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May 2012 Archives

A Little Bit of Curb Appeal

May 21, 2012

Last year I didn't get to plant any plants because it was too late in the season to start anything by the time we had received the keys to our new house, and there were other things we needed to focus on first.

The summer before last I didn't plant anything because we didn't want to stay in our apartment and were looking for another place to live. Then as that summer progressed we switched from the soul-crushing act of viewing apartments to rent to the soul-crushing act of viewing houses to buy.

All this is to say that I am excited to be planting stuff this summer.

My back yard is still a mess and will take a lot of work to get to the point where I'm thinking about gardening beds (first I'd need to address the uneven ground, the encroaching wild birch trees from the lot next door, and all of the holes Mitzi keeps finding in the dirt).

So I turned my camera to my front yard.

Front yard before

It's pretty bland and not terribly welcoming. First thing I did was hand Donovan a rake and told him to get to work. After a lot of whining about moose poop and having to touch it WITH HIS HANDS OMG GROSS, the front yard was a bit nicer. But was still lacking the welcoming oomph I wanted to see every time I came home.

Using my iPad sketching app, I put some thoughts down.

Front yard sketch

I ended up liking the combination a lot:

  • hanging basket by the front door
  • small bed lining the fence
  • small bed lining the walkway
  • round tub of flowers at the end of the walkway
  • bed around the tree

Last Sunday some plants jumped into my cart at Costco and I knew that this plan had to at least start this year. No more putting it off, no more garden-less summers.

Then when my mom was in town for my niece's graduation we did some running around town looking for specific things for her, and I saw red concrete stones were on sale at Home Depot. While we were driving her big truck.

Fate whispered into my ear, "Spend money," and so I obliged.

I had no idea how many to get, so I guessed 30 (I was 4 off). And I got 4 cubic feet of soil (I ended up needing 8).

And then this weekend I got to work.

I pulled a bunch of the grass up around the tree, and discovered there were a lot of white decorative landscaping rocks in there two inches under the soil. So that was fun.

Using a Costco cardboard box as a wheelbarrow, I hauled load after load of landscaping rocks and sod to the wooded area behind my fence. After the area was clear enough, I laid out the concrete blocks, filled it with soil, and plopped in some flowers.

After hours of digging and hauling from the area, the assembly went together very quickly, even including the extra trip to Lowe's for the aforementioned missing blocks and soil.

Front yard tree flower box

I planted marigolds, petunias, and lobelia. Plus a hanging basket by the front door. I cannot wait for them to get big and pretty.

Mt. Roberts Trail

May 11, 2012

I spent about a week in Juneau in April for work and the weather was just gorgeous the entire time I was there. It was warm and sunny and made me want to give up my entire life to move there.

Everything except my husband and my dogs and my son and my job and my house... but besides that, I'd give up everything.

One evening I hiked up Mt. Roberts with my camera. The trail was mostly empty of people and I was struck by the tree stumps up the mountain, so I spent two hours photographing them.

Mt Roberts Sign

mt roberts-14

Mt Roberts Tree Stump

Mt Roberts-11

mt roberts-18

Mt Roberts-8

It was still very snowy and a bit icy at the top, and at one point I slipped and fell and my brain took about 5 seconds to process the following:

  • [bleep] [bleep] [bleep]
  • How far away am I really?
  • How long would it take someone to find me?
  • Who knows I'm out here?
  • Do I even have any cell phone service up here?
  • Oh wait I'm totally fine.
  • [bleep] my phone was in that pocket I just landed on.
  • And these are my only pair of jeans to last me the whole week.
  • Am I bleeding?


Dog Problems

May 8, 2012

Sunday we took the dogs to the park and they had the bestest time. Mitzi gets so excited at the park: being one with nature nearly gives her an aneurysm, all of the other awesome dogs and people and her head explodes.

Olive is just as excited to be at the park, but for a completely different reason: so many things to pee on! It's fantastic! Pee on ALL THE THINGS!

Which is how we noticed that Olive's urine was rather dark, and is that blood? Did that come out of her?

Cue a bunch of embarrassing (for all involved) pee-pee checks and my face getting rather up close and personal with every stick and leaf she peed on to confirm that yes, Olive was urinating blood.

A few months ago we had noticed the same thing and the vet put her on a course of antibiotics that cleared everything right up, so back to the vet we went.

305.365 Wincing cheeks and dog problems

We did a lot of waiting while Olive had some fun experiences like having her bladder expressed while she was in a sling and oh did I mention the bird named Molly who oversees the whole process? BARK.

Also there were xrays and... holy crap. Do you see that big egg-shaped thing on the right?


Hello, Mr. Bladder Stone. You look awfully large today.

Some test results came in today that shows her urine has a lot of protein, a lot of blood cells, is very basic instead of neutral, two kinds of bacteria, and struvite crystals.

Basically there's a party in Olive's bladder, and everyone's tearing shit up.

We're waiting for the culture results which should come in early next week, but we are currently weighing treatment options.

Option 1 is to put her on a diet intended to dissolve the stone enough for her to pass it, which requires spendy medicated food and xrays and cultures every 4-6 weeks. Option 2 is surgery.

In the meantime we're tricking her into taking antibiotics and mixing her food with soupy rice boiled in chicken stock so that she ingests more water.

Also searching Etsy for "struvite" and wondering how much we could get for a dog-bladder-stone necklace.

Additional Content

Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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