Archive for the ‘Musing’ Category

Do you have an accident waiting to happen at your parents house?

Are your parents climbing ladders and step stools because they feel they can do things themselves? Climbing the ladder to clean out the gutters or touching up the paint is something they always did and still feel capable still doing. Years ago that wasn’t a problem; they were a lot younger and much more agile and steady. But things are changing.

How can you stop them from doing this before they have that accident which could put them out of commission permanently?  Whether it is fixing the dripping kitchen faucet, changing a filter or light bulb, putting in the screens, or anything else that needs fixing.  What peace of mind would you have knowing that Dad and Mom are not climbing ladders or step stools, crawling under sinks, or make many trips down the basement stairs which are all possibilities for accidents.

There are plenty of small businesses that can help you help your parents.   Some of them you and set them up on a monthly retainer, and they will stop by your parents home on a regular basis throughout the month and take care of things that need fixing.  You know all the little (and not so little) do it yourself projects that you don’t have time to do for your parents. Arrange to have everything done without anyone in the family climbing a ladder and taking unnecessary risks.

All you need to do is keep a perpetual “honey do” list and once a month, as regular as clock work; this company would come in and do what is on the list. If the job was too big or more involved then they may need to schedule more time, but for the most part routine maintenance and repair projects that Dad or Mom want or need done are finished and scratched off the list.

Consider this type of service as a gift for the entire family!

 

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I Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

I would like to start a movement where ice cream becomes a daily food requirement.  Okay, it could be frozen yogurt, lactose free ice cream, sorbet, sherbet, or any other form of frozen delight yoImageu can find.

My sister told me today, Sunday July 15th 2012 is designated National Ice Cream Day.   I plan on celebrating later today.  I will take a leisurely drive to our favorite ice cream stand.  This ice cream stand set on a corner of a working dairy farm.   There are cows, yes cows, still in the pasture and the children can walk up to the fence and see a real live cow up close and personal.   That includes all the flies, odors, and country ambiance you can take.   It also lets the kids really know where their milk and other dairy products come from originally, not the local grocery store.

It is fun to;

  • go for a simple short Sunday drive on a beautiful summer afternoon
  • stop for an ice cream cone
  • see that there are still live cows and working farms
  • know that ice cream has its own special day.

Thank goodness we don’t have to wait for a special day to have ice cream, and there are still ice cream stands in the country where children and adults alike can actually see real live cows!

Condominium Living 101

Condominium living is wonderful, in my opinion.   You pay the money and someone else does the work!  No mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, or shoveling snow, etc.  However, you need to be somewhat flexible with your expectations and not become angry or bitter when things are not done exactly the way you think it should or when it is done.

I have lived the condominium life for over twenty years and most of it has been a wonderful experience.  I am currently the chair person of our board of trustees and it has been an education and a challenge.    Everyone wants to have platinum or gold services but they only want to pay for Bronze, and sometimes they feel that Bronze service costs too much and we don’t receive the service.    I have to say that my board is extremely diligent in overseeing and counting our pennies, but there are always people who are not and will not be happy with anything.

Now that we are in landscaping season we are spending 90% of our time dealing with landscaping issues.  Spring in New England started early and the trees, shrubs, and other plantings really have had a growth spurt.  People are unhappy with the way the place is looking and they want it fixed and fixed immediately.   The board is in agreement, and is working on getting things resolved, but this is one of those situations that we are not going to please everyone all the time.   The board has the task of defining and implementing standards to guide the contractors in performing their jobs; for instance,

  • Keep the shrubs to window sill height and at least 6-8 inches away from the side of the building.
  • Ornamental trees should be trimmed and not be touching the siding or roof

It is difficult for many of the condo owners to adjust to condo living.  Because everyone has an opinion on how things need to be maintained, and when we owned our own home we did what we wanted.  If we wanted the shrubs to grow taller and cover the windows for privacy it was okay.  A condominium is much different than owning your own home.   Everything needs to be standardized, and just because you prefer it one way and your neighbor wants it another way, it all needs to be done uniformly in order to maintain a consistent look within the allotted budget constraints.  The contractors do not work for the individual condo owners, whey work for the total good of the association, and owners stopping the landscapers for trimming or cutting the lawns only disrupts the scheduling, uniformity, and costs everyone more money.   Yes, it is frustrating at times, and not everything can or will be done the way everyone would like.   The process is not instantaneous or perfect.   The board members are dealing with a management company, who works on our behalf, who is dealing with the individual contractors and vendors and it can (is) frustrating at times.  

