12 July 2019

Feline Friday: The Opportunist

I was in the kitchen one night this week when I noticed a sneaky disturbance at the automatic feeder. Turns out I had left the lid unlatched and A Certain Opportunist detected a whiff of the tasty morsels stored inside.

As is often the best choice, I decided to just let things unfold. 

Our Opportunist literally shoved her snout under the loose lid and lifted it up with the back of her head. While her head was inside, she grabbed (and swallowed whole) as many tasty morsels as she could scoop up.

Then she sat down to re-group, all the while leaving her head inside to prop up the lid.

After a deep breath, back in she went to vacuum up a few more morsels.

 Deeper and deeper she dove...

Until she was headless!

Opportunists have to work quickly! This whole incident took just a few seconds before the Meowmy snapped the lid back on tightly. This party was over! 😸

Happy Feline Friday!

06 July 2019

Organizing Family History Albums

 Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?
-- Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton --

In recent weeks, I've been working very hard on my family albums. I decided to jump into my mom's family and tackle those photos because many of them have now been identified, thanks to a couple of older relatives. I still have a ton of work to do on my dad's side of the family so I'll get to back to that when these albums are at a logical stopping point.

I've learned a lot as I've worked on my mom's albums, both about preparing to make a heritage album and also about organizing it. In this post, I thought I'd share a bit about how I've approached the process. In the next post, I'll share some recent pages.

Organizing Photos
I inherited a lot of family photos from my mom. Bless her heart, she was a woman of many talents but organizing photos was not one of them! In fact, throughout my entire life -- starting from my late elementary school years -- I tried to organize her photos to no avail. In spite of my efforts to set up a system for her, they were scattered around the house in drawers with no organization whatsoever. Well, better late than never: Mom's family photos are now organized! I always told her I'd get it done! 😌

I sent a large batch of photos home with my aunt. She and her cousin did a great job identifying many of the people in the photos and in the process, I received copies of several photos I didn't have. Once I had them all back, I used my family tree to set up a file folder for each married couple (my grandparents, great grandparents, etc.), then I dropped the photos into the proper folder. Now when working on the album, I just grab one family's folder at a time. This has made the process much less overwhelming.

A well-sourced family tree is a MUST for creating an accurate family history album! I would not be comfortable creating these albums if I didn't have an accurate family tree.

As I go along, I've uploaded many of the photos to Ancestry so that others who are looking for them can enjoy them. As I've worked on family history, I've learned that many people are possessive of family photos and resist sharing them. That's something I just can't understand. It's a true joy to find a photo of an ancestor you've never seen. Why not give someone that happiness? *sigh* I found these photos of my 3rd great grandparents on Ancestry, thanks to someone sharing them.

When I cleaned out my parents' house, I brought home boxes of keepsakes for both of them and for my maternal grandma. This photo was taken back in 2014. It took me a long time to sort through those boxes and separate the memorabilia by person so that I could use it in these albums.

Eventually I created a small tub for my dad, my mom, and my grandma. As I tried to see my way through all of this stuff, it made more sense to me to put the papers and memorabilia into a binder format. If you've been following my blog since then, you might remember that I decided to create a "life binder" for each of them.

I created a binder with tabs for birth, elementary school, high school, work, etc. This format allowed me to sort the memorabilia so that it was "scrapbook ready" for my chronological albums. You can read more about that process HERE.

I've had the binders done for a few years, just waiting to be scrapbooked. They truly made the scrapbooking process much, much easier. If you have family history albums to make, I highly recommend making a life binder to get you started.

 For example, because I had made a life binder for my grandma, I was able to find and include a letter she had written to her sister when she was a little girl and valentines from her classmates, all of which can be pulled out to read.

 I had organized all of her school memorabilia into that section of her life binder, and I matched it up to the photos I had from that time period then added some information about the one-room school house she attended. What a delight it was to find these little end-of-school-year keepsakes from her teacher! If not for the life binder, I'm sure I would have forgotten about them. I think that including some of these little pieces makes a scrapbook so much more interesting.

On this page, I included a "year-book" from a Farm Bureau meeting held at my grandma's family home. As I went through my photos, I happened to find a picture taken at one of those meetings. You can pull out the year-book and see that in December, my grandma (then a young woman) gave a presentation on Christmas decor. Her mother, my great grandma, made several presentations throughout the year on flowers and other homemaking topics.

