2011 Summery Summary

An end-of-season update for our activities.

Welcome SHHS friends - see summary of past 40 years.


Sterling Gardens- best year ever

With favorable weather, re-sculpted raised beds (restoring Blaine's concentric-circle design from 15 years ago), drip irrigation (1 gal/hr plastic snap-in emitters every ~2', using reclaimed scrap ends of "black poly" PVC tubing from local well/pump installers), and extended lunch hours to weed and tend, our vegetable gardens have flourished wildly this year. We started seed indoors and instead of using a fluorescent "grow lamp", we substituted a 4' 2-tube high-efficiency T-8 (thin 5/8") fluorescent "shop light" with a mirror-finished (3X more reflective than "white") diamond-plate reflector (thanks to Bob Gordon for his great electricity cost-analysis spreadsheet!).  (These lights are great-- get out your sunglasses!)

Still working from limbs and brush piles from the Dec. 2008 ice storm, we chipped limbs for the woodchip paths for the veg garden, and scrap bark (from the logs) for true/organic (no preservatives or coloring or insecticide chemicals) bark mulch for the perennial gardens. What an easy upgrade and great use of the ugly brush.

A little organic chicken manure along the way perks up the plants. We'll be completing the restoration of the back third of the garden this fall, ready for next spring. We'll also be joining the garlic growing craze by dedicating a row or two just to garlic (a crop that needs to be overwintered).

Circular Rows with interlaced woodchip paths facilitate easy weeding and picking. Companion-planting flowers (bug-chasers) end each row.

Earlier in the season, just planted

Perennial gardens (and tip(upper left) of the fruit tree orchard)

A new splash of color each few weeks


Tomato (Tobacco) "Hornworm" Caterpillars on the Loose

Typically we have 3-4, maybe as many as a dozen Hornworm Caterpillars (which will morph into the intriguing and cute so-called Hummingbird Moth - a shocking contrast in nature).
But because of some alignment of the planets, this year we've had 178 as of this writing (no exaggeration - i keep a daily tally), of which i've left on the vines 28 which are "infected" with parasitic wasp eggs/cocoons. Some of the caterpillars are bigger than your little finger! The makings of a sci-fi adventure movie.

More info on Tomato/Tobacco hornworms: http://www.vegedge.umn.edu/vegpest/hornworm.htm

These voracious tomato hornworms have parasitic wasp cocoons attached. The wasp eggs will hatch and grow inside the caterpillar, killing it (YAY!). I've left the caterpillars with wasp eggs to run their course- marked with blue ribbons to remind me there's one there in-progress of its slow death.

Stripped stalks of a tomato plant

We're trying the experiment of freezing 2 quarts (so far!) of the "hornworms" for winter feeding to birds. Typically only chickens like these fresh delicacies.

Along with the hornworms, we're freezing 2 quarts of Japanese beetles. Pictured is our patented collection device.

Easy technique for adjustable-height fruit tree branch posts

It's a good problem to have: fruit trees laden with ripening fruit. But the limbs are weighed down too much and break off the tree - both losing those fruits and damaging the tree.

(The white chalk/clay on the leaves is "Surround" which is an organic deterrent for insects.)

Our original method of using scrap PVC pipe

Adjustable by drilling holes every 4-6" and inserting a dowel for the limb to sit on

Dowels did not fare too well; this is one that survived.   Barely.

Adjustable fruit tree branch height post
Our new method is to use old lumber scrap "1-by" stock with hole slot indentations every 4", and tie the limb into the proper height slot for limb support.

To facilitate fabrication, we pre-drilled the holes prior to ripping the boards into their final lengths. Long scrap pieces yielded four posts. A diagonal tip on the bottom end ensured solid footing into the ground.


Copper Theft

Earlier this year our residence suffered copper and aluminum losses. The worst was the vandalism of the pipe organ wiring in the basement - cables & power wires cut out of the ceiling. It took about a year to wire initially in 1990, and it's almost a toss-up which is worse: all the police and adjuster inspections/logistics, the ordering of materials and labor to restore it, or the emotion that someone(s) have been in your house and vandalized your pride and joy musical instrument.

Their bellies should have been full to the brim for their hefty heist of the buidling materials we were storing outside. But they knew about what lay in the basement, and increased greatly the risk of being caught and consequences by entering. If the copius stacks of materials in various stacks around the basement weren't enough, they went on to cause extensive damage to the pipe organ cable wiring in the ceiling of the basement, cutting out 6 to 30' segments of wires. Even though the value of copper is high these days, cut chunks of wiring (with insulation still on), is recycled by the pound for not that much. For instance, the damage to a 6' piece of cable (replacement: $30 for the wire, tens of hours to re-wire/splice) might have brought them a few bucks. We were fortunate no one was home, no one was hurt, no other damage done, and that nothing was done that wasn't fix-able/replace-able (we don't own any jewelry or precious stones! just a precious kitty!!). We should put a sign on the house: "Nothing of Value Left Inside - You got it all"

The pipe organ here actually consists of two instruments: a 1988 II/20 JW Walker (mechanical action) which is connected (via electric key contacts) to another 9 ranks of Estey (Brattleboro VT) pipes (direct electric action; thus controlled by the Walker console) which have been revoiced/rebuilt over the years. The Estey was removed from a church in Will's hometown (and set up in his aunt's basement during his high school years) and in fact this was the first pipe organ will ever played (playing the prelude for a church service at age 8, barely reaching the pedals). While the Estey is "out to lunch", we are taking this opportunity to re-route the wind supply to the pipechests so there'll be fewer leaks!


