Community Garden

After two years on the waiting list, we were awarded a plot in our town’s community garden area this Spring.  Even though we live in New Hampshire, we’re not in an area where the houses have large yards so we were looking forward to getting the extra space for a vegetable garden. 

We were informed about the garden plot very late Spring, so we weren’t very well prepared with seedlings ready or a well thought out plan.  We were then very much occupied by our dog, Scout, getting sick, so our garden plot does not have a very well tended appearance.  The garden area has at least two hundred plots.  Some people have been gardening there for many years, so they’ve had years to come up with the best plan for their area. 


Look at this one, for example.  Just look at the carefully planned rows of enormous vegetables and well tended paths with no weeds!   No, that’s not our garden. 

How about this one?  Don’t those cabbages look great!   No, not our garden.

This is our garden.  It’s close to 99% weeds with a row of carrots, a few beets, and some other random vegetables struggling through the jungle of weeds.


When talking to the other gardeners, I can’t help but feel a little self conscious in comparison.  Which plot is your’s? They will ask.  Ummm.. that one there, I’ll say.  Which is usually followed by a disapproving look and a ‘Oh, yes, I’ve seen that plot’ 

But within the weeds are the best carrots we’ve had..

and more basil than we can use…

With which we made chicken pesto with roasted carrots.  So it’s at least been worth it for the new recipes we’ll be trying. I had made pesto before, but this qualifies as new since it has both basil and carrot greens in it.  Roasting carrots is easy, but I’ve never tried cooking it, so that qualifies as new too.   I have this ambitious plan of trying a new recipe each week, so this would be recipes #1 and #2. 

Goodbye, Scout

We were playing in the backyard, Scout, C and I, when C was the first to notice that Scout’s nose was bleeding, not a lot, just a trickle.

  

At first, I thought it might be a bad allergic reaction, but it didn’t stop. Maybe there’s something stuck up his nose?  He does sniff everything and everywhere. We looked and looked but didn’t see anything, maybe it was lodged deep in the nose and we could not see it?  

Ms J took him to our vet the next day. The staff at the vet’s office first also thought that it must be something lodged in the nose, a porcupine quill ?  They used a specialized device to check his nose and didn’t see anything up there, but they did see that his blood was not clotting.  

This is somewhat unusual for a 10 month old dog, but it is a symptom of having ingested rat poison. We didn’t see him eat anything that might have been killed by poison, such as a dead squirrel or mouse. The antidote for a dog who has eaten rat poison is a massive dose of vitamin K, which helps to clot the blood.  This didn’t work. Besides he would have had to eaten ten pounds of poison to cause this lack of clotting, but at least that could be ruled out. 

Perhaps he had a genetic disorder, such as hemophilia?  A treatment of Prednisone would help with that.  If it worked it would indicate that he was a hemophiliac, which is manageable with a variety of drugs, but that didn’t work either. 

A tick bite ?  Some ticks can cause this type of symptom. A blood test did not indicate a tick borne illness. A treatment of antibiotics was tried anyway just to be sure, but it didn’t help.  

So they tried an ultrasound. That’s when they saw the tumor that is eating away his spleen. He just cant clean the blood and make the platelets to help clot normally. There’s not much to do to stop it. 

One of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is tell our eight year old son that his dog was going to die soon. We won’t be able to take him to the beach and see him jump in the waves this Summer. We won’t be able to ride bikes with him running along beside us wondering what those strange wheeled things were. I had thought that C and Scout would grow up together, but that’s not going to happen. 

So we took him home. 

For the next few days he’ll eat his favorite foods. 

He’ll sit in the sun in the backyard. He’ll sleep on our bed if he wants to.  He can sit in his favorite spot in the garden. 


Maybe we’ll play tug-of-war with his blanket. 


I’ll scratch his ear as long as he wants me to. 

And then we’ll have to say goodbye. 

He’s been the smartest, happiest, most good natured dog. He loves meeting new people and he especially loves kids. He loves going to pick up C from school, seeing all the kids run around, getting a lot of attention from the kids who wanted to pet him. He loves meeting other dogs too, hoping they will want to play with him.   He just wanted to be friends with everyone. The best dog I’ve ever had. And he’s only 10 months old. 

Be yourself…or be Batman!

Mr. C: Hey Daddy, can you guess what song Killer Croc sings to Batman ?

Me: No, what is it? 


Mr. C starts to sing………..

“Did I ever tell you that you’re my herooooooo?!!!!….

Me:  Oh no!…

C: Everything I wish I could be!!!….

Me: No, no please stop…


Mr C: I can fly higher than an eagleeeeee!!!….

Me: No,no,no, please stop!… (puts fingers in ears) … La, la, la,la! I can’t hear you!

C: For you are the wind beneath my wings!!!!….

Me:  Great, thanks for the earworm!

Flying Dog

Having an active dog can be exhausting. It doesn’t help that I strained a muscle in my foot last month, so I haven’t been taking him out for walks as much as he would like. So what to do to exercise the dog?

