July 22, 2013

Oh, my blog has been so sad the last several years.  With blazing heat and scorching wind and nothing awesome to show for my efforts, it has just been too depressing to post much.

It has actually rained a few times this year, and comparatively it feels like living in an oasis.  My vegetable garden is just pathetic, so I have largely abonded it to experiment with other planting sites around the yard that have 1) fresh dirt from the farm or 2) less exposure to the intense sun and wind.  So far, direct seeding in these areas has been encouraging.  Time will tell.

Herbs have been doing well despite the drought - Italian parsley, rosemary, oregano, sweet basil, holy basil (Thanks, Candy!), sage and some kind of mint.

Here are some recent pics.  So what do the Swinging Singles do on Friday nights?

Cool off our feet, watch the grass grow, and take pictures of the dogs...

Trigger the Digger who came from the pound in Breckenridge, TX.  Poor boy, he'd been at the pound for five months!  He needed a home, and I needed a good dog - we both lucked out!!

Huddy Girl is 12 or 13, but she just keeps on keepin' on.  I think Trig has livened her up some since she's taken to chewing up stuff, just like a pup.  I thought he would learn from her, but I think she's learning from him!!

The hillbilly fountain is still going strong and is accented with Four O'Clocks growing next to it.  Four O'Clocks are easy to grow from seed and have fragrant yellow and pink flowers that open in the evening.  In Lubbock, they need some afternoon and evening shade to perform well.

October 3, 2012

Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs

This is not garden related, but I am including it here in the hope that it will help someone out there.

My dog Sam was recently diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis.  LP occurs when muscles in the larynx start to lose their function affecting your dog's ability to breath properly. 

To give you a little bit of background, Sam is 11 or 12 (I got him at the pound).  He's been hypothyroid for several years, blew out his ACL abou 18 months ago, and has some arthritis.  So he has several conditions going on.

In Sam's case (as in most from what I read on the interwebz), I noticed something was wrong during the hottest part of the summertime.  Heavy panting because of the hot weather caused him to start wheezing any time he would exert himself or get excited like when I came home from work.

After several weeks of this, I took Sam to the vet thinking that maybe he had some kind of respiratory infection.  Of course he didn't wheeze at the vet's, but I was prepared for this!  I had made a video (posted below) of the wheezing, and because of that the vet was able to diagnose what was going on.

The good news is that with a few changes I have been able to greatly improve Sam's breathing without medication or surgery.

First, the vet advised me to shave Sam's coat off.  He is a golden retriever, and he is beautiful.  Here are his before and after pictures!

Many thanks to John for doing this!!

To be honest, I was horrified at first by how different he looked!  He didn't look bad, he just didn't look like himself.  Then I asked the Google if it was safe to shave a dog's coat and found all kinds of opinions that said it would never grow back, harm the dog, (insert your own scary internet thing here), etc.  I called my vet the next day to ask him again if this was the right thing to do, and he assured me that it was and that it would be a tremendous help to my dog. 

Boy, was he right!  And, yes, your dog's hair will grow back.  Here is Sam last week (about two months after his shave).

Sam loves to eat tissues, so I let him destroy an entire roll of toilet paper.  Making your dog happy is cheap and easy!

Shaving Sam has improved his breathing tremendously by helping him to be cooler in the summer.  I mean, really, who wants to wear a fur coat when it's 100 degrees outside?!  (Shannon and John, feel free to rub it in here...)

Shaving Sam made the biggest difference of all, but there are a few other things that helped as well.  When it was super hot, I left Sam inside during the day.  I did adjust his feeding schedule to account for this, and if you feed your dog primarily in the evening, you dog will be fine waiting to potty until you get home after work.  I had a black lab when I lived in an apartment, and I let her potty in the morning before I left for work, left her in the apartment during the day, and fed her in the evening.  I did this for three years with Licorice, and she lived to be 15 years old and never had an accident in the house.  After his shave, Sam seemed to be fine outside up to about 95 degrees, but warmer than that I left him inside.

The other thing I did was to install some soaker hose under the shrubbery along the back side of my house.  Keeping the soil damp underneath your shrubs makes a tremendous difference in keeping your dogs cool, and it doesn't use that much water.  (Incidentally, it's also beneficial for your house to keep the areas around the foundation damp.  This will help prevent your foundation from cracking and causing your house to shift, so if it's very dry where you live, water your house occassionally even if you don't have pets.)

WHAT TO EXPECT:  Before I knew what was wrong with Sam, he was wheezing multiple times a day, sometimes for several minutes at a time.  After I made the above changes, he almost stopped wheezing altogether, even when it was still very hot outside.  In the first week, he wheezed maybe once or twice.  After that, almost never.  Cooler weather obviously makes a huge difference, but in my opinion, the wheezing was almost self-perpetuating, and it seemed like once I got him more comfortable it may have helped reduce the inflammation of wheezing and struggling and allowed him to do better in all circumstances, even when he gets excited when I come home from work.

