Archive for September, 2011

September 28, 2011

Take note! (And plan for spring!)

Autumn is here.  It’s the time of year that I begin to reflect upon the past growing season for my entire yard including my veggie garden, fruit trees, vines, perennial beds, containers, lawn, etc.

This is the time to bust out that Garden Journal (or start one if you haven’t already) and jot a few things down.

What was the weather like? If you didn’t make note of it throughout the season, try to recall as best you can and jot it down.  Late spring, lots of rain early, intense heat in the middle of the summer (many 90+ degree days), followed by the first hard frost on Sept. 14th, with a dry, dry fall.  The weather impacts a lot of things in your yard and garden and it’s good to have an idea as to what took place in order to reflect on what plants liked and didn’t like.

What went well? Tomatoes?  It seems to be a toss-up depending on who you talk to.  Yesterday I took a visit to Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply in St Paul.  What a fun store!  (It is definitely getting added to my list of favorites!)  It’s a small store with pretty much everything you need for an Urban Garden including chickens and chicken supplies.  There weren’t any chickens there yesterday, but we were told that the baby chicks will be in around February or March.  In any case, we were discussing weather and tomatoes (as many gardeners do) and I found out that part of the issue with tomatoes this year was the heat.  However, it wasn’t what I was expecting to hear.  Apparently a lot of heirloom tomatoes don’t care for the intense heat while in bud stage, so many people growing heirlooms experienced bud drop this year, but those growing hybrids did not.  (A reason to grow a little of each.)  I grew both and I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay that close of attention to my tomatoes to take notice if or where buds dropped, but it does make sense because I did get far fewer tomatoes on my heirlooms than I did on my hybrids.

Another thing that did well were my containers on my front steps filled with all things edible – mostly herbs, but also strawberries and Nasturtiums.  All of them went gangbusters.  The key?  Go large – really large on containers.  You will be able to put a lot of plants in without stressing them because there will be enough soil and the container will maintain the moisture much longer than smaller pots do.

What didn’t go so well?  See tomatoes, above.  See also Cabbage, Broccoli, Peas… (see weather, above).

Who’s gotten too big for their britches?  Well, let’s see… for me it would be a mix… raspberries, Monarda and asparagus are quite obvious contenders in this category as, quite honestly, are all of my perennial beds.  I didn’t get out in them enough this year and they definitely need some love.

Who didn’t make it?  Where are the holes that need filling? Which combinations didn’t work together? Who didn’t play well together? Who overstayed their welcome? Who simply needs a new home? You get the idea…

If I take a look at all of my notes while everything is fresh in my mind, I can start a game plan for next year.  I know it sounds insane to be thinking about spring when autumn just started last week, but it really is much easier to plan for next year while you still remember what happened this year!


September 28, 2011

How’s Darby?

Well, Darby’s home.

Her surgery went well.  When I called last Friday evening for an update on her they told me she was eating, everything was functioning properly but she had “sad eyes” and was resting.  I know that look.  Ouch.  They said if she was doing well and was able to take baby steps she should still be able to come home on Saturday but that we would get a call from the Dr. Saturday morning to confirm.

Saturday morning I got the call.  I could tell by the sound in her Doctor’s voice that it was good news, and it was.  When the doctor went in to check on Darby that morning, Darby stood up and took two steps toward the Dr. Robles before she fell over!  Her doctor was delighted.  That’s a huge improvement from even the night before! When we brought her in she not only couldn’t stand on her own at all, but even if we supported her, her back legs still just dragged behind her.  Standing is awesome and taking steps on her own was even better.  So Darby got the  green light to come home.

Excited as I was, I was nervous as all get out.  It’s like bringing a new baby home.  Now what?!?  I was so afraid I was going to hurt her, break her, do the wrong thing…

Things are a bit different around here now.  Jake and Darby have to be completely separated, so that means everything that needs to be done with them needs to be done independently (feeding, eating, sleeping, going outside, etc.) whereas it was all done together in the past.

I’m also feeling a little bit like a nurse.  I typically check on her about every 2 hours (during the day – I don’t work the night shift) to see how she’s doing and get her outside.  She gets meds 3 times a day, which I hide in peanut butter.  She absolutely LOVES peanut butter!  But seriously, she has to wonder what the heck is in that peanut butter because every time she gets it, she gets tired and woosey.  Regardless, it doesn’t stop her from eating it.

She’s not allowed to have more than one hour of activity as day and has doctor’s orders to just hang out and watch TV.  In other words she’s “kenneled” 23 out of 24 hours in the day.  When she goes outside she’s allowed 5 – 10 minutes max. to do her business and then back inside she goes for more rest, relaxation and healing.

If you’re thinking this sounds cruel, I did at first too, but she really doesn’t seem to mind all that much.  Of course I forgot to mention, she’s not really in a kennel. In order for her to have enough room to eat, drink, sleep and turn around, but not enough room to walk so much as to fall down and get hurt, Darby is now living in a little space set -up in the sun room that we refer to as her apartment.

As far as Darby’s physical state, she’s improving little by little each day.  The first few days were trying because she still didn’t have complete control over all of her functions so she had quite a few accidents.  That became tricky trying to clean up, change bedding, swap stuff out, while supporting her so she didn’t tip over.  But we got there.  She also tired pretty quickly, and was in quite a bit of pain so I ended up carrying all 49 lbs of her (yes, she’s on a diet now) in and out and up and down stairs.  I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re lifting, carrying and trying to be as gentle as possible so as not to jar her or hurt her in any way and you’re doing it multiple times a day, MAN do you feel it!  But it’s a super fast way to get some pipes!

