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, May 2, 2020

Downsizing during the Pandemic


It’s been a long time since I’ve done an e-Bay downsizing post which is crazy considering since the pandemic started that’s all I’ve been doing that could be considered productive. I’m still listing 12 to 15 collectibles a week but my heart isn’t in it and it’s entered my mind more than once to question why I’m getting rid of all this stuff when my plans for the future are subject to the whims of the pandemic. If I can't move out, I will not like living in a vanilla house void of all the stuff that gave/gives it personality. Heavy construction in Michigan is still on hold due to our stay-at-home orders which means the continuum care campus can’t possibly be ready by the original move-in date of early spring 2021. 

I’m still making decent money playing the e-bay game. Not as good perhaps as before the pandemic but I can’t tell if it’s because there are less bidders or I’m selling lesser quality goods right now---probably a little of both. I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I had a love/hate relationship with my husband’s lighter collection and I only have one out of the 400 left to sell and I'm dragging my feet to list it. I’m not sure exactly how much I've made off that collection but I’m guessing it's just shy of $13,000. I miss the big bucks the Mid-East and Far-East collectors were dishing out for those Zippos but I’m on to other things. I just sold a lot of three broken fountain pens for $148. Twenty more to go that aren’t broken and they’ll be history too.

I’ve been doing a lot of binge reading and, yes, I’m still stuck on military romantic action adventures. I never should have signed up for Kindle Unlimited. I’ve been borrowing three books a week. Along with that waste of time I’m also spending too many hours in front of a computer screen. It’s not what I had scheduled on my long-range plans for moving into the CCC and I hate that I have no idea when and if I can get back to my master plan. I was supposed to be selling off furniture pieces on Facebook’s Marketplace this month but that’s been closed down because of the stay-at-home orders and there is no word when that will open back up. How do you sell stuff like that if you can’t advertise it? We can’t even donate to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or the library right now. Or take things to recycling or hazardous waste. Although I heard recycling is opening back up on Monday.
 
I’m such a one track person. I could be going through drawers, cupboards and closets to pull stuff out to donate but I didn’t want to do that kind of stuff until next winter and just to have it pile up in the garage doesn’t appeal to me when mice or crawling things could mistake the bags and boxes for welcome mats. So now I’m working on researching pocket watches to sell on e-Bay. Pocket watches are so pretty but they aren’t worth much, in fact they’re a tough thing to sell unless you want to take them down to your local gold and silver buyer and that idea is way down on my Plan E. Plan E would be the quickest and easiest way to get rid of a dozen and a half pocket watches but like when I sold the collection sheet music from WW I, I’m willing to work my butt off to try to find others who will appreciate the artistry that went into pocket watches made in the late 1800s. It breaks my heart when I go into up-cycling shop and see stuff made out of dozens of old watch faces, knowing their beautiful cases had been stripped away and sold to melt down.

I do have one pocket watch that is giving me a serious dilemma, the kind that makes you question your entire value system. It came down through my husband’s family and believe it or not president Trump is keeping me from passing it on to my husband’s nephew. After Don died I gave his three nephews other family mementos---a shot gun that had been in the family since the Civil War, expensive lighters---they all smoke---art prints, a pocket knife, etc. I would have given away the watch away back then, too, if I had remembered it. Nieces were given vases that were their grandmothers. Hated parting with them, I did. I also gave my husband’s brother things that came from their mother including her 1907 school uniform and graduation announcement. Oh, and four large square stones that came from the foundation of the old family farmhouse after a tornado destroyed the place. We’d moved those heavy things several times and his brother is just as sentimental over them as Don was. His brother took the stones to their summer cottage up north to sit on around a fire pit and to let his four grandkids grow their own sentimental attachments to them and that makes me happy. 

The point is before Trump came along I would have happily passed that pocket watch on. But after being called naïve, brain dead, stupid, a media sheep and other choice things that Trump fans like to throw at liberal democrats like me it's hard to feel generous toward the nephew and his wife who did the name calling---or I should say typed the derogatory words on Facebook for everyone to see. The nephew shares the same first and last name of four generations of first born men in my husband's family and the watch belonged to one of his namesakes. (Don got the pocket watch when family heirlooms were divided between him and his brothers. He was third to pick in the first round of picking.) I tagged the watch with its history, put it in with his other pocket watches and I forgot all about it until this week.) One day my sense of doing the right thing may rise above my hurt feelings and disgust and I'll give the watch to the nephew, but I'm not there now yet. But after the Trump administration is left behind in the pages of history maybe I'll get there. Maybe not. Maybe this situation is a good example of how pocket watch cases get separated from their guts and sold for scrap metal. ©

46 comments:

  1. That's too bad the nephew and his wife had to throw mud! At least the watch is small so you don't have to decide now.

    The uncertainty of the move-in date and the problem of getting rid of things are major downers. Don't feel bad about doing a lot of binge reading. That strikes me as a healthy escape. Anything that keeps us sane, I figure.