Here is a video of Sam wheezing from laryngeal paralysis.  It is sad to watch this, but I wanted to included it in case you think your dog may have this so that you can see and hear what it's like.  In my experience (and Sam's), it IS manageable.

A few other words...  In the first couple of days after Sam's diagnosis, it seemed like he was getting worse every day.  I was so nervous and worried.  I called my vet and asked how I would know "when it was time," and he gave me what I thought was some solid advice.

He said that with laryngeal paralysis specifically, if the dog can recover he breath within ten minutes, he's probably okay.  Longer than that is not good.  And in the broader sense, he said, "Pick five things your dog likes to do, and when he stops doing three of those things, it's time."

That's direct, but infinitely more helpful than "you'll just know."  Because I don't know that I will.

To end things on a happier note, here are a few more pictures of my sweet Sammy Sam.  I love him so much...

Sam and me back in the day...

How to Make a Hillbilly Fountain for Your Patio

Or, as I'm calling it, my "Pee Bucket Fountain."  I know, sounds appealing, right?!  But it's really kind of cool and lets you enjoy the sound of running water for hours at a time!

You can see why I call it my Pee Bucket Fountain!

It has rained quite a bit here lately, and we had several nice days of drizzling, off-and-on rain.  It was glorious.  When (if!) it rains here, it usually comes down with a vengence and is accompanied by 50 mph winds that blow everything around the yard like a tornado has come through.  In fact, the other day while driving home from work a storm came through with such violent wind that it felt like my vehicle was surrounded by hoodlums who were shaking the car all around.  It was like the storm was trying to carjack me.

But we had some really nice, drizzly days in there too, and it made me realize how much I've missed the sound, smell, and feel of water with this extended drought we've been in.

I started thinking that maybe it would be nice to have a small fountain on my patio so that I could at least enjoy the sound of water more often.  I looked around some on Amazon to see what they had (I LOVE Amazon!!), but I knew I was way to cheap and lazy to have something that required not only electricity but also occassional cleaning of the pump.  And I started to wonder what else I could do.  This is also how I learned to build a Redneck Air Conditioner on YouTube on a hot day in late spring.

I didn't really find what I was looking for on the fountain, so I just made something up.  I bought two galvanized metal buckets and six cinder blocks.  You'll also need a third bucket - I used the dogs' galvanized water bucket for the bottom.  The buckets cost $16 a piece at Lowe's, and the cinder blocks were $1.87 each.  I also purchased some marine epoxy for another project, and the grand total was $51 with tax, so it's darn cheap.  Just use whatever will hold water that you can drill a hole in and that will fit in with your decor.  At my house, galvanized steel buckets work just fine.

Drill a small hole in the wall of the bucket near the bottom.  I used a 3/32" drill bit for mine.  Put the buckets on the cinder blocks, fill 'em with water, and voila!

I'm pleasantly surprised at how this turned out, actually.  With the tiny holes the sound is just right, and the system will run for a full two hours before you have to maintenance it.  Which means dipping the first two buckets in the bottom one to fill them back up again!  Enjoy!

July 16, 2012

Summer Bummer!

I can't believe it!  After I just said yesterday how important proper pruning is so that you have a nice, strong branch structure on your fruit trees, I came home today and found this:

It split right down the middle.  The weight of all those peaches was just too much for my poor tree.  This is what I get for bragging, I guess.  I'm so bummed.  I guess you can have too much of a good thing.

My only consolation is that I've heard that my dear old dad was kind of a slum lord with his purple martin houses this year.  Oh, well...

July 15, 2012


Peaches are about the only thing I got out of the garden last year, and it looks like it's going to be the same again this year unless I get a few late-season habaneros and tomatoes.

They're still a little green, but Sam and I ate a few tonight anyways.  They're tart with just a light sweetness.  If I can keep the ants off of them, they'll make for good eating soon!

(These are Elberta peaches, by the way.)

These two pictures show the branching structure of the tree (as well as how it looks like it's about to split in half from the weight of all the fruit!).  You want to prune fruit trees so that they have open centers with branches at wide angles which makes them nice and strong so they'll bear the weight of the fruit.

Take that, Dad - loads of peaches!

October 17, 2011

High Plains Haboob!

I know I haven't posted anything since early spring, but frankly, with this summer's drought there hasn't been much to post except for dead grass and a thermometer that went up to 112 one day.  No tomatoes, no peppers.  I did get some peaches.


I was sitting on the couch at about 5:30 this evening, and all of the sudden I noticed it started to look strange all over, and I thought, "Man, that's a weird color coming from outside."

