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Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

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.
Life at the apartment complex
The first day of Labor Day weekend is here. The hurricane Dorian is approaching the Florida coast, now upgraded to a category 4 storm. My brother lives in Tallahassee, sisters in GA & NC, all will suffer from this storm. I hear the storm surge will be huge on the coastal areas and the northern coast will have effects by next weekend.

Last weekend here at the apartment complex was interesting, to say the least! On Saturday, one of my resident friends who has a garden plot next to mine caught another resident stealing her tomatoes. The story goes that she saw someone in our garden area and went for a look-see. She saw him taking tomatoes from her ex-hubby's garden's tomato plants. She knew her ex hadn't given permission for anyone to take tomatoes. She watched the thief...but he saw her and exited that area, carrying a bag of tomatoes. The tomato thief walked towards other garden plots with the bag of tomatoes, hid the bag and came out. My friend went looking for the bag and found it, full of almost ripe and green tomatoes. On Monday, she reported the thief to management. We are not sure what will happen, but this thief, always out in the common area where the sitting benches are has been absent since early last week.

Sunday afternoon, I went out to pick some parsley from my garden. A resident parked his pick-up truck in the fire lane, right by the sitting benches. He turned on his radio (or CD player?) full volume, opened his doors and walked away from the truck. Two of the residents were already sitting out on the benches...but they left. Others who are fond of loud music were outside. I took a video of the scenario. I didn't mind the music, but the volume was just inconsiderate.

Monday I was outside and the group of people (listening to the loud music Sunday afternoon) asked me why I took the video of the truck parked in the fire lane with doors open. I neither denied or admitted taking a video. The confrontation made me very uncomfortable. I reported this incident to management the same day.

Later this week, the residents who had the tomatoes stolen from their gardens were accosted (this is the only way I can describe the situation, even though I was not present) by a group of residents who know the tomato thief and obstructed their way back into the building. My friend's ex stood up to them and they were allowed to pass. The next morning, the group was reported to management. I don't know what will happen.

Since the new manager came on board (early January, 2019), things have improved with the overall situation in the building. There was a group of party-goers every weekend on the third floor, they would party all night and wake other residents. The street was always parked up with cars of non-residents. Earlier this year, I noticed there were actually parking spaces on the street. Seems the new manager has taken care of that situation.

I locked myself out of my apartment in mid-August...a fine of $30.00. I wonder if this is sanctioned by HUD, who supports the low-income, senior and disabled residents. Anyone who has any information on this subject, please let me know.

A resident-friend of mine went into the hospital on Wednesday. I drove him into St. Luke's outpatient surgery Wednesday at 8 am. He was to be released on Thursday. He is still in hospital today. I have no idea what is going on with him but I will go visit him later today.

Landscaping is on hold right now. The property owner is having some reconstruction work done on her house and a steady stream of company as the summer draws to an end. I hope to return to the job next week.

BB the dog is doing pretty well this season with his Seresto collar. He doesn't have any fleas but is now starting to itch. Seems every late August and into September, he gets itchy and will lick himself into hot spots. He had a clip job on Monday and a bath on Thursday but woke me up this morning at 4:45 with his licking. I gave him a sponge bath, put him on the bed with me. He knows the rules...no licking in the bed! We will soon go to the park for a nice walk. 

EEE is here in MASS & RI. Several people have contracted EEE from infected mosquitoes. MASS has had several aerial sprayings along with a lot of ground fogging in the parks and recreational areas. One local person has died from EEE. Most parks are closed before dusk now as the threat spreads into different areas. EEE is now on Cape Cod.

I am looking forward to cooler days and the end of the heat.

Thanks for reading!

Life in general

Well, here we are looking at Labor Day weekend already!!! It has been a fairly good summer, punctuated by very humid, hot days with cool rainy days. This summer, we didn't have such a drought, but the high heat has taken it's toll on gardens. Lawns are now getting brown from too much short mowing which seems to be an epidemic around here.

