The Philadelphia Orchard Project plants orchards in the city of Philadelphia that grow healthy food, green spaces and community food security. Since 2007, we have planted 17 orchards and have 8 planting events planned for this spring. Check out our website for more information: http://www.phillyorchards.org/
POP has been picked as one of five finalists for our category in the Green Heroes Grant Program (sponsored by Green Works). The first place grant is for $15,000 and runners-up will receive $5,000.
Go here: http://apps.facebook.com/greenheroes/
I have a timberjack, so that makes it easier - it makes the small bits cake.
Since the saw was new, only started by the manufacturer, the dealer, and once by me. Back in the Autumn when I first got it.
Took longer to get the saw running than it did to do the work. That actually wore me out a bit - especially when I had the compression set wrong (i.e. so it's impossible to pull the damn cord I was pulling. Or attempting to.) New power tools are so much fun! =)
Got it up and running, finally, after 5 minutes of fighting the compression, 2 minutes of reviewing the manual (the advantage of a newer, better saw is all the extra features Phil's saw - which I started a few times the other day - didn't have), about 10 minutes of struggling, and about 10 minutes after giving up.
The smaller section of the lawn ornament was done in 10-15 cuts, in about five minutes. The larger bits took about five minutes, most of which was spent wrangling the remaining log (diminishing from 30') so we could get it up on the jack and off the ground. The last 10' were murder to manipulate. Oy.
After that, it was a matter of clearing the stuff in the driveway - of course, the thickest sections of the trunk. We rolled 'em aside, chopped the top of the other trunk (it poked out into the driveway), and cleared those limbs, raked the debris, dropped the snowplow back off, parked the truck, and brought my car back up to its normal spot.
Deb will be able to zip right in when she gets back from taking Rachel to karate. Tomorrow, we'll clear the rest of the lawn ornamentation and maybe cut a bit of the other tree - it's not critical, but I don't want it falling on anyone or knocking over one of the smaller trees that caught it.
Saturday, there was volunteering and some work - details posted soon. Sunday was Easter festivities - details posted soon, pictures posted here, here, and here.
For the last month or so connectivity has been iffy and getting progressively worse. Thursday was Almost Dead, Friday was Mostly Dead, Saturday was Buried, and Sunday was Unplugged, until late in the day when I found out what it was. Maybe.
Monday, which gets lumped into the holiday weekend, involved Brandonisms and the installation of a new lawn ornament.
Today will involve some online work for the business that I wanted to do last Friday and much of the same for the household which was also supposed to be done Friday. Oy. It will also involve chainsaws and removal of aforementioned lawn ornament.
( Here's what it looks like today... )
Anyway, I was busy all day, as you might guess, and with the outages over the weekend, I didn't have any time to prep, but rest assured Monday's Thirteen will be up before it's Tuesday! Not all that long before, but it should make it!
So, for a limited time only1, you can see the collected updatia of this past weekend, right here, with a handy, summarized group of links. Some of these entries are friends-only for various reasons, but the summaries are rated mostly safe for all ages (with a disclaimer regarding humor or lack thereof).
I took a serious beating over the weekend, although much of it might be termed "enjoyable." First, as I was recovering from a mental beating at the hands of incompetent vendors carrying out the bidding of the state legislature here in PA, I had my head stuffed into a 3XL helmet, my body wedged into a slightly smaller space than it would prefer, and I then proceeded to pilot my scrunched body around a series of acute angles at 45mph. My arms were nearly ripped from my body by the attempts to aim myself in the right direction, and I probably lost a few pounds in sweat. This was good, because I think the weight loss improved my best lap time by about 10 seconds for each of the three heats, to come in solidly dead last most of the time. See here for detail, more or less.
I spouted poetry later on Friday night, and It Was Good. No - Great. Greatest Hits, more like it. Been too busy to write new material, so in with Ye Olde. Had fun anyway. Woke up cold and getting colder, as power was dropped for at least 5 hours on Saturday morning. Only way to judge is that it did get colder as time went on, so it might only have dropped shortly before our 5am reference point. More on that, plus Rachel & Soccer and Justin & Music.
