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ctw1949
Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

May 28, Memorial Day Weekend
I went to Syd's yesterday to finish planting her flamed areas on her lawn. The previously seeded areas are sprouting nicely, clover is showing up now. I was surprised at how much actual grass remained from the flaming I did and drought from last year. Syd was mowing her grass, which had grown a lot over the past two weeks with all our rain. But I am not complaining after the three hot days we had  in mid-May. All her flamed areas are now planted. Tomorrow, Memorial Day (celebrated) it will rain. The ground has warmed up nicely and the grass & clover I planted yesterday should sprout fairly quickly. Syd's lawn will be nice by mid-June.

I have refurbished two of my Volvo's rims so I can buy new summer tires. There was a lot of rust on them, I used a wire wheel on an electric drill to remove most of the rust. Then, I hand-sanded both sides, blew them off with air and cleaned with brake cleaner. Two coats of rusty metal primer and two coats of aluminum paint made them look almost like new. I will go on Tuesday for new tires, a front end alignment & have the steering box trued up (so when the tires are pointing straight, my steering wheel will also be straight). I have had some front end work done on the car (tie-rod replaced and some other things done), so a front end alignment is necessary to prevent new tire wear.

In case I have neglected to mention this, I sent a certified letter to the RV repair business I hired to fix all the leaks in my camper roof. I gave them 7 days to contact me and within three days, I got a call from the son of the owner of the business. His first question was "What do you want?" I told him there was no way they would fix the camper since they already had their chance and failed miserably. I told him I would have to think about it and get back to him. Since it was the week before the "start of summer" I have resisted contacting them. The son (of the owner) said they can't find the pictures I sent (on two different occasions) of the camper roof. I have just re-sent some of the pix...but when I checked my email files, I realized they all were aware of my situation and offered no solutions except for me to do the work myself.

I have checked with the county court house small claims court and the maximum amount I can sue for is $7,000.00. I have documentation of all the money I spent on extra help to clean out my camper from mold, the cost of going to the laundromat to wash & dry my bedding, towels, etc. It will exceed the maximum amount allowed when I add in the estimate for repairing the damage to the camper due to all the leaking before I put up the tarp to cover the top of the camper. We shall see what they offer after they have read my email & seen the pix.

Today, I have done laundry (four loads) washed dishes (we ran out of hot water two days ago, I allowed the dished to pile up) and am icing my shoulder. I took a fall yesterday afternoon over a lawnmower Dean has out in the yard. I landed on my bad shoulder...icing it today, but it really is sore.

I will go out and do some raking where Dean weed whacked grass. The predicted rain will ruin any chance I have of doing it tomorrow, so best it is done today.

I hope all of you have a great Memorial Day Celebration. We will never forget...My Dad fought in the Korean Conflict, my Grandfather was a vet of WWII, my sister did two tours in the Navy in the mid-east. I come from a military family. We will never forget our heroes and what they sacrificed for our freedom.




Sunny after rain
I worked another day at Syd's, planting grass and clover seeds in some of the flamed areas of her lawn. It is easier to flame than prepare & plant! I got about half the flamed area planted & rolled out. The ground was soft since it had been raining for several days prior to planting. Syd has kept the seeded areas watered and the clover should sprout soon. We had two days of very high temps for May, setting heat records or at least almost setting heat records.

After two days of working at Syd's, I went to help my friend Lenny get his rental apartment ready to show. Two winters ago (winter 2015) we had record setting snow fall over the month of February. Many homes suffered damage from roof dams. Lenny's old house was one. Water came into the attic, soaking the blown-in insulation and two of the ceilings fell. His tenants moved out and he has been replacing the ceilings. Lenny is in his late 60's, works a farm and does a lot of machinery repairs to boot. It has taken him two years to get the ceilings all done so he can rent the apartment. I helped by cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. The heat came on the first day I cleaned and was just awful the second day. I finished all the necessary cleaning late Wednesday afternoon and I was whipped.

Thursday, I took the day and did some errands. Temps reached 95 in Boston before clouds came to cool things off. Yesterday, it was still warm, but not as warm as Thursday. Late yesterday, it cooled off and this morning, temps were in the high 50's with a nice northerly breeze.

I was so tired yesterday, I rested most of the day after doing some work around here. I did two loads of laundry on Thursday, including my bedding. I got my winter clothes and bedding ready to go into storage for the summer. Dean and I headed out to get our salt water fishing licenses, but we didn't have checks, they didn't take cash or debit cards. We will do our business at one of the local places that sells the licenses instead. The fishing season opens today.

