Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend 2008

Well, I did it! Today is my blogiversary and my 100th post. I've managed to put the two celebrations together. It doesn't seem possible that a whole year has gone by since I started blogging.
I caught a decent shot of this cute little squirrel in my front yard today. We have been inundated with squirrels this year. I'm pretty sure that a bunch of little ones have been born and they are all running around looking for something to eat.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pet care challenges

Pet care has been a challenge this past week. In particular, this has been a week of wondering what to do and waiting for test results. Last Friday morning I found that Avalanche, my furry little alarm clock did not wake me as usual telling me to feed him and the other cats. When I found him lying in the cat bed he did not want to move, even after I asked him if he was hungry. He really did not look well, but I thought maybe he'll be better in a little while. Well, unfortunately, Avalanche did not eat Friday morning or in the evening, and still did not move around much. By Friday evening I realized something was seriously wrong, but that is not the time to try and call the vet. Saturday morning and evening was still the same. So this little guy did not eat or drink any water for two days. Now it's time to "worry."
So Sunday morning I told Red that we need to take him to emergency vet services. We both knew he was severely dehydrated and needed some help. So while we were at church Sunday morning our son took him to emergency for us and we met him there. Avalanche had not been seen yet, so we all waited until his name was called.
Upon examination and getting answers from all three of us the vet said she could feel an enlarged left kidney and said it was probably renal failure or could possibly be a form of cancer. That's all I had to hear. It was only a year ago we had to deal with losing our husky, Kody, to hemangiosarcoma. I wasn't ready to deal with anything like that again! So tests were taken and we would have to wait until Monday or Tuesday before getting the results and they would also be sent to our regular vet. Meanwhile they could give him some fluids and we would have to call our vet to bring him in ASAP for a follow-up exam.
Our regular vet wasn't in on Monday, so we had an appointment at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The results from the lab for the tests taken on Sunday pointed to kidney disease. Avalanche's blood and urine count numbers were high, but not gravely high. Thank goodness. The worst "number" is his creatinine, and we have to get that number down before they do an ultrasound on him. This would be to "eliminate" a possibility of cancer. Meanwhile, we have to "pump" this little guy with 150cc of electrolytes/fluids each day until the bag is empty. My husband and I were given a demonstration on how to do it, but I wanted Red to do it because I knew she could handle "sticking" Avalanche with a big fat needle. I knew I couldn't do it without feeling like I was hurting him. (And to think I work in a hospital. No wonder I'm a librarian and not a nurse!) Anyway, we tried getting the fluids into Avalanche Wednesday evening, but we were not successful. So in desparation I called the vet's office Thursday morning and asked if I could bring Avalanche in and get a second demonstration and make sure Red was there to see how it's done. We all met there in the afternoon, and Red felt confident enough that she could do it.
So our second attempt was last night (Friday), and I'm glad to say it went very well. We had to do it again tonight and it also went well. It's amazing how resilient these little kitties can be. Right now, as long as Avalanche receives these fluids on a daily basis he seems to be acting more like himself. We have also had to put him on a different food than the other kitties; he's now eating k/d feline (vet prescribed, made by Hill Science Diet). I think one of my biggest concerns about Avalanche was that several years ago he was diagnosed as FIV positive. So we've known that as long as he was neutered and lived as an indoor-only cat, we knew he would be healthier and live a reasonably long life. So at the age of 12 I would expect this cat should still be able to live at least until he's 15. Well, let's hope! Viva la Avalanche!
**As a post script, I have linked Red's blog to all three posts she wrote on Avalanche.**

