Thursday, January 24, 2013

bow wow WOW!

i started a new job this week... dog walker! i am working for an actual dog walking/pet sitting company, not just on my own. (yet?) i went and got pet CPR and first aid certified and have been anxious to get started. today i learned, be careful what you wish for, lol.

i started with a 2 hour walk with a sweet, older golden retriever. i got there and let myself in the backyard to discover there was a dog, but no leash. normally, i actually go into the houses, but this one i just went in the side gate, the house was locked. i was in an unfamiliar place and hadn't seen a pet store on my way in. and i figured going to buy a leash would take time out of her walking appointment which i didn't want to do. i called my co-worker who said get down on your knees and reach into the dog door, sometimes there's one there. 2 wet, muddy knees later, still no leash. thankfully my co-worker was down the street and ran an extra leash over to me to use. looks like i need to get some spare leashes.

i went home for a little over an hour and did some freelance graphics work and mapped out the consultations i had set up for the evening. i thought i'd be smart and map them all from each other to the next and take screen shots so as not to use my data plan while i was out.

i got to the first of the three to find out that it wasn't a normal apartment, it was a high-rise apartment with a doorman and a key fob to get up the elevator to the 8th floor. i tried the fob and nothing. tried again, nothing. darn. i went up to the front desk and said my fob wasn't working and i needed to get up to walk some dogs. she looked at me like i clearly didn't belong there and asked, "who are you here to see." shit, i didn't know the owner's name, i was doing a last minute favor for my co-worker. "hold on, i have to call and find out." i told her the name and it turned out i needed the other set of elevators. aha. once inside, i got to meet two of the cutest, tiniest chihuahuas! i spent 15 (potty break) minutes with them and had to get going to meet up with my co-worker for a consultation at the next place.

i got out to my car and pulled up the screen shot map i had saved earlier. i had 14 minutes to get there and it was 17 minutes away. that's ok, i'm a california driver, i can make it! i had to make it because in the email i had received, the boss specifically said "be on time!" i drove like i did when i was in my twenties and got to the street right at 6:00. now to find the apartment number. up the street, down the street, can't find it. i see a guy getting his mail "is this such and such address?" yes "do you know where such and such number is?" it should be that one. "thanks!" nope, not that one. crap. i text my co-worker and tell her i'm out front on blah blah street, but i can't find the number. she says blah blah street? you're supposed to be on yadda yadda street! i text her back, "oh shit! i'm in the wrong place, this is my next appointment." only i didn't text her back, i texted my boss. nice.

so, i jump in the car and head over to the actual place i'm supposed to be, you know the one where i wasn't supposed to be late? i got to the street and couldn't find address numbers anywhere. there were huge apartment complexes and construction going on. i drove around in three circles before i called my co-worker and said, i'm lost, i can't find any numbers anywhere! she kept me on the phone and guided me in. it was now 6:30. my appointment was at 6:00. thankfully, it was a 20-something girl so she was cool about it. i apologized for being late and she apologized for me getting lost. all was good. i met her adorable yorkie and friendly kitty and i was out the door on my way back to the place i had just come from. 

thankfully i mentioned to my co-worker that i could not find the apartment for the place i was headed over to (and had just arrived from) and she said, "oh, you need to call and have them let you in the gate." gah! why hadn't anyone mentioned a gate? 

so, i drove back over (got there on time!) and called the owner to let me in the gate. i met her rambunctious 2 year old vizsla (hadn't heard of that breed, but she's beautiful!) and her 12 year old american bulldog/boxer with hip dysplasia and cancer. i learned how to give him his meds and what to feed him. poor guy. i assured her i would text her lots of pictures while they were away so she knew he was ok and happy.

so, it was a pretty crazy day. i'm sure i'll get the hang of it as it goes and i'm downloading a better map app as i type this. so far though, it's a cool gig. i get to meet animals and the people that love them, i get lots of exercise in beautiful areas, i get to see inside apartments and houses i've driven by and wondered what they must look like inside, i get to take care of animals and assure their parents that i'll take good care of them and they can have fun on their weekends, and i get paid for it! not too shabby. 