Dean has headed off to a flea market this morning. I am getting myself together to see  my friend Shirley. I will go to court with her on Tuesday to settle a case against a non-paying tenant she had to evict. I was supposed to see her yesterday, but things just kept me from getting there.

Syd's grass should be sprouting today or tomorrow. She has been good about watering the seeded areas since it got so hot and dry. Some clover I planted last week here at Dean's has sprouted, so I know her grass should be on it's way to getting green.

I am headed out the door, but wanted to update this blog...as I have been lacking in my diligence. 
One day later
After working at Syd's yesterday for about 2 1/2 hours flame weeding a crap load of invasive weeds in her lawn (drought conditions allowed grass to die and weeds just took over several areas), I stopped off at Hollis' to wish her mom a Happy Mother's Day. BB went into say HI to everyone. Hollis' dad, Wayne, loves BB and how easy he is to get along with, how obedient he is and how much he loves their cats. Then headed to find some  cheap grass seed for Syd's lawn.

BB went with me to Syd's. He and Syd's dog Salty get along very well. Salty is a West Highland Terrier and very friendly. He and BB have pissing contests all over Syd's lawn. It is pretty funny since they have no pee left but still lift their legs. Salty is pretty much the only dog that BB gets along with. And they have similar interests...pissing contests!

I flamed a lot of areas at Syd's yesterday afternoon. More needs to be flamed, but I cut work off after 3 - 4 hours. I find I am not crippled if I limit myself to less than 5 hours of work. Not that flaming is hard, but I stand the entire time and my back gets tired.

I suggested planting some grass seed in the flamed areas and to supplement the grass seed with some clover seed (which I already have). Today, I will pick up my "Weasel" tool and my grass roller on my way to her place. I have to fill 2 - 20# LP containers so I have a good selection to switch to when the tanks ice up (this happens when gas comes out of an LP tank quickly, not something one sees when they are using LP to fire up a grill). Once the tank ices up, the LP pressure reduces dramatically and the flame gets very low. Having another tank (or two) to switch to allows continuing flaming. The iced tank takes probably an hour or more to defrost before you can use it again. Having three 20# tanks at the ready really helps speed up the job.

I should explain the Dragon Weeder. It is a torch with a squeeze valve to control the output of LP gas. I have rigged a stroller so I don't have to carry the 20# tank around, the tank is in the stroller. The torch puts out 55,000 btu's of flame. There is a gas line that gives me 15' of radius from the stroller where the LP tank is. Very handy for burning or flaming weeds, very dangerous in dry conditions. It is the certified organically accepted weed control I like best since results are immediate and visual. It is the preferred way to create a "stale seedbed". I also am a firebug. Using the flame weeder satisfies my inner firebug!

The "Weasel" tool (not sold anymore, I believe) turns the top few inches of soil. This reduces any digging in order to plant seed such as grass or clover, then a rake will bury the seed. I have a small, portable roller to tamp the earth down for better seed retaining. Since we have had such nice cool and damp weather, the seed will sprout readily and the grass will grow back into the bare areas and reduce weed growth (or at least I hope).

On my way to Syd's, I will stop at Lenny's house to check out his rental unit. He is finally ready to show it but some cleaning needs doing in the kitchen and bathroom. Mostly sheet rock dust from replacing the ceilings that fell in when we had heavy snow that caused huge ice dams on his roof, then the water leaked inside the eaves of the attic, resulting in two ceilings coming down. Lenny has been working on this project since summer 2015. But he works mostly alone and it is slow going. He knows I am good for cleaning, so I will do this job for him. I will assess the job to see what I need to bring to clean. I know I have to pick my vacuum up from storage before I start the job.

These two projects will take up the next three days. Thursday, I have an appointment in the afternoon and will take the day off. Friday, I hope to take my 91 year old friend out to lunch. Laura recently gave up her driving license since she doesn't feel as if she is up to the challenges of driving anymore. So, she is pretty much house bound, doesn't get out much. So, we will take a ride and go somewhere to eat.

This weekend, I hope to get around to finishing my Volvo rims so I can get my summer tires on the car. Right now, I am in violation since I am running my studded snow tires (after May 1). I am going to head to Pep Boys for two new tires, balancing all summer tires & front end alignment. I think the work I am doing now will help defray the cost of the tires & front end alignment.

I'm still trying to figure out how to work out the cross-country trip with Arianna. Dean will speak with his aunt and uncle over the next few days to see if they are interested in renting their RV to me for six weeks.