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    1. It's not like me to sell family heirlooms so I'll hold on to the watch for a while.

      I'm reading a book now that has me laughing and that is definitely a healthy thing right now. I may have to reread it.

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  2. I'm pretty sure our dictator....oops I mean governor just lifted the ban on construction so maybe moving into your new place won't be delayed as long as you think it may be.

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    1. Heard that after I wrote this post. They can start up again the end of next week. Last I heard they were two months behind, but that was a month ago. Looking forward, now, their next newsletter so I can adjustment my plans.

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  3. I really enjoyed your blog this morning. I agree completely about your trumpian nephew. Does he have sons that you could bypass him and leave it directly to them?

    Having done the same thing on a less grand scale I know how hard it is to be rational and get rid of sentimental things.

    Hopefully work will resume on your new home now that the our governor has given the go ahead for construction.

    I look forward to Wednesday and Saturday mornings knowing your interesting and informative blog will be there.

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    1. Yeah, the state is letting construction start back up the end of next week. Haven't heard how they are going to get the cranes in that. There was a road weight restriction that the first shut down caused them to miss in March. I don't know if that was just a spring thing when the roads are defrozing or what. Have to wait until their next newsletter for more details.

      I will probably do what you suggested about giving the watch to the nephews first born since he, too, shares the same name but the nephew also has a sister who is really into family history...has a whole wall full of photos and mementos.

      I'm flattered to have faithful readers like you. Thank you!

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  4. There have been an assortment of dictates around the country that just haven't made sense to me, and disallowing yard work and construction were among them. I'm glad to hear that things can begin sorting themselves out, construction-wise. If they can find enough additional crew members, they may be able to start doing a little catch-up -- all to the good!

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    1. Agree with her or not, our governor said she didn't allow yard work and construction work because the workers shared tools on the job. Their associations had to provide guidelines for approval on how they'd manage that aspect of their jobs.

      Construction companies were really worried that seasonal work crews would leave the state for greener pastures so even though they are allowed back on the job doesn't mean they'll be able to catch-up. It's going to be an interesting summer, maybe less stressful than spring but no where near normal again.

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    2. I was talking this weekend with my brother who is a construction superintendent in Florida, and he was talking about the difficulty of workers maintaining a 6' distance. There may be some construction jobs that can be done safely, but there are also many that cannot.

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    3. I could see that. My construction company is still early in the process having just gotten the sewer, water lines and the foundation for the underground parking in when they had to quit. I'm hoping to get the construction company's newsletter in a week or two.

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  5. I think it has been so hard for governors to know what restrictions make sense after the obvious ones. We continue to learn new things about the transmission of this disease and what we were once told was a potential big problem is now thought not to be and vice versa. I'm glad our governor is staying the course and hot spots are going further. RE the pocket watch - I'd just let it sit as it is small, apparently no one has asked for it and the right answer will come to you. Congrats on your sales.

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    1. I would hate to be in any governors shoes right now because no matter what they do or don't do will get criticized and belittled.

      I'm sure no one in the family other my husband's brothers even knew about the pocket watch and they all had a fair chance at owning it when their mom died. But asking for something like that did happen in my family over a cookbook that my mom had for nearly 50 years. One of my cousins asked for it, claiming it should be hers since her dad gave it to my mom when she was 10-12 after her own mother died. A normal thing for the man to do since it once belonged to my mom's mom. By then I was attached to the book and told her that she had 50 years to ask my mom to give it to her if she truly believed it should belong to her. Heirlooms can sure cause trouble, sometimes.

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  6. That had to be a bit scary with construction being put on hold. You have a lot invested in this move and I hope they can play catch up.
    You have really made a lot of money off the investments Don made. Broken pens selling?? I am sure they became another person's treasure.

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    1. Fountain pen collecting is still a thing. Not sure how long it will hold because every collectible takes a dive sooner or later. People buy broken pens, repair them and then sell them for a good profit. I've never been attached to them but my husband never passed up an antique fountain pen at a flea market. Don wasn't lucky in what he picked up, he studied the heck out of the history of various collectable and knew what was rare from what was common. As I research what I'm selling I have grown to appreciate the thrill of the hunt that he loved so much.

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  7. During times of stress--especially prolonged stress--it's tough to make any decisions. Like so many other commenters have said, it's one pocket watch. Let it alone for now. Save your energy for decisions that must be made, and give your best attention to those.

