Tag Archives: water

Foraging and Fermenting Wild American Grapes

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Doug Meigs

If you’ve ever been interested in making wine from wild grapes, Frank Sobetski says this is a good year to start.

For nearly 25 years, Sobetski has been supplying local winemakers at Fermenter’s Supply & Equipment (84th and J streets in Omaha, behind Just Good Meats). He sells kits, equipment, and supplies to experts and novices alike. He also offers useful advice on foraging and fermenting.

Blue ribbons hang on his back wall, behind the counter of the small, tidy shop. The ribbons recognize the proprietor’s mastery of oenology (i.e., the study of wines).

Sobetski has tasted a variety of local wines as the superintendent of the Nebraska State Fair Winemaking Competition for the past 33 years. He knows what to expect from local vintages.

He has cultivated grapevines year-to-year since the mid-1980s, and he opened Fermenter’s Supply & Equipment in 1992. Sobetski has been serving winemaking wisdom soaked in his scientific knowledge ever since.

Foraging Wild Grapes

Wild American “fox” grapes differ from store-bought table grapes and wine grapes, which are largely of European origin. Wild grapes are more tart and less sweet than domestic varieties used in commercial winemaking. Fox grape varieties are known for having an earthy and sweet muskiness. The distinct aroma is called “foxy.”

Nebraska’s wild grapes are predominantly from the vitis labrusca and vitus vuplina species of American grapes. They are hardier than European vitis vinifera grapes associated with European, South American, and Californian wines. Nebraskan vitis labrusca and vuplina can better withstand Nebraska’s frigid winters and brutally hot summers. Concord grapes are a well-known cultivated variety of vitis labrusca.

The ripening of wild grapes is known as “veraison” in viticulture and véraison in French. In Nebraska, veraison generally occurs from August to September.

Harvest enough grapes and, with a bit of effort, aspiring winemakers can produce a unique wild grape wine that is unlike any familiar European wine. 

In July 2016, Sobetski predicted a good year for wild grapes in Nebraska because of “fortunate rainfall.” In early fall, the ripe blue-black clusters of wild grapes begin sagging from vines stretched between fence posts and tree branches.

The low-hanging fruits can easily be collected by hand. Wild grapes are often found near rivers and streams, or associated woodlands. Plant guidebooks or a Google image search can assist with identification, and grapes are typically plentiful once located.

Understanding Fermentation

Sobetski says that in order to produce a palatable wine from wild grapes, the “must” (i.e., the juice solution) should be made chemically like European grape juice, which remains the standard.

Balancing the must is complicated by a number of factors. Wild grapes are more acidic and contain less sugar than European grapes. Sobetski says this condition can be ameliorated by adding water and sugar to the must

The equipment generally needed for the initial fermentation stage is a primary fermenter (an airtight container to which a fermentation lock can be affixed), a fermentation lock (a simple device through which gasses may escape but not go back through), and a mesh sack to hold grapes in the fermenter. Measuring cups, spoons, and scales are also necessary. A length of food-grade tubing and sealable bottles are needed to bottle the wine.

A hydrometer—a buoyant glass tube that is calibrated to measure the amount of suspended solids versus straight water in a solution—is “the most important tool in winemaking,” according to Sobetski. Reading a hydrometer can tell a winemaker when fermentation is complete. Sobetski says that one can make wine without a hydrometer, but to pursue the hobby in earnest, a hydrometer is essential.

“Sanitization is the most important thing,” Sobetski says. “Soap and water is not enough.” Phosphoric acid is a safe, nontoxic sanitizer that can be used. Diluted household bleach sanitizes effectively as well. Everything that may come into contact with the wine must be thoroughly sanitized or the wine is at risk of becoming infected. Infection will ruin a batch of wine, effectively destroying an entire grape harvest.