 Album Organization
I have two albums going for my dad's side of the family and now I have started two for my mom's side. I don't have a lot of photos for her dad's side as my mom's parents divorced when she was very young. Because of that, I have actually finished putting photos into this album but still need to print family trees and a bit of family history for context.

 Each album is tabbed by married couple: Grandparents, great grandparents, etc. I'm sure there are many ways to organize a family history album but this just makes the most sense to me.

 I have started out each tabbed section with a photo of the couple or the entire family (typically a professional photo).

 The subsequent pages include snapshots and memorabilia associated with that couple and their children.

I'm really pleased with the progress I've made on these albums in just the past few weeks. I won't lie: It takes a long time to identify photos, sort memorabilia, and figure out your family tree. But all of that preparation makes putting together the scrapbook so much easier -- and very gratifying. It's a great feeling to look at empty photo boxes and life binders and know that photos and memorabilia are now safely stored in scrapbooks for posterity.

If you're working on a similar project, I hope you'll be encouraged! A bit of organization on the front end is well worth the time and will help you navigate a big and complex project like this.

05 July 2019

Feline Friday

Lily has started her own consulting business! 
She offers expert advice on a number of topics, including diet... 

...and exercise!

 Payment is easy...and often as close as your fridge!

Happy Feline Friday!
jp & Lily

28 June 2019

Feline Friday with Rory

Winter, spring, summer, and fall...this kitty tent has been best thing ever for Rory! 

No matter the season, she spends a lot of her free time camping! The bed inside is SO SOFT that it's not a wonder she loves it so much. This is LUXURIOUS CAMPING! (Bonus points if you can spot the BLEP! 😻)

She won't come out of her tent for anything...not even when her meowmy has to relocate her campsite so the Roomba can vacuum! 😸
Happy Feline Friday!

26 June 2019

Woodland Garden Over Time

With all the rain we've had this spring, the front garden (which I've dubbed my "woodland garden") is doing very well. The hostas I put in over the past couple of years have grown larger than I expected. (I really should have spaced them out a little better...). I love the variety of greens and textures in this space.

The current challenge in this bed is that the sweet woodruff groundcover (which you can't see in these photos) has taken over and has a tendency to drown out the other plants. It spreads by runners so it's fairly easy to contain -- if I just take the time to do it. 

Before the mosquitoes took over, I spent some time cleaning up this bed and it now looks much better. I have a couple of empty spots near the edge that will likely be covered with that groundcover by the end of the summer.

As I was working on this woodland garden the other day, I realized how much it has changed over the years. Gardening is truly a long-term commitment. It can take a long time to achieve the results you're seeking. And sometimes you never quite get there!

 It's hard to believe that this is how the garden looked back in 2008 or so when we had a pink-ish house! It definitely didn't have the inviting look I envisioned in my mind. ha ha

We'd had a serviceberry tree in the space but when a wind storm knocked it down, we replaced it with a Japanese maple. We went through a couple of Japanese maple trees before finding one that would actually live.

Around 2008, I began to formulate a plan in my mind for how I wanted the area to look. Since the area is shady during part of the day, I decided to try to create a woodland garden filled with plants I love. I remember finding a garden design in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine and trying to replicate it. I really didn't know what I was doing but amazingly, the space started to fill in pretty nicely.

  We also started out with black plastic edging which, over time, began to lift out of the ground and crack. Eventually we just pulled it out but of course, that resulted in a constant infiltration of grass which made maintaining the garden difficult. This photo was taken back in 2015 when deer decided that they'd eat all of our hostas. That was a very bleak summer in the garden!

 The next big evolution took place back in 2016 when we expanded the bed and changed the shape to a more natural looking curve. We pulled out some overgrown bushes, leaving space for new plantings.

 We added limestone rock edging, which I think was the best possible change for this garden and the others around the yard. I just love how it looks. And it has been a perfect path for the kitties to walk on!

 It's fun to look back on this garden and see how it has evolved over time. In it, I can see how much I've learned (and how many mistakes I've made!) as I've fiddled with garden design and plant choices.
And now, after 11+ years, I can say that I'm very happy with my woodland garden. That's not to say I won't continue to tinker with it just a little bit... 😉

Happy gardening!

21 June 2019

Feline Friday

 I caught Lily this week in the elusive and completely adorable Face Grab. It's one of my favorite cat poses but it doesn't happen very often! And usually when it does, I don't have my phone ready to capture the cuteness.

But this time I was lucky! Look how those sweet paws squeeze her face!

 This was followed immediately by The Peek. 
"Hai, momma, did you see how cute I iz?"
Yes, Lily, I sure did! 😻

Happy Feline Friday!