It is raining again. Seems it will continue most of the day on & off. But I will go to Syd's anyway and be happy I don't need a hose when I flame...it is too wet for anything to burn. Flaming is not so much to burn. The extreme heat causes the water in the plants to come to the boiling point and explodes all the cells in the leaves of the plant. This kills the growth above the ground and sets the plant back to dormancy. The plant has to pull energy from the root system to produce more leaves, exhausting the roots of the plant. By the time the plant can grow new leaves, the newly planted grass & clover seeds have sprouted and are growing. Flaming also burns up any new seeds, so flaming is done prior to planting any new seeds.

Time for me to get myself in gear for the day.

Happy damp & cool spring!
Mother's Day 2017
After swearing to myself I would be more faithful about writing in this blog, six weeks have gone by since my last entry. So, I will catch up somewhat.

April, most of the month, that is, was cool and damp. Many around here are complaining about the cool, damps, but I say...there is a virus that lives in nature. This virus kills Gypsy moth larvae. If spring is warm & dry, the virus languishes and the larvae eat all the tree leaves. If spring is cool & damp, the virus will grow and the Gypsy moth larvae die. Rather a cool & damp spring, as far as I am concerned!

Over the past month, I have accomplished little but much. I bought a box truck (the kind a contractor might have to store his equipment in so he can drive all he needs over to a job) for very little money. I paid to have it towed to Dean's place, sight unseen. It needs some repair where some rivets are leaking and floor needs to be replaced in the corners right under the leaks. Not to bad for what I paid. Within a few days after it was towed to Dean's, Lucas put his rough cut lumber into the box truck (without asking, I might mention). Lucas has been working on his table, but it has been slow going. I asked Dean if he might get Lucas to move all his (leftover) lumber out of the box truck by Wednesday so I can pressure wash the outside, the inside and start removing rusty rivets & seal the exterior. Since it has been so cool (in the 40's & 50's), I haven't had the desire to go out on a ladder (in the wind) and get the pressure washing done. But this week, temps will get into the 80's and weather will be perfect for this outside job. Plus, the interior will dry in the warm weather. The object of buying this box truck is so I can  move one of my storage unit contents into the box truck and relieve myself of one of my monthly $100.00 rental fees. The box truck will pay for itself in three months after I have relocated one storage unit into the box.

I moved my canoe from Lenny's in Rochester (where it was for three years) to Dean's. I have to repair the damage done by high winds that lifted the canoe off the top of a jeep, pushing the canoe onto an abandoned hay bailer. I didn't need that!!! I will have to purchase the repair kit from Old Town Canoe since this canoe is a special kind of material. Auto body filler won't work. That will cost about $100.00 + shipping.

I have been struggling with the new lock on the second storage unit I rented. About ten days ago, I went to put some things into storage and take out two of my summer tires. I couldn't get the key to open the dead bolt. The man who rents the house next to the garage (where my storage space is) came outside and he helped me with the dead bolt. He said he had problems with the new dead bolt, too. It came to my attention that the guy (Lucas) who built the wall to close off my storage space had problems with the new dead bold, too. And I let Dean try to use the key in the dead bolt and he had a hard time getting the key to work. Well, the guy who owns the garage (where my storage space is) has known about this challenge with the dead bolt for several months and has done nothing...until I cornered him and told him I really felt exposed when I was outside (in not a great neighborhood), struggling to get the dead bolt to unlock. I am still waiting to hear if he got the dead bolt to work...

On April 10, I woke up with a very swollen left side of my jaw. It was very tender and painful. The pain increased during the day, got so bad, I actually thought about going to the dentist. Then I remembered I have been diagnosed with TMJ (or is it TJM?) and had physical therapy for it some years back. I also have a problem with the salivary gland on that side of my face. Seems it doesn't function right and fills up with saliva. I have to massage it to get the saliva to come out. But my jaw was just too painful to touch, never mind massage. By Tuesday, I was in agony, but thought about going to the doctor or dentist and decided I would tough it out. Tuesday, I started to douse the inside of my mouth with Rescue Remedy as well as the outside of the swollen area. By Wednesday, the swelling had subsided to the point where I could massage the swelling.  The amount of saliva that came out of the jaw was amazing! Friday, it was as if it had never happened. I know if I went to the doctor, she would have sent me to the dental clinic where they would have insisted I had abscessed teeth that needed extracting. All they want to do at that dental clinic is pull your teeth. The older you are, the quicker they are to dismiss any dental repair. My insurance doesn't pay for any dental work such as root canals, crowns, etc. Nor does it pay for any bridge work or dentures. They just pull your teeth and leave you with gums. Nice, huh?