Thieves snipped cables in the pipe organ wiring

... and mangled wiring connections

Will at the JW Walker tracker console, for a T&G newspaper article several years ago.


Christmas Benefit Concert Slated

Christmas MemoriesMaria Ferrante & Will Sherwood will present a benefit concert for Jericho Road Worcester Friday Dec 9, 2011. This will feature selections from their highly acclaimed CD Christmas Memories, and other holiday carols.



Appointed Artistic Director

Will Sherwood has been appointed Artistic Director of the Mechanics Hall (Worcester, Mass) Hook Pipe Organ Concert Series. Two concerts were held earlier in August: Young Artists Showcase, and an Organ Duo Concert.

Mechanics Hall: Newly appointed Artistic Director and Young Artists at August 2011 concert


25+ Years and Counting

In 2010, a 25th Anniversary Celebration was held for Will's tenure as Director of Music at 1st U. A Young Artist Fund was created, and the 1964 Aeolian-Skinner Pipe Organ was dedicated in his name. The celebration day included a morning service honoring his accomplishments, a lunch, and an afternoon concert directed and accompanied by Will, and included some of his compositions and featuring the choir performing Kodaly's Laudes Organi (Praise to the Pipe Organ). Additionally he featured two organ solos which he had always wanted to "conquer" - Bach Fantasia and Fugue in g minor (BWV 542) and Durufle's Prelude and Fugue on the Name of Alain

1st U's 67-rank Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ is one of Central New England's finest instruments,
having been recently completely rebuilt/restored after the 2000 church fire.
First Unitarian was home to Worcester's first pipe organ.


Celebrating Blaine's Birthday in August 2011

Blaine's Boston Cream Pie birthday cake,  brought over in a surprise visit by Maria and Marc on a hot summer's day.


Failed Experiments

We purchased a highly marketed no-pesticide "wasp/yellow jacket trap" (see picture below) and left it at various positions adjacent to the ground entrance of a yellow jacket nest. After a month, nary a yellow jacket nor wasp ventured into the pool of spiced sugar water. The bottle was filled with fly maggots and juvenile flies swimming around. The directions say if the liquid supplied with the trap fails, use other party beverage liquids. So we tried our own: beer, wine, vinegar, fruit juice. After placing it both next to the yellow jacket nest and also a wasp nest, again nary a one went for a swim.


New Gadgets

(our favorites coming soon)


Trench to Drench

The Mass sales tax holiday brought deep discount pricing sales for fruit trees, so we couldn't resist to add two Chinese Apricots to our fruit tree orchard. Of course this meant to being yet a new row of trees, and additional drip irrigation loading on the one zone that feeds the entire orchard. So this was the trigger to divide the orchard into two zones, requiring a second drip irrigation water supply pipe to be added. This was accomplished by adding a pipe in a new trench that led back to the "valve control box"
While we were there we added an extra pipe for a faucet for incidental tree watering and water needs in "the middle of the field". Also, we buried the piping and tee outlets for the "next" three trees in this new row. Next spring we'll begin apple tree grafting onto semi-dwarf root stock using scions (whips) of local heritage apple varieties that we cannot find potted trees for sale anywhere.

We have about 50 trees in our fruit orchard, watered with drip irrigation. In the foreground centeris the first fruit from "Clapps Favorite Pear" variety. The white "frost" on the leaves is a spraying of "Surround" which is an organic clay/chalk insect deterrant.

On a hot dry summer's day, there's nothing shy about giving the trees wet feet!




"Efficient" Recipes

Tira Misu garnished with California Poppies and Chocolate Mint - alternating layers of espresso-doused vanilla & chocolate sponge cake layers and vanilla & mocha mascarpone

Two more quick recipes: Ultimate Gazpacho and No-Fuss Croutons - all three added recently to our collection at www.FisrtUMusic.com/recipes

We love to make fresh nut butters - nothing like freshly "squeezed" almond butter - our food grinder makes quick work of the endeavor.

Organic almonds into the hopper


Projects Still Continuing

Will's multiple businesses still continue, and it's fortunate in this economy to have diversified and overlapping endeavors to help smooth out the finances.

... and of course Will's main music gig at 1st U: www.FirstUMusic.com   This fall 2011 features Godspell with jazz ensemble, and Faure Requiem with orchestra and harp.
He has produced a total of four CDs: three for 1st U and Christmas Memories with Maria Ferrante



Projects Idle/On Hold

Too many interests, too little time.

www.WeddingMusicAdvisor.com is a very old project that sits in wait of a few more hours of programming. It's for brides to select wedding ceremony music, and for musicians to display their wedding repertoire.

Our Neon art sculpture studio has been uninhabited now for several years. Fortunately the neon/argon/xenon gases do not deteriorate nor do the glass tubing supplies.

Music Composition/Arranging is mostly on hold. See information about Will's 2009 mini-sabbatical in Washington DC (There's a link to compositions and MP3s)