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Lyme Disease Season

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

For years we have feared the notorious “tick season,” but now it is even more dangerous with a host of diseases that are carried by different ticks. I know firsthand about this because last year I was very sick from being bitten by various ticks. It happened over the July 4th weekend when I found several ticks on my legs and arm. What is strange about this is that I am not a gardener, nor do I go hiking in the woods. It was from merely walking to the clothesline to hang up towels from the beach or walking across the lawn to our shed to take out an item.
About five days after the ticks were found I began to feel ill. (People can get sick from 1-2 weeks after being bitten by a tick.) It started with a low-grade fever and feeling so tired that I had to nap. Since I had Lyme disease about four years ago, I remembered the symptoms and went to the doctor. I was immediately put on an antibiotic, and the doctor took a blood test to confirm that I did, in fact, have Lyme disease. The first line of treatment for adults and children of all ages is doxycycline.
My blood test came back and the doctor said, “Something else is going on besides regular Lyme disease, which you do have, too.” My doctor told me my liver enzyme levels were not right, nor was my red blood cell count. She requested another blood test and named Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis or Anaplasmosis as the three possibilities I might have besides the “traditional” more common Lyme disease. I had never heard of any of these and the news was a bit frightening, hearing what they could cause if left untreated.
Both Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis are bacterial diseases. Sure enough, when the second blood test came back another tick-borne disease, Babesiosis, was discovered, and this is much worse than normal Lyme disease. Babesiosis is an infection caused by a malaria-like parasite, also called a “piroplasm” that infects red blood cells. To rid myself of the Babesiosis, I was put on two other medications and had to eat fatty foods, along with the medication, to return my liver function to normal. This was extremely hard to do since I had little appetite to eat even plain toast.
Fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and a rash are common symptoms of any of these diseases. Fortunately, this time around I did not have a rash or joint or muscle aches. Bed rest was needed for almost two weeks as I was too tired, lacked an appetite, and ran a fever on and off. It was an experience I never want to have happen again!
Precautions
The Center for Disease Control has websites with valuable information. Most doctors’ offices also have literature about ticks that offer full descriptions about tick removal and other aspects of the disease. Visit: the CDC sites http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/babesiosis/  http://www.cdc.gov/ehrlichiosis/ and http://www.cdc.gov/anaplasmosis/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 6, 2015 |

Mother’s Day Idea

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Many families like to take mom or grandma out to dinner on Mother’s Day, which is nice, but there is a way to go someplace entertaining and have dinner out! There is a wonderful dinner theatre close by that offers quality productions with both matinee and evening performances.  Right now the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford is featuring West Side Story that will run through July 5th. There have been a handful of musicals that have impacted our American culture, and none is more famous than West Side Story. Back in the ’60s the movie version hit the screen in a phenomenal fashion and the musical score became, and to this day remains, one of the most beloved soundtracks of our time. The story is based on a concept by Jerome Robbins and book by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. With these musical geniuses collaborating, it was bound to be an overwhelming hit and award winner!
West Side Story, possibly the greatest musical ever created, was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The musical is set on the mean streets of Manhattan, in the Upper West Side neighborhood of San Juan Hill, during the turbulent ’50s. West Side Story tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers from different worlds. When Tony, a Jet, falls for Maria, a Shark, all hell breaks loose. Caught between two warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, Tony and Maria, attempt to create a life together. Bernstein’s score for the musical includes Something’s Coming; Maria; America; Somewhere; Tonight; Jet Song; I Feel Pretty; A Boy Like That; One Hand, One Heart; Gee, Officer Krupke; and Cool. The 1961 film version picked up 10 Oscars, plus a special choreography award for Robbins. The soundtrack, by Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, spent 54 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. I remember seeing this movie as a teen, and at first sight of street gangs dancing to the music, thought this was an unusual concept for such a serious topic. The storyline was so absorbing, I was quickly transported to the mood of the conflict and the intensity of the dancing, which brought the audience to the passion of each scene. The same happens in this WBT fabulous production where the dance numbers are invigorating, the casting outstanding, and every member of the production gives a flawless performance.
With so many special events coming up in the next few months, Mother’s and Father’s Day, graduations and anniversaries, this production at the WBT is the perfect place to celebrate or give a gift certificate for any of the fine upcoming productions! Tickets range between $56.00 and $84.00 plus tax. Group discounts and Luxury Boxes are available for private parties. Discounts are available for children, students, and senior citizens at selected performances. There is no charge for parking. Reservations: Call (914)-592-2222. Also at: www.BroadwayTheatre.com

 

