Feral Cat Adventure

Two cats have been visiting my backyard for the past three months.  A mama – all black, and her baby – a tortie.  Being soft headed I started feeding them, regularly.  When I would put out their food and milk I would “meow” to call them.  At this point they come to the deck fairly quickly and start chowing down; usually within 3 – 4 minutes.

This was all well and good when the weather was warm and balmy and nice.  But this year we are experiencing some pretty cold nights early in the season.  So, to my mind, a cat house was in order.  Went on line and found a heated waterproof house – ordered it – and set it up.  Unfortunately the heated part did not work out well – seems it made the baby poo – and would get too hot for them.  Sent that back to Amazon.

Set up a large Rubbermaid storage box – on its side so the front was wide open – put in a fuzzy mat.  They used it but it was way too exposed.  So added a cat carrier – insulated inside the Rubbermaid box.  Not too bad – but still too exposed – found that out when it started raining and the carrier wicked in the water.

Final phase of house construction was using blue board insulation and designing my own cat house / shelter – my own dimensions and bouts of looking up Pythagorean Theorem on how to calculate the triangular dimensions on front and back pieces to accommodate a pitched roof.  I have not had to use that math since college – so was kind of fun.

Sealed all the gaps (which were minor) with foam spray insulation in a can – that stuff is amazing and actually works – put a heavy black rubberized floor mat on top – to give it some weight in case of wind conditions, measured out and cut an opening just right for them – but not big enough to allow other critters access – and made in front to back long enough that if they snuggled toward the back – no wind or rain would whip in to them from the front opening. Final touch a base to raise it all up off the wood deck and keep the bottom insulated – did not attach it to the house (for ease of cleaning) – and put in another batch of fuzzy padded pet blankets – like a sheepskin nubby type – lots of thermal radiating qualities to those.

Outcome – they love it – it works – they stay inside all night all snuggled up together.  They are safe and sheltered and protected from the elements and other “critters” and seem very happy as they keep it very clean.  Of course, I change out the linens regularly to launder them when they go out during the day.

Why I am pleased? Well, for one I do love animals and was delighted to be able to give these two some comfort in their lives for the return privilege of being able to watch them and their antics and their sheer beauty. Secondly, because even as I get a “tad” older (old) I was able to construct (research, draw the plans, figure the details) of their new home myself.  I think we need that at every age and am glad I have opportunities to keep doing things like this – probably a minor challenge to many people – but to me was kind of special.

There is one fellow that shows up once in awhile – not so much lately – I call him Big Daddy – a huge white and grey cat.  The little black mama does not like him and the baby tortie flees the scene if Big Daddy shows up – so I keep a look out and if I see him I let him eat a bit then move him along by stepping out onto the deck.  He is apparently feral as well and seems not to want me anywhere near him.

Each day is a little adventure – checking on these two at first light  – mama and baby – and enjoying them as they slowly make my back deck their little safe haven. In sunny warm weather they make use of the lounger and will sleep there for an hour or more.   My  husband has started calling me the Cat Whisperer, but I think that title is already taken by someone else.  Since childhood I have been fascinated with and love cats.  I grew up in New York City – older days when things were much safer and a child could walk down to the corner alone – where there were shops along the street.  I would always go to the butcher shop on the corner (age 7) and he would give me a couple of slices of bologna and I would attempt to lure the shop cats back to my parent’s apartment. Usually I was successful, but my mom would not allow them inside.  But they always followed me home no matter how many times they had to go back to  the butcher shop – bologna is obviously a great cat lure!

Beside the kitties, I feed birds and deer and squirrels and chipmunks in our backyard.  A rather pleasant little menagerie.  Except of course when the cats look at the bird feeder as a cafeteria.  So far they have not been successful in catching a bird and have landed in the shrubs below the feeder enough times to know the feeder is only cat TV – not a snack bar.

cat housemama cat big daddy baby cat

Savor Each Moment – Each Mouthful – Each Taste Sensation

Since starting this diet – and btw – managed to do 3 in 7 not the  full 5 pounds I wanted to lose – but back to the point. Since starting this diet I have noticed something I have totally forgotten and apparently ignored since childhood when my mom would say – stop eating so fast – slow down – enjoy your meal. Now she was no great cook so for me there was never much to actually savor.  Probably why I learned to cook really well.  And for all those blissful years – defined as years I never had to diet as compared to now – when I was doing all the cooking – that is what I did – slow down, savor the meal and the company and the entire experience.

