falling snow

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you 

a holy, blessed Christmas

 filled with the hope



and love

born on that first Christmas so long ago. 
May your spirits be filled with wonder and your hearts be filled with joy.

May it be so, Dear One, may it be so.

I am so grateful for your visits to the attic this year; 
each of you truly is a blessing.

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

'Tis the Season!

Just sharing a photo session from Christmas, 2007 - love these girls (even though they question my definition of "love!")

Wishing you the joys of the season in these final days leading up to Christmas!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Halloween!

When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween.
~Author Unknown
T.C. Black Cat. 
Blackest cat in all the land.

Halloween has always been our girl's day to shine! And so we celebrate.

Our annual Halloween photo was taken inside this year - too gray, rainy and cold to be outside today. We may not have a Halloween photo every year, but there is an October photo for each year we've had T.C.

Wishing you all pockets filled with candy and sweetness to light your way! Thanks for popping into the attic this night!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Embrace Happiness!

Penny Black is hosting a color combo challenge on their blog through tomorrow, September 26. There are five different combinations and the designers have put together some amazing creations using these colors. The challenge for Day One begins here. I am also entering my card in the Casology challenge for Autumn and the CAS-ual Fridays challenge to use a fall color palette and at least one leaf. Again, the designers on each of these challenge sites have some wonderful creations - be sure to take a look!

I was immediately drawn to the Penny Black color combo from day two for a fall card that is all about having fun and being happy. These beautiful rich colors are so perfect for this time of the year, and I'm looking forward to trying this combo for a Christmas design, too. Just look at the teal and plum - oh, how they make my heart sing!

Miss Kitty (from the Penny Black set, Christmas Critters), has traded in her holly garland for some brightly colored fall leaves. The sparkle on her garland is from a Wink of Stella brush - oh, how Abbey and I love the sparkle without the real glitter challenge we experience here in the attic! 

The leaves were punched with a Recollection small Maple Leaf punch from watercolor paper inked with markers or distress ink and then spritzed with Perfect Pearls and water to add a bit more glisten. The back of the paper was also inked so the leaves would be colored on both sides when they were curled. The blue strip of paper on the edge is actually the same teal as the leaves - no idea why it is photographing blue instead of teal.

This card has lots of dimension so it's one I'll definitely be hand delivering or mailing in a box. Ms. Kitty just loves her new extra long tail extension that lends itself to lots of flopping and a bit of tail chasing in the leaf pile.

Here's a peak at the finished inside - the Penny Black Eloquence stamp set is one I reach for often, and this is my favorite sentiment.

I like to think Abbey, aka Helper Cat, was admiring this new kitty card, but I have a feeling she was just warming herself under the photo lamp since it was a cloudy, cool day when we were taking photos. She loves being part of the action! Amazing how many photos I found with just a few whiskers peeking in at the edge! Thank goodness for digital photos...

Embrace happiness! And everyday, your heart will sing!


Materials: Cardstock: Archivers Watercolor Paper, Kraft; Patterned Paper: MME Stella Rose-Mabel; Doodlebug Happy Harvest; Stamps: Penny Black Christmas Critters 30-006; Friendship 30-160; Eloquence 30-162; Tree-mendous 30-165; Ink: Hero Hues Black Dye; Hero Arts Raspberry Jam Mid-Tone; Distress Inks Tea Dye, Spiced Marmalade; Distress Markers Tea Dye, Spiced Marmalade, Spun Sugar; Markers: Marvy Crimson Lake, Tombow Teal; Other: Recollections Maple Leaf Punch; Zing Clear Embossing Powder; Perfect Pearls; Wink of Stella Brush Clear

Friday, September 6, 2013

Indian Summer

Penny Black is joining the Less Is More challenge blog this week to use a rubber stamp, and I knew I wanted to play along! It's been quite a while since I've participated in a challenge and I had fun creating some inked backgrounds. Based on my inky discard stack, it looks like I'll be die cutting quite a few fall leaves in the coming days! Practice, practice, practice... I used my new Delicata Gold ink pad on both of these cards and I love the shine it gives - I only wish the camera would have captured all its glisten!

I made this card earlier in the week, but am barely squeaking in ahead of the deadline, so will keep this post short - unusual for me! Hope you're enjoying some beautiful days wherever you are and this coming weekend finds you doing whatever brings contentment to your little corner!


