Monday, January 17, 2011

the new news!

Well, for starters, I've finally launched my new store, Five Dog House!  Earth Walker, my first shop, had an overwhelming response right off the bat, making the front page of Etsy within the first week of being open, and steady sales during the following months.

However, Earth Walkers is a dog only shop (soon I'll expand to collars and tags) and I need a place to sell the things made for the 2 legged customers.  So, Five Dog House (the shop) was born!  As I write this, there are currently only 2 listings up but there are many more coming.  The shop will be stocked will a crazy variety of things, from necklaces to vintage wares to heirloom seeds!

In other news, here's Tiloup and Aethan trying out Aethan's "new" bed.  Perhaps it isn't new so much as it is "upcycled".  His bed was a loft style bed with a ladder going up, but in his smaller room, the bed was looming and seemed to take up so much space.  I cut the legs down, took off the side rail and transformed it into a smaller bed, but still high enough that it is more like a captain's bed.  He loves it, and it makes his room seem much, much bigger.  

That's all for today, which felt more like spring than winter...that's life on the West Coast.  From snow to rain and back again, and sooner rather than later, the flowers start to push up.  I'll admit, I've got a small pot of crocus inside to remind me of the longer days...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

garden thoughts...

Last year, I started the tomatoes inside around March 19th.  They grew well, but were still behind what I would have liked at planting time so this year, I'll start the babies around the end of February.  It seems amazing that we're only 6 weeks away from that time already!

Last year, we had 2 raised beds in the front yard, one for only tomatoes, and one for veggies and everything else.  This year however, the tomato bed was planted with garlic, beautiful, tasty, lovely garlic.  The other bed will be the tomato bed this year and the veggies are going into a new soon-to-be-started plot in the backyard.  I'm very excited about this!

I love having our own garden.  For me, its like a dream come true and one of the BEST parts about having this house.  Here's Aethan in our tomato bed from last year.  These suckers grew up to my height and were COVERED in fruit.  All heirloom varieties....YUM!

I came across this, and I don't remember where, so if it is your photo please let me know so I can give credit.  They are using eaves as planters!  Brilliant!  I'd love to try this to save space, but I'd put them along the garden fence.  Someday!

What is your favorite thing to grow, and why?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

meet the dogs: Bez

Bez.  Where do I start and how do I describe this dog?  Bez is the one dog we have that makes people talk in high pitch voices and shriek that he is "SO cute"!  They think he's adorable.  Which, he is, but there is more to Bez than meets the eye.

Adam got Bez when he was 1 from a family who no longer wanted him.  His name back then was "Riggs", and I've heard it said that from the moment Adam brought him home, Bez ruled the roost.  He slept where he wanted, sat on your lap when he wanted, ate wicker furniture when he wanted and tried to kill other dogs when he wanted.  

When Adam became part of our family, so did Bez.  Aethan was 3, and very excited to have a dog.  But, 1 week together and it was obvious that we had our work cut out for us.  One day, Bez was snoozing on our bed and Aethan approached.  Bez snapped.  Adam and I, "newbie" dog owners, panicked.  We had all sorts of images racing around our heads, including giving Bez to a new home.  

But, we worked on it.  We worked HARD.  Bez hated dogs, disliked most people and enjoyed making sure that everyone knew about it...but, after months of hard work and years of maintenance, Bez is much, much better.  While wouldn't leave him alone with Aethan, and he's tried to bite me numerous times, he is a much more mellow, tolerant version of his former self.  He's welcomed new dogs and foster dogs into the house, and since we brought home Daisy, our dog aggressive boy has learned to play, respect and ignore the others.  

He's also a model and Earth Walkers unexpected mascot....

It used to be that Bez couldn't handle being in proximity to another dog, even if it was behind a fence, Bez was like a literal Tasmanian Devil.  Now, he's learned that other dogs can be fun, too.  Still, he's not very good at picking his battles and will usually try to argue with the biggest, toughest dogs he can find.

