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Why My Dogs Had No Spoons on July 4

dog with spoon

My dogs had no spoons on the Fourth of July. They were so lacking in spoons, in fact, they probably still owe a few to that great spoon drawer in the sky.

In order for all this spoon talk to make any sense, it helps to be familiar with the spoon theory.

The spoon theory originated as a way to check stress levels for people with chronic illnesses, but it can be adjusted to apply to every living thing. Your Dog’s Friend does a fantastic job of providing a bastion of details if you want to dive deeper into the spoon theory. My quick version of the concept appears below.

The Amended Spoon Theory

The amended spoon theory says that every living thing gets a supply of spoons each day. You get some spoons. Your dogs get some spoons. Even hummingbirds, houseplants and those ginormous Palo Verde beetles get spoons. The amount of spoons you get on a daily basis depends on your overall wellness, serenity levels and ability to handle stress.

  • Those well-adjusted and happy get loads of spoons every morning.
  • Those who are only pretending to be well-adjusted and happy may get several spoons.
  • Those obviously ill-adjusted and unhappy may get only a few spoons, and one of them may be bent.

You can gauge how many spoons you get by reviewing how many stressful incidents you can take per day without totally freaking out. If three incidents push you over the edge, you can estimate you only get three spoons per day.

Apply the spoon theory to your dogs, and you can use the same basic premise.

  • Dogs that are well-adjusted and happy get loads of spoons.
  • Dogs that are quick to become fearful or excited get several spoons.
  • Those obviously ill-adjusted and stressed may only get only a few spoons, and one of them may be already chewed in half.

As the day marches onward, every episode of stress has the power to take a spoon away. The higher the stress, the more spoons you lose. Stubbing your toe, for instance, may take away one spoon, while spending an hour trying to get Netflix to work may take away five or six.

Once you run out of spoons for the day, it’s a good idea to take a time out, go home, revamp, meditate or otherwise be kind to yourself until you can replenish your spoon supply. 

Spoons, Dogs and July 4

The Fourth of July is already a doozy for dogs with all its fireworks and noise. The date is known for being the No. 1 day dogs run away. While my dogs did not run away, they did lose spoons in rapid succession.

Here comes a rundown on my dogs’ spoon loss on July 4:

  • 1 spoon: Their dad going out for the day (they’re used to both mom and dad being home all the time)
  • 1 spoon per three sessions: Sitting at the door at intermittent intervals throughout the day just in case dad is about to come home at that exact moment
  • 8 spoons: Landscapers arriving next door at 6 a.m. with chainsaws, chains, clippers, buzzers and a giant Dumpster to overhaul neighbor’s yard
  • 2 spoons: One dog wearing his bark collar to stop barking at the chainsaws, chains, clippers, buzzers and giant Dumpster noise
  • 2 spoons: The other dog still barking and getting upset because his brother was not joining in the noise (this dog lacks a bark collar because it would involve shaving his long-haired neck for it to work)

Since I would approximate my dogs get 10 spoons per day each, they both were out of spoons well before any fireworks exploded in the sky. Because they were so exhausted after a full day of losing spoons, they barely even noticed the fireworks. One dog didn’t respond to the fireworks at all. The other dog did notice them, although he didn’t go wildly barking across the yard as usual. He simply refused to eat his dinner.

That means the spoon theory really is accurate. The dog that refused dinner is, after all, the same dog who is used to getting spoon-fed since he’s such a fussy eater. So he probably didn’t even think of eating since he knew there were no spoons to be found.

The spoon theory is a fun way to keep an eye on stress levels, for your dog, for yourself and for everyone and everything around you. Life can be so much more pleasant if we don’t lose all our spoons.

Like reading fun stuff about dogs? Then you’ll really dig the Rynski Doggie Dictionary. Buy your copy today.

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Why Everyone Needs a Maneki Neko (a What?!)

maneki neko

When one of my Facebook pals asked if I ever made a Maneki Neko, my first response was “A what?!”

Since my fear of appearing stupid is nearly as great as my fear of being eaten by a shark, my second response was to hop on Google to find out what the heck he was talking about.

The mystery was solved quite rapidly. Even if we aren’t familiar with the official name of the Maneki Neko, many of us are familiar with the item itself. A Maneki Neko is the cute-as-all-get-out Fortune Cat, which some may refer to as the Smiling Wavy Cat Thing You See Next to Asian Restaurant Cash Registers.

Armed with the knowledge that these cutesy kitties are thought to bring good fortune and luck, I got my first one years ago from one of those dollar stores where everything costs at least $10. I don’t recall the exact price of the cat, but I knew I’d make it back in a jiffy when his good fortune vibes went into action.