Sunday, Justin and I started to disassemble a tree thats about 80' tall, although we were only dissecting bits that were about 60' off the ground, for the most part. Some limbs are starting to rot through - some have already fallen all around my car, and I'm not about to let the poor, dead thing have any more time to practice its aim. Anywho, we took down a small portion of it, and more will have to wait for the weekend and a little daylight. We joked that when we're done, we'll be Olympic-level athletes, but, realistically, we'd probably need to take down another two or three trees to get to that level. All that stretching and pulling and tugging on ropes has definitely compensated for the scrunching and bending and folding on Friday, so I definitely feel like a Norse god - yep, I'm Thor. Play-by-play here.
1: This Omnibus Edition of Weekend Updatia will expire when it's deleted, LJ croaks, the infrastructure in the country is destroyed via thermonuclear war leaving a few survivors in a post-apocalyptic condition similar to that made popular in so many 80's stories, or until entropy wins and the universe kicks back and chills for a while, which every may apply first. Some conditions and restrictions may apply, please see your dealer for details.
That latter group, by the way, included the four of us - during those moments in time. We made up for it later. Rachel chased after Mr. B while Justin and I searched for limbs to try out some new Japanese pruning saws. We made short work of a few dead trees & limbs that my existing saws would have suffered through for longer than it took Deb to do the walk. We also pruned a few live limbs - some suckers that would weaken and endanger the tree if allowed to grow. Quick and clean, they performed very nice and did not rip and tear and make a mess out things like some other saws I've been acquainted with.
Speaking of ripping and tearing, Justin and I practiced our lasso technique, and used it to throw a weighted line over some limbs about 20-30' feet up in the air. The line was divided in the middle by a chainsaw and we took down (and hauled away) maybe a thousand or so pounds of dead wood. The first was certainly for practice - when that tree falls (and there's still 2-3 times as much left above the height of the limb we took down), it won't endanger the house or cars. The second has a lot more that could fall on our house or cars, and is a twin tree, with its equally dead sibling aiming at the neighbor's house and cars. I might be able to get some longer lines - and something to help boost the throwing weight over higher limbs with more accuracy - but I will probably end up calling in an arborist to deal with it.
Sunday, I took the kids to the PA Ren Faire, which you may already have realized if you read the previous Brandonisms post. I picked up a couple pieces of art, but everything else was all about music. Rachel selected a wooden ocarina, Justin a horn (a "blowing horn", to use their technical term), and I picked up a gourd with twin flute-like pipes.
When we sat down waiting for the joust, we noticed another kid with one of the horns, and I tried to get Justin to go to him and tell him how to get a note out of it, but he didn't (I had Mr. B sitting on my lap, so my movement was limited). Just to let any non-horn players in on the secret: you don't just blow air through it like you would a flute or whistle; you need to put your lips together and essentially blow raspberries into it to get it to sound.
When Justin tried them out, the guys running the stand were surprised he hit such clear notes first time out. We teased him a bit about getting multiple notes out of it, especially after we had made fun of the horn players and their definutely-not period-accurate valved instruments ("Valvses? Valvses? We don't need no steeenking valvses!") On the ride home, while we were stuck in I78 Hell, Justin figured out how to use his hand like a French horn player and to change his embouchure to get four other notes out of it, each about a half-step apart. With that, he managed to play parts from The Kraken, several nursery rhymes, and a few other bits and pieces.
Rachel's ocarina is fitted with a cord to wear around her neck ("bling on a string," as per the guy running the stand) so she had it in hand while we were waiting for a table at supper. They were playing old-time country music over the PA, and suddenly she started playing along with the vocal line - and nailing it, with the exception of a few extra notes for ornamentation.
In comparison, on the gourd-thing? We think it will play at least two octaves. The vendor was able to play some nice low notes, and I seemed to hit them in places, but for me it jumps up to a much higher tone. Much practice will be needed. The instrument sounds a bit like a shawm, or maybe a bagpipe chanter, although we're pretty sure there's no reed involved - just the body of the gourd itself, and then the pipes.
