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My vision is to create a business from my garden, so that I can afford to leave my job, have the garden as income, and paint and write. I also want my customers to read the story of my garden, look at pictures, and get an idea of the process of the work of the garden.

Monday, June 30, 2003

I asked my husband to dig up the arugula bed--the flea beetles distroyed it pretty much, and it's not worth harvesting any of it. He pulled some potato plants and the yield is small--but I harvested some potatoes to give to my customers. The summer lettuce is superb! And peas are coming in. Beets are still small, not growing much, but the greens are beautiful. And the broccoli raab is being attacked by flea beetles, but it still looks pretty good, and I have a couple of trays coming to re-plant. Everything else, zucchini, cucumbers, melons are starting to grow lush. The eggplants have some flea beetle damage, but they seem to be withstanding it. If I had enough ree-may, I would cover all of these, but I really need the ree-may for the collards and kale. Next year--I plan to build into my business plan to have enough ree-may for these plants that are susceptible to squash beetles, and flea beetles. Tomatoes are looking good, and are growing well. Peppers are starting to show the fruit. Still need to get labels for the jam, and need to make red current jelly and gooseberry jam this weekend, so I need to buy jars and lids. The raspberry crop is looking like it will be a good one, and I want to make some early raspberry jam, but mostly I can freeze those for making jam later. I have to keep an eye on the apples, as we will no doubt get some good early apples for making applesauce with.

I pulled up all the tat tsoi--flea beetle damage, and have no more of the japanese greens, but I have a flat of bok choi starting in the house, and perhaps the flea beetles will be gone by the time I put them into the ground. The basil is growing nicely, and I want to find a place for my lush crop of lavendar plants.

I was tired last night, and starting to feel like it is too much work for all of this. I know that I just have to work through these feelings, and by proper planning, I will be able to get the most for the least--at least in theory. The fall is a key time to prepare the beds with cow manure, cover crops, and double-digging. In the lower field, now, we have planted buckwheat, and it will smother a lot of the weeds that are so difficult there. By cutting the buckwheat when it flowers, and creating raised beds, and put fabric down in the pathways, we will be able to control the weeds a lot better next spring. I am thinking of putting my strawberry bed there, however, and I want to do them in rows on black plastic. Well, maybe not. I'm not sure. It's near the road, and I want something there that is pretty. Maybe the cutting garden should go there.

On another note, I went to New York on Friday. The bus trip in was way too long, with the traffic, and the detours that we had to take for some reason. I left Lambertville at 4 and go into New York at 7--for a trip that from Clinton usually doesn't take more than 1 1/2 hours. But I got there, and had time on the bus to read some spiritual stuff from the AA's twelve and twelve book. When I got to the city, I decided to walk uptown rather than deal with the new metro cards, which I need to get the hang of. It was great to walk from Port Authority to the Hilton, and it was perfect new York weather, hot and steamy, people crowded everywhere, although it tested my patience with the crowds along 42 street, where it seemed difficult to get through some of the people waiting to see movies. And along sixth avenue I noticed a lot of these bicycle-driven taxi jitneys that seem to be a new thing. There were a lot of them, and one I remember bicycling past me with a woman as passenger, and she was languidly smoking a cigarette--probably the only place where one can sit down and smoke in New York right now in public. And everyone has a cell phone to their ear. I was definitely in the minority. It's funny, but when we had a cell phone, we rarely used it, only for necessary things. And we never gave anyone the number, and never had the phone on, when we weren't using it. But I would like to get one, perhaps later this summer when we start getting a bit more income.

The lecture was good, but I was leery. She is kind of a new-age guru, and I read her book, Loving What Is--and it has some good, practical stuff to keep the negative and projecting thoughts at bay. She said that "we either believe our thoughts, or we question our thoughts" and has the questions to apply to every thought that causes stress. All very good, and usable. And I can use her "work" in my own life. And I now she was there to try to get people to sign up for the $225 weekend (saturday) seminar. But at least all the money stuff was done with some class, and she presented a good program.

Another tool for the toolbox.

I took the subway down to the village, finally daring to deal with the metro card at the vending machines, and got down there in no time. Randy was home, and I stayed in Mary's little room. Randy's mother just died, and he sat up with me for an hour talking. I told him about the lecture. He knows a lot about my life, and I now a bit about his and mary's, so we could talk pretty easily about matters of the heart.

I came back to PA early the next morning, but I was really tired, and decided, after working in the garden for a few hours, to take a nap, something I rarely do. I ended up sleeping all afternoon, having a kind of epic dream, where the material is so real, but extreme situations, and dramatic, and I woke up wondering how my mind can create such activity, out of what, that seems so believable.

Now I am back at work on Monday, and I am going to go and get those labels at lunch. My friend who came to the meeting with me last Thursday, told me this morning that she is not ready to stop drinking. That she can control it, and it is her boyfriend's drinking that she wants to understand and perhaps control, because it is only when she is with him that she drinks out of control. I will not push her. Now she knows where the meeting is, and when she is ready, if that happens, she knows where to go. Detach with love. I will however, try to find her an Al-anon meeting that she can attend. She wants to focus on the relationship, and that will be a good place for her to get some help.

