Thursday, June 30, 2011

Emma Update

I am humbled by the support I have received here, both in the form of comments and personal emails, in response to Emma's painful neck injury.  We still don't know how she hurt herself, but she is improving ... slowly, with the aid of regular doses of Rimadyl and Tramadol. 

This afternoon, I took Emma to see Dr. Tran, her holistic veterinarian, for an acupuncture treatment.  When the dogs ride in the Jeep, I fold the seats flat and pad the floor with cushy blankets.  It makes for a very comfortable trip, and Emma seemed to enjoy herself.

(That's a freeze-dried liver treat on the blanket in front of Emma.)

Emma got a lot of extra needles today.  It's really weird that she doesn't flinch at all as the needles go in.  After Dr. Tran is finished, Emma looks a little bit like a pin cushion.

Once the needles are placed, I sit with Emma and she rests on a cushy dog bed and relaxes for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Both of us deserved treats on the way home, so we ran through the drive-through at McDonalds.  Emma got a plain hamburger ...  I broke it into little pieces and she ate every crumb!  I had a Mocha Frappe (yum!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life With a Old, Old Dog

Emma is 14 1/2 years old, and she is is incredibly good condition for her advanced age.  Even so, we are reminded that time with a dog this old is never to be taken for granted.

On Sunday evening, Emma was feeling great.  After her dinner, which she ate heartily, she went outside with Daniel to do her 'business'.  When she was finished, she trotted up the deck stairs, and she bounced into the house ... undeniable evidence that she was having a good day.

Monday morning, Emma was obviously in pain.  She yelped whenever she shifted position on her bed.  At times, she just stood with her head hanging, panting with her mouth open, clearly distressed.  My veterinarian told me to bring her right over, and they would look at her between appointments.  Over the course of three hours, they poked and prodded her, x-rayed just about everywhere, and determined that she had somehow injured her neck.

I brought Emma home, high on pain killers and a muscle relaxant, and she slept for most of the afternoon.  At dinnertime, she refused to eat.  I had to coax her to eat some stinky canned food so I could give her her pills (which cannot be taken on an empty stomach).  The pills made her loopy and confused, so I slept on the couch in the family room to be near her.

This morning, she again refused to eat.  No food + No pills = PAIN, so I cooked chicken and rice ... which she ate, thank goodness.  Right now, she is sleeping and she hasn't yelped in a couple of hours.

We have an acupuncture appointment for Emma on Thursday.  This should make her much more comfortable, but the one-hour car ride to get there sometimes stresses her.  It's a balancing act.  Is the stress worth the relief that the acupuncture provides?  I'm going to give it a shot because I think it's what she needs right now.

Whenever greyhounds limp or are in such pain, especially older greyhounds, we always fear bone cancer (osteosarcoma).  X-rays confirm that we have none of this with Emma, thank Heaven. She has two calcified disks in her lumbar spine, which we already knew about, and everything else on her x-rays shows a dog who is in much better condition than her number of birthdays would indicate. 

As I sat on the floor of the exam room with Emma, not knowing what was causing her pain, feeling helpless, I kept pushing thoughts from my head.  Would THIS be the trip when we have to say goodbye?   It wasn't.  (audible sigh of relief)

Such is life with an old, old dog.  Every day is a gift.  I make an effort to cherish the good days, I work through the bad ones, and I am thankful that there are more good days than bad right now ... and I try to make every day the best day it can be.

(all of the photos in this post were taken as Emma and I sat on the floor waiting to see the vet.  She was pretty drugged.)

Some Garden Friends

Yesterday was Spray Day ... it's the day that I set aside to load up my trusty Mantis Spraymate and spray as many of the roses as I can with fungicide to prevent blackspot.  I have only done this twice so far this season (and I should be doing it every two weeks), so many of the roses have very few leaves.  Surprisingly, many more of them look pretty terrific.

As I was going through the yard, with my trusty Canon point-and-shoot camera in my pocket as always, I came across some critters that I think are worth sharing.

This little toad was hanging out beside my pile of flagstone.  I tried to catch him, but he was way too wary and quick.

The birds that are nesting over the side door of the garage are tending babies.  I don't know what type of birds they are, but they get REALLY upset when you stand on a step-stool and point a camera at their young 'uns ... not to the point of 'immediate violent death' like the Mockingbirds, but they're still pretty menacing.

