Older and Wiser


Older and Wiser

 John thinking

Throughout our lives we’ve been led to believe the older we got, the wiser we would become. Well, maybe. As an example, given the physical nature of maintaining yards and homes, I’ve noticed many of my friends and neighbors now hire people for many of those tasks. For better or worse, in most cases, I still take on those responsibilities. Of course, that’s probably why my chiropractor now owns a vacation home in Hawaii.

Regardless, in taking on these tasks, I really do try to work smarter. I’m always looking for and finding interesting and easier ways to get things done. In a recent blog I related a great time saver suggested by my wife. It was the amazingly effective and inexpensive cleaning products featured at Dollar Tree stores. Many friends and neighbors followed my suggestion and report having the same great experience. The owner of the bike shop I frequent didn’t seem very interested when I suggested he try their basic cleaner, so the next time I went in, I gave him a bottle. A week later I stopped by and asked him how it was working out. He opened the cabinets under his cleaning sinks and there were several bottles. He said when cleaning the grease from an entire bike, it saves him more than a half hour in work time. I’m hoping for a discount on my next bike tires.

In the same time, money, and labor-saving vein, let me share another great suggestion for working smarter. With a drum roll please, its vinegar. Yes, plain old cheap vinegar. While many of you probably already know of its many uses, and there are literally dozens, I want to share some of my favorites.

Weed and grass killer

This summer, after so many windy days, I’ve grown a great crop of weeds all over my property. The toxic sprays sold at the local home improvement stores are really nasty and high-priced. I just fill up my little sprayer with some cheap vinegar, and ta da, no more weeds. Even more interesting, this year my palm trees decided to drop seedlings all over the place that began to grow. Everyone told me, even one of the local “tree guys,” that nothing will kill these seedlings and you have to get down and pull them out of the ground by hand. Oh yeah. Well, a couple of spray sessions with my vinegar did them in. Now, of course, you need to be careful. While vinegar is actually good for growing some flowers, it will kill not only weeds and unwanted grass, it will also kill grass you may not want to kill, so be careful. But, I must say, being able to handle those weeds and wild grasses growing up through cracks in cement and other places so easily is a real-time and money saver. And since its not toxic, I don’t have to worry about growing another head out of my shoulder.

Here are some other great uses for vinegar:

Unclogging drains

Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar into the drain. When the foaming subsides, flush with hot tap water. Wait five minutes, and then flush again with cold water. Besides clearing blockages, this technique also washes away odor-causing bacteria.

Cleaning windshield wipers

When your windshield actually gets blurrier after you turn on your wipers during a rainstorm, it usually means that your wiper blades are dirty. To make them as good as new, dampen a cloth or rag with some full-strength white vinegar and run it down the full length of each blade once or twice.

Removing mineral deposits from shower heads

Wash away blockages and mineral deposits from removable shower heads by placing them in 1 quart (1 liter) boiling water with 1/2 cup distilled vinegar for 10 minutes (use hot, not boiling, liquid for plastic shower heads). When you remove it from the solution, the obstructions should be gone. If you have a nonremovable shower head, fill a small plastic bag half full with vinegar and tape it over the fixture. Let it sit for about 1 hour, then remove the bag and wipe off any remaining vinegar from the shower head.

Keep out four-legged creatures

Some animals — including cats, deer, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons — can’t stand the scent of vinegar even after it has dried. You can keep these unauthorized visitors out of your garden by soaking several recycled rags in white vinegar, and placing them on stakes around your veggies. soak the rags about every 7-10 days.

 

Give ants the boot

Serve the ants on your premises with an eviction notice. Pour equal parts water and white vinegar into a spray bottle. Then spray it on anthills and around areas where you see the insects. Ants hate the smell of vinegar. It won’t take long for them to move on to better-smelling quarters. Also keep the spray bottle handy for outdoor trips or to keep ants away from picnic or children’s play areas. If you have lots of anthills around your property, try pouring full-strength vinegar over them to hasten the bugs’ departure.

 

Removing rust from tools 

If you want to clean up those rusted old tools you recently unearthed in your basement or picked up at a tag sale, soak them in full-strength white vinegar for several days. The same treatment is equally effective at removing the rust from corroded nuts and bolts. And you can pour vinegar on rusted hinges and screws to loosen them up for removal.

These are just a few of the dozens and dozens of uses for vinegar. There are many web sites that can give you many more ideas.

 

John Parker

John Parker

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

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elderly11

Older and Wiser?

 

We’ve all heard the theory growing older makes you wiser. I can’t really confirm the veracity of this theory, but can at least confirm growing older certainly makes you more experienced in the ways of the world. Sometimes that’s good, but often it means we become less trusting and perhaps more cynical.

          One doesn’t have to be older or even wiser to understand many of the changes going on in our culture today. While we heard not so long ago the “era of big government is over,” today we have government entities attempting to control virtually every aspect of our lives. This refers to government on every level, local to national.