By Everett A Warren
July 24, 2007
When the Old Oak speaks
even the young bucks
nod their heads
downy antlers scraping
the forest floor
Unwise is he who inquires
after them to learn
of that which was spoken
for if your ears heard not
the words and your heart
held not the dream
than surely shall you
wander betwixt and between
forever untethered from
whatever hope might bring
like a moth flying
aimless spirals until
your descent finds you
crushed and curled
beneath a leaf
Copyright (c) 2007 Everett Ambrose Warren
Most of the plants are not centerpieces or showstoppers - in fact, out of fourteen to be planted, ten are native ferns, and they are planted to help increase diversity. Growing in the wild, I've identified at least three species of fern on the property - Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern), Pteridium aquilinum (bracken), and - here's where the at-least comes in, as I haven't narrowed it down to a positive ID: Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay scented fern) and/or Thelypteris noveboracensis (Parathelypteris noveboracensis) (New York fern) and/or Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern).
Today, I added an Osmunda regalis (royal fern) and an evergreen Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern). On an aside, the site all the fern links point to belongs to the Connecticut Botanical Society, and is an exceptional resource for native ferns... specifically to Connecticut, but everything I've been interested in there is also native to Pennsylvania. The royal fern has a prominent location down on the island in Stone Stream, where a Christmas fern I planted last year and some native ferns are starting to thrive. It's between a winterberry that might reach 10' around and a newly planted shrub, but as it can reach 6' tall on its own, it should fit in nicely with that crowd, especially once the river birch, katsura, and paw paws provide a nice ceiling. The new Christmas fern is located alongside Stone Stream above the pair of larger hostas - there's some sensitive ferns and other natives around there, but it will take on a prominent role, especially during the months where the deciduous ferns fall apart.
The other four that went into the ground today were not ferns, all though one wants to be!
The Stylophorum diphyllum (celandine poppy or wood poppy) - a native wildflower - is positioned along Spruce Alley, where the meadow spills down off the sand mound. It should reseed itself nicely there, giving us some nice yellow spring flowers before most of the meadow wakes up for the year and gets going.
Across the stepping stones from the new Christmas fern, I planted a Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark). It helps finish off the foundation planting, and, unlike most of the shrubs in the area around the porch, it provides a deciduous touch, and it does so with a beautiful peeling bark.
Down near the royal fern, I had tried to transplant some Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern) from the bank a year or so ago. I didn't grab enough root - it spreads by suckers, and what I planted was, essentially, three rootless sticks. As this set of three sticks has leaves and roots, I expect it to do much better. One of the key functions of sweet fern - which is a deciduous shrub - is to fix nitrogen in the soil. It will improve the soil, even as it looks pretty good (like a dark fern with woody branches) and smells beautiful.
The last one I'll list tonight was actually the first one planted, as it went in on the top edge of Bank Island, furthest from the house. It is an Ilex opaca 'Dan Fenton' (American holly 'Dan Fenton'), which is funny, because, as Louise at Edge of the Woods (who supplied all 14 of the plants) pointed out, it's a female plant. Dan Fenton may be honored by the name, but it really would have been more apt to name it Danielle... she should get along well with the male hollies, and make lots of nice berries to supply the birds with food.
I've got a couple of reviews of some new items I used today, and I'll try to write them up later, and then put them in the queue with all the book, movie, and music reviews I'm so far behind on. My goal was to post no more than one a day - but there hasn't been much worry about breaking that envelope. =)
I've also got some music reviews I'm trying to get to ASAP that will hopefully get done tonight - julianafinch's How to Take the Fall (which is currently playing, on The Wind that Shakes the Barley, a beautiful rendition of one of my favorite tunes!), tewok (and wife!)'s Na Bi Gòrach (as Port Righ; this was playing when I started writing this post! =), and today's arrival, Mythica's new disc Vicarious (which, no surprise, played prior to the two listed above... =). Excellent music - I've know some talented folks! =)
Before we got that far, though, we added a bit more on Saturday night. After Brandon went to bed, I introduced Rachel to D&D. Although Justin had played before, it's been a while. I managed to get their two characters to meet up, agree to travel together, and then I had three thieves ambush the canal boat they were travelling on. Unfortunately, I underestimated their abilities (they had 9 & 14 hit points, so I didn't want them dead right off), and Justin's cleric spiritual hammered the one on the far shore while Rachel's fighter managed to charge and take out the leader (who was supposed to be the toughest) and the other one, who was up ahead where the mule team was.
