Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Downsizing Saga - Chapter Four


My life is rolling along at a pretty good clip now that fall is here. All my biannual doctor appointments are coming up, plus the yard and car both take time up with biannual maintenance. Then there is the Big Purge that has taken over my life. I just sent my fourth load of stuff off to the auction house which included a ton of tools. As Tim---the son-I-wish-I had---said, “Don didn’t buy cheap tools so these should bring good money.” And they did. I sold Don’s stainless steel tool cart to Tim and that’s gone too. So far neither one of us has laid out any cash to the other; he works at $35 an hour but he’s been buying stuff at about the same rate. Fine by me. 

He spied a glass canister set today on my Hoosier cabinet (circa 1900) that he wanted and I told him I’d barter it for vintage zinc topped canning jars, which in his line of business he finds all the time. Ever since I visited Dawn’s blog and saw all the neat things she displays in canning jars I’ve been lusting after a couple to display my Cracker Jack plastic and metal toys in. I’ve already got collectible marbles inside a few zinc topped jars that I’m taking with me when I move but I’ll have room for a few more. I also have a collection of wooden nickels that I’ll put in a jar. When little kids come over they always want to take some nickels home and while most aren’t worth more than a buck I have an even hundred with no duplicates and I want to keep it that way. A jar of wooden nickels instead of on a tray will keep the pilfering at bay.

This may be my last lot of stuff to go to the auction house---at least to this, no reserve auction house---because all the junkier stuff is now gone from the basement and garage and the good stuff won’t be sold there if I can help it. Although I can't complain about the bidding war the auction house had on my 1976 bottle of bourbon. It closed at $228. Next up for the Tim and Jean Dream Team is making a list of all the art in the house and start the research on where to sell it. That will be his job. Why? Because if he wants to branch out his business to include helping people downsize and he’ll need to know how to deal with all aspects of what he might run across in homes. And the timing is right because Tim’s heart surgery happened this week and he’ll have to take it easy for the next two weeks.

I’ve also job assigned him the project of putting my ice cream parlor cash register (circa 1906) back together so we can e-Bay it. One day I came home to find my husband had taken the sales counter on it apart for reasons I still don’t know but being he only had the use of one arm/hand he couldn’t get it back together. Boy, was I mad! I put all the screws in a pill bottle, put the bottle in the drawer of the cash register, closed the lid that hid the counter and I forgot about his misdeed until I decided to sell it. Tim thinks my husband wanted to clean the counter because it was the only part of the register that wasn’t shiny and that might be true. I bought that cash register in the ‘60s and one year in the ‘70s for a birthday gift Don kidnapped it and sent it off to Chicago to have the brass re-plated.

After the cash register came back it looked so good Don didn’t want to give it back and it sat in his office a couple of months until I pitched a fit and made him put it in a place of honor in the living room. I adore that piece but I don’t want anything decorative in my next place that I can’t lift. Still, I love the memories attached to that cash register including how my dad couldn’t walk past it without pressing the ‘no sale’ key and putting a quarter inside. I feel awful that I didn’t take a photo of it as it sat by the door leading into my library. Tim took it to his house so I’ll have to wait until he lists it and then I’ll nab a copy of his listing photo.

I did take a photo of one of six bookshelves in my library (above) before I started a selling friendzy of the black bug boxes. They aren't filled with mounted bugs but the nickname comes from the Victorian era when this style display box were first made for the then popular hobby. Mine are/were fulled of small stuff like union pins, political pinbacks, stick pins, watch fobs, metal oil change reminders, WWII photo ID badges, service awards, fountain pens, mechanical pencils, Moose Lodge and military insignias, etc., etc. A different collection is in each box. My husband had an eye for finding this kind of stuff but it wasn’t until after his stroke and we moved into our new house that we spent evenings cleaning and sorting them into any kind of order and I mounted them in display boxes. Like the maps I finished up selling a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeding these boxes to e-Bay a few at a time.

