Extolling the simple radish
The reason I am growing radishes is that I don't like them. The difference between fresh-from-the-dirt and store bought being what it is I thought I'd do a comparison test. While still not my favorite, fresh they aren't bad.  In the box below are some thinnings.  I am very bad at thinning; once something has taken root I just hate to pluck it out.  So, I scatter-seeded these French breakfast radishes and then pulled the big ones after a month; the littler ones now have some room to expand.  At the same time I bedded in several from-seed tomatoes.
My thinnings are in the box.  The larger plants in the bed are icicle radishes.  Though they have a lot more leaf growth there is simply no root below to eat yet; I will let them go a couple more weeks and look again.  They come out long and white.

The bed is actually set up for the three Nelson blackberries which are sort of visible in the back corners and front center.  Seemed reasonable to seed in a crop while the berries get going.

The toms, Brandywines and Early Girls from the greenhouse are set in sawed-off yougurt cartons so I don't lose track of them.  I realize they are very small given the time of year, but I got started late on my hot-crops.  Maybe a bounty in September.

I cheated on the raised beds and built them non-organically, out of pressure treated deck boards.  Since arsenic is no longer the chemical of choice in pressure treating lumber I feel somewhat better about it.  Reviews on the danger from the copper compounds are mixed.

The radishes are actually pretty tasty.  Not bitter, just a sharp bite, a little sweet, and lots of crunch.  I find that once I grow something I want to eat it.  If you want to try a little very simple gardening radishes are fast and easy and it is quite satisfying to see something edible come up from a seed you put down.  Found a radish soup recipe that includes the tops that I need to try.

The Hampshire kids have been out in the 'general pop' for a couple of days now and are doing well.  Big hens aren't picking on them too much - no bloody heads.  Just finished the best book on life in a prison I have ever seen; colors my language a little:  Stone City by Mitchell Smith.

Above are the just-arrived Amish Muscovys.  Seven in a box of six and all hale and hearty.

Right the ducks out for a stroll with dad.

And Waldo.  We go to the vet in the morning at 0900.  He is falling down and trying to drag his back end with his front legs.  I can't deal with it.  He has been the best good boy.

About a month since I worked on the letter; Waldo a month in his box of ashes.  It was hard seeing him get weaker and falter.  It was hardest to make that call to the vet; I felt like a murderer.  At the vets it was no so bad:  an IM injection and he was asleep in 3 minutes, then an IVP and his heart stopped in less than a minute.  Our young vet, Shannon, looked up and said "He's gone."

The above is that last pic taken of him; you can see how much muscle mass he has lost in his left hindquarters.  We are glad he is out of it but miss him a lot.  No puppy plans.  Pat wants to go to England for a few weeks in the fall. 

The doorbell rang, the lady was from the Census Department.  We talked dogs.  She had put one down recently and had then had a dream in which her dead brother told her that her dog was in heaven with him.  Dogs were extolled as being closer to god that any other life form.  I told her that much as I loved Waldo he was, in fact, just a dog, and no matter how we anthropromorhised them they really were just dogs.  I got an evil look in return.

Today we are one duck short.  They have been out and about for about a week now and always stick in a tight little knot.  Now we have six.  No one is telling what happened.  I imagine each turning a blind eye and thanking the fowl-god that it was fuzzy so-and-so and not them.  The ten Hampshire kids are now almost as big as the 2 year old Red Stars; one of them is getting a nice stand of stick-up black tail that looks like sickels - we may have ourselves a cockerel. 
The basement stairs have always been a sore point.  Pat won't use them and I feel uneasy; the angle is very steep.  Against orders from the boss I bought 2 16' 2x12s and tried laying out the cuts for a stair stringer.  I looked at online sites ad nauseum and was still confused.  Pat kept telling me to hire it done, but I was having none of that.  After 3 days of laying out cuts and then sanding the marks away I got a set that looked 'maybe' ok.  The only way to tell was to simply cut the piece and then put it in place and see.  I did that.  It was wonderful!  You can see the new stringer, more steps, wider tread, shallower angle, leaned in place by the old stairs.
Here is the new set in place with added bracing and handrails.  They actually came out really good.  Stairs are not easy, but not impossible either.

I kept the risers open as it just makes the basement feel bigger to be able to see thru the stairs.  The treads are coated with a grey nonskid mix.
Got a phone call from my old buddy Stuie this A.M.  He was due to arrive  from somewhere north of us in Maine in two hours; he called to tell me they couldn't make it.  We had all been looking forward to this visit for weeks.  I may be imagining it, but I think he was almost crying.  His wife has been ill for a time; they'd  put off traveling to her annual family get-together in Maine for the last few years but had this summer undertaken to attend.  The travel and visit were more than was comfortable, and it had not gone as well as hoped; they were now leaving the reunion and heading for Boston to fly home leaving us as another regret along the roadside.  I understood. Some days you can do it, and some you can't.  Pat was weeping after talking to Stuie: the pain in his voice was tangible.

