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ctw1949
Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

2020 New Year
Just been a couple of days since my last post. I'm trying to be better about attending to my blog.

The weather has been insane for early January! Temps soared to 72 degrees in Boston on Sunday, it was in the mid-60's here with some gusty winds. Too windy to take BB the dog to walk the storm surge barriers, so we walked the local park for our morning constitutions. The decorations are coming down in the park and I am keeping a watchful eye on the trash the city employees leave on the ground. As soon as they are done taking down the tree lights and remove the protective fencing, I will be policing the ground for the left-over trash. Last year I collected a huge amount of trash, filling a medium sized box.

There is an abandoned house three blocks up that has been in a state of neglect since I moved here. Trees growing through the fence and obscuring the walkway, which is never shoveled of snow. All kinds of trash has been thrown over the fence. I sent pix to the city last July. Over the weekend, I saw the house yard has been cleaned up, trees cut back and the side yard is cleaned. It is nice not to have to dodge the trees as I walk the sidewalk.

Last Friday Sam and I went back again to work on the large forsythia stand. We pruned the flowering quince, a lot of squashed forsythia and more forsythia along the parking area. The burn pile is now spread to the third mound, waiting for January 15 for a burn permit. We went om Friday b/c the client was away for the day and her dog needed some company and time outside. I left BB the dog home, it was just too cool for him to be outside for hours or in the car. I pulled a muscle in my left thigh with all the crawling under the bent canes. It has healed and I have no pain from it today.

When I returned home Friday, I rested for most of the evening except when interrupted by a neighbor. He needed a ride...I had been lying down for maybe 10 minutes! I took him for his errand, then back to bed for me.

Saturday after walking BB the dog, I started simmering Oxtails for soup. I would cook them until Monday morning, then strain the broth and clean the bones from the meat. After cooling the broth, the fat will be skimmed off and I will make Oxtail Barley soup.  It will be ready for the cooler weather coming in a day or two.

Sunday I went back to the client's place and let her dog out to her yard for some relief from no one home all day. Haskell was happy to see me, so happy it took me almost 5 minutes to hook his leash up to his collar...squirming and flipping over, running in circles. Once we were outside, he had no interest in lifting his leg, just wanted to run in circles until he realized his owner wasn't in sight. We practiced sit, wait and come for 15 minutes, all enhanced with treats. He was ready to go back inside and I left him chewing  bone.

Monday mornings, there are now yoga classes at 11 am. I had to persuade my friend/neighbor out of bed and away from the TV to attend the class. I didn't find this class as much benefit as last week's class, but my friend did. We went shopping for sheets at Ann Hope at the mall. My friend bought a set of sheets, 100% cotton for her bed. The sheets are not sold as a set, but individually and sometimes the colors don't match...but we found colors close enough. She also bought a new pillow for her bed. She was pretty happy with her choices. I have been buying sheets for many years at Ann Hope, all are good quality 400 thread count sheets and hold up well considering the price.

Early last evening, my same neighbor stopped in with an anxiety attack. I made some fresh ginger root tea with raw honey and popovers. We ate them right out of the oven with tea. She stayed for several hours and felt better when she left. Then I walked and fed BB the dog...and went to bed.

I am procrastinating going out this morning...it is overcast and I am stiff even after my morning stretches.

Thanks for reading this blog.
2020 new year
I see it has been awhile since I posted on this blog. I am finding life in an apartment complex interesting! Over the summer, I had a small garden plot here on the grounds of the complex. I put up a bamboo constructed lattice to grow Suyo Long cukes on, using bailing twine as cross ties for the cukes to grow up. I found a discarded wood gate, put that up and grew pickling cukes on that. I planted two crops of lettuce consisting of several varieties of lettuce, one early crop and a late crop. I had Kale, Red-Runner pole beans, parsley, dill, borage, a couple of hot peppers, some Johnny-Jump-Ups, one or two Lupines...and horseradish. Last fall, after I was assigned the garden, I started to dig up the small area, I discovered my plot of dirt was pretty contaminated with grubs. And loads of crabgrass seed. I dug down about five or six inches and removed the top soil, planted some oats and covered all with dry leaves. In late winter, to my dismay, I discovered termites eating the leaves!!! I bought some Neem oil and did several soil drenches, then put in six bags of organic garden soil. What I didn't realize was that the soil was created mostly from ground up wood, drawing more termites to the area! More soil drenches and most of the termites left the area. Altho' my garden grew so much better than most in the garden area, I did find root aphids when I dug up some plants that were not thriving. I will put down crab meal to help get rid of them next growing season.

Every month there is a residents meeting staffed by the building manager and activities manager. Since last fall, many things have been going on here with residents and non-residents. Two new laptops were stolen from the TV room within the past month. Twice, the glass door to one of the exits has been kicked in or smashed with rocks. The automatic gate has been broken, leaving the parking area open to anyone who wants to come in. It is interesting that most of the residents who go to this meeting are women. Seems as if the men don't care or don't know how to do anything about the issues except complain to each other!

