Snowper Bowl

This game had it all: tenseness, viewer participation, daredevil driving, urgency, pathos, empathy…Can you name some more? I was most fortunate in that I had been pre-trained in 1980 (or somewhere in that time period) by a snow storm in Marietta that came in around lunch time and caused a terrific traffic jam. I had been driving home to Rome, Ga. at that time, then and I got home about 1:30 the next morning. I have always remembered driving into Rome and there being no one on the street, just snow and ice.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, I had two appointments for follow up procedures at Emory hospital in Midtown Atlanta—one at nine a.m. and another at two in the afternoon. I had been watching the weather and it made me think of the storm in 1980. We decided to take the car because our two-wheel-drive pick up truck would be useless in ice or snow. Still remembering 1980, I packed as much gas into the Chevy Tracker as it would hold. A few bottles of water in the back seat, and we were set to go. We chose a parking lot that had almost instant access to the interstate.

The morning appointment was over with quickly. One of the things I like about Emory is that I seldom have to wait for my appointment. Dekie and I then proceeded to use up time until the p.m. visit with the doctor. We went for a walk down Peachtree Street.

January 28, 10:30 a.m. No snow and no traffic in front of the beautiful Fox Theater

January 28, 10:30 a.m. No snow and no traffic in front of the beautiful Fox Theater

I thought I would get a picture of Sweetie in front of the famous Fox Theater. I also noticed the absence of any significant traffic which is odd for Peachtree Street. It was a nice morning. We walked around looking in the windows and enjoying the sights. We spent some time gazing at the coming attractions and the ornate decorations inside the Fox entrance. We checked out the menus in front of several eating establishments and decided which one we would visit at 11;45.

A few snowflakes were falling as we entered the Italian restaurant. While we visited and dined, I could not help but notice that all of a sudden there was quite a bit of traffic on the road. A lot of cars had piles of snow on them, too. We really enjoyed the lunch.  Then we headed back to Emory but the picture at the fox was different this time.

January 28, 12:45 p.m. Snow starting, traffic increases. Trouble is brewing

January 28, 12:45 p.m. Snow starting, traffic increases. Trouble is brewing

And talking about not having to wait for a doctor’s appointment, when we entered the office area, the nurse opened the door and called us in before  I could even start to fill out the survey form.

“That was quick,” I observed, speaking to the nurse.

“You’re the only one here,” she replied.

From the ninth floor of the clinic we were able to watch the snow fall on the roads and the rooftops. If you look closely you can see I-75 with traffic that was increasing every minute.

Watching the snow and traffic from 9th floor, Emory Midtown. Jan. 28, 1:30 p.m.

Watching the snow and traffic from 9th floor, Emory Midtown. Jan. 28, 1:30 p.m.

One of the funny things was that the doctor had gone at lunch time to pick her children up from school and had gotten stuck in the traffic. I had another appointment the following week so it was no problem. I got a thorough going over from the most capable nurse practitioner and we headed out into the elements. Traffic was heavy but everyone was polite. We made it down a hill to the entrance ramp and slid onto the interstate heading home. After I was creeping along on the highway it dawned on me that there was no getting off. All of the exit ramps were blocked with more traffic.

Tail lights as far as we could see. Interstate 75 N.  in Atlanta. January 28, 5:00 p.m.

Tail lights as far as we could see. Interstate 75 N. in Atlanta. January 28, 5:00 p.m.

In the 1980 snow storm no one knew where I was, when I would be home, or if I was, indeed, still alive. In 2014 we had instant communication with voice, text, and email. What a difference that made. Family members called and told us to get off the highway and get a room. The actuality of that was that first off, there was no way to get off, and secondly, there were no rooms to be had between Miami and Detroit.  We were committed.

The road was icy and slick as we headed north. In a few instances the only way to move was in a controlled skid. It took us 8 hours to get from mid town Atlanta to the other side of Marietta where an altercation between a semi truck and a bus had caused a lot of problems. This was just getting cleared as we arrived.

And then, right past Marietta, there was very little traffic and I was able to drive at a comfortable 25 miles per hour. I was interested to see miles and miles of trucks on the southbound side of 75 that were parked on the shoulder. I assume they were too smart to enter the Atlanta traffic or that they had been told to stop.

