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 29, 2021

Hometown Shopping Adventures

 

For more months than I’d be willing to admit---okay, you dragged it out of me. It's been over a year---I’ve been online shopping for cushions for my grandfather’s wicker settee and chair. And just so you'll know that I'm not total indecisive I settled on a fabric called Fretwork Pewter from Sunbrella early on in the process. That was the easy part. I wanted a light and airy look that would go well with whatever colorful or campy throw pillows or gaudy area rug I could come up with, but finding a company who sold the size I needed was more complicated. I felt like Goldilocks with her bowls of porridge. Some cushions were too long, some too short, some were the right length but not the right width. It was enough to put me on the Crazy Train with nothing but a tooth brush, a baby-powder scented stick of deodorant and a couple of Wet Ones.

Recently I got depressed at the hunt and briefly considered going the route most people would take---ditch that settee idea and order some normal furniture for my future living room. (I can’t use my current sofa and side chair because they are scaled for a space twice as big as I’m moving into and they’re navy blue. Ya, I know. What was I thinking back at the turn of the century where they were new? Navy blue with gray carpeting and walls might appeal to Dallas Cowboys fans, but I’d stick my fingers down my throat if I ever had to host a game night party.)

Fretwork Pewter

Then it hit me that I live in a town of over a million people. Surely someone local must have cushions. I started at a place that sells everything you could ever want for your back yard. You want a fancy-schmancy outdoor kitchen or a play palace for your kids? They’ve got them. You want a grill that costs more than your mortgage payment or a gazillion piece, outdoor furniture grouping? They’ve got them by the dozens. They also advertise that they sell replacement cushions. So off I went armed with photographs and the patterns I made for the size cushions I need but the first question the sales girl asked was, “What brand is the settee?” “It was made in the 1920s,” I answered, “If it had a brand stamped on it back then its long gone now.” She measured my patterns and she really tried to find cushions in her catalogs of cushions that would fit. Ohmygod, and did she have a LOT of catalogs---a one foot thick pile! Finally she said, “If you want to do that settee justice you should have custom-made cushions.” And she sent me to a place she said could do the job. I thanked her profusely and off I went to a little hole-in-wall business seven minutes from where I live. Online I'd traveled from coast to coast looking in vain for the right bowl of porridge when I should have been looked under my nose.

The cushion guy is my new best friend. It’s going to cost me three times what ready-made, ill-fitting cushions would cost but I’ll be getting very firm and very thick core foam that will make the wicker far more comfortable than the cushions I’m using now or could order online and get this, he’s going to come over to the house to do a “dry fit” part way through the process. That takes the fear out of spending so much money and having them turning out too big or too small. We just have to get past the hurdle of him getting the fabric I picked and if he can’t get it, I’ll have to go back and wade through his books of sample fabrics. I’ll only have to wait five weeks for the cushions to be made. Real living room furniture now is taking four to five months if you don’t buy off the showroom floor. 

Custom cushions really are expensive but compared to buying a new sofa and chair I’ll be saving a huge chunk of change. And why not? I'm not a living room kind of person. Unless I have company---which is rare since entertaining people freaks me out---I'm always in my computer chair or dinking around with a craft project. The living room is like fly-over-land. I walk through it to get to other rooms. Been that way my entire adult life and I'm not kidding about my ineptness at entertaining. I'm as awkward as Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. He at least will offer a hot beverage on occasion, I forget even that basic courtesy from Hospitality101.

After the online experience I had with bistro set I doubled down on finding a computer desk locally. I went to a couple of stores, ending at the Amish Oak place where I’ve bought five pieces over the years and I was armed with a drawing of a what I wanted in a desk. By now, some Amish carpenter has my order on his 19th century, orders-in spindle. My desk will has a pull-out work surface for left-handers, a keyboard tray and a computer tower cubby behind a door. It will be small---only 48” wide by 24”---but its finish will match the other antique, golden oak stain I already have on furniture I'm keeping and it will have mission style details. Its back will be finished, too, giving me the option to use it in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows in my living room instead of in my tiny den space which would turn my fly-over living room into a destination point. This custom order won’t come in until mid-October which works out perfect for my move-in date of October 5th.

