cookies.
For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

BIG green chair – SOOC

big green chair at Rutgers Gardens
This lime green chair at Rutgers Gardens is *really* big. It has a twin facing it, too. I saw some “tiny” people sitting in the chair but didn’t get a photo of them. These sculptures must be fairly new – I don’t remember them from previous years.

For more shots straight out of the camera:
Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

Chabad at Rutgers Remembers

Chabad House at Rutgers will dedicate a new wing to the Mumbai victims.

In an article at MyCentralNewJersey, Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, the director and founder of the Jewish center at Rutgers University says:

“The attack last week was not only an attack on Chabad or the people of Israel but on every living being that believes in life, in humanity and decency.”

And his son, Mendy Carlebach, went to school with Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, who was brutally murdered in Mumbai. The article states:

“Even after he moved to India in 2003, we kept in touch via email,” Mendy said.

He said he last spoke to Holtzberg when they met at the rabbis conference in New York last year.

Mendy said Holtzberg told him of the new Chabad House that he had just purchased in Mumbai. “Gabby described it as an open house for Indians, Jews, everyone who could always come for a meal and a smile.”

Read the whole thing.

Watery Wednesday: Raritan River

Raritan River
After visiting the Native Plant Reserve in Highland Park, I went to the riverside and took some photos of the river. In this photo you can see the bridge for trains (thanks, Cosmic X) that go past College Campus of Rutgers University, over the river, and through the edge of Highland Park and Edison. I’m hoping to photograph the train tracks in a future post.
See Google Maps to see where this is.

Raritan River
I then turned and faced into the sun and photographed the bridge that leads from Highland Park into New Brunswick. The bridge is at the end of Raritan Avenue.

Raritan River
Here’s the same Route 27 bridge; you can see a bit of the office buildings in New Brunswick in this photo (I think that may be the Hyatt Hotel and further back, some condominiums).

For more watery photos, visit Watery Wednesday.
Watery Wednesday

Kiersten = Z.

KierstenA while back I wrote about a young woman’s battle with cancer:

I met her once at an art class. We shared a table. She cheerfully told me about how she does art in between chemo sessions. If there is a gene for optimism, she had it.

Here is her obituary, which will appear in today’s Star Ledger:

Kiersten E. Hickman-Perfetti, 22, of Highland Park died at home with her parents after an almost 4-year battle with cancer on April 23.

Kiersten was born in New Brunswick New Jersey on July 5, 1985. She attended public school in Highland Park. Kiersten played varsity basketball, threw the shot put, discus and javelin, and managed the football and baseball teams at Highland Park High School. She swam at the YM/YWHA and the University Swim Club from ages 5 to 14. Kiersten was an avid music lover. She played the clarinet was in the high school band.

Kiersten attended Goucher College in Towson, Maryland for her freshman year in college 2003-2004. Kier played basketball at Goucher College her freshman year, and she was awarded an honorary degree by Goucher in 2007. She was an avid Rutgers Women’s basketball fan and friend to the team, and a member of the Rutgers Cager’s Club. The RU women’s bball team dedicated their 2007-08 season to Kier. Kier enjoyed scrapbooking, reading, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, music, and movies. She took art lessons. Kiersten loved children and became an important person in the lives of many children in Highland Park and at the Children’s Hospital of Philly.

During her illness Kiersten developed a list of things to accomplish. She went to The Daily Show four times and met Jon Stewart, who was very kind to her. We thank Jon Stewart and Teri Abrams. She went to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, several Fab Faux concerts, Saturday Night Live, The Lion King, Rent, the WNBA 2007 All-Star game, and the NCAA 2007 Final Four women’s BB game. Kier also started a foundation, Kier’s Kidz, to raise money for research into the treatment and cure of pediatric cancer.

Kiersten is survived by her mother, Mimi Hickman-Perfetti, her father, Larry Perfetti, her brother, Keith Hickman-Perfetti, and her grandmother, Betty Perfetti of Maple Shade, NJ. Her other grandparents, Al Perfetti, and George and Nancy Hickman, predeceased her. She has numerous other relatives and friends.

