Columns

Mail strom

Gather round kiddies, Old Uncle Ben is going to regale you with another one of his endless tales of the good old days. Please turn off your cell phones and pagers. When the folks suburbanized in the early 50s, there was a cluster of mailboxes in a mid-intersection island at the bottom of the street....
Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning

Ah, spring cleaning in April — a traditional rite of passage into the very welcome warmer months of May and June. Historically, this refers to housecleaning, as well as outdoor items  — but it would be an excellent idea for you to consider adding your jewelry to the list. Of course, jewelry always looks best when it’s been cleaned, but there are several very good reasons why you...
Building my passive house

Building my passive house

Passive House Institute US offers a certification program developed in Europe to assist home building professionals seeking to build highly energy efficient homes (www.phaus.org for more information). This is the first entry in what will be a series of columns about the design and construction of my own Passive House. This is a rigorous process,...

Possible side effects

As a lapsed real estate agent, I can tell you that nothing lowers the asking price of a house more than the lingering stench of decades of cigarette smoke. Ever book the Marlboro man’s former hotel room? Hey old timers, remember how we could smoke everywhere: rental cars, restaurants, bars, office buildings, hospital rooms, and...
March birthstone: Dual identity

March birthstone: Dual identity

Being somewhat of a traditionalist, it makes me a bit crazy when I see people attempting to promote the use of light blue topaz as a substitute for the March birthstone, which is aquamarine — although aquamarine is not the only birthstone for the month. Bloodstone (also known as heliotrope), which today is considered to...
Amazing amethyst

Amazing amethyst

Amethyst just happens to be the primary birthstone for the month of February, but without a doubt, this wonderful gemstone can make a great fashion statement when worn at any time of year. In fact, it is one of the most popular of all colored stones, and for good reason. Amethyst (a purple variety of quartz)...
Build green, be happy! Part III

Build green, be happy! Part III

Happiness. This is what some may call the touchy-feely reason to build green. I get it. I have friends who need a lot of convincing; they just want to know the bottom line and only want to talk about the facts. How can I even bring something as ephemeral and vague as happiness into to...
Snow bums

Snow bums

In the 24/7 atmosphere of a hospital, we can’t close down and send everybody home when Mother Nature becomes manic. Snow, rain, lava: we need to be staffed and performing patient care under any and all circumstances. There is a fellow at work who is about my age. As storm “Hercules” headed in our direction...
Growing pains

Growing pains

I subscribe to several home decorating magazines, partly because of the nature of my work, but mostly because I just love reading them. I’m constantly thinking about my home, and ways I can improve it. In a recent publication, the editor’s letter seemed to sum up my entire home improvement philosophy: “It feels like I’m...
The simple life

The simple life

When I was a college sophomore, my friends and I were sitting around my dorm room one afternoon, talking to our R.A. (Resident Advisor), Connie, about her recent engagement. While we oohed and ahhed over her “rock,” we shared our dreams for our own engagement rings. The fact that none of us were even close...
New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

With the holidays now behind us, and as we begin a new year, this would be a great time to check some basics that will help protect your best interests in your jewelry, so here’s a short list of suggestions. If you have not already done so, a review of your current insurance would be a...

How to drop a house on a witch

Since 1956, The Wizard of Oz has been shown annually on network television. After watching it for over 20 years, I realized – many years ago – that I didn’t have to watch it every year so I stopped. The network’s decision to edit out parts to fit in more commercials played into my decision,...