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2015 |

Memorabilia We Treasure

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

I once saw an ad in a magazine with the catch phrase “Here’s to the things in life you can count on.” The photo showed an attractive, smiling woman sitting comfortably on a sofa, while talking on the telephone. Near her pant leg were the words, “old jeans,” near her wrist, “Grandpa’s watch,” and next to her hand holding the phone, “best friend.” This advertisement captivated me, especially the words, Grandpa’s watch. Seeing the words Grandpa’s watch made me remember some of the lovely things I have from my own grandparent. They are simple treasures that mean the world to me now. Among the items I have in my possession today are things from my grandmother that I adored as a child and still do.
As a child I used to go over to my grandmother’s quite regularly because she lived nearby. Often I would stay overnight, and that meant breakfast and lunch with Grandma the next day.  Grandma was a wonderful cook. My favorite parts of these meals were the dishes and utensils that were set out just for me. My hot cocoa was served in a Little Orphan Annie mug that had Annie’s face chiseled on the front. My scrambled eggs were made in Grandma’s glass frying pan that made the best tasting eggs in the world. If I had cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, or soup for lunch, I used a Charlie McCarthy silver spoon.
For those too young to know who Charlie McCarthy was, here is a mini description. He was a puppet that was the comedy part of a ventriloquist act performed by Edgar Bergen. Charlie was dressed in a tuxedo, top hat and wore a monocle. American actor and radio performer, Bergen had his successful act from 1937 through 1956 on the radio, for some of the biggest sponsors on the air. (Bergen was the father of actress Candice Bergen. He was often on television variety shows like The Ed Sullivan Show.) When I slept over Grandma’s we would listen to the radio together since in the early ’50s Grandma did not yet have a TV. That was how I learned who Charlie McCarthy was and to recognize his likeness on this spoon.
There were so many little trinkets and knick-knacks at Grandma’s house that it was like a little museum of her life. Grandma also spoke of the World’s Fair she went to in 1939 and how wonderful it was. She had two tiny “pickle pins” that were given out free to guests that visited the Heinz pavilion. Two little pins sat in her desk drawer and later on were given to me when our World’s Fair came to New York in 1964 and we talked about the sites I saw there. That reminded Grandma of her “pickle pins” and she knew how I got a kick out of them when I was smaller, so she gave them to me.
Treasured items are part of our past and are a way to stay close to the ones we loved. For the life of me, I am perplexed at the advertisements that offer to “change that old jewelry you have into a new, modern design.” The commercials urge viewers to bring in “Grandma’s jewelry and update it into something you are proud to wear.” What about the memories the item evokes and the feelings we have when we remember the person that gave it to us? If you enjoy these items, don’t let anyone tell you “it is time to clear out this old stuff!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 22, 2015 |

Children Consume Excess Salt

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

When we think about salt consumption, most of us worry about an adult’s diet and give less thought to what our children are eating. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that more than 90 percent of American children consume too much sodium. Foods such as chicken nuggets, pizza and pasta account for almost half of their sodium intake, according to the study. The researchers interviewed and examined more than 2,000 children ages 6-18 for this ongoing study.
Some of the foods that are frequently marketed to kids at restaurants and grocery stores include pizza, breads, cheese, soups, pasta, cold cuts, savory snacks, and Mexican mixed dishes. Fast-food restaurants and some school cafeterias also serve foods that are high in sodium. At home, dinner appears to be the saltiest meal of the day, with 39 percent of sodium consumed at dinner compared with 29 percent at lunch, 16 percent during snack time, and 15 percent at breakfast. One in six kids has elevated blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In our hectic daily life, we often look for easy-to-prepare foods or stop at fast-food chains on occasion when time is short in between school and sports events. Unfortunately, there are health consequences if too much high-sodium food is eaten.
Solutions
How can parents reduce sodium in what our kids eat? We can model healthy eating by offering our kids plenty of fruits and vegetables without added salt. Look at product labels and choose those foods with the lowest sodium levels. Restaurants can replace sodium with alternatives like spices, herbs, and citrus juices. If you ask for a low sodium meal, most establishments will fulfill your request. Avoid sauces such as soy, teriyaki, ketchup, barbeque, and salad dressings that can be high in sodium. A small squeeze instead of a large amount can make a huge difference! The American Heart Association is working to help kids and families live heart-healthy lives. To find information to keep your family healthy and active, go to heart.org/kids
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke, America’s leading killers. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit www.heart.org or call any of their offices around the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 15, 2015 |