Back to work.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Today a double dose of therapeutic activity. First, went to the meeting at 7 am, and my friend did show up. The meeting was a powerful one, where I heard a lot of good things, and one funny but true acronym--Son Of a Bitch, Everything's Real! Get it? SOBER.

Then I had a meeting with therapist at noon. He said it was going to be the Tick Session, as I told him all the stories about the ticks. Aside from the greusome details, I laughed a lot, and we talked about stuff.

I want to go to New York tomorrow night to see Byron Katie, who wrote a book called "Loving What Is." She's giving a seminar on Saturday, to which I am not going, but she's also having a two hour discussion/lecture (free), that I will go to. I used to go hear Marianne Williamson at Town Hall years ago, and enjoyed that. Lots of people from the Program went to hear her, and so I would often see a number of people I knew, or recognized. I am always looking for additional support to enhance my sobriety.

I am not sure I am going. I need a place to stay overnight, and can't get in touch with Mary Bassett yet, to ask if I can stay there. I have some other options, but I don't know how much energy I will put into it. I could come back on the bus, but I would have to miss part of the discussion/lecture, unless I took the 11:30 bus, which gets into Clinton at 1 am. I am not going to ask Michel to meet me at that late hour, so I want to stay over and take an early morning bus back.

I am feeling so good from the meeting this morning, that maybe I don't need any more spiritual input! Ha!

I don't like this hot weather. Flea beetles attacked the arugula stand, and it looks awful. I think I will just pull it all up and put a cover crop there until I figure out what else to plant. I can use that plot for my fall garden, so if I put in a cover crop for the next month, it will grow quickly and smother the stupid bindweed that's taken root there.

We have a clutch of baby ducks that were born (hatched) today outside our office building, in the back courtyard. Everyone is worried because the mother built her nest on the ledge (sort of a brick wall about three and a half feet high), and we are afraid that the babies will fall from the ledge and die. Now, I just went out to look at them, the mother is gone for now, and the babies are under a bush planted on the ledge, and I saw a co-worker and she's afraid that a hawk will come. We are all afraid of one thing or another with them. We were afraid when she was sitting that a passersby would hurt her, or the groundskeepers would scare her off her nest with their loud equipment. Now it's another story. And either I start getting anxious, or I refuse to think about it. Creative Services took a picture of them all and sent it to all of us, and I put it on my desktop.

Still didn't get labels. Can't seem to get moving.
Need to bring broccoli and salad greens tomorrow for a co-worker.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Went to the meeting this morning. Heard someone say (can only paraphrase) that Life is neutral. It doesn't "do" anything to us. It just is. It is what we do with what happens that causes us to suffer. Well, I am still a reacter, and I still react to everything with heightened emotions. I need to hear other voices inside my head aside from my own, which are often up to no good, and the meetings help me to hear solutions to all my ills.

Delivered to two clients. At the second one, no one was home, and I had been instructed that that might be the case, and to put the stuff in the frig. Well, there was a lot of stuff from last week, hadn't been touched, and some was starting to turn. So I took it out of their frig, and put it in my car to give to the chickens, or to compost. And I left a note with my invoice, alerting them to the fact that I replaced the greens. I know only the husband is home right now, for a couple of weeks, and his wife asked me to deliver anyway, but I bet he isn't even preparing his own meals while she is gone. Well, it's none of my business, I found it funny that the greens were still there, unused. Now, my crazy mind would love to read something into this, but I am going to let it go and not think about it.

My client at work is going away for two weeks, and I won't bring anything for him. That gives me a breather tonight, as my stepdaughter and her husband are coming, and I won't have to harvest. I can make up the money when I put out the table for the farmstand. Still didn't get labels for the jam. Have to do that on Friday.

I saw a market umbrella today at CVS for nineteen dollars. Have to talk to Michel about it, and go to BJ's to look at their umbrellas. I need one that is solid, and stable. If we just put out a table, do we drill a hole in it and put the umbrella sticking up out of the home, will it stay stable and not blow over in a wind? It can get windy in that area.

Tonight I can relax, still have to plant, have japanese eggplants to put out, and summer lettuce. Michel got trays ready for fall garden seedlings, and have to thin more of the plants in the house. Have to check supplies, plastic bags, etc. But we will have a nice dinner, pasta with fresh shrimp and garlic, and swiss chard thrown into the mix, salad greens.

I'm happy my friend wants to come to the meeting tomorrow. I told her I would wait outside or at the door until the meeting started. I hope she comes. If not, now at least, she knows where it is.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Feeling kind of groggy at the moment. It was no doubt the piece of cake pressed into my hand at a baby shower given to coworker in the large conference room a half hour ago. I had a moment where I could have put the paper plate on the table, but I rationalized that it wouldn't hurt to take bite, just to participate, expecially since the alcohol in the punch was smelling so strong. It was a sickly-sweet-looking pastel-colored frosting-laden yellow cake, and I thought it would be too much, but I liked it, and ate the whole piece. Now I feel off. A number of people commented on the dark glasses and that they heard about the tickbite. Each time this brings up old stuff.