    Things now are so uncertain. You are a terrific planner and all those plans were tossed into disarray. But you have made tremendous progress thus far! You're doing the best you can under the circumstances.

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    1. Ya, I keep telling myself that even if this ccc falls through I'd still like to look for another place that is smaller on the other end of time so downsizing won't be a waste of my time now no matter what. Just got to get my head and heart back in the game.

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  8. You have made some nice money on eBay...good for you! And I wouldn't be eager to give that lovely heirloom watch to someone with that attitude either. :-)

    Well, the builders are going back and so are the realtors. Woo hoo! We have a showing scheduled for next weekend already, so I have hope. Our builder estimates another four weeks of work, and I told him if he had someone in a hot hurry, he could finish them ahead of us. He sounded surprised, but he did have someone in that predicament, so hopefully that will buy us a few weeks to see if we can sell. I'm still trying to avoid owning two houses.

    Meanwhile, we are doing the spring yard work which includes spreading 8 yds of mulch this year. Oy vey. A great reminder of why we're moving...it's hard work! But it's still doable this year - who knows how long we'll be able to keep it up? We both notice we have less stamina than we used to.

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    1. Things are looking up, aren't they. The warmer weather today really helps.

      I think you will be okay as far as the real estate prices staying strong as long as you need them to be, not sure that will hold for me next year when I have to list. A lot of businesses and jobs will be lost in the coming months.

      I remember the days when my husband and I took care of four yards and still had energy left over to add a widow or two to our list of ours and some elderly relatives. Now, I can't imagine even doing my own even if I had a smaller yard.

      I'm on the list for bark when my guy gets around to it. I told him I wasn't in a hurry. I'm kind of surprised you could even buy it this quickly after the garden centers opened.

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    2. Yes, the warm weather and sunshine make SUCH a difference in my attitude. Haha. I'm SO over the yard work, but we're motivated since we are about to start showing the house again. I hope and pray you're right about prices holding up at least for a bit. Our area is usually pretty diverse in terms of industry, so you might do fine next year, too. We're all on a new journey for sure.

      We ordered our mulch early in the week, and today was the first day we could get delivery...they were booked all week once they could do deliveries. And the delivery guy told DH he was doing deliveries until after 7PM last night. This seems to be a good sign that there is pent up business out there - at least in some sectors. Keep the faith! :-)

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    3. Lawn care businesses will all be doing overtime until they catch up, I'll bet. Probably feels good too.

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  9. Facebook people should not be critical of what others put on their own page. They can make there own statement on their own page. I have stoopid people even send me private messages telling me how wrong I am. If there is something that I don't want on my page, I delete the comment. Almost a full time job!

    I too tell time by your posts! My favorite two days of the week. At least you know we fellow bloggers appreciate all the your hard work! Mine seem to be getting shorter and shorter.

    I don't think you should feel obligated to give heirlooms to specific people ... I think those who would appreciate them most could get them ... birthday or other gift.

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    1. I don't even read the private messengers people try to send about politics. Waste of time.

      I keep thinking I'm at the end of the running into heirlooms and then I find something else. Shouldn't be anymore----famous last words. LOL

      You guys who read me all the time are going to spoil me with your checking me out twice a week. But writing is part of my brain therapy so I hope to keep it up. Harder to do when I'm not going outside the house for some stimulation. You, however, live with four people. Lots going on there to write about.

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  10. It's great that you have had heirlooms to pass on. I have a few, but I doubt anyone wants them. When it's my time to ditch things, I'll just donate to Goodwill. I don't have anything of value -- just family stuff I recall from parents and grandparents. And yes, hang on to the watch for awhile. I'd hesitate to give it to him too, but his values will be his values whether T. is president or not.

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    1. My parents didn't get much of anything from their parents thus I didn't get much passed down from past generations which is one reason why I feel strongly about keeping what I can in family lines if they want them. I had a girlfriend grown up who had a grandfather who lived within walking distance and we'd go over there sometimes. He'd tell such great stories about some of objects in his house. I credit him for sparking an interest in antiques and heirlooms. Her parents, too, had lovely things that had been passed down.