While he graced my living room with his battery-operated waving paw for several days, the click-clack noise of the waving paw quickly drove me nuts. He’s been in the backyard ever since, now partially hidden by an overgrown sage bush but still streaming good fortune my way.

Whether it’s in their backyard, front yard or danging above their bed, everyone needs a Maneki Neko. Here’s why.

For Good Fortune

We could all use a dose of good fortune, and one of the most straightforward ways to secure it is to get yourself Maneki Neko. Other nicknames for this captivating critter are the Money Cat, the Welcoming Cat and the Lucky Cat, which means all that jazz can start coming your way.

You can also customize the type of good fortune you’d like to receive, based on the different colors, accessories and waving hand of your Maneki Neko.

Different colors are associated with different benefits:

  • White: Positive future and happiness
  • Red: Love and relationship success
  • Gold: Prosperity and wealth
  • Green: Good health
  • Black: Protection from evil spirits

Different accessories can likewise indicate different things.

A waving left arm is meant beckon customers, while a waving right arm beckons money and fortune. Get a Fortune Cat with both paws raised and you may get so much good luck your head is likely to explode.

My pal’s only request for his custom Maneki Neko is that its main color be white. I then customized the rest with:

  • A left waving hand, since that’s the way I’ve seen most Maneki Neko and I’m a big fan of left hands (as well as left-handed folks). The left to me symbolizes boundless creativity and potential.
  • Money-magnet accessories on the collar that include coins for wealth and flowers for growth and abundance.
  • A belly button, just because belly buttons are fun.

White was requested, while red, gold and black are the colors that called to me for the accents. My pal’s personal Maneki Neko is now equipped to bring on the prosperity and love while warding off the evil. Sounds good to me.

maneki neko

For Sharing a Good Story 

Legends rock, and the Maneki Neko has several that explain how the Fortune Cat came to be. One of the most interesting involves a geisha who absolutely adored her pet cat. Her cat followed her around, made sweet purring noises, and actually tugged at her kimono when it wanted attention.

While the kimono-tugging would be cute for some, the owner of the brothel took the tugging as a sign that the cat was possessed. So he grabbed a sword and sliced off the kitty’s head.

The cat’s head went flying off into the distance – landing on a snake that was about to strike and kill the geisha. The catapulting cat head, of course, killed the snake and the geisha was saved. Since she was still distressed about the loss of her beloved cat, one of her customers made her statue of the cat to cheer her up.

The Maneki Neko was born.

Pass along this legend and you get multiple layers of benefits. You get the benefit of sharpening your storytelling skills. The benefit of picking up a bedtime tale you can tell to your kids. And the benefit of keeping such fantastic folklore alive.

For Making a Quick Buck 

While the Maneki Neko is designed to bring good fortune and money, the windfall may not happen overnight. In the meantime, you can easily make a quick buck from all your family members and friends.

Simply point at your Fortune Cat and say:

“I’ll bet you $5 you can’t tell me the official name of this wavy cat thing.”

Boom. You’re now $5 richer.

Keep it up long enough and you’ll soon be able to afford anything and everything from those dollar stores that charge at least $10 or more per item.

Enjoy!

Read more cool stuff about the Maneki Neko on the Catster website.

Get a personalized Fortune Cat you can gleefully gaze at daily at the rynski etsy shop.

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3 Thrilling Facts about Air Conditioners

new daikin air conditioner

It’s official. This summer marks the year of air conditioning deaths. A pal posted on Facebook that hers had died. A neighbor had an old one hauled away on a flatbed. Mine was close to death, not expected to last through to fall, so I avoided a sudden and violent death by having it replaced this week.

Summers can be brutal in Tucson if you’re stuck without an air conditioner. But that’s not one the thrilling facts I’m about to expose. That one is just common sense.

The thrilling facts are a bit more intriguing, coming from the experienced pros at D&H Air Conditioning Company.  I was graced with several visits where the D&H AC guys first checked in on my old unit and then turned me on to and installed a new one. All were knowledgeable, personable and served up exceptional explanations, along with these three fascinating AC facts.

Dogs Use AC Units as Personal Grooming Systems

Globs and globs of dog hair. That’s the main thing that came out of our old outdoor AC unit. The globs and globs came from years and years of long-haired dogs, coupled with the fact that no one ever actually opened and cleaned out the unit for the past decade.

Now, we all already know that dogs are smart. The AC man made them even smarter still by noting he sees globs of dog hair all the time.

“Dogs learn to rub on the unit,” he said, noting that the force sucking in the outside air pulls wayward hair and debris off their coats. It’s like their own personal grooming system.

