Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Simon appears to be using his bed-- we found a big, warm, dog-sized crater in the middle and a pile of bedding outside the box. At least it's easier to sweep up than the flower bed dirt, not to mention the fact that it doesn't cake onto the brick or create a fine haze over everything.

All the storms that came through yesterday never actually culminated in much. Adam was off work, and he tells me that there were a few rumbles of thunder, but Simon handled it all well. No need for the meds and the house was intact when I got home, as was the yard. Of course, more is supposedly on its way tonight and for the next several days, so I continue to hold my breath.

On another note, our neighbors have the sweetest brindle boxer and another small dog. The two of them bark and bark and bark. I don't really mind, but it's a bummer since we just got Simon trained to understand that barking at nothing is not cool-- one bark plus lying down facing the house = get to come inside. Now they're talking at each other pretty constantly. But it's so cute when they're both up at the fence. They lick through the cracks and love and love and love on each other. Simon's just a lady's pup, apparently. When he was at my mom's, we used to come home frequently to find other lady dogs from the neighborhood who had climbed INTO our backyard to hang out with him. He's just that irresistable.

Home Depot Giveaway

I'm sure I'm a little late to the table with this, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my chances in the latest One Project Closer giveaway, sponsored by Home Depot. To boost awareness of their tool rental program, Home Depot would like folks to go to One Project Closer's blog entry and leave a comment letting them know what tool from the Home Depot tool rental arsenal they would rent. That gets you one entry... Doing what I'm doing now-- blogging about it and linking back to the article-- gets you 50 entries.

The prize? A $200 Home Depot gift card. And who couldn't use that these days.

The possibilities are endless.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A storm's a-brewin'...

And it's been brewing all weekend! Every second, it looked like it could start pouring. But it didn't. Instead, it was breezy and warm. Absolutely perfect.

Saturday, we got the front flower beds cleared out and weeded. Then we planted 2 varieties of hostas around the bird bath-- 3 small plants and 3 bulbs. I should have planted the tubers last fall, but I never got around to it. So if they don't make it up out of the ground this year, I'll see them next spring!

Here's the best shot I can find of the flower beds "before":

It basically looks as though there's no flower beds there. We had let the grass sort of take over under the gold dust plants, and the vinca and cherry laurels had taken over the bird bath area-- that's right. By the time we got to the weeding, we had small cherry laurel trees growing in the bed. I may transplant one of those trees to the other side of the yard; they're hardy and evergreen. Lovely. And don't get me wrong. Vinca is fantastic as ground cover. But it was looking a little unmanageable. Same thing with what I thought was ajuga under the gold dust plants. It had somewhat similar leaves and purple flowers were appearing; however, the flowers didn't spike up...Now I think it's some variety of dichondra..? Regardless, it is insidious.

Now the front of the house (taken in the dark):

Holy crap, right? There's an actual edge to that flower bed. And let me preempt the stern talkings-to that I anticipate about the cypress mulch. My mom worked in a nursery and did landscaping, and it's what we always used. I love the smell, the color, the texture. I have found out, since buying my front yard supply, that it is not sustainable. I will look into equally attractive more sustainable alternatives in furture. Until then, this is what I have.

The plan is to transplant some of Mom's monkey grass from her garden to fill out the border, to trim or tie back the low-hanging gold dust branches, and then to go behind the grass with brightly colored foliage-- coleus and caladiums. There's too much shade for constantly blooming flowers.

Then we planted some hanging baskets. A fuschia:

And petunias and impatiens:

We also bought some basil and a rather large tomato plant. It's lazy. I know.

In addition to a number of other little minor repairs, Adam and the kiddo put together an outdoor doggie bed. When the weather is nice, the dog wants to stay outside. While outside, he likes to dig his bed. Some have suggested it's for the coolness of the dirt, but I think it's even more instinctual than that. (BTW-- I did consider the pool idea suggested last summer, but this is a dog that hates getting his skin wet SO MUCH that I can't imagine he would use it. Might be worth a shot, though). A lot of dogs dig their beds inside, as well. And as I've mentioned, he's 14-- a lot of habits are pretty ingrained by this point. Simon is also a bit leery of closed spaces. He doesn't even like us to close the door in the bedroom, which is why I think he doesn't like to go into the shed where his comfy dog bed is at present.

So the final product has a roof and bed, but no walls; it's against the house (where he seems to prefer), and it is diggable.