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  11. Heirlooms and what to do with them is no easy dilemma, is it? The Nephew and Family... also a tough Call... this is the only time I can remember that Politics has actually divided me from anyone, usually it's a non-issue with me, but with that Orange Devil, anyone who aligns with him, I am very suspicious of their Motives for being so enamored and Devoted, I really am. It has made me Guarded with such people actually, even if I've known them a very long time, I wonder, did I ever really KNOW them? Oh well, Politics and Religion can be real controversial subjects in the best of times, let alone the worst of times. You've been an Inspiration to me in the Downsizing Game so I need some Posts that motivate me to slog on with it too! *Ha ha ha* Goodwill here finally is accepting Donations so I took 2 Boxes of Wardrobe down and had no room for in my much smaller Closet Quarters for here. I had too much anyway, now it is time to get as brutally Editorial as I'm able to manage. The CCC situation I do hope resolves and they get back to Construction so that your delay isn't too lengthy from the original Deadline. I know how exciting it's been to Plan for it and thus have the Master Plan involving Stuff that would fit and go nicely with the new Home. I Wish I had done a better job of Purging prior to moving it all, paying to store it all, etcetera, but I did get rid of a LOT during both Moves in the past 5 Years.

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    1. My husband and I always took a keen interest in politics and I totally agree with you that it's never divided us from anyone before...could talk it and let it roll because deep down we always knew both parties did want the best for our country. Also like you, supporters of 45 who I thought I knew well I wonder if I really knew them at all, that they covered up their racism and hate until now.

      I heard yesterday that our Goodwill is opening up soon, too. But with them being closed so long I'll waited a few weeks to go because I'm sure they will be really busy with drop offs.

      When we moved to this house we did two on-stie auctions to downsize and still did what you did with the storage units that took us two years to empty out. I was impressed that you emptied yours in a matter of weeks. But that is something I'm vowing I don't want to do this time. You and my husband would have made a dangerous pairing. There wouldn't have been an RV garage---like you have now---to house all the stuff the two of you collect/collected. We had a 50 x 100 foot one that I downsized to move here 20 years ago.

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    2. I feel a Kindred Spirit in your Husband, you and The Man being long suffering Spouses of our excesses. *LOL* I had to purge like a Maniac to make both Moves happen, had to get everything out of Offsite Storage ASAP since the Rents on those is high... had Kyle not given me the Hood Hook-Up for $700+ in FREE Rent, I couldn't have swung it. He sure Loved that Liqueur Candy that the Total Wine Dude gave me a Hood Hook-Up on too! *LMAO* I had a lot of Favor and that made everything Possible. Sad to see what the New Buyer has done with Villa Boheme's lush Landscaping, butchered it within an inch of it's Life and likely most of it will now Die... but it's theirs to wreck I guess and the anal, rigid HOA may Love people like that? *LOL*

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    3. At least your buying is offset with your selling. My husband mostly bought and I was in charge of the stuff he LET me sell. LOL We opened up our first antique booth because I thought it would be a way to downsize his habit---I mean hobby but all it did was give him more license to buy, until we ended up with four booths at one point in time.

      But it seriously would have been fun to see you and him turned loose in a flea market or mall and I'd at least have your husband to talk to when I got my fill and waited by the exit door. LOL

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  12. tough decisions you are having to make, along with the unknown on when you will actually move to your new "journey-place"

    here in New Zealand parts of life restarted last week...and the quietness we've had for month of "NO" jackhammers, nail guns and general skill saws at sites nearby has been shattered as workman return to sites...

    I've not been able to go to the some of the bigger work sites, I'm still not able to venture further than local 'hood...

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    1. It's been quite an experience for all of us, worldwide. I'm sure there will be many good things to come out of this to balance the ugliness. Though other countries have handled it much better than we have therefore, so probably have less ugliness to deal with on top of the grief and kick to personal bank accounts and local economies.

      Our construction isn't supposed to start up again until May 6th but there is a house near by that workers showed up on a few days ago. They can probably get away with that but the construction on my CCC is a huge under taking and I doubt they would start a minute before the law allows. Can't wait to get their next newsletter to see where new projected dates fall.

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  13. I feel for your dilemma, Jean. You could always put it in your will, to go to this man and his immediate family. And state clearly therein that his hateful views and abhorrent words against you prevented him from getting it earlier. That way you’d have the last word😉.

    Deb

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    1. The idea of getting the last word made me laugh out loud. Thanks Deb. Part of my dilemma is until Trump came along we never had anything but warm words and respect for each other...at least I thought we did. Like Dawn (above) said, it makes me question my ability to judge other people's sincerity and values. Like others have said, the watch is small and I don't have to decide any time soon. The more I write about it the more I just don't care anymore if that makes any sense.

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    2. Makes perfect sense. You’ve aired your feelings, and that is very healthy. Now you can move on. Whatever way you choose 💕

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  14. I'm glad they extended the Stay Home but I wish they'd been a bit less lenient with opening things up. Rick hit the hardware store for an emergency on Tuesday and no one (staff or customers) were masked, nor was distancing being enforced. If they can't do that in a small store, what's happening everywhere else. Me, I 'll be in.