I have met Stuie's wife, Sydney, but don't know her.  We have only seen one another briefly, years back, and she struck me as quiet and watchful.  Nothing flagrant swimming to the surface to announce a startling presence; just the reserve of intelligent reckoning.  I have written of them before and won't repeat here.  Stuie I have known since we were about 15.  He is 7 months my senior and has recently written to me repeatedly speaking with wonder at having reached 67 and still be drawing breath. I am sure his surprise is tinted by his wife's ill health.  There is a pressure to explain 'life' when 'the other' impends.  It impends in all of us, but the p.s.i. of why-pressure builds quicker in the more fertile experience of impinging cessation giving you and yours the eyeball.   

I have often wondered thru what lenses Sydney first saw, and now sees, Stuie.  As a kid he was socially awkward, wild in odd ways, no sweet cherry in the pie.  While I don't really know him as an adult I cannot imagine he has changed his basic self much. I am betting he can still easily come off as the oddly wrinkled bird in a well-preened flock.  He was the smartest guy I ever met, and he had that necessary adjunct to a good mind, twisted humor.  Sydney had seen thru the rough exterior into the whirrings and clickings and puzzlement that was Stuie, no doubt.  She bought it lock, stock and barrel - a bargain I think.

Trying to come up with a category for Stuie is a puzzle for me, too.  As with my son, he is not good with English, not at all polished, but if there are the threads of a problem to untangle Stuie is your guy.  If I might make a terrible pun - Stuie was born thinking outside the box.  So, his mind does not, like my own, run on the way letters engage other letters to link in alpha-fuck fashion into the marvel of words that are like flowers.  He runs, perhaps, on order, on perceived structure.  Does that seem sufficiently vague?  My own son, the accountant, presents me with the same dilemma.  There is an impulse toward structure, how things go together, the sort of fit that is possible to assure function, that seems maybe a driving force.  I cannot say; my mind is too busy tripping over the planted seeds of the alphabet and the fruiting of neologismic buds.  Our humanity is that we can all tolerate the multiple life forms of our fellows and love what is different.

I hope we can go see Stuie and Sydney sometime; they aren't that far away, the upper Midwest.  Pat's birthday will be Sunday, number 73, and she is planning a trip to England for us.  Two or three weeks of genteel sightseeing.  Something low key and reasonably uncrowded that I can adjust to.  We have to hurry a bit on this as she is already, post-Waldo, looking at puppies.  She wrote a breeder about a particular puppy and asked about any family history of dengenerative myelopathy as it had done for Waldo.  Below is the breeder's reply; I think we may be in contact with the president of the Bipolar Breeders Assoc.


Yes, and as a 7 month old puppy she also has the following clearances:

* OFA prelims; completely normal hips, elbows, thyroid. Penns coming
* CERF- Normal
* Cardiac clearances; all available tests including but not limited to; 24 hour holter monitors. We felt 24hrs wasn't NEARLY long enough to identify a heart issue in a Boxer. So- we placed monitors on every other day for 2 weeks and all was normal. She's had 7 echos, 28 EKGs; all normal. (To date- more coming soon)
*VWD- Normal; non-carrier
* Every thyroid test our veterinarian has to offer; in house and Idexx
*CBCs, Chem17, WBC, Clotting profiles despite VWD results; you can't be too careful. She's had numerous other blood panels; too many to mention.
* All other forms of testing for anything an animal can have; let alone just Dogs or JUST Boxers. If they are a living organism, they will be tested to every extent that the development of today's Animal Medicine allows.

We believe all the testing above should be repeated no less frequently than monthly, although weekly is ideal. She's been getting numerous tests every 1-4 weeks since 2 weeks of age.

We've also done skin scrapes on normal, fully haired skin just to make sure there is no presence of Demodexx, Sarcoptes, or other ectoparasites. She's been placed under the Wood's Lamp to identify Ringworm; nothing. We've also performed elective surgery on her; as we felt no amount of radiographs, ultrasounds, blood testing  or physical examination could identify the physical state of her organs. Our veterinarian was gracious enough to place her under general anesthesia for 7 hours. EVERYTHING was examined fully; her heart, liver, kidneys, brain, etc- all looked completely normal. Each organ was removed, incised, examined and weighed, then carefully replaced. Our vet refers to this as the "Living Necropsy." I highly recommend it. Only 2 veterinarians WORLD WIDE will provide this procedure, it's only 1.2 million dollars; but who can put a price on health?

Don't question someone's intellect by asking about ONLY DM results. You old ignorant soul, you!


And with that closing glimpse into the human condition I will close this rather long letter and hope the bulk of you are as well as the bulk of us.  don and pat, and the visiting Z, and all other life forms.

This page was last updated: July 23, 2010