Posts Tagged ‘Omaha’

Our Garden Plot at Westwood Church Community Garden

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

In the spring of 2012, Westwood Church started a community garden.  It is among my favorite things in the whole wide world.

Russ put a Square Foot garden grid and a small trellis on our plot.  I planted seeds and plants and took pictures.  Then I planted more seeds and plants.  And took more pictures.  And rearranged.  And took more pictures.

We had a huge delicious bowl of lemon basil pesto pasta, some wonderful beets and a few onions.  Otherwise, we just admired how beautiful the plants were.  And, you know, took pictures.

We met several gardeners from the surrounding neighborhoods who came to garden with us, gardeners from our own church family we had not known before, or not known well, and one very kind man walking his dogs who came to see the garden and ended up meeting the wonderful family that is Westwood Church.  I imagine there are thirty sets of such stories from thirty gardening families…just perhaps none who found themselves in quite as obsessive of a plant-photograph-rearrange cycle as I did.

So while the only tangible things I have to share this year are pictures, I do believe Westwood’s community garden was a beautiful, understated, resounding, incredible success.

Here are my pictures…

Pet Blogger Challenge 2013

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

Thank you again to Amy of Go Pet Friendly for hosting this, the third annual Pet Blogger Challenge!

And Dr. Edie, I miss your Frankie stories and love your new blog, Freud’s Butcher!

Here are this year’s Pet Blogger Challenge questions, and my responses…

1. How long have you been blogging?  

I have been blogging here on Riley and James since September 2006, so a little over six years.

I have a comic (a blog of sorts I suppose) called “When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Vet.”

I have also blogged at Wagging Tail, dvm360, Life with Dogs,, Smart-Pet Guide and CareFRESH and done some guest blog posts.

I am helping start a professional blog in 2013 for the veterinary hospital for which I work, Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals, which I am very excited about!

Provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

Here is my Riley and James Pet Blogger Challenge post from last year:

Pet Blogger Challenge 2012

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

The purpose statement of Riley and James is “To Promote Preventative Care of Pets in Order to Enrich the Lives of Pets and Their People.”  THAT is still the most important goal of this blog.

3. Have you made progress toward this goal, or have your goals changed over the past year?

I HAVE made progress toward that goal – more in Real Life lately than through the blog.  I started working at Gentle Doctor part time in September 2011 and moved to full time in May 2012, and that has taken up ALL of the time I used to spend writing!  I love my job and my coworkers and the clients and patients.  I miss writing as much as I used to, but it has definitely been a very positive change.

4. How often do you post?

Currently I am only posting a couple times a month.  Life got busy!

5. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the Spirit moves you changed?

Nope, I still do not blog on a schedule, but I love reading blogs of people who do post on a schedule, especially bloggers who post daily or even more often, and I admire their organizational skills!  I will post on a schedule for the hospital blog, and have for professional assignments, but it is fun to keep Riley and James low key.

If you don’t publish on a schedule, why not?

I think my attitude online mirrors how I deal with Real Life – I don’t talk much, but I will if I have an important thing to say, or a fun story, or a picture I want to show someone!

As far as sharing on a schedule, I do great sharing pet specific and general veterinary information with clients every 20 minutes all day, and I love it, but it exhausts me!

Likewise, I am capable of blogging on a rigid schedule, and working hard no matter how I am feeling, but it takes much more energy!  Still rewarding – both in Real Life interactions and online writing –  but a different feel.

How do you think your decision affects your audience? 

Without a schedule, it is probably difficult for readers to know when to check back.  I announce posts on facebook and twitter, and send an email to my Dad whenever I write something, so I know what I write is being read by people I care about :)

How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”

My loose and informal post-worthy tests:

