Saturday, December 31, 2011

the dead florist

Today we were running errands in the nearby neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens. Walking along the busy street we came to a number of stores closed and abandoned. Most were empty or had minimal garbage strewn about their dirty floors. Then I looked in and saw this. Clearly a florist had closed and not bothered to take the perishables, but it looked so much creepier than the reality of what it was. It looked like something from the Twilight Zone, complete with the lit cooler and total absence of life. Needless to say I had to capture the moment.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in PA

Above: Keira was napping when Kate, Jerome and Janaya first arrived. Talk about a perfect gift for the holidays, not quite six months old.
Below: Janaya got her first skateboard - Santa RULES!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Driving in PA

Loving being out of the city, in PA for Christmas #1 with the Dunkle clan.
Note: no blizzard in the forecast

Friday, December 23, 2011

return of the winter sky

Walking down Fifth Avenue after work, kicking off the long holiday weekend, it's a nice walk.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

perfecting the Dirty Banana

Since being back from the Caribbean I have been missing the killer bevy of blended cocktails that we enjoyed so I figured there was only one logical thing to do. My loyal Osterizer blender was promptly taken out of retirement and given front and center status on the kitchen counter. One of my first challenges was the Dirty Banana. Thanks to some cross referencing of internet recipes and a few ripe bananas on the shelf I came pretty damn close. This one was good enough to photograph. To answer my friend Greg's question, and for anyone else that might be interested, this is all you need:
1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. Kahlua
2 oz. milk
1 ripe banana
4-5 regular sized ice cubes

Blend for one minute.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Clemente's Crab House!

For Christmas we decided to get a gift certificate for my brother and his family to Clemente's Crab House in Sheepshead Bay, one of their favorite Brooklyn destinations for all kinds of yummy seafood. The only catch was that Clemente's only takes cash so we were forced to drive down there and have the place to ourselves for an impromptu winter feast this Sunday afternoon. I tell ya, this Christmas shopping stuff is exhausting! ;-)
Cheers everyone, and remember, it's about love and family and celebrating life, or should be at least!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas in Queens

It really is the stone lion wearing the Santa hat that really gives this one that extra special Queens flair!

Our neighborhood is like any other during the holidays. Everyone loves to go all-out, no matter how big or small their front stoop. Freshly back from a long and relaxing time far away we realize we are not used to the Christmas hustle and bustle already well underway. A mild evening we took a walk after dinner with our cameras. It certainly helped to get us into the spirit.
Happy Merry everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hector dog

For the second half of the month my folks offered to dog sit for a friend in the city. My mom was psyched, my father less so. But as with all things Feleppa, it was a pretty funny scene! This is Hector.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tropical Tree/Shrub ID: Bauhinia

My first time coming across Bauhinia, a tropical tree growing outside of where we were staying in St. Lucia. The fragrance of this guy, commonly called an orchid tree, was so rich and pungent in the evening air it would stop you dead in your tracks. Thanks to Charles Y. for helping me ID this one.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Krissy and the barn kitty

Trim's National Riding Academy, St. Lucia, West Indies

We got to know Trim's via our honeymoon at the Sandal's Grande St. Lucian. I just saw that other tourists complained about their experience with this local stable, but I have to say that we had a wonderful time and very fun and comfortable experience. Is it like some of the wealthier stables we are used to here in the States? No, of course not. But we felt like the men and women of Trim's kept a clean and safe establishment and the guides especially, Jackson and Lee, we thought were tremendous. We made friends quickly and easily with everyone, and needless to say it took no time before Krissy found the barn kitties. ...or rather, they found her.

horseback ride and swim

Today we went to Trim's National Riding Academy in St. Lucia where we rode horses down to the sea's edge and after removing their saddles waded in for a swim riding bareback. It was a truly extraordinary experience.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

St. Lucia sunset series

A couple days into our two week honeymoon in St. Lucia, a perfect Caribbean sunset...

As they say down there, "No pressure, no problem."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

funny flub on my part (aka orange board update)

A few weeks back I received an email from Chris about the orange board, the sweet new surfboard I got this past summer. I assumed it was Chris, the guy who had sold me the board. Reading the email in haste I didn't realize that it was in fact a different Chris entirely, a stranger wondering about the board thinking he might want to get one of his own. I would, of course, make the realization but only after a reply laden with the funny, foolish assumptions that it was surf shop Chris I was writing to. Ha ha ha, ooops! In any event, here is my silly slip-up and an update on the new orange board.

Aloha Alex

Was wondering what are your thoughts on the Fineline board you got? Also what size are you? Thinking about picking up a Fineline mp local to me thanks


Hey Chris,

Great to hear from you. The Fineline has been a total dream of a board. Like you said it's been great to make the most of the smaller days locally, definitely smooth planing and an easy wave catcher for sure. It went with us out to Montauk in September and I got to play with it in some bigger surf. Since I was raised on and mostly surfed thrusters my whole life the single fin and sidebites took me a little getting used to but I was instantly impressed at how it performed and how quickly I got used to it. This fall has been so busy work-wise I haven't gotten in the water much but I am psyched to take out the side bites and play with it as a just a single fin. In that respect it's really the versatility of the board that's been killer - I feel like I'm not going to get tired of it any time soon and that's awesome. Your recommendation was spot-on and Brian certainly makes a solid product. Even with the learning curve I don't think the deck has one pressure ding in it, so obviously a strong glass job to boot.

As far as size, I'm 5'7" or so and usually somewhere between 165-170. The full dimensions of the board are 6'3", 16 1/4" x 20 3/8" x 15 1/8", 2 3/4". Needless to say I'd recommend it to anyone out there.

