Monday, November 25, 2013


A few days before my birthday, I discovered Ruby in the evening, laying lifeless in her cage, at an odd angle.  I suspected that she had passed away but I was too nervous to get close to the cage to check for sure.  As Caitlin ate dinner, I kept an eye on the cage from afar to see if there was any movement.  After half an hour of Ruby laying in that same position, I was pretty confident that Ruby had suspiciously and suddenly passed away.
I didn't want to get a replacement piggy but we had to because guinea pigs must live in pairs to avoid loneliness and depression.  We didn't have time to go adopt a new piggy for Marbles that upcoming weekend because it was my birthday weekend and our calendar was booked (why must guinea pig rescues be so far away? The closest one is in Chatsworth, the next closest one is in Anaheim. It's almost as if these rescues *want* me to go to the Petco 2 blocks away and buy a piggie).

We booked an adoption appointment with LA Guinea Pig rescue 2.5 weeks away.  I was really nervous that Marbles wouldn't last that long and would die of loneliness.  Luckily, a week before our appointment, I got a call from the woman that runs the rescue, saying she had an opening the following day so I took that time slot in a heartbeat.  The sooner we get Marbles a friend, the better.

The next day, we drove to Chatsworth, which really is really out in the boonies.  The rescue is located at the personal home of the person that runs the rescue, and I am not lying, we had to take a dirt path to get to her home (I really thought we were lost), which turned out to actually be a farm.  I mean, we were greeted by a crazy, noisy goose!  There were also other animals on the property like chickens and horses.  I can't believe Chatsworth is technically located in "Los Angeles County" and the lady running the rescue has the nerve to call her rescue "LA Guinea Pig Rescue".  More like "Middle of nowhere guinea pig rescue".

The lady took us to her garage, which housed at least, 30 guinea pigs, all orphans, hoping to find their forever home.  We took a look at all the females and neutered boys and I picked a female piggy at random.  I just wanted a piggy that got along with Marbles, had short fur (low maintenance), and looked relatively young. The first piggy I picked, named Ivy, was a tan and black short haired piggy, estimated to be 7-8 months old.  We put Ivy and Marbles together in a cage to see if they got along, and it was a match made in heaven -- lots of squeaks, sniffing, and snuggling.
I was able to snap this photo during their bonding process:

Everything looked good, so I signed the adoption form, paid the $35 adoption fee, and we drove back to civilization.

We spent 2 days thinking of a new name for Ivy.  Both Marbles and Ruby were named after stones, so we wanted Ivy to be named after a stone too. We tried to think of stones/rocks that were tan and black in color.  Sandstone... Tigereye (some people call it Tigerstone)... Nothing really rolled off the tongue.  Then Jeff thought of Rubble or Pebble (I thought of Flintstones when I heard these names).  While I thought "Pebble" was a much cuter name, pebbles are gray in color, while rubble is a more tan or brown color.  So we decided on Rubble, and we added an "S" to the end, the same way to added an "S" to the end of Marbles' name.  So there we have it: Rubbles.  It wasn't until I told my sister that I realized that Rubbles sounds a lot like Ruby and Marbles put together.  Oh well, maybe we can pretend it was intentional.

Rubbles is still settling in, so it's been difficult to take any photos of her.  We've had her for over a week now, and still, the only picture I have of her, is the one above.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Our backyard - update

As you may recall from our 7 foot tall weeds post, our backyard was literally (yes, I mean literally, not "literally" when people mean to say "figuratively") was consumed by 7 foot tall weeds.  After we cleared out the weeds and considered all our options, we went with getting artificial grass so we wouldn't have to worry about maintenance and watering costs.

On Sept 19, the folks from Hunny Do Grass came over and installed the grass.  They tore out the old stubby weeds, which were rooted deep in the ground, pulled out some old plumbing that was previously used for an illegal back-house, leveled out the land, then installed the artificial grass.  The folks weren't your typical "Home Depot" laborers.  Instead, these guys were polite, friendly, professional, and best of all, they spoke English!
Putting in artificial grass is basically like installing carpet.  They cut the exact amount that you need for your area, they nail it in, and you upkeep it by occasionally hosing the dust off and using a leaf blower to blow any leaves away.  I did not like how the edge of the "grass" area isn't in a complete straight line (instead, they cut the edge all jagged) because the tiles in the concrete area of our yard aren't aligned. If our yard wasn't previously consumed by weeds, I would have seen that the tiles weren't straight and I would have fixed it myself. So that's a bummer.
But other than that, I'm very happy with the results.  You gotta admit, our backyard looks 200% better than before and is actually usable.

Now all that was left in our yard that was still weedy was the palm tree area.  We decided that mulching the area would look so much nicer, rather than having dead weeds that we would have to cut every couple of weeks.  Mulching also naturally prevents weeds from growing, which means, less work for us!
I got the project started (I was way more enthusiastic than Jeff about mulching) by hosing down the weeds and dirt around the palm trees, to soften that hard, dead, weedy earth.  It was disgusting how many spiders, ants, and grasshoppers emerged from that area running for cover, as I flooded their home. It was pretty gross.  Then I attacked the land with a giant shovel, breaking up the weeds and dirt, then raking the weeds away into a trash can (the entire project was proven to be very difficult with a 1.5 toddler running around getting in my way)  Even after discarding a lot of weeds, there were still so many weeds that were embedded so deep within the hard earth.  Not sure what to do next, I put the project on hold for about 3 weeks.  Within those 3 weeks, we got a lot of rain, then we had a major heat wave.  What ended up happening was, the rain softened the dirt, then dried out all the weeds into light, thin, hay.  We hired our gardener to do an initial cleanup of our backyard, to clean up all leaves that built up in the yard over the last 3 years (yeah, we don't do a lot of yard work, if you can't tell) and cut the weeds that grow through the cracks of our concrete.  Our gardener was so kind to also weed-whack the hay/weeds in the palm tree area!  With most of the weeds gone, Jeff and I were able to easily start mulching the area!  First, we spent an entire day shoveling the land, leveling the land, and discarding any leftover weeds and rocks.  Then I made a trip to Home Depot with my sister and bought some red mulch (I bought a mix of both rubber and wood).  Pouring the mulch was EASY.  Just pour and you're done!

I bet you're waiting for the before and after photos!

Yard, BEFORE artificial grass install

Yard AFTER artificial grass install (caitlin makes a cameo)

Palm Tree area, BEFORE mulching

Palm Tree area, AFTER mulching

Grass Install Progress Photos:

What are we working on now?
We are furnishing the yard with a patio set for adults (estimated to arrive this weekend) and a kids bench for kids (we found a beat up, but usable one on the streets).  I am also working on a succulent container garden to add some actual live plants in the yard.  Will post photo soon!

Doesn't our backyard look so awesome?