And thus you’ve just read another chapter in The Downsizing Saga book I seem to be writing in my blog. Will I finish in time for the move? Will there be a conflict three-fourths of the way through the process to be resolved before the final chapter? Only the Shadow knows... and if you're under 70 you probably won't get that 'shadow' reference. I'm barely old enough to remember The Shadow radio series, but it's something my husband and I said to one another on occasion when an answer was unknowable. ©

bug box

35 comments:

  1. Wow! Looks like your house is full of wonderful things. It must be hard to part with some of them. I have a periodic clear out and it always feels like a weight off my mind.

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    1. Somethings are easy to part with. Other things, not so much. I just sold a folding wooden table that people used for camping in the late 1800s. That was hard. The bug boxes I'm glad to see go.

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  2. I will be interested in where he finds to sell art. I have some pieces that will not fit in the next house and have no idea on how to approach selling it. Maybe Tim could become a source....

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    1. Art is going to a be hard sell. Local auctions houses never do well with art and mine isn't good enough to send off to specialty art auctions. I dread the process it's going to take to find them new homes...and it's all stuff I've loved over the years. The one piece I've sold already, I sold to my niece and it's funny but three people inquired about buying that one---both my nieces and the realtor.

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  3. I continue to be amazed and fascinated by your collections! It makes for very interesting reading. Good luck with your continued downsizing and my best wishes for its smooth completion!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. It's hard to imagine that one day I'll wake up and it will all be gone. I've been buy and selling collectibles most of my life, but after this I won't be buying anymore.

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  4. You continue to amaze me with the variety of items you and Don collected. Think of the joy you are sending off to other collectors as you downsize.

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    1. The buyers who email back or give great feedback on e-Bay keep me going.

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  5. Goodness, but you were Eclectic Collectors! I am always fascinated by your tales of Your Stuff.

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  6. I'm enjoying learning about your stuff and the story of it. That being said, is it emotionally difficult to part with such unique and cool stuff? I have some stuff similar to yours, but have yet to let it go. Dithering, I am.

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    1. Many of the things that my husband collected were easy to part with, easy to find buyers for and profitable. My collections I've barely started on but they will be emotionally harder and not as profitable at all. For example I have some Victorian Era children's clothing that I've listed pennies on the dollar of what I spent with no bidders. I'm probably going to sent photos to the local museum who maintains a large stock of antique clothing and see if they want them as donations.

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  7. Jean, you are doing a great job. I'm so worried when our time comes yo start getting rid of all of the stuff I'll have so much trouble getting rid of it. I would just want to chuck everything but Mary Lou will want to make sure she gets everything she wants. I don't want have to deal with everything. Oh well, I got an idea. I'll go on a cruise for 6 months while she gets rid of the stuff. Does it sound good? LOL See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I think you've got a good idea there, Paul. Let the ladies in your family deal with it LOL

      I'm with your wife on this one. I've already discovered three things that I wish I hadn't sold or given to Goodwill. That happens when you go too fast and are not thinking things through.

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  8. Jean,
    Have you considered DuMouchelles in Detroit for your art. When cleaning out my parents home I found a small unframed oil painting which was ready to go to Salvation Army. At the last minute I sent it to them and cleared a nice 4 figure amount.

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    1. Wow, that must have been a nice surprise. My art is mostly western prints from the late 1900s so I don't expect there will be any surprises like that. But I really appreciate the lead. I can see some things on their website that I have similar things that would fit in one of their catalogs auction. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

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  9. Always stunned at the variety of things you all collected, Tim tickles me at how he buys as much as he earns.
    Yes I remember the Shadow and spent many a useless hour trying to "cloud" my brother's minds.

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    1. Tim and my husband were really close and we've got a long history or bartering. Still, I'd rather pay him in goods than cash. His wife, though, would rather he brought home some money from time to time. LOL

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  10. My Daddy's favorite answer when I'd quiz him about things.
    "Only the Shadow knows." We used to listen to that program on the radio.

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    1. You say that to young people today and they don't have a clue what you're talking about. Still I love it!

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  11. How big is your home that you have all this wonderful stuff stashed away? Wowsa. I bet it's kind of fun to go through because you probably don't give these things a lot of time and thought. I wish I could help you "downsize" because it would be fun to see all this stuff.