Hope all is well with you and the shop. Have a great rest of the fall.

and yeah, sorry Aloha Chris for the email that must have been perfectly confusing. hope you saw through my flub and decided to go for a Fineline regardless. And for you fellows here in the north Happy Fall Surf y'all, let's don the hoods and booties and kick it!
all the best, -aef

Friday, November 11, 2011

bark gallery

Betula lenta (sweet birch)

Quercus rubra (northern red oak)
a more mature Quercus rubra (above and below)

Ulmus americana (American elm)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tree ID: Quercus palustris (pin oak)

If you want to start learning your oak trees this is a great one to start with. This is a young pin oak, Quercus palustris. On this foggy morning on the way to work I was elated to find this little guy because you can see one of the most interesting aspects of this particular species. Pin oaks have an attractive pyramidal habit in their youth and it's due to their unique branching. The lower limbs are pendulous, or weep slightly, the central limbs are horizontal, and the upper limbs point upwards toward the sky. Now you might think all trees limbs grow that way, as I did at one point in time, but as you reexamine your local trees you will see that this habit is really quite unique to pin oaks, and therefore makes them relatively easy to identify in the landscape. Most pin oaks planted in parks and yards can get limbed-up (the lower limbs pruned off to allow for easier passage underneath) so you eventually lose this quick indicator, perhaps another reason I was excited to find this specimen posing so perfectly this morning.

Tree ID: Acer rubrum (red maple)

Red maples, botanically known as Acer rubrum, are a great northeastern shade tree for many reasons. In spring before they leaf out (March into April) red maples produce great looking clusters of red flowers (click here for image of flowers). That in combination with the smooth gray bark was how I was able to identify the tree above when we moved across the street last winter. Our new neighbors talked about the amazing red fall color and just recently we got to see for ourselves.
These shots are of some red maple cultivars up at the new York Botanical Garden. You can see here the difference in the leaf. When people think of maples they tend to think of that quintessential 5-pointed or 5-lobed leaf silhouette. Here you can see that red maples, though they still have five lobes, tend to look more like a leaf with only three points. This can help you identify them in the summer when most maples are rich green in color and not so easy to tell apart. But then in fall of course we are further clued in as to why they are called red maples. As far as your standard list of maples often used in the northeast Norway maples (invasive bastards!) have a bright yellow fall color. Sugar maples can be every fall color imaginable but end up showing mostly oranges. But the red maples will always get this real intense red to scarlet coloration when they change in early November.

Younger trees have a smooth gray bark that helps you to identify them in the woodlands. They are also sometimes called swamp maples and as the name might suggest they do really well in a more wet situation. Often in a forest setting you will find them naturally living down closer to the stream edge or in lower, soggier areas. As the trees mature the bark transforms from being smooth to having these long vertical ridges and furrows, still a nice light gray. This mature specimen is located in the old growth forest up at NYBG.
There are of course a gazillion cultivars of red maples out there so you want to check your local nurseries and do your research before buying. I remember back when I was in the nursery trade we sold a lot of 'October Glory' and 'Red Sunset' but gosh, that was a good ten years ago.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

seeing the forest for the trees

As an alum of the School of Professional Horticulture I was invited up to the New York Botanical Garden on Saturday to enjoy a forest symposium by leading scientists and policy makers. From a global scale to a local scale four speakers addressed the challenges we face as stewards of the land going forward in this time of climate change and then we all went out and enjoyed the 50-acre old growth forest that NYBG is known for. Reuniting with friends and mentors it was such a treat to give our bodies a day off while exercising our minds and getting re-inspired to continue plugging away at the good work we do. I have specific tree shots and info to share but for now here are some of the more general shots I took that gorgeous afternoon. (as always click to enlarge images)
probably a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
What most people don't realize is that the stunning colors we see in fall are actually there in the leaves most of the growing season, they are just hidden by the chlorophyll plants produce in order to photosynthesize.
As trees and shrubs begin to go dormant in the fall they produce less chlorophyll, the green pigment in their leaves, because they have to begin shutting down and storing up water and sugars so that they can leaf-out next spring. With less chlorophyll present we get a glimpse of the other pigments in the leaves that are created throughout the growing season. Xanthophylls and Carotenoids are responsible for the stunning yellows and oranges and actually exist in the leaves most of the warmer months. The red and purple pigments come from Anthocyanins which the leaves manufacture mid- to late-summer to deal with the bright summer sun, almost like a plant's secret SPF. In fall we get lucky that the trees and shrubs take a little time to shut down and prepare for winter dormancy giving us this great show.

New exceptionally designed pathways now weave throughout the Thain Family Forest allowing arborists and novices alike the chance to experience this wonderful woodland with all it's age and lessons on the interconnectedness of life. Such a treat to breath easy, dwarfed by the landscape, and take it all in.

staying grounded

In the woods in fall you can find these great shots of yellow coming from various hickories, the genus Carya. Hickories can be easily identified with that unique compound leaf that stands out. Some have better fall color than others but all add this wonderful punch to the changing landscape. This was taken up at the New York Botanical Garden last weekend and don't worry, I have plenty more where this came from....

Following a surprise October snow storm that would send our horticultural world upside down here in New York City atop the typical work and pressures of fall life has been a real doozy recently. Luckily today thanks to Election Day I have been gifted a wonderfully quiet day off to catch up on photo editing, tree work, and hopefully a little blogging and art making. Breathing deep sighs of relief I am reminded how important it is to stay grounded. I for one am the kind of person who needs to every once and a while de-clutter, physically and mentally, and recenter and refocus in order to not feel like I'm just spinning my wheels like a frantic person.
...ok, back to editing. Enjoy the day everyone, and remember to vote! You are the 99% and you do have a voice.