Sunday, we spent most of the day at a martial arts tournament up near Camelback Mountain. We watched the end of the weapons forms - one guy did an excellent routine with the staff, another, with a sword, seemed to draw too slow. I'd like to think the latter's black belt was an indication of a beginner rank, but I highly doubt it. However, I do feel better about my own novice abilities - I was able to do the entire opening form in less time then he took to clear the blade. We watched the 17-34 year old forms. Rachel and some friends from her school went with their senseis to watch the kids sparring, and Justin and I stayed in our near-corner (mostly to attempt to keep Mr. B cornered; we should have received medals for our efforts at toddler-fu - I'm confident I would have snagged the silver, Justin was displaying his frustration at times and thus would have received the bronze. Of course, there was no real competition for the gold - Mr. B had that from the outset. Rachel and her friends left earlier than us - they went out for pizza; we stuck around to try to see the guy who was waiting to compete in the 35+ mens forms division, but we finally gave up on that and headed back.
At home, we goofed off for a bit, and then went outside. We installed deer fencing around the summersweet and one of the three paw paws - both were hit by the deer in the past month. Last time, when we put up the other seven, we had a difficult time getting the posts in the ground. The metal ate into the rubber sledgehammer, and we had to mess around with rocks, holding them in place and thwacking them without hitting our fingers. This time, thanks to my dad's tool collection, we had a choice of three or four metal hammers. We opted for the heaviest one, and the only time we had trouble was when the spot we picked was directly over a buried rock. After getting the six posts in the ground, Justin traded jobs with Rachel and played with Mr. B while Rachel assisted with cutting and hanging the fencing on the posts.
Justin and I relocated one of the wind chimes from the porch to a tree - partially to maybe startle deer from their munching, mostly because Deb didn't think it went with the other stuff on the porch.
We were going to hang some of the lawn ornaments - three spheres of different sizes and three glass swirls, all with phosphorescent paint - but we didn't get quite as far as we would have liked. Our original plan fell apart (in its current form) when we realized the monofilament line we were using was only 8 pound test. I had thought it was 20, and felt confident that would support the heaviest sphere, as well as multiple items. After dangling the large one on its lead - and feeling the line stretch thin to snapping - we re-evaluated the situation. In the end, only of the three swirls is up, and it's likely to come down and be put back in a slightly different fashion once we work out the details. As it was getting dark, we gave up on doing more (which is good - will give us time to do it right). Tonight, we should be able to see if the area gets enough light to make them glow.
In other news, the mayapple showed up - I was getting a bit concerned that it didn't make it through the winter. Some of the American holly are showing new growth, so that's a good sign. Bunches and bunches of the hemlock are looking good. Still waiting on the sycamores, I'm fairly concerned that the sweetgums aren't going to show up (to be fair, most of them seemed to be the victim of chipmunks or something like that), and the balsam fir and Serbian spruce trees are iffy.
It's really dry out there. The ground is all crunchy underfoot, the exposed bits of dirt - even in the deep woods - are all cracked and rock hard. We're switching to watering-every-day mode for everything planted in the last year or so.
We found a few spots where the ground was still frozen - despite a sloppy, muddy, clay surface. Several locations for hazels were left as false starts - two not even deep enough to be noticeable due to ice, and one because we found a rock that has a face of at least 2'x2'. At least that's about the size of the hole before we gave up, and we never found even one single edge of the rock. We unearthed a couple other good sized rocks, added to the foundation border in front of the kiwi trellis, and one monster. We needed to get the 6' bar out to pry that sucker from the ground - and it was only about a foot in diameter and two feet long.
It's raining now so that should help get those guys off to a good start.
After a few days that topped sixty degrees and rain - heavy at times - there's still quite a few spots with snow, but it is starting to fade away. The Rachel River is running wild and free, even under the 4-6' of snow plowed over it just north of our driveway.
In other news, the guitar lesson with the new student went well today. Slightly more details over on the musical blog (aka MySpace).
Took down half the holiday lights - haven't had them lit since January, but we missed the window to break out the ladder and take them down prior to the onset of Snow in February. The other half will have to wait for aforementioned ladder, which means Light and Lack of Snow, which should happen this weekend. Took them down while Justin was clearing off some cardboard that was allegedly going to be recycled but was left on the porch too long and turned into a sprawling cat bed (complete with decorative decapitated meeses).
