Posted in Health, Home

What’s That Smell – Controlling Odor in Your House

dsc06651-21.jpgIF I do a few simple things, I’ve found that I don’t need deodorizing sprays, or plug-in deodorizers to control odors in my home. People are so sensitive to fragrances that I’ve virtually stopped using them. It’s been important to me to look for alternatives since I still want my house to smell fresh. I’ve discovered a few culprits when it comes to odors. If I control these then my house smells inviting.

Offensive Garbage

The first thing to look after is the garbage. Keep a lid on it and take it out regularly. Nine times out of ten, if the house smells bad, it will be the garbage. The garbage is especially rancid if we have thrown packaging from meat into it. After one or two days the smell is unbearable, so we’ve started taking these kinds of garbage outside right away.

Laundry and Linens

Probably one of the less noticeable, but still significant smells, is dirty bed linens or laundry. If you want your house to smell fresh you will need to clean out the laundry basket every week to ten days. Bedsheets can be stretched to three weeks, but that is about the limit. I do find that I need to use scented laundry detergent or a vinegar rinse for the laundry to have a fresh smell. Sometimes I give the laundry a second rinse if the fragrance bothers me.

Toilet and Bathroom

A rather embarrassing odor is urine. Cleaning up after pets is absolutely essential but toilets are an issue too. The bathroom seems to be the odor source in the house, after garbage. A house with a fresh smelling bathroom will seem clean. Use a cleanser that has a scent, or add a bit of bleach to the water, to clean the toilet. And remember to wash under the rim and clean the drips around the outside of the toilet, as well. I find that a pleasant smelling bath soap in the bathroom serves as a great deodorant for the house.

Natural Fragrances

A tablespoon of vinegar as a cleanser, in a liter of water, used to wipe down surfaces, helps to reduce odors as well. Brewing a potpourri of florals or spices will make your house pleasant, as long as you are not masking offensive odors. Natural products like citrus peel, cedar or pine, or rose petals are pleasant fragrances to have in the house, either in a bowl or a mesh bag that might be stored in the closet. Although I don’t use perfumes, I sometimes give my closet a quick spray of perfume to freshen it. For people with extreme reactions this is not a suitable option. A bouquet of fresh flowers, or a flowering plant, is not only enjoyed for its beauty, but also for its uplifting fragrance.

I like the idea of not having to cover up unpleasant odors. I find that if I look after these areas, I rarely have to look any further to find the source of the problem. Of course, a clean oven, stovetop, refrigerator and kitchen sink help to keep a house fresh as well. Dusting blinds, vacuuming carpets, and washing floors adds another level of freshness. I used to wonder if my mother’s routine of Saturday cleaning was really necessary, but it does seem to be that I can’t get too far away from it. The bonus is that when it’s done, I enjoy my house so much more, and so do my guests.

Posted in Home, Love, Marriage & Family

What Almost Destroyed My Marriage


Our marriage was dangling at the edge of a precipice. My husband was oblivious to the danger we were in. I am married to a difficult man who has a lot of very good traits, but also some bad ones. We have struggled more than I think is necessary in a marriage.

After decades together I decided I couldn’t allow him to continue certain ways he has of interacting with me. For many years I thought we just had the normal spats every couple who can’t agree on everything will have from time to time. And for some time I thought I was the primary problem. I wanted too much. I wasn’t content enough. I saw problems when I should be looking at the positive things about our marriage, like my husband was doing.

My husband would say things like, “That’s a stupid idea.” Pretty soon I was hearing in my head that the person that came up with the idea was stupid. He also had a tendency to raise his voice, for emphasis.

I tried to be a more agreeable wife. One day I confronted him and told him I wasn’t stupid. He said he had never said I was stupid. But I didn’t stop there. I went on to give concrete examples of areas of our lives where I had made impressive and intelligent decisions affecting our family. Our relationship began to change a little for the better.

My husband has a quality I call resistance. Very quickly, without thinking, he will say no to an idea I have. Sometimes he can support his decision with a good argument, but sometimes my desire or request is entirely valid. On one occasion I wanted to make a quick trip to Seattle to see our son about a week before his marriage. My husband said, no, in no uncertain terms. I am not in the habit of always obeying his wishes, so I hurried to the car and drove away. He began to fear the worst as he tried to reach me by phone.

