Welcome to 'Attic of the Heart'!

Welcome from north-central Connecticut! In this blog I will share whatever is in my heart, on my mind, or something interesting I've found to share. Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Autumn...

We are 1/2 way through Autumn, winter is officially still a few weeks away, but we are feeling the chill from those 2 arctic fronts swooping down out of Canada.  I can't complain though, as the grass is still fairly green, the burning bushes are still 'burning', and the temps were fairly mild until recently.  We keep saying (and hoping) that THIS will be the last weekend to do leaves, but I dare not make that assumption yet.  I think we are pretty much done for the most part, the oak in the front lawn still has about 1/3 of it's leaves, so we will see how next weekend looks.  My DH couldn't get the lawn mower started yesterday, it seems the spark plug was gone, and a wire was chewed on the magneto from the mice who tried to set up housekeeping 3 weeks ago.  They had built a good sized nest in the motor area, and it was occupied!  A year or 2 ago, it was chipmunks.  I even discovered a little nest in the middle of our portable fire pit.
Speaking of the oak tree, it dropped a few acorns this year compared to previous years. I have learned that nut trees in general do not produce the same amount each year.  There are some years we are lucky to find 1/2 dozen.  One year, the ground was literally covered!  This year, there were quite a few, but the squirrels were very diligent -- all you can find are mostly the caps left from the acorns.  Well, it made it easier raking, that's for sure.
Started my light box the around the first of October.  I've had some foggy days, but I think I'm doing better.  Combining SAD with peri-menopause, and oh what fun. The ups and downs of hormones and lack of sunlight, I never know what kind of day I'm going to have. Sigh.
Max is still hanging in there.  Poor guy.  Chronic Kidney Disease is a terrible thing.  It's hard to know when 'it's time' to make that one way trip to the vet.  I hate to think about it, but also don't want to wait until the last minute, which could end up being worse, for both of us.  The medicine I got for him a year ago has helped alot, but I think it gets to the point where there isn't much more you can do.  Combine that with other side illnesses that can crop up, like high blood pressure, thyroid issues, and it just gets more complicated.
A big factor has been his teeth.  He goes through what seems to be monthly cycles of gum disease.  He gets really bad breath, REALLY bad, and he doesn't eat very well.  With CKD, he cannot afford to lose calories, so I have to be diligent and watch him closely to see that he doesn't fail too badly during these times.  I do feed him 4 times per day, all canned food (even the dry Kidney disease food causes problems with him), with his meds 2x's day in his food.  He takes the generic form of Pepcid AC regular dose for his nausea that comes with the toxins building up in his system.  His kidneys just cannot flush everything out like they used too, because they are only operating at about 15 - 25% capacity at this point.   I am guessing, as he is in the later stages of this disease.
He still looks forward to his daily routine, though.  He gets cold very easily, and LOVES the electric wood stove in the evening with DH.  Parks himself in front of it. I finally put his big pillow there. :0)
Anyway, it weighs heavy on my mind at times.  He's been a faithful companion for 17 years.  I got him when he was 6 weeks old from our local vet, no mama.  When I saw him with his siblings, he was busy beating everyone else up. Ha!  I got him, a Tiger Tabby with a white nose, and his sister, Jellybean, who was black/calico, with an orange dot on her forehead.  She passed away from diabetes when she was 9.
I am still feeding the birds.  I can watch them out the window as I type.  There was a major flock of blackbirds and grackles that came through last week, many hundreds, moving from lawn to lawn.  I say, eat up those bugs and spiders!
The Juncos came around October 17th - 20th this year, as they do every year.  On stormy days, I can have up to 3 dozen, but usually about 15 or so usually.  The woodpeckers love the suet feeder.  I switched over from rendered w/seeds to the raw from the grocery store, now that it is colder.  I use this when I can find good pieces in the store, as it's slightly cheaper.   The white breasted nuthatches, I think 2 pr, they are so crazy and fun to watch.  Also, the titmice, cardinals, purple finches, chickadees.. but my very favorite is the Carolina Wren.  They are such perky inquisitive little birds!  I have a small basket hanging up under the deck which holds the remote for the weather station, and I watched them one day totally check it out, inside the basket and all around the outside.  Just in case it could be a home for them, I think.   And the doves.  Always the doves.  But at least it isn't pigeons!  Once in awhile, a hawk sweeps through, and I will find feathers, mostly dove.  That's ok, I have LOTS of doves. It's the little birds I'd feel real badly about.  The squirrels are quite tenacious too.  I had a lot of grays most winters, usually about 7, but the black squirrels arrived about 6 years ago, just one for a couple of years, but now I have more black than gray I think, and they chase the grays away.  I also noticed that the black ones are more skittish than the grays.  Interesting...
We took a day trip up to Gould's Sugar House in Shelburne, Massaschusetts in October.  We hadn't been up in awhile, and though it would be a nice trip for leaf-peeping, and it was.  Not a bad breakfast, although I thought the pancakes were quite mealy.  Flavor ok, texture wasn't my type.  They make their own breakfast sausage, nice big patties, not bad.  They serve their own homemade dill pickle chunks with breakfast, very good, but salty! They are open for 2 seasons each year, since like the 1960's, for breakfast/lunch, very limited menu, but very popular.  Some days you wait for an hour, so get there early!  They are open during sugaring in the spring, and a few weeks in the fall during apple season, which you can buy some while you are there. They have a small gift shop where you can buy their maple syrup as well.  All this is located in their old barn which used to bunk their help way back when.  It also houses their sugaring operation which you can see operating in the spring. I think it's all run by cord wood, if the large amount stored is any indication. It's worth the trip.  In fact, the lady who runs the restaurant must be near 80, and still works the counter.  She showed us an article about them in the Yankee magazine, which was very nice.
We also stopped at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, one of their 2 stores, if I remember rightly, also on Route 2.  Neat little place, very busy!  GREAT COFFEE!
Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters - Shelburne Falls, MA, United States