Friday, May 23, 2008

A riparian trail

I've taken a couple extra days off from work and taking advantage of visiting various places around the Silicon Valley Bay Area - in other words, around my neck of the "woods." On Thursday, after running a couple of errands and before I had to run a couple more, my husband and I stopped to visit an area of Los Gatos Creek Trail that I had not walked along before. This particular part of the trail is nestled in by several homes and a busy road. The trail itself goes under the busy road and is set between Los Gatos Creek on one side and backyards of homes on the other. Nevertheless, it is well traveled by others on a daily basis and is close enough to a number of businesses that folks take their walk on this trail for their lunch break.
The photo above and this close-up of some yellow flowers I found by the creek. You can barely see the creek running by in the background on the left in the photo above. I'm curious to find out its identification. Very attractive and interesting plant.
As we walked farther down the trail we came to the overpass where there were several rock pigeons nesting under the overpass. But we also saw one lone swallow's nest. I think it's a cliff swallow. My confusion though was that I thought cliff swallows always nested in colonies, and not by themselves. If you look closely (and you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it), I think you can see the swallow's tail sticking out of the upper left side of the nest.
There were several thistles along the trail, and many were in bloom. Some of them were already finished blooming for the season. But this one looked like it had just bloomed in the past couple days.
Here is a close-up of the blossom. Even though thistles are obnoxious weeds I still find their blossoms very attractive.
On the residential side of the trail were several oleander shrubs like this one. Such pretty flowers. Oleanders are quite prolific here in California; that's one of the plants one can see all over the freeways here in our state. They are quite attractive, especially when in bloom.
This shrub was also in bloom on the residential side of the trail. I can't remember the name of this one. There are some things about this part of Los Gatos Creek Trail that is so different from the percolation pond area that I frequent. The perk ponds area is more like open space and it is very dry along the trail, and the plant life seems to be different. For example, I can find statice growing at the perk ponds, but that plant was lacking here on this part of the trail. Also on this trail it is a lot shadier, which means many more trees clumped together - more woodsy like. On the other hand, at the perk ponds the trees are fewer and farther apart.
On our way out I saw this sloped area with grass growing - not much to speak of, but I saw these smallish California poppies growing amidst the grass and thought that was quite attractive.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Front yard design

When we first moved to this house there used to be a lawn with two large trees competing with each other. The one partially seen below is some sort of elm and is part of the parking strip like most single dwelling homes we have here in California. The types of trees vary. When we lived in another town a few miles away, we had a camphor tree. Those are nice, they are not necessarily deciduous. They tend to lose their leaves a little at a time. But the street we live on now were originally planted with elms. Since this is an older neighborhood (homes are 50+ years old), a few of the trees have succumbed to disease. A few neighbors have replanted with other types of trees. The other tree we had in our front yard was an ash tree, but it was diseased. So when we landscaped the front yard we took that tree down and replaced it with a crepe myrtle.
When we redesigned the front yard we repositioned the front walkway and converted the driveway from plain old ugly concrete to paving stones. Another big change in our front yard was getting rid of the lawn and designing for more native type plants. This has been a work in progress for the past 5+ years. As you can see in the photo above we have woolly thyme and a few sea pinks and a little sedum planted as ground cover. We also added Stella d'oro daylilies for more color. This is the time of year when our woolly thyme blooms, and it is so attractive when one walks or drives by. I wish it would bloom all spring and summer long.
Last year we wanted to add some height in the middle of our front yard. So we thought we would try planting a clematis. It looked good for the first couple of months, but then it was another plant that seemed to say "sayonara." We decided to pull out the plant once we knew it was dead, and still have not figured out what will do well in that spot. Our front yard faces south, but we are competing with the next door neighbors' palm tree which shades much of that part of the front yard. But what to my wondering eyes should appear about two months ago, a "new" growth coming up. My husband and I decided to just let it grow to see what it would be, and then only a week ago (when the temps were extraordinarily hot) we noticed that this plant was going to put out some blossoms. Well, once it did, I realized it was a clematis. We're not sure, but we think the plant may have come up via seeds that were dropped from last year's blossoms. Is that possible?
Below are more photos of the Stella d'oro daylilies. Note the woolly thyme around the daylilies. Well, we may still have a lot of work to do in the front yard, but we think our parking strip is looking good. Is anyone else redesigning their yards or doing new landscaping this year? I'd love to hear some of your ideas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Making a comeback