  • Do I feel strongly about this?
  • Is this an important pet topic?
  • Do I have a different take on this topic (whether or not it is pet related) than others?
  • Is this a fun or pretty or cute picture? :)
 6. How much time do you spend writing your blog?
Each blog post takes me between two and twenty hours to write.  Medical posts take me the longest.  Picture and story posts take the shortest amount of time (unless they are “Short Stories” – Those actually take me longer to get under 50 words!)  Most of my time is spent revising rough drafts.  I don’t even count anymore, but I usually have over 20 rough drafts of each post.
How much time visiting other blogs?
I spend as much time as I can visiting other blogs, mostly about pets, but also about spiritual topics, gardening, and other things.  Many are written by friends, and those that aren’t written by friends are written by people I feel could become friends.  I love to read, and I love what you write!
Share your  tips for staying on top of it all.
Decide what you want from blogging.  It is very fun, but can become overwhelming.  You can’t read ALL the posts, or even ALL the blogs.  You can’t write ALL the things.  Sometimes you just have to link to excellent things others have written, or trust your readers to find what they need to learn more or save topics for another day.  If it is not fun, back up and figure out why, readjust and continue.  Most of blogging is self-imposed scheduling and direction, so be nice to yourself, and tweak things so it is fun.  It will shine through in your writing.

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?  Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?

I have not checked Riley and James statistics over a year, and have loved having this site as an escape of sorts.

When I return to blogging professionally as a part of my work, I will measure blog visits, interactions and learn how to measure return on investment somehow, maybe by new client visits?

Some aspects of blogging – affecting people’s attitudes towards pets, causing someone to think, making someone smile with a cute picture, shaping my reputation online, meeting and getting to know great people – are not measurable but are some of the most rewarding parts about blogging, so…short answer…I don’t know!

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

You guys post great stuff, you show up and support me, you send me fun projects and include me in fun group projects.  You love your own pets, you support other people and their pets and you rescue the pets who are not yet to their forever homes.  You are the best of the best and you already help me more than you could ever know.  So that.  THANK YOU.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

This year, I would like to continue to promote preventative care of pets in order to enrich the lives of pets and their people.  Oh, and home every Omaha cat.  And also shut down puppy mills.

See full size image

And a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31st, 2012

“Shoot for the moon and if you miss…you will be floating in space…the closest star is Proxima Centauri and it’s 4.2 light years away. So you might be ‘among’ Proxima in about 1 million years. But then you are only among a single star. It’s not possible to be among multiple stars because they are so far apart from one another. -Alex Krasny


This time around, coming up with New Year’s Resolutions has been difficult.

I’ve got Prove the Cute Vet Wrong in 2013, but you knew that one.  I thought only Dad and Russ knew that the best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t.  Even before this article came out – which I actually think is very, very good – I have had an all consuming obsession with the Gentle Doctor blog-to-be.  I have a year’s worth of weekly posts written.  Oh yeah, I am crazy.  In a good way.

On a related subject (online work projects) I would like to continue to manage and grow Gentle Doctor’s Twitter presence with the help of Dr. Krapfl and Angie and our new Breed of the Month thing.

Also, I meant to lose a Standard Poodle in 2012, and I lost a medium sized Poodle mix, which is still something.  So, next year, I would like to regroup, refocus and lose another medium sized Poodle mix!

3000 more followers on Twitter.  I don’t talk about follower count on Twitter much.  First of all, it isn’t up to me, it’s up to you.  And second of all, it seems like shouting about it would ruin things, and NOT shouting would allow things to keep going well, like being really quiet when you see a butterfly, and now I am in a beautiful swarm.  Only I do not know if butterflies have ears.

It is a common misconception that veterinarians know every little thing like that about every animal.  Mostly we know about dogs.  (Kidding!  Mostly.)

I do know that I am only “ahead” of the next veterinarian/hospital on Twitter by a couple thousand followers, and if we were a comic they would be my arch enemy, and they advertise like crazy for followers, and so that’s fun for me.  Even so, if I only had the tiniest group of friends on Twitter, and you were in that group, it would be as fun for me as it is now.

I have loved working with the dvm360 team, and would love to do more writing projects together.  That breaks about 60% of the S-M-A-R-T goal setting rules, but there it is.  It is what I want, even if I am not sure what it is yet!

Same goes for the Square Foot Gardening team.

There’s Penelope Dog. She will be in the December 2013 Veterinary Economics edition, so there’s that.  That matches up better to specific, measurable and all that, huh?

Penelope, we love your face!

Here’s another nebulous goal – continued success at work.