So I walked to the door and saw a massive dust storm.  I rushed the dogs into the house and grabbed my camera.  Happily, as I cracked the back door open to take these pictures my cat ran outside and stood proudly on the patio.  I threw her back in the house, and I swear she looked like I'd hurt her feelings or insulted her.

I guess t-sips would like it here because the whole town was burnt orange!

Minutes after the initial blast.

This is the first picture I attempted to take.  The flash was set to "automatic," and it was so dark outside that it went off.  As a result, all you can see are dirt flecks flying past the camera.

The aftermath on my passion vine.

I just got done vaccuuming out my truck.  I'd left the windows cracked after a trip to the store today, and there was so much dirt inside that I would not have been able to get in there tomorrow and still look presentable by the time I got to work.  I am not known amongst friends and family for keeping the cleanest truck, but this was more dirt than even I could handle.

Guess I'll spend the rest of the evening trying to scrape up dirt from inside the house.

Here is a picture that shows the scope of this thing better than my orange pictures of the back yard, and hopefully I'll be able to update this post with some of the video they've been showing up here.  It's unbelievable.

UPDATE:  Here is a video I found on You Tube.

March 18, 2011

Shiner Black Lager White Roses

My college roommate Sonya got married this past weekend.  The wedding was beautiful

After the reception, our friend Jennifer dismantled one of the table toppers and decorated our suite at the Ant Street Inn with pretty little flower arrangements displayed in coffee cups and other various and sundries. 

What a fun surprise!!

Sonya, I'm so glas you and Michael slrp tigit!!

March 16, 2011

The Garden Workout

Today I traded in my regular workout for yard work and burned 275 calories - not bad!  Here's the workout and a tour around the yard.

1. Prune the honeysuckle

'Gold Flame' honeysuckle before...

...and after!  My mom and dad gave me this iron topiary for my birthday a few years back.

It has a finial on top that will be hidden soon.  Here is what it will look like in a few months!

2. Mulch the landscape
If you're a cheapskate like me, use the free mulch from the city!

3. Cut back the Pampas Grass
What a chore, but it's worth it!  Here are the three clumps with the big pile of mess in the back.  Last year I chopped up the leftover grass and used it in the compost bin.

4. Play with the dogs!!
Sam-dog does his part.  He busted his ACL about six weeks back, so he mostly lays around and watches now.  He's getting around okay as long as he takes it easy, poor sweet guy!

Hudman has adjusted to the city life after moving out here from the farm about a year ago.  She has this big tractor tire to lie next to, so it's like she still has part of the farm with her.

Bullet - The Top Dog will be 12 on April 29th!

Get with it, it's that time of year!!

Debbi, I'll see you tomorrow for the Perfect Mellow Thursday!!

Love, Em

March 14, 2011

Spring is... (Charlie Sheen voice) SPRINGING!

Last year this tree produced the world's best peach like a freakin' rock star from Mars!

The spirea are starting to leaf out as well.  In a few weeks they're going to bloom like high priest Vatican assassin warlocks with flowers shooting from their fingertips - EPIC!

Vanhoutte spirea

Bridal Wreath spirea is a little further behind.

November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving with Wortham (oh, and the rest of the family, too!)

I had a W-Mack attack for Thanksgiving...

Reading "Find Reveille!" with Grandpa.

Worth found a hiding place in the Pampas Grass!

Putting the football tackle on Grandpa!

Thanksgiving dinner...

...with Granny and Momma.

It's not nice to bounce balls on peoples' faces and heads.  Especially on Thanksgiving!

It's not Hooters, but we still enjoyed watching the Aggies beat the hell outta t.u. at Buffalo Wild Wings!

Slumber party!

Caution, hot shot...

Our visit to the Science Spectrum. 

Vroom, vroom!!

Roasting marshmallows...

...and eating s'mores.

All aboard... The Polar Express!

(Dude, don't stick your eye in the flash!)

Make sure the conductor punches your ticket!

Oh, boy!

After our trip to the North Pole, Santa Claus boarded the train and gave Worth a jingle bell!

Magic jingle bell...

(Santa said they don't usually let Aggies ride the Polar Express, but since he was rooting for us the night before it was okay.  Good thing because we totally beat the hell outta ttu this year, too!)

Worth gets his picture with one of Santa's elves.

Daddy, Worth, and Momma.

Daddy, Worth, and Auntie Em.

Thanks for taking us on the Polar Express, Granny!

"Kitty cat!"

(Worthie and Bobette - he was so sweet and gentle with her.  No, seriously!)

Playing a little football in the back forty on our last day!

Pops gives us a few pointers.

Grandpa gives some instruction, too.  He's like the planet Mars on a clear and starlit night, you know!

Worth with teammate Jack.

High flier!

Run, run, run for the touchdown!

Worth sneaks up on Granny from his hiding place.
So long, Lubbock...

Behold, my kitchen table while it's actually clean - it doesn't happen often!!