How about seeing if he can catch a cup of water?

Ready?!


Jump!


And here’s the landing. You can see how he’s been tearing up the lawn.


Again?


Makes my foot hurt just to watch him land.


Take a picture, Dada!

… and we’re back for more infrequent blog posts!   

Mr. C loves our smartphones, with all their features, apps, and games.  One thing he likes to do is direct me in how and when to use the camera. My camera’s memory is filled with pictures he wanted to take. He especially likes to take pictures of clouds and sunsets. Here’s a few.  These were taken in Vermont, New Hampshire, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.






The Snow Shovel

This past week we had an early Spring snow storm that brought us a few inches of heavy wet snow.  After the storm ended, I went outside to shovel the walkway and driveway, a bit reluctantly since it’s April and I know that all this snow will melt in a few days anyway.  It was just me shoveling, as Mr. C and Ms. J were out taking Scout for a walk.  It was an early Spring day, and the temperature was approaching 50, so I really wasn’t in a rush to finish the shoveling.  It was already starting to melt, so why should I work so hard to clear it off the drive way anyway, I thought.

So I decided to take a break for lunch, and went inside to make a sandwich, leaving my shovel propped up on a snow pile  Between making lunch and eating lunch, I must have taken about a half hour.  Just as I finished my sandwich, the phone rang, which added another fifteen minutes or so to the time inside.  After my break, I thought I would go out and finish clearing off the side walk. However, when I went outside, my shovel was gone!

I looked all over the front yard and there was no sign of the shovel. It wasn’t in the big pile of snow next to the driveway, not in the pile next to the sidewalk, not leaning next to the back of my car in the driveway, not leaning next to the front of my car in the driveway. It was nowhere to be seen.

Then I looked down the street and saw my shovel sticking out of a pile of snow in a neighbor’s driveway.  It’s a very distinctive yellow color, with a yellow handle, and I remember the brand name was ‘Garant, and that the table had started to peel off the handle.  Is that my shovel?   Did my neighbor “borrow” my shovel ?

The house in question is four houses down, across the street, so I walked over to the shovel to check to see if it was mine.  It had the yellow handle, the yellow shovel, and the label was starting to peel off the handle.

‘Hmmm… why would this guy take my shovel?’, I thought.  Very odd.  I knew that this was a new family on the block, so maybe they didn’t have a shovel, or maybe they didn’t know where their shovel was in the pile of boxes they must have from moving in.  So I took the shovel back home and finished shoveling.

After I finished shoveling I put the shovel away, stacking it with the two other shovels I keep in the front entry way.  By this time it was about 3:00pm, Ms. J and C had come back home from walking the dog, and it was still early afternoon, so we were able to do quite a few other things the rest of the day.  I forgot to ask J what she thought of the missing shovel, we were just too busy doing other things and it didn’t occur to me at the time.

The next morning at about 5:00 am, Scout needed to go out.  He doesn’t bark to let us know he needs to go out, he shakes his head until his ears shake around making a distinctive sound.  It’s a fairly quiet sound, so often only one of us wakes up, me or Ms. J.   Since it was still early, J and C were still asleep, and since I was barely awake myself, I decided to just let him out into the back yard.  The back yard is fenced, so we can just let him run around out there if he needs to.  This has been a great advantage on freezing cold Winter nights. We can just open the back door, let Scout out, and wait inside where it’s warm.  So I put on my bathrobe and slippers, went down stairs to let him out.

I open the back door, Scout runs out, and just as I turn to go back inside, in the early morning light I see a snow shovel with a yellow handle next to the back door.  My shovel.  At the back door.  I didn’t leave it in the front yard when I went inside for lunch yesterday, I went in the back door and left the shovel at the back door.

Now I had stolen my new neighbor’s shovel and it was on my front porch.  What to do?    I don’t even know who these people are yet, they just moved in.   Should I wait until the morning and introduce myself as their neighbor down the street who stole their shovel ? So at about 5:15 am, I took the shovel walked down the street and put it back in the snow pile at the end of their driveway.  I did change from the bathrobe and slippers to a shirt and pants before doing that though.

 

 

 

 

Daddy’s Crazy Music

I still have some old vinyl records, and among the vintage new wave hits of the 80’s in my collection, there are a number of works that I suppose could be called ‘experimental’. Mr. C just calls them ‘Daddy’s Crazy Music’.  Examples include works by This Heat, Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Dead C, Bailter Space, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Gilbert & Lewis.  Some of this is ambient and some might just be called noise. As a Classical music fan, Ms. J does not prefer to hear any of this either. 

Here’s an example from Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis.  ‘Barge Calm’ from their 1980 LP, ‘3R4’.  

If you do go ahead and listen to it, you can stop after a minute or so, it just continues like this….for another 17 minutes. 

Here’s the LP.  (I can’t believe it’s been 37 years since I bought this!)