Making Foxy Wine

Making wild American grape wine is not difficult. First, sanitize all of your equipment. Then remove your grapes from the stems and wash them. Place the grapes in a mesh sack. Place the mesh sack in your primary fermenter. Crush the grapes in the sack, releasing as much juice as possible. Add water, sugar, pectic enzyme, and yeast nutrient. Add the crushed Campden tablet and mix thoroughly. Cover the primary fermenter.

After 24 hours, pitch the yeast into the solution, attach a fermentation lock, and seal the fermenter. Wait a few days. If you are using a hydrometer, fermentation effectively stops when the density reading (known as “specific gravity”) reaches below “1.000.”

Further fermentation in secondary and tertiary fermenters before bottling would improve the wine’s quality. But the additional steps can add several months (or years) to the process. Then, the wine can be siphoned into bottles using a small length of tubing.

Store a few bottles. Share the rest. They will run out fast. The sweet, “foxy” tartness pairs well with autumn weather and is sure to please your holiday guests. They will never forget their first sip of wild American fox grape wine, and neither will you.


Wild American Grape Wine Recipe

Frank Sobetski recommends the Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook as a starting point for wild fruit wine recipes. The brief handbook costs less than $5 and is easy to read. Sobetski says that this book “assumes the reader has knowledge from other sources,” including knowledge of fermentation processes and equipment. Nevertheless, a novice winemaker can follow these recipes and expect “reasonable outcomes,” says Sobetski. His recommended wild-grape wine recipe is derived from the handbook. The following recipe makes one gallon of wine:

6 pounds wild grapes. Forage them.

6 pints water. Avoid tap water if possible.

2 pounds white sugar.

½ teaspoon pectic enzyme. This breaks down the fruit fibers and releases the juices.

1 teaspoon yeast nutrient. This is a fertilizer for yeast. Sobetski says it “makes yeast happy.”

1 crushed tablet of Campden. This is a pre-measured sulfite dose that kills off wild yeast. Sobetski notes that it is impossible to make a sulfite-free wine, as yeast naturally produces sulfites.

1 package wine yeast. Montrachet is recommended for most wild-fruit wines. For grape wine, Pasteur can create a redder wine due to better extraction.

All supplies can be obtained via Fermenter’s Supply.


Visit fermenterssupply.com for more information. OmahaHome

Grapes

Summer!

August 11, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The symptoms of heat exhaustion can develop swiftly and suddenly. If you are age 60 or older, not only does your risk for developing heat exhaustion intensify, but the symptoms can develop more rapidly and become more serious.

“Older people are especially prone to heat exhaustion because their bodies don’t adjust to heat as well,” says Dr. Mark Ptacek, a family practitioner at Nebraska Medicine. “Chronic medical conditions, as well as certain types of medications, can impair your ability to regulate your body temperature and perspire.”

HealthHeat exhaustion results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with dehydration. The risk for heat exhaustion increases when the heat index—a combination of the temperature and humidity—rises to 90 degrees. A relative humidity of 60 percent or more hampers sweat evaporation, which hinders the body’s ability to cool itself, says Dr. Ptacek.

Heat exhaustion causes the skin to feel hot and moist, and to appear flushed. Other possible symptoms include heavy sweating, faintness, weakness, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, nausea, low-grade fever, headache, and dark urine. “If you are no longer sweating, your condition has grown more severe,” notes Dr. Ptacek.

If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of heat exhaustion, Dr. Ptacek recommends going to a cool place, sitting in front of a fan, removing extra clothing, rehydrating with cool water (iced or cold water can cause cramping), spraying or sponging with cool water, resting for two to three hours, and staying out of excessive heat for about a week. If you are nauseated, throwing up, or are very dizzy or light-headed, you should be taken to an emergency room, he says.

