Thursday, February 25, 2010


This mulch pile is now gone.  We spread 1200 cubic yards of wood chips from all the storm debris.  That's almost 30K worth of mulch. 
The  last of the wood chips.

Mulch area under the trees at Peyton Hall.

We started shearing the Knockout roses yesterday.  That's one of the many wonderful things about Knockouts, you can trim them with a hedgetrimmer instead of pruning each branch by hand.

Super Pete

Bobby and Ek.  What's going on in this picture is Ek trying to start the tool while Bobby watches.  We call this Bobbyvising.

New toy.  We are demoing a new tool from Stihl made specifically to trim Asian jasmine.  We are all in love!

Quality Time

I get home from work everyday around 4:30.  I have been starving for several hours by then so I walk in the door, yell at the paps to leave me alone, put down my stuff, go to the fridge, and eat, eat, eat.  Chris then says (daily), "I guess we aren't eating together."  Or, since we talk to each other through our pets or Edie, he would say to Edie, "I guess I won't be eating with Mommy tonight."  I feel guilty but I'm so damn hungry all I can do is shovel food into my mouth.  So yesterday I came up with an idea to give Chris a nice meal together one night a week.  We will cook a meal together one week night each week.  We will take turns choosing the meal.  Last night I chose this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  We went to Central Market when I got home (while I ignored my hunger) and bought the ingredients.  Now let me tell you Chris and I have been together in this relationship of pure bliss for seven years and in that time we have NEVER been able to cook together because I am a control freak and he does everything wrong.  I thought since we are going to make the cooking nights our special night of togetherness that we would magically not hate each other whilst cooking.  Not so.  Things Chris did wrong that required pointing out:  sauteed onions in a too small pan, didn't boil enough water for the pasta, kept trying to change amounts of things to suit his energy level, telling me I was being a bitch, and generally getting in the way.  By the time the meal was cooked I hated him and I'm pretty sure he hated me.  So to smooth things out I started asking him questions about ABE with seemingly genuine interest which turned his mood around.  We ate.  I went to sleep and Chris played video games for about an hour at which time I was awoken by the sound of Chris cooking himself something he actually wanted to eat for dinner.  I yelled from the bedroom for him to shutup and went back to sleep.  Ahhhhh, what a wonderful evening of cooking and loving. 

I thought it was good even if he didn't.

FYI:  I used arugula instead of parsley.  Next time I will sub sausage for the artichokes.

In Honor of....

Black History Month check out this site.  It honors 8 African American women that changed the world, and yes, one of them is Oprah.

Sojourner Truth.  What a cool name!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Things they didn't tell me in college.

I spent 8 years in college.  I have a B.S. in Horticulture and a Master of Landscape Architecture (I love saying that!) and not once did anyone tell me that landscape management would involve emptying trash cans, powerwashing vomit, scooping up dead animals, picking up discarded dirty diapers, used condoms, used needles, picking cigarette butts out of ash urns and off the ground one by one, or spray painting dormant plant material green.  I have even picked up human feces before, not at SMU though, yet. This is the second time I have had to get brown plants to look green--with paint.  The first time was in the summer for a Laura Bush reception.  One of my guys had cut the Asian jasmine way too short so it looked brown.  So I spent several days spray painting the Asian jasmine (with Alex Hargrave at my side) in front of the Calatrava fountain green because that was the location her car would pull up and drop her off.  This time I contracted it out to ValleyCrest.  They are more than capable, doing it faster and better than we would.  Given all the clean up we are still doing from the snow storm we wouldn't of had time to spray paint grass anyway.  The turf panels in these pictures are in the Meadows Museum's new sculpture garden.  Bermuda with overseeded with rye was specced but that ended up not happening.  There is a v.i.p event on March 5 so..... green spray paint. 

Before: The ValleyCrest guys wrapped all the stone borders in plastic before spraying.


Looks real from afar.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Everything I Have

Check out this poster.  Says a lot about our culture that this guy actually doesn't have much stuff.

Image reblogged from

Rooster's Raisin Wine

A wine update (and recipe) in Rooster's words...