Materials: Cardstock: Neenah Solar White; Stamps: Penny Black Petal Party, Fancy Flowers, and Dahlias; Ink: Distress Inks Rusty Hinge, Mustard Seed and Barn Door; Delicata Golden Glitz; Gem: Mark Richards

Thursday, September 5, 2013

One Year Ago Today

September 5, 2012. A year ago today, our predictable (as predictable as life ever is) daily routine changed. We began a journey of uncertainty, facing the unknowns. Along the way we found hope and discovered depths of celebration and gratitude we hadn't felt before. Dear friends and new friends have companioned us on our journey; we've shared stories filled with laughter over the antics of furry ones; and we've shed tears from fears and losses.

Often times this day seems only yesterday and other times, many years ago. The day's memory is still so fresh in my mind as we have lived its consequences this last year. I hear Dr. S's words and feel the heaviness of heart they brought. We now had a reason why TC was hungry all the time, eating so much, and yet losing more weight upon each veterinary visit. Blood tests confirmed it and we had a name for it.  Liver failure. Those words screamed the invevitable in my mind, but Dr. S. had a calm presence and reassuring words. He had a plan and we acted quickly. Nights were spent researching liver function, liver disease and courses of treatment; learning as much as possible to give our girl a life of quality.

Today I am pleased to report TC is doing well. She has had a long Summer struggle since June with a viral infection that refused to let go. Several antibiotic shots and rounds of daily subcutaneous fluids some weeks have helped her through the rough days. She was diagnosed with 25% or less kidney function in August as well as anemia. She is now receiving four supplements to help her liver and kidneys and to calm her stomach from the residual toxins. This new regime is keeping her strong and her appetite good. Just last night she climbed to the back of the recliner (a feat performed in younger days) with me beside her, and last week when I returned from errands I found her proudly planted on the dining room chair! I am hoping now with Indian Summer days approaching, the stability she has enjoyed the last three weeks will continue. We will be outside more and Autumn's sights, smells, and sounds will keep her stimulated before the Winter cold forces us inside once again.

It has been a year filled with emotional highs and lows; days of rocking and nights sleeping on the floor beside her; days of activity catching up on the must-do's when she is feeling well and nights spent just enjoying her presence. It has been one of the most celebratory journeys as we have gained even more appreciation for the blessed ordinary in our everyday and found gratitude for small blessings always in our midst. 

July marked eighteen years since she chose us for her family; she, a wild, tiny three to four month old black kitten stuck high up in our cedar tree, chose us. July through October that Summer found me on the patio every evening, talking, coaxing, gaining her trust until one day she walked across my lap. "The kitten," we called her. By October, dh (darling husband) said we needed to find her a home since it would be cold soon. "Uh-huh," I replied. "I'll make up fliers and take them to the vet's offices." Dh is always ready for a computer project! "OK," I replied. My lack of enthusiasm for his great idea and motivation was quite clear. What I was thinking, but didn't say was, "Ok. Knock yourself out. I have been outside every night this Summer with the kitten. That cat has a home. She's coming inside when it gets cold!" Not so surprising, no one called in response to the fliers. TC was named for the tree climbing, squirrel's nest dwelling cat she was. Yes, she spent her nights in an abandoned squirrel's nest high up in the front yard pin oak tree. Late October that year found her quickly adjusting to indoor life with Chelsea and Benji, the canines, and the rest of the story is 18 years filled with the unconditional love, antics, and joy her furry companionship has brought to her chosen family! I hope she has been pleased with her choice. I hope in her own way she knows how very loved she is. I hope she knows how grateful we are she chose us. . . 

TC Today

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This Summer's Today

I am so grateful for each of you who has commented, called, or emailed regarding my last post, "I'm Rockin'!" Your caring comments have warmed my heart and I am deeply touched you have chosen to share your love, concerns and experiences with your own furry companions. My heart grieves for you who have said "good-bye" to beloved friends and we journey together, you who are in the same place and time as I am with TC. Your tender words remind me we are never alone, those of us who choose to share our lives with these gentle creatures. The days rush hurriedly by, and they are all too few for those we love and who love us in return. There are never enough days, never enough time. We are connected to each other through our love for the animals, just as we are connected to our companions. Thank you dear friends for the blessing you are!