Dr. Ptacek recommends these tips to keep yourself well-hydrated during the summer:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. “We are a quart low on water when we wake up in the morning, so start your day with two glasses of water. Continue to drink lots of fluids throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. As you get older, you begin to lose your sense of thirst, and therefore you may already be at a fluid deficit.”
  • Drink before you feel thirsty. When your body begins expressing thirst, this means you are starting to get behind your body’s fluid needs.
  • If you are exercising and perspiring a lot, drink fluids with extra electrolytes such as sports drinks.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, which acts as a diuretic, causing your body to lose fluids and desensitizes your body’s needs for water.
  • Avoid caffeine, which decreases your body’s blood volume and also acts as a diuretic, making you more dehydrated.
  • Exercise in the early morning or late evening.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, which can cause your body to lose more fluid.
  • Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.

Sixty-Plus

BE the Starfish

Wanna teach a kid to swim? Just toss ‘em in the pond. They’ll figure it out mighty quick.

Wait. Don’t. Bad idea. As you might imagine, this isn’t the teaching technique used by modern swimming instructors. Nowadays, that old “baptism-by-water” trick would probably get you a call from CPS.

Today’s young children have it pretty easy. And, pretty fun. And, all that fun they’re having is pretty dang effective.

“There’s definitely more fun and games than in the past,” says Jill Schoenherr, a program director for the Maple Street YMCA. “But all the games and things that seem silly are all aimed at teaching. And they have a great track record of working really well.”

Schoenherr’s instructors use a technique called “Guided Discovery.” Much of the trick is getting kids to visualize swimming strokes by comparing them to movements the children already know. The result is a type of love more adorable than tough.

For the really little folks, instructions might sound like: “Show me what a frog looks like.” Mimicking the movements of the frog help the children get the basic idea of the breaststroke. “Show me what a starfish looks like.” That helps them learn to lie on their backs in the water. Playing dolphin helps children get their hips moving for the butterfly stroke.

“Put your ear in the water to hear the fishies. Put your mouth in the water to talk to the fishies.” This teaches youngsters how to breathe while swimming. Another game: As kids lie on their back in the water, the instructor tells them to look for some imaginary something-or-other on the ceiling. The idea: Get their mind off the fact they’re in the unnerving position of lying in water.

Some older-school instructors who join Schoenherr’s team aren’t always sure about all the fun and games.

“They kind of wonder why there’s all the playtime,” she says. “Then it dawns on them that all this has a very specific goal.”

Of course, as children move into the higher-level classes, the starfishies give way to much more precise instructions on fundamentals. They start getting that push to becoming the best they can be.

But any serious swimmer has to love swimming. And, and Schoenherr points out, if someone helps you love swimming early on, you’re much more likely to become a lifetime swimmer.

“You try to make swimming so fun they want to come back,” she says. “The idea is to give them a love for a sport that can be a healthy part of their whole life. That’s pretty cool if it can all start with a starfish.”

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Earth, Air, Fire, Water

April 30, 2014 by
Illustration by Diamond Vogel

The worldview of ancient peoples often included a set of classical elements in describing the very essence of matter. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water came to symbolize the irreducible powers of the planet.

What could three creative talents do in terms of translating these primordial concepts into the most organic of color palettes?

Let’s see what happens when an award-winning theatrical set designer, a tattoo artist, Omaha Magazine’s creative director, and the color pros from Diamond Vogel use that company’s online Envision Color Visualizer tool to “paint” their inspiration.

Photo-Contest---Earth

“Brown, beige, clay. These are the colors of earth. We have gone beneath the surface to explore what lies below by choosing minerals and gemstones as our inspiration. The soft gold in the stairwell will refract light in contrast to the rich, blue-green of the walls. Entering the bedroom you find the unexpected element of a green ceiling. Remember that ceilings are your “fifth wall.” They offer a very effective, additional field of color. The complementary color on the bedroom wall is Diamond Vogel’s interpretation of Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year—Radiant Orchid. All of these colors come together and are grounded by the richly hued earth tones of both the carpet and the light beige trim.”

