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, December 3, 2007

Red Polls...



I didn't think we had Redpolls here...but I saw three males on my back deck here in CT this morning. According to my bird book, they are much further north.
It was kind of funny watching the birds this morning at the feeders on my deck. With all that ice accumulation on the rails, they had a tricky time of it. The nuthatches were especially comical slip sliding their way to the feeder. Yes, I felt a bit badly for them, but there wasn't much I could do about it, except put out lots of feed for them and knock the ice off the feeders. They seem to be very happy about that.

Ice Storm December 3, 2007

BLACK-EYED SUSAN ENCAPSULATED WITH ICE

We got an ice storm we over night. Not the worst I've ever seen, as I lived through the one in 1997 while living in New Brunswick, Canada. During that storm, we had no power for 3 days. It was a big one, and ruined many trees, including young birches that are forever bowed over. This was most noticeable while driving up and down the I-95 in Maine.
I heard a few branches come down with this one, but I think the damage is minimal in my area of CT. Here are some interesting shots I took this morning about 9AM.

AZALEA COVERED IN ICE

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007


Thanksgiving is over for another year. This year, we were so blessed to have my parents and my Aunt Melita visit for the week. They came early, and we girls shopped all week. Dinner was on Thursday, and they went back for one more day of shopping on Friday before heading back up north on Saturday.

We had a warm day for Thanksgiving. It reached just over 60 here. Friday was mid 40's, and Saturday morning, when we all got up at 6 am, it was 19F out there. Brrrr! But just wait few hours or a day, and the weather will change again. We did get our first snow last week, I think it was Monday or Tuesday. Lasted for a couple of days on the ground before the big warm up. It's cooler this year than last, as I checked my journal last night, and it was in the 60's for the whole week of Thanksgiving last year. They did say that this winter was going to be 30% colder than last. What I think that means is it's going to be more normal than last. But the hard part is - oil is WAY up from last winter. I paid $2.99/gallon a couple of weeks ago. This time last year I think I paid somewhere around 2.29. Now that's sad. And it's said to be going up, unlike last year where it continued to go down until February. I paid as low as 2.09 last winter. Guess we are just going to have to dress warmer this winter.

I digress. Thanksgiving. We had both turkey and ham, plus the requisite mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, peas, corn, cranberry sauce, coleslaw, shrimp ring, and misc hors' dourves. We were thoroughly stuffed. We had started celebrating early in the week after a trip to Costco. Never let 3 related women shop for groceries together. Bad idea...too much food! Costco happened to be having a 'sample day'. We came out having had a 5 course meal! Seemed that way, anyway. We got Spinach/Artichoke dip with flat pretzels, Bruschetta (sp?) with Panetini (garlic bread crips), and a Brie bread ring. Needless to say, the first two were gone in 3 days. We also had two pies, Pecan pie (very good!) and apple, which tasted good, but like most bakeries, the apples weren't cooked enough. We were going to do the homemade pumpkin pie thing like every year, but got lazy this year. Too much shopping to do. :0)
I had alot of smoked ham left. Melita made her famous glaze for it, and I saved what I could of it. So good! I'm thinking of making a quiche with some of it. Ham and Egg. Mmmm....
Now - how to lose those 5 lbs I gained last week...

Red Shouldered Hawk is back...


I stepped out onto the back deck, then back in and shut the door. Then I ran downstairs to my computer. Looking out the window, there was the hawk! He'd been there the whole time I stood on the deck!
So I raced back upstairs for my camera, back downstairs, opened the door ever so gently, and crept outside. I was very casual in my approach. His back was to me, but he was watching me. Amazing how they can turn their heads around backwards like that. I would stop, look around, the raise my arm to take a shot, then a couple of feet closer, until I was about 25 feet from him. This approach was the best, because it was straight from the house, and there were no branches obstructing the shot.
I WISH I had a better camera. And, the batteries gave out after the 12th shot. I raised my arm for another shot with the zoom on and...nothing. But here is the last shot I took of him. Not so bad. I could go back out and try again, as he is still sitting there, but he was so good the first time, that I thought maybe I'd try again later when he comes again. There will be other times. He stayed here all last winter. But I have really got to get a better camera. I really like my little A520 Canon, but want so much to get something with a real zoom lense. Oh well, gotta save those dollars first.
Oops..he just flew down into the woods about 50 feet further away. He is so funny. When he first lands, he waggles his tail. In fact, it's still waggling. Maybe he likes having his picture taken! :0)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flowers in November..



Calendula still hanging in there, and a couple of dark purple panies. The mini pink roses are looking past peak, but still pink. Black-eyed Susan's still there, and a pink snapdragon as well.
Cold last night - into the 20's. Cool today - 40's.

