"The Dog" Journal

Welcome to the Dog Journal, a Sunday afternoon blog, where I'll share my best finds of the week for taming those puppies that gnaw at your planner.

Could be a quick time management tip, a smell-the-flowers moment, a comment overheard on the elevator. Whatever the inspiration, I hope you'll blog right along with me by commenting and sharing your tips and stories for taming an overbooked life.

Why Sunday afternoon? That's time I call "white space," a block of time I set aside for reflecting on the week before and planning the week ahead.

Mom’s Jacket Gets Second Act

May 8th, 2011

Polly Ondo In honor of my late mom, who might very well have worn it today, I’m proud to announce that her favorite navy jacket is undergoing renovations.

Handmade with her usual precision and sporting giant pearl buttons, it’s been hanging in the back of my closet since her death more than two years ago.

“Get on with it,” I’ve heard her say. “Someone could put that to good use.” Or, consistent with our family history of button-snatching: “At least take off the buttons and use them on something else.”

Mom finally got her way Mothers Day weekend, when – inches from a Goodwill bag in the making – I tried on the jacket one more time before the toss. It fit perfectly. And as I’m sure I heard her point out, “It just needs a different neckline and it will look lovely on you, dear.”

Fortunately the alterations lady at a place called Cottage of Tailoring not only agreed. She inspected the inside seams and nodded with approval.

“Very nicely sewn, she said.

“It certainly is” came a whisper from behind me, even though no one else was in the shop.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.

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Bring On The Poetic Playfulness

April 21st, 2011

Unknown-5Last night, Billy Collins came to town for a reading at Bexley (OH) High School.  The 2001-2003 poet laureate is my all-time favorite poet, and sitting in the packed auditorium with other Collins enthusiasts, I figured out why.

It’s his playfulness that grabs me.  He makes fun of the poet, whose chief occupation is to stare out the window.  But with the world in his observation tank, Collins lets his mind poke around wherever it pleases. He  imagines on a snow day three girls plotting to bring down “some small queen” at one of the schools on the closing list. He playfully becomes a boy, whose aging bike has “all the dark blue speed drained out of it,” dreading his 10th birthday with the moans of an adult. And those real memories that slip from us with age?  They retired “to a little fishing village where there are no phones.”

The pleasure of his poetry reminds me that a little more time spent staring out of windows, curious and taking it all in,  might stoke the creativity in all of us. Why let our minds rush by in business casual when they could be out in the world wearing play clothes?

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Nose Knows About Stress Relief

April 10th, 2011

IMG-20110410-00011 What could be better than hanging out with nearly 200 people who cheer people up for a living?

That was the scene at the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH)conference these last several days in Orlando, where there was a nonstop buffet of chuckles, inspiration and colorful costuming.

Clown noses were standard fare, along with garbage bag capes, multi-colored wigs and everlasting bubbles. And the stories! Cancer survivors credited humor and laughter with helping them recover. Hospice nurses thanked their patients for bringing humor into their lives. And several laughing participants vowed to die with their clown noses on – and breathe a final “Ha!” as a last breath.

Now…just to hang onto the magic through at the grocery, the traffic, the drive-thru bank. The clown nose will be handy in my glove compartment.

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April 3rd, 2011

$(KGrHqN,!lEE2ETsMqzrBNkjyuzno!~~0_12It’s hard to admit this, but with so many worthier things to grieve,  I’m  feeling sad about the loss of my food processor. Big Oskar’s death after a 20-plus year run has precipitated a major time management crisis.

In the beginning, he was my personal protest against the Cuisinart, which was so expensive that I would have given myself a life sentence to a paring knife. Cheap, easy to clean and easy to run, he outlived the company that made him (Sunbeam) by several years and would still be chopping onions in record time if I hadn’t dropped his lid.

His death has prompted an eBay obsession, as I scour the listings for a replacement. I gleefully ordered one, only to find that the $20 bargain was in fact his little brother, the Oskar Jr., the two-cup model that my mother used to own. Using an Oskar Jr. to cook for a crowd is like mowing an acre with a hand mower.

In desperation, I’ve tried Black & Decker’s bargain Cuisinart clone, which takes 20 minutes to unlock, another 20 to clean, and has blades so wicked that I keep my health care power of attorney right by the instruction book.

Hopefully, someone soon will clean out a parent’s basement, find a Big Oskar sleeping in the corner, and put “this old thing” up for bid. Meanwhile, I’m joining the simplification movement and attacking those veggies with a paring knife. It frees up time for eBay.

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