In early April, I got in contact with a friend I hadn't seen since the mid 1990's when she left Vermont for Memphis. We did write after she moved, but we lost contact some years back. I found her on Linkedin...and she responded. She wants to take a cross country trip this summer and I want to go with her. So, I have been trying to figure out how to make this work. My Volvo's motor is just too small to tow my camper. I have thought of renting a vehicle to tow the camper so we don't have to tent out or stay in motels. Besides we will both have dogs with us and some motels are not dog friendly. So, I am working on that idea...but remembered Dean's aunt and uncle have a nice RV that they NEVER use. I asked Dean to approach them about my renting their RV...it is a Georgetown, very nice and well equipped. It is set up to tow a vehicle, so I could drive the RV to Memphis, rent a trailer and load my friend's RAV 4 onto the back of the trailer and off we go. Wouldn't this be nice and easy? But who knows if they will go for it. I am sure I would have to  pay for the insurance, etc, but the trade off from tenting & motel rooms would pay for the rental of the unit easily.

I have been working on a small garden area on the east side of Dean's house. At one time, Dean was trying to grow flowers, but he didn't have time to work the area. I have been slowly removing the grass and planting some flowers where I have removed the sod. I can't do too much of this work at once since it will activate the pain in my hip, so slow it goes.

Well, I am headed to my friend Syd's this afternoon to flame weed some bad stuff around her place. So, I will close for today. Happy Mother's Day to all.





April Fools Day
April has come on with a vengeance. Sideways rain on 50 mph gusts. Bungee cords are clanging against the camper and I always hope they will hold the tarp over the top and not snap. So far, so good. I do change the bungee cords every few months to keep the tarp secure and rain off the top of the camper since it leaks.

I was writing a friend of my experiences with doctors. I thought it might be a good post, so here goes!


On the subject of doctors, I have declined almost everything my doctor offers me for medication. No shots in the sore shoulder, knee or hip. No statins, no vaccinations for shingles, pneumonia or any other disease they want to "protect" us from. I do use an inhaler to help me breathe, fluoride toothpaste and I have a Rx for painkillers (which I seldom use). My doc questions why I want to have my cholesterol checked since I won't do anything to lower it. I tell her I like to be an informed patient and she has no right to deny me the test. Sometimes, she and I are at loggerheads, but I do like her better than other docs I have had. At least she listens. Before I had her, the NP who "treated" me was a real jerk. Five years I complained of back pain and she did nothing. She was a nurse practitioner, supposed a geriatric specialist. She had nothing but criticism for me but wouldn't test me for Lyme. Because I wouldn't take statins, she cut off other medication I was on at that time. Take this or I will take away that! Like she was my mother! Anyway, I got a different person (a real doctor) to take care of me. 

I did take Rx arthritis medication for some time in the late 90's and early 2000. I was on Vioxx, which made me bleed internally, caused great pain in the abdomen. I was on several other arthritis medications, all had little effect or made me bleed internally. I think I was a guinea pig since I no longer see these drugs advertised. I was also diagnosed with h.pylori, a bacterial infection in the gut, but would have never known if the arthritis drugs hadn't made me bleed internally. Seems about 50% of people in the US have h.pylori and don't know it.

BTW, in 2009, my new doctor sent me for physical therapy for my back pain, but when that didn't help, she sent me to a back specialist. The MRI showed I have a bulging disc in my L3-L4 region. Plain as day on the MRI, which I took on  a CD to the back specialist. He ordered a TENS unit which helps a lot. Less pain killers, better pain management. However effective, my insurance wouldn't pay for it...but they did pay for the pain killers. What a system!l The company that made the TENS unit has a scholarship program for those who can show financial hardship, but it took me days to find that out. I didn't have to pay for the TENS unit in the end.

In late summer, 2002, I experienced a lot of pain in my right hip & thigh. The pain ran right down into my foot and ended up in my toes. At that time, I had a large veggie market garden and a full-time job off the farm. The pain was so severe, I couldn't walk without clenching my teeth. So bad, I cracked a molar. The pain didn't subside when resting. At the time, I was being treated by a specialist in arthritis. I was regulated to the recliner. Couldn't even take my dogs for a walk. I had a MRI and waited for the results for over two hours in the arthritis specialist's exam room. Seems they had forgotten I was there!

The arthritis specialist who was treating me, the one who kept me waiting for two hours (in New Bedford for excruciating pain in my hip & leg), gave me a Rx for Perks (250 count), said take as many as I needed and told me to come back to get more any time I needed more. She told me they were not habit forming. When I saw the bottle from the pharmacy, a bigger bottle than I had ever seen before, (I did some online research on "opiod") with the word "opiod" on the label,  I realized all the doctor wanted to do was to pacify me and get me hooked on drugs. I grew up in the 60's and saw a LOT of drug use. I didn't want to go there.

