Out walking my cat

thEQY1P4ZPIt was a cold Tuesday morning, not like any other morning in my life. I was out walking my cat, sometimes we like to stop at this local tea and coffee shop for some refreshment. I always get a delicious French vanilla chai latte and my cat enjoys any of their homemade dog and cat bake goods. Then we continue on our way back home. Where I get ready to go to work and my cat prepares for a day of sleeping and whatever else she does while I am away. Who really knows what their cat or cats are up to when they are not around? I imagine she just sleeps and eats but I would not be supervise if she watches television or Netflix while I am at work. Cats are so smart and mysterious I would not put it pass her.

Well this walk was a bit different. To start my cat, Sheila, I do not think I mention her name as of yet. Well anyway Sheila somehow slipped off her collar and therefore off her leash. This turn our simple morning exercise routine into a last and found, search and rescue type of situation. I was so concern that something would happen to her. I mean she has been a house cat since she was born. The only time she gets outside is when I am walking her on her little leash.

Here I am in a panicky searching for her, I am sure people four towns over heard the name Sheila being yelled in the wee hours of the morning. At first, I was able to follow her until she made her way into this patch of woods that was surrounded by an electric fence. Old Mr. Duncan’s house. Mr. Duncan is known for taking out his old trusty shotgun, nicknamed The Thunder, and firing a couple of rounds at any trespassers he finds on his property. He is the shot first ask questions later type of man, if you know what I mean.

Knowing that the fence is rumored to be an electric fence I did the only thing I could think of…I jumped it. I took a few steps back so I could have a running start, and then cleared it! Barley. Nevertheless, I made it. Without being shocked or getting snared on the fencing.

As I am searching the woods for Sheila, I can hear the faint sounds of mew mew.   I know that meow from anywhere. That is my Sheila. I continue walking towards the sounds of a cat meowing after about five minutes I found the source. It was Sheila and she was stuck.

My lovely cat, Sheila, decided to try to climb this tree, after making her way to the first branch she must have look down and decided it was too much.   For poor Sheila was just pacing back and forth on the branch meowing and looking like she was praying for someone to come and get her down. After the ordeal she just put me in, I was half tempted to leave her butt up there in the tree. However, I can never stay made at my baby girl.

Of course, I began climbing the tree as I near the branch I heard the rustling of the leaves and the cocking of what I later discovered was a twelve-gauge shotgun.   Here comes Mr. Duncan.

Mr. Duncan was out in the woods hunting squirrels and he heard someone talking. Therefore, he came to investigate. When he discovered me up in his tree trying to rescue my cat.

Luckily, for me, Mr. Duncan was a cat lover himself and offer to get his ladder for the climb down. I gratefully accept and waited for him to return. As I sat there on that branch with Sheila I vowed that I will no longer be walking Sheila on a leash and collar, as soon as we make it home I am going to the pet store and being her a harness.   Let us see her try to slip out of that!

Preparing for the Winter to come

th9U72HM4EIts time to talk about the inevitable…snow. I know there are many people that simply shudder at the mention of the cold white stuff.   That is right a visible shudder. However, for many of us this is a very true reality. As the temperatures continue to drop, it is becoming more and more apparent. Yes, winter is fast approaching us, how well are we prepared for it?

There are a few things each homeowner can do to save on heating cost this winter, some simple others require the aid of a professional.

HVAC

It is hard to mention winter and not talk about preparing the furnace for the cold. To ensure that your furnace is operating at its optimum levels make sure they have it tuned up. For a reasonable fee Chesapeake Heating and Air Conditioning, http://www.chesapeakehvacs.com, will come out and serviced your heating unit. This will include replacing all filters, a thorough cleaning, and checking for carbon monoxide leaks. Their technician can also check and if need be replaced a worn out heat pump. Which is vital to the system.

Another thing that is easy for anyone to do that will save you money this winter and winters to come is to replace your old thermostat with a digital thermostat. Make sure the vents or dampers are adjusted to allow more heat to the downstairs level of the home and to cut off heat from going into any unused rooms. In addition, do not forget to cover the central air unit outside and removing any window a/c units. If for some reason you are unable to remove the window air conditioning unit then simply by some plastic or film and cover the window. This will prevent any drafts from coming in the home.

Seal all openings into the home

The best to prevent drafts is by checking for any air leaks around all extern doors and windows. If leaks are noticed then sealed them with caulk, foam, or weather stripping. Do not forget to replace any wood or trim around doors and windows that have begun to rot. Take care to replace screens on storm doors and windows with glass, if need be. As well, as replace or repair any broken glass.