It's been rather quiet here in the Attic for the last few weeks. There have been many to-do's that have remained undone, and I have tried my best to maintain quiet in the household. TC experienced a setback through a bacterial infection the beginning of June. She was recovering when I wrote my last post on the 12th, but by June 14th she was critical again with the infection's return. After two 24-hour antibiotics and two 10-day antibiotic injections, daily fluid IV treatments for two weeks accompanied by the uphill and down of good days and bad, she is recovering once again. Her weight has declined the last couple of weeks, so we are doing our best to increase her food intake; just last week an appetite stimulant was added to her regime. She is receiving fluid IV's two to three times per week now and is beginning to regain her strength. The days are spent closely monitoring her progress; the girls and I head outside at dusk for a bit of fresh air and night time coolness; and we continue our rockin' whenever requested!

This has been a different kind of Summer here at Dogwood Manor. Because it has had to be, and because I have chosen for it to be. This Summer is about today and not about the to-do's. There are many which have remained undone, some inside, but mostly outside. It is the first and only Summer when there have been no flowers in the planter boxes or containers. The shade flower bed was tended in the cool, early days of April, but has gone untouched since then. Sadly, the sun bed has been neglected since last Fall and there are no annual pots of color gracing the green of the already bloomed perennials. Statuary, stepping stones, solar lights and other garden decors sit on their shelves in the shed, awaiting next Summer's light. There are no flowers to be seen when we gaze through the Attic window; the table and chairs are absent from their place on the deck. (Truth be told, we are in the process of staining the deck between predicted rain showers that haven't happened and pop up showers that changed weekend plans for long painting sessions. It is the primary to-do in need of completion this Summer.)

Even the front porch is missing its welcoming array of Summer colors this year. The barren containers await next Spring's blooms...

I struggle so with the undones. Always have. I keep an ongoing list of things to be completed; there is a real sense of accomplishment in checking off the finished tasks. The list has been put away for another day; instead of motivating, it became overwhelming, just thinking about all the remaining projects. And I feel better not hearing its incessant daily call, instead tending to life in the moment. The realist in me tells me to let go of some things for now while the perfectionist continues to demand it all, everything done and everyone cared for. Ms. Realist has asserted herself in this Summer season; I welcome her wisdom and I listen. Ms. Perfectionist is slowly taking her rightful back seat and becoming less obtrusive, learning this is not her time. A difficult lesson, to be certain! Occasionally, and still all too often, her insistent, piercing whine is heard. Ms. Realist politely lets her have her say and then kindly tells her to sit down and be quiet - her season too shall come!

There are weeds to be pulled

and bushes to trim,

scruffy stragglers to spray

and Winter's leaves to be raked.

Inside, there is clutter to clear

and tiny nose prints


and paw prints to clean (is this cat speak for "clean me?").

I remind myself this year's season of Summer is about today. Through all of the to-do's and undones, I look around and behold the beauty of it all. 

These faithful perennial friends who appear year after year with little or no tending from me.

The stargazer lilies who scent the garden with their sweet, sweet fragrance.

This ever-growing clump of shasta daisies which began with a single plant in a quart size pot, planted many years ago.

The purple coneflower who spring up wherever to surprise and delight.

And the white phlox, their scented heads nodding in the twilight, casting a soft glow in the night for enjoyment from my darkened windows above.

These hope-filled morning clouds of much needed sustaining rain (that never materialized)

and a surprisingly glorious sunset in June after a full day of nurturing, cleansing rain.

A summer filled with today and gratitude for the life that is today. 

Like this face...

and this one . . . 

and this one . . . 

Yes, it is a different Summer, this one, an awakening, quieter Summer; one that bears its own gifts, treasured for today, and certain to be treasured tomorrow.

"The cleaning and scrubbing can wait . . ." Ms. Realist reminds.

"How long? Just how long can it wait?" Ms. Perfectionist whines.

"'Til tomorrow. The cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow. Whenever tomorrow comes. . . Whenever." In her wisdom and in her knowing, Ms. Realist gently replies.

Blessed be your today. Put away the undones if you dare. There are far too many to-do's for today anyhow. And join me in whispering a prayer of gratitude for all that is, the life that is. And maybe, even say a blessing over those to-do's who await their time in their own season.

Blessed be,

eta: Yes, dear readers, in the time this post began toward the end of June and its posting now, some to-do's have been completed. Paw prints and nose prints have been cleaned; bits of clutter have been cleared; and bushes have been trimmed (thanks to dh and an unusually cool, breezy summer evening!). Ms. Perfectionist has hushed her whining, and even Ms. Realist has breathed a quiet sigh of contentment. . .