Of course, the reason we were out on the porch was because the Musser Forests order had arrived and needed processing (unpack, shake out packing material, wrap in newspaper, put in buckets, moisten paper and add some water). Due to worries of freezing temps, they're down in the cellar - the garage gets too cold. Of course, the cellar has the dehumidifier, which is basically anti-plantlife, so we'll have to watch the moisture and get them into the ground as soon as we can.
Hopefully snow will clear down along the stream where the winterberry holly are going, and along Chestnut Grove where the hazelnuts will be. We're pretty much SOL for the hemlock - those are going along the back edge of the property in the trees, so it's not very likely that we'll be 100% snow cover free.
I have reviews to post - they're halfway between this system and that, and they'll be here. Eventually.
New guitar student starting Saturday - the father of the second student, who wants to make use of the guitar and some musical interest. Also have another two potential students - a guy at work and one of his daughters - that will hopefully be scheduled soon.
Seven Myrica pensylvanica 'Bayview' (Northern Bayberry or Candleberry) were planted along the banks of the Rachel River, three on Driveway Island, two behind the mailbox, and two further down, between the dawn redwood and the forsythia. They'll help hold the bank together - they should be well out of range of even the most extreme flood (that we've experienced thus far,) but they should keep things from crumbling, and they should also do well when the bank dries out or if any salt is used on the road. Their berries are very waxy, and, as one of their common names implies, they were used in the Colonial days to make candles.
A half-dozen Picea omorika (Serbian spruce) - very narrow, reasonably tall - add to the screening. Quoth Musser, "considered the most beautiful and adaptable of the spruces" these trees really do have a nice appearance. Two are placed down along the woods edge of Spruce Alley, where they'll join the Colorado blue spruces that give the area its name, as well as a couple of hemlocks, to provide privacy for us and our neighbors downhill - although these folk don't have the late-night parties of the previous owner, they'll still enjoy some privacy out on their large deck. One of the spruces will accent the path into the Back Woods, and another will be framed by hemlocks on top of the garden. Two others are on the narrow area between our driveway and the neighbors uphill - they accompany Norway spruces and an Austrian pine.
One of the half-dozen Abies balsamea (balsam fir) also adds to that Driveway Island screen, a bit further down between the Scotch pine and another Colorado blue spruce. The others dot the edge of the wooded property from the Ivy Triangle to the Fire Pit. Even with them being dormant and fairly small - only a few feet tall, without a lot of branching - their fragrance can already be caught on the breeze. Their job is to help make the highway disappear - of course, the handful of hemlocks scattered along the back edge - along with the 95 or so I plan to plant in future years - will do the lions share of the work.
A half-dozen Liquidambar styraciflua (American sweetgum) were scattered in the woods, with one down in Spruce Alley. They add diversity to the woods - although I'll plant non-natives such as the Serbian spruce and other US natives like the balsam fir, I won't add anything to the woods themselves unless it is a native plant species naturally found in this area. Sweetgum fits that bill - it's also Justin's chosen tree (the two planted for him last year didn't make it, so these are essentially replacements.) Although lots of people hope not to get the "gumballs" and try to seek ways to sterilize the trees to avoid the spiked pods, I'm hoping for them - they make a great anti-slug mulch! Of course, they're 30-50 years away, if I recall. In the mean-time, they'll have beautiful star-shaped leaves that turn yellow, purple, and red in the fall.
The half-dozen Carya ovata (shagbark hickory) finish off the planting for the season - they're scattered in the woods, with one pretty far down Driveway Island. They will take 25-30 years before they produce nuts, but they're an investment in creating an edible forest. I'm not entirely convinced they'll be practical - or even possible - to harvest, but they will certainly keep the squirrels well-fed. Their beautiful bark is also quite welcome, as is their compound leaves - I really don't have much that has compound leaves, so this adds diversity on several levels.
The leyland cypress - about five or six feet tall now, and planted on my birthday a couple of years ago - was the long distance voyager.