And another – continued healing.  Oo that’s kind of serious.  Things are good and getting better.

Family time.

Garden time.

Poodle time.

And cat and puppy time…This will be the Year of the Old Pet.  Joy the Puppy is only three, and just needs a disproportionate amount of attention.  Max the Cat (16) and Noodle the Poodle (13) though are really starting to show their age, and just are going to need lots more care than before, if things continue to move in the direction they are.  Stupid mortality.  Actually they are doing quite well.  We have a carpenter to build ramps all over and a vet to fret over their health and kids to help with pet care.  We should be set!

I hope 2013 is the best year yet for you and your family!

Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Here are some pictures from this past month.  I am on an unusually long stream of posts – even for me – that need to be filed under “What in the World Does this Have to do With Pets?”

Anyway, pictures.  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, food and fun!

For the third of four years, we have gotten our Christmas tree (real tree!) flocked with purple from Cirian’s Garden Center in Midtown Omaha.  This year, we were put on a waiting list because apparently Omaha is full of weirdos, and apparently word is getting out that Cirian’s will flock trees purple (any color, really).

This beautiful kitty is being fostered by our good friends the Babcocks.  SHE NEEDS A HOME!  Is this your kitty??  She is very sweet!  Her name is Kitty.

When I was three, Mom made me a Winnie the Pooh birthday cake with this mold.  I guess I have ALWAYS been in love with Winnie the Pooh and friends.  Mom had to have Grandma Rasmussen cut the cake because she had worked so hard on it she couldn’t cut it.  THAT part I just learned.  THANK YOU MOM!!  The eyes and nose of my Winnie the Pooh cake were made of three big chocolate disks.  My cousin Robby got one, my friend Lana got one and I got one.  THAT is from the memory of a three year old, people.  YES, it made my third birthday that awesome.  It is one of my best memories as a kid.  So I used the same cake mold to make my panda-obsessed twelve year old this cake for her birthday.  Fun.  And yes, that is a VERY OLD cake pan!

DrawSomething.  PETSHOP.

Gary II wishing he had a hat like all of his friends.  Thank you for the Piggy, Allison!  I love him!!

Decorations on the Recycle Bike Shop building in Midtown Omaha.  This made me happy all season.

Hello Snowman!

This tree in Midtown Omaha also made me happy all season.  If you drove by too fast, you would miss it.

Gary II got his hat!  Thank you Becky!  Since we have taken away the source of Gary II’s anxiety, he will probably no longer need that bottle of DAP spray that is almost as big as he is!

For the first time in YEARS, we did not make Baby Peanut Jesus in preschool Sunday School.  Aunt Jeannine sent me THIS.  I love it as much as the craft itself.



Missio Dei Community SLC – Advent Conspiracy – Way, Truth and Life from Missio Dei Community on Vimeo.

Courtesy of Adrian Fry


Phoebe The Super Dog!

Courtesy of the Muller Family

See full size image

I also took pictures like normal people take, ones that show that MY KIDS ARE CUTE and of our family at the Christmas Eve Service and at the Finch and Nelson Christmases and that show in kinda an abstract but definite way that we have the most wonderful family imaginable and have been blessed beyond measure in 2012.

They are.

And we do.  And we have been.

I hope that you have been blessed beyond measure this year as well.


The Stuff that Russ Built

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Russ is my husband, and he is a really good carpenter.  Here are some things that he has built.  I think they are pretty. It is fun when my cases and his projects intersect, like when a dog patient needs a fence, or a kitty patient needs a scratching post, or an arthritic patient needs a ramp or stairs.

If you would like Russ to build you a thing, call him at 402-218-3472.

This is the roof of my parents’ gazebo. I think it is as pretty from the inside as it is from the outside.

This is the deck Russ built for our friends Dawn and Cory. Dawn traded Russ for piano lessons for our girls, so everyone won!

This kid is so cute! He kept asking “Whatcha doing Russell?” His Mom took this picture of him watching Russ build their pergola.

Here are before and after pictures of Dr. McIlnay’s deck. Dr. McIlnay is Omaha’s veterinary ophthalmologist.