Life in a condo will never be the same as owning and caring for your own home.  My advice to people thinking of purchasing a condo is to really determine why you think you may be happy in a condo.  Once you have the plusses then really think about any of the negatives that you have heard or can think of then weigh them.     If the plusses outweigh the minuses then a Condominium may be a great fit for you.  If not, then opt for a smaller home and arrange to have the services you need provided for you when and how you want them.   

What’s On Your Bucket List?

Saturday evening and I am home writing this blog!   What’s that tell you about my social life or life in general.   Actually, my life in a small town is not all that bad.   This evening, our regular group of ladies adjourned to the local pub after the 4 o’clock mass.   We do this most every Saturday evening, but we do vary our destinations among a few favorite hot spots in town.

Tonight’s conversation was about items we have on our bucket list, which I always find fascinating.  It always amazes me that some people don’t have that much on their list, while others would need to live two lifetimes to finish their list.   Pondering this topic I have added 4 new items to my bucket list, why? –I want to!

I added:

  • Take the summer off and drive cross country – stopping when and where I want until I do and see everything I want.    No planned itinerary just meander the back roads of America.
  • I want to go up to Canada and France to do some in depth, hands on research into my families ancestry on my Father’s side; and then to England and Ireland to do the same thing on my Mother’s side of the family.   I can only do just so much on the computer, I really need to get up close and personal to really understand the stories we were never told.
  • I want to write a book and have it published.  It would be my legacy to tell the world that I lived and I don’t want to be forgotten.   It will be my leave behind for the next generations to read and learn about their long forgotten ancestor.  I know when I find snippets of information on an unknown ancestor I find it fascinating.  So I hope that they will also.
  • I want to learn a foreign language that I never did when I was in school.  I think it would be French.  To be able to read and speak French when traveling would be helpful.

Of course, I still have plenty on the list that I am working on but these additions only add some incentive to keep on eliminating and enjoying the bucket list adventures.   Also, there is no bucket list police to say you have to do them in a particular order!   So relax, I am, and enjoy your bucket list items; the large ones and the small ones.   I think I deserve a Hot Fudge Sundae for writing my blog!

Preparing to Downsize When it Triple HHH Outside

Summer is here and so are the triple HHH’s — Hot, Hazy and Humid, and you are in the middle of preparing to downsize, declutter, and move.   You need to keep moving along with this project so when your home is sold you are on target to finish everything and move without going into total panic and melt down mode.   So what can you do and not become too hot and sticky?

Okay, crank the A/C and put on the ceiling fan in your bedroom.   Pull up a comfortable chair, and pull out and empty a dresser drawer onto your bed.    All you need for supplies are;

  • Trash bags,
  • Dust cloth, and
  • Various size baggies.

One drawer at a time, sort through all the items in the drawer.   Throw out everything that you don’t need or have not used in past 6 months.  Especially the old cosmetics that have been opened and starting to dry out, as well as the gardenia scented talcum powder, and the bobby pins.   For the smaller items that you want and need to keep, use the baggies for the cuff links, the costume jewelry, and other smaller easy to misplace items.  As you empty the drawer, take your dust cloth and clean the drawer.  If you have tissue paper and want to, reline the drawer.  Then you can put back the items you plan on keeping.

If you do this for 60-90 minutes at a time, you will probably be able to cleanout and organize 2 drawers a day.   It’s a great way to sort through all the ‘unmentionables’ that are worn out and should be tossed. However, you keep on wearing them just because!   Only keep the good items that you will use and toss the others.   Donate only good serviceable items, it’s  not a donation if the charity spends money to throw them away.

Again this is a job that you can do in the heat of the summer, sitting comfortably on a chair, and never really become hot and sticky.   Take advantage of this time, and don’t lose your momentum.   Turn the hot, hazy, and humid days of summer to your advantage!

It Is A Mirage – A Clean Garage!

Okay, this month is the time to make a confession. If you think that my house is neat as a pin, with nothing out of place you are wrong! Don’t get me wrong I am organized and stuff like that, but I live to enjoy my home and, like everyone else who provides a service for other people; I am tired when I get home so my house is the last to get any attention. This goes for all parts of the home, especially the Garage.

Garages are suppose to be for your car, or if you are from Massachusetts ‘cah’! Personally my ‘cah’ has never been in the garage. It is always ‘pahked’ in the ‘yahd’ (or driveway), because there isn’t enough room in the garage. There is always enough room for other things, like shelving units, storage boxes, bikes, tools, my work supplies, and anything else you can think of BUT not the ‘cah’.