I don’t want to admit what that desk is costing me but all the other small desks I’ve been finding aren’t made with real wood and they won’t last five years before they get saggy and I plan on living another ten years. So I’m looking at it like my Amish desk will cost me $245 a year and with all the time I spend sitting in front of my large monitor and curved keyboard, I’ll get my money’s worth. Did you see what I just did there? Yup, I’m a master at justifying what some might think is foolish spending. Desks with computer trays and monitor cubbyholes are going the way of buggy whips in this age of laptops and tablets.  

Next up I need to order the La-Z-Boy I’ve had my eye. Last time I was out to the store they said it’s taking five months to get them in. I just have to wait on the settee fabric first, to make sure I don’t have to pick something difference to coordinate with the chair. This is the fun part of moving. All the planning, all the work, all the pandemic enhanced stress is finally resolving and things are coming together. Oh, and did I mention that my eye doctor just pronounced that my cataracts are "ripe" and they need to be removed? I am officially not legal to drive at night, he said. Surgeries will get scheduled for mid and late October...just in time for me to see colors again when I'm sitting in front of my painting easel for the first time in years. ©

 

NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBER'S SIGN-UP: Those of us who use the Bloggers platform got a notice that in July Feedburner will no longer be able to give notification to our readers who want to follow us by email. In my right hand column you'll see a new sign-up box that is run by Mailchimp and it was set up by Linda at My Fairy Blog Mother. There are lots of directions online on how to do it yourself but I didn't have the time to mess with learning how to migrate my email subscription list to another service thus I hired Linda. Jeanie at 'The Marmelade Gypsy' wrote a post about the extensive work Linda did for her blog that you can find here. Jeanie is telling her readers to look in their spam folders for an email from Mailchimp if they haven't received notice after signing up. If you find a notice there, be sure to mark it 'not spam.'

If you didn't get a notification with a new, header that looks like the sign-up box to the right and one isn't in your spam folder, please fill out the new form to get my posts delivered to your email box. (I wish it was smaller but beggars can't be choosers.) During the transfer nearly 500 subscribers got dumped for looking like bots or spammers and I'm guessing some 'good ones' could have gotten purged accidentally in that batch? You can also follow with the new Bloggers link added to the side bar.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Oh Happy Days!

Have you ever felt so happy and light-hearted that you keep looking behind you to see if you’re farting rainbows and puppy dogs? Me neither but I came close today. The euphoric lift in my caboose might not have come from leaving a trail of puppies in my wake but I swear there’s a rainbow following me around and before you ask, it smells just like wet grass and cotton candy---strawberry cotton candy and good old, Kentucky bluegrass. To be honest the scent in the air is probably coming from the neighbor who is mowing his lawn and I have a Dutch Rusk smeared with strawberry jam sitting next to my keyboard. Ya, in my world I have the super powers of a five year old girl. If a rabbit was in my view right now my imagination would turn him into a unicorn. That said, I just used 148 words of my 1,000 word quota to convey that I’m having a great day.

What brought on this happy mood? Simple. Yesterday the son-I-wish-I-had spent a couple of hours helping me clean my garage and now there is nothing left out there to purge before I get the house whipped into shape for the listing. When Tim drove off with his trailer loaded with my stuff he also took a lot of my stress with him. What was in the trailer? He took---bought actually---five large metal cabinets that filled up one wall; three large boxes of e-Bay shipping supplies (he does e-Bay too); five long tables from the days when Don and I were vendors at swap meets (four more will go later on); a snow blower plus driveway salt and snow shovels; two vintage 20 gallon metal ice cream drums that I was using to hold tools with long handles; an assortment of tools like a roof rake, shovels and gardening tools; a box of wood scraps; and several full sheets of Masonite that I used to create a ‘bull pen’ for my shipping activities.

There were things in that load Tim hauled away that I could have tried to sell on Facebook Marketplace like the snow blower but even though it was in mint condition I figured no one would buy it this time of the year, however the e-Bay supplies would have been an easy sale. But I screwed up with the vintage ice cream drums. I should have looked up their value before giving them to Tim who, by the way, was elated to get them. He said he’s wanted them for years and I realized too late that I lost an opportunity for a $100 barter. It’s what we do. We barter and with the move coming up I’m going to be on the bottom side of our little game. Still, it turned out great this week. He moved a bird bath in the yard for better drive-by appeal, helped me in the garage, was great company and at the end I owed him $100 for his labor and he owed me $125 for the cabinets and $12 for twelve Rubbermaid boxes. (I've probably got 40 more empty Rubbermaid boxes to clean up and use for packing up the house for the move, after which Tim is barter/buying them all.)

