Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snow, Power Outage and Congestive Heart Failure

This weekend was very busy for me. There was a break in the weather for a few days. Then the snow returned on Friday. We received another 15 inches of snow. The heavy snowfall led to a power outage and no internet. With no internet or power I wasn't able to finish my post for Frugal Friday Tips.

During the outage I helped my son with homework, until I received a call about my 91 year old friend. She fainted at the assisted living facility where she lives. She lost her pulse for a few seconds and the staff had to perform CPR on her. They called an ambulance and rushed her to the local emergency room.

My son and I went to the hospital to be with her. She was sleeping peacefully when we arrived. Her pulse was regular but her blood pressure was very low. The staff took a chest x-ray and drew several vials of blood. When the doctor came back in, he gave us the diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure. He wanted to admit her to the hospital but she didn't want to stay. He called her family doctor and they all decided to send her home with a heart monitor and new medicines.

After they applied the monitor, I drove with her to my house to pick up what I needed for staying with her for the night. I brought my personal items and clothes, and of course I had to have an animal with me. My male dog Max was the chosen one. (Max is the mildest of all my animals and he knows my friend well. She was delighted he came with.)

Mild Max
It was a long night. I was able to rest but not sleep. My friend kept getting up to go the bathroom and almost fell twice. Max every few hours would jump in bed with her to make sure she was ok. Then he would come to me, then back to his spot on the couch for a few hours, then would repeat the same routine.

This morning I took her to the pharmacy to pick up her prescriptions of Lasix and Potassium. I didn't want to leave her for fear something would happen or she would take off the heart monitor.

She was doing well by mid-morning, so I decided to make arrangements with the staff at the facility for her care and went home to sleep for a few hours. I went back to check on her this evening and she was doing fine.

Most of my career as a Registered Nurse has been in home health and hospice. I have taken care of many patients with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). I used to do education on the disease process, signs and symptoms, management and medications.

The disease process is caused by the heart not being able to pump the blood as it should. Several reasons can cause this: heart attack, congenital heart deformities and even smoking. When the heart can't do its job, the blood can overflow into the lungs. This leads to the patient being short of breathe, white frothy or foamy sputum possibly blood tinged, swelling of the ankles and feet, because of the poor circulation.

General standard management of the disease at home (not in an emergency situation or acute exacerbation) includes: decreasing salt (salt can increase fluid retention and make symptoms worse), frequent rest periods, alternating rest periods with activity, possible fluid restriction (this would be prescribed by the doctor), elevating feet to help circulate fluid back to the heart where it can be pumped and then be excreted by the kidneys.

Medications can vary widely depending on the patient's health, medications that are already prescribed and other factors that need to be determined by a doctor. Because of various factors, medications will not be reviewed in this post. I recommend for medication education to talk to your pharmacist or physician.

These are very general tips usually applied to the disease. If at any time you have symptoms of CHF you should be seen immediately by a physician. This post is not intended to replace doctor's orders or a doctor's exam but only to provide very general information of the disease. Each patient is an individual and care needs to be individualized for each person who has been diagnosed with CHF. Doctor's orders should strictly be followed to better health, prolong life and decrease chances of complications.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Melting Snow

The snow is finally melting. We received about two feet of snow over the weekend. My son and husband drove to Shingletown for a weekend camp retreat before the snow hit. I stayed home and watched it snow and snow and snow. I was pretty much snowed in.

The neighbor boy helped take care of the chickens, ducks and bunny. He shoveled access our woodpile and collected eggs. The snow and cold prevented the girls (hens) from performing well this weekend. I got only one or two eggs each day.  

The power went out a few times and flickered several times. I was grateful for our wood stove. The dogs and I were toasty warm. 

I was finally able to get out for a few minutes yesterday. My husband shoveled so I could get out of the driveway and go run a few errands for a change of scenery. I took the dogs with me for the ride. They like riding and sticking their heads out the windows. They really enjoyed it when I went to Burger King and ordered them an ice cream to share. 

Today was even better.  The temperature was about 40˚ and no more snow fell. Our two feet of snow is melting away. I went outside to see my fowl and let the dogs play for a few minutes. The fresh air was very inviting. I just stood around leaning on my crutches and looking things over; watching the dogs play. It was peaceful. 

Snow melted off the cherry tree. 
One cord of Juniper Wood still covered with snow. 
One cord Juniper Wood uncovered. 
Temporary roof on pole barn fell under weight of snow. 
Max and Princess having fun.
Princess trying to get the ball from Max.  
The chickens and ducks favorite tree, still covered in snow. 
Rockett doing her favorite pass time, eating. 
Better performance today from the girls.  
Guard duck, Spot, says, "time for you to leave!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Frugal Tips-Energy Savings