Last night driving home from work, something hurt me between two fingers on my right hand. It couldn't be, I thought, but it was. I was driving, and with my prescription dark glasses, couldn't really get a clear look, but I knew it was yet another tick. I wanted to pull over, but had to stop for gas anyway, so I waited till I got to the gas station. While the man was filling up the tank, I took off my glasses and peered closely at the area, and there was indeed another miniscule tick biting me between my ring finger and my little finger. How in the world did I get it on me, having been at work all day, and I didn't even go outside for lunch? What is the lesson that the universe is trying to teach me?

I do have issues around ticks. Let's see. I remember my mother digging one of the large dog ticks out of my scalp when I was little. She did everything harshly, and that was not an exception. Another time I almost burned the house down as a teenager when I found a tick crawling on me, and tried to kill it with a burning match, only to drop the match on a kleenex, which exploded into flames, which caught onto the kitchen curtains. I was able to get the fire out, but was pretty shaky. Okay, that's the extent of my tick experiences. I am going to stop this right now, and put the tic-dread to rest.

I need to harvest tonight. Picked the salad this morning, and Michel was going to spin it. I am now putting nasturtium blossoms into the salad mix bags. It looks so pretty that way. I have two bunches left of senposai, and will pick swiss chard, kale, arugula, parsley, and maybe broccoli. Beets still not quite big enough, but soon.

I am taking someone to the meeting on Thursday. This is what it is all about.

Monday, June 23, 2003

This morning I delivered to one client: 1 bag salad greens, 1 bag stir-fry mix, 1/ doz eggs, 1 bunch of broccili, 1 bunch each swiss chard, flat-leaf parsley, senposai, arugula, chiogga beets, mixed turnips, and 1 bag of spinach.

The spinach is finished, as is the Senposai and Marobi Santoh. Michel will clear the bed and add some dried blood, and I will plant the melon seedlings still left over. Things will shift this week, as I will have more beets and turnips to harvest, the rest of the broccoli, although I'm thinking I will not pull the plants, as the broccoli plants will still send up smaller shoots to harvest for a while. I will also have peas to harvest, and we will see if there are any potatoes ready. Michel will get ready some more trays for seeding, asI need to start on the Fall Garden.

Things to do this week: I need to thin carrots and beets, plant the japanese eggplants, fertilize the kale and collards, and watch out this week for the harlequin beetle, as we are expecting a heat wave. That bug distroyed my entire Fall Garden last year, and it overwinters in the soil, so I have to watch out for its emergence. Of course, where it was last year I avoided planting any of the brassicas, so it will have to search to find them, but I am ready. I got some pyrethrin/rotenone concentrate (which is approved by certifying agencies for use in organic gardens). My plan is to use it if I see an infestation, and to use row covers on the beds that have been sprayed, to keep bees and other beneficials from contact. The problem is, it also kills earthworms. So I will have to accept that. I know from years of organic gardening, that the key to plant health is healthy soil. But last summer we had a drought, and it seems the reason for the infestation was that. All the plants were under stress, even with lots of mulch to keep the moisture in the soil. Also, one thing is I saw them the year before on the kale, not as bad, but they were there, and we had a drought that summer, too. I didn't know what they were, and didn't pay too much attention until last year, when they emerged, and found the brassicas. By the time my fall seedings were in the ground, they had multiplied heavily. In all the literature I saw, they are usually found in the south, up to Virginia. Well, Virginia isn't that far for them to travel up to PA.

Have to check for Potato Beetles, this week as well.

Still more ticks. Found two tiny ones on me last night in the bath. So we have to do tick checks every night from now on, until they go away. My eye is much better today, though still unsightly. I found an old pair of prescription sunglasses I had in college, and I look "au courant." I hope, in them. Everyone is gone from work this afternoon, going to play miniature golf, part of the Summer Camp initiated by Human Resources. Since I am now on the antibiotic for Lyme's and am supposed to stay out of the sun, I begged off. And I need to make up some work I lost on Friday. But I hope to leave early, anyway.

I did get to my flowers this weekend, and on my way home from work intend to buy some bags of mulch to put in the flower bed to help it out some.

Michel and I talked a lot about re-configuring some of our property to add more garden beds, but ornamental, this time. And privacy area for people to sit in shade, and look at some of the gardens. I'm tired today. Part of the antibiotic effects, I think.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

My eye is a bit better today, although I did have to pry it open this morning. But at least it didn't awaken me with intense pain as in the past two days. The antibiotics are kicking in.

We might get some sun today. It is trying to come out. I need to get about 7 or 8 flats of plants planted today, because the rest of the week it will be sunny and hot. That will give the melons, basil, and tomatoes, and eggplants the jolt they need to get moving.

I need to harvest tonight. But only for one client tomorrow morning, unless my friend in Finesville decides she wants to come today and buy some produce. I talked with Michel about how we are going to set up our 'farmstand' which will happen in the next couple of weeks as the potatoes are ready to be harvested. I just want a table, and we need to make a couple of fairly large signs. Everything this year will be totally portable and easy to set up, as I don't expect the farmstand to take off for a couple of years. We just don't get the road traffic here. I think it will be a word-of-mouth thing, and eventually we will be known for having the farmstand.