The garage is only 90% ready for photo day but it makes sense as a garage again. I could park four small cars in there now or a RV and two cars. A 24 foot sail boat would fit or a pop-up van with a wheelchair lift and ramp like we had in the oversized space. There’s more square footage in that garage than in the place I'm moving into. One guy who came to pick up a Marketplace purchase took one look at the vaulted ceiling, showroom lighting and finished wall with miles of pegboard and said, “Wow! I could live in this garage!”  In other words, it’s a guy’s dream garage which I’m hoping will help sell the house because the kitchen is not a woman's dream kitchen. It's too small by today's standards and not an inch of granite or stainless steal to be seen.

When my husband was alive 2/3 of the garage was his show-and-tell space for his Classic Corvette and all his gas & oil collectibles---restored gas pumps from the 1920s, porcelain signs, tall glass oil bottles and metal cans. We also had a showcase of “smalls” which in gas & oil collector’s circles means we had everything that gas stations once gave away for promotionals. We specialized in Smalls when we had booths in several antique malls and would do swap meets out of state in the summers.

In the first two summers after Don died, Tim and I systematically e-Bayed all of Don’s collection. Tim sold the pumps, globes, larger signs---things we knew would sell for big bucks---and I sold the rest. We did it that way because he was taking a 30% commission out of anything he sold and with cheaper things it wasn’t worth his effort. Paying him that 30% was well worth it because he covered the e-Bay fees and handled all the shipping and pickups which was no small feat to arrange on those old gas pumps and globes. Those two summers our e-Bay accounts were both going hot and heavy. And now, for the first time since I’ve lived here, my garage is just a garage. OH HAPPY DAYS!

The photo below is of the one-piece, hand painted Musgo gas globe and it was Don's pride and joy. When he first offered $5,000 for it and let the seller work him up the $7,000 I thought they were both crazy. But fast forward 15 years and his investment sold for $20,000 (minus Tim's $2,000 broker's fee for arranging the private sale to another collector) which in turn helped me pay off my mortgage early. Now, there are three piece reproductions on the market which always drives the prices down on the originals. I sold it at the right time. I've always hated having large sums of money invested in breakable antiques and I was glad to get the Musgo out of the house, having once broke a $4,000 globe just packing it up to take to swap meet. My husband wasn't even mad. "Why aren't you yelling at me?" I asked. "Why should I?" he replied, "You feel bad enough for both of us."

All traces of its former uses are gone from my garage and my life is about to change, leaving behind my wheeling and dealing memories. And there are a lot of memories involved. My husband was the up-front man who bought and sold the stuff but I'm the one who worked behind the scenes cleaning, polishing and pricing it all. I'm the one who did the packing and unpacking for shows and the mall restocking and who single-handedly hung it all in our garage after Don's stroke, then I e-Bayed it after he died not to mention I was with him when he bought most of that stuff. 

Now, I'm looking forward to getting re-acquainted with that five year old girl who lives inside of me and who wants nothing more than to pretend I'm about to move into a tiny cottage near a lake where I'll be free to paint and write all day long, occasionally looking over my shoulder to see if I'm leaving a trail of rainbows and puppy dogs in my wake. ©

Photo Notes: The top photo is of one wall as it looked when my husband was a live but I can't find a digital photo of the wall of the gas pumps and globes, and I don't have the time to deal with finding a print copy to scan. The center photo is of my husband (in the wheelchair) and a good friend (to the left) and his friend's brother who is standing in front of the showcase of Smalls.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Online Shopping Saga Continues

Remember the bistro set I bought where the online company selling it gave me two different answers when I messaged them about the color? Well, that should have given me a clue that their right hand doesn’t know what their left hand is doing. When the huge box arrived I carefully unpacked it, checked for damage and to make sure the bag of parts matched up to that was listed on the instruction sheet. It didn't. It was missing a one inch plastic part.