The store I stopped in has a nice little sit down area, several choices of pastries, and of course, coffee.

 
I brought home 4 different flavors to try - Chocolate Raspberry, Toasted Coconut, Sugar Maple Nut, and Amaretto.  They all smell and taste good.  Very smooth coffee.  I ground my own beans, as they sell whole beans in big stoneware crocks with wooden lids.  Nice!  Definitely better than most store brands.
That's all for now, laundry is calling, Max is looking for some lunch, and I've got a pot roast in the slow cooker and need to 'accessorize' it. :0)  Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Welcome Spring!!

Finally, spring has arrived!!  Long awaited, dreamed about, impatiently sought after, finally here.  Winter was LONG this year.  I guess it was for just about everybody, it seems. Even still, my folks further north still have snow in their yard, but as my mother says, bare spots are appearing.  When I boast about my azaleas blooming, she says, well, my flowers are just poking through the ground in the bare spots.

As I type this, I'm watching a grey squirrel cavort about like a kitten.  Having the best time!  He's bouncing off of tree trunks, rolling on the ground with a stick, squirreling around, enjoying himself (or her). 
The Goldfinches have been numerous this spring!  I counted at least 12 males outside my window at the bird feeder, plus Purple Finches, Chipping Sparrows, White-throated Sparrow, White Crowned Sparrows, and oh yes, one Pine Warbler!  A new one for me this year. The Downy Woodpeckers have been quarreling over the suet feeder, I think I have 3 pairs coming daily.  Plus the Hairy and Red-bellied. 
The male Cardinal has been courting his mate, by staying close to her and occasionally offering her a seed, which she shyly accepts. It's so cute! The nuthatches are crazy as ever, and courting as well.

I have one wild turkey who has been coming every day for over a week now to my bird feeder.  I'm wondering if it's a female, and if she has decided to nest in the woods somewhere out back of us.  Seems she's been staying in this area.  Would be cute to see the babies.  We did have a whole flock pass through in the last month or so.  I heard yesterday that the population of wild turkeys is down this year in CT, but still stable.  

We had a hard winter for our area.  My lavender suffered terribly, and I think I lost some perennials as well.  We've had mild winters for several years, with not a lot of snow for most of them, but this year was colder, longer and I think the frost might have gone deeper as well.