So this month we need to concentrate on the garage. It should be a fairly simple and quick process now that the weather is warm and you can leave the door (or doors) open.  If you really look around, there really are not a lot of useless or unneeded items.  The real problem is that we don’t put the items back where they belong. When we finish with the item we put it in an empty space, and there is stays, that space becomes its home. Slowly, but swiftly, these items start to encroach into the next available space and then everything just looks so cluttered and unwieldy it becomes too much trouble to spend the little extra time to make things right.

Now let’s get started! Put the ‘cah’ on the street (out of the driveway), and pull everything out of the garage and put it out in the driveway or the ‘yahd’. Don’t forget to gather all the help you can for this project, because it can become tiresome and hard work as the day progresses. It should only take a few hours with help.

Once all the ‘stuff’ is out of the garage take the broom and give the garage (floor, walls and ceiling) a good sweep. You will be amazed at the amount of dirt and dust you will pick up. You may want to sprinkle a little water (not too much or you will have mud) to hold down the dust. When you finish sweeping, let the dust settle for a bit, and start sorting through the ‘stuff’ out in the ‘yahd’.

Trash whatever can be trashed. All those grocery bags and other plastic bags that you have accumulated, consolidate partial packages of items, put like items together. Decide whether or not you need to install wall hooks or purchase another shelving unit.

Remember the goal is to clean the floor so you have room for your ‘cah’.  With a plan in mind and the dust settled, it is time to start putting things back where they belong. Tools are in the tool box, the bikes are in a rack or hung on wall hooks, and the trash barrels are off to the side but convenient to the door. Everything is in place now step back and take a picture!  Remember how it looks, this is what you want all the time.

Now ‘pahk’ the ‘cah’ in the garage. There is plenty of room now!   You can actually open the door without knocking or hitting anything.  What a nice, satisfying experience and just think it didn’t take forever to accomplish.  Congratulations, you have a ‘wicked p**a’ clean garage that any Boston ‘cah’ is proud to ‘pahk’ in.  Now it is time for a Dunk!

Do Cats Imitate Us or Do We Imitate Cats?

My rescue cat, Lilac, is pretty set in her ways.   Her daily routine is the same every day, as far as I can tell.  Every morning, she is waiting for me to give her breakfast, and then she follows the sun and lounges in every sunny spot.   By late morning she is lounging on the back of the love seat pretending to nap, but with one eye open looking to see that no unwelcome visitors venture into her domain.   Early afternoon finds her really napping in the loft.

I would say Lilac is in her comfort zone, and when things in the zone change, Lilac is not very happy and she lets us know about it in no uncertain terms.   She becomes cranky and upset, she lashes out at whoever happens to be available, and it takes some time for her to come to terms with a change.   This behavior certainly mimic’s how people react when something changes in their lives.  So the question that I have been pondering is:   Do cats imitate us or do we imitate cats?

Everyone has their routines and comfort zones, and they are usually similar to the beings they live, work, or hang out with on a regular basis.   When something or someone disrupts the routine or pace of life that has been constant for so long and change occurs, the entire environment and atmosphere around us becomes disoriented and confused.    This happens throughout our lives and usually we can quickly adjust and accept life changes within a reasonable length of time and with minimal attitude.

However, the older we get the harder it is to cope and accept changes in our life.  I have had this conversation with family members of clients, and they have told me that their parent is acting strange, not like their usual calm, compliant self.  The parent is upset, angry, emotional, and just plain old nasty.  They do not understand why, because the changes they are proposing or making are meant to make the parent’s life easier and happier.   Yet their parent is acting out, just like a teenager!

So to get back to my questions of who is imitating whom, I believe the answer is a little bit of both!   It seems like it is a natural instinct to resist change in our lives.  We all resist and try to make changes to the change; it is natural whether we are infants or senior citizen.  Even Lilac, my cat, finds way to work within the changed environment to make the change acceptable to her.  Lilac doesn’t like a cover on the love seat so she works and works at pulling and punching a portion of the throw off until she has sufficient space for her nap!   My cat uses a passive aggressive attitude toward change, hoping that we will give in.

Once we can accept that changes are difficult for everyone, we can begin to understand and try to overcome the attitudes and passive aggressive behaviors while working to convince and accommodate everyone involved with the change.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” ~Author Unknown

Shoe Fetish or Just a Love Affair

It always amazes me when I am downsizing and decluttering closets how many shoes people have. Not just women, but men too! People seem to have a real issue throwing away or even donating, unused and older shoes.