Towanda Marks, Pam McCarthy,and Judy Nowak
The Diamond Vogel Team

Photo-Contest---Wind

“Air? You’ve got to be kidding! What the heck am I supposed to do with that which you can’t see? As it turns out, the answer was right under my nose all along. Glancing down at my drafting table I saw the color palette I had chosen for designing our production of Boeing-Boeing. This farcical comedy set in 1962 features a swinging bachelor who juggles a gaggle of what were then called “stewardesses.” I had selected a somewhat subdued and breezy, ‘60s-themed collection of hues (think Marimekko design mixed with a bit of early Warhol) to evoke an airy, almost weightless feel for the era when jet air travel was still new, exotic, and…well, downright sexy.” 

Jim Othuse
Scenic and Lighting Designer, Omaha Community Playhouse

Photo-Contest---Fire

“When contemplating my assigned element, my mind immediately went to thoughts of enjoying the ambiance of a cozy fire surrounded by low-light candles enveloping me in a serene, flickering glow. It instantly evokes an aura of home, warmth, and safety. As a tattoo artist, I approached the room as I would a tattoo. I chose a combination of colors that compliment each other to create a beautiful and unique canvas. With the element of fire, I thought of reds, oranges, and yellows. I used them here to create a room that feels pleasant, mellow, and comforting…much like a relaxing evening in front of the fireplace.”

Johnna McCreary
Tattoo artist and co-owner, Liquid Courage Tattoos

Photo-Contest---Water

“My aquatic inspiration came from Pantone’s 2013 color of the year—Emerald. More importantly—and a lot dearer to my heart—is the fact that this is the assortment of colors that my wife, Trisha, and I are using to prepare a nursery as we await the birth of our first child. Clean lines and cleaner palettes are found throughout our home, so I’ve reflected that theme with gray-ish surfaces that exist only to ground and add “oomph” to the brighter, more vibrant hues surrounding them. We’ll be adding coral-tinted accents in throw pillows and other soft elements to punctuate the room with some “pop.” Come late September, the nursery will be the center of activity on so many much-anticipated (but probably sleepless) nights.”

John Gawley
Creative Director, Omaha Magazine

Diagnosing a Troubled Tree

June 20, 2013 by

When diagnosing a troubled tree, there are many variables that come into play. What species of tree are we dealing with? When and where was it planted? What problematic symptoms does it exhibit? One should look at the surroundings of the plant. Construction and soil compaction can play a huge role in a tree’s longevity. Weather is also a big factor. Storm damage, such as hail, can wreak havoc on a tree’s well-being.

The biggest issue we see is poor initial planting. Many trees are planted too deep or too high in the soil. A tree can survive in these stressful conditions for approximately 4-5 years before showing signs of decline. Watering can be a big issue, too. Most trees need 1” of water each week. Not enough or too much water can be detrimental to the tree’s growth.

When treating a diseased tree, the right diagnosis is key. Only a certified arborist will know which fungicide is required to treat a fungal problem, or which insecticide will best treat a tree infested with pests. Using the proper treatment application method is also essential and may depend on the severity of tree damage. When you see a tree exhibiting signs of trouble, it’s best to call a professional arborist right away. Likely, the tree has been in distress for some time. Better yet, employ a regular tree service to service and treat your trees year-round, before the trouble starts.

For tree analysis or treatment, call on the professionals at Terry Hughes Tree Service, voted #1 Tree Service in Best of Omaha™ 2013! Visit hughestree.com for more info.

There’s No Place Like Home

April 25, 2013 by

If you’ve spent time in the Midwest, you are no stranger to tornados. Many of us could share a story of “the Big One” or a storm we’ll never forget. Hopefully, with stories come memories of survival and preparedness. The following tips can help you prepare for when the next tornado strikes.

Who’s at Risk?

Tornadoes strike most often between March and June in the central U.S., but they’ve been reported in all 48 continental states, at all times of the year. Older adults need to take additional actions, like having their medications accessible and giving themselves plenty of time to get to shelter.