While I have a full-time job, and while we are not able to bring in enough income with the garden for me to leave the job, the whole enterprise will need to grow slowly.

This week I have to get labels for jam, will go to Peddlar's Village in Lahaska, where there is a cooking-wares store, and I got nice labels there last year. Have to think of how to get labels with our logo on them, for next year, or maybe for the fall.

Also need to use up the raspberries in the freezer, as I will be freezing new raspberries for making jam later in the season. I will give my customers fresh raspberries, but will put aside the major crop for jam-making, when the weather cools down in the fall, unless I have the time to do it this summer, and it isn't too hot. I will think about that. But I will soon be making jam with gooseberries, and red currents. Also need to keep any eye out (only have one good eye anyway, right now) for other fruits coming into season.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

I managed to publish today's blog twice. Still don't have the hang of this process.
It's raining, still. The garden is happy, though. With raised beds the drainage is very very good. All the plants are healthy. Even the tomatoes are growing. Michel weeded some areas, and they look Frenchified.

The story of the tick, continued. I didn't post on my blog yesterday. Instead, I woke up with a very bad eye infection. This was curious to me, because Thursday at work, during my lunch hour I was writing in my blog, and I started to write about the tiny tick on my eyelid. By late afternoon Thursday, the site where I had been bitten had started to swell. I think I was unconsciously aware of something happening there, and my writing about it was no coincidence. When I got home, the swelling had increased. I told Michel that I was going to call the doctor first thing in the morning. The pain in the lid area of my eye woke me up. I took an advil and after a while the pain went away, but the swelling was pretty bad. I called the doctor's office and left a message, as they wouldn't get in until 8:30am. They called shortly after that and arranged for me to come in at 11 am. So I called my job and told my boss that I needed to go to the doctor, that I had been bitten by a tick, and thought that it needed attention. I drove to the doctor's office, and after waiting a half-hour in the waiting room reading magazines, I was called into a room; the nurse took my blood pressure, and she sympathized with the look of my right eye--which had swelled considerably. Then she left, and I waited for John, the doctor. So I'm flipping through a magazine, and I looked down at my left forearm and noticed a tiny spot that hadn't been there before, and realized that there was another tick on my arm.

Years ago my cousin, who was a teenager when I was a child, had all kinds of magazines that were interesting to me, that he kept hidden in his room. I remember one which had a scantily clad woman on the cover (well, they all did) and she, and some guy were fighting there way through the jungle and they were surrounded by huge ticks. Or maybe they were spiders. Anyway, the vision was terrifying. I was starting to feel the same sense of terror as I contemplated the tick on my arm while coping with the sensation of a swollen and blurry right eye.

Another tick horror story came to mind. When I was nineteen, I lived with a wealthy family in Greenwich Connecticut as a mother's helper. They had adopted a little girl, and I took care of her for nine months, and after that they adopted a baby boy. They had a beautiful house, needless to say, which had been designed by the woman's father, who was a past president of the American Institute of Architects. The house was very contemporary, with huge glass windows, outside decks over a ravine, and an inner courtyard, around which the house rambled. They had two large collie dogs who slept on the corridor floor outside the bedroom of the baby boy. I was the one who went in to the baby's room in the morning to get him up, and usually had to step over the sleeping dogs.

One morning I went down the corridor, and noticed something strange, like a film on the wall. As I examined it closely, to my dread and horror, the wall was covered with thousands of tiny ticks, which were climbing up the wall. Tick eggs, either embedded somehow in the dog's long hair, or which had been laid in the persian rugs on which the dogs slept, had all hatched at the same time. Now, it may have been hundreds of ticks, not thousands, and my vision had distorted the scene, but the sensation was the same. The nightmare scenario, in which nature invades or threaten horrifically. We got the children out without harm, and later they had the house fumigated, ruining some rare wooden floors.

John came in and I told him about the tick on my arm. He looked at it, then at my eye, and pronounced Lyme's and told me what the treatment entailed. Well, I knew this, having seen my husband deal with Lyme's a few years ago. Thirty days of antibiotics, and it was done. He took the tick out of my arm with tweezers. Now, here, I just have to say how grateful I am to have health insurance. And with prescription coverage. We have gone in and out of the system for years regarding health insurance. Every time I had a job, or Michel had a job we had full coverage. When he was consulting, and I was free-lance, we sometimes had it and sometimes didn't. About seven years ago, I decided that we needed to have it come hell or high water. And we have had all kinds of health insurance since. Mostly the catastrophic kind, where we paid about 5,000 dollars a year and got nothing in return. Well, we would have benefitted if we had had a catastrophe, which luckily we didn't. But paying 5,000 dollars a year, and still having had to pay for each doctor's visit, plus medication, we made sure we didn't get sick very often. But once Michel fell into the coal bin and broke his wrist, and it took us over a year to pay that off. Oh, I think that was when we didn't have any insurance. Oh I don't remember. But now I have a good HMO, with all my good doctors on it, and it even pays for therapy, which I have been using for a year. The benefit only covers 20 "mental health" visits a year, but since I started in July last year, and used twenty visits last year, and now I am going every other week, so it has been a whole year of therapy--a tremendous benefit.