It’s funny how the story ended much like the 1980 one did. At around one a.m., we rode into good old Rome, Georgia. As in 1980, there was not a car on the road. I was happy to be home.

Home in Rome, 11 hours after leaving Atlanta. That's a normal 1 1/2 hour ride. Streets deserted--just like last time. January 29, 1:00 a.m.

Home in Rome, 11 hours after leaving Atlanta. That’s a normal 1 1/2 hour ride. Streets deserted–just like last time. January 29, 1:00 a.m.

The next day brought a different world. The coon dog got a walk in the snow, children sledded down the hill in front of the church on Martha Berry Highway, and I thought, “God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.” (That’s usually my optimistic view on things anyway. You may define God as you wish.)

Dog lovers, here's a purebred Treeing Walker Coon Hound in the snow. The one on the left is my wife.

Dog lovers, here’s a purebred Treeing Walker Coon Hound in the snow. The one on the left is my wife.

I thought the following picture of Oakwood Street was reminiscent of a past experience. That could easily be a 1980 Dodge pick up truck in the neighbor’s driveway.

Oakwood Street in the snow. This picture tends to take us back in time.

Oakwood Street in the snow. This picture tends to take us back in time.

There was also the giant snow of ’93 and part of it is chronicled in my wonderful book Requiem for a Redneck which you can click here to order for your kindle reader

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Cloud Pruning—A Conceptual Approach to Shaping Plants

From last week’s article, we know that a concept is a collection of questions that haven’t been asked. Let’s ask a few…Julia Maloney who lives a bit south of Atlanta I think, asked me to direct her to some information about cloud pruning so that she could use this treatment on her overgrown boxwood. And before you ask, January and February are the best times of the year to prune boxwood in the south eastern U.S. Julia sent me a picture.

Some boxwoods and what looks to me like dwarf yaupons. How do we cloud prune them?

Some boxwoods and what looks to me like dwarf yaupons. How do we cloud prune them?

I started looking all over the web and then decided that cloud pruning directions were not as important as just the basic concept.  The first part of the concept would be developed by understanding just what happens when we prune something. One of my oldest and most popular posts is Pruning as an Art Form–The Basics of Pruning. I think this article will answer most of your preliminary questions if you are a pruning novice. After figuring out what happens during the pruning process, the next question to the cloud pruning concept will be, “what does cloud pruning look like?”

I’m not an expert on the subject but I am an admirer of Jake Hobson who lives in England and studies a bit in Japan. According to Jake, the Japanese call cloud pruning “Niwaki” and I think he made note of the fact that the word is becoming used as a verb as in, “I’m agonna niwaki that there row of plants.” I’ve taken the liberty of stealing a few pictures from Jake but I’m going to send him a lot of traffic so it’s ok. Here’s one of his pictures:

Cloud pruning picture by Jake Hobson showing beautiful abstract shrubbery shapes

Cloud pruning picture by Jake Hobson showing beautiful abstract shrubbery shapes

So, I assume that cloud pruning, as opposed to traditional or topiary pruning, is to turn the plant grouping into sweeping imitations of clouds. This, to me, is a really neat concept. I don’t see how you could mess up on something like this. You take pruning shears, hedge clippers, electric or gas motored hedge cutters, or even a saw in some cases and go to work. The idea is to get the basic shape but to go lower than you desire the finished art form to be when it grows out. Keep in mind that it is never “finished.”

Here’s an extreme example of a mix of topiary and cloud pruning at Chateau de Marqueyssac in Dordogne, France. (It’s an interesting garden to read about)

Château de Marqueyssac, A magnificent garden well pruned with topiaries and clouds

Château de Marqueyssac, A magnificent garden well pruned with topiaries and clouds

Back to cloud pruning the Maloneys’ boxwoods which is what this article is about. I think the next step is something that I routinely do when renovating a planting and that is to draw a pruning diagram. This diagram may be complex or simple, to scale or free hand—whatever, its purpose is to enhance the pruning concept with a visual.  A freehand diagram would look like this

A free hand diagram will organize the cloud pruning shapes in your mind.  Also good for any hired help.

A free hand diagram will organize the cloud pruning shapes in your mind. Also good for any hired help.