What to Do if a Tornado is Coming

Seek shelter immediately! If you’re away from home, your best bets are basements or interior corridors of office buildings, tunnels, or underground parking lots. Avoid auditoriums, upper stories of office buildings, trailers, and parked vehicles. And stay away from windows. If you’re out in the open, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area and protect your head. Stay away from poles and overhead lines.

If you’re driving, drive at right angles to the tornado’s path. If you can’t escape the path of the tornado, get out of the vehicle to avoid being overturned and crushed. If you’re at home, head for the basement and take cover under a heavy table or workbench. If you don’t have a basement, go into a windowless room in the center of the house. If that’s not possible, stay away from windows and cover yourself with a rug for protection against flying glass and debris.

Know the Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

A tornado watch means conditions are right for the formation of a tornado. Stay alert, and be prepared to take shelter. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area. Take shelter immediately!

What to Prepare

Here are suggested items for your emergency kit: One gallon water per person per day for at least three days; a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert, and extra batteries; flashlight and extra batteries; first aid kit including a whistle to signal help; prescription medications and glasses, including medical equipment like test strips or syringes, if needed; pet food and extra water for your pet; a sleeping bag or warm blanket; change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes; fire extinguisher; matches in a waterproof container; personal hygiene items; moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation; disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer; and paper cups and plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, and a can opener.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends preparing a survival kit of basic needs (food, water, etc.) for 72 hours for the home and car. Visit ready.gov for a complete list of emergency preparedness items. When a tornado strikes, there is often little time to gather items or get to a store. Make your own kit and store in a plastic tote, or purchase a kit from National Safety Council, Nebraska for $45 or $69 at safenebraska.org or call 402-896-0454.

Adapted from National Safety Council. NSC makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. For more information, visit safenebraska.org.

Keep Your Lawn Sprinkler System Running Efficiently

Just because you have a sprinkler system doesn’t mean it is being utilized properly. Oftentimes, the controller is set incorrectly by the previous homeowner, the lawn guy, the genius father-in-law, or even worse, the know-it-all neighbor. Depending on the season, it needs to be reprogrammed on a regular basis.

We suggest watering 1-2 times per week in the spring and fall for 25 minutes per station on the smaller pop-up spray heads, and 45-50 minutes per station on the larger rotor heads. This will give your lawn approximately one-half inch of water every time you run it. In the summer, it may be necessary to water 3-5 days per week depending on the weather conditions. Avoid the method of watering every day for 10-15 minutes per station. Short, frequent watering will promote a shallow root system and damage your lawn’s ability to withstand heat, drought, insects, and fungus.

Another common problem we see on our service route is dry patches along the edges of the turf. We suggest watering beyond the edge of the grass and onto the concrete at least 12-24” to cool the concrete and allow for the wind. Many people get too concerned about “wasting” water and watching it run down the sidewalk or drive. However, in order to get the edges properly watered, this is a necessary evil. After all, the concrete gets wet when it rains, right? As your landscape matures and your lawn area changes, the sprinkler heads need to be adjusted or moved to prevent blockage from plants and trees. I can’t tell you how many dry spots we see that are caused by a shrub or tree that has grown over the top of a sprinkler head. Oftentimes, the system is running in the middle of the night, and the owner is unaware of the problem.

Finally, check your system visually a few times a year or have a licensed contractor check it for you. Most irrigation companies in the metro have good techs that can spot and repair potential problems. You can expect to pay $60-90 for an hour’s work, but the pro can do in an hour what the amateur lawn guy can do in three hours. Don’t waste your money on the lawn guy who says he can fix it. Most likely, he doesn’t have the parts inventory with him, or the know-how to resolve the problem. We don’t mow lawns, trim shrubs, and spray trees. We fix sprinklers! Have a professional do the job correctly the first time and enjoy your beautiful lawn.