With dragonflypug's son's help, Justin and I dug a hole (too deep, it turns out,) moved the dirt across the driveway, out of the wheelbarrow, and onto a tarp. Then we took turns circling the tree with the one spade. Eventually, we could get in there with the transfer shovel and use it to help lift. After a couple more times around, we finally began to be able to lift the rootball out. We carried it across the driveway, discovered the hole was too deep, and had to go bring the dirt back over. This involved all three of us lifting the tarp and dumping three cubic feet of dirt back into the wheelbarrow - my back will thank me for that later, I'm sure. Once we got a few shovelfuls of dirt in there, it sat nicely, and it actually went pretty smoothly.
Now we just have to move the wisteria tree, the crepe myrtle, and the heaths and heathers. I know that the last two are going on the back bank - this will be an improvement as they will no longer compete with tall grass and they will hold the hillside where grass doesn't want to grow. Win-win. The crepe myrtle dies to the ground every year - I'll put it somewhere along the foundation, maybe close to the dryer vent, to help it get some more warmth and more of a chance to flower and survive. The wisteria needs sun and, to keep the tree form, high maintenance - not really sure where it's going to go, though. After they are all moved, I'll be able to let that entire area become part of the meadow, which will greatly simplify care of the meadow and pruning of the wisteria.
In no particular order, I discovered a second of the winterberries is, in fact, a she and not a he. Luckily, the one in a prominent position in the center of the Stone Stream island is, and she had two potential offspring that grew bright red - and then were hacked off, along with a bit of twig and a mouthful of leaves, by one of our white tailed rodents. The other, just discovered today, has only one fruit, but it has thus far evaded the hooved herbivore Hoovers.
The katsura tree has lived up to its expectations - as soon as the leaves go from green to yellow, it gives off a smell somewhere between cotton candy and caramel. Of course, since it's still just a twig, there's less than two dozen leaves, so you have to lean over and sniff. I've caught the scent at a distance once or twice; faint, but it shows promise. Which reminds me, I tried to convince Justin to get me some cotton candy while we were at Fair in the Square in Watertown last weekend, but he didn't...
Justin thinks a bear ran by him while he was down getting the trash barrels earlier today. He says it was the size, shape, and ran like the one we had seen last week. Only it was white.
So. Looks like I might be able to get some ammunition for that RPPB that was discussed on TH last year some time. Of course, stuffing a polar bear - even a smallish one - into the rocket shell is always the challenge, and it's best to buy the stuff fully loaded. Or just to stay away from the whole dubious concept.
Deb is of the opinion that it was a wolf; I suggested coyote at first, as they're known to frequent, well, everywhere. White, however, isn't a likely color for either one or the other, although I suppose it's more likely than an albino black bear.
Even more likely, is that it was a large white dog. Think I might even have seen one somewhere in the neighborhood before, which makes it even more likely.
Last year we focused on the foundation area, this year the focus is on the meadow and Chestnut Grove, with all but one of the planting being in the grove or on the fringe of the meadow.
We had four 1 gallon plants: a Podophyllum pellatum (mayapple, mandrake) that is planted between an oak and the Stone Stream just below the island - I'm hoping the perennial spreads out and takes over the undergrowth of that area, along with the native blueberries, wintergreen, and azalea; a Clethra alnifolia (summersweet)is opposite that on the wet strip of lawn just before the meadow starts - it should turn into a 10-12'-in-all-directions sprawl that will help define the meadow border and drink up the extra moisture so it doesn't ruin the septic system; and two Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' (zebra grass) that are positioned on the meadow edge and, with the existing one, will form a trio to screen the view of the cement septic access from the front porch.
The six tubes also contained only three species: six Xerophyllum tenax (beargrass) were planted along the Chestnut Grove top corner of the sand mound (which is part of the meadow) - they'll blend with the seeded plants from the meadow, but I anticipate them dominating that one corner; three Asimina triloba (pawpaw) are in Chestnut Grove, they now outnumber the chestnuts in the grove - these are the first of a number of pawpaws I plan on having, as they're key components of the edible forest; finally, one Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura tree) was planted down on Bank Island, between the crabapple and the Washington hawthorn - I really like how the one we planted last spring looks, whereas that one will provide shade/color/Autumn caramel scent to the front porch and yard, this one is positioned so that people will be able to enjoy it while walking by.