What this did?  I actually ate less because you fill yourself up in more ways than just your tummy at mealtime. You refuel not only your body, but your mind, your spirit and your total disposition about life.  Going through a meal scrolling rapidly through emails and messages on your phone – you just missed the boat, baby.  Do you even recall what you just ate?  Did you actually taste what you just ate?  Probably not.  And, that is what changed in my life over the past year when I noticed I put on a little extra weight – my habits during the dinner hour.  No longer focused on my meal, but on my computer or cell phone, on news, on texts, on twitter, on facebook, pinterest or ebay or emails.  Dinner is not for tech – it is for dinner – whether alone or with someone – put the tech aside – just for an hour – it is a breath of fresh air, a mini vacation and most of all  a focus on the details of life that really matter.

I am noticing again that marvelous delight, as so aptly portrayed in the old old movie – Tom Jones (the dinner scene) that there really is a sensuality about a well prepared meal.  Try it – you really will be amazed – and IF you are lucky enough to share that dinner with someone like minded – don’t be surprised where all that attention to detail and savoring may lead.  Those are days at this juncture that are becoming pleasant memories for me, since my current partner is not like minded – and definitely is totally plugged into tech during a meal and – worse sin –  overuses ketchup (sorry a pet peeve of mine – particularly when I work hard making fabulous gravies, sauces and gourmet fare).  No – I’m not French – but loading up on ketchup and salt before even tasting what I have cooked – well I have zero tolerance in that department.

So – long story short – at least for me and probably many women – dinner hour is a reflection or microcosm of our state of mind – where we are in life or in a relationship or self image or in general.  Rethink how you spend that dinner hour – you will be very surprised at the changes you will make for yourself – and all for the better.

Happy dining – and dieting – and don’t forget to wear your tiara everyday!


Pot Roast For A Rainy Day In Georgia

Awful weather today.  It is late autumn but here in Georgia many leaves still cling to the trees. The golden luster is gone and it is more of a landscapes of varying shades of brown and muted scarlet.  Two feral cats, mama and baby, snuggle inside the little house I made for them on my deck.  No matter what I try they won’t come inside the house.  Fear can be a good thing for survival and protection and trust is hard earned, I have learned.

It is definitely not a day I want to consider dieting to reach my goal of 5 in 7, nor do I feel any desire to step up my activity level.  But perseverance is the only way to achieve any goal, so I will plod on even with the lack of enthusiasm this solitary rain brings.

And, to brighten the possibilities, I will make a pot roast for dinner.  Pot roast has long been my favorite from childhood when my mom would cook it for special occasions – like my birthday.  Mine is a bit different than her pot roast – I like to add wine to the cooking :)  Eye round roast, seared, add sliced onions, 3 cups of water, 1 cup of the red wine of your choice, 3 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons paprika and 2 tablespoons of garlic powder.  Let it cook at a simmer in a large pot for about 2 hours – probably adding a tad of water here and there – but don’t totally immerse the roast.  At the end, remove the roast, add 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and stir till thick.  This roast will fill your home with a fragrance to die for – long before the roast is even done.  It makes me happy.  I usually like to serve it with butter and herb mashed potatoes and either brussel sprouts or julienne beets.

When my son was growing up it was a fav for him as well – although as a child I think he considered the gravy more of a beverage – must admit it is yummy.

It definitely is a meal that takes the edge and loneliness off a rainy day in Georgia; it smells of home and love and warmth and casts away the chill dampness and loneliness.  And, bonus, not overwhelming in calories.  How do we count the calories that fuel our soul – not just our bodies – I wonder.


The Diet

Wow – actually made some progress in the past week and a half.  Cut back portions to 2/3 of what I was eating and increased activity level.  The combined effect was the loss of 5 pounds.  So that was encouraging at least.  The best part was it was not difficult or frustrating or stressful – nice way to ease into this for someone who has never in her entire life ever had to lose weight or go on a diet!  Guess I’ve been fortunate that way. What is really terrific is that I am not missing any taste cravings.  And because I do have a wide variety of foods I like that is perfect for me.  Nothing worse than a food rut, so never understood the concept of a grapefruit diet or some such thing where you eat the same low calorie food day in and day out. Yeow – not a fun way to do this.

Now on to next level of the goal – want to drop another 5 in the next 7 days. Going with same formula but cutting food intake just a tad more and increasing activity just a tad more as well – will see if it works!

In the meanwhile I admit it – I actually bought Spanex – oh my – don’t particularly like the end product “look” but it tightens things up and makes me feel less hungry as well.

What’s For Dinner – November 3, 2014

I like cooking.  And, lately it seems, I really must like eating because my waistline has been growing more than I like.  In an effort to monitor what I eat and hopefully lose some weight so I can get back into all those clothes I love so well, this is the start of my food/cooking journal.  I don’t want anything radical to change, but mostly just cutting my portions to 2/3 of what I have been having, and still getting all the taste treats that I love.

Tonight’s fare will be stuffed peppers, Italian bread with garlic flavored butter, salad (iceberg lettuce only) with pomegranate vinegar and olive oil dressing.  Dessert – Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and chocolate sprinkles.  Probably a glass (small one) of wine – Barefoot Pinot Noir.

