Showing posts from April, 2010

I want a shrubbery, but not a green one

I’ve been planting stuff left and right since I moved in here. Plenty of grass was removed mainly to make mowing easier, and also because I heard one too many times that my yard was simply too green. So, I’ve tossed in everything from bulbs to trees, trying to get some non-green color outside from spring until my maple trees take over with awesome foliage displays in October.

The first things up are bulbs—I’ve buried dozens of daffodil bulbs, along with some hyacinths and narcissus bulbs, because, well, deer and rabbits don’t eat them. Yeah, they’re nice, they add color, and they're a general announcement of spring, but they’re not really unique. Next to light up are the forsythia. I’ve dedicated a post to that already, so I’ll gloss right over that here. A few other things that get color, however, are shown below.

Pulmonaria, also known as lungwort: Sounds nice, eh? Well, when I bought them, the little stick in the pot labeled some “Gaelic Sunrise” and others “Gaelic Sunset”--that …

More on pumping up the volume

When I post about where I live, my primary focus is on the outside--the yardwork done and needed--, and my secondary focus is on the area. This is because I have a nice lot with an awesome view across a small valley. With a little over an acre to maintain, not to mention a broad appreciation of the area and the outdoors in general, it should be little surprise that I devote such attention to what is outside my front window.

Seldom, however, do my posts focus on anything inside of the mostly uninteresting house, which is relatively small, though quite suitable for me. Here I want to devote a few words to one such item, something of value I've come to take for granted: my Bose 701 speakers. Floor speakers don't seem to be used as much as they once were; in fact, the 701s were discontinued a few years ago. With compressed audio formats the norm these days, it's no surprise, and, really, smaller speakers do have merit for a number of reasons. Still, every so often, an urge to …

More on how I got going on skis

We're in the second half of April, and I haven’t skied in nearly a month. Still, the Fan pages of some northeast resorts, most notably Sugarloaf, are posting reports of their spring conditions: 8 inches this past weekend?! That got me thinking back to some of my early ski posts here, and some of those first trips I took when I was just trying to get going on skis.

In one entry, I alluded to a 1998 lesson at Stowe, and wrote that I would post about it at some point. When my buddy Greg and I went up there, well, it wasn’t pretty. Owing to inclement weather, the trip itself took a good 3-4 hours longer than usual. Roads were slippery, it was tough to see, and I think I even suggested pulling off the road when I suspected that we wouldn't reach our destination until well after midnight. But, we arrived later that evening, and made our way to the Spruce base for our lesson the next morning.

The instructor for our group was Paco, who I think was the sheriff of a southern Vermont town…

Florida weekend

The large amount of travel I've done for work means I have a decent amount of travel reward miles to use. I cashed some of these in to cobble together a long weekend in Florida. Now, the thing with reward programs is that there are restrictions on when you can fly, unless you want to cash in everything all at once.

My plan was to make it from NY to Tampa Bay this past Saturday and get to the Yanks-Rays 3:10 game. It's something like a three-hour flight without connections. And, there are billions of direct NY-FLA flights everyday...unless you're using points. I ended up on an 8:00 flight that connected in DC. In a way, I am glad it did. The connection was brief, but it allowed me to witness some of this scene:

A flight with 183 World War II vets landed in DC to be taken to the WW II Memorial. They were given a much-deserved heroes welcome, which included a decent-sized band playing music from their era, as they got off the plane. I immediately uploaded this picture to Fa…

Florida baseball

So here I am at Joe Robbie Stadium. Wait. No, it's Pro Player Stadium. Wrong again? Dolphin Stadium. Still wrong!? Land Shark Stadium?? Nope. I am in Sun Life Stadium. Yes, Sun Life Stadium. I had a great time here a few years ago at a Dolphins game (and, no, I don't recall the stadium's name at the time). From that game, I do recall a "J-E-T-S suck suck suck" chant going up after the Fish won late. The funny thing was, they weren't playing my second favorite football team...

I'm sitting 13 rows up behind home plate. The ticket was $37, which strikes me as insanely cheap given the price of tickets up at NY games.

Though it rained on and off today, it is sunny right now, and it appears the game will start on time. The opponent is the Reds, but I am simply following the dictates of that 7th-inning anthem and rooting for the home team...

Changing seasons

If I align everything just right, I can fit my lawn tractor and car into my one-car garage. I only bother in the winter, removing the mowing deck from the tractor and squeezing it facing outward in the back left corner. Backing my Forester into the garage, I end up with about six inches of clearance between its back tire and the front one of my John Deere.

In what has become something of a ritual every spring and fall, I swap the placement of my tractor and snow thrower, which spends its summers in that back corner. I can’t say it’s a happy routine, as there is a bit of dread that comes with the necessity of having these machines at the ready.

Still, though, there are four seasons here in the Hudson Valley. Things may go quickly from hot to cold in the autumn, and then heat up just as quickly in the spring, but I count four distinct seasons.

Spring is here in these parts, and really everywhere, just check a sports calendar: In April, “March Madness” wraps up, the Masters Tournament in…

Baseball stadiums

Baseball and football—not necessarily in that order—are my favorite sports. I root for the Yankees in baseball, and the Giants in football. While I always root for my teams to win, I really can watch any two teams play and enjoy the game, especially if it’s a good one. Watching on TV is nice, but watching from the stands is a grander experience. And, it’s not that I get to a lot of games every year, but I do get to them whenever and wherever I can. In one of my very first posts, I mentioned liking lists. I have what I think is a pretty nice list crawling to completion in terms of the stadiums in both sports that I have visited. I’m focusing on baseball here, and skipping football, which I will revisit when helmets and pads start colliding.

In baseball, I have been to 28 different stadiums. That needs to be qualified a bit, as I have only seen 21 of the 30 teams play in their home ballparks (I’ve seen the Yankees, Mets, Orioles, Phillies, Indians, Brewers, and Giants in both their curr…


So, when I bought the house in 2005, I had this huge shrub at the top of the driveway. I had no idea what it was at the time, but it was suggested that I do something with it.

It was a tall, fat, and unwieldy forsythia.

A landscaper told me that he would clear it out and grind out the roots for $400. When I said I'd think about it, he asked me if he could at least take a couple of pictures to show others what happens to these plants when they are not maintained!

Others told me that I would never be able to prune it down to look the way I want. I decided to hold off on any decision until the spring, so that I could see what it looks when loaded up with those little yellow flowers...

Yeah, something needed to be done with it.

So, mostly with loppers, I went to work, reducing its height and girth a few feet at a time over the next two years. I ended up with many debris piles, like the one shown here.

I also hacked out chunks of it with a pickaxe, transplanting it to other areas of the y…