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ctw1949
Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

February 2020
Lately, I have been getting little done in my apartment. Seems I have no interest in dusting all the pictures, furniture here. But I did just tear my bed down, doing what I call BEDBUG PREVENTION. Since bedbugs live in this complex, diligence is necessary to keep the little suckers OUT of my apartment. So, every 60-90 days, I pull my bedding off, examine the mattress for any signs of bugs, remove all the sealed totes from under the bed, vacuum under the bed, the totes, the mattress and mattress cover and look for signs of any bugs. I spray the carpet under the bed with Zodiac flea & tick spray for upholstery. Clean sheets and pillowcases finish the job. I spray my doorway, door door trim and outside my door with Zodiac. It takes several hours to do this job.

After I moved into this apartment, I had several bug bites and discovered a bedbug on my bedding. The "bug man" came to my apartment to examine my bedding. When I moved in, I was NOT going to buy a new mattress till I was sure there weren't any bugs in my place. Well, it seems the policy is not spraying between tenants...and the last tenant probably had bedbugs. The bug man pronounced my bedding clean (same mattress I had been sleeping on for four years in the camper)...but wanted to spray my apartment. I am chemically sensitive and declined. The bug man was wearing boots, gloves and a mask. I should live in the pesticide? And my little dog, so close to the carpet should have to be in that bad stuff? I didn't think so!

I went on a vengeful attack in my apartment, taking off the outlet and light switch covers, vacuuming inside them and spraying with DEET. I had some outlet and light switch insulating additions and sprayed them and installed them with the switch plate covers. I then laid down a narrow layer of diatomaceous earth along every baseboard and on each threshold of every room. The bug man gave me some sticky traps for scouting for any invaders. Since then, I have had no signs of bugs. But diligence is the answer!

One gal has had bedbugs twice, been sprayed twice. I did tell her about diatomaceous earth, she bought some and followed my procedure.  But foolishly, she vacuumed up the DE in a month or two. Then she got more bugs! How foolish can you be!

My order for crab meal came yesterday. I will work in the garden and turn the soil and apply the crab meal. I hope this will effect the root aphids that infected many of my plants last summer. I have some snap pea seeds coming also and hope to put them in on St. Patrick's day. Last late fall, I harvested my kale but left the roots in hopes that springtime would bring kale from last season's plants. But I did have some plant aphids (not to be confused with root aphids) on several plants. If the aphids have survived the winter, I shall pull the plants and put in new seeds.

The apartment complex did NOT schedule me for a gardening class in March, even tho' I requested that at January's residents meeting. I have requested to be scheduled on April 1 or 2. Possibly my pea seeds will have emerged by then. I hope some of the residents will attend this class, but I feel most of the gardeners here think they know all there is to know about gardening. We shall see if the April schedule includes my class. And how many bother to attend.

Today, I will walk BB at the bike path. We love to walk there! A lot of p-mail to read, many replies...to the point that BB has no pee left! And he is tired and well-exercised as am I.

Today, it feels like March...warmer and sunny. So we will enjoy this day for I am sure rain will come soon.

Year 2020
Today it is sunny for the first time in about a week. A welcome change from the dreary, rainy days of late. My amaryllis has finished blooming, I shall cut the flower stem off today. It had five beautiful blooms that lasted over two weeks!

I re-potted my orchid, seems I needed more information on the potting medium, which I packed too tightly when I re-potted it last year. Many of the new roots had rotted, so I clipped them back and used a terra cotta pot and pre-soaked moss, which I didn't pack so tightly. There are many new leaves on the plant but no bloom spike. I can only hope that the plant will recover from my lack of knowledge and give me a flower sometime in the future.

On a sad note, my friend in Washington has decided she cannot be my friend anymore. The reason for her decision is b/c she is a Jehovah's Witness and I will not convert to her way of thinking. It seems she has "gone into the ministries", whatever that means and since I will not accept her god as mine, she can't have me for a friend. Seems she thinks I used some "harsh words" when I told her she was indoctrinated into that faith. She was raised in the JW religion, her father and grandfather were ministers. Earlier in our  friendship, I asked her to stop sending me religious texts from her book/pod casts, but she wouldn't cease. When I called her on the subject, she was not understanding that we all have the choice what to believe. She just can't accept my opinion!