however, this weekend i have 15 appointments...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

sugar skull exchange

so, i'm participating in another art exchange. this time, instead of cards, it's sugar skulls! i made mine out of fimo and painted on it a bit, too. i realized when i'm painting on something tiny like that i don't breathe! here's the process...

the eye impressions were made with the end of a paint brush,
the nose was made with a toothpick

tiny petals and flower also made with fimo

used a toothpick and black nail polish to paint the insides of the eyes, nose and mouth

also used a toothpick to dot the paint on

i thought it needed a little something more, so i made a lily leaf to put the face in.

i then glued a pin back on it and she's ready to be mailed off to Louisiana! 
i hope my exchange partner likes her.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

why i'm glad i forget my reusable bags sometimes

after putting it off for months, i decided i was ready to tackle weeding my overgrown, neglected garden and backyard.

you like those weeds don't you? this is after having cleared the entire area out twice. once to lay newspaper down and when that didn't work, again to lay down 2 layers of weed cloth. a lot of good it did me! so, after months of watching them all grow back, i started round 3.

i began with a small rake and was careful not to pull up the weed cloth underneath as i went. i picked up what weeds i could and then sprayed the whole area with vinegar, being extra careful not to get any on any of the plants i wanted to keep.

making progress!

and check out the root on this guy. that one felt good to muscle out of the ground!

next, i thought since i can actually get to the garden, i'll harvest what has continued to grow with no help from me. i got quite a haul.

including a beet almost as big as my head!

a couple of days after the vinegar soaked in (and my muscles had a chance to calm down and stop screaming at me every time i moved) i went back to it.

now that all the weeds were dead and picked up...

(this is why i'm glad i sometimes forget my reusable bags!) was time for the fun part! i decided i didn't want everything to go back where it was before because i had learned a little about placement from last time. last time i went more for how it looked than actually being able to reach things in my above-ground garden. this time, i was going to leave plenty of room around it so that i could get back there to do things like weed and spread coffee grounds (fertilizer) and egg shells (slug repellent) without having to contort myself around another potted plant i had in the way. i also wanted to put my pepper plants into cages to get them up off the ground. i didn't realize just how big those suckers would get and they are trailing all over the ground inviting every ground crawling bug to munch away at them.

so, now i have potted plants and extra pots, what shall i do with them? stack them! i put the extra pots in the corners with the plants on top. now i don't have to look at empty pots laying around and it raises my plants up off the ground.

one of the things i'm happiest about is i'm finally getting my mandevilla to grow up the pallet i nabbed out of the dumpster. i realized it was twisting around the tomato plant i had next to it, so i carefully unwound it from there and wound it around some string i attached to the pallet. i'm hoping to get lots of beautiful, red flowers on it this summer. the humming birds will love it!

so, after a few days and a lot of hard work, i have a nice clean garden again. my pepper plants are in cages and thriving, my succulents look healthy and my mandevilla is climbing. oh happy day!

(the surfboard is there to deter our garden loving cat from squeezing under the fence)

as i was working, i had a funny realization. i talk to my garden and the spiders and other insects that live there. out loud. i told my tomato plant not to take it personally that i was ripping him out of his planter. i told him, it's me, it's not you, i didn't take care of you properly. i think i broke up with my tomato plant! later i put my head through a spider web and apologized to the spider for destroying his home. maybe i'm a little too close to nature, lol.

things i'd like you to take away from this post:
1. vinegar is a great weed killer and it won't hurt the environment, pets or wildlife
2. coffee grounds make a great fertilizer. i think with my peppers, it may have been too good!
3. egg shells sprinkled around the base of your plants will keep slugs away
4. don't be afraid to get dirty and try things. you'll never learn which plants work well in your garden if you're not willing to make a few mistakes along the way.

happy gardening!