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I'm Rockin!

I received an email from a friend a few weeks ago. 

You know the kind. 

A happy spot in the inbox, one that garners an instant smile and makes your heart glad just knowing you are thought about and loved. I clicked on it instantly, bypassing all the others, and began to read, still with that silly grin all over my face.

You know the one. 

It was a just checking in, thought of you, catching up kind of email. I had been rather quiet of late...

As I began to reply and write the happenings at Dogwood Manor, Ruth Hulbert Hamilton's verse came to mind:

"The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
For children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep."

I suppose "kitten" could adequately replace "baby" in this verse since there aren't any little ones around here. Time has once again come to remind me quite harshly of its precious gift. As some of you know, TC, the attic dwelling feline of 18 tender years, was diagnosed with liver failure on September 5, 2012 and her condition was pronounced "guarded." I appreciate so much the phone calls and emails I've received inquiring about her as well as the support each of you has provided. My heart is full to bursting knowing she is cared about and loved. It has been quite the journey up hill and down for the last nine months with numerous vet visits and worried phone calls, fluid treatments, nutritional supplements, injections, and prescription food. She's experienced a critical allergic reaction to tuna (not fair!) and an episode of a viral infection, both causing dehydration and a temporary rapid health decline. There have been sleepless nights spent with her on the floor and days carrying her blanket wrapped around the backyard for stimulation to her senses. 

There have been good times too, and celebrations of the days that were once taken for granted. In those early days of diagnosis, I feared she would not see another Halloween (her day to shine since she is "the blackest cat in all the land!"), only eight weeks away. But with caring, dedicated, and kind veterinary care and compassionate technicians, she's shown great improvement over her once guarded condition and is in a steady place for now. There have been some setbacks, but we continued to celebrate: a birthday, Thanksgiving (amazing how everyday gratefulness turns into grandeur gratitude!), and Christmas; the welcoming of a New Year; the celebration of love on Valentine's Day; and a gloriously beautiful Easter Sunday when she was able to enjoy a bit of an outing in the backyard. Spring has been slow to arrive but we have found many warm afternoons for a garden stroll in the sunshine. And of course, the every day; the small celebrations of her pawing my leg or nuzzling my face. Awakening in the early morning to find her nestled on my pillow along side of me. Seeing her proudly planted in the middle of the dining room table where she knows she isn't supposed to be! Ah, there was a time not so long ago when I would have scolded, insisted she return to the floor where she knew she belonged. But those days are yesterdays; I celebrate her strength in jumping and let her stay where she most wants to be. After a while, I scoop her in my arms for a bit of snuggling and a gentler return to the floor. The table can be cleaned, as I remember too well the September days spent entirely in her bed, too weak for any wandering or jumping at all.

And now we wait. A celebration of Summer in our near future. But we dare not hurry past the ordinary days - the ones of companionship and feeling well. The times I watch her sleep and hear the slight snore that has come with age. I watch her watch me as I carry her to the different windows to see the birds at the feeders we installed to provide stimulation over the Winter season when she couldn't be outside. I notice also she has lost her cat attitude - she truly misses me when I am gone for a few hours and presents her insistent, clingy little self upon my return, to be held and caressed. Reassured that someone loves and cares for her. And that I do, as I promised her I would in those seemingly yesterday, younger days when she first appeared as a wild, helpless kitten stranded high up in our cedar tree. Dh coaxed her down by placing the two-story ladder alongside the tree and lacing its branches with deli turkey, a delicacy even a tiny, frightened kitten found hard to resist. I would always take care of her in whatever way she needed. I promised.

We honor each day the best we can. My heart tells me these days are numbered. TC's condition can go from good to critical in only hours. It isn't that I celebrate because I believe she is getting better, for I know the reality and finality of liver disease. I celebrate because it is the only appropriate thing to do; to be gracious for what is; grateful for another day of feeling well; grateful for another day with our girl.

So, dear friends, if there aren't any comments on the flickr stream or your blog posts, or any card creations here in the Attic for a while, please know you are thought about and missed. Know too that I'm doing what I love, and lovin' what I'm doin':

I'm rockin'!

My kitten. 

'Cause kittens don't keep...

Cuddle your dear ones and your furry ones close this night. Precious time. Celebrate all of the blessed ordinary in each every day.

With gratitude,