It's Saturday now. I have one good eye, and the rain is a bit less, so I am going to weed some more. Weeding is great when it has rained. They pull out so easily, it's almost fun. My poor flower bed needs attention. Usually I am so focused on the vegetables that the flowers get short shrift, except for the cutting garden, which brings me money. The flower bed I need to weed is just for us. But it looks like hell, as does my herb garden, which will be next to get my attention this weekend. Last year, I had to abandon the herb garden because I had started my job in June, and was dealing with a level of fatigue that seems to come with new jobs, and the heat and lack of rain created the perfect situation for weed growth. And every day I passed the herb garden, and practiced letting go, because I was powerless over so many things. And this year the herb garden still has not been addressed very much. I have worked in it some, and planted some thyme, cilantro, fennel, and chamomile, but that is in only one quarter of it. The rest of it has that damn asian grass running rampant over everything. There are even blackberry brambles, and wild rose happily growing. I feel like getting the riding mower and mowing it all down, and starting over. The soil needs amending there; and I can't seem to catch up.

I convinced John that I needed to stay home, not go to work. He said he would write a note if necessary, but I called my boss when I got home, and convinced him that my work would be done even if I took the day off. Michel went to the pharmacy and got my medicine. The stress of my eye infection was taking its toll and I took a long nap, with classical music on on the radio.

I thought I would be embarrassed if anyone saw me trying to pull the tick off my eyelid. They should see me now, with a swollen face and tiny red eye peering out. If the swelling doesn't go down by Monday, I will have new levels of embarrassment to deal with, as my coworkers traipse over to my area to see how horrible I look.

So this is my spiritual work today, letting go of this stupidity. Here it is right in front of me. I am healthy (even with the Lyme's disease), I have love in my life, I live in my ideal place, I have it better than I ever had before in all realms (except financial), physical, emotional, spiritual, and I am still struggling with my embarrassment. Like anyone cares about that.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Thursday. It was so beautiful this morning in the garden. Got up at 5:30, needed to do some more harvesting for a client, and wanted to plant some melons before I got ready for work. Ended up staying too long in the garden, and when I went into the house to look at the clock, I had 5 minutes to get ready for work. So even though I scrubbed my hands, I couldn't get the dirt out, and came to work (late, anyway) with dirty fingernails. Client is here at work, luckily.

However, I did get some melon seedlings planted, then got involved in planting leeks, which I had already started a while ago, but didn't finish then and left the seedlings in pots in the middle of the bed, never got back to them until now. Leeks don't really interest me that much. I like to boil them young, though, fairly thin, and eat them lukewarm or cold with an anchovy and olive oil sauce.

Harvested arugula, swiss chard, made a bunch of mixed kales and collard greens. Last night I had already harvested the salad greens, two bags, and made a bag of stir-fry mix--tat tsoi, bok choi leaves, marobi santoh leaves, and osaka mustard leaves.

I also picked strawberries this morning, trying to get a pint out of my meager crop. I felt bad for my strawberries, lost among the weeds. Next year, I vowed, I will treat you better. You will be allowed to fulfill your destiny. I managed to weed the celery root bed as well. There's bindweed growing all over that area. After a rain like yesterday's it is pretty easy to pull, but I have the feeling I will have to cover the entire bed with black plastic for a year, to get rid of the bindweed. Otherwise the soil looks good there. The celery root is growing in the barnyard garden, which was my first garden on our land; I was planting there even before we closed on the house.

That's where I realized that we were a repository of deer ticks. For the last six and a half years we have dealt with the ticks as best we could. This week I came to work on Monday and went into the bathroom to put in my contact lenses. I noticed that there was something on the lower lid of my right eye. My eyes had been kind of gritty lately, some kind of hay fever, no doubt. But when I looked closely, I realized that it was a tiny, tiny tick attached to my eyelid. I was horrified, but more than that, I felt embarrassment, and tried to get if off before anyone saw me. No doubt I was flashing back to ten years ago when we first came out here. I was working at St. Martin's Press in the Flatiron building in New York. My husband was working here in Pennsylvania. We had come out on a weekend to see if we could find a house to rent so that I could move out of Brooklyn, and he could move up from the suburbs of Philadelphia, which he hated. We went to Frenchtown, stayed in a B&B overnight, went out on Saturday, got a local paper, and over breakfast at the diner in Frenchtown, we looked at ads for houses to rent.

Right away we found a house on the first try, and after looking at a couple of others, we contacted the landlord and told him we wanted to rent it. The following week we went out there to sign the lease, and it was that weekend I got bit by a tick. I was at our loft in Brooklyn the next morning when I discovered it lodged at the juncture of my upper thigh and my lower abdomen. I freaked out, grabbed ahold of it with my fingers and pulled it. Only the body came out, leaving the head in place. It was Monday morning, and I had to go to work. I didn't have a doctor. I called my friend Mary and asked for the number of her family doctor. Called the number, and they said the doctor's partner could see me on my way to work. So I went over there, and he looked at the site of the tick-head, and said that he couldn't take it out, I needed to go to a surgeon. I was puzzled by this news, as I assumed an medical doctor would be qualified to remove a tickhead. I listened as he told me he would call a surgeon and then call me at work.

