Drawing at The Stickley Museum by Barbara Dexter

Drawing at The Stickley Museum by Barbara Dexter

The Stickley Museum is in Morris Plains,NJ. There website link is www.stickleymuseum.org. I had a wonderful day of drawing at the museum. We first visited the gift shop that is conveniently situated so you have to pass through it at the start and end of your tour.  There are some exhibits that I have visited elsewhere that could learn that retail lesson.  The is situated on 30 acres and is a national historic landmark.

The main building.

When I visit places I just want to see something that captivates me. This site did just that.  Although it was a dreary day, weather wise, the rain held out long enough for me to capture the landscape in pictures and some rough sketches.

A view of the main building from the side.


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What the squirrel left.
More of what the squirrel left.
A couple of out buildings.





The main building at the Stickley Museum houses the museum and the gift shop. It is from this view that I chose to do most of my drawings.  If the weather was better there would have been time to do several landscape sketches.

Strange Mirror Woes by Barbara Dexter

Strange Mirror Woes by Barbara Dexter

Yes this is yet another place in Jersey. It is the trend coffee house. Here you can get a select choice of sandwiches, some pastry, soft serve ice cream, and of course coffee tea. The atmosphere is laid back. There are plenty of arm chairs and tables to pull up and relax. Yes there are bands that play on a weekly basis in the corner of the room they refer to as the Trend Stage.

The Trend Stage


One of the largest mirrors that I have ever seen marks the path to the rest room.

The entrance to the rest room.
One of the smallest mirrors.

One of the smallest mirrors that I have ever seen is located in the rest room. I guess they don’t want you to hang out and make yourself beautiful in the rest room at the Trend Coffee House.


Kayaking at Island Beach State Park by Barbara Dexter

Kayaking at Island Beach State Park by Barbara Dexter

Nature center that was not open



The path to the beach.
The road is only one lane each way.
The dunes
A wind mill that is adjacent to one o the parking areas.


The foot path to the beach area.


Flowers in bloom on the dunes.
The fishing beach.
Rip tide sign


Check out the sand being moved by the water.


The waves are so relaxing.




I took these photos before and after kayaking. It was a long drive on the garden state parkway until exit 82. Then another half an hour on local roads to the state park. Once there you need to pay an admittance fee for the day. The rate depends o n your age, the day of the week, your residency, and what you choose to drive.  I paid $10. I consider it a bargain for an entire day of relaxation.  Be advised there are bikers along the roadway and the sped limit is 45 mph. The locals like to drive fast, I’m not at all shocked. If you go , arrive early so you can off load your equipment and find one of the limited parking spaces. Island Beach State Park is not to be missed. It is a true gem on the Jersey coast.

New Jersey Balloon Festival by Barbara Dexter

New Jersey Balloon Festival by Barbara Dexter

It was a lovely 2 and a half hour ride to the festival.  I was expecting an additional twenty minutes for parking but just plain wow is all I can say for the traffic.  The crowd was friendly on the whole but the lines were very long for food and beverages.  Don’t try to bring your own,  as bags were searched on the way in.

The ascension of the balloons was worth the it.








For the geeks or the geek lovers at heart there were balloons in the shape of Yoda and Darth Vader.






For the folks like myself that grew up with the american diet there was the Wonder Bread balloon.


It was very picturesque and very crowded at the same time.










The New Jersey Balloon Festival continues for it’s final day of the season today. For information go to balloonfestival.com or simply get in the car and head for the Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ.


Grover Cleveland House on July 4th by Barbara Dexter

Grover Cleveland House on July 4th by Barbara Dexter

These are some photos from the ice cream social with live musical entertainment on July 4th at the Grover Cleveland House in Caldwell, NJ.

The front of the house.

Above is the Grover Cleveland House. They offer free tours every few minutes on this busy day. You are welcomed back to the house for individual tours at a more leisurely pace during their regular hours. They are closed on Mondays ans Tuesdays as well as holidays.