He's always been Adam's dog, and the bond between Bez and I is different than it is with the others.  It is sometimes a work in progress, but we love each other, deep down, and even when times are tough, we're still family....

And he's still a great model...

Truly, he's been the biggest challenge and I've learned an insane amount from this boy.  I'm glad he's not easy, or else I would never have discovered that I like working with problem dogs.  Maybe I never would have ended up with more, or working in it possible I have Bez to thank for shaping this huge part of my life?  

Friday, January 7, 2011

mexico daydreams...

Last March, I was lucky enough to take a trip to Mexico with one of my best friends, Michelle, and her old best friend Darlene.  Darlene and I hit it off, and the three of us took off on a jet plane.  

How awesome is this?

This year, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be going on the annual girls only trip.  We need a car and a roof, and taking the time and money for a trip seemed too frivolous.  

But, after a much too good to be true deal, it looks like the Mexican get away is not only possible, but perhaps just around the corner.

The beach dogs, the 2 for 1 beer, the sun....

This was my favorite restaurant, even though they tried to rip me off, I love the red plastic chairs stuck in the sand on the beach...

So laid back and slow.  Even the wind moves slowly...

This is my Mexican street dog friend.  He led me to a shop that sells dog food by the scoop.  He was no fool, this one...

On the beach, drinking beer, eating coconut shrimp....

I'll keep you posted if and when we book our flights...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

meet the dogs: Casha

It is so important to tell this story the right way, because Casha is so deserving of having people know what she is really like.  Being a big, black, 3 legged pit bull with cropped ears and scars...well, lets just say that sometimes that leads to being feared and misunderstood.  Casha's story starts before any of us know, but we can piece together that she had pups, and probably a lot.  She'd been in fights, scars tell us that.  And, we know for sure, her leg was very badly injured but never received vet care.  How long Casha lived with her injury, we don't know.  But then, on one very fateful day for this special dog, she found herself at the SPCA.

Probably for most dogs, this is a very terrible thing.  Most dogs are leaving their families due to break ups, new babies or moving.  This must be very stressful for the dogs, but for Casha, this is her salvation.  She is at the Victoria SPCA, and the staff there see something very, very special.  She finally receives the vet care she's needed for so long, and although it means loosing her back leg, she must have felt so much better.  She also receives love, and plenty of it.

Of course, the SPCA spayed her, too.  No more babies for this girl!  And then, Casha waits for a home.  She waits and waits and waits.  Everyone LOVES her, but she isn't adopted.  Still, she waits.  For 6 months.  During this time, everyone who meets her falls in love, and the SPCA staff develop a deep, strong bond with this rock-loving dog.  But they know that she deserves more than shelter life, and they wish for her to have her own home.

When she first came into our house as a foster dog,  I was in awe of this stoic creature.  What is it that the SPCA staff saw in her that makes her so special?  In the first few weeks she was with us, she reminds me more of a primate than a canine.  She's smart, almost to the point where you think that perhaps she can understand English fluently.  She's gentle and she's oh so happy!  Every few minutes, she howls with her zest for life and her tail does not stop wagging.  Whatever it is that makes this dog special, I still cannot put my finger on it.  But I feel it, she is just so wonderful.

She has many nicknames, my favorite being Koko, because she looks like the world's most favorite gorilla but is gentle like her too.  She is also commonly called Rashy Roo and Nana.  Koko spends her days sleeping on her fleecy dog bed, chewing bones and howling around the house.  She loves to go to work with Adam (and will literally pout if she can't ) but don't expect her to go out in the rain or the cold.  Casha spent far to long in a backyard in the past, and she's had quite enough of that, thank you very much.  

Here is the important part, and please, even if you don't like the breed and Casha just isn't your thing, listen to this carefully.  First, take a long look at this girl, scars and all.  Look at her cropped ears, her saggy nipples, her scars and the spot where her leg once was....

And now, seeing her physical appearance for all that it is, please remember and truly understand that Casha never once asked to have this life.  She never wanted to look this way or be treated like that.  She was born a soft, warm, wriggly pup just like every other dog out there.  She has been used and abused, neglected and forgotten, and there was nothing that she could do about it.  She followed the only people she had at the time and luckily they led her to the SPCA.