Do not forget about the outside of the home

Before winter comes make sure to repair or replace any loos shingles on the roof. Another thing we all may not think about doing the winter months is taking care of the gutters. All the gutters should be repaired and all the leaves, junk and debris should be removed. That means time to clean those gutters. One last thing to do is make sure that the attic is properly insulated. One way to know if it is insulated is if last winter there icicles was hanging from you roof, then that means it’s not insulated or not insulated all over. The heat escaping from our house and melting the snow on our roof forms icicles.

Conclusion

Doing these little checks and repairs before winter comes will prevent that heart attack from occurring when you open up your first utility bill for the winter. If each one of these item are addressed and taken care of you should noticed a dramatic difference in your heating bill this year from last years. Don’t wait too long to start preparing from some of the harshest type of weather you home will have to endure. Give it a fighting chance by taking care of the little things.

Downward Spiral

It is crazy to imagine that stores across the nation are experiencing a slump in sales. Just ten or fifteen years ago, this was the time that retailers made a terrific profit and a bundle on sales. So many in this country celebrate holidays that fall during this time of year, so a lot of gift shopping is expected. However according to the reports many departments, established, high-end, department stores are reporting record low sales. Causing their overall value to drop making those that hold shares in these companies to feel a bit uneasy.thL10P99KI

People are just not spending a lot money on things such as clothing and shoes, but have no problem handing out the dollars for items such as electronics, travelling, and home goods. Shoppers are always looking for the best deals. These large department stores just are not able to give the discounts and savings that other online stores are able to provide.

Over the past four years consumer spending have greatly shifted from brick and mortar establishments to those that we are not able to walk into but able to click onto. Online shopping is the way to go. There is just no question of it. Stores such as Amazon and eBay are able to provide and secure deeper discounts from a variety of business selling goods and services. Even individual seller that may be trying to make a little extra money.

What does this mean to the consumer? Look out for greater savings this black Friday. In a last ditch, effort for the end of the year financial reports are publicized stores will try to get their sales up by the hoopla of black Friday. Offering better priced door busters, more available coupons, and greater discounts.   Which is great for those shopping like myself that wait to this year to buy those more expensive items that they want for their home, self, and family.

Of course, online stores will keep doing what they are doing; undercutting these brick and mortar with deals and discount, they cannot not even contemplate on offering their customers. Simply because they cannot afford to do so.

What is sad about this whole thing with these department stores is that many economist believe that this is not just a short-term hiccup but also a long-term trend. This is what these large high-end departments stores can expect from here on out. Slow sales, a reduction of customers, and a downward decline to its overall value.

With that being said those departments’ stores that are for the everyday person or offer items at a discount, for example JC Penny, having not been experience these same declines. In fact, their sales have been steadily increasing as they offer specific brands and maintaining everything at a reasonable price. Even Kohl’s have been successful at this.

Then again, all of this could just be something that is happening for the right now. Folks are still affected and are being affected by the economy at large. With the recession that followed the housing fell like a pile of bricks, people just have a completely new outlook on where they want to place their hard-earned dollars. We cannot forget the possible pending recession to come that is being felt in our friends in the east. It is still all too fresh for some to spend with reckless abandonment anymore. It makes more sense to put those bills into something that can be easily resold and money recuperated.

One never knows what the futures holds, only time will if this is this a short term trend or the new world of consumerism. Maybe in a few years people will be over the memories of the past. As I said before only time will tell.

While driving to work…

thTON97T6QDriving down Michigan Avenue on my way to work to pick up my check. Someday I am going to have to sign up for direct deposit. I hate coming into work on my day off, you know, it’s just when I’m not working I don’t even want to smell my job let alone see and enter it.  However, here I am in route. While stopped at a red light I saw the most peculiar sight.  One of those things that will make you do a double look, or in my case a triple look. So I am sitting in my truck listening to my talk radio. When all of a sudden a loud bang along with the ground shaking. It scared me something fierce. I thought someone rear-ended my car that is how loud the bang was and how strong the shaking. I was not the only one feeling the effects; the person in the lane besides looked shocked tremendously. All around me people were getting out their cars to check out the situation.

About three quarters of a mile east from where I was now standing a tree had fallen into traffic. Landing on a several cars and causing a traffic jam. The tree landed in such a way that the only way to get around is by foot. Unless someone removes, there is no was a car or truck could pass. It was crazy. In the distance, I could hear the sound of sirens approaching. Thank God, the emergency responders were rushing to get here. About a half a dozen of other motorist and I ran over to see if anyone need help. Three people were pinned in a minivan, one of those Chrysler town and country. The tree’s trunk had fallen across the hood of the van; the passengers were pinned in but alive, thankfully. Luckily, everyone else seemed to be unharmed. Just some vehicle damage but no one else was hurt.