Today it is raining, we need the rain, and you can practically see the grass growing.  The trees are starting to leaf out, the wild rose bushes already have small green leaves.  I must keep an eye out for the Jack in the Pulpit this spring so as not to miss the bloom.
Well, I better get on with my day.   Have a great week!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Since this is likely the only post I will get in before Christmas, I want to wish all of you who stop for a visit a blessed Christmas!  Mine will be blessed because my parents are coming Christmas Day, all the way from Canada. That's a 9 or 10 hr drive, and quite a drive for my Dad, who's in his 80's.
And every year, I am just so thankful that they are still able to come.  Very thankful.
As a Christian, I am also very blessed because Jesus the Christ was born one night in Bethlehem, in very humble circumstance, as Savior of the world.  'For God SO LOVED the world, that He GAVE HIS only begotten SON, that whosoever should believe in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.' John 3:16
This has become more real to me in the last couple of years than in my whole life, even though I've been a Christian since I was a teenager. 
Well, am I ready for Christmas?  Uh, not yet.  But I'm getting there.  I procrastinated again this year, much to my chagrin. Seems I just get overwhelmed and ignore things until the last minute, until there's immediate pressure.Yeah.  Not a good way to function. Part of it has to do with my Seasonal Affective Disorder, which starts to kick in late October. The rest just comes naturally.  I am doing my light box every day, and it really does help.  
Every year, when this season rolls around, I tell myself, this year it will be different. I won't focus on gifts, and all the rest, but more on the spiritual aspect of the season.  I'd rather not have to buy gifts at all.  Especially as the family gets added to, there's more and more people to buy for - to think about what they might like, how much to spend, how to get it there, whether they have that item or not...sigh.  This 'snowball' of gift buying just keeps getting bigger and harder to roll every year.  
So I struggle with how to celebrate, how to keep the real meaning in my life, and not get overwhelmed by it. 
Seems it should be simpler than this. Not quite so commercial.  It seems that the spiritual aspect takes a back seat to getting everything else done.  Especially for someone like me, who has a tendency to procrastinate, and not be so organized!  But I cannot seem to get off this 'hamster wheel' of expectations that I have and everyone else has for me.  If someone out there has had similar struggles and has made changes, please let me know how you accomplished that.  
Well, I'm off to go accomplish something! :0)  Get the cards sent, the gifts bought, the tree cut and decorated, the baking done and the house cleaned.  All before Christmas Eve.  
I can see it now. I will be mopping the floors on Christmas Eve. Sigh.
Merry Christmas!!



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note:  My hard drive failed last week - it lasted 7 years - so the photos in previous posts may or may not be visible.  I haven't check yet.  I do subscribe to Sugarsync, an online storage site, so I had saved most of my photos and all my documents.  Worth the money each month! I need to re-sync so I have access to my photos from my computer again, but I think I will wait until after Thanksgiving.  I am planning an upgrade to Windows Vista, as I am still using XP and service runs out for that in April.  My plan is to gradually go to Windows 7, if my old Dell system can handle it.   The new hard drive was a quick relatively inexpensive fix to my aging computer, but I know I will be in the market for a new laptop or something similar soon.

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My how time flies. Christmas is just a month away now!  How was your summer?  We had a good summer here.  I raised tomatoes this year - plum - which did ok, considering where I put them.  They didn't get real big or thick, despite the composted manure I put in, but I think it was just not enough sunshine.  My yellow tomato plant did quite well - planted it in a big pot instead of the ground. I just don't have the gardening space for more. But I am encouraged! 
I didn't grow the blue morning glories that I usually do, we were having our deck finished, so I couldn't let them twine around the railings, so I just skipped them this year.
I did extend the shade garden between us and the neighbors.  The bee balm I had put in a couple of years ago survived, so I expanded the bed to include some extra columbines - they readily self-sow in my front garden.  A few extra's that seem to do ok in shade as well.  We'll see how they survive the winter.
My cat, Max, has been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease.  What an awful disease.  It's not reversible, and will just keep getting worse until he will need to be put down.  I'm trying to prepare myself, as I love him dearly and I've had him since he was 6 weeks old.  He's 16 now, which is somewhere around 75 in people years.  We had to switch him over to a special vet food for cats with renal problems.  He's doing a bit better, but he's not that fond of the food.  We fed him dry food for years - this can be a contributor to CKD.   I did start feeding him a bit of canned stuff a couple of years ago or so, but I think it was too late.  Now all he gets is canned stuff.  Cats need water.  Dry food just doesn't put enough into their system.  Also, they are thinking now that one of the kitten immunizations could be contributing.  Anyway, I hope they find out for sure what causes it, because many older cats develop this, and it's so sad to see how it causes muscle wasting, loss of energy, many trips to the litter box, and overall deterioration to their health.   The vet food lowers their sodium and phosphorus intake, and their protein intake, so their kidneys don't have to work as hard, which then gets their water intake under control.  I thought he might be diabetic, he urinated quite a bit, but he wasn't hanging over his water bowl like Jellybean did when she was diabetic. 
Anyway, it's hard when your pet is ill, becuase they can't really tell you how bad it is or hurts, you have to watch for the signs.  If you have a cat that's older, and you are feeding dry food, please look up Chronic Kidney Disease and check the symptoms - it's not usually apparent they have this until they are well into it.
http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/ckd.aspx  is a good site to get started.http://www.felinecrf.org/index.htm is also an informative site.
Well, better get back to work! I've got a pumpkin pie in the oven, and will roast the turkey today as well.
I'm thinking about making a quiche for breakfast tomorrow, something real simple.  Perhaps one with canadian bacon, cheddar and onion.  I usually use regular ham, but I have none on hand.  I'm also going to do candied sweet potatoes - I love sweet potatoes, especially roasted! Plus mashed and gravy, cranberry sauce, and I've already made the homemade biscuits. I may throw in a green bean casserole.  I've been wanting to try making it with fresh green beans instead of canned.
Hope you all have a great day tomorrow!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 2013

(Note: I've tried desperately to upload a photo, like I usually do, and for some reason blogger gets stuck after I choose a photo.  It just sits there.  So if anyone has an answer, I'd appreciate some advice on how to fix this problem.  So bear with me until then - Thanks!)