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    1. 1,600 sq feet plus the basement and a three stall garage...going down to a 1,000 feet when I move. We have/had things nicely displayed---mostly in showcases---and people often say it's like going through a musuem. I'm just glad I'm tackling the job now while I can instead of leaving it all for my heirs to have to deal with long-distance.

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    2. I would think the same thing, like a museum only better. Yes, I can see why you had to get a start on it as well. Good job Jean. But I sure wish I could come help for all my selfish reasons just to view all the fun stuff you have. And then this way I'd feel better because I can help you too - win-win. :-)

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  12. A collector of collections! That's exactly it. My brain is boggled by how much knowledge you two had to have had to know what is worth holding.

    Even the the house is 1,600 feet ... how many more cubic feet for a total? So glad you are doing this wisely and with intent ... and very few regrets. You must be busy 20 hours a day!

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    1. One and a half bookcases the size of the one above were full of antique collecting guide books going back before the internet. We did study a lot which teaches the collector a lot of history along the way, discovering why certain things are worth more that others. We never got into baseball cards but I'll use that as an example of how collectors can tell you a ton about each player. But value do go down over the course of time as older collectors quit buying and start selling and younger people with disposal money enter the collector field. And it makes me want to cry over what the Food Network and their all white dishes has done to the china and crystal market. You can't give that stuff away.

      Not working 20 hours a day but it feels like it. I'm kind of looking forward to a winter break when I'll take a break from e-Baying and purge closets and

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  13. That was good thinking to say nothing I can't pick up. I want to borrow my daughter's old sewing machine but the thought of lugging it onto the table and off again has stopped me from borrowing it so far. I think you are doing a really good job of sorting and listing. As you say there is so much work to it so, if and when the time comes, if you need to send it to the no-limit auction house, give yourself permission. If you can continue at this rate and make it all the way through, you will have pulled off a miracle. Remember that no matter how much you downsize, you will probably still have too much in the end -- at least that has been my experience. But, for now, you go girl, you are doing great.

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    1. I just sent my sewing machine to the auction house...only got $37 for it but I can barely lift it much less carry it. But before sending it I looked at the new Singers and I will buy one when they go on sale. I don't need a fancy one like I just sold so I can get one cheaper models for mending and maybe sewing quit blocks. I just found out they have an active quilting group in the old section of the CCC that I'll be able to join so that made the decision to keep some sew stuff easy. But you are right about giving myself permission to put things in the no-limit auction house if I get down to the wire and I still have a lot of stuff left. Crossing fingers all goes as planed.

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  14. I think YOU should hire out for downsize help after you're done with this. I've said it before and will again -- if you lived closer, I'd hire you to eBay my life!

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    1. That would be my nightmare job...to help others downsize. LOL The only reason I'm able to keep at it is I've got an end game. But there is certainly a need for downsizing services, especially honest ones. The one I over on a free consultation has called me three times.

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  15. So I might just be responsible for you starting to Hoard Vintage Canning Jars full of Bits and Bobs too? *LMAO* I'm happy to hear that your Purge is going so well. I've ramped mine up because we'll be going to view that potential Forever Home on Wednesday and if the Sun, Moon and Stars line up and our Agent bends the Earth for us... well... I'm not taking all this shit with us to another place! *LOL* Just the select shit so that no more Purge would hopefully be necessary. *Winks* Is that too much to Hope for? Given I'll still be ME but just a relocated ME?!? *Smiles* Anyway, I filled the Truck up Today... LITERALLY... with items for the Showroom... so now that Space at the Antique Mall is filled to the rafters! I might have worked too hard in my Panic induced Frenzy anticipating an actual Move, because damn am I sore and tired now! *LOL*

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    1. I love that you have a place to take your stuff where you can control the prices. I did that after my husband died but the place went out of business a few years later when the owner died. I should have found another place back then.

      I know that panic induced frenzy to downsize. I'm feeling it too. Hope the house hunting goes well Wednesday.

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  16. "Only the Shadow knows..." That brought a big smile here. Thank you!

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  17. I'm amazed at the variety of collectables you have had in your lifetime!

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