Archive for the ‘WITW does this have to do with pets?’ Category

Our Garden So Far 2014

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Over Memorial Day this year, I had FOUR DAYS off in a row! Sometimes I have three days off, NEVER four. We gardened all day every day.

We have had a Square Foot Garden since we started gardening about ten years ago. I LOVE it. We have seriously neglected our garden in the past few years, with being so busy and all. This year I pulled all the weeds.

do homework for money

ALL the weeds. (Some came back.) Russ mulched all the things. ALL the things.

THANK YOU SO MUCH to the awesome Metzler family of Maple 85. First for letting us be the vet team for your incredible German Shepherd Nitro (the best and most beautiful Shepherd I know) and more recently for providing compost and mulch and a trailer to haul it and technical help right at our house when the aformentioned trailer wouldn’t tip, and poor Russ thought he would have to get it all out by himself with days and days of shoveling. (He did not.) Thank you guys. You are the best.

IMG_5402Oo that’s a lot of mulch, Russ.

We had quite a few pepper and tomato seedling casualties. Sorry co-workers. Apparently this year I suck at raising baby plants. I planted the ones we had, and we planted all the herbs and all the seeds of all the things we like.

SECRET FINCH FACT: We are not huge veggie lovers, but I think vegetable plants are pretty. My favorite is okra. My friend Lu gave me an okra plant one year. It was BEAUTIFUL, like a hibiscus. I do not think I would garden without okra again. Also, I do not think I will ever eat it. My other favorite is a radish plant gone to seed – GORGEOUS! Also, I do not like radishes.

This garden is CRAZY. It is going to be a really fun season.

Our cousin Bailey Dog is staying with us, so I took as many pictures I could of her! She does not stand still for pictures, but she is super cute. She is a miniature Goldendoodle.

Here are the pictures I have so far. I will have more and better pictures as stuff grows…


Bailey rolling


Bailey peeking


Bailey sniffingIMG_5521

Bailey sittingIMG_5520

Bailey waggingIMG_5517

Bailey greeting

Lemon thyme! Another example of a crop we grow but don’t eat – Isn’t it beautiful?? Anyone who likes the smell of lemonade (everyone) should have a pot of lemon thyme!IMG_5472

Noodle contemplating – Just kidding! He is just standing :)IMG_5471

I found this volunteer dill close to where I was going to plant dill so I just left it and labelled it. I am saving leaves for my friend vet tech Allison. One of the surgical specialists we work with and my vet school teacher Dr. Merkley was SUPER excited to learn dill attracts butterflies. It does.


This is in a corner of our front yard – spinach and strawberries and a super cute cat and bird sculpture that Russ got me at Nebraska Humane Society Black Tie and Tails 2012 that we went to as guests of my boss. So fun! And I LOVE this artist! She is Sondra Gerber and she is at Blue Pomegranate in Benson.

Close up! So cute!



We found this tiny hosta in our compost pile! I hope to some day fill our yard with it…IMG_5457

Lemon basil! We are also growing a lemon basil field! (In a 4X4 foot Square Foot Garden box of course)IMG_5456

Globe basil! I discovered this last year in Wisconsin. Now I always need it.IMG_5454

Rosemary! I finally have a rosemary plant I have not killed…IMG_5453

Pineapple! So fun! Cut the top off a pineapple and put it in dirt. I know! Crazy!


Pineapple sage! I just discovered this at Indian Creek Nursery this spring! It smells SO good!IMG_5449

This is the sad group of plants I have left after our garden was complete. (Pete these are all yours if you would like them and I can keep them alive!)IMG_5445

We have gotten a lot of questions about our compost pile. Russ built two open 4X4X4 foot sections and we put ONLY yard clippings in. When we need compost, we move all the dried plants to one side, and take the dirt from the empty side. It does not make much – you would be amazed how much plants break down – which is good I guess. And it smells REALLY GOOD (which surprised me!) It smells like dead grass.

A dramatic Joy silhouette


Pete gave us Bashara mint that was brought to the United States from Lebanon DECADES ago, and though he said it could not die, and though I know mint does not die, I was afraid I had accidently killed it by keeping it in an unprotected container through this past harsh winter. It lives! Yay! I LOVE mint. Right now, I have this, another spearmint and chocolate mint. They are hardy :) but they can be invasive, so we have all three in containers. I will protect them somehow this next winter. I get attached to plants! Weird!IMG_5431

This is our original garden space, and maybe my favorite part of the garden. It is strawberry plants  in the front and garlic in the back. Garlic is super easy to plant. Put it in dirt with the pointy side up. The plant is beautiful, and by Julyish, each clove will have grown a head of garlic that you can braid to have garlic available all winter.IMG_5429

We are going to try growing rhubarb…again. I think once it is established, it is a very hardy plant. My Mom grew it when we were kids, and I remember it was really pretty. Another one I am growing because it is pretty, but do  not want to eat! You can though…it may be next year before there is enough!