Another friend’s new deck. Building decks is Russ’ favorite. I think they always turn out so pretty! Notice the giant dog sized ramp on the left side of the deck for one of my favorite patients ever, Moby.

My parents’ gazebo – my favorite place in the world!

Maybe the Wheelers have trash like normal folks, and maybe they just have a beautiful gated fence!

This is at Russ’ parents’ cabin near Valley, Nebraska. Isn’t the lake beautiful?? Russ built the deck and the “kid-sized” picnic table.

Access ramp at our church. TONS of kids tromp up and down this all week, so it has to be safe!

Double Decker Deck!

It is so peaceful on Mom and Dad’s deck. This was one of Russ’ first projects in Omaha, which he did with a very nice carpenter named Tom.

Russ built this teepee so I could grow Morning Glories and Runner Beans. It also served as a good tea party headquarters when the girls were younger :)

Russ has built me 300-and-counting 1 foot squares for our Square Foot Garden and the fence behind it…

…And Three Squares for Max!

Russ built the fence around our church community garden and the Square Foot grid and teepee on our plot. God grew the plants :)

Russ’ parents dogs safe behind their new fence!

This is a picture of Joy the Puppy on Day One over three years ago! She STILL loves to help Russ build stuff!

See? Here is Joy the Puppy RIGHT NOW with Russ at his parents’ neighbor’s home, building a fence for HIS Lab puppy!

Those are some of my favorite pictures of the things Russ has built.  He does free estimates and also does interior work.  I know this is early to mention, but he and Joy want you to know…They are not afraid of snow!  If he is building your deck or fence in a snowstorm, do not worry – I will bring him hot chocolate!

Thank you friends and family who have supported Russ in his new full time construction business.  We thought it would be a scary step to go out “on our own” but because of you it has been very fun and rewarding!

To ALL of our friends and family and all my awesome readers, please call Russ if you have projects you would like him to help you with.  He is ALWAYS available to advise, will ALWAYS give free estimates, and if it is a project he does not do, he ALWAYS knows the best person for the job.

Russell Finch Construction


More Great Pictures on Facebook…

Russell Finch Construction Fan Page 


Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Our family recently attended our first ever Pug-o-ween, the biggest fundraiser of the year for Pug Partners of Nebraska – one of my all time favorite rescue groups!

Do you know what is cute?

A Pug, of course!

Do you know what is SUPER cute?


Do you know what is so cute I could have DIED?

Hundreds of Pugs and all of their dog friends dressed up for Halloween!

Pug-o-ween this way!

Seriously – hundreds!

Bumble Bee!


Devil and Angel Westies – too cute!

The long dogs – Sundae, Cow and Shark

and…Squirrel! Notice Chia Pug in the background…

A Beautiful Butterfly and…Shark!

Pugasaurus – RAWR

There is nothing cuter than a Pug saying “please”!

What is SO cute about 3-legged Chihuahuas that I have to include them in EVERY photo collection?

…I think it is their adorable little 3 legs and undefeatable Chihuahua spirit. And also their cuteness.

Black dogs just look good in every color!

A Dachshund hotdog is still my all time favorite costume.

This dog has the sweetest soul! We spent some time just conversing telepathically :)

On your marks…get set…

Hope you didn’t have any money on the Pug facing backwards!

“You’re a funny looking Pug!” “Well you’re a funny looking…Pug!”

Lobster Pug

This IS my costume.

Hippo Pug is worn out from that intense race!

You have our full attention. And hopefully treats.

This Poodle was so happy to be pet he almost fell over!

Lots of minis to be seen…which are just adorable on Pugs.

Of all the raffle prizes of the entire party, there was only ONE that I felt like I NEEDED as soon as I saw it.  In fact, I was only half way through carefully evaluating the huge numbers of awesome Pug things to win when I saw it, and in an uncharacteristically passionate split-second decision, I put my raffle ticket in the tiny overstuffed box, and spent the rest of the party hoping. And…I won!  Meet Gary II. Can you believe he is mine??

If there is anything in the world that rivals the cuteness of a Pug, it is for sure a crocheted Pug!