Step One: I filled out a form on the website about the missing part and sent the above photo with the form and I got a message back that they are sending me a whole new bistro set. Thinking I somehow screwed up and somehow ordered another set instead of a one inch part, I called them and was told that the manufacture no longer has those little one inch parts available and they’ve authorized Wayfair to issue a full refund and I can go to a place like Lowe's or Home Depot and find a part that will work. Supposedly the screws and plastic receptors are interchangeable with others that are out there to get the job done. That would have been a needle-in-the-haystack kind of shopping trip but it did look do-able. The help desk lady said the refund was already issued to my credit card account and that I could send them a copy of the receipt for a new part and they would reimburse me. I checked my credit card account online and sure enough, the refund was there and I was getting a free bistro set minus a little thingamajig.

Step Two: I got a phone call from Wayfair a few days later. “Good news!” the guy said. "A new part is on the way."  Great, I thought, that saves me a shopping trip.

Step Three: Three days later a whole new bistro set showed up on my doorstep! And no, I didn't get a charge added onto my credit card for the second set. But the refund for the first table set was rescinded.

Step Four: I called Wayfair back up and told them that I was expecting a one inch plastic part and a whole new bistro set arrived and, “How do I send it back?” She was very nice and she told me that this was the way the manufacture wanted to handle the missing part. I’m to keep the second set and I have one of two choices I can do with the first set: Either donate it or I can ship it back to Wayfair at my own expense. This box is 42” x 28” x 10” and I’ve shipped enough e-Bay stuff over the past two years to know that box wasn’t going to ship cheaply. “I did nothing wrong," I told her, "and I’m not shipping it back if I have to pay the freight!” The help desk representative was very nice---again---and said it was my choice to make. "Wayfair does not weigh in on your choice." So I have a huge box in my living room waiting to be unpacked to make sure the parts are all there and a partially empty box sitting in my garage while its table is leaning against my library wall.

Step Five: I got to looking at that table and where the two identical parts are supposed to go on the table and for the life of me I can’t see what possible function them preform. The screws and plastic parts they screw into attaches two plastic clamps around a bar and the plastic clamps don’t make contact with any other part on the table when it’s set up or when it’s folded up. The clamps do not hold anything together, do not protect anything and the table works perfectly as is without them. I checked to make sure the diagram and bag of parts matches the stock number of the table and they do and the diagram shows exactly where the stupid parts are supposed to go which is not a place important to it's function, strength or structure. So now I’ve got two tables waiting for the son-I-wish-I-had, who is coming next week to help empty out my garage, to see if he can see something I’m missing on why those clamps are even needed. 

Step Six: Once that mystery is solved I’ve decided I’ll enjoy one bistro set this summer on my side deck and for staging the house, and leave the other one packed for the move. Then when I leave here I’ll either donate, sell or give away the set I've used over the summer or leave it behind for the new owner…whatever suits me best at the time. 

Edit to Add: Step Seven - written a few days after writing the other steps: I just got an e-mail from Wayfair asking if I knew that I could donate the set to Habitat for Humanity and they will pick it up, which, the email said, "would save me the inconvenience of donating it elsewhere." They didn't say it but Wayfair probably gets a tax write off if I do use the Habitat link they sent me, which I'm sure works better dollar wise for them than paying for return shipping. So now I have to new decision to make: Be selfish and stick with Step six or arrange for a Habitat pick up. I'm strongly leaning toward the latter choice but I'll still fish the bag of parts out of the new box, then remove the one inch plastic part that neither Habitat or I will need and return the bag where I found it. Why bother, you ask? Just to keep the records matching on this saga. I'm not taking any chances in case Habitat reports back to Wayfair that the part was there all along, since it was the first box I was supposed to donate. (It took a long time to unpack that first book to check for damages and I'm not doing it for the second box.)

Step Eight: I just tried to schedule a pickup on the bistro set with Habitat for Humanity and because of Covid they are not scheduling any pickups until after August 3rd! By then I'll have the house on the market and I can't leave that great big box sitting in my living room which is where it will have to sit until Tim comes over to move it into the garage!

