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Listen Here, Whippersnappers!

29 Nov

In the spirit of being Old Enough To Know Better (the long version name of this blog), I have reached the point in my life (officially 44 on Dec. 20) where I freely offer advice, to just about anyone.

Being old comes with privileges like that. Doesn’t matter whether or not people listen. That’s not the point. How handy to have this blog to help in my endeavor!

Along those lines, this post is a random collection of items that make me happy in life. Of course you want to know about them because they are sure you make you happy as well. Consider my tips an improvement over what you might find in high-brow periodicals, such as Martha Stewart Living, Oprah’s O Magazine or Real Simple—only better. The great thing is that I am sharing these happiness-makers with you for FREE, via my low-brow blog!

Here are five FREE! happiness-makers:

1. Make the bed every morning. No matter what.

This is something that I can easily control, even when the rest of my day is insane. Bonus: When I collapse in bed at the end of a long day, the covers are not in a messy heap. This gives me the illusion that I’ve conquered all chaos in my life.

Extra credit for remembering to sprinkle some baby powder between the sheets while making it…keeps things extra fresh.

2. Sit on a ball, not a chair, while at work.

I am not kidding. Unless you work in a profession that gives you frequent freedom to move about, your body is getting weaker every second you spend in that chair. Scientists agree with me, as empirically proven by this one study, as well as plain common sense.

At least sitting on a physio-ball ($20 from your local Target) keeps you working core muscles while you are sitting, because if you don’t work your core you will fall off the ball. The entire process will make you feel better. Especially the part about not falling off the ball.

Anyone who thinks you’re a weirdo has too much free time on their hands to be worrying about you and your ball…suggest that they get back to work and let you continue being on the ball.  Who can argue with good posture?

Extra credit for one or two backbends during the day, supported by your trusty ball. If you are both self-conscious and stealthy this can be accomplished while co-workers are in the kitchen or on bathroom breaks.

3. Even if you don’t like habits, pick a few that give you comfort and practice them every day.

I like change and don’t enjoy a lot of repetition in my days, so this is not an easy discipline for me. What hooked me on habits is that they are both nurturing as well as efficient use of time.

Getting ready for work or school and arriving at the same time every day is a simple habit that most of us have to do anyway, so that’s easy. Fitting in some time for meditation and journal-writing prior to work is something that I have grown to enjoy. Practicing an instrument is another.

If you have too many habits, make it a habit to drop some of them. This would include frequent trips to the office stash of Reese’s Cups (one of my too frequent habits).

4. Walk more than you do now.

This is something that just about anyone can easily do. I have for many years owned dogs that will drive me crazy if I don’t get them out for a walk or hard playtime in a field. This is terrific motivation.

There are so many little things that I notice about the world around me by moving more slowly than I can by car, and my body is thankful for the chance to blow off some steam and soak up the outdoors. Even in bad weather, being both outside and simply walking gives me a mood boost.

5. Pick one day each week when you will not use social media or electronic devices.

This is very difficult for me. I really hate it at first because I am quite obsessive-compulsive with being “in touch,” but it’s very beneficial for my peace of mind to go off the grid and not be always connected to everyone and everything.

All of it is still be there when I plug back in the next day. Most things can wait and don’t need immediate response. The Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait” is a good reminder that not so long ago we communicated with more delay between the send and response.  Immediacy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and being off the grid is a good reminder of how the world keeps spinning without my interventions.

There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on these tips. I will give you a full refund if you are not happier after putting all of these into practice for a month. Promise!

Bite Me

15 Aug

Image courtesy of Bedbugger.com

My family has the adult equivalent of cooties: bedbugs.

No two ways about it. Confirmed by two different “bedbug experts.”

How did we get them? Who knows. Possibly through my travel or from a patient of my husband’s. We’re not dirty people, but there’s nothing like bedbugs to make you feel downright gross. It’s an instant source of shame. So pleasant to let your friends and family know about your newest guests, and how they can identify them under their own mattresses, behind pictures and electrical outlets, etc., etc.

Do many people get them? Yes, they do. We are not alone. I found a cheeky site called the Bed Bug Hub, hosted by the National Pest Management Association, reporting that:

Bed bugs are THE most difficult pest to treat, according to 76 percent of survey respondents, more so than cockroaches, ants and termites. As for where infestations occur, residences top the list with 89 percent of pest professionals treating bed bug infestations in apartments/condos and 88 percent treating bed bug infestations in single-family homes. Respondents also report other common areas, with 67 percent treating bed bug infestations in hotels/motels, 35 percent in college dormitories, 9 percent on various modes of transportation, 5 percent in laundry facilities, and 4 percent in movie theatres.