Breakdown of this meal:

Stuffed Red Pepper with Beef

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (300 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*

Calories 146

Wine:  150 calories
Salad: 7 calories for the lettuce, 90 calories from dressing
Dessert:  1 cupcake 497 calories
Yes, I like my sweets – ouch – they don’t like me lately.
To round out the day – I will add breakfast and lunch.
Breakfast: 1 cup of coffee with milk 30 calories
1/2 bagel with cream cheese – 218 calories
Lunch:  1 12-ounce can of Coca Cola  140 calories and
1 croissant – 270 calories
That will make a total of 1548
The calculator says to maintain my weight I need to eat 1493 calories a day.  Obviously today I am going to gain weight – EXCEPT – I will now factor in that in order to eat all this I am going to increase my activity level.  I am somewhat sedentary – that also is changing.  Add in walking today 10,000 steps – which translates to approx. 334 calories.  Or total calories today
 of 1214.  That to me means I should lose a little but not nearly enough.
Oh goodness.  I can see where this is going to be difficult.  Need to change some stuff around tomorrow – and not bake cupcakes (or at least not eat them).
You see, I’ve never in my life before (and I am now 65 years old) had to lose weight or go on a diet.  I was always generally underweight.  So I could eat whatever I darn well pleased.  Looks like that is about to change somewhat.
Back to the drawing board – add fruit tomorrow – no bagel, no cupcake, no croissants, and probably no wine and increase the activity level significantly.  Guess I should mention I am 5’6″ tall and now weigh (oh Lordy) 150 pounds.  Last time I weighed that I was 9 months pregnant with my only child.  Generally, my weight ran most of my life in and around 105 – 110 pounds.
Well, here goes – have to knock down about 40 – 45 pounds and I would like to do that by the end of this year.  We shall see!  Maybe I will skip the wine with dinner tonight too and only eat 1/2 a cupcake.  That I can definitely do.

Back In The Day Prices Versus Today’s Values on eBay

So I am selling a little cast iron toy tractor on eBay – do my research and it seems like it is from the 1920’s.  I list it at that and set a price tag of $250.  Bam!  I get an email from some guy who claims that back in the 1970’s these were made in Taiwan and he sold them at tractor shows for like $10 to $20.  He starts razing me to no end that I need to change my auction, lower the price, after all it is only a piece of junk. 

Call me a skeptic or cynical, but I’m not buying this line of outrage.  His email was almost threatening – as in wrath of God type thing. Okay, we all know there are some nut cases perusing the eBay site, so why exactly do I get this one?  Anyway, I write back to him, probably a big mistake, and explain that I had looked on eBay and found identical items like mine and that I priced mine mid-range to what those were priced at.

He writes back letting me know he is an antique dealer and he knows this stuff and that I am doing the wrong thing.  Well, my first instinct was to report him to eBay for harassing me. After all, he better have sent out an email to every other seller with that exact same item and tell them what he told me, right? 

His email got me to thinking about this.  First off, if he is an antique dealer, what better than to bully me into dropping the price and he snaps it up and turns it around for a major profit?  Second, if he in fact sold the same thing back in the day for $10 to $20 each,and it was considered a piece of junk, well, whoa Nellie, let’s do some math here.  Back in the day the average salary was under $10K a year in this country.  Secondly, the price of gold was about $25 – $30 an ounce.  So he was selling this piece of junk for anywhere from 40 to 60% of the price of an ounce of gold?  Something doesn’t make sense, and not just mathematically.

I wrote back and let him know that my conclusion is the above as well as it should be obvious to him if he is in fact an antique dealer that items from the 1970’s are now vintage and worth more money than back in the day.  Secondly, skipping that entire point, if I wanted to sell this item and turn the same profit that he was turning on it back in the day, then I would set the price to be 40 – 60% of the price of an ounce of gold in today’s market – would only be fair it seems.  Either way, in my guts I believe this guy just wanted to pick it up cheap either for his own collection (which he admitted he does collect these) or to turn a nice tidy profit for himself.

Seems like a gal just can’t get ahead…I want eBay to be fun but some people just want to turn it into a giant hassle.  Oh well, time to add his user name to the blocked bidders list.  My guts tell me he is trouble.


State Of The Union – Mine

What a great idea actually to have an annual open meeting describing the current state of affairs and outlining what we want to achieve in the coming year; not only for government but on a personal level.  How many of us ever do this. We all watch the president get out there and make his points. But how many of us do this for ourselves. No, not new year resolutions. No, not those nagging little voices throughout out day criticizing ourself or commending ourselves. At least we need to have this meeting with ourself face to face in the mirror and get it all out there. The productivity possible from this would be awesome.

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