Turtle parade!

I don’t usually show “before” pictures because…they are embarrassing! But a couple years ago a storm took out our teepee, which was one of my favorite things in the garden. I am showing you this now – our partial restoration, so when it is rebuilt with a giant ladybug container in the middle and covered in scarlet runner beans and morning glories, you can see how far it has come!

I love the peonies that the original owners of our house planted. We built the Square Foot Garden around the three bushes, and it looks really neat together.

Max’s cat garden! It is on the deck so he doesn’t have to go in the yard and has catnip on the ends and cat grass in the middle.IMG_5413

Onions on the deck!IMG_5411

I broke it! It already has new roots though, so it may be ok…

My friend and coworker Jan gave me this beautiful terranium for Christmas a couple years ago.

This toy Border Collie lives in the terranium. The girls took him once to play with and I made them put him back.

This does not live in my garden, but wouldn’t that be awesome if she did? This is my sister-I-love’s hedgehog Pickles.

Thank you for looking at all these pictures!! Come see our garden if you would like! I have a feeling this is going to be a fun gardening year!



Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014!

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

I failed on almost ALL of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013!

Here are what some admirable people have to say about New Year’s Resolutions:

“If you’re considering making some New Year’s resolutions this year, consider this: like other exercises of raw willpower, most New Year’s resolutions fail miserably.”  -Father Justin Holcolm

“Smart entrepreneurs don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.” -Eric Wagner, Forbes website

“New Year’s Resolutions — they’re dumb. Yeah, I said it. What, you don’t think so? You’re wrong…May this be the last blog post that anyone ever writes about New Year’s Resolutions!”  -Andrea Karim

“It’s time for the dreaded New Year’s resolution. You might feel obligated to make a list, fake optimism for the year ahead, and then proceed as usual. But let’s get real: Roughly 35% of resolutions are broken by the end of January.  Why even bother, right? …That’s why, around here, we don’t mess with resolutions.”  -Dave Ramsey

(*sob* Even you Dave?)


Here is a recap of my resolutions from 2013:

Start and maintain a Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals blog.  Didn’t happen!  I have one full year of blog posts that I finished at the end of 2012 ready to go.  As you know, some blog posts are timeless, like…pictures of bananas…but many blog posts are more like REAL bananas.  Anyways, if this thing gets off the ground, I will need to start over!  I love it.  I love blogging, and I love new projects and I love my work.  2014?  Maybe!

Continue to grow Gentle Doctor’s Twitter presence.  Hey, I did this one!  I also started leading the Gentle Doctor Facebook page!  So fun.  I love the group of pet lovers online as much as I love our Real Life clients – probably because they are the same people!

Lose a Poodle of weight.  Nope.  Gained weight.  *sigh*

3000 more followers on Twitter.  Yeah, only I forgot to write down what number I was at at the start of 2013.  Also, I wanted to maintain the MOST followers of all the vets in the world, and Banfield is kicking my butt, and not slowing down on aquiring followers!  (Good job Banfield!)  Oh well.  It is as fun as ever!  And YOU are there with me, so I love it!

More Projects with dvm360.  I did this!

More Projects with Square Foot Gardening Foundation.  Nope.  Guess that was a one time thing.  How much overlap is there really between the topics of pets and gardening?  Well, in my world there is a lot.  But I am not normal.  I still love you, Square Foot Gardening.

Penelope Dog as the Feature of Veterinary Economics December 2013 issue!  Nope.  I missed the deadline.  Entirely my fault.  This season has been rough.  However, Penelope is in her THIRD home (She is a bit high maintenance) and doing great.  And that makes me happier than any article could.

Continued Success at Work – I did this.

Continued Healing – And this.

Family time.  Garden time.  Poodle time.  And cat and puppy time…Yup.

A home for every Omaha cat and no more puppy mills.  Nope.  But greater people than I are on the ball on both of these fronts, so I am encouraged.

And the one I almost forgot to write down, but have been working the hardest on…

NO MORE MULTITASKING.  I say if  you have worked really hard on a New Year’s Resolution all year, but have not yet mastered the task, you are a winner.  By my own circular reasoning, I am a winner.  I have gotten WAY better at single-tasking.  Which is not even a word.  But it should be.