Did you read that? Why yes, it’s entirely possible that we got them from a movie theatre. But most likely, from my travel and overnights in hotels.

And, not surprisingly:

[T]he emotional and mental toll of experiencing a bed bug infestation can be severe and should not be taken lightly. Survey respondents report that 99% of clients who have had bed bugs were “upset and concerned” and 77% said such customers were “very upset and concerned.”

No doubt. Believe it. This is no fun. I think that I am better at imagining things are okay than my husband is. He hasn’t slept for nights. It’s not the bugs bugging him. We’ve only found a handful of them, truth be told. We are not in the “infestation” category by any means. But the worst thing about it is thinking about all of the potential consequences if left untreated. And the reason they’ve become more prevalent is because a lot of people cannot afford to treat them so just leave them be.

It’s the thought of the bugs, including where they are now and where they will be hiding tomorrow, underneath or behind something where we cannot see them.

And it’s the reactions of people once they find out that you have them. Many make the assumption that it has something to do with your hygiene…that it’s in some way YOUR fault. The truth is that bedbugs don’t discriminate: They like everyone’s blood, whether clean or dirty. They only come out at night, and what attracts them is warm-blooded people. The suckers are miniature, diabolical vampires.

Because of all this we are taking DRASTIC measures. Yes, I do mean DRASTIC. They must and will die. We are paying $3,200 for a combined heat and chemical treatment conducted by a professional exterminator. Here’s what they do:

  • Heat up each area of the house to a sustained temperature of 120 degrees. This will kill most of them.
  • Apply pesticides that kill the remaining bugs, including any eggs. (Did you know that they can lie dormant for 18 months? Just think of it…)
  • And then, we wait to see if they reappear. Because they are also killed by temperatures below 23 degrees, we are seriously considering a safety net treatment of our own in the winter, which will begin with us draining out our pipes, opening the windows, and leaving the house for a day.

Here’s what WE have to do before the exterminators begin their work:

  • Throw out and/or move out a bunch of stuff. Not because it has bedbugs, but because there’s a combined supply of an extra house’s worth of furniture and all-around stuff in the basement of our house, which we recently bought from my in-laws and where my nephew lived for a couple of years. As of this moment, my front yard is channeling the theme song from “Sanford and Son.” It’s full of items for the dumpster, which will arrive tomorrow. (More about my neighbors’ reaction to this in a minute.)
  • Wash everything–clothes, linens, furniture covers, anything fabric. Put it into sealed plastic bags. If it’s clothing that cannot be washed, dry it for 20 minutes at the highest possible heat. I even washed balls of yarn that I haven’t yet used for knitting.
  • Everything we wear out of the house at this point comes from a sealed plastic bag that ensures the clothing is bedbug-free. Everything. I cannot reinforce how much of a pain this is.
  • Vacuum everything, everywhere. Put bedbug covers on the beds. Do some spot treatments in the rooms where we’ve seen the bugs.
  • Repeat everything above as many times as necessary until it’s time for the exterminators.
  • Move all furniture away from the walls in every room and pray that our veneered furniture survives 120 degrees.

While the exterminators do their work, we get to go on a special bedbug vacation! Translation: We rent an affordable somewhat nice nearby hotel for two nights because we have to be away for that long. And we cancel our camping trip to Kelley’s Island, because instead we’ll be here doing post-exterminator cleanup.

So, this is going to be a $3,500 proposition all told.  Cha-ching.

The significant effed-upness of this was on my mind today when my husband told me that neighbors had called our area commission to complain about the furniture in our front yard. Bite me. We spent all day on Sunday getting it out there and the dumpster is coming tomorrow.

Our biggest mistake was our honesty in letting people know (and putting signs on the stuff) that NO ONE SHOULD TAKE IT because of the bedbugs. I’m convinced that this is the reason for the hulabaloo. How many people in our sort of upscale Columbus neighborhood have had bedbugs and not told their neighbors? I’m guessing more than a few.