14 June 2019

Feline Friday with Rory

Bailey's boyfriend got a newfangled high-powered lens for his phone and now we know what Rory looks like REALLY CLOSE.

And she's magnificent! 

Her nose has been perfectly outlined with a tiny brown paintbrush. 😻


 She is purr-fectly made! And the fact is that all creatures (yes, even frogs and snakes, although I don't want to see them in the yard...) are beautifully made, especially when you take the time to look closely. 

Happy Feline Friday, everyone!

07 June 2019

Feline Friday

It's already Feline Friday again? I had planned to do some garden posts this week, but projects got in the way. **sigh** Well, there's always next week! 😉

 In the meantime, please enjoy some "gardening" pictures from Lily! She has enjoyed going outside on her leash in the evening when the patio (her favorite outdoor place!) is cool. Remember: Cats and dogs cannot tolerate hot pavement temperatures so be sure it's comfortable for YOUR bare feet first!
As we've established, Lily doesn't enjoy walking in grass. She is intrigued by mulch but doesn't like the texture of it, either. So she's content to just LOOK at the mulch. 
 On our last Outdoor Adventure, Lily relaxed enough to actually eat some catnip directly from the plant! This is as close to nature as I've seen her get. She ate quite a few leaves because, you know, everything tastes better outdoors!

Hope you and your furry friends enjoy some outdoor time this weekend. Lily highly recommends it!
 Happy Feline Friday, everyone!

jp and Lily

31 May 2019

Feline Friday

This week, it finally stopped raining enough for Lily to go outside for a walk. She pretty much stays on the pavement or patio as she can't seem to stand the feel of grass on her feet!

Lately on our walks, Lily has been venturing down the driveway and the sidewalk away from our house. But on this particular day, we didn't get that far because she encountered something very scary: ANTS!
She SLOOOOOWLY inched her way up to these ant hills, took a close look, then made a beeline back to the safety of the patio. Nature is definitely NOT her thing! 😻

Happy Feline Friday!

24 May 2019

Feline Friday

Thanks for stopping by on this Feline Friday! 

This week Lily went back to her regular vet for a re-check after our recent midnight run to the ER. We needed to be sure her glands were back to normal size and free of infection.

Unfortunately (and to our complete surprise), the vet found that BOTH glands were full again -- and headed back to the pre-abscess condition we just fixed. This was only 2 WEEKS after that procedure, which means they are filling up much faster than we realized. That was certainly NOT what I was hoping to hear. The good news is that there is no mass in Lily's behind, which was something the ER vet wanted to rule out.

The problem we're up against is this: Lily needs to be sedated to have her anal glands expressed, and frequent sedation is hard on a cat's kidneys. I had planned to have her checked quarterly -- 4 times per year, but obviously that's not frequent enough. So we're going to try to make it 8 weeks. We'll see how that goes. 

As a side note, Lily may be a candidate for removal of her glands, which really serve no purpose for an indoor cat. But there are risks associated with that surgery, especially for a 12 year old kitty. We are not at that point yet and I certainly want to avoid that option if humanly possible.

The ER vet suggested switching her to a high-fiber diet but Lily's regular vet believes that would have little effect. Her glands do not produce the normal liquid (I know, TMI!) but rather a tarry substance that cannot be expelled normally. Still, he said it was worth a shot to try adding pumpkin to her diet.

The good thing is that she LOVES pumpkin. I don't even have to mix it in to her regular food. She'll eat it directly from a spoon. (Of course, Lily will eat MOST things directly from a spoon...)

Pumpkin is great for a cat's digestive system as it adds fiber. Always use 100% pumpkin -- NOT pumpkin pie filling, even though Lily loves pumpkin pie! -- with no additives. 

Use this:

Not this, even though it is delicious! :)

And limit the pure pumpkin to only a spoonful per day or so, depending on what your vet recommends. Any more than that could cause things to get a little more -- ahem -- LOOSE than desired!  

It is also recommended that you keep an open can no longer than 2-3 days in the fridge. Because she can't use it up that fast, I am freezing the remaining pumpkin in ice cube trays so we can pop out a single serving each day. 

  Although it's a long shot, I'm hoping that adding pumpkin will have at least a modestly positive effect on Lily's anal gland problems. It's certainly worth a try.

Other than this pesky situation, our girl is doing great and seems to be FELINE FINE, so I'm thankful for that!

Happy Feline Friday, friends!
jp and Lily