Edit to add Sept Nine: Tim came by, looked over the part in question and agrees that the clamp-like part and the missing one inch plastic part services absolutely no purpose. And since Wayfair didn't say I HAD to donate it to Habitat---they just said, "Do you know that if you wish to donate the item, Habitat for Humanity makes donating easy?"---I gave the bistro set to Tim for his cottage because by then I was thoroughly exhausted over being on this nearly two weeks long online shopping merry-go-around. Now the second set is history and the first is packed back up and waiting for the move!

I’m just glad this saga happened before I ordered the computer desk I’ve had my eye on that comes all in parts---lots of parts with lots of screws and nuts that they estimate takes three hours to put together. I have since been out to the Amish Oak store and they priced out a desk that came in under $1,700 including shipping. I fell in love with the white-washed finish on the oak that they didn’t have back when I was bought my kitchen table and chairs at that store. Unfortunate, after making a scale model of the desk and moving it around on my blueprint I discovered it's too big for my space so I have to start all over again pricing out a smaller, custom desk, which I can do when I go back to pick up the chair I left for repair. But I’m confident I can get a desk (that doesn’t come in pieces and is made out of real wood) and if I have to work on a card able for a while waiting for it to be built, it will be worth it. I've bought a lot of furniture from that Amish Oak store over the past two decades and ©

I just noticed on this stock photo taken by the manufacture of the bistro set that the clamp part is not on the table's cross-bar just under the top. Can you believe that!  It's a beautiful set, by the way, and who knew an online purchase would come with such a silly story to tell.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Meeting - The First of Four

 


Yesterday was a Red Letter Day in the life of this blogger. I went to the first of four future residences meetings to get orientated on the move to the continuum care campus. The other meetings will come once a month from now on with topics like covering the Handbook of Rules & Safety...things like where to go for tornado warnings, in case of fire, using our panic buttons, etc. At one meeting we’ll learning how to active the underground parking door, get into the buildings and buzzing our guests in, get maintenance. Another meeting will cover tech issues and how to use the trash compactor, the intercom, run appliances, how to get IT to fix any TV, phone or WiFi issues.

They have their BIG inspection for occupancy certification coming up starting mid-June and until every single one of the 52 units plus the restaurants and public areas all passes that inspection no one gets to move into the buildings. City inspectors have been following construction monthly every step of the way and the construction company doesn’t expect that certification process to be anything but routine, but it's time consuming and thorough. They started scheduling move-ins appointments and mine is October 5th at 8-12:00. Note: no one can actually move in until October 4th. That has to do with the elevators having to pass a different-from-the-certification test first but they've built a lot of time into their schedule in case they have bugs to work out. Not sure when landscaping happens. 

The move-in calendar is going to be a logistical, complicated process fit for a military commander to manage 52 of us spread out over October. We’ll get a four hour window of time to use the elevator all to ourselves and two people will be moving into each of the two buildings at the same time. Being in the first wave of those who move in is going to be creepy that first night, sleeping in a huge buildings with just eight occupied units. And noisy for the first few weeks. If all doesn't go according to plans I can push my move-in appointment back but I would hate that.

Because of social distancing we sat with only two of us at a table for this meeting but when they asked for a show of hands on who has been vaccinated, every single person in the room raised their hand. The masks came off and the wine and cocktails flowed. I didn’t have a drink because I have enough trouble concentrating when I drive so I’ll wait until after I move in before getting into social drinking. Haven’t done that since I lost my designated drive to my husband’s stroke in 2001. I’ve probably turn into a lush which is okay, you’d like drunk me. I get really silly and how much trouble can I get into when I'll just have to walk the distance of a half a city block to get back home? As always with this group the food was both pretty and delicious. The chef in my future home is going to be one of my favorite people on the campus.

My table mate turned out to be a woman I hadn’t met before and we will be living in the same building, on the same floor. We clicked right off the bat and our conservation was organic and easy. She’s a widow, was a teacher, loves to read, she and her husband never had kids (like Don and me). And she’s moving into the continuum care campus for the same reasons I am: 1) to make it easier on our nieces who are named as our powers of attorney, and 2) to make our own decisions, now while we still can, about where we'll live should we ever need more oversight, skilled nursing, a memory care unit or Hospice…which are all on this non-profit campus and part of the CC promise we’re buying into.