She's the most gentle, sweet girl.  She loves people so much, despite what they've done to her.  Since humans became humans, we've lived with canines and molded them into faithful, trusting companions.  It is a shame when we manipulate that and don't care for our friends.  And Casha is a very, very good friend indeed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

back to the grindstone

Aethan's first day back to school was today.  The holidays are over, the tree is down, the decorations are packed away until next year.  I was expecting that once the new year came, I'd be jumping with excitement to get the new shop up and running and start adding stock to Earth Walkers.  Instead, I'm grumpy that the holiday I love so much is over and I have to wait a whole year to get back to it.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited about my shops, but it was so nice to have Aethan and Adam home over the break.  It is so rare that we are all together without work, school and errands.  Family time in our warm little was much needed and most missed.  I love Aethan in his pj's all day, playing lego for hours on end.  He likes it too.  He was excited to go to school to see all of his friends, but he too loved the relaxing time we spent over the last couple of weeks.

So, I need to shake off the holidays, heat up a pot of tea and get to work!  I have 2 shops to fill and lots of projects to finish off and new ones to get started.  Its cold and freezing rain outside today, which is good.  It keeps me from thinking that I should be outside and forces me in with knitting and sewing.

In other news, I'm messing around with a new "look" for the blog.  Let me know what you think about it!  Be honest, please, I can take it!  My friend Emma just revamped her blog and it was so inspiring, I was up until 11:30 trying to tinker with a new blog header...early this morning after much frustration, I came up with the one you see here.  Thoughts?  Check out Emma's blog too, there is some great stuff happening over there.

So?  How are you feeling now that the holidays are over?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

an open letter to the President of the United States

Mr. Obama, 

I have to say first off that when you were elected President, I was over the moon excited.  After 8 years of worrying about your country based on their ability to vote a dumb, ignorant guy into the White House (and not just once), I believed there was hope when you came in.   

You believe in many amazing core values that I think would make your country better, like health care.  Great!  I've seriously been a big fan, I even bought and wore an Obama shirt!  I was super happy when you decided to get a rescue dog also, although that Portuguese Water Dog isn't really a "rescue", and I would have liked to see you follow through an adopt a shelter dog, but at least you tried.   

However, I have to admit, I'm pissed off at you.  I heard about the phone call you made to give praise for the Philadelphia Eagles giving Michael Vick a second chance.  If you can imagine the sound of screeching tires as my love for you comes to a sudden halt, insert that noise *here*.  Obama, you are the PRESIDENT of the United States.  You are the first non-white President.  You are a symbol of CHANGE for your country and the world.  Because of that, people look up to you.  Kids look up to you!  My son, a 6 year old Canadian kid, LOVES you and thinks you are awesome. 

Lets review what Michael Vick did, just to be clear.  I'm not going to candy coat it, either.  Michael Vick fought dogs brutally for pleasure and money.  He raised dogs specifically for this purpose.  He is an adult and knew that what he was doing was wrong.  We know that aside from fighting dogs, he was restraining female dogs  on a "rape stand" and forcing them to breed.  We know that he killed AT LEAST 13 dogs.  These dogs were either sick or not "good enough" for him, so he killed them.  And not even like "I'm going to take her to the vet and have her put to sleep".  He murdered them.  We know for a fact that he beat them, shot them and in at least one case, he killed a dog by slamming it into the ground until it was dead.  We know that he watered dogs down and then used electricity to kill them.  These are nasty, insane things that in my opinion, healthy, normal people could never do.   

He would take regular family pets and throw them into the ring with the trained fighting dogs because he thought it was "funny" to watch them die.  He ripped out the teeth of some of his more passive dogs so that they couldn't fight back when he was training dogs to fight for him.  And, here's a news flash, he'd most likely STILL be doing it if he wasn't busted.   