This year, I have some partners in my New Year’s Resolutions.  The accountability and encouragement make me much more optimistic about my goals for 2014!  My Dad and I are excercise buddies – so far 3 for 3 days!  Woo!  Friends at work are also in on the challenge – in fact, they got me going in the first place!  Thank you Friends!  Amanda set our family’s (almost) impossible nutrition goal, and so far we have had THREE DAYS of success!  Yay Finches!  So far, I am really loving 2014!

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My New Year’s Resolutions for 2014:

Exercise 30 minutes every day.

Eat no sugar.

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Here we go again!

If you love New Year’s Resolutions as much as I do, I would love to hear about yours!

We can do this!  Or maybe we can’t.  But…it’s going to be fun trying!

Happy New Year Friends!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Are you having a good season?

We got to spend Christmas Eve with our Jones-Finch family and Christmas Day with our Nelson family.  My brother Bill and my Sister-I-Love Cara and their two boys – Charlie who is four and Henry who is three months and I JUST met! – were in town, so YES, I am having a very good season.


Abby, Joy and the Purple Tree

The last year and a half has been challenging as I try to balance working full time with being home with my daughters.

The last two months has been rough as I have been soul searching through career issues.

The last five days have tried (and failed) to KILL me with a cold.  Well, that’s a little dramatic.  No one has ever died of a cold.  I know, because when I was supposed to be out with friends last night to see Shelly who is in town and instead I was in bed not dying, I asked Russ.  He says no one ever died of a cold.  This cold IS a JERK though.  It made me miss part of Christmas, a night out with high school friends (we stopped by long enough to share the germs!  I love you guys!), and last night.  But now I feel a little better.  Russ is probably right.

And now it is the end of the holiday season (almost) and the beginning of a new year (almost), and things look very good from here.

What I’ve Been Up To…

Here is a news story on Cancer in Pets that I was in…

Cancer in Pets

Thank you to Maureen Wurtz from Fox 42 News for including me in this project!  And thank you to Jana Rade of Dawg Business for including me in all the fun projects!  Maureen found me on YOUR site, Jana!

Speaking of Jana and fun projects, here is the latest article on Jana’s site that she included me in…

Veterinarians Answer:  Do You Often Have Difficulty Getting Clients to Believe Their Dog is in Pain?

I wrote THIS on competition in the veterinary field for Veterinary Economics…

Start Complimenting Other Veterinarians in Your Community

Most of my writing energy has been poured into work projects – Facebook, Twitter and the Christmas Party Slide Show!  These have all been very fun!  I want to do it ALL, so I am trying to write here more too…we will see how I do!

What to expect from the Riley and James blog in 2014…

A New Year’s Resolution post – I LOVE New Year’s Resolutions!

A Pet Blogger’s Challenge post – fourth year!  This is a fun one.

More book reviews.

(Isn’t this blog about pets?  Yes.)

More garden posts.

More erratic, sporatic posts.  I am trying to write on a schedule you guys.  I would rather write like this than not at all, so until I get that balance thing down (haha!) this is what I’ve got.  I love that you are still here!

Back to the basics.  My brother Dave convinced me to start this in 2006 to help pet lovers with the basics of wellness care.  This year I have seen THREE parvo cases (THREE!  I had only seen TWO before this, and they were littermates in my first year of practice!) and my first for sure distemper case.  One of the parvo “cases” was my favorite (6 way tie you guys!) nephew’s dog Tidus, so that hit really close to home, and another was a pup who did not survive – a whole different set of awful emotions.  If we are Facebook friends (and if not, why not?), my most recent post is about raising money to help that family with their pup’s medical bills.

The distemper “case” Wrigley is a Joy the Puppy look alike who I almost accidently adopted.  I think she deserves her own post!  More on Wrigley in the New Year!

So I thought it would be good to go over all the boring preventative stuff I love some more.  You will find the distemper case SO interesting.  Everything I learned on VIN (Veterinary Information Network) was posts from older vets – so many of the younger vets (including me, and I am not young!) have never even seen distemper.  We spend our days in and out of appointments vaccinating against it, but we forget (actually have often never experienced) what a horrendous disease it is.  SPOILER – Wrigley is doing great, and is in the best home imaginable – no, not ours!

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!  Happy New Year!

May 2014 be filled with blessings of every kind for you and your family!

Timely Wisdom from Dad

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Inspired by the recommendation of Scott Belsky in the book Making Ideas Happen, I decided to organize the information in ALL of my notebooks. So yesterday I did.