So, being the person I am, I volunteered to host a class on gardening for the residents. The activities manager wanted to schedule it for May...and I said not, but the end of March! I got some strange looks...but said if weather permits, I would show how to plant peas in the garden during the class. I am waiting for a date to be set so I can prepare a class for the residents who may be interested in learning how to grow successive crops. I hope someone shows up!!!

On the sad side, Charlie, a friend and resident went into hospital in late August for a gall bladder operation. Some kind of cascade event happened, he ended up in ICU for days, then into progressive care and finally into a rehabilitation facility. He was in rehab, still with intestinal drain tubes in him...and was there for over two months. He insisted on coming home in late November. I tried to dissuade him, he had no support networks set up, no food in his house, no cable, no help. But he got mad at me and said I was trying to control his life. I later found out he had a fight with the head of the PT staff because he wouldn't do what she told him to do so he could build up his strength. He really yelled at me, so I told him he was on his own if he wouldn't wait one week so we could get all his support (nurses, Meals on Wheels, personal assistants, etc) going. He came home on a Friday night and was found dead on Monday morning when the people who were going to set up his oxygen couldn't get in touch with him. Sad.

Another resident here had encephalitis when he was younger and suffers from seizures. His medication wasn't working and he had some problems, also has several ruptured discs in his spine, has had some surgery on his neck...and is basically frail. He was hospitalized the same week in August as Charlie. Stan is much easier to deal with than Charlie...and I have been helping him with his issues. He spent three nights in August and one night in December in hospital. I have been working with him to help him become more organized in his apartment. I revamped his vacuum, a bagless unit that had had no maintenance for about five years. It had stopped working (I wonder why). I cleaned out all the filters (there are three) and found the handle of a brush lodged in part of the hose, thus stopping any suction. We stay in touch almost every day, I cook for him and am sure he is doing much better. Stan's PA said the vacuum is working like new! Next, I will try to figure out what is going on with his Dyson Stick vacuum. Not as easy to work on as some but I am sure I will be able to figure it out.

Then there is Odette, a woman who lives on the same floor as I. She has a LOT of issues and takes a lot of medication. Some of her issues are anxiety and she suffers from anxiety attacks as well as restless leg. She has problems sleeping at night. Odette is like my mother, she wants to take a pill and have it all go away. But obviously, her medication is not working! She has a dog, overweight as she is, a cat she adopted last year and Mr. Fish. Stewie, the dog is blind. The cat insists on trying to make Sushi out of Mr. Fish...

I gave Odette a small spray bottle with water in it and told her to spray the cat when he tries to get Mr. Fish. But Odette refuses to close her bedroom door (where Mr. Fish lives on her night stand) when she leaves her apartment. The cat, named Parker, has already broken the top of Mr. Fish's tank and the light for the tank. I helped Odette get a new set-up for Mr. Fish, who likes this new tank very much. At Christmas, one of Odette's family gave her a live plant and a ceramic turtle for Mr. Fish's tank. Now Mr. Fish hides in the plant. And Parker the cat doesn't bother Mr. Fish so much because he has been water-squirted for trying to make Sushi out of Mr. Fish.

I am still been working out at Syd's in Rochester. The latest chore is pruning her sizeable Forsythia stand...that was partially crushed when a large part of a Black Walnut tree fell on the stand. Two 4 hour sessions with Sam, my left-hand man have really helped clean up a lot of crushed canes. But the Forsythia hasn't been well pruned in maybe 20 years, and it is very large, so I am chipping my way into it.

We did finish up the Lilac stand in October. We removed a huge quantity of bittersweet vines, roots and lots of other vines an weeds from that area, planted many Resurrection Lilies & split many spring bubs in the Lilac stand. Then we mulched almost most of it before the mulch ran out. We can finish up in spring. In the Lilac stand, I found many Foxglove & Columbine plants, obscured by vines and other tall weeds. The flowers will be lovely come spring and summer.

All in all, things have been pretty good for me in the apartment complex. I have found the trade-off from ticks in summer to be salted walkways in the winter! Poor BB the dog suffers from the salt on the walks, it gets into his eyes and onto the insides of his thighs. So, we have a nice wash every time we come inside during the winter. I recall the time I spent combing him for ticks when we lived in the country.

I will be taking BB the dog for a long walk on the Fairhaven bike path today. It is very warm, almost 60 degrees, the sun is shining and the wind has abated for today. Thanks for reading.
Strange email from Copper.net
I had a strange email in my box this morning...from someone in India who said they were representing Copper.net. Has anyone else found this email in their box? I tried to forward the email, the first time, a yellow banner popped up, saying the support email address was invalid. I called the phone number listed on the home page and heard a voice mail message asking me to leave my information for a return call. Then I tried to forward the email again...and it sent.

