portrait of a climber

DSC_3481This is our arborist, Robert Phipps. At the top of our giant beech this morning. hundreds of feet up. He loves what he does and it shows.  How cool is that?


in the trees


When you have trees, they are responsibility and constant maintenance. Even if those trees are in woods.

We had begun major preventative tree work here, but sometimes Mother Nature just has her own ideas about what should happen and when.

The ice storm isn’t something I will NOT soon forget, but I know at the end of the day we were very lucky. And I say that in spite of the damage we sustained. And trust me, as I spent days looking at what was the Armageddon of my backyard and back of the house it was hard to be positive.

I am always a big proponent of supporting local businesses, and when it comes to our arborist there is no exception. He is local and he is excellent. He is also a climber. When it comes to tree work, especially in these giant heritage trees, being a climber is truly an art form. Any guy with a chainsaw can climb in a bucket truck, but very few can climb trees the way he can.

Another reason I like my tree guy, is he is sort of a tree hugger for lack of a better description. He is someone who will get creative to save a tree, rather than just cut it down.

I snapped this photo this morning.

The arborist we use is Robert Phipps of Phipps Tree Care. I recommend him highly.

I have had an awesome time photographing him way up in the giant beech today. I don’t know how many hundreds of feet this tree is, but even topped it still has got a couple hundred feet of height. We are going to see if we can save it.

…and we called belfor


This has been the winter that has tried the patience and good will of many and I am no exception. But in my defense, having a few thousand pounds of tree land on the back of the house like a 747 and then to be days and days without power, running water, and so on will do that to you.

We are lucky even in this mess, as it could have been much worse than it was. Especially since where the tree punched through the wall was about six inches from where my sweet man lays his head on his pillow. And that tree hit the house hard and racked it. It also hit hard enough that when the tree punched the wall it popped the solid slats of a hardwood headboard. And pieces of giant tree in the house aren’t much fun, either.

I would not trade my Chester County existence for anything. I love it here. But this winter has been like an endurance test, and I will admit I just have days where I am done with it.

Yesterday was one of those days. Yesterday was when the main roof started to leak.

We had felt another tree part hit the top of the roof during the ice storm but couldn’t get anyone up in all the snow to check. You see, all the snow after the ice storm and the temperatures has made the beginnings of restoration work for a lot of people just slow down exponentially because well, it’s dangerous. But until yesterday the main part of the roof held.

First we woke up to what looked like magic crop circles on the ceiling. By late afternoon we saw the sheen of moisture on the ceiling and the ceiling dry wall starting to freckle then bubble. All in an attractive brown color, of course .

With flooding rains expected later today we called Belfor. They are the best amongst their peers at dealing with post-storm nonsense. And they have an office around Exton.

When we called their 800 number last night we spoke with a woman named Anna. She was hands down the best customer service-type person I have ever spoken with. Then after we gave her our information, a man named John called. He said his crew would be out at 7 a.m. I will admit after a couple of weeks of NO ONE storm related showing up when they said they would post-storm I didn’t believe him.

Well shut my mouth at 7:01 a.m. this morning here they were!!

I can’t even explain what it feels like, other than I am both happy and grateful. This is our home and I love it, and it is such a relief to know they are here.

I must say RIP to the original patio table glass, table, and umbrella however. A branch got it all this morning. The chairs might be on life support too, I am not sure.

For the first time in days I can see other than TREE out the back of our house . Fingers crossed that all continues to go well.

I need it to stop raining in the house.

Thanks Belfor. You are so far more than living up to your advertisements on TV. Seriously? Those ads aren’t hype. These guys are working hard.

Next up: tree guys for the really big stuff but not today….

Sign me grateful.


this winter in photos


I am pleased to offer my next book available through Blurb.  It is basically nature through my camera lens this winter.  There is a book preview for your convenience.  Blurb books make unique one of a kind gifts or a pretty treat for yourself, especially if you love photography.

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