Do you know what type of bird this is?

These are the parents.

and here are the babies.

Another mystery visitor was this turtle (tortoise?) that I found loping across the driveway near the house.

He was about five inches long.  When he saw me, he sucked his legs inside his shell, but he never pulled his head in completely ... though it looked like he could if he had wanted to. 

He was a bit more elongated than the Box Turtles I am used to seeing in the yard, and his shell was very smooth.

I should have probably taken a photo of his underside, but I didn't.

Does anyone recognize this little guy?  I checked the Virginia Wildlife web site to see if any of the turtles listed there were a match, and I didn't find anything.

I love finding critters in the garden!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Snapshot -- Weedy Scenery

This year, early season work in the garden was geared toward manicuring the garden preparing for our daughter's wedding.  Because it is in an out of the way spot, and not visible to either the ceremony or reception sites, the Rose Field was not tended at all.  Last year's weed starts have become full-grown specimens, and the whole garden has taken on an abandoned, secret garden sort of look.  In May, it was possible to get down most of the rows of this garden ... now that summer is here and the weeds are reaching their mature sizes, there are paths that are completely impassable.

The smudge on my lens adds a dreamy, almost-romantic quality to this photo.

If you didn't already know that this was supposed to be a rose garden, with roses planted in neat rows divided by gravel paths, you would almost think that it was a wild cottage garden full of native plants.  Visitors this year have been most intrigued by the mayhem in this garden.  One woman saw it and exclaimed, "I can do this!" ... then she laughed and dove in to see what she could discover.

I have a plan to reclaim this, but it's going to have to happen a little at a time.  Thank goodness we have friends who are willing to lend a hand.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rose Propagation Burritos ... An Update

Two weeks ago, I experimented with a new propagation method for rooting my roses.  I wrapped some of my prepared rose cuttings in damp newspaper, instead of immediately putting them into little pots in the greenhouse under mist like I usually do.  (If you missed the post about how to do this, click HERE.)

Less than a week after I put the baggies full of 'burritos' into the basement, I began to get nervous.  What if this didn't work?  I would have wasted the best cuttings of the season, and I would be scrambling again (like I was last year) to root enough roses to have a decent crop to sell next year. 

I admit it ... I caved.  Last weekend, I sat in the pavilion with my little pots and I planted all of the cuttings and took them to the greenhouse.  At least I THOUGHT I had planted all of the cuttings.  It turns out that I forgot one packet.  This packet was too long to fit into a gallon bag with the others, so I wrapped it in plastic wrap and set it aside ... and promptly forgot it.  I found it this morning, and I was SUPER EXCITED to see what had happened inside the burrito during the past two weeks.  The results are STUPENDOUS!!

The white, powdery stuff is rooting hormone.

There were 14 cuttings in the packet, 11 of them are shown above, and ALL 14 of them looked wonderful!

Every single one of them showed healthy callousing (the white, overgrown looking stuff that you can see very clearly in the photo above).

With callousing like this, real roots cannot be too far behind!

What rose is this, you ask?

It is 'Pink Pillar', a climber that was introduced in 1940.  It was hybridized by Robert Brownell, who was a very imaginative amateur rosarian who worked in Rhode Island and introduced WONDERFUL roses. 

I love Pink Pillar because of its sunset colors, its semi-double form, and the fact that no two flowers are ever truly identical.

I grow Pink Pillar, along with some other Brownell roses, on the pillars of The Arcade.  It is super easy to spiral the canes of a climber like this around a post to create a great feature in your garden ... and it is an imaginative way to use a mannerly climber.  (I have a photo of the Arcade in THIS post from last year.)

This was Pink Pillar last spring ... it's bigger now.

Anyway .... let's get back to the original subject of this post.

Now that the Burrito Method has shown such promise, you can be assured that I will try this on just about every rose in the garden.

I'm so excited, I can hardly contain myself!!

Edited to add:  To date, I have had no success at all with this method of propagation.  The promising callusing that happens while the cuttings are in the newspaper has not resulted in roots.  I am quite disappointed by this, and I am returning to my tried-and-true methods to root my roses. 