Scattered on closet floors, hanging over doors in bags, and the real serious shoe people have them methodically stored in plastic boxes labeled by color and style.  If they get really carried away, or leaning toward obsessive compulsive behavior they will even make a note to what outfit and handbag it goes with!  Makes you want to ask; Is it a shoe fetish or just a love affair with shoes?

I freely admit that I love shoes!  Shoe shopping is really the only shopping I truly love.  There is something about the new shoe smell (something like a new care smell), trying on new shoes, and visualizing what outfit you will wear with them.  This is why I love to buy new shoes, BUT my question is; Why is it so difficult to part with shoes once they no longer meet our needs?

I have pondered this question for a while now.  I think there are a few possibilities why we procrastinate.  We cannot part with them because;

  1. I still liked them,
  2. They are still comfortable (unlike other pieces of clothing) and still look reasonably good.
  3. They make me feel good, beautiful, or whatever.
  4. I still like the style and have not been able to find another pair in that color or heel height.
  5. They just do not make shoes like these anymore.
  6.  I have an odd shoe size and they are hard to find.
  7. They are classic, never go out of style, and go with everything!

These are my excuses, I am sure you some of them or have your own perfectly valid and rational reasons for hanging on to shoes for longer than reasonably necessary.

So what are shoe lovers to do, when shoes tumble out of your closet, or worse yet you need a whole closet for only your shoes?   It is difficult, but tough decisions must be made.

  1. Separate shoes that you wear regularly and put them to one side.
  2. Take the shoes that you wear with particular outfits (some shoes in #1 may overlap),
  • Ask the question – How often have I worn these shoes and outfit in the past 12 months?  If the answer is zero to 2, seriously consider donating the shoes and the outfit.
  • Then take a look at the shoes that you cannot remember when you last wore them and toss or donate them.

Separate the regularly worn shoes from the ‘special’ shoes in your closet, then when you buy a new pair evaluate whether to retire a pair from either collection, and DO IT!

Just like Neil Sedaka’s song says, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,  when you have this love affair with shoes it is really hard.   However, I know we will all find another pair of ratty, old sneakers or comfortable boots to fill the void in our heart.

Now That The Funeral Is Over, Now What?

The funeral is over and finally the last person has left the house, the last of the food  stored in the refrigerator, and everyone sits down around the dining room table and looked at each other and said, “Now what?”

For the past several days, actually several months, this family the moment on the moment and that was just dealing with todays problems, situations, and concerns.  With the death of their parent their primary focus then shifted to just getting through the funeral.

This family has several Now What questions to deal with immediately, because there is a surviving parent that has some concerns and issues that need consideration.  So before all the family members start to scatter back to their ‘normal’ life; work, family, soccer games, PTA, etc., it is time to focus on the ‘Now What?’ questions.

Everyone needs some down time, particularly after what they have dealt with, but first question and most pressing one now is:  Can Mom (or Dad) stay in the family home alone, or would it be better for her to go home with someone?  Once decided then you can move on from their.   Whether Mom stays at home or temporarily goes with one of the children the rest of the Now What’s will wait for another day.

What Your Mom is Not Telling You About Your Father.

When we live busy lives with spouse and children to care for we are often caught not spending enough time with our aging parents. If we are fortunate enough to live close to them, we might drop over quickly to see if they need something but often than not we will phone to check in.

The phone call is quick and expediant. A quick hello, how are you, the kids are fine, and then you say goodbye because you need to get dinner or something. Mom said everything is fine, so you take her at her word. Even if you stop by periodically you run in for a few minutes, chat about the weather and things, then you are off again.

Unfortunately, that is life these days. However you might be missing some vital signals and warning signs that unless you see first hand and ask the questions you will never know. Why? Because Mom, doesn’t want to bother you, and your Father told her not to tell you. Whatever it is, is their little secret. This happens quite frequently.

As the folks age and continue to live alone and are independent, we become comfortable not having to worry about them. It is important that we periodically take some quality time with your parents to see how they are actually doing. Develop a base line measure of their life, activities, and physical abilities. Then as time proceeds do it again, just to stay tuned in to the subtle changes that may be occurring.

Life is funny, we think we will have the folks forever, then without warning — or was there some warnings and signs — they are old and sick. We didn’t see it coming.

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