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Ice Storms Suck.

Posted 2013.12.21 9.36 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

In between my 2nd and 3rd coffees of the morning, and my eyes are finally de-blearified enough to perceive the world around me, and I think to myself, Huh, I don’t remember being able to see tree branches out this window before.

So I poke my head out the back door to look in the back yard.

From Here to the Shed

Yeah. No. That wasn’t there before.

So I put on some shoes and go outside to get a closer look.


Pow! Right in the Roof

I don’t remember hearing any bangs or thuds last night so maybe it just sort of only gently settled on the roof.

While I was snapping pictures, more tree-bits came crashing down in the next yard, so I concluded my investigation and retreated back to the safety indoors.

And there’s another whole day of this ice storm shenanigans coming, according to Environment Canada.

Speaking of Unkillable Trees…

Posted 2012.09.19 14.41 in Pointless Blather, Work by Stephanie

A week or so ago I was walking around the area near the office, when I noticed some trees that looked surprisingly, inexplicably, like olive trees. I knew it was highly unlikely that there were wild olive trees growing near the office, so I had to find out what exactly these were.

I clipped a branch with some of the ‘olive’ fruits and brought it into work for examination.

The fruits, while looking sort of olive like at a distance, look too pale up close. And the texture was all wrong. Though, they did have a single largish pit inside. On the other hand, I’ve read that olives are inedible until they are processed, so what do I know? I’ve never seen a raw fresh-off-the-branch olive, so maybe this is what they are like.

So I did some searching, found some various tree identification forms, but nothing came up with these trees. I realized that all the stuff I was finding, was only discussing native species. Whatever this was – and especially if it was olive – it was not native.

Finally I just did a search on olive trees, and damn if the images that come up don’t look like what I’ve got here. Except…not quite.

Then I figure it out. This is a Russian Olive tree. It is not related in any way to the traditional Greek kind of olive tree. It got its name based on looks alone. (So I do know what an olive tree looks like after all!)

Russian Olive trees are an introduced / invasive species. They thrive in all kinds of conditions, and of course easily tolerate our cold winters. And like my Siberian Elm driveway tree, they are very hard to kill.

After having originally spotted just a couple of these next to the office building, I’m now noticing them all over the place around the office. There must be over a dozen along the bank of the drainage ditch by the office, and a few dozen more along the road. Another dozen around the corner between the service road and the freeway. And even more up by the railway tracks near the freeway overpass.

They’re everywhere!

I have to confess though – I’m sorely tempted to try and transplant one of them, or a cutting, or just bring some of the fruits / seeds home. I’d like a mock-olive tree in my front yard.

An unkillable mock-olive tree, that is.

Zombie Tree Bush

Posted 2012.09.17 8.56 in Life On Drugs by Stephanie

Six or seven years ago, I had this tree pop up on the edge of my driveway, right next to the house.

I remember it sort of started off like a bush, but quickly developed a trunk. It shot up very fast – after one year it was over 10 feet tall. I cut it down.

The next year, it grew back. This time, I didn’t want to cut it down. I was impressed that it had come back, and it grew so fast that I was further impressed by its resilience.

It quickly reached a good size, then it’s upward growth slowed and it grew outwards instead – the trunk and crown getting thicker and heavier. I knew its roots were probably damaging the foundation of my house, and I could see the trunk and limbs were damaging the eaves and roof of my house, but I was still reluctant.

Every time I plant something it dies on me. I had to repsect a tree that grew despite my complete lack of involvement – indeed, it was growing in spite of being cut down! I had to find out what it was, and some research quickly led me to identify it as a Siberian Elm.

(One might note that a web search for Siberian Elm reveals most of the top hits involve questions like “how do I kill it?”)

This past spring though, it finally had to go. The driveway was being done, and they weren’t able to lay asphalt if there was a tree in the way. So my sister and I brought it down. The tree was at least 25 feet tall, and the trunk was over eight inches thick at the base. We counted 5 rings – it was only five years since I had originally cut it down.

My sister and I got it down to a stump about 10 inches tall. Then my neighbor was able to get rid of the stump. Then around April, a few inches of asphalt was put down sealing the whole thing under a hot thick black tarmac grave… or so we thought.

A few days after taking that last picture, I finally did cut it down again. There were roughly two dozen shoots, the largest were as thick as my thumb!