What a coincidence. There were a tree service crew, from Eddie’s Tree Service, there in their work trucks. I remember seeing their website advertisement on a flyer near my house, www.wilmingtontreecare.com, incidentally I was going to call and schedule them to come out to my house. I have a tree that trunk is split in a “v”. Anyway, one of the guys said that they were on their way to a job. After calling in to let their boss know what happened, he encourage them to stay and help in any way that they could. I watched as they got out their equipment and started to cut that large tree into smaller pieces. Everyone else helped in moving the pieces to the grass along the side of the road.

With the crew hard at work and everyone pitching in, we were able to remove the tree from the road. As well as from that Chrysler Town and Country minivan. Just in time too, for the police and EMS had arrive. They were able to drive right up to the minivan with those people without any problems. The EMS and the fire department worked together to safely extract them from the vehicle and whisk them to the emergency room. While others were treated for their minor injuries right there on the spot.

I just keep thinking if I was a few minutes early I would have been one of those people directly affected by the tree falling. I could have been those people in the minivan. I am so grateful that I was just an innocent bystander than an active participant in that incident. The tree care crew that were there was amazing. Ever so helpful and professional. I will definitely give them a call. After a day like that I think im going to go home, sign up for direct deposit, and change and go see my family. That was a little too close for me, now I need the comfort and love that only family can give.

 

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Time to get lean

thDBBQ78TJIn the world of business its very important to save money wherever possible without cutting down on quality.  For a small business the is crucial, which is made even more important if that small business is a service.  One that depend direct on customers retainer and satisfaction to make its money.  Gone are the days where an employer can offer its employee a vast range of perks.  Such as free coffee, soda, snacks, or maybe a free admission to an amusement park for the employees and their families.  Its nice to think back on the days of employee picnics, brunch, and dinners where the whole family is involved.  Presently there is barley enough extra dollars to give just the employees a nice gift or something during the holidays and for birthdays.

Previously, it seems almost an must for the employer to supple its employee with a cell phone, some kind of tablet, and depending on the industry a BlackBerry, and laptop.  With the company footing the bill.  The cost of everything is increasing and amount of money people are spending is still way less than say around this time twenty years ago.  Even with the economy on the comeback folks are hesitant and distrustful of the economy.  Being previously that at anytime unbeknownst to them it could plummet.  Leaving a person facing foreclosure, job loss, without the money to buy the necessity like food, medicine, or household products.

If a business provides its employees with just a smartphone it cost on average nine hundred dollars per employee each year.  For a small business that is a lot of money.  For a small business owner to have to provide cell phones and service for, just for educational purposes, six employees.  Each year that business will have to spend around five thousand and four hundred dollars.  In ten years, assuming that there is a hiring freeze, that will cost said business owner fifty-four thousand dollars!  That’s crazy!  That’s not including all other expenses derived from running a business.  Now take that same number and put it against one of these large corporations.  That may have an employee count for three hundred, that number per year is roughly two hundred and seventy thousand dollars! Over two million dollars in ten years.  Those numbers really start to add up.

There is always an employee or two that may have something to say about no longer being able to enjoy the perks of a company issued cell phone but this also opens the employee and employer for that matter for flexibility in the work place.  With the increasing use of the virtual employee, an employee that spends most of its week away from the actual office.  The brick and mortar, and just connects online and completes her assignments off campus.  This is not a problem.  It doesn’t matter the size of the business, if its a large company with hundreds of employees or a small mom and pop  with less than a half of dozen employees.

Many people conduct personal business while at work and work while at home. Over the years these boundaries have been blurred.  Which is great for a smoother transition of no longer having company phones, expecting employees to supply their own.  That’s not to say that it will be smooth sailings through and through.  Just that some people will not mind and some will.  Best advice is to explain reasoning behind it, that it is in an effort to keep the business afloat and making money.

Although office morale is important, overspending is not an option for small business owners to stay afloat and compete against larger more lucrative companies. Try looking for creative ways to cut down money and expenses in the work place.  Hopefully employees will be more happy with retaining a job then a smartphone or tablet.

 

On the Rebound

A few years this country when through some very hard times.  Housing prices fell to record lows, folks watched as their retirement funds vanished before their eyes, and the cost of everyday items continued to rises. Some started to refer to that time as the second depression. As the economy started to blunder and fall apart, affecting many Americans from all socioeconomic levels.  As a whole, we started to cut back on spending and “do without” certain services.thZE935P0A

As times seem to keep getting increasing harder and money increasingly less many Americans, who would have never referred their selves as such before, became “do it yourselves”.  Saving money any way possible.  People were seen detailing their own car, women performing foil highlights on their own hair, homeowners performing their own lawn care and tree services.