My husband is finishing up the leaves. Mowing them into the grass catchers, dumping them into the back of the half ton and hauling them to the landfill. Wish gas was cheaper, but oh well. Needs to be done. We would haul them into the woods, but the landlady says otherwise.
Neighbors are using a leaf blower on wheels that you push. She was blowing the leaves onto the tarp, covered up the tarp, and ran over a corner of it, sucking it up into the leaf blower! LOL! No leafblower now, back to doing it by hand.
My parents and my Aunt are coming down from Canada to visit next Friday for a week. They will spend Thanksgiving with us. We are looking forward to it.

More on Sleepy's...

Well, to make a long story short, they are picking up the whole thing and I owe nothing. It was damaged by drivers (noted on receipt) and before the redelivery of the new one, I decided this one wasn't the one for us (way too tall - run and jump into bed!!) sheets didn't fit it, and not as comfortable as the store model. This was a $3000+ mattress.
I started the ball rolling on picking a new one from the same store. Ran into difficulty, because the new one I wanted was quite a bit less. How do you 'exchange' for a same or higher mattress when it already costs over $3000??? After speaking with 2 salesman, 1 store manager, customer service (after a 35 minute wait which was supposed to be 4 min), and finally the district manager, we got this issue straightened out. Since it was damage that was done upon delivery and noted as such, I had a window of opportunity to change my mind completely. After all the hassle with this company, and not getting a straight answer from anyone for days, I was in a complete panic and totally stressed about the whole mattress buying situation. After much research on the Internet, I decided I didn't want to deal with this company AT ALL. I must give the district manager credit - he called me within 30 minutes of me finally getting through to customer service, and was willing to accommodate me considerably. But I still decided to just wipe the slate clean, take more time on deciding where and what. So this should all end on Tuesday. Whew!! I can't wait.
In the meantime, I spent hours on the Internet researching similar mattresses and companies, and came up with another local chain that sounded promising. 30 day money back guarantee! Wow!! Very nice people, helpful, accommodating. It should be delivered on Wednesday. Much cheaper mattress too, which I feel much better about.
So here's more of what I learned.
1)Comparison shop at least 3 places. I had purchased at the second place, mostly because of their financing options, proximity and selection. I read most people purchase within by the second place they visit. Maybe that's ok, but take your time and DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
2) Ask a million questions! Ok, maybe not that many, but ask away. 99% of the time, what you get is what you keep, so you better like it!
3) Read the fine print, ask about warranty (be clear on that) opinions on the mattresses, etc.
4)Go home, think about it, before you sign on the dotted line. We made an impulse purchase at the second store we visited. We thought we were well informed and knew what we wanted. But when we got home, I started to panic over the thought of paying for a mattress for 3 years!!! (stupid, I know - should have gone home FIRST and thought, Do I REALLY need this mattress at this price???)
5) Start with the LOWEST cost mattress you think you will be happy with. Trading up is no problem, trading down is nearly impossible.
6) If they act evasive when you ask questions, or reply with a noncommittal answer, go someplace else.
7) Try some mattresses you like. Note the specs on them, ask for copies of the spec sheet to take with you. (They can only say no, right?) Compare prices on similar mattresses to be sure it's in the same ball park and you are not over paying. Let me say this, you will likely over pay at the place I first bought my mattress, even though they dropped the price nearly a $1000 to start with and threw in the mattress pad.
8) This is so important: CHECK OUT THE EXCHANGE FEE!!!! If I was doing just a routine exchange, it would have cost me $400 for the king size!!! Plus redelivery of $80!!! And, the difference in mattress costs if I upgraded. Nuts, huh?
9) Check the company out with the Better Business Bureau. This last mattress I just ordered came from a company that didn't have ANY complaints for the last 3 years. The one noted above has over 300.
Enough said. Good luck on your mattress purchase and sleep well.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My brother in Afghanistan...




My brother recently got back from a 7 month tour in Afghanistan. He arrived home Labor Day weekend 2007. He is a reservist in the Canadian military living in the US who served in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery as a bombardiar (corporal). He is a dual citizen - American born, who has serviced both in the US Marines and the Canadian military several years ago. He had recently decided to return to serving as a reservist, as military is in his blood and he says " I'm good at it."
We are all much relieved and grateful to have him back healthy and whole with us, and have a new understanding of what it is like to have someone you love gone overseas and in mortal danger 24 hrs a day. Having a loved one in the military and serving overseas teaches you some things. You learn to pray like never before; you learn to communicate alot more often and to speak your heart, knowing you may never get another chance. It has made our family a lot closer and more appreciative of each other.