And then we have the other side of the continuum. What percentage of the population will take furniture that possibly has bedbugs? From my personal estimation, a significant and disturbingly large number of not so discriminating fellows (all men, it’s true). In one situation, a man took a table that he was going to give to his daughter. Two hours later, I noticed that he’d brought the table back. Smart daughter!

There were probably 20 people who took furniture from the yard yesterday, even though it was clearly marked and we verbally warned them. And when I went out to the car this morning, at least a few people had gone through the piles and taken even more. I have to say that I was pretty shocked. Clearly, not enough people have been through this to know the real deal of bedbug removal. It ain’t pretty.

People don’t listen, and they don’t want to. They do not take this seriously. I’ve got spraypaint all over much of the furniture and on all of the trash bags with clothes and fabric stuff. And now we have some schmuck calling us to complain about our irresponsibility?

Bite me. Better yet, bedbug bite me.

We did talk with someone from the Columbus Health Department earlier today (after a very unhelpful call with them last week when they referred us to their website), and while at least this time they were available, they actually suggested that we have the furniture destroyed. My husband asked if a bonfire would work. I don’t think this is what they had in mind. Then on second thought, they said that what we’d done in terms of marking the furniture would do the trick. I’m glad we did the right thing, as embarrassing as it has been.

If I were not a nice person, I would wish the curse of these bedbugs on the person who called the commission. I guess it’s just one of those situations where you try to do the right thing and you just can’t please everyone all of the time.

I told a friend tonight that I’m going to install my 74-year-old father from SE Ohio on the front lawn. He will in no uncertain terms and with a highly unpleasant attitude tell nosy and judgmental neighbors to mind their own bedbugging business. In less polite words than that.

In closing, bedbugs suck: Blood, money and time.

Know the signs and do whatever you can to avoid getting them.

Down in the Heel

13 Nov

The dog has ruined my professional shoe collection. Surely these photos say it all.

The tan platforms were particularly painful, therefore the close-up.

BlogPaws

10 Apr

Scrap riots sound like fun...c'mon!

Had an awesome time at the Blogpaws pet bloggers’ conference yesterday and today! Thanks to all who attended the Building Your Blog Strategy panel, moderated by Sue Resnicoff of Del Monte Foods | Pet Products. (My pet’s favorite: Pup-Peroni.).

I enjoyed sitting with fellow panelists Karen Nichols of Catster blog and Michele Hollow of Pet News and Views.

My portion of the panel involved:

  • Ideas and tools for creating and sharing compelling content.
  • Tips and techniques for staying disciplined, engaged and most of all, motivated!

Here are the content tips I shared:

Creating and Sharing Compelling Content

1. Do Your Homework

  • Research the topics that are of interest to you AND your target audience. Conduct a thorough search effort when you get started…and at logical check-points.
  • Ask around and look for content “holes.” Is there a topic that’s not being blogged about? Is there value you can add to the discussion from an unexplored perspective on a topic already in the blogosphere?

2. Explore the Shallows and Dive Deep

  • I will often share content on Facebook and Twitter that is of interest to me, then blog more deeply about the content. This is a good way to test initial responses to the topic and determine whether it would draw readers to your blog.
  • Setting up a series of posts about a topic also gives you the chance to touch on the high points and dive deep over time.

3. Don’t Wax Poetic

  • Posts should be no longer than 400 words. Preferably, make them closer to 250.
  • Add images, audio and video. Keep in mind the needs of visual and experiential learners. Not everyone will be drawn in by the written word.

Staying Disciplined, Engaged and Motivated

1. Discipline: Create an editorial calendar.

  • This will help you to plan your posts across the year and have a roadmap for success. Remember to set realistic goals for frequency. Start off modestly and build out to one or more posts per day, as it makes sense for your blog.
  • Don’t be constrained by the calendar. You can and should be posting more frequently on topics of current interest.

2. Engagement: Build relationships and activate your voice…enhancing your reputation.

  • Building relationships is the goal.
  • Get excited about your content. If you are passionate, your readers will be.
  • Be smart about your content and your replies to readers. Comments and replies should be dynamic extensions of your posts. Learn how-to’s from industry leaders, including their mistakes and successes.
  • Assess your reader demographics. Are they your intended target audience?
  • Attract and retain your target readers.
  • Recalibrate your calendar on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly).

