Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thankful Sunday--August 2, 2015

I am thankful for screens.

Every once in a while, it gets cool enough to open a window. When that happens, I am thankful to have screens that keep the bugs on one side and me on the other.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Food Talk--an Ice Cream Treat

This is what I was hoping for.
For several days, I had been thinking about ice cream--specifically mint flavored Klondike bars. I love them but don't get them very often for all of the obvious reasons like they're a high calorie, expensive treat that we don't really need. However, several days in a row with temperatures in the 90's had me spending more time than I needed thinking about the cool mint, creamy ice cream of a Klondike. So one evening when my will power was waning, Ward and I jumped in the car in search of my obsession.

However when we got to the store, I was feeling a little guilty, so I decided to compromise. We got a box of vanilla ice cream instead and a bottle of fudge topping--the kind than forms a hard shell.  Also something I like but rarely get for the same reasons as Klondikes.

No one ended up with chocolate on their ice cream.
When we got home, I immediately began to dip the ice cream. It had started to soften from the warm ride home and was the perfect consistency--easy to dip, but not melted. This was looking like a good idea and I had almost forgotten about the Klondike bars. While Ward dug into his bowl, I started to prepare my fudge topping. Hard shell topping needs a lot of shaking to mix it up before pouring. I shook for a while and not much seemed to be happening, so I thought maybe a little zap in the microwave would help. And then it happened. I took the lid and seal off and saw it. What the topping was really made of. Staring at me was something that looked like Crisco with no chocolate to be found. (Obviously, it was below the fats, but was out of sight all the same.) That sight changed my mind about wanting to put it on my ice cream. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with it. So, I had a bowl of unadorned ice cream. Good but not very exciting.

Then the next day, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. (Okay, that's an exaggeration, but it was hard.) I threw out both bottles of the fudge topping. Did I forget to mention, I bought two bottles of the stuff because I was hungry when I went to the store? Once again I proved the rule of don't go into the grocery store when you're hungry. But, I digress. At first I thought I should keep them and they would seem more appealing another day. Then I thought, I should offer to them to someone else who might like them, but I rationalized that they wouldn't be good for anyone else if they weren't good for me.

So I plopped both of them into the trash can. I threw away perfectly good "food". I felt guilty because I didn't even try to save the bottles. I didn't like looking at what was in them that much. So while trying to save a little money, I caused myself several days of distress.

It's hard to beat homemade ice cream. It's even better than
Klondike bars.
Now, as I recount this story, I sound a little ridiculous to myself. Putting so much time and emotion in on a simple treat. But it is what it is. Sometimes I sweat the small stuff.

So what did I learn from this? Nothing I didn't already know. Homemade food is usually the best because you know what's in it and usually it's cheaper. It' okay to treat yourself sometimes. And if you're going to eat junk food, it's better to not know what it's in it :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Second Look--July 29,2015

The bird boxes are empty of birds now. Let's hope this is good news. The last time I checked on the baby wrens, the nest was empty. That either means that they were precocious and fledged a few days early at 11 days (15-17 days is typical), or something got them. The nest did not look disturbed, so let's hope they flew away from the nest early. On the other hand, the baby bluebirds spent a comfortable 18 days in their nest before they fledged (17-21 days is typical for bluebirds). I didn't see them leave, but I did see their mother feeding them one evening and the nest was empty the next day. It is getting late in the season, for any more eggs to be laid, so that's probably the last of the baby birds until next year.

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Day lily

Black-eyed Susan

Young rabbit. We are seeing a lot of rabbits this year which usually correlates with a low fox population. 

Volunteer celosia that came up in a crack in the sidewalk. 

Speaking of volunteers, the coleus and baby's tears in this planter are volunteers.

Hummingbirds are one of a few birds that can fly backwards. They usually fly so fast, that I never notice which way they are flying. However, this one flew straight back for several feet. Very unusual to see.

This may have been one of the last easy meals that the baby bluebirds got. 

Tiger lily

Balloon flower bud. When I see these buds, I always think about the Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, Pottsylvania Creeper, that features a man eating plant looking something like this--except a lot bigger.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Thankful Sunday--July 26, 2015

I am thankful for a visit with Theo.

I think I am typical of most mothers. I always enjoy being with my kids. Well actually, there were a few times when they were growing up, that I was happy to be away from them. But these days, it's a pleasure. And yesterday was one of those days when we got to see Theo in his element at horology school. Clocks and watches can be complicated, beautiful machines and we found it interesting as he explained some of them that he was working on. For this time together, I am thankful.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cat Problems, Lucky and Lucy

Although cats are known to be standoffish, they can be demanding--especially if you aren't doing just what they want. And with the four at my house that usually involves food, petting, and more food.

Lucky, doing what all cats do--get into bags.

Two of my cats, Lucky and Lucy, have needed a lot of attention in these areas recently. They are both elderly so when I noticed they were losing weight, I was upset, but not surprised. This had been a pattern in other older cats I had had before and the cause of their problems was failing kidneys. Cats have fragile kidneys which often fail as they get older. When the kidneys aren't filtering well, toxins build up and take away the cat's appetite. Thus, they eat less, and lose weight. You can treat the symptoms of kidney failure, but can't really stop the progression of the disease. Ward and I talked and agreed on how far we were willing to go with treatment before I took them to the vet. We were ready.

Part of our suspicions were confirmed when we found that they had both indeed lost weight. However, followup blood tests showed that both of their kidney functions were good as well as all of the other screening tests that were done. That was a relief, but something was still going on. What? This was uncharted territory for us. Follow up blood work showed that Lucky had hyperthyroidism, meaning his body was burning off more than he was eating. And many other followup tests showed that Lucy had pancreatitus--meaning her body was not digesting her food enough to absorb it.

Luckily, both of these conditions are treatable IF the cat decides to cooperate. Lucky's treatment is not too bad. It involves putting gel on the inside of his ear flap once a day. He tolerates this well except when he runs away or flattens his ear making it hard to get the medicine inside. However, he is responding to treatment and gaining weight.

Lucy demanding better food.
When howling doesn't work,
she tries the pleading eyes.
Lucy is another story. She has what on paper seems to be a simple treatment. Powder gets sprinkled on her food containing the enzymes she needs to help her digest it. However, Lucy wants nothing to do with this altered food. We have tried multiple foods, both wet and dry, commercial and home cooked. We have also tried feeding her with a little powder and no powder, separately and with the other cats, or just she gets the powder or all of the cats get the powder, We've also tried feeding frequently or not so often as well as giving her B vitamin shots and appetite stimulants. We've tried everything we can think of with very limited results. In the beginning she went for two days without eating anything because of the enzymes. (Not a good thing for an already emaciated cat.) Now, she will eat a few kibble with a very slight dusting of powder in the bowl--sometimes. The vet said that Lucy is acting very typical for a cat and to keep trying. She may give in and slowly adjust. I hope so because I'm getting tired. However, as the vet pointed out, we've only been at this for a week. My how time doesn't fly when you aren't having fun.

I hope Lucy adjusts and we get a lot more time with her. However, if this simple treatment doesn't work, we're in for some difficult decisions ahead. In the meantime, Lucy is begging for more food (she's been here howling three times since I stared writing this) because the last time I fed her, I put enzyme powder on her food. And in her eyes, that's just not acceptable.