New wine production started yesterday. After the results of the last batch of wine I feel confident to try something a bit more complex............Recioto della Valpolicella.

A straw wine or passito (or raisin wine if you will) it should be a stout dessert wine.
It has a sugar content to go to 20% but my yeast (Champagne) is only good to 18% so we shall see.
Straw wines are called that because in old times the grapes were dried on straw mats (made into raisins).
This process concentrated the sugars and fruit flavors of the grapes.
Straw wines are some of the oldest wines but are rare theses days.These wines were made all around the world.
Two of these wines come from the Verona (Shakespeare anyone?) region of Italy.
One called Amarone (a very dry wine),and Recioto della Valpolicella (a sweet dessert wine) said to go well with chocolate and cheeses.
Recioto [r eh-CHAW-toh] della [dell-uh] Valpolicella [Val pole-e-chella]
Recioto's name is derived from a local dialect term recie meaning "ears."
A grape bunch often has two small clusters-called ears-branching out of the main bunch.
The ears are thought to be of better quality because they stick out and catch more sun.
Valpolicella (a name which according to some derives from the Latin "Vallis-polis-cellae" and could mean "Valley of many cellars").
I adapted two different recipes for this batch of wine and added my own changes to it..

Here’s the recipe as I prepared it.

My Raisin Wine (Recioto della Valpolicella)

7 lbs. Sun Maid Rasins
18oz. Craisins
3 12oz. cans of Welch's concentrate (Concord)
4 tsp Acid Blend
2oz. Unsulphured Molasses (Grandma's)
2oz. Pure Honey (Burleson’s)
2lbs. Light Brown Sugar (Imperial)
1lb. Granulated Sugar (Imperial)
3 gal. Reverse Osmosis Water
3 crushed Campden tablets
2 1/4 tsp pectic enzyme (3/4 per gallon)
3 tsp yeast nutrient
1 pkt (Lalvin EC-1118 Champagne) wine yeast
Put water on to boil. Meanwhile, chop the Raisins and Craisins or run them through a mincer.
Put Raisins,Craisins sugar and yeast nutrient into primary fermenter with a sediment bag.
When water boils, pour over raisins and stir until sugar dissolves.
Cover with a sanitized cloth and set aside to cool.

Next Year's Firewood

All of the wood that was too big for chipping was salvaged for firewood for FM&S employees.  What is FM&S, you ask?  Facilities Management and Sustainability of course.  The former Campus Planning and Plant Operations (CPPO) has been jazzed up with management and sustainability.

Ryan and Jose unloading logs from Ryan's cart.
Jose cut up wood all day Friday.

 If there are any wood workers out there that need some large pieces of wood there are still a lot left. 

Firewood of oak, elm, and hackberry.

The Camera Had a Weekend Off

I just didn't get many pictures taken this weekend.  I grabbed the camera on only two occasions.  First, I had to get some pictures of the back Edie's bare legs.  Since she is a winter baby her precious, fat roll legs are always in leggings or pants.  The bare leg is rare.  I can't wait for warmer temps so her lovely, chubby body can be on full display.  Yesterday morning it was warm enough in the house for the Frog to enjoy some jumperoo time with no leggings on. 

The second time I grabbed the camera was to take these pictures of a little old lady and her dog.  Frog's hat can also be used to protect individual pieces of fruit during shipping.

Frog and her best friend.

Frog and Nancy took a brief trip to Florence, Italy last night for burgers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Playing with Feet

Edie's new favorite activity is grabbing her feet.  She does it any chance she gets.  It looks like something you expect a baby to do so it's absolutely adorable.  We went to the doctor yesterday for her six month check up.  Among other things we found out we should have stopped feeding her when she wakes up at night TWO MONTHS AGO.  Wish we had known that then.  So we started last night.  She went down at 6:00 and slept until 4:00.  She cried a little now and again but we ignored the cries and she quickly fell back asleep.  At 4:00 though she wanted some milk but the dr. said no food from sun up to sun down so Chris is waiting until 7:00. 

Playing with feet in the car. the stroller. the tub.

Ek came over Wednesday afternoon.  He, like most men, totally scares Edie.  This face was her response.  She is probably equally scared of my double chin.

