Thinning Out The Inventory

A year ago after Peggy died I got the urge to clear my house of unneeded stuff. My plan was to get the house ready for sale. That plan is still in place. Since another year went by I realized I hadn’t done a single thing to clear my life of clutter since the first and only garage sale I ever conducted.

Peggy’ s first anniversary death date has passed and Barb’s is in another week. Suddenly the urge to clear more clutter struck me hard. I learned of a community wide garage sale and went for it. I had two weeks to get ready.

The plan was to clear the basement as deeply as I could. I succeeded. I cleared things that I hadn’t seen or touched in years like a collection of boxes containing stuff I saved in case I might need it someday. The stuff is all valuable, but the somedays were too few and far between. Without thinking about it or looking into any of the boxes I carried them all up to the garage. Looking through the boxes would have renewed the primal urge to save, save, save. Once those boxes were out, and a nice bare spot was obvious, it became much easier to move more stuff. I went from corner to corner and anything I hadn’t touched in a long time was food for the garage sale. First my shop, then my storage area where I store office supplies pictures, and old stuff too valuable to throw out. Does that sound familiar? Next was the annex to the storage room where I store my Christmas tree and ornaments. My six year old tree became a victim. With four hundred lights burning for many hours from Thanksgiving through the Feast of Three Kings in January for six seasons I decided to not even wait for a string of lights to burn out and cause me hours of frustration trying to save it. I tossed the tree into the pile. No it didn’t sell, but I vowed that anything not sold will never return to the inside of the house, it will go somewhere.

In a few days, I had a substantial pile in the garage and every time I walked through the house I found something which I could live without, and calmly picked it up and walked it to the garage. I registered for the sale and that sealed the deal, I was totally committed. As the days went by the fever to clear the house became a frenzy. Why stop at the obvious? I began scouring closets, cabinets, drawers, and corners. I had numerous floral arrangements spread around the house of various tables all very old and somewhat worn out. Artificial flowers that were dropping their petals and dusty. All of this activity made me thirsty and I reached into a cabinet for a glass. Why do I have two dozen glasses for water? Another cabinet shelf was cleared to the sale pile. Then I realized I had gasses from my wife Barb’s home furnishings and also from Peggy’s. I went through all the dishes, glasses, and table ware. One morning as I reached into a lower cabinet for a fry pan I saw numerous fry pan handles sticking out. Why do I need so many pots and pans? Well I can use a couple for when I cook a large meal, but I ‘m not running a restaurant, I don’t need four of anything. The lower cabinets went to the garage. The week went on and there was little that went unexplored or unquestioned, like table-cloths, placemats, china serving dishes, etc. One cabinet had about a dozen jars of scented candles, some never used. These too fell to the grim reaper of the sale.

By Friday morning the day before the sale I had a garage full of stuff committed. I opened the door at eleven to begin organizing things then realized I hadn’t worked on a street sign to announce the sale. I hurried to make one and thought, what the hell, put it up now. Even though it was a full twenty four hours before the official community sale began what can it hurt? Within twenty minutes I had a steady stream of customers browsing, and things were leaving. I covered my ears to block the screams of the sold items as they left me forever. Their screams were soon disregarded as I found the sound of jingling coins in my pocket more pleasing. Another pleasant sensation was holding the soft roll of paper cash in my hand as I made change. In total, I estimate two hundred items of stuff left me over this week end.

One old man came up to me holding a pocketed sheet filled with silver dollars. I asked him if he got all those dollars in the community garage sale today. “No,” he said, “I just use this to show people what I’m looking for, do you have any silver dollars you want to sell.?”

“As a matter of fact I found one in my watch case prepping for this day, I have it on my dresser.” I went to retrieve it, and looked at the date on it. It was minted in 2004, not very old. I showed it to him and he said, “this is one of the special xxxxxy dollars, they actually contain more silver than the old ones do.”

“Really, how much is it worth?”

“I’ll give you twenty bucks for it, do you have any fraternity rings or wedding rings?

“I have my old high school class ring and a couple of wedding bands too.” I hurried into the house and found them. He whipped out a small electronic scale and after examining the rings for the gold content (14 k) he weighed them and told me he would give me $150 bucks for the rings. A memory popped into my mind. During the past week, I dreamt about my wedding rings. In the dream I saw myself having the two rings made into some kind of jewelry that I would hang around my neck. The old man convinced me to take the money instead. I know the guy will make money on this transaction, and that if I really wanted to I could make even more money but how often will the transaction happen in my home and take only ten minutes of my time? Another memory popped into mind, my wife Barbara often tried to convince me to wear a gold chain around my neck. She thought men who wore gold chains were sexy. I fought the suggestion. Now, I am thinking that perhaps this guy buying my gold was a sign from Barb to wear a gold chain.

All in all, I feel the garage sale was a huge success and now I will deal with disposing of the left overs by donating them to charitable organizations. I will try to sell them on Let Go and eBay. If they don’t sell quickly, I’ll donate them too.

I can sleep better now knowing that if my number comes up and an opening occurs to move into the apartment I want I’ll be more ready than I was before. It doesn’t really matter because what ever happens it will make life easier for my heirs. I had to dispose of entire households three times in my life and I vowed never to leave that kind of problem to my kids. As it is, I still have considerable stuff left that they will have to deal with someday. In the meantime, I will continue to simplify my life as time marches on.


There is something about a beautiful sunset that turns me on. Over the years I have been photographing the end of day event trying to get that perfect scene. I want perfect hues of pink and orange with shades of grey blue with plenty of sky and clouds, and a streak of orange light streaming toward me over the water. I came close a couple of times and have the photos hanging in my house. I tried again last night, and it might be the one I have been longing for.

