Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Seeing Green

Because we built a LEED home – and because it’s a good idea – we made sure that we utilized environmentally sensitive landscaping. This includes things like drought tolerant plantings, reduced impervious cover and provisions for reduced water usage. We did look into a rainwater storage system, but in New England things get complex, expensive and require too much maintenance for the water saving potential.

Our first step was to hire a Landscape Architect. My Ornamental Horticulture class was from way back at the University of Florida so I was a little out of my league. We hired Andrew Garulay, who also works at Down Cape Engineering, the engineers who prepared our site plans. He had never designed a landscape for a LEED project, but had the knowledge to get us through the process.

His design primarily uses drought-tolerant native plant species. We have a limited area of lawn, which I kind of like, and the grass is a drought-tolerant fescue. The lawn is so small that I mow it with a newfangled Fiskars non-powered push mower in less than 15 minutes.

I figured I’d do the LEED calculations for the water-efficient irrigation system myself, but I have to laugh when I go back to the LEED Method for Calculating Reduction In Irrigation Demand formulas. I couldn’t even find some of the factors and rates they were looking for so I couldn’t complete the calculations if I wanted to. This method is so convoluted that I don’t think anyone ever uses it. Fortunately the USGBC has an easier alternate path for this credit.

Here’s what things looked like pre-landscape.

And, with the work of The Natural Landscape, here’s what it looked like the next day.
It was quite a transformation. I’m happy with the way it all turned out, but have to admit that at I did at times wonder if I would have been happier if we hadn’t restricted our choice of plantings. Maybe we could have created a more vibrant landscape. This is what it looked like at the end of April this year, just about one year after installation.

I was amazed, though, when I compared the photo above with this one from mid-June. In the span of a little more than a month, things really came to life.
Now we just need to get the weeds to take a break. The soil on Cape Cod is primarily sandy and well drained, and weeds seem to love the new loam and the drip irrigation. Just when we think they’re almost under control, new ones pop up to take their place.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Back in July we were driving through Osterville and saw some signs with arrows which said IHYD. Since there was water line replacement going on in the same area, we guessed it was part of that. We were wrong. Then, a week or two later, we saw some Lightnin Production trucks and trailers hauling through Osterville and out of curiosity followed them. When they passed the Wianno Golf Club, we figured it might be something golf related. Wrong again. Not long after that I saw that Adam Sandler was filming his new movie I Hate You Dad (which may be retitled Donny's Boy) on Seaview Avenue in Osterville. Now the IHYD signs made sense. They were filming around Boston and then at several locations on Cape Cod. This is a replica of the green monster that they built at a local middle school, complete with the Citgo sign.
I wanted to find out a little more about what was going on and discovered the I Hate You Dad extras Facebook page. They were still looking for extras, so I replied. I wasn't called for the wedding scene at the mansion on the ocean in Osterville, but did get a call for the beach scene in Dennis. This was my big break.

As an extra, one needs to call in the night before to get the details and location. I was in Central MA the night before and, during a torrential downpour, found that I had to be in Dennis at 6:30 AM. I figured we'd be hanging out at the beach in the pouring rain. It wasn't raining at 6:30 but the day did not look ideal. They bussed us the final half-mile to Chapin Beach and I was amazed at the size of the operation. We went through check-in and a wardrobe check and then they fed us breakfast. Then we went to the beach. I was expecting to see what's going on, but most of us really are background. After some filming, they moved us around a couple of times and, just when it looked like they were going to film right next to me, they changed their mind and sent most of the doubles to the food tent. I was one of the dozen or so herded back to the dunes to wait. They filmed while we were just out of eyesight and eventually sent us to the tent too. Then it was lunch time.

There is no shortage of food or lack of food variety on the set. It's amazing that more of the crew aren't overweight. I was also amazed at the quantity of people. I would guess there were well over 200 including cast, crew, support and extras.

After lunch, it was time for the traffic jam scene. Forty extras were bussed back to get their cars for the simulated Cape Cod traffic jam. Then we sat for six or seven hours. It wasn't so bad, though. Here's the Mustang they had 'stuck' in the sand.
That's Adam Sandler and Vanilla Ice - yes, that Vanilla_Ice. I thought he was through in the 80's. From what I see, he's having a bit of a resurgence. After seeing what they go through to hire extras, it seems like they could have just enlisted some of the spectators. This is one ugly condominium with an amazing view.
The beach photo doesn't really do the scene justice. Those are tide pools. When the tide goes out the pools and sandbar must go out for over 1000 feet.
When the tide came back in again, all of this disappeared.

Finally it seemed that they were ready for the final scene of the day. It looked like Sandler and Vanilla Ice abandoned their 'stuck' car and were walking up the street right by us. Except that when I looked over, it wasn't actually them.
Look close. It was their doubles. Vanilla's green outfit certainly is a classic, isn't it?