I remember days when I was outside in my garden, working in the dirt and the JW women would stop by, parking right in the middle of the driveway. They wanted to talk to me about their great Jehovah. I told them I had work to do, but they were welcome to sit with me and pull weeds if they wanted to chat. They would persist until one day I told them I was Jewish. They left me alone after that.

I was raised in the Seventh Day Adventist religion. I attended Seventh Day Adventist schools and attended church on Saturdays as well. I was well indoctrinated into that religion for my "formative" years. When I was old enough to see the inconsistencies in the "elders of the church", I began to question may things I saw that were contrary to what we were taught. I was pressured to be baptized. I declined and was ostracized in school. In the end, I left that faith and have not been a participant in any organized religion.

But because I can't accept the Bible as the "way", my friend has dismissed me. Such a small issue since we have so many other things in common. She is an excellent photographer but has cast that aside for her religion. I have a BFA in photography and encouraged her efforts, sending her my books from college. I am sure they are gathering dust on her shelves.  We have gardening in common but she doesn't see that this common interest is enough to remain friends. I will miss her. But not enough to change what I believe in!

On a bright note, I have reconnected with my cousin. She lives close to me now but has been a self-described hermit since her husband died 18 or so months ago. She cared for him for the last years of his life, he was the center of her world...him and her dog Hunter...a 160# Rottweiler. She has recently started to connect with friends again. She came over last Sunday to visit. We had a wonderful time! Yesterday, I saw her at Wallyworld as she was leaving. I was headed in to the store to return something. Having not seen her for a number of years, then seeing her twice in a week was interesting.

Time to go for today. Enjoy the sun while it is here. Temperatures will be very cold tomorrow morning and continue cold all weekend. I am prepared!
New Year
Some of you still look for me on this blog. I have been busy with all things, here in the apartment complex, out in the countryside, neighbors dirty vacuums that are so neglected they stop working...helping with a kitty that needs some TLC & medication. My friend/neighbor's sister suddenly died last week...another friend/neighbor lost her kitty and is looking for a another for company. And then there is the daily housework, walking BB and taking care of him.

My neighbor/friend Stan, our resident astronomer, has a kitty about 12 or so years old. I have noticed Zenda (her name...funny since my name is Cynda) has been loosing weight over the past 6 months. I convinced Stan to take Zenda to the vet, altho' he is in a tight financial situation, he did. Zenda had been sneezing a LOT along with her weight loss. Turns out Zenda had a sinus infection and her thyroid was working overtime, causing her weight loss. In August, while Stan was hospitalized for three days, I was checking on his place (doing a lot of cleaning, too!!!) and feeding Zenda and caring for her needs. It was then I noticed kitty's hunger and weight loss. Vet put her on an antibiotic, antihistamine & thyroid medications. Zenda accepted the thyroid medication in her food but wouldn't eat the food with the antibiotic & antihistamine.  I was drafted to "pill" Zenda twice daily for several weeks. This gave me a chance to touch base with Stan twice daily to see how he was doing. Stan now has weekly help cleaning his apartment, most is "light housekeeping". His place was in such turmoil, I am certain anyone going in to work would be overwhelmed! I worked in his kitchen, sorting out his counter tops, reorganizing his pantry, finding lids to all his plastic storage containers, etc. Things started to get a bit more under control.

One issue is that neither of his vacuums worked. So...I took his Shark home and cleaned it. Filters had never been washed, so they were totally clogged. All the brush heads were totally gummed up, there was a hair brush handle in the intake tube. Never mind the dirt bin! All was cleaned, washed, wiped and returned to him. His house cleaning help said the vacuum worked (and looked) like new. Then I started on his Dyson rechargeable stick vacuum. Well, Dyson surely does make things tough for keeping the cyclone head free of dirt and dust!!! I cleaned all components, put it all back together and it works very well. I figured out which attachments go to the Dyson, which go to the Shark. My dining room table is almost cleared of my unfinished projects! And Stan has two vacuums that work!