If you are looking for a method of propagation that has yielded good success, Click HERE to visit my web site, and click on the How To tab.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Girlfriend Day Away

(Thank you for all the kind comments and emails about my friends and me and our wedding hats.  My hat was WAY too casual for my shiny mother-of-the-bride dress, so I ditched it right after the photos.)

Yesterday's girlfriend afternoon with Kat was exactly what the Dr. would have ordered ... if I had asked his opinion, you understand.  We had a long, chatty lunch at Panera, then we hit the road to see what things La Plata, Maryland, had to offer us.

Kat's post today is all about our first stop, Waldorf Pottery.  I find it fascinating to see the different types of things she and I photograph while we are together.  We compliment each other pretty well ... she takes artsy photos of stuff, and hones in on the decorative side of things, while I tend to take photos as notes for inspiration for future projects.

Hosta 'Sagae' is one that I MUST add to my collection.

The flowers on 'Endless Summer' hydrangea were beautiful.  I probably need one of these, too.

The day was hot and steamy, and I took every opportunity I could to stay in the shade.  This shade structure was wonderful!  I can see something like this back by my barn .... can you hear the wheels turning?

Detail photo to show the framing of the 'roof'.

Kat, dear, you could build a simple lattice grid like this to attach to your house to hold your New Dawn rose.

Hostas!!  Have I told you how much I LOVE hostas?

Notice the little green table in the photo above?  Something like this would be absolutely perfect to hold flats of roses ... must take a photo so I can remember how it's built ...

As we headed inside, I spotted this fantastic little pot of succulents. 

Inside was a wonderland of gift and garden items (and air conditioning!).  I was particularly attracted to this table ... another inspiration photo, coming up.

Look at all the fabulous container arrangements!

Kat told everyone that I would show you what I bought, so here goes.

I love pigs, and years ago I had a collection of pig items.  The collection got completely out of hand.  Years ago I stopped buying pigs, or accepting them as gifts, and most of my pigs are now stored or given away.  This little piggy, with his beady little eyes and huge personality, spoke me and I had to have him.

My other buy was a set of greyhound bookends.  I have a HUGE collection of greyhound items (including Emma and Daniel, my two REAL greyhounds ... ha ha), and I am always on the look out for interesting greyhound things to add to my collection.  These will be perfect in our library!

I totally forgot to take a photo of these styled in the store, so I have to make do with a photo taken on my kitchen counter.

We stopped at a few other stores (I can't remember the names of any of them).  One was a decor and jewelry store with a wonderfully chatty, friendly owner.  There was an arrangement of subway-style signs on one wall, and one of them in particular was hillarious.  It said,


Knowing what a history freak I am, our last stop was Port Tobacco, a historic formerly-bustling commercial town, which contains the reconstructed Charles County courthouse,

some beautifully maintained 18th Century houses,

Stagg Hall, built ca. 1740 for merchant John Parnham.

and this outbuilding and pile of bricks that had my imagination whirling.

I will finish with this random photo I took at a traffic light.  If anyone wants a really cool old Volkswagon, it's for sale.

Many of you have said here, or in comments at Kat's blog, that you would love to spend a day with a fellow blogger or two ... what's stopping you?  Pretty much the only thing that gets in my way if I want to contact someone is  Whenever I see that, I know I probably can't get to know that person better, no matter how nice they seem. 

If you haven't enabled email responses on your profile, will you please consider doing it? 

Pretty please.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ladies of Greyhounds Rock at the Princess's Wedding

My friends decided to wear hats to our daughter's wedding.  One of them explained it to me like this, "The Princess is getting married, so we all MUST wear hats."  And they did.  After the ceremony, while the photographer was taking her pictures, they made me go inside and get a hat for myself so we could have our picture taken together.

I thought you might enjoy seeing this.

I'm off to Maryland today, to visit with our dear friend Kat.  We'll do lunch and hit a few shops ... both of us REALLY need some girlfriend time right now.

(If you're having issues uploading photos today, I found a work-around posted on the Blogger Help Forum.  When you want to insert a photo, click on the 'Edit HTML' tab and use that photo uploader to insert your image.  After it loads, you can click back to 'Compose' mode to continue.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dear Daniel

Last weekend, as I was recovering from the world's worst cold and we were still clearing away the previous weekend's wedding mess, my dear Daniel quietly turned 10.