Anyone out there? What's the story? Has the company been sold to India?

Please let me know.
Life in general
The days of October have been plenty rainy! My work in my friend's Syd's yard is coming near to completion. We are almost finished in the Lilac stand...which had many vines and weeds growing. The stand had not been cleared in 16 years or so, there was a lot of dead lilac growth that needed to be removed. Since no fertilizing had been done in several decades, the lilac canes are thin and spindly, snow had weighed them down and there was a lot to be removed.

It seems the lilac stand had been planted over the old dump, started over 200 years ago when the house was built. There were no formal dumps back then, so all the tin, glass, ceramic went into a large pile in the yard, usually close to the house. I believe the house was built by Quakers since it is a Center Hall Colonial, their favorite style of homes.

I have been working at Syd's for about five or six years now, trimming, pruning, gardening and giving her advise. I found Sam last fall, he is what I call my "left-hand man". Sam lives in a rooming house in New Bedford, a noisy area with noisy people who like to drink. Sam is a recovering addict and alcoholic. He likes order and quiet, so I admire him at his ability to stay where there is so much turmoil. He is eager to learn real gardening and how to make things grow. He is strong and easy-going. I couldn't do the heavy work at Syd's if not for Sam. He catches on quickly, remembers what he has learned and is dependable.

I have been in my usual fall slump. I spent many days napping all day, sleeping all night. I hope that phase is over now that the moon is full and shrinking. I had several nights when I didn't sleep till the very wee hours of the morning, but that seems to have passed, too.

BB has been very itchy the past 6 weeks, keeping him clipped and bathed is helping. I am concerned that his broken tooth (when he was attacked by a large dog in April, his canine tooth snapped off at the gum) is starting to give him trouble...he is not eating all his food the past few days. I don't have the money for any tooth surgery for him, so I don't know how to cross that bridge.

My small garden did well over the summer. The cucumber harvest was good, lettuce was OK, but the soil I bought to replace the removed soil was not as good as I had hoped. Seems it was mostly wood, so the termites came and started to eat the stems of many of my plants! I will need to improve the soil over the winter months. Then root aphids moved in and caused sickly plants. The kale is coming on but was blown over by the last four days of high winds. I will straighten them up...and wait for the frost before I pick the kale.

I planted Scarlet Runner Beans and put up trellises for them to grow on. The poor soil grew pale leaves but many blooms. The lack of pollinators in the city prevented any beans from growing...so sad. I saw only a few bumblebees, not one honey bee in my garden.

I bought in some organic parsley starts in May, they are doing nicely. I have been picking and freezing for winter. Someone shared a great way to freeze parsley. Clip the leaves and freeze in a jar for later use. I have always put the parsley into a zip lock freezer bag, but this works so much better!

The dill didn't fare as well, was spindly and not so productive. But over the summer, I had many Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars in both the dill and parsley. Of course, I am always willing to share with nature! In the Borage I found Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars, so my garden was a good place for nature to thrive in the middle of the city.

I put in a second planting of lettuce in mid-August and it is growing much better than the first planting which went bitter int he heat. The parsley is growing like mad now in the cool, wet weather.

Late fall, I will go to West Island and harvest some sea weed, go out to my friends and get several bags of horse manure for the garden and spread it out for next spring. I can hope for better soil next growing season.

That's all for today. Time to take BB the dog to the park




Wrapping up the trip out west in 2017
It doesn't seem like two years since my return to the east coast after my strange trip across the country with Arianna.  I have heard from her maybe four times since then. Of course, once she paid me back what she owed me, we had little need of contact. She knew how I felt about her lack of consideration, how she manipulated me, used me to pay our way after she said she had ample money.

When we were in Olympia, WA, I met her son Rob, daughter-in-law Rebecca and their grandchild, Ava. Rebecca and I hit it right off with our love of gardening, wild life and photography. We are in contact often and I have heard her speak of the relationship she has with A. It became obvious to me that A has often asked her two sons (Rob & Joe) for money when she can't pay her bills. The situation is so bad that Rob and Rebecca can't even speak of his mother and how she uses him. It saddens me to know that A has not really matured to the point where she can take responsibility for her actions.

Last spring, Rebecca mentioned that she wanted to fly me out to WA for a visit...with BB my dog. We were both looking forward to this trip this fall. In August, A called Rob and said she was in hospital with failing kidneys. She asked Rob to come to Memphis. Rob flew to see her, using the money that had been saved for my flight. Since Rebecca has no information (from Rob) regarding A's failing kidneys, no information on how she is doing, all speculation leads to the conclusion that A was in dire financial straits and was just using Rob to get her out of her financial hole.

Since I have no contact with A, I don't know what her situation is...and I can say that in all honesty, I am not interested.