While he was over there, a reporter for a national Canadian newspaper visited and took pictures. My brother's picture as well as several of his unit demonstrating the use of a howitzer was taken and published across the country in newspapers and online in both Canada and the US. That is the picture you see to the right, cleaning his weapon. (Credit is given to Remiorz who took this photo)


We are SO VERY PROUD of him and what he respresented while serving his country. In my opinion, he has served both the US and Canada in this deployment, in that the troops from both countries often worked together on the same missions along with the Brits. My brother has deep respect for both the Brits and the US troops, and spoke highly of them. Although I may or may not always agree with the whys of this war, I DO support the troops 100%.


After his return, he was approached by the 'higher ups' (I don't know exactly what their rank was, I only know that one came up from Ottawa specifically to speak to him) to train troops in Alberta, Canada and in Virginia, and that they wanted him to take a 2 or 6 week training course (sorry, can't remember which) to become a master corporal. (he's already a corporal) Because of his previous service, he came well equipped before he even went into training this time.


Anyway, I believe he has declined this offer. He turned 40 while over seas, and is very grateful to be back home with his new wife and three children. Currently, he is enjoying spending time with them and working on their five acre lot while still serving as a reservist and searching out new endeavors.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Flowers still blooming...



My calendulas are blooming well, and I've a couple of pansies still blooming. The Black-eyed Susan's have been blooming for weeks, and are nearly done. Going to be really cold here tomorrow night - down in the 20's, so I expect that will likely finish things off if the snow showers don't tomorrow morning. I've still got to tuck in a small lavender and Thyme that I've had in a pot, along with a Hen and Chicks. Just really don't know where to put them as I've run out of room. I don't want to dig a new bed, since I'm just renting and will likely be moving next spring. I hope we are out of here before gardening season hits, so I can put in a respectable garden next year.


Got everything into the garage yesterday off the back deck. 4 window boxes, most with geraniums that I'm hoping last through the winter. Also several ceramic pots that I didn't bother to empty. Who knows what might come up next spring?! Anyone overwinter Lantana in their garage? I couldn't bear to throw it out yet. My million bells (or whatever they're called) were in still blooming profusely - really hated to chop them off. They sure last a long time, and a few frosts don't seem to bother them if they are protected somewhat. That, and the African Daisy and the small purple things - they look like half of a flower with tiny yellow centers - were still blooming really well. Nights have been getting down into the 30's, days in the 50's mostly. My garage is jam packed with all those pots. Good thing there aren't any more! And just think - I get to move all those heavy pots next year. Yipppeee!.... Not.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sleepy's...

We bought a new mattress this week from Sleepys. I hesitated before going there because of all the bad publicity, but they had selection and a good no interest plan going on. We bought a more expensive set, but when the deliverymen brought it upstairs, they put a hole in the bottom of the mattress. Not a big one, but I was disappointed nevertheless. I was going to keep it, until I did some quick research on the internet and discovered that is would instantly void the warranty. I was really glad I had made them write on the invoice the damage that was done in case I had changed my mind, which I did. No problem, they would send a replacement pronto. So I set up another delivery.
In the meantime, I changed my mind about the mattress we had chosen. For one thing, it's so tall! I mean, with our king sized canopy bed, and the 2" taller box spring, it hiked that up to my waist! I literally have to heave myself onto this bed. And I'm nearly 5'9. It's really that tall. The mattress is like 17" I think. My sheets won't fit. It would mean all new bedding, including a comforter that was oversized.
I rethought this whole pillowtop thing, and went back over to look at another mattress. I decided on one that is about $1000 less, and quite comfy actually. It's an ultra plush Sealy. And the best thing, it has latex instead of alot of memory foam. Now, memory foam is nice, but it's very warm. I can't take the warmth. This is why I sleep with the window open a crack nearly all winter, and the room turned down to nearly 60F. (with a down comforter of course!) Latex is temperature neutral. Your body heat doesn't affect it. So I was quite delighted to discover this after asking the salesman what the coolest bed in the place was - he didn't even mention this bed. I had remembered reading about it on the internet, and of course, couldn't remember what to ask for when I got over there. So here's some advice for mattress shopping:
#1) Measure your current mattress, check out what height your sheets are, decide how tall you can go, and add the 9" boxspring to that amount. There are low profile box springs you can buy which range around the 5" size. This can save you buying all new bedding (with a king size, that can get costly and add several hundred to what you are already spending on the new set). So go armed with your size limits.
#2) If going up to the second floor, remember to check out your stairwell for potential problems. You don't want to pay for delivery to then discover it can't get up the stairs.
#3) Decide on your budget beforehand, to keep you from impulse buying before you get there. (Lesson learned here)
#4) Check out ALL the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. Mattresses are unique. They cannot be returned for a refund, only an exchange. Usually a 14 - 30 day time limit, plus redelivery charges, PLUS an EXCHANGE FEE of $200 - $400 depending on the size of the mattress!!! AND, usually you can only exchange for a same or higher priced mattress, not lower. IF you stain your mattress in any way shape or fashion, they will NOT take it back. I've heard of ink dots voiding the warranty, so use that mattress protector they give you with your new set.
In my case, it's a damaged mattress, which was noted on the delivery invoice, and I notified Sleepys that morning, within a couple of hours. The sooner, the better.
I am now waiting for the phone call which will tell me what they can do for me. I've asked for a cheaper mattress, no exchange fee (was in my original contract that I had 30 days no charge to exchange - ask for this!) No redelivery fee, since they have to come out anyway to get the damaged mattress.
And lastly, I comparison shopped on the internet, found a comparable mattress for $500 less than their sale price, printed it off, took it in, and hopefully they will accept that. There are 3 minor differences - one is coil count - the internet one is 782, and mine is 805. There is this triarea (or whatever) foam thing exclusive to Sleepys (of course) and the size difference is 1/2 to 1". It's extremely difficult to find the exact same mattress at two different places, because each store has them specially made for them so you can't do this. That way, this "we will pay 20% less than the competitors for the same or comparable mattress' thing is nearly impossible to do. But I'm going for it anyway. You can try, right? I read somewhere on the internet someone wrote 'It's harder to buy a mattress than a used car.' Boy, were they right!
Don't hurry, take your time, try them all, lay on them for at least 10 minutes. This is an investment of your money and your health. You spend a 3rd of your life in bed, so make it as restful and comfy as you can. It's worth it. You are worth it.