Darby is gaining strength every day which is really encouraging.  Her back end and back legs still need to be supported with a towel or her “hot pants with a handle” in order to walk.  If she is just wandering around the yard on her 10 minute jaunt she tends to look a little drunk.  Her legs aren’t as strong as they used to be and she wobbles and stumbles, but given the right motivation, she seems to forget the pain and she’s able to get going pretty well (with support).

She still has a couple of months of recovery ahead of her, but it sounds like the first 2 weeks will be the most difficult for all of us.  The good news is she’s incredibly tough, very strong willed and determined to get back on walks.  We’re working through it all and starting to find our groove, so if things stay on the path we’re on right now I’m pretty optimistic she’ll be close to her fighting weight in a couple of months as well.

Please continue to send prayers for a speedy recovery, because so far they appear to be working!


September 22, 2011

A sigh of relief

“How’s Darby?” “What time is it?”  I opened my eyes to look at the clock. 6:58.  I’d overslept. Three and a half hours until the MRI. “Please, God, let it be a disc (and not Cancer).” “I hope she knows I love her.” “I hope she’s not in pain right now.”  “She’s in good hands, they’re taking care of her.”  “She’ll be fine.”  “They said they’d call you after the MRI.”  “Just relax.”

Darby stayed over night at the hospital last night so they could keep her pain under control.  She went in for her MRI this morning at 10:30.  As Anna told me would happen, I got a call from the Doctor around 11:00 confirming that Darby did in fact have a slipped disc and in her words “It’s pretty impressive.”  She said she is amazed Darby is doing as well as she is.  They were taking her directly into surgery and I should hear in about two and a half to three hours as to how it went.  Like clockwork,  about 3 hours later I got another call.  She was in recovery and doing well.  They had cleaned everything out and released the pressure but had also found blood.  She said that something had caused it to hemorrhage within the past day or so which is most likely why things had changed for the worse.  But it’s done.  All clean, looks good and the surgery went well.

Darby will be hanging out at the hospital a couple more days. She’ll be under 24 hour observation to monitor her pain and progress and begin her recovery.  The Doctor said that she needs to show signs of improvement and start taking “baby steps” before she’ll be able to come home.  Once home it will be weeks before she’ll be walking again and months before she’s totally healed.

So we have a long road ahead of us, but at last I can breathe a sigh of relief.  We’ve made it over the first hurdle.  Atta girl!


September 22, 2011

An angel in disguise

I’ve been waiting to post anything about, well, anything the past couple of days because my heart hasn’t been into landscaping, gardening or anything else because I’ve been completely focused on Darby.

The past 48 hours have been trying to say the least. Emotionally I’ve hit some pretty low lows and shed many, many tears.  Per the recommendation of our regular vet we took Darby to Veterinary Neurology at the U of M on Tuesday.  The Doctor changed her medications a little and wanted us to take her home and observe her for a few more days to see if she would begin to heal on her own.  If she didn’t begin to show signs of improvement or began to getting worse we were advised to bring her back.  In a little over 24 hours after her initial visit to the U of M she had lost all use of her back legs as well as control over her bodily functions and her pain had gone up significantly.  I spent the majority of the afternoon cleaning her up, changing kennel pads and trying to make her comfortable.  By early evening it was evident I couldn’t do any more to help her.  She was in so much pain, moaning with every movement and I’d already given her the maximum dose of her pain meds with hours left to go before I could give her more.   Not wanting to move her another time to return her to her kennel, I sat on the floor petting and trying to comfort her.  I called the U of M.  I spoke with Anna, one of the people we’d seen the day before (and who I think is an angel in disguise) and described what was going on.  She told me to bring Darby in and they would care for her overnight until they could get her in for an MRI.  My chest instantly felt lighter.  Thankfully my mom was visiting at the time and could be a more rational and composed driver than I could be so she took my son, Darby and I over to the hospital.  As I was carrying Darby up the walkway I mentioned to my son that he would need to open the doors for me.  Just as he went to reach for the button the doors opened.  Again, my heart was lifted.  Knowing full well that there is a button behind the desk to open them and that the doors are glass, just like any other door, it seriously felt like the doors to heaven were being opened for me.  Inside the doors Anna stood waiting for us.  Maybe it was relief, maybe it was the tears clouding my vision, maybe it was the lighting, but when she stood there in front of me with her arms open wide, a gentle smile on her face and compassion in her eyes, I saw a halo.  Not a shiny gold hoop or fluffy feather headband thing on her head, but a soft glow surrounding her whole body.  She took Darby ever so gently from my arms and brought her in back so they could make her comfortable as fast as possible.  She laid the paperwork on the counter and said she would be back to go over it.  A weight had been lifted.  Never in my life have I put my trust in anyone so fast and I’m pretty sure I know the reason why.

I’m not a regular church-going girl but try to live my life and raise my son in a faithful way.  Many who know me well also know that I’m not one to discuss religion or my beliefs very openly so this may come as a little out of character for me.  I’ve met many people in my life, some of whom are family or friends, some are just people I’ve met in passing, who profess to be believers of one God or another, claim to be a Christian, a Mormon, or whatever it may be then turn around and behave in selfish, hurtful or less than Christ-like manner.

Never in my life have I had an experience like I did yesterday.  Anna, didn’t need to tell me who she believes in or what she believes, her behavior said it all.  Her compassion and caring for lives other than her own was incredible.  The weight she lifted off of my shoulders and the love and compassion I felt from her was more powerful than any mass or service I’ve ever attended and more sincere than I’ve been given by some people I’ve known most of my life.  Anna was just doing her job, but her presence and God’s presence within her was amazing.  I’ve never felt closer to God than I did yesterday.

I hope that some day I can repay her, maybe not in a direct sense, but by paying it forward.  Hanging onto that feeling I got from her, remembering how that felt and sharing that gift of unconditional love and compassion with the people I meet.  Anna impacted my life.  I hope to do the same for others.


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