I found this note:


“Every once in a while, you have the opportunity to do the right thing when it really matters.” -Dad 9/12/11

On September 12, 2011, I had quit my previous job and had neither been offered nor accepted my current job at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals. Being between AND content is not really my thing. But I knew I was making the right decisions and that everything would be OK. I knew I was in the middle of something big, and I had no idea what it was or how things would turn out. Thank you Dad.


It’s been a really good two years, you guys.

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Making Ideas Happen

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Making Ideas Happen

Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality


Scott Belsky

Five Stars!


This is the book I was inspired to read after reading Managing Your Day to Day which was recommended by my brother Dave.  I love this crazy adventure of books and bunny trails!

Making Ideas Happen is written for creatives – specifically people whose job it is to be creative, which is Not Me, but sometimes it is good to see life from a completely different angle than what you  normally would.

Creative people often are by nature unorganized – part of the wonderful package of a typical artistic type – ideas flow freely, but the follow through that is required for ideas to become reality does not always come as easily.  Which is a shame, because creative people have some great ideas.

Creative people do not need help generating ideas.  They do that day and night and do it well.  What they need help with is the follow through.  This book answers that problem amazingly well.

The author contends that three things – the action method (a specific structure developed by the author and others for setting ideas up for success), relying on others for feedback and leading the creative team well – are the keys to seeing ideas through to actual results.  The author has made it happen in his own career and personal life and helped many other creatives make it happen time and time again in their own careers and personal lives.  He also has stories about other successful creatives which are very fun to read.

I won’t be restructuring my career around the ideas in this book because, you know, I treat and prevent, which is pretty straight forward, and inherently structured and non-creative, but I do have a dash of creativity involved in other areas of my life (We all do I bet) so I was able to glean quite a bit of exciting and useful information from the book.

Some of my favorite parts…

Create action steps for every project.  I loved this whole idea – As you know if you have ever had to work with me (or live with me) I write EVERYTHING down.  If I see a cute pet, I write his name down.   If I like a candle scent, I write the scent down.  If I have a book I might want to read, a topic I might want to write about, an interesting quote I heard…The kicker is everything I write down is in sequential order based on when I heard it or thought of it in my notebooks.  I would not even be that organized if Kelly hadn’t gently taken my post-its away about two years ago and handed me a notebook.  If I were to organize everything in those (now several) notebooks by the author’s action plan suggestion…woo!  Who KNOWS what awesome things might come of it?

“Measure meetings with actions.”  “In most cases, leaving a meeting without anything actionable signifies that the meeting was just an information exchange and should have taken place over e-mail.”  (page 78)  Actually all I have done with this point is develop a snarky attitude about our latest team meeting.  I do enjoy team meetings for two reasons –

  1. As an introvert and a people lover, if I have a structured environment in which to spend time with coworkers, that is more comfortable to me than a party or dinner, so meetings are a time for me to check in with everyone and make sure everyone is doing ok.
  2. I work with less than half of the Gentle Doctor team, so if I did not see the rest at team meetings, I would not ever see them.

So even without concrete actions to carry out after every meeting, I do feel as though they have value.  The point is well taken though – a meeting should have a distinct purpose with actionable steps for team members to take afterwards.

“Reconsider your amount of ‘insecurity work.'”  Checking Twitter…checking email…checking stats.  When I write, I do this constantly!  I have made it a goal to singletask as much as I can this year.  Along those same lines, I am going to double my efforts and try to reduce my amount of insecurity work.  I say I don’t have time to write, but I could get tons written if when I did sit down to write, I singlemindedly wrote with purpose instead of wandering aimlessly through the internet!

And perhaps my favorite part of all, what I have said all along for puppy training, and have said for the last several years in interacting with people – Celebrate and encourage others’ strengths, and do not dwell on weaknesses.

In explaining this method of feedback, the author quotes Jay O’Callahan, who said, “If our eyes are always looking for weakness, we begin to lose the intuition to notice the beauty.”  I love it.

You will love this book.  Everyone has a creative streak, even the most scientific among us.  Everyone has ideas.  It is the rare person who can see their ideas through to actual products.  Scott Belsky gives us the tools to get there.

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The Garden’s Gone Wild!

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Abby and I checked the garden out back right before we left for Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City last week.  It was crazy!  Good crazy.

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Morning Glory 1

Morning Glory Pumpkin 1

Morning Glory Pumpkin 2

Pumpkin Leaf


Pea Flower

Chocolate Mint 1

Chocolate Mint 2


Pumpkin 2



Squash 2

Stephen King: On Writing

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

On Writing


Stephen King

Five Stars!