I have been working at my friend's in Rochester and have done some splendid work with the help of Sam, my assistant. He learns as we work and I don't have to do the heavy lifting. Together, we have edged, removed soil, sifted soil, added soil amendments, replaced soil, mulched and created beautiful areas. The battle continues, but we are gaining.

During our digging out of bad grasses & weeds, we discovered two clumps of "mystery bulbs". I was at a loss to identify these bulbs and sought outside help from some "experts". Some had no idea, others tried to tell me they were daffodils!. I knew better and continued to search. On the Fedco seed website, late in summer, they had some miscellaneous bulbs...and I was able to identify the bulbs as Resurrection Lilies. I was so excited to discover these bulbs bloom in mid-summer! They are related to Amaryllis but hardy in this area. I have the bulbs resting in a covered planter and of all things, some are blooming in the planter, no dirt, no water! What a surprise!

Meanwhile, I was working around the bulkhead area and discovered some bad things going on there. Using my experience as a home inspector and painter for the past 40 years, I showed the homeowner the issues that probably need to be addressed...rusted out bulkhead, no proper shingling of one area around the bulkhead, wet & rotted wood, leaking into the stairs to the basement. I suggested an alternative approach to the basement entrance. A small addition allowing a real door for entry and removing the bulkhead altogether. I figured with all the work that needed to be done to correct the water damage, she would spend more money but in the end, have an easier access to the basement. She called her contractor and they began work on the basement situation almost immediately. When I went to check on the plants I potted up for later re-planting in the beds, I saw that the entire corner of the house had been water-damaged and was replaced. Along side of the new work on the house is the new entry for the basement. It is so sweet! A real steel door with a window, the new entryway is now waiting for shingles. All in about two weeks! Installing the new roof was a challenge but the contractor did a sweet job in a very small area under a second floor deck.

Right now, our yard work is on hold. It has been too humid & hot to work outside, so I have concentrated on my inside work in the apartment and on my projects. I have now completed a chest of drawers and two small trunks. I am thrilled that I have been able to get this far with all the logistics with these projects.

My garden has been doing very well. Yesterday, I pulled out the basil, made & froze pesto for winter. I hope to plant a fall crop of spinach and radishes today. The lettuce I planted two weeks ago is doing well. The parsley has been home to many Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars! I had Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars in my Borage! Such a treat for living in the city.

Last week, my neighbor caught someone stealing tomatoes from her (and another's)  garden. A bag of tomatoes, both green and getting red. I am speechless about this! She saw him picking tomatoes, he took the bag and hid it in some weeds. She scouted around and found the bag of tomatoes. There were several pounds of tomatoes in the bag! She will inform management this morning...

Earlier this year, someone took the first two hot peppers out of my garden...maybe the same person?

Downy mildew has come for the squash and cukes, so I sprayed with a Neem spray last week.

A neighbor just stopped in...I will pick this up later.
Life in general
Here we are in August already! This summer has been a blend of hot, oppressive weeks punctuated with two or three delightful days. The work at Syd's gardens continues with the help of Sam, who is just indispensable. He has a great work ethic, so seldom found these days. We have completed renovating the garden on the east side of the house. Now, I am going to work on designing the layout of the bed using the plants that we have removed and finding some other favorites that Syd has requested.

I did discover the identity of the mystery bulbs that were clustered together in two places in this garden bed. They are
Lycoris squamigera or Magic Lily. They haven't bloomed because they are so overcrowded and in need of dividing. There are so many bulbs, I don't think we can replant all of them! They bloom in mid-summer and are great for cutting. I am so thrilled to discover what they are!

The apartment complex seems to have another (continuing) outbreak of bed bugs!!! I am still keeping them at bay. At the residents meeting yesterday,  we were told the hallways and other common areas cannot be sprayed for bedbugs due to people & pets walking on the sprayed areas. I wonder if these areas could be sprayed during the night? Of course, the management denied an outbreak, but I know who has had them on my floor. There are others we don't know about. The conversation was abrupt and went away quickly. I spray carts, left out for residents, with Zodiac carpet and upholstery spray which will kill bedbugs as well as fleas.

I just got a call from a neighbor and she is coming over to talk...so bye for now.