May already!  The leaves have popped out, flowers are blooming, birds are calling - especially that poor little house wren, who just sings his heart out looking for someone to love him and make a home with him.  Last year, I think he sang a month straight, all day long.  Wonder he didn't get laryngitis.
It's dry here.  We haven't gotten our spring rains yet.  We are down about 3 inches over the last 2 months.  Not good.  We are supposed to get some rain today and over the weekend - I sure hope so.  I've been transplanting a few things in the flower beds, and it's dry about 5 or 6 inches in.  I've been watering already since April.  
I'm still volunteering at the library.  I enjoy my job and the girls that work there.  And it's only 5 minutes away.  
We've had the bass boat out a couple of times - in fact, my hubby was so excited for fishing season that he was ready the day it opened - 3rd Saturday in April!  It was working quite well, but the motor has a leaky gasket issue, so it's in the shop right now.
I made Lemon Meringue Pie yesterday, along with pulled pork.  Anyone out there have a good pulled pork recipe?  I looked at several, and chose one with a dry rub which had ingredients like cumin, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, garlic and onion powder, and brown sugar.  Not bad, but I'm thinking celery salt was missing.  Then you are supposed to slow cook it until tender, which I did.  Then add your own BBQ sauce.  I did that too, and since I couldn't decide whether to go the vinegar route or the BBQ sauce, I did both.  I mixed a bit of cider vinegar with the bbq sauce, and it wasn't bad. I think liquid smoke would have really topped it off.  (of course, doing it on the BBQ would have been wonderful, but I couldn't see wasting all that propane...)
Next on my list this week is Broccoli/Cauliflower salad with dried cranberry bits, shredded cheddar, and bacon bits. And a bit of sliced onion, preferably red.
My hubby has been literally begging for homemade bread.  I made good bread, but for some reason it's hard to get cranked up to actually make it.  When I do, I tend to make a 5 loaf batch to do us for awhile.
It's rhubarb season again here in CT.  I still have a couple of packages of frozen in the freezer to use up, along with some frozen blueberries I picked last summer.  So I see maybe a rhubarb pie, or bars or something in my near future.  I really should make the blueberries in to a sauce for pancakes or ice cream.  Yum!
It's a good thing I can't afford to hire a cook, I'd be huge!! :0)
I've been trying to change how I eat, after watching that documentary 'Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead'.  Anyone watch that?  About the australian dude who came over for a couple of months to try a juice fast?  I really liked the second part of the movie about Phil.  I'm so proud of Phil!  Anyway, it was a good documentary, very motivating to me.  My diet hasn't been bad, I've cut way back on sugar and baked goods.  I'm trying to eat grapefruit first thing most mornings, and incorporate more veggies for breakfast.  I tried a greek omelet at a local restaurant, and it wasn't bad!  Feta cheese, diced tomatoes and spinach.  
So I bought a 2-pack of goat cheese at Costco (less salty) and a big container of plum tomatoes (we like them just sliced) and baby spinach, which I sauteed a bit with garlic and olive oil.  Stirred all this into scrambled eggs, made a nice tasty breakfast.  I have also gotten into gluten free bread.  It's expensive, but good.  I'm trying to cut back on gluten to see if I feel better without it.  Doesn't hurt to try, right?
I also bought a big container of Kiwi.  Kiwis are underrated, don't you think?  A nice zing in a fruit cup, or sliced on the side for breakfast.  
I've got some dried black beans waiting to be done up. I really like black beans, and they are good for breakfast in eggs too.  W
e ate out for breakfast this past weekend, which we like to do at least one each week.  I had an old favorite, Mexican breakfast burrito.  A burrito, filled with scrambled eggs, black bean salsa, cheddar cheese, mushrooms if they remember to put them in, and I add sliced breakfast sausage.  It also comes with onion and peppers, but I omit them.  It's served with sour cream and extra salsa on the side.  YUM!  Very nice, and I always bring home 1/2 of it, because it's too much, especially with the side of home fries and toast that comes with it.
Yeah.  I see that - home fries, and I dare not say I like the 'deepfried', right??! Ha!
Well, I'm making progress, anyway.
Now I'm hungry.  Better go have some breakfast. Max, my 15 yr old cat, is letting me know I haven't taken him out for his 2 minutes outside the front door and his 3 blades of grass.  That's all he gets, because if left to his own devices, he would eat grass like a goat, and then leave me a present a bit later.  Yeah. Not cool.  
Have a great week!