Actually one factor which made me less sad about cutting it down a third time, was the sudden appearance of a whole new tree/shoot. This one is not right up against my house, but out at my front lawn… son of zombie tree! Or Zombie Tree 2: The Rebirth…

Son of Zombie Tree

De-Treeing my Driveway

Posted 2012.03.13 11.18 in Family/Friends by Stephanie

About 7 or 8 years ago, I had this little tree start growing in my driveway. It wasn’t like right in the middle – it would have gotten run over. No, it was tucked off to the side, at the edge of the driveway, right by the side of my house.

Now, I’m no greenthumb. Indeed, I have a pretty good track record of killing every plant I’ve tried to grow. So when something green comes along and acts lively and hardy without any help from me, I’m usually all for it.

This was a bit different though. I know that it’s not good for the house. I worried about the foundation. After a couple short years, I had a sapling of about a dozen feet in height, 2 or 3 inches thick at the base. I cut it down. I hated to do it, but it had to be done.

That was five years ago.

The tree immediately grew back, and grew back fast. At times, you could see it was getting bigger almost daily.

Last Summer

By last summer it was easily 20 feet tall, and the trunk about 8 inches across at the base.

Amazed (and amused) I did some research and determined that it was most likely a Siberian Elm – a tree that is almost universally disliked and despised by landscapers and gardenists, because of its unruly and unkempt canopy. Its only redeeming feature was that it grows to maturity really, really fast.

Back to the narrative at hand, so here I am with my driveway tree again. I can see it’s damaging the eaves. I suspect it’s damaging the roof. And I fear it’s damaging the foundation. Once again, the neighbors are telling me to cut it down. I resist, I hate killing trees. And I respect a tree that I’ve already killed once but it came back.

Five Rings

It came to a head this past autumn though – my next-door neighbor and I share a driveway area and we had agreed to get it repaved. That meant the tree had to go. I procrastinated a few months but couldn’t put it off any further, so last week I asked my sister to come over to spot me while I cut it down.

I went through my old camping gear and dug out the old swiss-saw, and we got to work.

Surprisingly (and happily) it all came down pretty much as planned. It had branched about 6ft off the ground, so we took off the two main side-limbs first, then the middle one. Nobody got hurt and no property damage was inflicted on anything.

Attacking the Trunk

Finally we removed the main part of the trunk, though the lowest we could get was roughly 8 or 10 inches above the ground.

So now, my driveway is treeless, but for a stump, and I have a huge pile of wood and branches in my backyard to be dealt with later in the spring.

Almost a Tradition

Posted 2011.07.03 10.04 in Family/Friends by Stephanie

This has happened often enough now that it is almost a tradition…

On Canada Day, I host a BBQ for family and friends. Then within a few days, a significantly large branch comes down on the area where we had been partying.

This happened during a storm last night – and for the first time I actually got to witness it. The limb originated about 30 feet up a walnut tree. These branches themselves are about 15 to 20 feet long. Fortunately there was no damage done at ground level as the branches landed up-side-down, and their foliage absorbed most of the impact. Then they toppled over to settle on the table next to the BBQ.

Previous years have seen a BBQ nailed & destroyed, the picnic bench took a direct hit, a large potted plant was crushed, even the outdoor fireplace was pierced one year.

This angle isn’t much better – the base is over by the outdoor fireplace, the top is in the green bush towards the left, behind the green arch.


Posted 2010.03.01 11.08 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

I’m actually sorry I missed this… During thunderstorms, I like to sit out on the back porch and watch the lightning and listen to the rain come down – the more violent the better. Not in the habit though of doing that for winter storms… too cold and snowy.

Nonetheless, this must have been pretty darn exciting when it happened. I was probably at work though. Meh.

The branch is about 3 or 4 inches across at its base, and when it broke fate was kind enough to make sure it formed something of a natural point.

The limb is perhaps 20 feet long in total, though it tapers off and branches out towards the end.

In the 8 years I’ve lived here, this is only the second time I’ve had a tree branch come down and cause damage. The first time was a couple years ago when a much larger limb came down in the summer and crushed my BBQ.

Fun times…

Sunday Pictures

Posted 2009.10.19 22.50 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

There were a few pictures from the roll I developed last night that were ok, or at least mildly interesting. I need to find something interesting to take pictures of.

These were shot with my Canonet GIII QL17, on Ilford HP5+ at ISO400. It was developed in T-Max for 6 1/2 minutes.