Things we learned at this first meeting: We’ll have two WiFi accesses. One will be just for our personal space with 30 Mbps (most homes have 29) and the other one will be for all the public spaces and for our guests to use with 10 Mbps. We’ll get 62 channels of free TV. With both the TV and WiFi we can upgrade if we want to pay a monthly fee. We’re getting a free 3’ x 3’ “cage storage” space plus a locking storage unit at the end of our parking space. We can get a landline for a fee if we want, but we won’t be able to keep our existing phone numbers. And the director of the CCC is going to ask the bank that is keeping all our deposits in escrow if they’d do bridge loans for those of us who might need or want them. That would simplify things greatly! Most of us seem to be in the same catch-22 of needing to sell and close on our houses to finish paying off the new unit and we can’t move in until we’ve made that final payment.

June is going to be a busy month of getting my house ready to list. Already I’ve had an electrician come out to swap out a light fixture that decided it didn’t want to work anymore. Power washing the siding so I can get the windows washed inside and out is scheduled as is vacuuming down the basement. The biggest job left is dismantling my e-Bay shipping area in the garage, selling off shelving out there and maybe move some furniture out there to sell on Facebook Marketplace. I also have to get my computer wardrobe out of my kitchen---not looking forward to that. Getting the carpets professional cleaning will come near the end of June. The photo shoot of my house will take place the first week in July. Things are moving right along.

The photo at the top is the artist's rendering of the lake side of the complex. I'm on the opposite, cheap side of the building without the great lake view and without the extra 208 or 344 square footage that would have cost me an additional $250+ a month and an extra $15,000+ to buy into the campus. When I picked out my unit my thought process was that not having a great view will force me to spend more time in the public areas or outside walking. $250+ a month is a good chunk of change and by saving that I won't have to worry as much about my budget. It was a trade off and I'm still not sure I made the right decision but I made it all by myself without asking for an opinion from anyone else. Whether it turns out to be the right or wrong decision, I wanted to own it, not blame anyone else if I come to regret not having a lake view. I did the same thing when I put the first deposit down. I didn't tell a soul that I was thinking about buying into the campus until after it was a done deal. Anyone else like that? When I make major, life changing decisions I want to be sure my voice is the only one I hear.  ©

P.S. Writing this made me realize when we get to pick out our parking units I might be able to score one with a window facing the lake. I'm in the low 20s in the picking order. That would tickle my funny bone to be able to brag about my lake view. I could even put a chair down there in my underground parking space just to add to the humor. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Freaking Out!

I suppose freaking out is too strong a statement. Maybe wimping out or having a meltdown is closer to the fact? For some odd reason (or many reasons) tears have been close to the surface the past few weeks. One of those reasons is the on-going saga of my getting ready for my move to a continuum care campus---which in turn has caused me: 1) to depend on ambient too much to get some sleep, and 2) to depend of comfort foods to be my new best friend. Keeping the transition saga company on the ‘Things to Worry About' chart is stuff beyond my control---the pandemic, some issues my brother's family are going through, the housing market and worrying that the seller’s market will burst just as my house goes on the market, depending on hired help to get my house ready to list. Wouldn’t you think with so many situations I can't do anything about that I’d focus more on what I can control? Like my diet? My eating is so out of control it would take a baseball bat alongside the head to knock me back into the healthy eating zone. I'm still buying salads and fruits as well as the cookies, ice cream and carbs. I didn’t stop eating what I’m supposed to be eating, I just added my drug of choice to the mix. Sugar. Lots of sugar. I’ve been here before. The only thing that pulls me back from the Sugar Abyss is writing down every single morsel that passes my lips. I guess that's called 'accountability' and apparently I'm not mad enough about myself destructive behavior to go there yet.

You would not believe what I just went thought to get the correct spelling of ‘abyss.’ It involved a google search, my Franklin Word Master and a lot of yelling at Alexa because apparently in my dyslexic brain ‘obelisk’ and ‘abyss’ are pronounced the same. (When I check the spelling of a word, I always check its definition which is how I find all my brain farts in the Wonderful World of Writing.) I even tried to move past my obsession with that word by using the phrase Sugar Brink or Sugar Ledge instead of Sugar Abyss but I can be a stubborn creature when I argue with Alexa. And even that made tears roll down my cheek, wondering if my new neighbors be able to hear me yelling at my virtual assistant. Given all the fights we have over words on a daily basis why do I dream about getting another Alexa that isn’t tied to my Kindle? Some mysteries cannot be solved by applying logic.