I went to work, still carrying around the tickhead on my body. At work, I made the mistake of telling my co-worker about the tick, and later she told her boyfriend on the phone, who was working as a registered nurse at the time. Apparently, he found it very funny, and so did his co-workers. Thin-skinned am I, I took offense. Later I went to the surgeon, and after he numbed the area on my joint, he dug and dug for a long time trying to get the tickhead out. I couldn't believe this entire operation! Now, I have friends who won't even leave the city to go to the country for fear of getting bit by a tick. I understand that, but now, except for being embarrassed at the idea of anyone at work seeing me grappling with a tick on my eyelid, I manage to deal with ticks around our property fairly well. And to date, haven't gotten Lyme's disease. I don't think, anyway.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Wednesday, June 18. Got up at 5:30, was aiming for 5 at least. Too much ginger ale in the evening. We went to a garden club function last night. Saw some guy's garden in Bethlehem. It was in a ranch-house neighborhood. Small ranches, with little front yards. He had a fenced-in back yard, and a border that ran all the way around the grass. I saw right away it was not my kind of garden. And when I said that to Linda, who I was happy to see there, I felt like a snob. So I tried to find it interesting. The man did have a lot of very nice looking plants, but no aesthetic, and if you zeroed in close to a plant, you could forget about the overall aesthetic, and see the beauty of the plant for what it is. The man himself was there, and I noticed that he had a cataract in one eye. It was hard to look at the eye, because it was opaque, like my dog's shining in the light of a flashlight. He had some little ponds, with huge fish. The fish were too big for the ponds, and it gave them a cartoonish quality. Boy, I really sound like a garden snob. I'm not. And if anyone came to my house and saw the mess I have everywere in the garden, they would lecture me about judging. But that's the way it is. I feel like I have no time most of the time, and I needed to harvest some vegetables for two of my clients, and I went over to this guy's house, but didn't really want to be there.

But I saw Linda, and we had a great conversation. Rick had told me recently that Linda was a painter, and I didn't know that about her. I had been to her house a few times, and her husband had the whole basement devoted to his trains, and he was even famous for his trains, and somehow I never found out that she was a painter. So she told me the story about how, after getting breast cancer a few years ago, she got into art-as-healing, as she put it, and went to Moravian to get her degree in studio art. Late in life. Just like me. I went back at 39, after my younger sister died of cancer and went to art school I figured, what the hell, death was so much in my consciousness, and it seemed the time to Seize the Day! and I went to art school, because it was something I had always wanted to do since I was a kid and never did, for various reasons. I wanted to go to school, because I loved art and knew I wanted to learn stuff that I somehow felt I couldn't do on my own. So I went back full-time, at 39 years old, to a school that was filled with twenty-year-olds. And had one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Validating, and enriching.

Then after I got my degree, and had studios for a while, I needed to find out what I was doing with it. Why I was even painting. I didn't have the kind of ego it seemed you needed to pursue this at the cost of everything else. Linda, too. She had to find the reason to paint. For me that has taken a long time. Now that we own a place, everything seems to be centered around that. To pay the bills. And I don't have a problem with that. I know artists, and they have a belief in their art as their work. I needed to go to art school, spend that time learning--and it's kind of one of those things that I have thought about for a long time now--that God (or the universe, or whatever) makes it possible for me to realize my fantasies--only to come to see that "this isn't it!"

I saw Emelia at the garden also. I love to see Emelia. She is Portuguese, as is her husband Tony, and they both grew up in Portugal. They bought some land, and Tony is planting a vineyard, and later they will build a house. Michel and I buy (or exchange eggs for--they never let us pay for) vinegar from Emilia and Tony. He makes his own vinegar, and now he is going to make his own wine. Emelia said something about her garden in a self-deprecating kind of way, and I said to her, you have a wonderful garden!, and they do! No, she said it about Tony, how he thought everything should be like it is in Portugal, be self-sufficient, and that's when I told her I loved their garden. They grow vegetables, like me, but he has fig trees, and fruit trees, and it is magical. He also raised rabbits and ducks for meat, although they don't do that right now. Anyway, I always love seeing Emelia, she is a good-hearted, generous person, and is one of my favorite people in the garden club.

I was eyeing the box of chocolates that were on a table, under a net-like contraption to keep the bugs off, but I got Michel and we went home, so I could do a bit more harvesting before it got dark out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Tuesday, June 17. Got up at 6, had hoped for 5:30. Funny, but I was dreaming about blogs. Yesterday I read online a lot about blogs, and read some of the really popular one, like the fellow in Iraq. The blogs I looked at all have nice graphics, calendars, and places for readers to post comments. I have to learn about that.