Thank you Pug Partners!  Thank you Pug people!  Thank you Pugs and one-day-only honorary Pugs! We had a very fun time with you!



Nebraska Humane Society Walk for the Animals 2012

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Us

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Not US, that is in June.

We had ten year old girls spend the night last night and they were sugared, caffinated and completely wound up.  I closed our bedroom door at 2 am because I could not sleep.  It muffled the chaos but did not silence it.  I must have slept some because we woke up four hours after I shut the door realizing Max the Cat had peed on our bed.  I suppose it seemed like the second best option since he could not get out to get to his litter box.  Do not judge him too harshly – It is only the second time in two decades that he has done that.  I am up (and showered, laundry running – not by choice).  And the kids are STILL wound up and yelling.

Remember when Jodi said this?

“Any day you can say, ‘At least no one peed on me,’ is a good day.”

Even so, today I woke up in a good mood.  Today is a good day.

I have been officially working at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals for one year today.  It is my favorite job I have ever had.  (Dr. Munger – working at Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital is ALSO my favorite job I have ever had.  Yeah, it’s that good.)

One year and ten days ago, I called Dr. Bashara and asked if I could come work with him.  I called three hospitals, including one where a classmate works.  Her boss offered me a job too.  I knew it was a great hospital also, and I would love working there with her.  I said, “Anne I really think I would love working at Gentle Doctor.”  She said, “I know Pete.  I really think you would too.”  We were right.  I told Pete during a working interview before he offered me a job that I would like to retire from his company.

Do you see all the extroversion in this story so far?  All of what is for me reckless, crazy, dangerous behavior??  Pete, if you are online reading this :) stop here.  I don’t want you to know that…

I was desperate.  I was wounded.  I was done with working in veterinary medicine.  I told Russ that I was going to call the three hospitals I knew from growing up in Omaha were awesome, follow through wherever that led, and then basically come home, curl up and recover.  Then start over in a new direction.

I am so glad I was wrong.  I was also wrong about there being only three hospitals in Omaha that are awesome.  There are way more.  Apparently, it is the norm in veterinary medicine?  Now I remember!  I did start over in a new direction, but it is within the career and calling that I love.

I know things could change.  I know I may not retire from this hospital.  I hope it lasts, and things are truly great here, but no matter what, my love of veterinary medicine and my faith in leadership have been restored.  And for me, that is huge.

I know (as you may recall, I needed to remind myself at the beginning of this year) that James said THIS…

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  James 4:13-14

But remember too that Jesus said THIS…

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34

Thank you friends and family.  Even good stress is stressful, and you have walked right beside me through all the emotions of this past year.  Thank you coworkers.  I love working with you, and you have become dear friends (yeah, you!)  Thank you clients for coming with me, and thank you new clients for making me feel like I have been here forever.  It’s been a good year.

Words that are Hard to Spell

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

In general, I cannot spell well in English.  English spelling is ridiculous.  I can spell medical words fairly well because they are usually just obnoxiously compounded Greek and Latin descriptions of medical things.

Dalmatian has never been difficult for me to spell.  I have always thought the third “A” looks nice with spots.  That is the best I can explain that.

Basset, as in Basset Hound, is almost impossible for me to spell.  In fact, I looked it up just now to tell you that.  There is a city in Nebraska and there was a furniture store in Omaha, and of course there is the incredibly awesome dog breed.  Those three need to get together with each other and anyone with the last name of Basset or Bassett and agree on one spelling.  For me.

I need to get all my stupid thoughts out here on Riley and James because at the beginning of the New Year I am helping to develop the online stuff for Gentle Doctor, and it probably needs to be more focused and a bit more serious.

If I start a weekly hospital blog, will you read it sometimes and come discuss stuff with me?

As always, here on my personal blog, you get stuff like my thoughts on how cool I think the word Dalmatian is, which, though less important than medical issues, is something about which I feel just as strongly.  Thank you for being here.  I think you are awesome.



Bailey the Goldendoodle Puppy

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Bailey is our five month old cousin.  She is visiting for the weekend.  She is super cute.  Evidence exhibits 1-12 :)




And today…


















See full size image

We had a very fun weekend with you Bailey Girl! Come back any time!