Anyway, where was I with my ‘freaking out’ post? Stress. Yes, I’m stressed out and even though Levi my Might Schnauzer died two months ago, I’ve cried over him more these past two weeks than I did right after he passed away. I haven't been this "weepy" in years. My lawn treatment guy left a dog bone in a plastic bag with his invoice hanging on the door. Cue the crying. My cell phone calendar reminded me to give Levi his flea and heart worm medications. Cue the tears. And do you know how many cute dog videos pop up on my Facebook feed? They’ve always been there so why did they start effecting me now, two months after Levi’s passing? Probably for the same reason songs on Prime County have become crying cues again. I need more sleep, less sugar and a couple of huge hugs. Gosh, it's been well over a year since another human and I have touched. Damn pandemic! Makes me want to fake a choking event just to get someone to do the Heimlich Maneuver.

I got invited out to lunch by two of my Gathering Girls pals and found out the group, as we knew it, has reached its demise. We had a good run for nearly four years---meeting twice a month for lunch, but it looks like we’re not going to survive the damage the pandemic did to our good times. Last summer we were meeting in a park since the restaurants were all closed down and I was fully expecting to start that up again once we get past the unseasonably cold weather we’ve been having. But these two women told me they and a third member of the group don't want to meet in the park anymore because the picnic tables are too uncomfortable. Another member has COPD compromised lungs and even though she’s fully vaccinated she doesn’t want to go to restaurants but would do the park and sixth member of our group is afraid to get vaccinated which makes a few of the other ladies in the group nervous to be around her. Restaurants here are still not operating at full capacity and, for me, it isn't fun to linger over lunch when people are waiting to be seated. The handwriting is on the wall, there is no way to make everyone happy. 

I was the person who always sent out the bi-monthly emails to keep us meeting every 1st and 3rd Mondays. Even during this past winter when no places were open I still sent out the emails to keep us all touching bases. But at lunch I passed the job of coordinating future lunches and RSVPs on to one of my lunch companions who also had a bone to pick about meeting at a centrally located restaurant we often went to before the pandemic put us in the park. It seems that three in the group want to do spur-of-the-moment lunches instead of on fixed dates and they want to bounce around to different places. We've done a little of that bouncing around, especially in the early years, even tried rotating who picked the restaurants but neither worked as well for getting full attendance like going to our 'default place' did. Sitting at lunch this week, the negativity took me by surprised and I felt chastised which---real or made-up in my sleep deprived head---made me sad, like I hadn't been sensitive enough to the winds of discontinue. And it makes me a little mad that I had to come home and remove a summer's worth of 1st and 3rd Monday luncheons off my day planner. After doing that, I deleted Levi's medication reminders off my phone app calendar. Change is hard but I plan to take Socrates' advice to heart. ©

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Facebook Marketplace or Goodwill?

People who buy stuff off Facebook Marketplace are a hoot and a holler away from being your typical flea market shoppers. (That's not an insult, by the way, I used to love flea markets and have been on both sides of the goods bought and sold.) But few Facebook shoppers seem to care about being on time…only the ones over 60 know how to do it when they say they will pick up what you’re selling. When Marketplace shoppers say, for example, “I’ll be there at 5:30” what they really mean is “I punch out of work at 5:30” or “I’ll leave my house at 5:30.” One lady came almost two hours late. I thought she’d ghosted me. (Look at me, I’m using young people speak.) No phone text or message on Facebook came saying that she was running late. She just showed up with the lame excuse that she had to pick up her kids from school and then had to stop to get them some Chicken McNuggets because she didn’t have change to pay me for what she was going to buy. Okay, I thought, that doesn't take two hours…so what happened to the rest of the time? She bought $65 worth of dishes so I kept my Mad Hannah face hidden behind my mask and accepted her apology and cash graciously. 

Another guy who was right on time at precisely 8:05 AM would have made me mad if I’d gotten up and dressed that early and he had shown up late but I knew that wouldn’t happen because he was dropping his kids off at a charter school a two minute ride away. I had a 12 foot tall tree trimmer for sale, a really old one that I quickly figured out wouldn’t sell right away (if at all) because the newer ones are made of aluminum while mine was made out of wood. When he sent the first messaging asking if it was still available he also wanted to know, “Is it really heavy?” to which I answered honestly that it was. “Okay,” he writes back, “I still want it.” 