3. Motivation: Don’t go it alone.

  • Bond with fellow bloggers. A support group will keep you activated.
  • Get honest reactions from your friends, family and significant other.
  • Take a break when you need to. No one will smack your hand for skipping a week when you need to take a breather. A blog vacation can rejuvenate your energy and help to grow new ideas.

Soooo sleepy.

I thought it would be appropriate to post this shot of Wylie post-conference. He got loads of new toys (more info in future posts) and was EXHAUSTED by the conference. He took networking to new levels in the pet play room while I presented. But everyone has to sleep it off when they overdo, right?

Puppies and Pad Injuries

26 Mar

Wylie wearing a bandage and doped up on doggie sedatives.

We’ve successfully made it through three weeks of recovery from a pad injury. Thought I’d post this for anyone who doesn’t know how to handle a pad injury.

What Happened

Wylie was playing in our local creek (Alum Creek) at my favorite dog park (Wolfe aka Woof Park) with his best friend dog Mo(zart). My friend Anne and I saw some broken glass and cleaned it up.

I noticed that while Wylie  and Mo were running around through the woods and in the creek, at one point he yipped. But he kept going, and I didn’t think anything more until we arrived home. I’m now confident that he stepped on some glass that sliced his pad. When I got him out of the car, there was blood everywhere on the back seat. Pads are very vascular, so you’ll have that!

What We Did

At first, I thought it would clot and heal on its own. I cleaned him off in the tub and put him upstairs in his crate to rest. He was tired, so this was no problem. He wasn’t limping or seeming to care about the pad injury.

When I went up to get him out of the crate after about an hour, it was still bleeding. At that point, we knew that we needed to take him into the vet. Of course, this was a Sunday evening, so we were not able to go to our family vet. Off we went to OSU Vet Hospital.

Treatment

We waited several hours, which we expected. For anyone who has an injured animal, be prepared for a lot of sitting around. But OSU is wonderful. We’ve been there many times in the past with previous dogs. The vets are terrific.

They stitched up the pad and bandaged it. We left four hours after arrival with a worn-out and woozy Wylie (post-anesthesia), two weeks’ worth of antibiotics and two varieties of pain med.

The most interesting thing that happened was when the vet told me we’d need to limit the dog’s activity level. “No time running around or jumping in the yard.” Okay, no problem. “Also, keep him from running or jumping in the house.” Um, notgonnahappen. He’s a puppy after all. Was this vet a cat vet? This last part was the reason for the second sedative, to keep his activity level low.

Aftercare

Three days after the injury, we took Wylie back to our vet to have the stitches examined and the paw bathed and rebandaged. Wylie was not a happy camper, and he refused the vet’s liver treat after she was done with him.

Wylie with head hung low, sporting his cone of shame.

Six days after the injury, it was back to our vet again for pad examination and bathing. This time, they left the bandage off, but instructed us to have him wear an Elizabethan collar (aka cone of shame) so that he would not bite out the stitches.

He also had to wear an old knee sock outside to keep mud from getting caked in between the pads. Up to this point, we had to put a plastic bag over the bandage to keep it from getting wet every time he went outside. The sock was less of a struggle.

By this time, he was done with the sedative and back to his usual energy level. The problem with this? Still not allowed to take him for a walk! He drove us crazy during this time. Lots of indoor games kept him occupied.

Ten days after the injury, he went back to the vet for stitch removal. Everything was in fine order, and he was cleared for regular walks and visits to the dog park. They wanted us to keep having him wear the cone of shame, but he did not mess with the pad, so we left it off. He was so dejected wearing the cone, we couldn’t stand to keep it on him.

Pricetag

Emergency vet=$500

Aftercare vet visits=$120

Could have been MUCH worse. We have had pet insurance for a while. I highly recommend it.

BlogPaws Conference

13 Mar

Are you interested in pets and blogging?

Join me for this conference in Columbus, Ohio, April 9-10, at the Westin downtown (pet-friendly hotel!).

More than 250 bloggers, writers and companies passionate about pets will come together for networking, learning and fun.

The best part? You can bring your animal with you. Wish me luck…I’m on a panel for Building Your Blog Strategy, and the puppy will be joining me.

We’re involving in Columbus All-Breed Basic Obedience starting next week, which should help us out tremendously. Meanwhile, let’s hope that he doesn’t have to wear his Elizabethan collar to the conference. It’s not very stylish. Wylie’s currently recovering from a pad injury.