"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.

We’re A Half-Snow Away!

March 27th, 2011

c064607f-0964-40e8-a85b-ce67c1b1cbe1_300Don’t worry about the plunging weekend temperatures. According to my daughter-in-law, we’ll be in the clear when we have three snows after the forsythia blooms. To keep things moving, she immediately cut a bunch of branches and brought them inside to force.

That was 2.5 snows ago (I swear I saw a new flake last night), and if the seven-day forecast can be believed, we’ll be in the mid-50s by next Saturday.

“Rushing the seasons,” as my mom used to call it, is an age-old tradition. Forty-five degrees in the fall prompts a heavy winter coat and thoughts of holiday cheer. In the spring, the same reading prompts a light jacket because, after all, we are only “running out” somewhere and the sun is shining.

Like children who gallop ahead marking birthdays and half-birthdays, we can’t wait for the earth to turn. Where seasons are concerned, that is. Birthdays are a different matter. After our 20s, I think there’s no rush at all.

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Spring Cleaning: Three Feet At A Time

March 20th, 2011

IMG-20110319-00005For the past six months, I’ve pulled into the garage and groaned. It’s not that I dreaded coming home. I just hated looking at the motley crew of cardboard boxes, plastic bags and “mystery” items I’d offloaded to make room in the car trunk for luggage. I hate to walk by the scruffy collection every time I went out to the car.

The groaning ended on sunny yesterday when I became obsessed with spring cleaning. Following the advice of a professional organizer, I decided to start small. A three-foot area was what she recommended. An organizer with a heart.

Thirty-five minutes later, I’d found my favorite gym clothes (please don’t ask how I hadn’t missed them), the bungee cords I thought I’d left in a Craig’s List seller’s garage, a CD with all the pictures of my 2009 trip to Israel, and a lovely recycling basket , just like the one I was about to go out and buy for my office. That was in addition to all the eyeglasses that had been worn by any family member since 1991, which I had intended to deliver – and finally did on Saturday – to a donation box at the eyeglass store.

Now when I pull in, I can’t wait to look over at the three-foot section of wall to the right that currently houses only a gallon of windshield wiper fuel and a trashcan (currently emptied). Hopefully, as I admire this handiwork, I won’t plow into the red painted dresser straight ahead that’s populated with the paint cans I still have to dispose of. The dresser’s about three feet wide. Maybe next weekend.

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Ramona Keeps Borders Spirit Alive

March 13th, 2011

IMG-20110312-00003Call me sentimental, but each time a store I love closes in Columbus, OH, I hold on to some memento of its happier times. With Lazarus, it was a polka dot nightgown. With Big Bear, a glass measuring cup stamped with the signature red bear.

Until last night, the best of my store closing collection was the bright blue wool suit purchased during Jacobson’s shutdown in 2003. The shoulder pads are a little big, but I can’t part with this flawlessly sewn beauty or the memory of the clerk who insisted, just days away from unemployment, that she wrap it in white tissue before she entrusted it to me.

Last night, though, the blue suit was pre-empted when I finally ventured into the venerable Borders store on Kenny Road. Now wrapped in a yellow-and-black Store Closing banner as glaring as crime scene tape, Borders was not a place I wanted to scavenge. I love bookstores with library presence – the ones with nooks for reading, an occasional chair, a quiet feel as soft as the furred edges of an old book. Borders on Kenny was such a place. I did not want it to close.

Looking around at the emptying shelves, I searched for a memento to capture the ambience of the place. Certainly not a business book. Too ironic. And the still robust cookbook collection said little about Borders. And then I saw it: a “special read-aloud version” of Beverly Cleary’s s Ramona The Brave. It was not your usual paperback Ramona. It was a large hardback with a dust cover – complete with large print, off-white ages and hand-drawn illustrations of Ramona, her sister Beezus, and the entire Quimby family.

My granddaughter is only 20 months – way too young to appreciate the adventures of Ramona. But I can tell already that she will be drawn in by her imagination and sensitivity. So I walked out of Borders with Ramona in the white plastic sack. When Taylor is ready, I will be, too – for long afternoon reads and gasps and giggles from a book made of paper. And when we drive by the corner where Borders once stood – whether it has become a bank or a food store or a parking lot – I’ll say, “Once upon a time there was a wonderful bookstore there, and that’s where your Ramona came from.”

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Holey Cow!

March 7th, 2011

IMG00025-20110227-1350The black sweater was on the “reduced” rack at Nordstrom. Even so, I was sure the sales clerk would be grateful for my vigilance.

“There’s a hole in the front,” I whispered, holding the soft knit creature a few inches from her face. I figured she’d apologize, thank me for my trouble, and put it in some bin under the counter. Not so.

“It’s supposed to be that way,” she said, flipping it around to show two more holes with runs down the side, and hanging it back on the rack.

I’m well aware that faded, creased and occasionally knee-out jeans sometimes sell as new. But somehow a woman’s sweater with holes takes shabby chic to a whole new level. If the style is holey, then it seems the holier thing to do would be to buy these garments from the authentic poor who are actually wearing them and give them at least the price the designers – in this case, Elizabeth and James – are actually commanding. Here, the donation would be at least $154, after two reductions from a list price of $395.

The buyer would then have a real piece of shabby clothing. And the seller might get a much-needed week’s worth of groceries.

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