I liked the guy before he even got here. Yes, I stalked him on Facebook and found out he was a single dad and was getting high praises from all his friends for being such a good father of three wholesome looking kids. So I was pretty sure he wouldn’t use that wicked blade on the tree trimmer to hack me up. This, and I was bigger than him and could have taken him down in a pinch. When he got here, he picked up the trimmer, a big smile on his face. “Just as I thought,” he says, “I’m going to get a really good workout using this. I like to build my exercise into my chores so I don't have to waste time going to a gym.” People passed over that old heavy trimmer for several weeks but he saw its negative quality and turned it into positive. I wanted to hug him like the teddy bear that he was but, of course, I didn't. Instead I pressed the essence of his upbeat attitude into my Mental Scrapbook to savor later on.

Then there was the long-haired humorless guy, late teens or early twenties, who had no searchable data showing on his Facebook page. He was interested in a black and white print of a well-known tree in town. The print was older than him, the tree is older than me. The print was created by a long-gone local artist who still has an international following. I made a mistake in the listing price of $27 when I meant to price it at $72, but I didn’t have enough time to edit it because within two minutes of me listing it the guy messaged me for the pick up address and said he'd be over in fifteen minutes. He was on his way before I noticed my mistake. 

He was good for his word on the time but not on the cash. He only brought a twenty dollar bill, claimed he didn't see the two. Kids today don't carry cash like my generation. He offered the full amount with his phone app---that's the way young people do Marketplace, they transfer funds from their account to the seller's account---but I don't trust my dyslexia moments enough to have PayPal on my phone. I didn’t think he was trying to pull that old flea marketer’s trick of claiming to be a few bucks short on cash, hoping the seller would say, “That’s okay, take it.” Never the less, that’s exactly what I did say because I doubt I paid more than ten bucks for that print back when I was his age. He studied that piece of art like an appraiser working for Christies Auction House. While he was doing that I asked him if he was an artist---he looked the part and knew enough to look for "half moons" in the paper, gave it the smell test for mold and other things that he didn't find. “No, I'm just building myself a collection of nice, original art.” It crossed my mind that maybe he was a shill buyer for someone with an art gallery who knew that in the right, international art auction they could turn it over for $250 to $300 but I’d rather believe he was just a kid with similar tastes in art to mine and that he’ll always remember me as that elderly woman who sold him The Old Gnarly Tree at a killer price.

That same day I listed the frames in the photo up above on Facebook. (Those were in was my bedroom before I redid it with a cottage, seaside theme.) Within an hour five people asked if they were available and I replied to them all with the same "Yes, they are" but only one answered back. I don’t get why people ask if something is still available one minute and five minutes later they act like you gave them the wrong answer and they don't say boo after that. That fifth lady who did reply made an appointment for 6:00 PM but 6:00 came and went and she didn’t show up. I've had other marketplace people show up really late or call to reschedule but she was my first no-show. But I didn't take it personally. Life happens to us all. It's just frustrating and if you want to sell on Facebook Marketplace you'll need patience and flexibility. 

The next day I was off to Goodwill and recycling. If the back end of my Trax hadn't been full those frames might have gone with me. Something tells me they're going to be a lot of trouble for the lousy twenty bucks I'm asking. As I waited my turn in the drop off lane, I was flabbergasted by the way the lady in front of me dumped her totes upside down in Goodwill's rolling cart. Clothes, games, household decor, appliances, etc., all tumbling out, mixed together with no rhyme or reason. She didn't even tape a jig saw puzzle box closed and, of course, it spilled all over the place. My stuff was in labeled boxes and anything inside of the boxes that belonged together, like a stapler and boxes of staples, were sealed together in zip-lock bags. I also label anything that isn't easily recognizable like an adaptive device to help one-handed pool players. Like I've said before, downsizing is like living your life in reverse. I couldn't just throw out that little thing when it could help some disabled guy (like my husband was) to get back into billiards again. But seeing the cue holder again sure brought back a bunch of buried memories. ©