For anyone who has read more than one essay on this site, you know I like to arm-wrestle the BIG questions: What is Happiness? Why Keeping Your Word is So Important. Why You Should NEVER insult your mate in public (or in private).
Well, today we’re going in completely the opposite direction and guess what: The little things are important, too. Now, you just might think that I’m going too far…down to the sub-atomic scale with a couple of these topics, but bear with me.
In this Facebook world where everyone is happy and healthy, no one has bad breath, and the selfies are all in focus, you don’t hear much about the little niggly problems. It’s too easy for someone to write back, “Ewew…” Well, tough… We’re going into Ewew territory today on a couple of them.
FLEAS: We live on 12 bucolic acres in NC which I’ve been bragging about for a few months now. But…and there’s always a But, when we let Gigi, Moose, and Scooter out to pee in the morning, they run all over the property, happy as little clams, but when they return, they are scratching. They are perfect little flea magnets. Now we keep a tight ship in the house, with a Dyson vacuum and our own carpet shampooer and I use them often. I have also bought packages of expensive poison that you put on the back of their necks. Yes, it kills the fleas on the back of their neck for about two weeks…but fleas are smarter than you’d think. We’ve done everything that money can buy and not much has worked.
I have no idea why, but I found myself Googling, baby powder as a possible solution to fleas and Voila! Fifteen articles from professionals. In short: It works. It doesn’t poison you or your dog. It’s cheap. It smells good, and the dogs (or cats) LOVE it. After a month of “screwin’ around” we slam-dunked the problem in one day. If you have a furry little best friend, make them (and you) happy. Costs zilch and solves the problem. There, my present to you.
Stropping: On a totally unrelated topic: When I was a little kid and would go to the barber, at the end of the haircut, Tony would pull out a straight razor and strop it (not a misspelling). He’d pull the razor down a long leather strip to micro sharpen the edge of the blade. Scroll ahead to today, where we spend 15-20 bucks for a plastic package of blades. Guess what, you don’t just get one blade, but four or five, though they all go dull around the same time. Call me cheap, but I always thought it was a bit of a rip. You know those blades cost four cents to make. The solution??? Stropping. It takes me five seconds or so to strop my razor with my finger.
Dangerous? Only if you’re a complete idiot. Brush your finger along the top, with the blade NOT against it…not like you’re shaving your finger. Do it about five times under the water and your blade will last about 30 times longer. Duhhhh. Yeah, I can afford to buy blades whenever I want, but it’s really fun to beat the system and not get ripped off. Tip: always wet your face and let the shaving cream soften you for a couple of mintues. Women: Works for you, too.
COFFEE: Pam and I LOVE good coffee and truly despise lousy coffee. And according to the latest studies, it’s back to being great for you! And we all have our favorite coffees. One thing, though: There’s a dilemma: Coffee is acidic so you have to be a bit careful lest you end up popping Pepsids and antacids every few hours. You can go to decaf, but it’s not the same.
Also, my blood pressure recently had become a matter of interest, seeing as I drink a lot of coffee so this is actually a non-trivial topic. The solution? Dead simple: We’ve designed our own special Pam-and-Henry coffee. To counter the acidity problem, a small pinch of baking soda per cup slam-dunks the problem (and makes the coffee taste better). We make our own half-caff or you can buy half-caff already mixed. To that, we add sugar (or sweetener). And do your homework, sweeteners are not all the same. Some will actually set off diabetics. We use Truvia. It works. To top it off, we like a touch of cinnamon in our coffee…just because.
Oh…another tip: Hershey’s cocoa powder is one of the best anti-oxidants on the planet. It’s great for you. Throw in some of that and you’ve got a terrific cup of coffee that’s really, really good for you.
Now this all sounds terribly complicated, but what we do is mix two-weeks worth and put it in a cookie jar. Sugar (or sweetener), cocoa, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mixing it takes about a minute every two weeks but your coffee, your nerves, and your tummy will call out to you, “Yay, Mom! Yay Dad! I’m a happy camper!” Yeah……….this is a tiny topic, though it could save your life, and it’ll make you happy every time you pour a cup.
Massaging Your Mate: This is a specific one so it might not apply to you. If so, just skip it if it doesn’t apply, though if I can help one couple, just one, it’s worth it. We’ve made no secret of the fact that the little known word, lymphedema, raises havoc with a family. It’s what you often get when you’ve had cancer surgery.
Over the past couple years, I’ve made it my personal mission to perfect the necessary massages and wraps to keep Pam’s legs looking and feeling good. In the beginning, our insurance paid for a $15,000.00 (not a typo) nylon suit with a little pump on it that helped…somewhat. I determined to do a better job of it, and some of you may not have an expensive pumping suit. If you need some advice and help, we’re working on a free video to help you. In the interim, e-mail me. Strangely, and I’m not joking with you, we’ve managed to turn a chore into what is a fun, pleasurable, and dare I say sexy twenty-minutes every morning. Is it a “little thing?” Technically, yes, but this one thing has made our lives much much happier. Too long and too many details to go into it here.
Old Reverend Jim Joke on Taxi: What Does a Yellow Light Mean? Slow Down. One last thing and it’s so tiny, it’s hard to quantify in words. When we first moved down to NC, our realtor commented that we seemed to be in high gear pretty much all the time. We began to notice it, too. My speech pattern…pretty damned fast. Our replies to questions? Like returning a serve at Wimbledon, and if I wasn’t at least slowly passing everyone else on road, I was slacking-off. It’s taken almost a year, but that little coiled spring inside me is finally relaxing….sort of. Taking time to sit back and smell the flowers, listen to the frogs, communicate with the crows who’ve befriended us, listen more thoughtfully to our friends…it makes life much, much sweeter.
And to beat an already dead horse, if you live long enough, you learn that it is NOT the STUFF that makes you happy, it’s the PROCESS. I could, with the swipe of a pen on a check, buy a new spiffy pick-up truck down here and…I’m not even sure that would make a blip on my happiness horizon. Instead, I bought an old truck and my friend and I are in the process of making it utterly unique and 1000 times more fun. It’s not the stuff…it’s the process.
Going “off-the-grid:” I still vividly remember scrolling down 237 channels on my remote, searching, searching for something…anything that was worth watching and being perpetually disappointed. We went off-the-grid about five years ago, and never once looked back. I do notice, that when I’m sitting in a waiting room, that seeing commercials and watching drek and drivel annoys me even faster. There is a wonderful life without drek TV and if I had to pay $200 extra a month to not watch it…it’d be well worth it.
Yes, friends, this is small stuff, but it’s the small stuff, added up that makes life just a whole lot happier.
PLEASE………..if you’ve learned some tricks to life, please share with the rest of us.
P.S. It’s a Croc. I have in my closet, at least 12 pairs of boots, and maybe as many pairs of shoes. Some of the boots cost $$$ and I rarely wear ’em. What I wear at Dragonfly is a pair of Crocs. Why? They’re comfortable. They go on in two seconds and can’t fall off. Unlike sneakers, they are incapable of developing a smell. I can walk into our stream, putz around and walk out and they’re dry in two minutes. They are indestructible and cost about $35. Are they gorgeously stylish? No, they are not, but I’m not gorgeously stylish either so at least we match.