As the economy, tries to turn itself around economist are reporting an increasing trend in spending. Albeit a small increase, it is an increase nevertheless.  Folks are taking their cars back to their detailers, women are reunited with their stylist and homeowners are ready to outsource their caretaker needs.  Soliciting lawn care and tree service businesses in increasingly numbers.  Springfield Trees of Springfield, MO, a successful and reputable tree service company, have seen an increase in customers over the last year and a half. As well as the majority of the older customer, that took a hit returning. Enjoying the care, experience and expertise a professional brings. This cautious spending true in every city, town, and village across the United States.

The best thing that came out of this dry economy is all the savings and deals created for those consumers ready and able to spend money. There were and in some areas of the country an ability to buy a house for less than two thousand dollars! As amazing AND unbelievable as that sounds. Of course, it should be assumed that a little work would have to be put into it. These cheap houses was not just in certain pocketed area around the country but almost everywhere around the country.   Homes were on the market for record low prices, even if its value was high. As was previously mention it was a buyers’ market without any buyers. Not just homes boasted of deep discounts. Retail shopping was buyers’ game. For those with the cash enjoyed sales, coupons, and clearance at prices not seen in this generation.

Recently it has been noted that consumers are still cautious with spending. After that economic downward spiral with so many people with “secured” jobs became unemployed. It taught everyone, especially the middle class to upper middle class that nothing is promised and anything can happen. Which is reflected in how Americans now spend the money they have worked hard for. Waiting for sales and coupons to augment their spending. Those days of frivolous and carefree spending is now a thing of the past. More surprisingly, it may not change anytime soon. A study was recently done following teenagers out doing some back to school shopping this past summer. Each teen was cautious and tag conscious when it came to buying items. Many left empty handed deciding to wait until summer markdowns to come back and purchase an item.   Alternatively, simply choosing to utilize clothing they already own. The study portrayed what the children of this depression gleaned from parents and family members dealing with a drastically smaller income.

If only they had told me…

th51H8ZPHFI come from a family of hard workers. Men and women that never expects anything to be handed to them or easy. Dreams are attain not by dreaming but by put one foot in front of the other and making that dream happen. That if I am good girl that is hard working then I will not have any problems. That life is fair, people are kind and good, and that good behavior is always rewarded with good. I am happy to have been brought in such a household. Nevertheless as an adult, it is hard to see that. Although I was coddle and spoiled, I learned the value of a dollar and reward of working hard. I admit these life lessons aided me a great bit in my adult life. A few things that I wish my parents had told me is…

It Isn’t Easy

Of course, I knew all about not giving up and working hard. However, I did not realize how hard I would have to work. How often I will have to excuse or miss out something because of work. This I wish would have been explain to me. As well as how to balance my work life and my personal life. It is hard to so much effort into both. It seems like if I work hard and give one hundred and fifty percent then my personal life slacks. And vice versa. Lately I have been reading all these books on how to be balance in my life. As I said before it is not easy!

Failure Happens

The first time I worked my but off something and did not get it, I was crushed. It never occurred to me that I might fail at something. Never. Nor that I may not achieve what I had initially set out to do. For a person to not realize that or have that understanding and it happens. It is a horrible feeling. As your world is caving and everyone is just standing around. Pointing at you, laughing, and calling out all of your inadequacies that causes even more laughter.

Life is not fair

I born and raise in a small town, one of those places where everyone knows each other. You cannot go anywhere without having talking to someone. People was kind to one another, fair, and decent. When I left to the city for college, it became blatant that that kind of living is not happening everywhere. What I grew up and considered the norm was really just an abnormality that I just have happen to live in. I see and hear people cheating and robbing each other as easy as they breathe. Based on the attitudes and etiquettes at the university they only to get a head is to memorize what you can and cheat on the rest. If you do not you will be left behind.

I do realize what my parents were trying to do for me, what they wanted to shelter me. I appreciate their effort and their love. Had they have explain the difference between the life we were blessed and the life of the average person I think when I came across different things I would have been able to handle and maneuver through it a lot better. Through my entire college career until about two years ago, I suffered with depression. My therapist said it is mostly due to the colliding ideals. The life I had as a youth and the life I was living. Not being able to reconcile the two.  If you have any advice that you learned later in life that you wish YOUR parents would have told you, then please tell me, I know I am not alone in this.