Leaves, leaves...and more leaves!

They just keep falling! We raked the front lawn once already a week or two ago, and it's full again! So I raked most of the front yard. The backyard...well, I'm tempted to just mow it all and see what happens. The leaves we dumped down back in the woods composted amazingly well! I think it's because we alternated some green grass in it. I couldn't even tell this spring that we had dumped two feet of leaves back there last fall.
It was fun though, after my husband got home, helping him bag up what I had raked. I think he needs to come home earlier anyway. Especially since it's getting dark so early now with the time change.


My cat Max is sleeping on my desk as I type. In the evening, he just follows me around where ever I am, and hopes to find an accomodating lap at some point. If not, a desk or whatever will do. He loves me, what can I say? :0)

So other than rushing back over to Sleepys again today, I ate at the chinese restaurant next door, returned something to Circuit City, and went to Kohls. I really need to stay away from that store. I always find something to buy there. I did well today though. I went for Fiestaware and they had what I wanted 40% off. Love their quart bowls (great for chef salads) and their jumbo chili bowls (can't remember what they are called)- great for that and smaller salads. Nice and deep. I love the red and cobalt. I wish the red was deeper and the cobalt just a bit lighter though.
Raked leaves when I got home, bagged shortly thereafter. Leftovers warmed for supper. I'm about done in for the day. (shopping is exhausting you know!:0))

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's a beautiful day today. 70F, light breeze, and little humidity. Perfect, don't you think?
I think my garden is done for the year. The little summer squashes refuse to grow any bigger, and rot before they do. I did get a good crop off them this summer though. Really, all that's left are the carrots. They are still very small, not sure even big enough to bother with, but I'm hoping there is still time to get something decent. First year for a garden here. Not a good spot, I'm afraid. Not enough sun, very dry summer, and likely could have done with a complete soil amendment. But I'm not going to do that, as we are only renting here, and it's just not worth bothering with.
The birds are increasing at my feeders. Saw my first junco of the season yesterday. Just one for now, but I know that will change as they migrate further south. I had a batch live here last winter, something like a couple of dozen at one point. I have 2 chipmunks that 'vacuum' the deck if I spill any seed while refilling the bird feeders. I have been hearing the red-shouldered hawk this past week. I had him all last winter in the back yard pretty much, got lots of pics, although most are not good ones, because my camera just couldn't focus well on something that far away. I haven't heard him (her?) all summer till this week. Seems maybe this is it's wintering grounds?? Beautiful hawk, and very verbal. It's been a treat to have it, and it will come sometimes and sit in the maple in the back yard and watch the birds at the feeder, but it's more interested at diving at the gray squirrels. It has my blessing on that for sure! I had 7 last year, that were relentless at my feeders.