For more information on Controlled Rain Irrigation or to schedule service, visit controlledrainirrigation.com.

Nature-Inspired Office Space

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Tom Kressler

The four elements—earth, fire, wind, and water—connote strength, simplicity, and timelessness andwere the source of inspiration for the design of the Pinnacle Bank Headquarters at 180th & Dodge streets in Omaha.

Pinnacle Bank, a Nebraska-based institution now in eight states, worked closely with the team at Avant Architecture to make the building essentially a piece of modern art. Rising from the horizon, the stone, steel, and glass structure suggests strength and elegance, simplicity and beauty.

“We’re really all about Nebraska and the Nebraska way,” says Chris Wendlandt, Senior Vice President of Marketing/Retail. Having previously worked with Avant, Wendlandt says the architecture firm knew their philosophy well. “Avant worked to match the building with the brand, and I think they did a great job.”

Wendlandt says that the goal was to create a space that would be simple, warm, and inviting, and something that both employees and their customers would be proud of.

Atrium.psd

Since their grand opening in June 2011, the response of employees and clients has been overwhelmingly positive.

The overall design of the building is sleek, yet elegant. “The emphasis is on light, openness, and views [of the exterior landscape],” says Wendlandt. Italian tile runs throughout the approximately 82,000-square-foot building. Other materials carried throughout the building’s design are the dark, German wood veneer, Oberflex, used in cabinets and doors, as well as a Gage Cast bronze metal that can be found near the teller line, in the elevator, and in other parts of the building.

Glass plays a prominent role in the overall design as well. Running through the lobby is a green-tinted channel glass wall, hinting at the element of water and providing light, as well as privacy, to first-floor offices and conference rooms. Large glass-panel walls on both exterior and interior walls keep with the open and airy feeling.

“The consistency throughout the whole building gives it that warm feeling, but then the artwork really brings [to life] what our brand is,” says Wendlandt. While the design of the space is minimalist, the artwork is what captures the attention of the viewer.

Board Room.psd

Aided by Holly Hackwith of Corporate Art Co., the art in the building was commissioned especially for the Pinnacle Bank project. With the majority of the artists being from Nebraska and the surrounding area, their work conveys the feel of Pinnacle’s home state. “We went through and identified artists we thought worked for the building,” says Wendlandt. Some of the more prominently featured artists are Jorn Olsen, Helene Quigley, and Matt Jones.

Then, in what Hackwith calls an extraordinary gesture, the Pinnacle executives allowed their employees to select which pieces would go into their personal offices. The result is an art collection that is a healthy mix of traditional and modern, serene and vibrant.

“Their employees really felt like they were a part of the process,” says Hackwith. Each work of art includes a plaque detailing the name of the piece, the name of the artist, and a brief description of the piece and artistic process involved.

The executive offices on the upper floors have glass-panel walls that look into the hallways and common areas. Employee cubicles have lower walls with glass panes imbedded, giving nearly every employee access to natural light and breathtaking views.

Roof Deck.psd

A community meeting room was created so that many of Pinnacle’s nonprofit clients can reserve it for their own use. “Community is…very important to us,” says Wendlandt. She says that they made a conscious effort to include a conference room with community access to it. All conference rooms are equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology

The top floor houses a green roof as well as a meeting area surrounded by glass-paneled walls that can slide open and be used to entertain clients or hold business meetings.

The building has achieved its sought-after LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification. To earn this distinction, the building must meet green building standards regarding energy performance, water efficiency and several other aspects. In September 2012, the Pinnacle Bank project was also honored for its superior design with a silver award in the Corporate-Healthcare category by the Nebraska-Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

President Sid Dinsdale and the executives at Pinnacle Bank have created a new work space that reflects their values as a company. In doing so, they have also built a monument to where they came from and the clients they serve.

