Archive for the ‘Today's Photo’ Category.

The Tree Circus

Over the last couple of weeks, Dave Bayette’s Tree Service has been working at our property as well as Ann’s property next door, and the Conklin place further down Murraydale Lane. Dave’s got some serious equipment including a monster chipper, a fleet of chainsaws, and a large truck to haul the chipped material, which also features a crane/bucket arrangement for high work in the trees.  This photo shows the truck parked in the valley bottom down by the creek at the old Chinese dam (the wall seen to the left of the truck).

tree trimming truck

Dave’s crew varies based on what needs to be done. At our place, he brought along four workers, one of whom was an experienced climber. The climber is the rather amazing person who goes up in the bucket to get the high limbs, or even crazier, scampers manually up trees with a chainsaw swinging from his belt. I’m completely impressed with the skill of the climbers. I can’t even imagine being up that high in a tree without hyperventilating, let alone hanging by one arm, operating a screeching chainsaw with the other, while at the same time managing how the cut pieces fall so that the process proceeds safely and without damaging the ground too much. Or the noggins of the ground crew working below. Talk about multi-tasking… I also enjoyed their knowledge of how trees grow and how best to trim them to encourage healthy growth.

The ground crew works like a well-oiled machine, clearing brush and downed limbs as they accumulate and putting it all through the chipper.  They worked very hard on the hillside below our house. We were able to do some clearing there this year, but these guys really gave us a wonderful jump on our vision of park-like landscaping all through the area. Here is a before shot taken in the morning:


And following is the same area that afternoon after they had cleared and chipped a huge amount of material, which they spread around the meadows as chips and mulch that will eventually disappear as it decomposes into lovely dirt. Sweet. Now the cleared areas will be easy to weed-eat and keep tidy and — wait for it — fire safe!!!!


Conal and I variously pitched in hauling and dragging branches and brush, sawing, and sitting around appreciatively watching the guys work. At one point, we were watching admiringly as Dave skillfully maneuvered the bucket up and around in the high canopy of a giant oak, working the crane’s angles to put himself in just the right spot for his next cut. It’s motion reminded me of the gut-clenching swing of a ferris wheel, only going in all directions instead of a nice, predictable circle. The other climber walked by us and I exclaimed to him, “You could charge admission for this show!” He grinned and replied, “Yep. The tree circus,” and headed off to refill his saw with fuel.

Dave works as hard if not harder than any of his crew. Here he is sawing away at an uprooted oak near our house that partially burned in the fire this past spring:

Dave Bayette

I think we made friends. The crew seemed to enjoy our company and help, chatting and cheerfully answering our endless questions about trees and saws and what have you. The chocolate chip cookies I baked for them were also a big hit. We’re looking forward to having them back again soon.

Tasha really did get married

Well, it happened. My baby got married. Here she is with her new husband, Luke.

Luke & Tasha Shea


I have never seen a tarantula outside a zoo. Until today, that is! Conal said he’d never seen one at Murray Creek. When this one strolled across the driveway today, I was initially horrified. Then I saw how slowly and deliberately it moved, how its body looked fuzzy and kind of soft rather than icky, and I got more fascinated than scared. Having recovered from my initial wiggins, I followed it for awhile. I put my foot near it and took a photo. It sort of reared up in a weary “Oh for pity’s sake, now what?” kind of way, but didn’t seem too upset. As soon as I backed off, it continued ambling along, moving purposefully toward the northeast. It reached the edge of the driveway, climbed laboriously over the curb, then went scrambling and clawing its way up the steep hillside. A couple of times it chose routes that proved too precipitous, and would tumble back down and have to find another way around. It’s clumsiness lessened my fear still further.


Then a yellow jacket buzzed suddenly near it and it JUMPED, like, totally leaped sideways several inches in a split second. Since it obviously knew some wicked karate moves, after that I regained some respect and a bit more distance. It didn’t seem agressive at all, though, just careful in a defensive way. I mean, a yellow jacket sting would probably suck if you were that small, wouldn’t it? I’d jump out of range, too.

Back in the house, I could still see the spider from the window above my desk, making its way further and further up the hill in a more or less straight northeasterly line. Where in the world was it off too? A convention? A dental appointment? Those were some mighty big mandibles. I hope s/he has good insurance. I read that spiders eat all kinds of pesky bugs. Whatever its destination, I’m over my heebie jeebies and I wish this particular spider well.

512 Feet

You guys have heard me say over and over that our driveway is really long and steep, but I have never been able to say exactly how long it is.

lower driveway
Till now. Our contractor friend Bill brought over his neato wheeled measuring thingy. We’re considering paving the drive to help stabilize it and make it easier to drive up and down. To help him estimate what paving would cost, Bill needed a measurement. He drove down the driveway hanging out the door of his truck, holding the measuring wheel to the ground. The official length: 512 feet.

512 feet!!

512 feet is 89.04 times my own height (but only 79.79 times Conal’s).

512 feet is 1.42 football fields (outside dimension).

512 feet is the height of the Williamsburg Bank Building, the tallest building in Brooklyn and one of the two tallest on Long Island.

The Willie

Sh’yeah. And you guys thought I was just whining about how long the thing was. I will have no more rolling of eyes when I ramble on a bit about the looooong driveway, ya hear?

Murray Creek Beautification Progress!

Work on installing the decking boards is underway today. Our contractor friend Bill brought three guys with him and they weren’t fooling around! They got about half the boards on the back section tacked down before quitting at 2:30 pm. They started at around 7 am.

It’s going to be a ginormous deck, especially once it has been extended to the east end so that it goes all the way around the house. We plan to widen the front porch as well, changing the porch roof to allow for better views from the front of the house.

East view of the new deck

Before you start scratching your head wondering what would posses us to build such a crazy-huge deck, rest assured that it is being built with Trex, so it will last forever, and also note that it will basically function as our yard. The land is so steep around the house that the only places we had to hang out comfortably outside were the front porch and the driveway.

Picture the deck strewn with comfortable furniture, maybe a shade pavilion of some kind, and dotted with barrels and pots of herbs and flowers. I’ve also gotta learn about plants to cover the dirt/rock wall so the area will be cooler and prettier. You would not believe the heat that reflects off that hillside at the house. Phew!

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West view of the new deck


I made quiche. Oh yeah, baby. Sage sausage, spinach, onion, mushrooms, and cheeses. I line the bottom of the pie plate with cheese to make a kind of crust. I had extra egg mixture, so I tossed some more cheese and some red bell pepper into a smaller plate for a plain quiche. Mmmmmm! Don’t you wish you were here to eat some?!

In other news, the deer herd was frolicking about on the hill behind our house, chasing each other around and generally making a ruckus. Cute little buggers. There was even a young buck with a couple of points. He better watch out–I think deer season is here! One small one was especially charming, doing the four-legged bouncy-hop thing all over the place. It was pretty much a Disney movie up there.

Name that frog


Hi! I’m Holly. Welcome to my blog. I have no idea what I’m doing here, but I’m sure I’ll catch on eventually. Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by. Here’s a picture of my new friend.

I think I should have a contest to name him. Any ideas?