Sunday, May 10, 2009

Probably a bigger woodchipper

Would be needed to dispose of a body. The one we rented this weekend, while too large to be transported in the back of the van (without laying it down, which would spill fuel) was only suitable for blackberry vines and rose cuttings.
I can't say much for the design of the woodchipper. It's not the sort you see in films, where you could pretty much shovel in whatever you like. That sort has to be hitched to a vehicle. Ours was a little beastie, hardly above waist-height, with a rectangular opening at the top and a funnel at the side. At first I took the funnel for the outlet, but it's the feeder for larger things. The outlet is a vent at the base, which chokes up after a while so that the heavy & unwieldy chipper must be awkwardly wheeled a few feet away from the chip-pile it's made.
The design is almost anti-ergonomic. Unless it's meant to be operated by prepubescent children, the feeder height requires bending over constantly.
In the two hours before it ran out of fuel, we did greatly reduce the slash-piles stacked around the back yard, and produce a few buckets of sawdust mulch for the roses. But most of that was done through the side-funnel, rather than the top opening, which proved nearly useless, even for the small cuttings, twigs and leaves.
The side funnel is a lot of fun to use. You feed one end of a vine into it, and once it catches, the whole vine whips in, waving about like a retracting Triffid. But any projecting stub of vine (you know, the natural way that both blackberries and roses grow) can catch on the funnel edge and leave it vibrating blurrily instead of entering the grinder.
After an hour, I was vibrating somewhat blurrily myself, especially about the hands, and my gloves were speckled with those blackberry thorns that hadn't managed to reach my skin. So I wasn't terribly regretful when the fuel ran out. Our neighbours may have been relieved as well. It's not a sleek purring machine.
I suppose anyone who reads mysteries (or watches trashy movies) would think of body disposal while using a woodchipper. I'd recommend the bigger size.
It occurs to me that the development of dna tech has made forensics less interesting rather than more. I was impressed by the detective who spotted a kidney stone (gallstone?) mixed in with the gravel of a garden path, and with the story of a murderer who woodchipped his victim and aimed the vent out over a river, but was defeated by the discover of a single tooth.

Rhubarb and roses
The rhubarb has leapt up in the last weeks. Whee, she said feebly, I like rhubarb. Maybe I'll make more pies.
And transplant the volunteer sweet rocket into the front yard, under the bay window where it's hard to grow things.
And prune the roses over the front gate, the part that needs a stepladder. The Adelaide d'Orleans is healthy enough, but the one on the other side of the arch may be dead (I'm still cutting back) and I can't find its nametag or remember what its blooms looked like when last seen. I'm wondering if the blooms I vaguely remember were the Adelaide spilling over to the other side?
I've cut back the garage-swallowing alba in the backyard (hmm, maybe I should take a cutting of the alba and see if it would grow where the unknown arch-rose is giving up?), and in the front made some inroads on the sprawling Dortmund, the Bourbon Queen, and the Rosearie de la Haye.
I've barely touched the Wenlock, which remains healthy despite the shadow of the boulevard trees. The Jacques Cartier and Alain Blanchard are holding up, but another three are pretty feeble. Stupid shade. Okay, not to be ungrateful for Victoria's urban forest, but I'd rather have an ornamental cherry or something else that dropped pink petals than dusty catkins and aphid juice.

The frame of the old cable-ride is beside the Dortmund, and I've thought about hanging a basket-chair from it (I have a hanging chair lying in the attic, waiting for a frame strong enough) but I don't know whether I could keep the vines away from the chair. One doesn't want to swing idly into thorns. The other end of the cable-ride has a lilac tree growing into it, but at least it wouldn't be thorns. I've cut back some of the lilac, but tentatively.
While my thumbs are far from green, I rather like pruning. It's like editing. Ooh, that bit doesn't need to be there ... LOP! Just as when I'm editing, it's far easier for me to trim out a clearly dead bit than it is to remove something vigorous but in the wrong place, even with the promise of a more satisfying shape to come.
Editing, like body disposal, is in my thoughts just now because I'm reading some work that needs pruning. I've colour-coded my high-lighters: blue for hackneyed language, green for confusing, pink for punctuation and typos, and yellow for superfluous. It's not quite Fanthorpian levels of repetition, but enough that I'm covering 1/2 to 2/3 of each page with yellow.
I need to buy another yellow highlighter. This one's dying, and the woodchipper isn't fine-tuned enough.


dawtheminstrel said...

LOL. Critting well is a skill that you have and not many people do. It takes a long time to learn to analyze how you're reacting to something and why and what the writer might do about it.

Just got back from Star Trek. OMG, that was good.

batgirl said...

I was reading your LJ notes just now - half my flist is exulting over it! I may go over to my LJ and write a flocked post about what I'm critting.
My husband has just commented that I have 4 abbreviations in two sentences.