Sunday, March 30, 2008

Working from home can result in mixed messages.

Working from home is, as they say, a blessing and a curse. A benefit: I can be typing this while wearing my pajamas and nobody would know. (Right now, my feet sport ultra-cushiony blue fuzzy slippers!) Also--no morning commute. I write freelance full time, and I like the freedom of writing when the mood and inspiration strikes me. Mostly, I discipline myself to sit at my desk and tap away at the computer from about 10-3. This does not make me the most thrilling companion for Kelly. Eventually, Kelly's had enough and is ready for a little attention. She comes up and slaps her paw down on the keyboard to get my attention. Generally this results in a line of gibberish added to the line of text I've painstakingly entered. Something like this: "As she held her breath and stepped slowly into the inky darkness, unaware of the danger ahead, suddenly iwejzxdkj;ark."

The bad part about working from home is that (aside from Kelly) I have no co-workers. It can get pretty isolating. So, if you work from home too, (or even if you don't) pop on and say hello. We can chat around the cyber water-cooler.

Oh, and don't forget the most important thing is xcvorkjmmxllgz.

I guess Kelly's ready to play.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Daisy and Rescue Dogs

Everyone's lined up to adopt little Daisy. The adorable 1-year old Jack Russell pup was brought into a local shelter. Officials there say the man who brought her in found her in a battered kitty crate left out with the trash. The man claims he never said such a thing. I'm not sure where the truth lies, however the thought of any pet left out for the trash is heartbreaking. And Daisy has garnered much attention and will soon find a new home. I wish it was here! But Kelly wouldn't like that. She thinks she should be the only dog.

Kelly was a rescued dog herself. We adopted her from a cocker spaniel rescue. I'm not sure how much cocker spaniel she really has in her heritage, however. Did you know that there are new DNA tests for canines to determine their genetic heritage? Now you can have your mutt tested to determine which breeds have contributed to create the unique mix of your dog. Of course, the test is expensive and not yet readily available. Kelly says, "What breeds am I?"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday Diet Tip

Every Wednesday is Peggy and Kelly Diet Tip Day. And please, share any of your own too, for dog and owner! Today's tip is about making the right choices. I recently saw a TV ad for Dunkin Donuts new multigrain bagel with low-fat cream cheese. Since Mike and I have been making an effort to eat only whole grains, I thought this would be a great idea. There's a Dunkin Donuts on our way home from church, so I thought, what a great place to stop for an inexpensive healthy lunch. But I just learned that this option contains 500 calories and 15 grams of fat! Not exactly a diet snack. I would do better to have a glazed donut, at 180 calories and 8 grams of fat. Of course, a glazed donut doesn't contain much nutrition, so as tempting as that sounds, it's not a good idea. I guess it's best to just stay out of donut shops. Just that sugary aroma is enough to add ten pounds.....

I learned this bagel fact from the most amazing book, "Eat This, Not That!" by David Zinczenko. It tells you the healthiest food options at fast food and other restaurants, on the grocery shelves, and even in vending machines and at the movie theater. The coolest thing about the book are photographs of each item and a handy organization. Beware of loaded cheese fries with 2,900 calories and 182 grams of fat!

How about you--got some diet tips to share? I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday to Sunday

Happy Easter!
This week I attended our church's Good Friday service. This is one of my husband's favorite services of the year. But I have to admit, it wasn't always mine. The sanctuary lights are dimmed, the choir wears black pants and tops, the music is somber, and the scripture deals with less than pleasant circumstances. Images projected onto our video screen are, at times, painful to watch. At the end of the service we are asked to leave silently. No visiting with our neighbors and friends as we walk toward the doors--one of the rewards of a regular service!

As I thought about that dark, sober service, though, I reflected upon what Christ went through on that Friday. I thought about it Saturday, too, as I wondered about the events long ago, when He was placed in the tomb. I finally accepted that it was right to have a somber service on Friday, and experiencing it was a small way to help me understand what He endured that day.

Today when I walked into church, the mood was different. The colors seemed brighter, the music jubilant, the flowers sweeter. And the message--the message was all the more miraculous, after going through the darkness of Good Friday.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Barking, Begging and Bad Behavior

My friend and I were discussing dog training techniques. Her German Shepherd is friendly, but a bit too enthusiastic when jumping up and greeting people. She has an invisible fence and is concerned that when delivery people and other strangers come into the yard, her large, barking, charging dog will frighten them. If they turn and run, who knows if lovable Marley will switch into guard dog mode. So she's meeting with a dog behavoirist to tackle the situation.
Kelly, on the other hand, is none too friendly with other dogs. Saturday we had her at the vet's, which was quite busy, and she was shaking with nervous energy at all the other dogs in close proximity. We had to keep her right at our feet so she wouldn't lunge at any poor critter hoping to meet and greet. Whenever a new dog entered the room, Kelly's fur on her neck went up, she glared and growled. Not a friendly welcome. And quite tiring to keep in check. I'd love Casar Millan to come straighten her out.