Kat Moser’s Photographs

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Kat Moser “fell in love with photography” while watching a cousin develop pictures in a home darkroom, and although she was only 6, her heart was won. It would be more than 50 years before she acknowledged herself as an artist, but there was no hesitation in her choice of medium. Watching figures emerge onto the paper floating in emulsion had seemed magical to the child. Today, she still attests, “It’s all about the alchemy.”

There does seem to be a spirit of the ancient mystical pursuit of transformation in Moser’s photographs. Women’s gleaming bodies float effortlessly in sun-sparkled bodies of water; branches reflected in streams write runic formulae in the sky; rough buttes are recast in silver and shadow. “Ethereal, mystical, spiritual—these are just some of the words I use to describe my work,” she says in her artist statement. “All three represent the primal connections we have with Mother Earth and her female qualities. I am deeply moved by the powerful yet often unseen worlds that surround and link us to life’s profound mysteries.”

"Morning at Fontenelle"

“Morning at Fontenelle”

Moser’s direction is intuitive, sensitive. She is attuned to myths and fairy tales, and the wordless understanding nurtured by decades of yogic practice. At the same time, her work is honed by learning from contemporary masters and enriched by discerning study of the genre and perspectives widened by travel. She is knowledgeable and demanding of the process necessary to achieve the desired finished effect—the look of infrared film.

Infrared light exists just beyond our range of vision; cameras using this spectrum capture a view we can never see—strong colors and contrasts, milky-white foliage, and porcelain skin. With IR film no longer readily available, Moser has customized two digital cameras to produce infrared’s other-worldly images.

“I’ve always been interested in spirit photography [of the late 19th century],” she says. “I loved the romantic, Victorian, ethereal quality of infrared from the first time I saw it. The longer I use it, the more interested I am in its possibilities.”

"Frozen Blooms"

“Frozen Blooms”

Moser’s photographs transform the familiar into images as fragile and foreign as dreams. A title, “Mahoney Retreat” from the series “Other Worlds – Inner Life,” leaves viewers retracing their own memories of the nearby park. In “Pool of Tears,” the pattern of overhead branches echoes dark-wet strands of hair. Delineated against a broad white back, the composition is both the scene and its reflection, illustrating the series’ title, “Illusions of Water.”

One of Moser’s models, Kristi Mattini, worked at Nouvelle Eve when invited to participate. “I have a long history of ballet,” Mattini says. “Sometimes, there’s a theme, but usually I just go through the dance movements in water. It’s impossible to hold a pose, which shows how good she is at catching the moment.” In the same way that Moser isolates a fleeting image and imbues it with a sense of timelessness, she creates an artwork of an individual. “Even if I’m standing next to my photograph,” Mattini says, “people don’t realize it’s me, and I can appreciate the work without feeling self-centered.”

"Isadora"

“Isadora”

In Moser’s years between little girl and award-winning photographer, there was a degree in fashion merchandising, work as a buyer, and Nouvelle Eve, a high-end women’s boutique in the Old Market. For nearly 40 years she expressed her creativity in developing the store, the brand, and the clientele. The photographs she enjoyed taking liaised with the shop’s sophisticated marketing profile. In those years too, she and her husband renovated a condo and established Jackson Artworks, ahead of the curve in living the Old Market life.

“I loved retail, loved that lifestyle, but I reached a turning point,” she says. “It was very clear to me.” The time had arrived to recognize and embrace the artist that had been waiting all those years. “I believe that everything I’ve done has been foundational to my life as an artist.” In the past few years, the Mosers have sold the shop and the gallery, generating a tremendous sense of freedom, and finally time, Moser says, to “relearn how to play.”

"Mahoney Retreat"

“Mahoney Retreat”

During her long apprenticeship, she gained a thorough understanding of infrared’s characteristics, always moving toward more subtle and mysterious results. [Note: All Moser’s images are created photographically; none are Photoshopped.] Looking ahead, she would like to explore adding techniques, such as encaustic, or printing on surfaces other than paper. The knowledge she has acquired over a lifetime hasn’t dimmed the awe of her first experience. “Oh, no,” she says with a smile. “The expertise allows the magic to happen.”