I took this photo while Daniel and I were on the porch of the cabin while we were on vacation in Tennessee earlier this year.

I never intended to have two dogs.  We adopted Emma in 1999, after Murphy, our labrador, died.  For six years Emma was happy as an only dog, and I was satisfied being a one-dog family.  Then I met Daniel.

Here's Daniel, the first time I saw him.

Daniel was one of two dogs I picked up in Cary, NC, to take to a greyhound adoption group in Richmond, Va.  Neither dog was adopted, and I was to deliver them to a foster home.  I was instantly attracted to Daniel ... the little voice in my gut was telling me that this was my dog, but I refused to listen.  During the ride from North Carolina back to Virginia, the little voice was persistent.  I was a good girl, and I dropped the dogs off at the designated place, and I drove home.  But I couldn't get Daniel out of my head.

For a week, I thought about him ... wondering if he'd been adopted.  How could he NOT have been adopted ... he was such a great dog.  This was a really foreign feeling for me, because I am a VERY seasoned greyhound transporter, as a member of the Greyhound Underground Railroad.  (Click HERE to read more.)  More than 300 greyhounds have traveled with us on their way to new homes, and I have only felt this way about a dog once before.  (I couldn't even consider bringing that one home, though, because he wasn't cat safe.)

The Husband and I talked about it, and he saw how much Daniel meant to me, so he agreed to have an open mind about possibly adding another dog to the family.  I called the adoption group, and they said that no one had showed any interest in Daniel so far.  We arranged to meet at his foster home, The Husband liked him, Emma didn't care one way or the other, and we brought our new boy home.

Daniel immediately made himself at home with the humans and the other animals in the family.  As we got to know him better, we discovered that he had some quirky characteristics.  First and foremost, Daniel hates to be left alone.  Because of this, he can probably never be an only dog.  Many times, he has ridden along for one of Emma's vet appointments if there wasn't anyone to stay home with him.  He isn't destructive, he just howls and whines and paces and is miserable till his family comes back home.  (He is also afraid of hammering and balloons.)

This photo of Daniel was published in Celebrating Greyhounds calendar a few years ago.

Daniel is a collector.  When he needs something to do, he will prowl the house and collect things. 

He was taking this blanket from the family room to his bed in the other room.

Two shoes, a slipper, and a one-eyed dog toy.

He usually just makes piles of his treasures, but sometimes we find that he has chewed a shoe.  This helps remind us to keep our shoes put away where Daniel can't get to them.

Good boy ... chew on toys instead.

Daniel is a great traveler.  Two or three times a year, we used to pack up and take the dogs to various greyhound gatherings.  Two of our favorite destinations are Dewey Beach, Delaware, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Daniel and Emma and me, freezing on the beach in early spring.

Emma and Daniel taking a drink during a rest stop on the way to Gettysburg.

Though Emma was happy being an only dog for so long, I'm glad that she accepted Daniel as a member of the family.

I have never met a greyhound that is as cat safe as Daniel is.  The first time I saw him, while he was on the leash in the yard at the house in Cary, NC, an outdoor cat ran right in front of him and he didn't flinch.  (Looking back, I wonder if this was what made the little voice in my gut start to work on me.)  He has never made a move toward any cat (or kitten) in the house or outside.  What a good boy!

Daniel and Alice sleeping in the sunshine.

He is curious, though.  He found this turtle in the backyard.

You may remember this photo of Daniel from last year, as he modeled the sweater I crocheted for a charity auction.

Daniel's racing name was "Forbes Nakdaniel" and he raced for two and a half years at three greyhound tracks in Florida.  (He was four and a half years old when we adopted him.)  He loves to run, and I'm not surprised that he raced for as long as he did.  To this day, he is happiest when he's running in the yard ... usually with a squeekie toy of some sort in his mouth.  His version of playing fetch is to have me throw a ball or a toy, he chases it, then he runs laps of the yard with the toy until he wears himself out.

When I think of Daniel, I see this.

My sweet boy.

But, this is the reality.  When did his face get so white?

Happy Birthday, Daniel!

You are I are PERFECT together.

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