Since my current two dogs flee in terror from the room if you even sneeze, I cannot imagine them actually going near a loud, vibrating box – much less rubbing on it – but I liked the idea of putting a little fence or barrier around the unit. Not because it would ensure the dogs don’t get close enough for a massage, but for aesthetic reasons. A metal dragon cut-out privacy screen thing is nicer to look at than an AC unit, no?

Stolen Freon is a Hot Market

Yep, air conditioning Freon has a thriving black market, with thousands of dollars’ worth swiped from unsuspecting homeowners every year. On older AC units, all a Freon thief has to do is open a valve on the Freon AC hose, empty the stuff into whatever vessel works for Freon stealing, and then sell it to other people who don’t feel like paying full price for non-stolen Freon.

The AC man said they’ve seen entire neighborhoods hit, with sneaky thieves simply shimmying from house to house in the middle of the night. Homeowners wake up to a non-working AC unit – and a big bill for Freon replacement.

New units come with a special key that locks the Freon valve, and only authorized AC companies are allowed to have the key.

Many AC Units Still Use Technology from 1908

In its early days, air conditioning cooled the interior by coming on full blast, 100-percent power, filling the room with cold air, and then shutting off. It would then wait until the room heated up and repeat the process again and again. That type of system is known as the single-stage system. It’s also what made my old AC unit end up with charred black panel where the starter thing had to start it up full force every time it went on.

Newer AC unit feature a two-step system, which works to maintain an even temperature more like a refrigerator. The system’s first stage hits 60 percent power, filling a room with cold air. It then reduces the load to about 15 to 20 percent power to maintain a steady coolness throughout the interior. Instead of going on and off at 100 percent like a madman, it keeps a slower and more steady pace.

Our AC “comfort advisor” (love the title!) gave us a spot-on analogy. He said the single-stage system was like being a red light and then flooring the gas pedal to speed up and stop at the next red light. A two-stage system was like smoothly accelerating and gently reaching the desired speed, providing far less wear and tear on the car.

Even though I drive like a single-stage system, I went for the two-stage for the new AC unit.

While getting a new AC unit may not be as exciting as getting a new car or killer suede boots, the experience can still be fun. Not only do you get a quieter, more efficient way to cool your home, but your dogs get a brand-new personal grooming system.

Make your cool home even cooler with art from the rynski shop on etsy.

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Don’t Weld in Your Underwear (and Other Beginner Welding Tips)

beginner welding tips

Alright, you got me. I didn’t really weld in my underwear. It was technically a pair of boxer shorts I wore as pajamas. This was years ago when I bought my first low-powered welder and thought I could be a welding genius in two minutes or less. I wasn’t. So I put the welder in the shed and my burnt boxer shorts in the garbage.

Fast forward nine years later, and I no longer have the delusions of being a welding genius in two minutes or less. I also wear pants and sensible shoes. Yes, I’ve gotten serious about the art of welding, investing in a high-powered, multi-purpose welding machine as well as a plasma cutting system. Heavy metal, here I come.

Beginning welders have a lot to learn, stuff that goes far beyond welder types, shielding gas and the melting point of mild steel. Things you won’t find in a beginner welding guide or manual. Things that include a handful of do’s and don’ts I’ve learned the hard way. Ready?

DON’T wear Crocs.

The little holes in the Crocs tops let little bits of flame fall directly on your feet. Ouch. Invest in a sensible pair of shoes, preferably made of a less-meltable material than rubber.

DO adjust the timer on your automatic watering system.

It’s not a good thing when the automatic watering kicks on at 6:04 p.m. while you’re still on the back porch playing around with metal and electricity.

DON’T expect a regular household current to cut it.

Some welding machines and plasma cutting systems say they can work on both the regular 110 household outlets as well as the 220 outlets, which are usually reserved for things like air conditioning units and dryers. Don’t believe them. The 110 option will sputter out, blow the fuse, and make you think it’s all your fault the metal won’t stick together.

Call Mr. Electric, get the 220 outlet installed, and go to town. It’s amazing what double the electric power can do for sticking metal together. 

DO remember dogs are people, too.

That means their eyes will get all starry and blurry if they look at the harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays of the welding arc. Since outfitting them with a welding helmet or goggles doesn’t work that well, try a welding curtain.

Instead of one of the big jamung curtains that stretch over 12 feet or more, I purchased a rather expensive tabletop curtain that I amended to sit on my welding table. Ever since I bought it, the dogs haven’t even been outside when I’m welding, never mind actually looking anywhere near the general direction of what I’m doing.

Guess it’s like the umbrella theory. It’ll never rain when you’re carrying one.