I missed yoga class on Monday...I had been fighting a sore throat over the weekend and overslept. I completely forgot about the 11 am class...and was still in my PJ's till noontime. I think I have defeated whatever it was that thought it would nest in my nose or throat, drinking Dr. Christopher's Plague Tonic with raw honey, eating onion sandwiches on rye bread with mayo, Netti Pot and Ponaris Nasal Emollient. A combination that will kill most anything! Today, I think it is gone. Now, I must set up my humidifier since it's possible that dry air was the issue.

I am finding time to do fun things. Tuesday, I met Syd at her house. I dumped my compost in her pile and we walked the dogs. Her new dog Haskell is coming along. Since he was rescued from a puppy mill and was used only for breeding, he has a great need for human companionship and requires a lot of attention. Syd has been working with him, training him and he is coming along. A Jack Russell Terrier mix, he does have the look and entire attitude of Jack Russells. He desperately wants to play with BB the dog, BB has NO use for Haskell and avoids all contact with him! Haskell is young and full of zip. BB is more sedate since he is now 12. But both of them MUST sniff every corner, blade of grass, pile of anything and leave a reply (p-mail).

We had a nice walk. Then I looked at her apple tree, a very old tree. It has been very neglected and is now home to a million carpenter ants. I suggested I would look for someone who might be interested in taking the tree down...as well as her Black Walnut tree that split off a large portion last fall. The apple tree is good for smoking meat. The Black Walnut might be good for making furniture. We shall see if I am successful.

My amaryllis has bloomed again, just in time for my birthday. Five blooms this year! It is a happy sight during this time of brown and grey, flooding red blooms, making my eyes happy!

I re-potted my orchid last week. I have been over watering it and had packed the moss too tightly in the bottom of the pot...and it was a plastic pot. I watched a video on UTube to find out how to properly pot up an orchid...and found a new terra cotta pot. We will see if it responds. I have had it for 16 months and no bloom yet. One can only hope I can undo the damage done.

The other plants I brought home from Vermont in fall of 2019 are doing well. This is my first time with a Rabbit-foot fern and I haven't killed it yet. It has started to loose a few leaves but I think this is a natural process. Last years Pointsetta has set some red leaves at the top. Of course, not as dramatic as those that are forced in greenhouses, but I am happy. The small start of Christmas Cactus is blooming for the second time this winter. A different cactus from Krista in Vermont is growing madly. I cut off the top of the avocado shoot since it was getting spindly. Maybe another shoot will come?  

I finally created a terrarium in the old one gallon fish bowl that Odette gave me (after Parker the cat broke the light in the cover) using some plants I collected from Syd's woods. I'm not sure if the bog moss will grow or the cranberry vines but the two other plants are doing well, one has put out new growth.

On another subject...one that some of you may recall, my traveling companion from my trip in 2017 out west has made contact with me after a long silence. She wanted to "update" me on her new house, her 4 dogs and two cats. I am aware of her animal collection but it seems she doesn't remember. She wanted to let me know how much impact I had on her life with all my organizational skills, practical knowledge and healing skills. However much she would like to "keep me in her life", I am still remembering all the bad things she subjected me to during that trip. At this time, I can't continue any communication with her. Seems she may have lied (or her son lied to his wife) about a serious health issue last September. Her son flew out to Memphis and spent 5 days with her. She didn't exactly deny the health emergency, but questioned how I found out. She was more concerned about who told me. Here's the thing...the money that her son used to fly to Memphis was to buy me an airline ticket to visit her son and daughter-in-law. So, I didn't make the trip to Washington state.

Enough for today. Thanks for reading this blog. Hopefully, more will come in the near future!

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.