Friday's Frugal Tips are on Energy Savings.
We used to live here. 
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room.
  • Open your curtains and use sunlight instead of houselights.
  • Use CFL bulbs.
  • Put extra insulation in your home's attic to keep in the warmth.
  • Keep your thermostat at 65˚ in winter and 72˚ in summer.
  • Live in as small a house you can to use less energy. Small homes cost less to heat and cool. We presently live in a 900 sq. ft. house. 
  • Use plastic on windows in winter. This is a must in Northern California.
  • During winter wear layers to avoid turning heat up.
  • Drink hot fluids or eat hot foods like soup to warm up instead of turning up the heat. 
  • Burn wood for heat. 
  • Unplug electronics when not in use, they consume energy even when off. Or if using a power strip, turn it off when electronics aren't in use. 
  • If you want a hot tub, build your own and heat it with wood. Find out how here.
  • Caulk windows.
  • Seal doors. 
  • Use energy star appliances.
  • Wash full loads of clothes and dishes.
  • Air dry clothes and dishes.
  • Use cold water for washing clothes or at least rinsing.
  • Keep the thermostat of your hot water heater at 120˚.
  • Use a solar oven for baking. Learn how to make one here or to purchase one go here.
  • Lay rugs on bare floors for warmth.
  • Blow/hair dryers use a lot of energy, air dry your hair. 
  • Use energy star appliances. 
Hope you are having frugal fun with Friday's Frugal Tips. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Still Snowing

We have approximately 14 inches of snow and it is still snowing. I truly love snow. I think it is beautiful and fun to watch our animals play in it. The snow was so deep our chickens and ducks stayed in their coop today. They couldn't walk through the piled up, white, powdery stuff.

View out my back door. 
Playful, Max. 
Snow laden Cherry Tree.
As I'm sitting here next to the fire, writing this post the lights are flickering on and off. I'm sure the power lines, as well as tree branches are heavy with snow. In preparation for power outages, we have two more cords of wood, along with scrap wood, enough food to last a month and a half and all the laundry is caught up. We have all the the supplies we need. I can feel my survivalist attitude kicking in.

Snowy Peach trees. Near fallen lawn chair, the lump of snow is actually wood. 
My poor lilac bush. 
In my mind I'm planning for the worst. (It's kind of fun to think survival. The "I can do it" mentality) If the electric goes out we can put our food outside to stay cold. (Except we have skunks and raccoons which visit frequently; Maybe scratch that idea.) Hey, maybe if the electric goes out, the food in the refrigerator will go bad and I will finally lose some weight. Or I can feed the neighbors, before the food goes bad and let them get fat.

My other lilac bush. 

Since the worst hasn't happened, I will continue to plan, as I sit next to my fire, enjoying my husband's company and maybe a cup of hot chocolate. Have a great evening everyone and stay warm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Return of Winter

The last couple of weeks we had beautiful, warm, spring-type weather. This morning, everything changed. Winter returned. We received approximately six inches of snow throughout the night. The weight of the snow knocked down power lines and a wide spread power outage occurred for several hours. The outage was extensive and schools had to be closed today because of it.

It is days like this I am glad I stockpile food (usually when a good sale is on), have a manual can opener (electric can openers don't work during power outages), have wood heat and thick warm socks. What are some of your favorite emergency preparedness items?

Snow covered Cherry tree. 
Peach tree on left, Cherry on right in backyard. 
Garden and Bar-B-Que area. 

Lilac bush 
Out my front door to the left.  
Out my front door to the right. 
Entrance to the backyard. 

Apricot tree. 
Knuckles the bunny's home. She was burrowed down this morning. 
Spot was in the coop too long with the heat lamps. He is cooling down.
Incomplete pole barn, tarp sagging with weight of snow. 
Our snow-covered firewood. 
Cherry Tree 
Cherry to far left, Apple tree and tips of Nectarine tree on right. 

Simple, Simplifying Plan

I met with my mentor, shared with her my goals of simplifying my life. Told her how overwhelmed I can become when I get off track from my life vision. I've come up with many ideas of things I'd like to do, learn or places to go and people to visit. It is easy for me to pile on tasks that I truly believe I can do and then in the midst of it all, realize I've taken on too much. Then I panic, trying to free myself from my self-made entrapment of committiments. Leaving myself frustrated, others disappointed who were counting on me and searching again to simplify my life.

Venus, my mentor, (not the planet or goddess) shared with me her God given view about simplifying life. She said "life is like going to a buffet. You can't have everything on the buffet. If you try to sample everything you become overwhelmed with all the choices and all the items on your plate. Having a full plate, also takes up space for the items you truly would like to have more of. We're not meant to have it all."

Not having the room for what you truly enjoy can leave you frustrated and empty. It is okay not to have everything. Scripture can help with making decisions on what to put on our plate. God has set priorities for our lives to help us decide. (Which you can read about here.)

God's Creation
When focusing on God and putting Him first, we can align with Him and do what He wants us to do. Our hearts and minds become more like Christ when we are in His word.

A full plate is a lifestyle of our society and our world today, not a peaceful life of God. Romans 12:2 NKJV reads "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." He doesn't want us to conform to this world, society, fast-paced life. He wants us to be like Him, a peaceful life, focused on God and having a relationship with Him. To read His word, to be "renewed" in our mind, to have the mind of Christ. Piling things on our plate doesn't leave much room for God, our #1 priority.