Since I work from home, and I know this sort of music is not for everyone, if I do want to listen to any of it I will dig out one of these old LP’s during the day. When C is at school and J at work. 

This has worked fine until we got our dog Scout.  Something like ‘Barge Calm’ will make him howl. Hoooowwwwwwllllll ….owwwwwww!  Owwww….Howwwwwwlllll!  This continues until I take the music off. 


Not an avant-garde music fan. 

Looks like I will have to resort to listening to this in the car.  Yes, I do own two copies of this, the other one being a compact disc. 

Fixing the mixer

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that a project I’ve been meaning to get to is fixing my Mom’s old Kitchenaid mixer.

My Mother was going to throw it away because it was making a grinding sound and shaking when she used it.  I’d like to try to keep it out of the dump so I said that I would try to fix it.  It’s a forty year old machine, it probably weighs about twenty five pounds, and I doubt that newer models are as sturdy as this one. New models can cost about $500, so it could be worthwhile to try to fix it.

After doing some research, I found out that a common problem is that the gear lubricant can dry out, causing the gears to grind, eventually the motor will wear out if the old lubricant is not replaced. I bought some new lubricant, hoping that it wasn’t too late to save it.

The first thing to do is to knock out the pin that holds in the rotary. The little top pin, not the one on the stem below the spring. I almost knocked out that bottom pin, which would have been a big mistake as it’s very difficult to get back in.


Then you take off the rotary.


Then you remove all of those screws. I had to get some screw de-locker oil as those things didn’t want to budge after forty years. 


That brown gunk is dried out gear lubricant. 


I didn’t get a photo of the cleaned off gears as my hands were covered in that old gear goo.  The new lubricant cost $15.  The old screw de-lockenizer oil cost $2.50.


Then you put it all back together and check to see if that fixed it by mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies!


Whirrr!   Whirrrrr!   Good as new! 

Let’s bake some cookies!

Off the leash

One of the things I didn’t really think about when we got Scout was that we would have to take him out for some exercise every day. Every day.  Even in the middle of February.

Luckily, we’ve been having a fairly mild winter so far here in New Hampshire, but there have been days that I would never think of going outside much less going on a hike. We found out about a park in the nearby town of Amherst that encourages owners to let their dogs off the leash.  So off we went on a hike, in February, a few days after we had received about a foot of snow.

Turns out that Scout loves to run in the snow.

While he is getting bigger, he is often confronted with new experiences, like footbridges over mountain streams. He refused to cross this bridge at first, preferring to try to wade through the stream.  It took a few minutes of persuading him that it is actually not a good idea to try swimming through icy water in February, and wouldn’t he prefer to be up here with us on the dry bridge ?

He did finally pick up on the idea that footbridges are a good idea. However, he was then confronted with this bridge that had a stairway since the far side of the stream had a higher elevation.  I had to carry him up the stairs. He did manage to go down the stairs on his own though, so he’s learning fast. Which is good since he weighs close to forty pounds now.

Here’s an old stone wall in the forest. You see these all over the New England area. Scout jumped over the wall, landing in a huge pile of snow. I had to go over the wall to pick him up and carry him back over the wall.

This dog is determined to get me to loose weight, wether he forces me to get out of the house, or carry him up scary wooden staircase, or wade through a foot of snow.  At least it was a sunny day.

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The Year of Organization

One of the many resolutions for 2017 is that it is going to be the year of organization. As an example of my lack of organization skills, here is a photo of my basement workbench. I have not made any progress on my goal so far.

You can see the remains of a number of different projects piled up in a mound on the far end of the workbench. I have a habit of finishing a project, and then leaving the tools where they are on the workbench, and then piling them up when I start the next task. I do at least finish the projects, its the cleaning up part that I don’t care for.  You’ll also see a large vintage Kitchenaid Mixer in the back of the pile.  That’s another project that I should work on this year.   My mother had that mixer for close to forty years when it started to make a grinding noise, so she bought a new mixer. I suggested that I might be able to fix the mixer, rather than having it end up in the dump.  That was more than a year ago. And this is just the workbench, my desk is in the same condition as the workbench.

It’s not as though I have not been able to accomplish resolutions in the past. Last year’s big resolution was to try to cook one new recipe a week. We somehow managed to come up with 58 new recipes during the year.  I was supposed to write blog posts about the best new recipes, but I never got around to that either.  Another goal is to post on the blog more often, or at least go from a “seldom” frequency to “infrequent”.  A food related goal is much easier than this organizing goal, since I love food and I don’t much care for organizing anything. (On yet another tangent, somewhat related to the new recipe project is that this year I’m supposed to try to loose some weight too.)

In the quest to fulfill this organization goal, maybe by publicly admitting that I have a problem will force me to actually accomplish this goal.  So, sometime during the year I will get this workbench organized, and the desk too, and get that mixer fixed.  Maybe I’ll work on getting the file cabinet organized too.