And now for something completely different: Insect macro photos

I put in some Rudbeckia laciniata in the front garden this year (Tall coneflower) which I had had in another spot and really liked. However, that other spot definitely didn’t get as much sun because that stand definitely doesn’t get 7 feet tall and absolutely covered in flowers like this bunch. I’m actually probably going to have to move it because it’s way too tall for the space. This is a total bummer because it attracts the best selection of bugs. Primarily it gets small butterflies and bumblebees, but here’s a selection of the different insects I’ve found on it recently:

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles
goldenrod soldier beetle

Thread-waisted Wasp
Thread Waisted Wasp

One of a bunch of nondescript butterflies.
Butterfly

Possibly two different species of bumblebee. I’m good enough to know the difference between bumble, honey, mason, and sweat bees but that’s as good as it gets.
Bumblebee

I believe this is Xylocopa micans – Southern Carpenter Bee. Either that or it’s a carpenter bee from Europe and that would be not good. The only reason I know this (compared to the [shrug emoji] bumblebees) is because I googled and got the European bee first and had a bit of a freak out about invasive species. Then I did a bit more digging in the genius.
Bumblebee

I also spotted a robberfly eating a housefly which was the whole reason I grabbed my camera but by the time I got back out there, it was gone.

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Greta Splendens: Quite Possibly the Best Dog

It’s been about a week to the hour since I came home early from work. Greta got up to greet me. After I bustled around the house a bit, I noticed that she was standing in one place staring at me. I thought she wanted up on the couch but wasn’t feeling up to jumping so I lifted her up. She sat there for a minute and then oozed slowly off to lay on the floor and pant. Her tail never wagged when I said her name. That’s when I realized it wasn’t good.

I’m gonna spare everyone the hours of trying to get a hold of my husband while crying and then waiting for him to get home, all the while exchanging text messages with A. who had gone through similar stuff recently and was an excellent support. We got Greta to the emergency vet and they confirmed that her tumor had started bleeding into her abdomen. One overdose of anesthetic later and she was gone.

I miss her dearly. My house is too quiet while trash thieves and children on bikes pass unchallenged. My bed is too big, my couch too empty. There’s no (non-poop fountain) dog here to eat my carrots, cheese, and crackers. It’s been a rough, sad week.

I’m glad we have Zille here. Her solution to everything is “Throw a ball.” It’s a good distraction. And by god, she’s an easy dog, which is something you could never say about Greta. But I don’t think she could have taught me nearly so much about dogs as Greta. I’m a better person for Greta being in my life.

I’m going to end this three pictures that I think encompass how I’ll always think of her: Checking to see if the dinner I was eating was for dogs with her tail a blur of hopeful wags, snuggling with me on the couch, and telling boats to fuck right off. I’ll miss you, Greta-face.

Greta begging at the table

Greta snuggling on the couch

Greta standing in a large body of water and looking away in the distance

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The InGretable Hulk

I was cleaning off a memory card the other day and realized I never posted Greta’s Halloween costume from 2015.

The mild mannered Greta Banner. Greta in a white lab coat with a name tag that says Banner and wearing glasses.

The mild mannered Greta Banner. Greta in a white lab coat with a name tag that says Banner and wearing glasses.

The mild-mannered Greta Banner was just engaging in some research, as Gretas do. Her glasses didn’t fit very well.

Then she went outside and there were PEOPLE JOGGING. OMG, PEOPLE WERE JOGGING.

Oh no, she got angry! Greta mid bark and jumping.

Oh no, she got angry! Greta mid bark and jumping.

Oh no, she got angry! Greta mid bark and jumping.
And the InGretable Hulk was released!

The InGretable Hulk. Greta painted green and wearing a purple harness.

She was so mad she rampaged on Stark Industries and Embassy of Sokovia.

The InGretable Hulk on top of a box with the sign Stark Industries on it.

The InGretable Hulk on top of a box with the sign Embassy of Sokovia on it

She even got into it with Captain America but then they decided to work together against the Canada Geese.

The InGretable Hulk boxes with Captain America. Greta on her back legs next to me in a Captain America dress

The InGretable Hulk sitting and looking at me

The InGretable Hulk and Captain America looking out and up

The end.

The InGretable Hulk. Greta painted green and sitting on the porch with a doggie smile.

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The C-Word

Greta close upHemangiosarcoma.

Hemangiosarcoma.

Hemangiosarcoma.

I keep repeating the word in my head. It’s especially bad when I walk Greta in the mornings. It’s kinda weird when it happens when I’m doing a power press in weights class. Luckily when my eyes water there it just looks like sweat.

It’s a particularly nasty canine cancer of the blood vessels that shows up in middle aged large breed dogs the most. Most people find out their dog has it because it’s popped like an aneurysm and their dog goes into shock or dies suddenly. I got “lucky” in that I found it while rubbing her belly and noticed the lump.

People who follow me on twitter were treated to a fine rant about how when I called up my vet to make an appointment to get it checked, I was subtly mocked for calling up to say I had found a mass in her abdomen. My husband (who ended up taking her to the first appointments because I had a major work project launching that week) said the vet was actually really impressed I had found it because most owners wouldn’t have.

I’m still debating if discovering it did her any damn good. There’s not really good treatment for this particular cancer. Most of the first page of google results are the 1-3 month survival period after discovery with organ involvement. Of course, most of these cases are from animals that had spleens involved and it’s discovered due to the extreme internal bleeding. We lucky in that there’s wasn’t any organ involvement initially and we caught it before severe bleeding happened. However, chances are very high it will recur in a very short time period. We could do chemo. We haven’t talked to the oncologists yet because we’re both kinda like, why? This isn’t a cancer where they fade away and in a lot of pain. It’s a lot like living with a known weak vein. It’s gonna kill her and soon but we don’t know when.

And of course the killer (ha) is that post surgery, she’s in great shape. We had a crap week where she was in recovery, a frustrating week where she felt a lot better but was still on restriction and then this week where she’s back to her old self. Is she putting weight on because the tumor was removed or because we’re spoiling her? No idea. Is acting slow because it’s hot and humid or is it because she’s got a slow bleed? No idea.

So we’re spoiling her rotten and she gets walks without Zille so she can sniff all the things to her heart’s content. And I keep living on knife’s edge wondering if this is going to be the day I come home and she’s gone or, worse, going poorly.

This fucking sucks.

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