Children and Chores

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

There was an interesting report on television recently that talked about parenting skills. The topic was about the extremely low percentage of parents that require their children to do any sort of chores around the house. In so many words the report summed it up that parents are becoming too protective and children are becoming lazy and incompetent. What is the reason for this we wonder? Is it that parents want to be known as being the super mom or dad? Perhaps they feel doing it themselves is faster and then “I know the job is done right.” But what does this teach the child?
Years ago when we first bought our house and I was home with a new baby, every time it snowed there would be a knock on the door during this bad weather. Two young teenage boys, shovels in hand, asked if I would like them to shovel the driveway. I knew it would be helpful for my husband to come home from work and find this task done, so I hired them. Since it was back in the early ’70s, the fee for this shoveling was ten dollars they told me. After the years have marched by and we could use some help, there is not a teen willing to do these tasks. This is confirmed by friends in Jersey and Long Island that have the same complaint.
AGELESS
There is really no age that is too young to start helping around the house. If the child can walk and talk, there is a chore to do. Preschoolers can pick up their own toys, and learn to put dirty clothes in the hamper. Lower grades can help sort laundry and find their matching socks or help to fold towels, small facecloths and their own clothing. Even setting the table can turn into a learning experience on how to fold napkins and on which side of the plate to put utensils. When my children were in fourth and sixth grade they had to help carry in the groceries from the car. During the day I put away refrigerator items, but they had to carry in the rest of the groceries when they came home from school. I told them, “I’m not the only one eating this food, so you can help carry it in and put it away.” Let’s stop growing “soft” children and help them to become useful and independent! One day they will thank you for it, I guarantee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 8, 2015 |

Get Ready for Spring!

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

After the brutal winter season we just had, there is a long list of tasks around the house that need to be taken care of now. In an attempt to avoid the rush at the repair shop, my husband starts surveying our garden equipment now to see what needs to be repaired, replaced or serviced. If you have a riding or hand mower, take a survey to see what needs to be done on it. A riding mower needs servicing similar to that for a car. The battery may need to be recharged or replaced, or the oil and muffler needs to be changed. If you used your mower extensively last season, you might want to take the blades to be sharpened at a mower center. Besides the lawn mower, there is an assortment of tools my husband uses. There is the weed trimmer, hedge cutter, chain saw, and other mechanical devices he has squirreled away in the basement. This is the time to make sure the cords and plugs of any electrical devices are in good condition and are not frayed and worn. Go to the repair or service shop now to order parts for your equipment, in case it takes weeks to order replacements. Families with small children should inspect swing or playground equipment. Check the bolts to make sure they are secure and replace rusted swing chains.  Inspect riding toys and other non-stationary playthings, to make sure they are safe to use.
Assessing
What my husband does before spring arrives is to walk around the house and yard, taking an assessment of what needs to be done. With pad in hand he makes notes when he sees siding or a roof shingle that needs to be replaced or repaired or a downspout that is rusted or loose. We also list house maintenance or decorative items we are thinking about buying. New windows, shutters, or doors are usually not in stock for every household’s measurements and may need to be ordered weeks ahead. Now is the time to get estimates if you are having someone do this type of work for you, or purchase yourself if you are doing it yourself. Waiting too long to hire someone might put you on the end of the work list.
Clean Up
With spring comes the task of cleaning out items we no longer need or want. If you haven’t fixed that old lawn chair or bicycle, then it is time to get rid of it. Properly recycle old paint cans, tires and batteries piled up in your garage. Spring is here and it is a glorious time to be outside! It is so invigorating the first month of its arrival and we want to do everything at once. However, taking time to go over what is needed will make this task more efficient and manageable in the long run. Happy Spring everyone!

April 1, 2015 |

Tag Sale Tips

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

It’s been many years since I’ve had a tag sale of my own, but little has changed in the way these events are done. However, now the signs are more professional looking and can be purchased to help advertise your date and location, plus placing a PennySaver ad also boosts your reach for potential customers. Other than that, the rest of the preparation is solely in the hands of the seller.
A friend of mine recently went to a local fundraising event where sellers could pay twenty dollars each and they had a table assigned to them to set up their items.  The organization had advertised the event weeks in advance, so it was given that this annual tag sale event would have a good turnout. No matter if it is an organized event such as this one or a single homeowner having a tag sale in his/her driveway, there are tips to help make the day go more smoothly.  Besides that, the next goal is to make some money and have someone else take away your unwanted or unused goods!
Items
What do you want to sell? Is it an eclectic group of items or are they from one category? Perhaps you have children’s items to sell or have just cleaned out grandma’s attic or your own basement. Your advertisement should state clearly what the shopper can expect and your description should be written in a way to entice them to drive to your house on a Saturday morning. Some people think a one-day sale is enough, while others prefer both days on the weekend. Depending on your time and energy, that decision is up to you. Some shoppers feel they will get the “best bargains” coming on Sunday since they know the seller wants to get rid of excess items. Other shoppers feel, “it is the leftovers that no one wanted,” why bother to go? Make sure all your items are clean, in good condition and priced to sell. Put price stickers on everything so the shopper can see the cost. Be prepared to come down a bit, if someone asks for a lower price. Have paper or plastic bags handy and newspaper to wrap breakables, as well as a change box and single bills and coins. Make sure to have someone to help you on that day, as it is impossible to watch and take care of things alone when the streams of shoppers arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2015 |
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