Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Still life: Pre-omelette in a stream of sunshine

Little Lena must have been very diligent with feeding her chickens nutritious scraps... those eggs are beautiful!

Thick, rich, and golden:

And! Booger in a sunbeam:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Starbuck has a new job!

Starbuckeroooooo passed her temperament screening with Companions, Inc and is now qualified to visit elder care facilities and share her Love with all the people of Fairbanks!

The screener said she was a 10/10! And also that she was remarkably sweet and youthful, for a supposedly grande dame of 9! I replied, "She *is* our young dog! Our older two are 17!"

Starbuckeroo is already highly proficient in elder care:

And she has a surfeit of Love to Share:

I think having a dog as loving as Starbuckeroo is a gift, and it begs to be shared!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Elderly Lady Update

1) We decided to have Booger's tumor removed for the 5th time. She still bounces around like a goat kid, so we figured, why let a leg tumor bring her down? Dr. F. agreed to try his best, although he warned us (again and again) that he'd never be able to remove all of it, and it would always come back. The good things are, the cycle of regrowth seems to be getting longer (5 months last time!), and most importantly Booger is tough and non-mopey. On just the second day after her surgery, she began protesting to her activity restrictions, straining against the leash as I turned her around to truncate her walks.

And she's perfectly capable of jumping on the couch in her cone, which is the most important thing! :) Oh, and the surgery went smoothly. 2 of the 4 observed lumps were actually benign lipomas, not relevant to the cancer... Dr. F. took 'em out. The original lump is not moving. He did mention that it was more difficult work each time, with the earlier scar tissue in his way, as well as he skin thinning in general, just from being an elderly lady. He said that the surgery took 1.5 hours this time, where before it took only 45 minutes. The anesthesia was more stressful on her this time; she came home with diarrhea induced by stress. But it only lasted 24 hours.

Anyway, the upshot is, there will come a time when surgery is no longer an option, so while it is, and while Booger still has quality of life, we decided to do it, and apparently it was the right thing, because she's bouncing around again! :)

And now, the many faces of.. Booger!

2) Autumn's belly was bulging again, which we now know to be a sign of her heart problems acting up. It also makes her appetite lessen. Autumn likes to eat like a savage, so any change from that is generally a bad sign. Dr. F. said it was time to up her Lasix (furosemide) to 50 mg, twice a day. That's up to 2 mgs/kg body weight. Dr. F said there were 4 levels of Lasix dosing--1 mg/kg is where we were before. As the heart continues to weaken, we try to bring up the dosage as little as possible. When we get up to 4 mgs/kg, her kidneys will fail within a few months. But if we don't do this, her heart won't be able to move fluid out of her lungs, and we'll lose her right away. So it's a delicate balance. But like Booger, she still has great quality of life and loveloveloves to take walks with us!

3) At present, our walking routine is:
* Weekday mornings, all 4 of us ladies walk 2 miles together, then we drop the gracious ladies at home, and Starbuck and I sprint 1 mile together. In the evenings, we either repeat our 2-miler, or cut it short and walk 1, depending on how late it is.
* Weekends, all 5 of us (including DL) walk 5 miles together, and all 3 ladies get off-leash time.

Starbuck is off-leash all the time, since she is the magical, mystical, comes-when-she's-called husky!

4) I inventoried berries last night. We have 0.75 a gallon of cranberries, and 1 gallon of blueberries. I made a pie, and cheese empanadas with the extra crust (idea from Rena of this blog's loyal readership!).

Our blueberries are so juicy that the pie is more like cobbler:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How? Cute!? Are!? They??!?!?

Last Saturday, I went to help staff a booth at Pet Awareness Day, a fundraiser for Companions, Inc, a volunteer organization via which people take their friendly, well-behaved dogs to provide doggy therapy at high-stress situations throughout Fairbanks (they deploy cuddle dogs on campus during finals week, for example).

Pet Awareness Day was heavily dog-focused, although they also had bunnies to pet. I'm frightened of bunnies, so avoid them. I can't believe they encourage children to pet and engage with the savage creatures! Anyway, I was also surprised at how many fancy purebred dogs were represented (Dachshunds, Poodles, Retrievers, Vizslas, Dalmatians, etc, etc). The ratio of fancy purebred to mutt dog was about 10:1, which is the opposite of that I witness throughout Alaska in general.

Anyway, there was also an Akita breeder there showing off her wares. How cute are they?!?


Friday, May 13, 2016

Misc photos

I went to Career Day at North Pole High School this morning. I have a canned lecture on renewable energy in Alaska, plus several KidWind kits that enable the students to try their hand at building wind turbines out of card stock and testing them with fans, tiny generators that generate up to 3V, and voltmeters to see how well they did. I usually encourage them to compete. Today, the highest voltage achieved was 2.8.

Another offering was to meet a foal. I felt the obligation to do so:

I was about to rub his nose, when he decided that it was lunch time:

Fairy slippers appeared in my driveway this morning!

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Every spring, I get curious about my rhubarb. I find the old dead stem base from the prior year and poke through the slimy brown rotten stems, looking for the little green bud. Then it always surprises me by showing up somewhere totally unexpected. This year it appeared on the 10th of May.

The next day, I saw leaves underneath, and realized that what I had seen the prior day was a carapace, with the bud underneath:

(Wow look at all the birch pollen!)

I also saw it had two siblings:

I guess I will separate them and replant them elsewhere when they are older, although I had been planning to get another rhubarb of a different type, to add some rhubarb biodiversity. I guess "lots of rhubarb" is just one of those things one lives with.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Charcoal, and lumps

1) Charcoal is huge:

2) Linden's tumor has returned for the 4th time, and this time it's brought three friends:


Monday, May 2, 2016

Springtime, and hangin' with Charcoal

One last photo of buds before the birches exploded into full leaf (last Tuesday):

Charcoal's family went to Anchorage for the weekend to attend the UAA commencement (kid #2 got his masters degree in English). So Charcoal hung out with us. He's much more fun now that he's in better shape. We take long walks together, and he galumphs up and down the trail while Starbuck chases him. And he is as sweet and peaceable as my ladies.


Hangin' out inside while DL and I recommence splitting and stacking firewood. Last winter was so mild that we hardly used any at all. We also have a downed spruce tree in the yard from two years ago; it should be fairly dry by now. We won't be buying any more firewood this summer.

Charcoal, the giant (but sweet and gentle) brute:

Autumn, my schweetie, is schweet:

Five! Five fuzzy things in my cabin! Ah, ah, ah! Vahnderful!