    You have been generous to that nephew. If it was me I'd give it to the son you wished were your son. He sounds like good people. He sounds like he would value something of personal significance, especially if he knew your husband. Even if he didn't, he knows how much you valued him. That's my two cents.

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    1. I haven't been to a store recently to know how the distancing thing and mask requirement is working. I suspect better in the bigger stores than in small independent places. I'm going to Meijer on Tuesday so I shall find out.

      I had not thought of that possibility for the watch but it's a good one. My husband and I both feel/felt the same way about him. I gave him a Mickey Mouse watch (not the cheap variety) that my husband always wore when he was dressed up and Tim really treasures it. He's got young grandkids who love their grandpa's watch. Tim's kids used to want to see that same watch when Don wore it.

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    2. I 2nd the Motion to Bless Tim, the Son of another Mother, with Heirlooms that you then know go to someone Kind, Good and will Cherish the Gifts!

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  15. Isn't it amazing Jean, how a crazy guy like pain -in-the-butt Trump can create a situation with families who use to care for one another but because of Trump's negative attitude towards ever thing. Maybe after he's gone, gone, gone, people can get back together. Keep safe my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I hope so, Paul. You stay safe up there in Canada too.

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  16. My sister went through a tug of war with my brother in law's family heirlooms. She rarely agreed with his sister on anything. She chose to do what someone already suggested here and began giving things to his grand nieces. It worked out well. It provided a chance for her to make a real connection with that generation. She has come to be friends with them as they move into their 20s.

    Sorry to hear the CCC has slowed, but I am sure it will speed up again. The downsizing continues! It has been fascinating to watch from here a couple of times a week. I really need to get Ebay going, even if I don't have any of the cool collections that you have....
    Sorry to have been such a wet noodle last week. Being cooped up is tough in a tiny town really got to me.

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    1. I have already done that with the great-nieces and nephews, given lots things away. All the stuff that Don acquired from the estate of his parents he either bought at fair market price or got them a drawing with his brothers. Don't owe anyone anything, really.

      No need to apologize but I'm touched that you did. I don't mind respectful disagreement. It really is hard to be cooped up isn't it.

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  17. I have had to "unfriend" some of my old high school classmates because of things they have said supporting this president (I have trouble even saying his name!) I just don't see any good in him at all and sure hope we can be finished with him come the November election. I worry what he will stoop to since he doesn't want to lose. Yikes!

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    1. He there is no low too low for him to stoop. And now we have to worry about Justin Amash who is entering the race as an independent. Pundits as saying he'll bleed votes away from Biden. Then there is the issue of Trump hassling the post office, trying to prevent them from borrowing the funds they'll need come fall so they won't be able to handle mail-in ballets and all because he's got a personal feud with the owner of Amazon.

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  18. I admire your salesmanship or should I say saleswomanship on eBay. I wish I knew how to do that. My husband had a collection of knives, many handmade and quite valuable. I was going to give them away. Maybe I’ll wait and see if I could sell them. But they are in Georgia and since the governor there opened almost everything I’m not in a hurry to go back. Just like you I would have a hard time giving that pocket watch to the foul mouth nephew. I might not. I always think about those people who have lost everything in the horrible fires in California, they have nothing left. So when I want to get rid of something or not give it to someone I think it could have been lost in a fire. Gone; then I don’t worry about it.

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    1. I sold a set of wool bed spreads to a woman who had lost her house and contents in one of those horrible fires. They were exactly like a pair she lost and she was SO happy to get them, When I read her email about how she cried when she got them, I cried too.

      If I was you I'd spend some time on eBay looking at the knives for sale, especially the closed auctions so you can see what they sold for, rather than what people are asking in their opening bid. I'll bet they would be well worth you doing so.I do auctions style because I don't always know their value but if you know, you can do buy-it-nows which some people find easier. You can also watch for local knife shows coming to town to see if you can take some to sell to dealers and/or pick up their business cards because they buy. I've done that at toy shows. Here they have a yearly gun and knife auction and they do really well. Easy too because the auctioneer takes care of everything. I wouldn't do a normal auction locally though with what you've got.

      For me, I know my husband would want me to get the most I can out of his collections, for a nest egg for my future. It was a fun hobby for him but he also saw them as investments.

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  19. Sounds like there's one really intelligent person in your family! Give him the watch, for Pete's sake.

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    1. Sounds like you're saying that because a person supports Trump he/she is automatically more intelligent than anyone else who doesn't support him. Thanks for giving me the clarity I need. I do not reward people who think like that.

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