That incident helped him to learn to be a little more open to what I want and need, but as time went by it became clear to me that I needed more from him. After some thirty years I needed a greater demonstration of his confidence in me. I had shed my insecurities about my person. I no longer thought I was unreasonable, asking too much. I thought I was very reasonable and I expected him to see this. As I looked over the situation I saw a level of carelessness on his part. He thought he could respond to me with indifference or resistance, at will, with no consideration to how I was being impacted. I saw that his lack of control, his sense of entitlement to say whatever came to his mind first, was a bad habit. And he had no idea how much damage it was doing to our relationship.

I confronted him. I told him how damaging it was when he thought he could do what essentially amounted to bullying. He was bullied a lot as a child and had developed some defense mechanisms. In some ways I represented the enemy to him. I was a threat because I wanted something he couldn’t give me or didn’t think I should have. I was going to upset his neat little world. Most of the time we got along well and had a congenial relationship. But it was those occasional instances that were the weak links that threatened to undo our marriage. I had to make him see this. I wanted to preserve our marriage. In these conversations with him I began by telling him how important it was to me to preserve our marriage. I was the threat that was going to break it apart, in his mind. I think he felt this way from the beginning. Maybe even before we were married. This is a dangerous way to be in a marriage.

When my sister and her husband separated I noticed my husband become more attentive to me and more considerate. He became more open and I began to talk to him about what I believed were changeable traits. It is not fair to ask someone to change what they cannot change. Insensitivity and harshness are things that can and should be unlearned. In other words, we have to leave behind our childish behaviors.

There is a tendency in relationships for one person to flip the fault to the other, or to bring other instances of fault into the conversation. I learned early to lay some ground rules. When one person brought up an issue, it was that person’s view that had to be presented completely. The other had to listen. Nothing could be added until the person felt heard and understood. If this is not done, then there will never be the opportunity to get to the bottom of a single issue. The listener, or the defendant, cannot mount an offense or a defense until all is said. Then it is their turn. But even then, the one who brought up the issue, the complainant, has the floor. This is how we have got to the bottom of difficult issues.

My husband may not agree with my taste, my preferences, or my desires. But if he starts to question my judgment, then we have a problem. It’s not that my judgment will always be perfect. But if he is in the habit of thinking he has to protect me from making mistakes then we have a serious power imbalance in our marriage. Or if he thinks his preferences ought always to be the ones to win out, that is a problem.

We were at a very delicate place. I am a reasonable person and sometimes I am too agreeable. I give in to keep the peace. My husband and I are two very different people, perhaps too different. However, I think we are about the same in intelligence. I’m not sure he has always thought so, but I think he would say so at this point in our marriage and that is why we are still together. He was very impressed when I completed my BA ten years ago, with highest honors. It’s unfortunate that I had to prove myself to him. I wish he would have thought highly of me from the beginning because his doubt of me has worn me down.

I’ve been clear and I believe I have been heard. My husband agrees that the weak links really do matter. We cannot gloss over these. He has made some important changes. I think we are out of danger.

Posted in Abuse, addictions, Drugs, Food, Health, mental health

Don’t Make Choices That Will Weaken You


Each day we choose our path. We make choices. There are things we can choose that will enhance the type of future we will have. It is essential to our wellbeing to look down the road and think long term.

There may be small things we do that make a difference. For instance, I order water to drink at a restaurant. As a result I have not only saved a lot of money over the years, but I have avoided sugars and empty calories. When I have the option of salad or fries, I most often order salad. If I have the choice between whole grain or white bread, I order whole grain. My body thanks me for giving it the nutrients it wants and needs. My nails and hair are healthy looking and my skin is clear.

I try to keep a calm home because I like it that way. I try to be organized and prepared. This takes planning, but then my life turns out the way I want it to be.

I know the high price of addictive substances, particularly in terms of physical and mental deterioration. I don’t want to dumb down my ability to think clearly. I don’t want my cognitive ability to be impaired, so I stay away from these substances. I add to my life those things that make me feel balanced and in control. I keep a record of how I am being affected by what I allow.

Life is hard, but it is better when we make choices that strengthen us.