Ok. Now to preempt bed filler discussions. Yes that is cedar bedding. Yes I am aware that many people think cedar bedding is a no-no. I have looked into it and am using it for a number of reasons. The main objections to the bedding appears to be that it can cause allergies. Simon had cedar bedding for 12 years at my mother's house with no problems-- in fact, he seemed to like it very much, and for such a creature of habit, the more that's "the same" the better. So no allergies. Pregnant dogs and puppies shouldn't use it for a few reasons. There are some worries that some dogs eat it; he doesn't. Another concern is respiratory problems. This seems to be primarily involving small animals that live 24/7 confined in cages or glass tanks with the stuff. Again, he doesn't. And finally, people who use their dogs for hunting say that it interferes with their sense of smell.

We used it because, again, it's something he is very familiar with and has enjoyed in the past, it has a number of pest repellant properties, it will keep him drier than blankets and it's cooler than straw, I believe. I may mix straw in with the chips, and it's not that he spends all day there. He is in and out, but with the weather as nice as it is, he's out more than in. I open the door and he stands and looks at me and dances around for me to come play, but doesn't want to come in. So be it. We'll shingle and paint the house if he does indeed use it and like it.

The vet did give us new meds that we hope he is tolerating. We have mega storms blowing in this afternoon and evening, so we'll know a bit more tomorrow on how effective they are with the the thunder and lightning. I'm hoping to add in the anxiety wrap, as the vet warned these meds will only "take the edge off." Fingers crossed. He had such a happy weekend with the beautiful weather and lots of our time spent outside. He's a very helpful overseer of all my outdoor projects, following me all around and keeping a very close watch on what I'm doing. I think he's officiall my General Yard Manager!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More progress

It's a real flurry of work at the house. Apparently, this is only when I'm not at home. No complaints from me!

I came home last night to see that Adam had mowed and installed the last of the kitchen counter trim. The place is too big of a mess to take pictures of that, and my camera needs batteries anyway; at this point, I am dampening the battery connections every time I need to take a picture. Just rest assured: we're getting there.

The dog, on the other hand, is getting better and worse. I tried melatonin and it definitely helped-- he's not shivering or panicking quite so hard, but he is still scrabbling at the floor-- and now it doesn't take much of a storm at all, sometimes no storm whatsoever (no storm elicits more of a "fluffing"; it's less panicked and he will stop on command). I fear that the TERRIBLE storms we had last weekend have made him extra anxious at night and with storms-- it had already been a traumatic day with 2 trips to the vet and a bad med reaction. I wish we'd never seen those pills. I still haven't given it to him again, and I am going to continue with the melatonin and perhaps add Rescue Remedy or one of the pheromone diffusers. I've also heard good things about valerian-- any thoughts? We will also go with a new bigger bed (it's time anyway) with lots of blankets and sheets to dig at and fluff-- the vet also suggested some counter-conditioning with thunder CDs. Finally, we'll try this:

Even at 2 am I thought this was a photo worth licking the batteries for. Those are just socks and velcro cable ties. His nails are pretty short and smooth (thanks, concrete!) but they still poke through a little; those are, after all, my old holey threadbare shitty socks. But they got me a few peaceful moments. I will invest in real dog booties or make some out of a canvass or something more heavy duty. Then he can just dig himself silly. It seems to either soothe him or be something he cannot control. Punishing him (ie-- putting him out or scolding or shaking coke cans with pennies), therefore, seems like the wrong response.

Anyway, I haven't slept now in about a week and it's killing me. Maybe we can get something working soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And just like that...

Summer is creeping up on us. And I'm ready. Yesterday, I came home to another great summer surprise:

Yep. Our porch swing that we got a year ago is finally up... Normally, I think swings should face the rest of the porch, but in our case, we use the side entrance to the porch a lot and didn't want to block it.

Now we have perfect push-off abilities with the porch ledge. It swings slightly off center, since we had to stagger the hooks up top (hanging it on an incline), but I don't really care. It's perfect.

Adam also wanted to try out the new compressor, so he fixed the front door. Since the DAY we closed on the house and we changed the locks, it has looked like this:

See there on the left? We had to pull that piece of trim off to change part of the lock. Well. As of yesterday? It looks like this:

I can't tell you how much it changes the entire room. Obviously still needs caulking and all the inside trim needs to be painted this spring when I can open the windows and confine the cats in the laundry room for a while. We want to wait until the base shoe is there so I can blend it in a bit more seamlessly. If you recall, we had to buy baseshoe quite a bit larger than regular quarter round because of the way the house has settled combined with that assy job the POs did sheetrocking AROUND the trim, rather than removing the trim, sheetrocking, and THEN reinstalling the trim. Grrrr.... Anyway. All in the past. No need to get worked up over it again.