Anyway, got up at 6. Let out the chickens. The babies are really getting big. I watched the flock last night for about a half-hour. We have two grown roosters. I forget what breed. They are large, white, with black markings. Very pretty. We were given the roosters by our chimney sweep, who said they would get along fine, they had been raised together, brothers. We should have known better. As soon as we put them with the brownies, one became the Alpha rooster, relegating his brother to the back of the coop. At first he wouldn't even let his brother eat. So we separated them for a while. This was something we had been trying to avoid, as it means twice as much work, to have two flocks. Later we put them all together again, and they must have gotten into a fight, because now Alpha has a limp. But it is fun to watch them. Beta tries to jump on a hen, and Alpha comes running. Good thing roosters are really fast with their screwing, because Beta barely has time to get off the hen and run to another side of the coop or the yard. Poor Alpha, limping, has to keep an eye on Beta constantly. He is worried that Beta will fertilize one hen or another, and he can't stand this. Also, when food is thrown into the run, Alpha and the hens get to eat, and then Beta has to wait until Alpha goes into the coop before he gets any scraps. They all stay pretty active. The hens are always with their butts in the air, right in front of the noses (beaks) of the roosters, a constant source of temptation.

Last night I harvested lettuce. We have very fast-growing lettuce now, with all the rain. It is beautiful, but I have to harvest it soon, too soon. At least I have more trays to plant. If I can't sell it, I will give it to the chickens.

I also planted bush string beans last night, five short rows where a bed of lettuce had recently been. Mostly green filet, but two rows of yellow wax. The yellow wax did not germinate well in the lower garden, but it could have been that the soil was not warm enough. We will see.

Michel put potting soil in six trays, and I seeded two summer lettuce, one broccoli raab, one bok choi, one tat tsoi, that's five. Must have seeded three lettuce, as I used up all the trays. I also bought some melon seedlings yesterday, since my melons are just lingering wanly in the ground, and they are still pretty small. Noticed my pumpkins have germinated. Forgot where I direct-seeded the rutabaga. Hope I remember, as it has become my favorite root vegetable.

I am nervous about the next two weeks, meeting my clients' expectations. The broccoli is not looking good. I have to learn more about growing broccoli. Also, the Japanese greens are about finished, as is the spinach. So for this week, I have lacinato kale, swiss chard, flat-leaf parsley, arugula, mizuna, tat tsoi, strawberries, jam, and salad greens. But soon, I will be harvesting peas, broccoli raab, turnips, beets, raspberries, and will still have swiss chard, kale, parsley, arugula. It is quite a balancing act, especially as the weather doesn't cooperate with my own time frames. But it seems I have enough, although it doesn't look like much, empty beds. The hot weather stuff is slow, basil, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, beans, zucchini, melons. Oh, I forgot, I have rows and rows of new potatoes, that will be ready soon. I'm excited about them. Herbs ready soon--cilantro, thyme, lemon basil is growing fast.

Tonight I want to go with the garden club and my husband on a tour of someone's garden. That means I will really have to get up tomorrow at 4:45 in order to finish harvesting. There is so much to coordinate, like labels for jam, invoice blanks to get ready, rubber bands to buy. Michel is spinning the lettuce I harvested this morning, and will pick strawberries. I have to pick the rest tomorrow morning. It's a challenge to get up that early. And when I do get up, to actually do something, not just sit around staring out at the world while I drink my coffee. I want to get to the meeting early tomorrow. I have been late for every meeting for the last three weeks.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Monday, June 16. Made two deliveries this morning, one at a private home, and the other at work. I had a very busy weekend in the garden, with one visit from a client who bought $20 worth of vegetables and jam. As I said, it was very busy, and I went off to Trauger's farm market to pick strawberries for making jam. My own strawberries were a disappointment this year, due to all the rain, and to my not-so-good way of planting them. So it was a learning experience at Trauger's to see how they plant their strawberries, and when my own plants start sending out runners this summer, I will cut the runners off, plant them in small pots, and then mow the whole strawberry field, put down rows of black plastic, and re-plant the runners in rows. I need the plastic because weeds are terrible in the strawberry field. I lost a lot of big berries due not only to the excessive rain, but because the berries needed air, as the weeds grew so fast. Next year, if I do the black plastic, should be better, rain or not. One thing I noticed with Trauger's berries, they had a lot of funny-shaped berries, which I wonder about. Is this because of chemicals? I don't know if they use chemicals on their berries, but I assume so, since they do spray other things. Mutant berries. At least my strawberries look like regular strawberries. Mine taste better also. A good reason to stay chemical-free.

So I made jam, both from non-organic strawberries, and some from my own. I got 22 jars, 6 of mine, and 16 of non-organic. I will pick next week also at Trauger's, and make strawberry jam one more time. Of my own berries, I doubt that I will get another jam-making amount from them, but I will pick them for my clients.
Soon the raspberries we have will be ripening, and I can make jam from them. Gooseberries are ready, lost quite a few to mold from the rain, I think, and then we will have red currents. My client who came this weekend, she wants to buy all the red current jelly I make. I will make them for her, but will keep some for our own private use.

We're getting a lot of orders for eggs. Too many for the amount the chicks are producing. Next year, I will get more baby chicks in the spring, and perhaps buy a brooder, so I don't have to raise them in the house. People are raving about these eggs, and I know myself that I hate to eat eggs out anywhere, because they have such little taste compared with our eggs. The two new baby chicks are growing really fast now, and we think they are going to be roosters. They are fun to watch, and to watch their moms teaching them.