For example, a couple of years back I left my car parked at the home of a relative who lives in another state. When I returned I found a notice threatening me with a fine for not having that state’s license on my car. I called the bureaucrat who left the notice and he told me I needed to show proof I wasn’t living in that state. In the cause of decency, I can’t really repeat what I told him. He then referred me to the local official in charge. Taking the high road, I wrote that official a very polite and responsible email explaining my wife and I had been traveling in and around the state and merely left the car at our relative’s home while we were gone. The next day I received an email back from the kind lady in charge directing me to give her my complete itinerary including mileage, dates, and locations traveled.

At this point, you probably expect I’m going to tell you I became furious and fired off a blistering email that told her where to go and what she could do with her invasive request. Maybe you are wiser because that’s exactly what I did. A brief response followed that informed me the matter had been dropped.

We now live in a culture where various levels of government bodies can tell us what color we can paint our houses, what flags and other symbols we can display, prevent churches from erecting crosses (the very symbol of many church beliefs), what light bulbs we must use, when we can use our fireplaces, and on and on.

In the latest news, many of our children and grandchildren are being told what costumes are not allowed to be worn on Halloween. If this trend continues, someday they’ll be telling us what kind of health care we must buy.

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http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

Older and Wiser

Having just returned from a month-long travel adventure, I’m struggling to get back into the swing of a normal life. My wife Trisha and I were very blessed to have experienced the trip of a lifetime. Nearly four weeks in Italy and two brief days in Paris. I am no longer John, I’m Giovanni.

I hope to share some highlights of our trip in future blogs, but only after we have reviewed the 1,400 photos (it’s true) my wife took, and the four hours of video I shot. Our sons are actually in the process of drawing straws to see who will brave to visit first and be subjected to the media barrage.

Interestingly, my most enduring recollections are not the snow-covered Swiss Alps framing beautiful Lake Como, nor the moon hovering over the romantic bay of Positano on the Amalfi coast. For me, it was our travel companions, fellow travelers we met along the way, friends we visited in their home country, and all the other interesting people we met in chance encounters that made us richer for the experience.

As usual, every time we travel outside the U. S., I’m always struck by the realization that people are very much the same all over the world. I understand that’s not a novel nor profound observation, but it’s a consistent impression with each venture to new lands. All of us want nothing more than to live in peace and enjoy life. We were fortunate on this trip to have had hours of conversations and good times with people we encountered along the way, each of whom served to enrich our experience.

First of all, after one week on our own in southern Italy, we were joined in Milan by dear friends and travel companions Lyn and Herb. Now, after several trips, more  like sisters and brothers, we shared both adventures and numerous hours in ristorantes, pizzerias, trattorias, and bars, laughing, discussing history, trivia, solving world problems, and simply gazing out at the beautiful areas we visited. 

It seemed in every place we traveled, from tourist to inn keeper, local to shop owner, most everyone was personable and interesting. In fact, one such  memorable experience came one night at a local ristorante we frequented in Verenna on Lake Como. I had the good fortune of ordering a delicious plate of smoked salmon ravioli. After everyone sampled, Trisha asked the owner if she might learn how to cook this heavenly dish. He invited her to report for duty the next night before the dinner service began. When she arrived the next evening, the chef not only taught her how to cook the dish, she actually prepared our dinner. The owner and server took great pride as the dish was served, proud of their student.

There were many other interesting people we met along the way. While we didn’t get the names of everyone, we did share information with several. To name a few: Al and Marsha, Matt and Debbie, Robert and Kim, Australians Greg and Ingrid with son Harry, Al and Martha, Rock and Paula, Frederick from the south of France, Australians Larry and Nina with friends Greg and Theresa, John and Barb, Australians Martin and Roxanne (who gave us lots of travel tips), Scott and Valerie, Joe and Donna, Brian and Kim, newly wed Australians Brook and Sam, horse breeder Mimmo from Positano, Italian train traveler Alexia from London, and engaged couple Amit and Sonal who graciously interrupted their romantic afternoon along the Seine in Paris and offered to take our picture with Notre Dame cathedral in the background.

An especially memorable part of our trip came when we visited the Lake Garda area of Italy. Our friends, Italian entertainer Maurizio and his lovely wife Danna, actually rented a van and picked us up at the train station. The van was essential given all of our luggage. They entertained us at their beautiful 800 year old home, part of the castle grounds in their small town. They also shared their favorite eateries where we all sampled the local wines and cuisine. Graciously, they also drove us to incredibly scenic and historic areas of the lake. They even awakened early on our last day and drove us to the Verona airport. We cannot thank them enough for their hospitality and generosity.  

I’m sure you get the idea by now. With all the history, beauty and art that surrounded us, it was the personal connections we found the most meaningful. Trisha and I are renewed, encouraged, and profoundly blessed to have had such an adventure. I’m hopeful we will take from our experiences and bring the same spirit and optimism into our daily lives here at home. Becoming a bit wiser as we grow older is a worthy goal.