As for the pup, he tried to dig the floor last night again-- 2nd time now that he's tried to dig when there's no thunderstorm, both times have been since taking the meds. I'm going to try the melatonin this week. Though, honestly, he may just want out-- the weather's been perfect and he's barely wanted to come inside at all...

So yeah. Things are chugging along at the ol' bungalow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

No, really! Housework!

So, full disclosure. A while back I posted pictures of the new gable vent. We had not installed it really. We propped it up there, made sure it fit, then went back to having a gaping hole into the attic. We tried keeping it covered with plastic, but these spring storms have made keeping it covered impossible.

But by the time I got home on Friday, Adam has secretly painted and installed the vent. TaDa!

I think I'd like to trim around it, but I must say I am very pleased with how it turned out. I also think I mentioned before that we recycled even more of the garage door wood to make this and I couldn't be happier.

We also got a new Porter Cable compressor. It's got two valves, so you can have 2 tools hooked up at once. It certainly wasn't the cheapest one, but we looked at Craftsman compressors at Sears, and they seemed so flimsily built compared to the PC. And the PC one is almost identical to my father's, which is what we had been using. Since we liked the older one, we went with the newer version of the same model. At least it was on sale. At any rate, I look forward to installing our base shoe, screening the porch, airing up our tires, and filling in the ghost door, among many other projects, I'm sure.

We had hoped to get the porch swing up this weekend, but had a doggie emergency. The puppy has developed terrible storm anxiety over the last year and it's reached a breaking point. If he's outside he digs up the yard until it starts raining, then he curls up-- not in his dog house-- but under the eaves. However, he has a serious double coat, so no matter how wet and soaked he looks, his skin is dry; I check every time, and am amazed still, every time.

But if he's in the house, he pants, paces, shivers, and tries to dig up the floor boards. I worry for the house and mostly I worry for his blood pressure. So I took him to the vet to see if there was something we could do or give him to quell his anxiety. They gave me some pills to try out and, since there was a storm rolling in that afternoon, I went ahead and tried them out. Unfortunately, the storm took longer getting here than was expected, and puppy wanted to go outside. Mind you, this is 2 or 2 1/2 hours after taking the pills, so I was less concerned about having my eyes on him at all times. He curled up in the flower bed and went to sleep. When I went to check on him, he was twitching like he was running in a dream. But then he couldn't stand up, couldn't really open his eyes, his third lid was up and he was shivering. So we had to rush him to the emergency vet. The vet techs looked at us like we were at least a little stupid when we showed them the pills. One said, "You know these are a sedative...?" The other just let us know that while the third eyelid makes things look a lot scarier than they are, it's pretty normal. All his vitals were good-- temp, heart, breathing. He was just out of it. Apparently, this was a fairly usual reaction to this med, a tranquilizer; however, it was a bit much for him-- or more like a bit much for me and especially the kiddo! We sort of expected drowsy and loopy. The vet did warn me that it was a tranquilizer, so it shouldn't have been a surprise. I think his 2 hours of totally normal were just deceiving.

He's ok now. He managed to get back to normal in time to dig his way to China, via the bedroom floor when the storms did get to Fort Smith, but he was still a little anxious last night. Apparently we can give him 1/2 or 1/4 the dose next time, but I don't know. Being outside where he at least calms down during the storm, if not in its run-up, might be preferable. That whole experience was terrifying. The second vet also suggested we try some storm CDs on sunny nice days to decondition him...

So that was the weekend. A little bit of home improvement, some spring cleaning, and a very sick puppy.

Here's hoping next weekend is better.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hi-ho, hi-ho...

heehe... We're doing a workshop on using blogs in the classroom as I type. Work work work!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring is here again

You wouldn't necessarily know it considering temps in the 20s last night. But everything is cropping up. Our gold dust plants and liriope and canna lilies and ajuga all have new growth. Everything is lovely. In fact, despite a hot hot hot summer last year and a failure to sufficiently water on my part, the dogwood looks even better this year. Can't wait for the summer heat and cold beer on the porch!