Shortly after I filled the huge Rx for Perks, I called Mass Gen Hosp and saw the head of the oncology department (since my MRI suggested I might have bone cancer but the "specialist" in New Bedford said this was an unnecessary test). A bone scan and second MRI was scheduled, with the results in hand, I saw the MGH doctor. He said the cysts were not growing (one of his concerns). He was the one who explained to me (no diagnosis or reason for the crippling pain was given by the "specialist" I saw down here in New Bedford) what was happening to me. Seems they had NEVER seen this particular condition before. I was a curiosity, my condition unknown at this teaching hospital. Medical students crowded into the exam room, the MRI's hanging on the light boards. However, he told me what was going on, how to deal with it and what the prognosis was. I had a cyst in the head of the femur and another in the acatabulum (pelvis). They were somehow connected, even tho' they were in different bones. He suggested I may have had them from birth, they didn't know.  Since my lifestyle had been so active, he suggested there were micro-fissures in the cartilage in my hip joint from all the heavy work. I had recently developed arthritis in my hip. When the synovial fluid (surrounding the hip joint)  became inflamed with arthritis, it was pushed through the micro-fissures in the cartilage when I did heavy work. The inflamed fluid went into the cysts, spreading the inflammation and the cysts swelled inside my bones.

He said the pain must be excruciating. I said "Mind Bending" and he agreed. Solution: I had to have an entire lifestyle change. No more gardening, pushing a lawnmower, hiking, standing or sitting for more than 20 minutes. No lifting. He was the one who suggested I go on disability. Since I was so young, my insurance was not going to pay for a new hip. I was 53 at the time. At that time, I had a 1/4 ac. market garden and was also working full time off the farm. I didn't believe him and tried to continue my gardening and other heavy work. That put me right back into bed for another few weeks.

I had to wrap my head around my disability. It was very hard not to do the things I loved and lived to do. It took me a year to recover from the pain that came any time I did any heavy work. At that time, I was taking Perks & 800 mg. Ibuprofen 3X a day. I stopped taking the Ibuprofen and  needed less pain killers. I saved my stomach and liver. It made no sense that the anti-inflammatory caused a higher use of opiods, but it did.

I have been on the same dose of perks since fall of 2002. I have not become addicted, nor have I had an increase in dosage or amounts. To the contrary, since I stopped taking the high doses of Ibuprofen and the "epidemic" of deaths due to overdoses, my Rx has been decreased. I now have to see my primary doc every 90 (vs. 180) days for a Rx renewal. This costs my insurance an additional $800. per year. I have to wonder about our medical insurance and our law makers. Always complaining about how high our medical costs are, but I am punished because I really need these pain killers. I am not an abuser, but when I need a pain killer, I really need it. I push the pain away till I can't stand it anymore. 

I applied for disability in the late spring of 2004. I am the only person I know that was granted disability without any battle what so ever. I was very surprised when my bank account showed money and I had no idea of the source. When I called the bank, they told me it was the state who put the money in my account. I called the state disability office. Seems they FORGOT to send me the notification that my request for disability had been granted. I get very little money from the feds & state, but it is better than what little Social Security I get now that I am over 65. This is why I live in a camper rather than trying to rent an apartment. I don't have enough money to pay for rental, car insurance, car repairs, food, etc. I wouldn't be able to take care of BB my dog, either.

I have the doctor at MGH to thank for the ease of my application being accepted for disability. I don't know what he wrote to the disability board, but I am grateful for his input on my case. There is no way I could work a full-time job for any amount of time without a relapse into pain.

Next, I will go to get my marijuana medical card. I have a friend who gets specially grown mj for pain. I tried some and it WORKS!!! Don't get sleepy or stupid, just less pain. Fewer Perks. Maybe someday, there will be no pain killers out of the bottle.

I know acupuncture helps, but can't afford it. Insurance won't pay. For a short time after my diagnosis at MGH, I did have a job (I took care of a 98 year old man, did the night shift) and could pay for acupuncture. It really worked, for two weeks...pain free. But not now, income is too small.

This is only one small excerpt from the medical care I have had since I began seeing doctors on a regular basis. Much of the care I have received in New Bedford has been poor, at best...at least till I got my current doctor.

If it weren't for Romney (when he was governor of MASS) and his blanket health care law, I probably would still be in pain. For those of you who might not know, Obama Care was formed using Romney's health care for the state of Mass as his model for the our current medical care system.

Thanks for reading my blog. Always welcome comments and suggestions!