The address is:

Grover Cleveland Birthplace
207 Bloomfield Avenue
Caldwell, NJ  07006
Phone: (973) 226-0001

Take a step back in time and marvel at the simple life that we all long for in today’s busy society.  There was no running water in 1832 when he house was built. All water had to be hauled in from the well that is directly off the kitchen at the rear of the house.


The house was used for both business and family affairs. This limited the family’s space in the home.  Most family matters were conducted in the kitchen or the small family room to the rear of the large receiving room.

Flea circus

Celebrate the fourth with an old fashioned flea circus. This is a real humorous treat for children and adults alike.



Learn about history, present day activities, and the memorial association.





Buy a gift to help support the historical house. Don’t forget to sample from ice cream or enjoy a burger during the live musical performance.

This event is held yearly at the Grover Cleveland Birthplace on the fourth of July.

New Jersey is the land of big hair, hormones, and chromatography by Barbara Dexter

New Jersey is the land of big hair, hormones, and chromatography by Barbara Dexter

This became only too real when while attending a seminar on gas chromatography troubleshooting, a young woman walks into the auditorium with hair pointing northward at least six inches of her head pointing straight up into the sky.  Even though I don’t have an engineering degree, I find myself marveling at this structure that lasts through today’s thunderstorm without even a suggestion of frizzing. Yes, New Jersey is definitely home to big hair.

Then there is the one man chromatography shop owner. I wonder how much tenacity and networking is required to pull that feat off? He has to compete in an extremely competitive industry that regularly conducts business in the billions of dollars. This must be one of his networking opportunities, as he is dressed in a power outfit of a button down oxford and khakis. His posture is one of total comfort, though you know his heart is racing for the next big deal.

The natives are getting restless. We have been here for at least forty five minutes after the expected, published start time. The coffee with yogurt and granola are no longer or cannot possibly live up to anyone’s expectations. It is just about this time that a man walks in sporting unsightly facial hair. His chest hair is peaking out of the collar of his polo shirt. He is definitely hairy. I know for certain that my younger sister would find him attractive.

The middle aged man in the suit is next to talk. We discuss retention times and solubility in isocratic and gradient separations. Well I say that times are fast. The theory of theoretical plate counts on the columns is discussed. I day dream and wonder why I need to know the formulas? I only care that I have the ability to separate compounds of interest from cutting agents and diluents.

Yes it happens even here. The old man with the comb over has just walked in carrying his plate of food and coffee. Instead of just taking a seat in the back, he walks in front of everyone to the middle of the first row forcing the speaker to wait until he is seated.

The hairy man has now pulled up a piece of floor and is typing away on his laptop, while the suit is busy taking. I hope he is not sharing “the suit’s” information without permission.  The all of a sudden I can sense his eyes staring at me as I attempt to look away.

Yes, finally something to look at. Eye candy on two legs has just walked through the door.  He is now actively typing on his laptop next to the hairy man. “Mr. Eye-candy” is now perusing the crowd. Will he come over and introduce himself to me I wonder? Alas I must make due talking about self-tightening column nuts and ordering information with the hairy man.  What a missed opportunity.

Then there it is my opportunity to talk with “Mr. Eye-candy”, when he approaches me to ask directions to the airport. He states that he is flying home to California.  My hormones are telling me, just sneak into his luggage he will never notice. As I imagine the California coastline, I calmly explain how to get to the airport and wish him a safe trip.


Welcome to Montclair, NJ by Barbara Dexter

Welcome to Montclair, NJ by Barbara Dexter


Montclair New Jersey is “where the city meets the suburbs” or so they say.  Montclair has the Iris gardens, the Monclair Art Museum, and of course Montclair State. It is also  the home of many coffee houses and cafes. There is live music of every genre at the local clubs.  For those that lead an enlightened lifestyle there are any religious houses and of course yoga to help you achieve inner peace.

I have yet to achieve inner peace in my travels within this town. I say welcome one and all to the fast pace and confusion of Montclair. Welcome to the land of contradictory  parking signs. Here is an example of what I encountered while trying to park so I could go to a local coffee house and relax.

The parking lot in downtown Montclair.
The sign clearly stating there is free parking in all spaces after 7 pm.
The sign in front of my parking spot, clearly stating “any permit required between 7 pm and 2 am.”
Another sign on the meter that clearly reads 2 hour parking until 7 pm but says nothing about after 7 pm.