Out of the tub.

Frog butt.  There is nothing in the world cuter than this.

Abby walking on Edie's clean clothes.


Yesterday we spent all day mulching campus with the wood chips generated from all the chipped storm debris.  We hardly made a dent in 8 hours.  The piles of mulch go on and on.  I hope to get it all out by the end of next week.  We have lots of mulched spots on campus under tree canopies where it's too shady for turf grass to grow.  We needed to get all of these spots mulched before spring.  Because of the storm we will end up getting it done a lot faster.

The wood chips.

We are lined up and ready for Pete to load our carts with the mulch.

Pete stayed at the pile with the skid loader.  We would get a load, take it to the site, dump and return.  I had several guys at the dorms spreading out the mulch piles.

Mulch piles at Boaz Hall ready to be spread.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another First

Ek, Dave, and I had to bust up large ice balls (I think they had been snowmen) with a pick axes yesterday so they would melt faster.  It was a lot harder than you would think.  Ek called the snowmen snowtoys!  How cute is that?!

Aftermath: Day Four

We got a lot done yesterday.  Almost all the branches have been dragged to the curbs for chipping.   I would estimate that 80% of all the branches that had cracked but were still attached to the tree have been cut loose with a chainsaw and are now on the ground.  We have been dragging branches to the curbs for days.  Yesterday we were able to get a lot of chipping done.  I also had a crew taking all the big logs that were too large to be put through the chipper to a stockpile for next year's firewood.  Many dangling branches remain though.  If you walk down the Boulevard and look up into the canopies you would see at least one large branch hanging on by a thread in each tree.  It is past the no pruning date for oaks to help prevent the spread of Oak Wilt so all pruning wounds will have to be painted to prevent the vector insect from getting into the tree. The upside is we have a tttttttttooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnn of mulch.  I hope to start mulching next week.  I will get a picture of the pile today.  It's massive.

Branches lining the Boulevard.  Before we began chipping the branches lined the entire length of Boulevard on both sides.

We drag the branches to the curbs and line them up facing the same direction--branch-side towards the chipper.  This way the chipping crew can easily grab the branch and throw it in the chipper.  Before chipping we have to go through each pile and cut the branches down to a manageable size and get everything untangled.  That's what we did all day Monday.

Once we get a limb like this severed we cut it up and drag all of its pieces to the curb for chipping.

The guys getting ready to chip.  Ek is doing some last minute adjusting.  Of course once we got the machine in place yesterday morning, we didn't have the key to start it.  Got the key and the machine wouldn't start.  Called Rooster and Ray to come out and take a look.  They fixed it and we chipped until 2:00 then Rooster had to change the blades out.

Contracted chippers from Preservation Tree Services chipped like mad men yesterday.  They were out here at 7:00 a.m. chipping and cleaning up behind themselves.  They chipped almost the entire Boulevard yesterday!

We've hauled a lot of things in these carts but this is a first.  Ice is still very thick in places.  This snow/ice was removed from a handicap ramp.

Garden Reminder:  It's time to prune your roses.  Remove all dead wood and any canes that are rubbing against each other.  I work with antique roses so I only remove 5" off the top of the plant by pruning off last year's blooms and rose hips.  Antiques don't need much pruning.  I take more if I am trying to trim them way back to a smaller size.  Work in composted manure and an organic, granular fertilizer at the base of each rose.  Mulch around the base of each rose making sure to pull all the mulch from touching the base of the plant to prevent disease.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I think Ek said it best.....

"Pinche hielo mucho frozen."

Wow, I wish the snow had stuck around longer or maybe I should have savored it a little more.  Little did we know the destruction it would cause at work.  I still think it was worth it.

Cutting the shade cloth off of the posts before it collapsed the entire structure.

Buckner Road at Norbuck Park Friday morning.

Chris at Flagpole Hill.

Dave in Thursday's snow.

Back porch.

Me and Flagpole Hill.

Flagpole Hill looking south.


Parkford on Friday morning.


Peavy by our house.


Andrew, Bobby, and Ek.

Bobby and Ek.

Real smart.

Lake Highlands tree.