DON’T listen to piano-based classical music.

Classical piano music is ideal for certain types of creation, like painting, writing poetry or sculpting a naked statue of David. Welding needs a heavier, rougher sound. My two favorites so far have been Robin Trower (thanks, Beezel!) and live Jane’s Addiction, which comes complete with all kinds of swearing. The swearing blends in nicely with my own.

DO keep welding’s universal axiom in mind.

Most activities have a universal axiom that inevitably comes true. The one for motorcycle riding is something like: “It’s not if you’ll fall, it’s when you’ll fall.” There’s a similar one for beginning welders:

“It’s not if you’ll get burned, it’s when you’ll get burned.”

Mine happened when I unthinkingly removed my super-thick leather welding gloves to press my palm on a welded angle I just finished to make it wider. Yes, that was really dumb. No, I will never do it again.

And if you want to get the burning over with early in your welding career, you can always cut to the chase by wearing Crocs or welding in your underwear.

Be safe, and enjoy!

Feel free to check out some of my welding projects thus far, with more to come for sure (especially now that I have a really expensive welding curtain my dogs don’t even need).

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How to Turn an Old Window into New Stained Glass Yard Art

stained glass old window

Old windows are always alluring. Not only do they have an innate charm, but they can stir up fond memories of living in a farmhouse somewhere in Kansas – even if you’ve never set foot in Kansas in your life.

They also make for an incredible art project that can add a pop of color and coolness to any home or yard. Mine ended up in my yard just because I really have no more room in my home. But the stained glass project can look equally as dazzling propped in front of a kitchen window as it can hanging on the side of a backyard archway.

What You Need

  • Old window
  • Sandpaper and scraper
  • Painter’s tape (invest in the blue one already)
  • Glass cleaner and degreaser
  • Rags
  • Patience
  • Paint for window frame
  • Paint for window glass
  • Hanging hardware
old window for stained glass project

What You Do

Your first step is to somehow obtain an old window. Prying one off a farmhouse in Kansas is always an option, although you’ll probably do better scouring shops that sell used building materials. Betcha Tucson’s Gersons has a few.

I lucked out by inheriting my old window from the Tucson Citizen prop room when the newspaper folded in 2009. Think they used to put in the background to make photos look like they were taken near a farmhouse in Kansas.

Putting the old window in the garage where you can ignore it for at least nine years is an optional step. I finally dug out my old window for good during the last garage cleaning spree when I tidied up so well I had nowhere left to hide it.

Window Preparation

  • Sand and scrape the crappy old paint off the window frame.
  • Clean the glass panes with cleaner and degreaser.
  • Put painter’s tape around the front and back perimeters of every single pane.
  • Tape pieces of paper over the center areas of the glass if using spray paint for the frame.

Window Painting

  • Spray the pane wildly with paint.
  • Peel off painter’s tape before frame paint fully dries.
  • Make sure panes are free of smudges.
  • Use glass paint on the panes.
  • Add hanging hardware.
  • Hang in backyard.
  • Make your boyfriend admire it at least three times on the first day and regularly thereafter.

 Additional Stained Glass Window Project Tips

Picking the frame paint: Select a paint with a hammered finished to help hide the multiple imperfections and wood chunk chinks old windows are known for. If you want to retain that beat-up look, keep it alive by using contrasting paint in the frame’s chinks, dents and dings.

  • Rust-oleum is my spray paint of choice. I used flat black mixed with hammered bronze for the window frame.

Picking the glass paint: I’m a big fan of Pebeo Vitrail paint, particularly the transparent paints for stained glass effects. Use a combination of at least three different colors in the same color family to add interest to the project.

  • All the Vitrail colors blow my mind. Well, except maybe the brown. My old window project mingled Turquoise, Apple Green and Green Gold.

Applying the glass paint: Using a paint brush with glass paints can be tedious and leave brush marks. I prefer to use an eyedropper to blob or draw thick lines with the glass paint, and then mush with a sponge to cover all areas of the glass.

Hanging your stained glass project: Propping it against a wall or low on the ground doesn’t do justice to what you’ve just created. Hang or prop it somewhere at least eye-level where sun can shine through to reveal it’s true beauty.

Also opt for heavy-duty hardware. Those old windows are heavy!

My old window came with two eye-hooks embedded in the top corners of the frame and a quadrupled-up piece of picture wire looped through them. It’s hanging on a metal archway where the sun filters through in late morning, so my boyfriend can admire it every single day.

Hope your old window project comes out just as dandy!

old window stained glass project

Love the rynski stained glass window project? Just wait until you see what she does with sheet metal.

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