If you go to the township website. The confusion increases because we move into legal jargon. II feel like I’m learning a new language while still attempting to read English. Inner peace may be gained if parking can be avoided. If you must park here I wish you luck trying to understand the contradictory signs. I spend a good deal of time in Montclair and I still get confused.

A Visit to the Tranquility Zone by Barbara Dexter

A Visit to the Tranquility Zone by Barbara Dexter


Tranquility- need I say more?


After a fifty minutes of travel, I have entered the so called “Tranquility Zone.” It is so called because someone actually thought to post a sign with tranquility in the label. The front tie down securing my kayak to the front of my Forester had come loose, but not undone. I was grateful I didn’t have to pull along the road on interstate 287 to fix it. This is my first kayaking trip of the season.

A view of the reservoir and dock.


The picnic tables near the dock.


The gentle rocking of the kayak under me has already subdued my mood. I am in a section that once provided ample growing room for trees.  Apparently most of these are now partially to fully submerged under the water. Motor boats don’t usually come on this section for fear of damage to their engine propellers.

It is Friday morning and the temperature is hovering around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It is no wonder that I am the only sole on the water. I figure, as long as I don’t fall in, I will be warm enough with my ugly fleece jacket over my life jacket. I put it over just in case I get warm. This way my life jacket will still be on when I need to take the fleece jacket off. Since I swim, but I am not the strongest swimmer, this is important.

As I sit here in my little alcove, forgotten are the events of yesterday. Well at least they don’t seem as important as they once did just hours ago.

I have a turtle that keeps surfacing for air and a yellow and black beaked, white swan for company. In the distance are the large trucks and cars as they carry their important cargo of materialistic supplies for the market place or people.

The trees on the hills surrounding the reservoir have started growing leaves as all along the ridge there are varying shades of green. At his distance some of the trees appear to look like cotton balls that have been pasted to some board as in a model train display.

My agenda is simple. I have none. IF I  feel as I want to paddle around, I do. I have a couple of books to read and of course a snack. I realized that I forgot my water at home so I had to make a detour to get some from the 7 eleven on my way here. I have a simple rule when I go out and enjoy nature. Water don’t leave home without it.

Storms clouds appear to be rolling in. It looks as though a rain shower is on the way. I guess I should paddle back.  I decide to load up my kayak and drive down to the other end of the reservoir. There are large dark clouds in the sky. I sit in my vehicle and observe an older gentlemen unload his yellow kayak and gear and proceed to start out into the water. I begin to question his sanity or do I question mine? For  I still want to be on the water even in the face of the pending storm. I decide it was the appropriate time to head home before I find myself out there in the storm.

As I drive home the storm clouds maintain their dark presence in the sky. I exit  from route 280 at the Livingston Avenue exit and there it is a lovely blue sky with white fluffy clouds.  There is apparently no evidence of mother nature’s wrath. While unloading my kayak my neighbor stated what lovely day it was to be out on the water. Well for a time it was a lovely day, I thought.


My Theory of Socks and Sock Problems by Barbara Dexter

My Theory of Socks and Sock Problems by Barbara Dexter

So you believe in sock fairies? I do because of the actions of socks. Socks can be defined as problem children, misfits that do not belong. How dare they be dingy and dark when they are supposed to be white after they are washed. How dare they just up and disappear without proper notice and then reappear sometimes up to two years later. This is usually just after you have thrown away the matching one.

Socks how dare they intermingle with socks of all colors and sizes, only to be sorted before and after the wash cycle. These little miscreants need to be taught a lesson.  I say buy all the same color socks. This leaves out the sorting. Wash them together. Dry them together. Roll them without fighting to find the match in the pile, because who is ever going to know or even care if the are a perfect match.

I have not seen anyone hold up a magnifying glass to examine a pair of socks while they were attached to their human. But it must be said, that strange things do happen. Now if one sock is dingier than the other, simply throw it out. That’s right socks, we’ll show you. We will never have to sort or look for you again.

There is no normal.