The other problem we have is with begging. Kelly's getting to be quite the pest at meal time. She looks at me with those big sad eyes--just stares as each forkful is lifted. I admit, I've been guilty of dropping her a few table scraps. Especially the burnt edges of baked chicken that was left in the oven too long because someone distracting was on Oprah. But what once was cute and endearing is now getting annoying. Any suggestions?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish Eyes Are Smilin'

Happy St. Patty's Day--one of my favorite holidays! No, not because of the green beer. I love this day because I have a fair amount of Irish heritage, a couple of redheaded kids, a smattering of Irish freckles, and an Irish dog named Kelly. I also love parades, and there's our city's St. Patty's Day parade featuring plenty of green, local curly-locked Irish step-dancing classes and the marching Ancient Order of Hibernians.
I always enjoy reading some Irish literature to celebrate the holiday--James Joyce, William Trevor, and my favorite; Frank McCourt. "Angela's Ashes" is somehow amusing and compelling in detailing McCourt's heartbreaking Limerick childhood.
Recently, my husband and I watched a couple movies set in Ireland. The 2007 Academy Award winner "Once" is a simple, sweet love story. Filmed on a tight budget I think the result is a very real story with some beautiful ballads. The other movie, "My Left Foot" was interesting, yet I found it a bit difficult. The movie is based on the autobiography of a Dublin man with cerebral palsy who typed his life story entirely with his left foot.
More movies set in Ireland are "The Quiet Man" starring John Wayne, "The Secret of Roan Inish," and the rather graphic "The Crying Game" about the IRA and the Troubles, with that, uh, shocking plot twist.
So, Happy St. Patty's Day to you, celebrate in whatever way makes you happy. And I hope you're wearing the green!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Healthy Lifestyle

Remember those New Year's resolutions? It's March, so naturally by now most of mine are long forgotten. But for the first time in years, I'm actually making some progress with the diet/healthy lifestyle habits. I had to take off some weight. The vet said Kelly could lose a few pounds too. So, it was time to make some changes. For Kelly, there's weight management dog food. And no table scraps. I'm still working on that one--she just looks so cute begging for that bagel. Mike and I have replaced white flour with whole grains. That wasn't as difficult as I imagined--the stores are full of whole grain breads, English muffins, crackers, even frozen waffles. Cutting back on the sugar hasn't been too difficult either, as long as I can still enjoy the sweetness of my Diet Cokes. We've increased our fruits and veggies, too. That one has its ups and downs. I like salads, but enough is enough. Carrot sticks for a snack doesn't cut it for me. Still, we're making enough positive dietary changes to make improvements in our lives, and hopefully health. Probably my biggest wake up call was my cousin Judy's heart attack. She'd lost a lot of weight and had been exercising and eating healthy for years, but still had a heart attack. There was a blockage in her artery; the damage was already done. Fortunately, due to her improved lifestyle, she recovered fully. You can read her story in the March 2008 issue of Guideposts magazine. I'm so proud of the great work she's doing now, walking and keeping off the weight. She's my inspiration!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Meet Kelly the dog

I'd like you to meet my dog. Kelly is my accomplice, helper, distraction, exercise partner, inspiration, consoler, friend, companion, and occasionally a frustrating nuisance. She and I work from home together. She's wonderful company. If it wasn't for her, I might never get up off my desk chair, except to forage in the fridge. Her demands to be walked, fed and patted often interrupt my most productive moments. But still, nothing like a dog for a co-worker!

Looking at her picture, you might wonder about her breed. So do I. Five years ago we rescued her from a shelter. Her heritage is shady. Our best guess is long-haired dachshund and cocker spaniel mix. I wonder what kind of designer name we could come up with for that?! She has long reddish-brown hair that flows down around her like a gown. The hair above her nose sticks out in funny cowlicks, kind of like a misplaced mustache. She's only twice been professionally groomed; the rest of the time I do my best with a loudly buzzing shaver. She doesn't enjoy the experience.

I'll be writing about working from home, family, friends, faith...and of course Kelly. I hope you enjoy our blog. And please feel free to post a comment!