Our temperatures have returned to normal, and the breeze is blowing from the bay and ocean. Hooray! Best of all, my red poppies are making a comeback. This is what I saw early this morning looking out the window. About 10-12 poppies blooming at one time. In the background are the yellow marguerite daisies.
Here is a close-up view of one of the poppies from this morning.
And here is a closer view of the yellow marguerite daisies.
And I thought you would like to see both kinds of marguerite daisies -- the plain yellow ones and the two-tone ones.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some beauties from our front yard

I took these photos about two weeks ago. That was when this azalea was in its prime. And then last week's high temps did it in. It definitely does not look like this anymore. I guess it will be another year before I will see this plant in full bloom again.
Meanwhile, the roses were doing fine, and still are. This photo is an ideal blossom from one of our miniature roses. I love this coral color; it's so different from most roses. And the leaves on this plant are such a beautiful dark green. I'm sure it helps that my husband fertilizes these plants.
Here is another beautiful mini rose. Not exactly coral like the one above, but not really pink either. This was the first year I've seen so many blossoms on it at the same time.
Now here is another mini rose that is different. I love those stripes in each of the petals. Doesn't it look like a piece of candy?
And since I mentioned candy - I think this one is called candy striper, or something like that.
And this beauty reminds of some dahlias.
Another one with such beautiful colors. I love this two-toned "sunburst."
Can you believe all of these roses did a better job tolerating the heat we endured last week. Temps yesterday and today were more normal for the season. Yay!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Backyard blossoms

We have been enjoying some really pretty blossoms in our backyard for several weeks. We have a plot of about 20 feet long by 5 feet wide full of gilia, Marguerite daisies, and California poppies. They are quite colorful and fun to look out the window or door first thing in the morning and be greeted by such a lovely mixture of color. Below are some of the photos I took a couple weeks ago. Even though we have had high temps these past few days, these plants are heat and drought tolerant. We run a soaker hose down the middle of it, and it runs for about half an hour every couple of days. Although our other poppies are still popping each day, by the end of the day during these hot days, they look fried like the photos I provided in my previous post.
Photo above is gilia - I think it is California gilia.

This is a Marguerite daisy. We found that we have two kinds this year -- this one with a yellow center and white outer petals. The other kind is all yellow. I wonder if one of these has naturalized.

Here is a group shot with the Marguerite daisy in the middle. It stands taller than the other plants.

A couple of red poppies from a couple weeks ago.

California poppies.
A California poppy among the gilia.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fried Poppies

These past couple of weeks we have been enjoying our other poppies. Spring has been kind to us. Temperatures haven't been any higher than 75 F. And everyone's flowers have been great, especially everyone's roses. Another post on that later. Here is a photo I took of our poppies last Friday.
And here is the temperature under our back patio yesterday around 6 pm. Before heading for work in the morning we knew it was going to be a hot day. The bay area had been warned about high temps for the latter half of this week. And mother nature did not fail us. While heading for work yesterday morning I realized that because of high temps I would want to head home early. We have our two dogs outside and four cats indoors. I tried to leave plenty of water for all of them. I left all windows open to let the morning air flow through the house, but I knew it would be hot and stuffy later in the day. So I left work early, around 4 pm.
And here is what I saw when I arrived home. My beautiful poppies were fried. I was told that the temperature had gotten up to 100 F yesterday here in the bay area, but our thermometers did not show it here. I've heard this morning on the radio it is presently 70 F, but our thermometer is showing closer to 60 F. Typically, the "official" temp is usually recorded at the San Jose airport, so obviously our temps will be slightly different. Most of the time, especially in the summer months, our temps here around Los Gatos can be cooler in the mornings and warmer in the afternoons. In other words, we experience more of an extreme in temperatures between morning and afternoon.

I haven't noticed any other flowers that wilted as badly yesterday. I guess these poppies are not cut out for summer-like temps. Today, it is forecasted to reach 95 F -- another hot day. Well, at least I'll be home to shut the windows sooner and turn on the AC when it feels uncomfortable. And I'll be around to replenish the pets' water bowls. Are you ready for summer?


Current skin is MC Winter 08 and designed by Red.
Best viewed on Firefox at 1024x768, larger or widescreen.