“I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin, that’s all.  If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders.  It’s what I have.”  Stephen King:  On Writing, page 158.

This is the first Stephen King book I have finished, the first one I have loved.  I don’t say that to be a jerk, though I know that is a jerk thing to say.  I have always wanted to be a Stephen King fan.  I have always admired his writing career.  I sighed with relief when he survived the accident and again when it turned out to be merely a rumor that he had decided to stop writing afterwards.

I have long suspected I would like the man himself.

This book, one of the few non-fiction works of Stephen King, supported my suspicion that he is a pretty great guy.  Down to earth.  Matter of fact.  A believer of sorts.  A family man.  And best of all, a helper.  Some of his success even he does not understand.  What he does understand, he explains in this book.

The book starts as background of King’s life – including mostly parts that he believes shaped him as a writer.  Who would not want to read this book for those great stories alone??  The rest is very practical advice intertwined with the same storytelling.  I put the book down twice while I was reading – once to go to work and once to sleep.

I write about pets (well, and books, and gardening and sometimes random things that are on my mind…I can do that – it’s a blog!)  But I found everything King wrote, even though it was specifically geared to fiction writers, worth considering in my own writing.

I loved this book.  For the stories alone, I think you will too.  If you dream of being a writer, especially a fiction writer, I would start here, and continue with What’s Next as suggested in this book.

Born Rich: A Historical Book of Omaha

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Born Rich:  A Historical Book of Omaha


Margaret Patricia Killian

Five Stars!


This is a very fun historical book about my hometown and the city in which we now live, Omaha, Nebraska.  I love Omaha, and I loved learning more about her history from the perspective of a good storyteller who grew up and ended up here also.  Margaret Patricia Killian was the head of the home economics department of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (then University of Omaha) from 1945-1973, publishing Born Rich:  A Historical Book of Omaha in 1978.

I found the book where I find many of my favorite books, on Mom and Dad’s book shelves.  (Thank you Mom and Dad!  I am getting it back to you this weekend!)

I suspect this would be a fun book to read even if you were not from Omaha.  If you are from Omaha or have lived here…I really think you would enjoy this book.  I am not much of a history lover, but I do love this city, and I do love learning history if it is well told.

The story of Omaha from her official beginnings in the 1850’s until the mid-1900’s is well told here, much of it from the memory of the author and her father, which makes it read more like a good story than a history book.  I enjoyed the book and I think you would enjoy it too.

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Greater Than or Equal to One Bottle Cap

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

About a year ago, this note with this bottle cap was on the desk I sit at when I got to work.


I collect pretty bottle caps for my friend Roberta Vander Zwaag who once used a bunch of them to make a beautiful parrot mural.  I put them in her mailbox at church.

I mentioned that in passing to my friend Dr. Megan Belfiore many weeks before this note showed up on my desk when she gave me a weird look for putting my pop bottle cap in my pocket.  I have a suspicion this gift was from Megan, though she says she says she has no knowledge of the note or the bottle cap.  I gave the bottle cap to Roberta and put the note on the bulletin board above the desk.

It makes me happy every time I see it.

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The Thank You Economy

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

The Thank You Economy


Gary Vaynerchuk

5 Stars!


I LOVE this book.  It is the first book I read on my iPad.  My brother Dave recommended it and helped me install it.  Thank you Dave Nelson!

In The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk discusses WHY and HOW to use social media to interact with clients and potential clients online.  I already agreed with WHY and loved learning more about HOW and also loved the so-not-me loud, intense, super high energy that the author maintained for the ENTIRE book.  VERY fun.

This is the kind of person I would love listening to for an entire evening as I sat in the back of a party absorbing information and excitement about a subject I love, in this case, online client interactions.  I am pretty sure I would be excited about any subject the author spoke or wrote about, random stuff I wouldn’t otherwise give a second thought, like…wine.  I read it twice.

My very favorite part of the book is near the beginning when Gary Vaynerchuk compares the relatively new realm of online communities to the Real Life communities our great-grandparents enjoyed.  “Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated, as all vibrant towns used to be, by the strength of relationships, the currency of caring, and the power of word of mouth.”  (The Thank You Economy, page 55)


Thank you sir, for a wonderful book.  Thank you for all the new directions to take my online activity and simultaneously a renewed focus.  Thank you for reminding me why I love social media so much.  I love tweeting and blogging, but even more than the means of communication, I love people.  As different as the author and I probably are, that is one thing we definitely have in common.

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