Viewings will be held on Sunday, April 27, from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm at Jacqui-Kuhn Funeral Home, 17 S. Adelaide Ave., Highland Park, NJ. Full memorial services will held on Sunday, May 4, at 2pm, at Kirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

In lieu of flowers, Kier would appreciate your making a contribution to: Kier’s Kidz Lemonade Stand, c/o Alex’s Lemonade Stand, 333 E. Lancaster Avenue, #414, Wynnewood, PA 19096.

Update on Z.

lilyA week ago I posted about Z., a friend of Ann who is very ill with cancer. Z.’s father regularly writes posts in a password-protected blog on the hospital website. Ann gave me access to these posts, and they are touching. And disturbing. It is clear that this is an important emotional release for Z.’s father. Z. was hospitalized so they could improve her pain medication. She will be coming home soon and receiving hospice care.

Some quotes from the letters:

I wish that I knew what Z. was thinking and feeling. We respond to her pain, try to understand her increasingly garbled speech, guess at what might make her less uncomfortable, and tell her that we love her, almost all of the time.


Thanks for your posts, your emails, your prayers, your love and warmth. And for our fellow Cagers and bball fans who are going to Greensboro, give a yell and clap really hard for our team. Tell them Z. sent you.

Go, Rutgers.

Love and Peace,
[Z.’s father’s name]


As one of my friends has said right along, “no parent expects to watch his child die. It is our own personal Holocaust.”

Sometimes people mis-use the term “Holocaust”. Not here.

Unfortunately, too many families have suffered such a loss. Here’s another family’s story.

Rutgers students condemn cemetery vandalism

When I first blogged about the cemetery vandalism in New Brunswick, I wrote Are we in Eastern Europe? I am pleased to say we are not. What is the difference? Here in Central New Jersey, not only is the Jewish community reacting with shock to the recent vandalism, but there is also condemnation from the general community.

From today’s Daily Targum, the Rutgers student newspaper:

“It is one of the most dramatic events you [can] see in a physical sense,” said Rutgers University Student Assembly treasurer Yonaton Yares, a School of Arts and Sciences student.

RUSA unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to get students involved in the site’s repair.

Members of the assembly said such a resolution was necessary in order to make a statement on behalf of the student body that such acts are unacceptable.

“[The resolution] shows that Rutgers University doesn’t tolerate that kind of crime, because we don’t want to destroy our diversity,” said College Avenue Council Vice President Yelena Shvarts, a Rutgers College junior.

The key to preventing such acts from occurring in the future is to become opinionated, said RUSA recording secretary Kathryn Jenkins, a Douglass College student.

Yares said this incident has brought together members of Rutgers Hillel.

“We have decided to say that Rutgers students – Jewish, non-Jewish, black, white or Latino – all care about this,” he said.

RUSA hopes the assembly can generate the same solidarity among students that the University community demonstrated during the Don Imus controversy last year to prevent future acts from occurring.

“When someone goes on the radio and attacks our women’s basketball team, they don’t just attack those women. They attack the entire Rutgers community,” said RUSA chair Jim Kline, a Rutgers College senior. “The same goes when you attack the Rutgers community and what it stands for.”

Surveyors are beginning to assess the damage done to the site in an attempt to estimate the amount that repairs will cost.

A week after the incident, four teenagers were arrested and charged for committing the vandalism, though the acts were not deemed anti-Semitic by authorities, according to The Associated Press.

But Kline said the acts are upsetting to the Jewish community.

“I think our voice as the student body lends an olive branch to the Jewish community. It allows students to enter into this dialogue about racism, sexism and, in this case, anti-Semitism,” Kline said. “It’s important to have these conversations now that we live in this bubble where we can openly discuss ideas and thoughts.”

Somehow I think there is a connection to the film I viewed by a Franklin Township student yesterday. Sonal Thawani’s film “Take a Stand Against Violence,” a 6-minute piece showed the positive action taken by her community’s youth in response to the recent violence in her township. It was heartening to see in Sonal’s film that many people in her community wanted to see a stop to the violence. Likewise, we all would like cemetery desecration to stop as well.

My main thought is it is easier to teach a five-year old to respect property, respect the dead, and respect others than a 17 year old. And as both cemetery desecration and violence against one’s peers reflect poor anger management, some kind of positive channeling is needed at a young age. I hardly profess to have answers, but I am good at asking the questions.