Kat Moser’s work is handled exclusively by Anderson O’Brien Fine Art (aobfineart.com).

It’s Not Too Late to Water!

December 25, 2012 by

Omaha’s thousands of trees are in danger. This summer’s unprecedented heat and drought have put even mature, established trees in peril. Trees cannot endure a period of extended drought without help. If trees are not rehydrated soon, they will not be able to survive the winter, let alone fight off insects and disease next year. If the Ash Borer reaches Omaha, our ash trees may be unable to take up the nutrients they need to fight the insects.

As early as August, many trees in Omaha began “shutting down” in an attempt to conserve water. When this happens, growth ceases and plants prematurely lose their leaves. Trees already have next year’s buds. The drought not only affected last year’s tree quality, but has the potential to significantly affect trees’ appearance this year. This drought is unprecedented to our generation. Most trees have not experienced summer conditions like this before.

There’s still time to save Omaha’s trees. It’s important that tree owners take the initiative to water trees. It’s a misconception that large trees have roots deep enough to get to underground water. The majority of feeder roots are actually in the top 12-16” of soil. Established trees (5 years and older) are best watered with soaker- or drip-irrigation hoses. A regular hose running at a trickle is much less effective, as the water often runs beyond the target zone and pools in unhelpful areas.

Water should not be targeted against the trunk of the tree. Tree trunks can become subject to disease and insect problems if moisture is concentrated next to the trunk. A tree’s “root zone” actually spreads 2 to 3 times wider than the tree’s canopy. Water must be applied directly to this target area. Watering for short bursts can lead to additional drought damage. Shallow watering forces oxygen out of the soil and results in oxygen starvation of a tree’s roots. What our trees need now is consistent, deep watering.

Trees need 10 gallons of water for every inch of diameter of trunk, measured 2 feet up the trunk of the tree. For example, a 7-inch diameter tree requires 70 gallons of water in each section of the root system covered by the soaker hose or stationary sprinkler. A hose open at half pressures takes five minutes to produce 10 gallons of water. Therefore, each section of a 7-inch diameter tree’s root zone must be watered for 35 minutes. It may take several days of watering to cover the entire root zone.

If there’s no rainfall, trees should be watered once a week during the growing season, continuing on a regular basis until rain returns. The arrival of winter does not mean it’s time to stop watering. Winter drought can affect both evergreen and young hardwood trees. Water once or twice per month between October and March on warm days as long as the ground is not frozen.

The best time to water is at night between 9pm and 8am, as trees refill water reserves during the night hours. Watering at night allows for effective use of water with less loss from evaporation. This assures that more water moves into the soil and tree. The second-best time to water is late afternoon.

The best way of knowing if you’re getting water deep enough into the soil is to use a screwdriver. It should glide through the soil in the area you just watered to the depth of at least 8-10 inches with little or no resistance. Don’t be surprised if you hit concrete-like soil about 3-4 inches down. Water in shortened sessions until able to get water to penetrate. Don’t be surprised to find the soil almost repelling the water until sufficiently hydrated.

Younger trees require a similar approach for watering, but the root area is much less. A tree needs about one year per inch of trunk at planting time to establish a root system. It’s very easy to overwater the soil surrounding a newly installed tree. The root mass and a few inches beyond are critical areas during the tree’s establishment period. Every year, roots expand into the surrounding soil, creating a wider area to be hydrated in dry periods.

Here at Lanoha Nurseries, we are happy to answer questions and walk tree owners through the watering process. We care about all trees and want to ensure that Omaha’s trees stay safe and healthy.

Call to speak with a Lanoha professional at 402-289-4103 or stop in the Garden Center at 192nd and West Center Road.