Michael Vick didn't wake up one day and say "what I am doing is wrong and I should pay for my mistakes".  He was BUSTED and forced to go to jail.  He served a bit of jail time and got out...heading straight back into the limelight and right back to making millions.  This is not the kind of man who I would ever let my son idolize or respect.  So why, Obama, did you congratulate them for giving this sort of person a "second chance"?  

There are plenty of people in your country who deserve a phone call from you.  There are people who helped clean up after 9/11 and got sick from breathing in hazardous dust who could use your support.  There are teachers in the inner city fighting to help educate kids surrounded by guns and gangs.  There are single moms raising their families on food stamps, people feeding your homeless, nurses caring for your sick.  GOOD people.  And yet  Michael Vick, killer of dogs, deserves your time?  In grade 1, I try to teach my son to stick up for those who are being bullied, not support the bullier.  I urge you to do the same, and publicly recant your support for Vick.  As the President, you have the obligation to do the right thing and be a role model for those who look up to you.  

If you are going to make a phone call, call the people who worked on the front lines at Bad Newz Kennels when they raided the compound.  Ask about the brutal details of what Vick did there to those dogs.  At least then, you will know every ounce of what you endorse when you support a man like Vick.  I'm living with a dog covered in scars, and I would hope that if there would be an outpouring of support around that, that it would go to the people involved in her rescue and not to the people responsible for allowing it to happen.  

Shame on you Obama.  Not only do I not allow my son to look up to people who do the kinds of things that Vick did, but I don't allow him to look up to people who support them either.  

Your ex-number 1 fan, 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

meet the dogs: Olive

Olive, my little, sweet baby.  Olive is the only dog who came to us as a little pup.  The only, and quite frankly, the last.  I thought that I knew what I was getting into when we came home with the warm little bundle of puppy belly and too-big paws.  I thought she would sleep, eat and be cute.  I didn't expect that she would also eat the door jam, chew the kitchen island, pee everywhere but the puppy pads and use the living room as her own personal jungle gym.

She won our hearts though, because she was so incredibly, insanely cute!

Olive is a pit bull, born to a mom who was abandoned pregnant.  Mom was taken in by a well meaning person, and she gave birth to 11 pups, including little Olive.  Mom was a sweet little girl herself, and when we went to look at the puppies there were only 3 left.  One, a chocolate brown, mellow girl was our first pick, but the family had decided that they were keeping her.  Olive and her identical sister looked the same, acted the same and were both a bit crazy...we were holding Olive, so we picked her.  

She didn't want to leave, she was scared and confused when we led her to the car, but she followed Aethan, who was 3 at the time.  At home, she wouldn't come out of the car until she saw him standing there.  I had hoped that Daisy would take her under her wing, but for the first few weeks, Daisy avoided her like the plague.   The big, crazy puppy plague.  Eventually, Olive grew into a somewhat not-so-crazy puppy, and she became Daisy's best friend.  They are very much like sisters in every way.  Every night, they share a bed.  Although Olive grew, she has never lost her crazy, goofy spirit.  You know that saying "old soul"?  Well, that does not apply to our Olive, she's a very new soul, but she takes delight in being around for the first time in the Universe.  Being a dog is SO MUCH FUN!

As cute as she is, she isn't the smartest dog in the world.  Which isn't a bad thing...but don't expect much from  her in obedience.  She's the dog who will sit when you ask her to come, lay down when you ask her to sit and come when you ask her to stay.  She means well though, and her zany personality doesn't bother me in the slightest.  I do believe that you get just the dog you need, and Olive makes me laugh everyday.  And look at this face, isn't she just the most beautiful dog?  Her fur is like velvet...

There isn't one mean bone in this body.  She's completely unaware that the general public is afraid of her breed and that they expect her to be mean.  She might be jumpy and silly, but aggressive she is not.  Even with dogs she gives them her tennis ball (the most prized possession that Olive knows), would let them eat from her bowl, share her bed and when other dogs have challenged her, she backs down and won't fight back.

I love this big meat head...I wish that she could live to be 100 human years, never run out of tennis balls to chase and never know a hard day.  She deserves it all, because she is only a very, very GOOD dog.