God wants to direct our lives, not control us but keep us safe and happy. Proverbs 3:5-8 NKJV reads "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones." A life of not focusing on God leads to selfishness, pride and over commitment. It's a life that states "I can take care of myself. I can do all I want to," leading us to busyness, emptiness, frustration and feelings of failure.

God's beautiful handiwork. 
God wants a relationship with us. He wants our time spent on knowing Him, fellowshipping with Him, worshiping Him. He gave His all for us. John 3:16 NKJV states "For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."All He wants in return is us. "Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord;" Exodus 35:5 NKJV.

If you have a willing heart and want a relationship with God, please note sidebar, 'Salvation Through Jesus Christ'. Then find a Bible believing church or a Christian believer in your home town to learn more.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Windy Day-Emergency Preparedness

As I'm sitting here writing this post, I'm listening to the wind. I can hear it rustling the trees, blowing the tarp covering on our incomplete pole barn and winging items like garbage and trash cans down the street.  We have kept our dogs inside today for safety from the flying debris.

Blown garbage. 
Blown garbage. 
More garbage. has a winter storm warning for our area. The winds are predicted to be 25 to 40 MPH with gusts of 60 MPH. I believe it. Predication for our snow accumulation, through Wednesday at 4:00 PM, is to be six to twelve inches and two to four feet in the higher elevations. I haven't seen any snow or signs of it yet, thankfully. We are just trying to deal with the wind and it's effects.

Fence knocked over by wind.
Windy weather can cause concerns for several reasons:
  1. Flying garbage can obstruct a drivers view if it lands on the windshield or causes a distraction.
  2. Large vehicles like travel trailers or semi-trucks can be turned over. Usually in our area the highway is closed or at least a wind advisory is in affect. 
  3. Heavy garbage or other items can be blown around damaging persons or property.
  4. Power outages can occur.
  5. Trees can have limbs break off causing damage to surrounding buildings or persons standing nearby. 
To be prepared for windy weather:
  • Ensure gates are fastened to prevent them from swinging back and forth or breaking off.
  • Have trash cans either weighted down or placed out of the wind.
  • Don't drive if you don't have to, if you do drive, drive slower and more cautiously. 
  • Be aware of road closings, blockages from trees and advisories.
  • Stay inside. Windy weather is not a time to be out doing yard work. 
  • Check trees periodically for stability prior to any bad weather. If they are not stable, have them cut down or stabilized if healthy. Unstable or unhealthy trees are likely to fall in bad weather. 
  • Have another source of power; generator, flashlights with working batteries, candles.
  • Have a battery or crank powered radio for weather news.
  • Check on elderly neighbors especially if a power outage happens to ensure they have heat.
  • Have alternate sources of heat. We normally heat with wood, electric heaters in kitchen and bathroom to prevent damage to pipes in freezing weather. We are also set up for propane and natural gas.
  • Have enough food for a minimum of one month. Especially if you live in isolated area as we do.
  • If you have a well and an electric pump, ensure you have a source of back-up water. 
  • Have an emergency kit in your car. Include a three day supply of water and food, extra clothes such as hats, gloves, jackets and a blanket. A flashlight usually comes in handy too if you are stuck on a road because of an accident or blockage. 
  • Always have medical supplies such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, bandage tape, pain and fever relievers at home and in the car. Have prescription medications for a minimum of two weeks at all times too. 
  • Make sure you have a working manual can opener for can food.
Rockett stayed in the nest box and protected everybody's eggs. 
Some of our pets weren't bothered by the wind. 
I hope these tips will help you in preparing yourself to handle emergencies. Many of these tips can be applied to all emergencies. Other links with emergency preparedness tips I use are; Red Cross and

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Yucky Muck!

Saturday was the day I chose to clean the chicken house. Weather and injuries have prevented us from doing it sooner. My wonderful husband assisted me because I'm still on crutches.

"What's going on in the chicken house?"

I cleaned the nest boxes, scraping away all the manure, brushing away the dust and stuffing fresh grass in. My husband pitched the old grass hay and chicken manure off the floor and out into the chicken yard. The chickens loved it. They scratched through it like they were looking for gold. New little grass shoots were growing in the mess and the chickens were gobbling them up.

Clean nest boxes. 
Floor before cleaning it. 
My husband helping clean the floor. 
"Munching fun time!"
We removed Rockett from her beloved home. She is not very social and tends to stay cooped up away from the other chickens. She attempted to hide behind the old grass piled up in the yard or behind the garden hose that hangs on the fence. (She definitely is not our brightest chicken.)

"I'm hiding."
"They'll never find me here."
I put down fresh grass hay on the floor about six inches thick for the ducks to nest in. Ducks are clean animals by nature and I'm sure they enjoyed the new fresh grass. They like to snuggle at night and wrap their necks together, resting their heads down on each other's back.

Fresh grass on floor for the ducks.  
Today the ducks were calmer. Must have realized what we were doing for them. 
The coop smelled and looked better after we were done. It was hard work and I had to ice my knee afterwards but I was glad we cleaned. I have to say, a simple life can be hard work.
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