One of our brownies died this weekend. She was having problems flying up to the ramp to go inside at night for the last few weeks, and we were having to help her. She got left out in the rain the other night when we went to the movies, and didn't close the chicks until we got back. Michel said he shown the flashlight in the run, and didn't see her. I saw her the next morning lying out in the run when I opened the chicks. I told Michel, but I thought she was already dead. He went out to get her, but he came back and said she was still alive. He put her up in the coop, and said that he was going back to dispatch her, but he put that off, and when he went back, he said she was dying, and he was not going to kill her, just let her die naturally. I hate it when they die. With all the rain, they were standing out a lot in the pouring rain, not going inside. We have been keeping chickens now for seven years, and have lost quite a few of them. Well, most of them were already old. We took a lot of chickens from other people, and didn't know how old they were. We have already lost two of our new ones from last year. One got some strange paralysis of her legs when she was just a young chick, and we tried to keep her, but Michel had to kill her, because it was unworkable. I hate writing about this, feel like I haven't done my homework around chickens. Very laissez-faire, just feed them, shelter them, and give them water. Should bone up on chicken diseases. We assume that the babies we get have been inoculated, and we do a pretty good job of cleaning the coops and disinfecting everything, but things happen. I am making a pledge to learn more about them.

Things I noticed this weekend. We pulled up a potato plant to see if it was ready to pull, but not yet. There were some nice little ones, but not enough, and the seed potato was still pretty full. All the plants are beautiful. Now I have to keep an eye out for the Colorado potato beetle, the little orange eggs on the underside of the leaves. Spot checking from now on. Some of the tomato plants have broken due to the rain, and the method I am using for staking them this year. Have to get some more strips of fabric to tie them better.

Curious about the leaves on the tomato plants that are growing in the greenhouse. The leaves are tough, and I think it is sun-scald, but not sure. All the peppers look great, though. The melons are just sitting in the hot frame, which is curious. It has a lot of manure underneath the layers of straw and soil, so we don't know what is happening yet. I saw a lot of flea beetles on the Japanese greens, and the arugula, and the turnips. I will hold back planting the rest of the eggplants for a while, until the flea beetles go. They are late this year, due to the cool weather.

Planted more collards and lacinato kale and broccoli. Also brussels sprouts. Also planted more lettuce. Need to re-plant beans, bok choi, and tat tsoi. Also broccoli raab. Can't seem to get the rest of the leeks planted. Maybe I really don't want to. We didn't use them too much last year. I just have to get to it. Also the rest of the fancy basil. And more flowers. Also direct seed more beets, and carrots. And think about the fall garden. I hope I can plant the red russian kale with the seeds I am saving from the plant in the greenhouse. That is becoming my favorite kale, it is so tender. I regret I don't have enough this spring of the plants. Bt the seed I bought isn't viable. As soon as this new seed crop turns dark, I will plant some in pots to see if it will germinate. Then I will use that seed for this coming fall, and definitely for next spring.

The cucumbers and zucchini growing great. The pumpkins also germinated. It's the melons that are giving me grief. I may go and buy some seedlings from the Homestead market and put those in, so that at least I will have something. The butternut squash also germinated, and I didn't even get to plant the blue hubbard.

Today I asked Michel to do some weeding in the beets and chard and parsley row. He is learning a lot and doing better. I asked him to plant the buckwheat cover crop last night, and he raked that lower field, and planted the seed. That field has a bad weed problem. Haven't found the solution yet. Buckwheat should do it, but maybe we will have to double-dig, and use fabric for paths.

Back to the baby chicks. We think they might be roosters. If they both are, we will have to take the other roosters to the auction, as it is too complicated with too many roosters. They don't like to share with other males. The babies are being trained by their moms, and they are great fun to watch. We think the moms, who are both bantams, are our smartest chicks. Since the babies dads are both full-size chickens, the babies are growing so big, almost as big as their moms. Wonder how their final size will turn out.

Michel needs to figure out the water situation in the chicken coop. Soon we will be able to afford to do something in that vein.

It was so hard to leave the place this morning to come to work. It was sweet, cool air, and smelled of honeysuckle and roses. Talked to Cindy this morning, and Clyde. Feel so loved at the meeting. Was able to give encouragement to George and Linda.
Well, back to work.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Today is the first day of my blog. I went to an AA meeting early this morning before work, so I only had time to rearrange the plants that were under the lights upstairs, and the flats under lights downstairs. I could see that it is getting time to move some of the flats upstairs out to the cold frame, and it is time for the ones downstairs to get a trimming, or thinning. I cut out all the extra plants in a cell, in order to give one plant the change to develop a good root system. This used to bother me a lot, as I hated to kill any plants, but now I can do it with equanimity. Also, I get to eat some of the thinnings--salad greens, etc.

Then I went out to the garden to look around, and to pick some strawberries for my breakfast, which I will eat at work. Usually I get there at 8:30, following the 7 AM AA meeting, so I have time to prepare something, and read the NY Times. I had one order for salad greens at work today, and I also brought in a bag of salad for my boss, who has been having a hard time in his life these days with his daughter being in the hospital and all.

I am excited about the blog. I need to keep a record of the garden anyway, so I can write a business plan. And this will let my customers follow the progress of the garden, if they are interested.

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