Take the diagram and your new found knowledge of pruning and go for it. Cut and cut and stand back to check your progress periodically. Check it often and move in short steps because you can cut it off, but if you cut too much you will have to wait for it to grow back on.  Remember, you will never be finished and if you get in a hurry and mess up there’s always next year or the year after to rectify things.

I found an article of Jake Hobson’s in which he does the beginning pruning on an over grown boxwood. Here are the pictures or the link is Here

Jake Hobson--before pruning over grown boxwood

Jake Hobson–before pruning over grown boxwood

Jake Hobson. Picture of after cloud pruning over grown boxwood

Jake Hobson. Picture of after cloud pruning over grown boxwood

For a couple of other articles of Jake Hobson’s, Click HERE and HERE. Be careful wandering about Jake’s blog, he’s addictive.

And there’s your cloud pruning concept. Now get your cutters and other implements of destruction and go to work.  Use the comments section of the blog to send me a comment and/or pictures on how your project comes out.

Here’s one last picture of Jake’s that I really loved.

For lots of johntheplantman articles on pruning click here

As Usual, I would just love for you to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free app to load Kindle books on your iPhone. Is that cool or what?

Apples, a Cider Press, and a Party

The day was a beautiful Sunday, October 20, 2013. Dekie had given me tickets to a Kristofferson concert in Atlanta and since we were going to the big city anyway we decided to stop by and visit our friends, John and Jane Kenna who were having their annual cider pressing party. John has an amusing tale of purchasing a hammer mill in Highlands, N.C. a number of years ago. As he was loading the machine he found that he had also unknowingly bought a cider press. That started his obsession with cider pressing. I have some interesting friends.

John takes his truck to Mercier’s in Blue RidgeGeorgia where they sell him a load of cider apples (seconds, not the premiums). The truck will hold 18 to 20 bushels and there will be several varieties including Granny Smith, Mcintosh, Golden Delicious, Arkansas Black, and Winesaps.

apples for cider

Apples for the cider pressing party from Mercier’s in Blue Ridge, Ga.

Here’s a picture of John Kenna with the hammer mill that started it all. Lots of people show up for the party and there is plenty of help to throw the apples into the machine that chops them up and spits the “pumice” into a large bucket.

John Kenna with his hammer mill that chops up the apples.

John Kenna with his hammer mill that chops up the apples.

One would expect a cider press to be a complicated machine, but one would be wrong. This is what it looks like:

cider press in Georgia

A cider press is a rather simple machine

The ground up, chopped up apples are carefully emptied into the press.

putting the chopped up apples into the cider press

putting the chopped up apples into the cider press

When the press is full, a series of wooden blocks are placed on top of the pumice in a manner that will force the mess down under force.

The screw pressing mechanism being installed on the cider press

The screw pressing mechanism being installed on the cider press

It’s a simple principle of screwing a plate down on top of the pumice to mash out the juice but as the pressing device reaches bottom it becomes rather difficult. John told me that these are commercial presses that can press a hundred to a hundred and fifty gallons per day

It's a combination of a lever and a ramp. Simple tools. The ramp is wrapped around a rod. We call it a "screw."

It’s a combination of a lever and a ramp. Simple tools. The ramp is wrapped around a rod. We call it a “screw.”

The cider flows out through a spout and into a strainer, ending up in a five gallon bucket. Guests at the cider pressing are encouraged to bring a jug or two so they can take some cider home.

As the handle turns the cider pours out. Ready to drink

As the handle turns the cider pours out. Ready to drink

John pours cups of cider and hands them out to all takers. He told me that the cider really tastes good with a shot of good bourbon. I tried a sip but couldn’t taste it on account of what chemotherapy has done to my taste buds. I did, however, remember past parties when I enjoyed it.

John Kenna hands out cups of cider.

John Kenna hands out cups of cider.

Jane Kenna told me that they started the parties about ten years ago. She said, “We enjoy getting family and friends together to work on making cider and learning about apples.” While looking around I found a note about cider that I found interesting.

information about apple cider

A little info I found in my wanderings.

I attended another cider pressing party in 2010 and wrote a funny story. Click here to read about the little boy on his dad’s shoulders

Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man. Remember, Requiem for a Redneck by John P. Schulz is now available in the Kindle Store as an ebook.

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