What a beautiful way to end a great July day. The only thing missing was Taps.

As good as I think this photo is I believe there is an even better one in the days ahead.

Time, Age, & Wisdom

I received this from a very good friend just as I was going through a particularly bad time in my life. It cheered me.

Time, Age, & Wisdom

Age 5

I’ve learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing “Silent Night.”

Age 7 

I’ve learned that our dog doesn’t want to eat my broccoli either. 

Age 9 
I’ve learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back. 

Age 12  
I’ve learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again. 

Age 14 
I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.

Age 15 
I’ve learned that although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me. 

Age 24

I’ve learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.

Age 26

I’ve learned that brushing my child’s hair is one of life’s great pleasures.  

Age 29 
I’ve learned that wherever I go, the world’s worst drivers have followed me there. 

Age 30 
I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.

Age 42 
I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don’t know how to show it.

Age 44 
I’ve learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending them a little note

Age 46 
I’ve learned that the greater a person’s sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.

Age 47
I’ve learned that children and grandparents are natural allies. 

Age 48 
I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on and it will be better tomorrow.

Age 49 

I’ve learned that singing “Amazing Grace” can lift my spirits for hours. 

Age 50 
I’ve learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone. 

Age 51 
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

Age 52 
I’ve learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.


I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.

Age 58 

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.

Age 62
I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

Age 64 
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. 

Age 65 
I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, 
And doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

Age 66 
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision

Age 72 
I’ve learned that everyone can use a prayer.

Age 74 
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

Age 76 
I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, 
Or just a friendly pat on the back.

Age 78 
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Age 80+ 
I’ve learned that life is what you make it, and your life is much better when you make someone happy. 


I’ve learned that you should pass this on to someone you care about Sometimes they just need a little something to make them smile.

If Things Get Better With Age Then I’m Approaching Excellent.

“Old Friends are the best friends!”

“Thank you for being an “OLD FRIEND”

Cause For Celebration

As my body ages my goals change to things that do not involve physical effort. There was a time when I exercised not for health but for the challenge of pushing my body to the limits. Now, I tend to remain seated. Is sitting an exercise? For twenty years my single biggest physical activity has been gardening followed by bicycling. If I could be biking while working the garden I’d be supremely happy. I have mentioned this many times, my garden has a name, “The Monet Vision”. To make it interesting I’ve added the theme after the name because I try to make it different every year, like Monet Vision-Golden Glow. This year I’ve decided to name it Monet Vision-Retired. Each year the theme depicts a color scheme or a specific floral planting. Because I am in the process of downsizing and will be giving up the castle sometime soon, I thought it necessary to redesign the garden to eliminate some maintenance. The problem is that I don’t quite know how to do that. I do, but the perfect scheme would cause me great amounts of energy expenditure and a large cash outlay. There was a time when the cash outlay would have been the greatest deterrent, but today it is the energy, both physical and mental, that challenges me.

One focal highlight of the garden is a water feature which I call the pond.  The pond gave me a new dimensions of plant life to exploit and enjoy. Even Monet needed water to grow his infamous water lilies. Water in the garden breeds mosquitoes and the pesky creatures defy enjoyment. To ward off the blood sucking pests a new element is introduced to the pond, i.e. mosquito eating fish. Ponds requires the movement of water to be effective in keeping fish. Fish require oxygen and moving water via water falls, and rapids add the oxygen, as well as soft sounds and contemplative visual scenes to sooth the soul. Last January, the mechanism for creating this water movement, i.e.the pump, died, and so did my fish. When water reaches thirty-two degrees F it changes phase and turns into ice. The water below the ice is probably at thirty-three degrees. I have worked with my hands and arms up to my elbows in such water and can testify that it is not pleasant, nor smart to do so.

During the winter I contemplated the maintenance needed to restart the water flowing again. The dead pump allowed the stream that connects the water fall to the pond to dry up. This enabled me to get into the stream and to rip out the pond grass from either side of the water fall. It sounded easy, but in reality it took me three weeks of intense labor to cut the roots of the grass and to lever the system out of the river bed with a crow bar. All of this was done while in a crouch with my knees on a pad and my toes crunched up under my weight. At my age, getting up from this position requires considerable energy and time for my joints to relax back into their normal position. Anyway, I opened up the stream from the grasses that were choking the water and forcing it to overflow the banks. This backup caused me to lose a lot of water every day and water although plentiful does not come free where I live. By the time the grasses were gone, the remainder of the weeds in the garden took off like one of Elon Musk’s rockets to the Space Station. Another six weeks later I had completed a 360 degree tour of weeding and shrub trimming around the house. It was now time to install the pump, but I hadn’t bought it yet. I went into COVID-19 shock when I learned the cost to replace the pump from the original Japanese manufacturer had risen to five hundred and fifty dollars a full 25% more than previous. Another week of research on the internet and I finally hit the check out button on a replacement for less than three hundred dollars.  Take a guess where it is made, yep you guessed it, Taiwan, ROC (Republic of China). It will be hard to swear off buying from China when it affects the pocket book so drastically. If my plan works, this will be the last pond pump that I will buy in my lifetime.

By the time, the pump arrived, the stream bed which had been dry all spring was now full of weeds again. Another two hours on my knees with my toes crunched under were needed to clear the stream bed before I could wrestle the pump into place and hooked up. The final step was to plug it in and pray it worked, it did, and that is cause to celebrate!

One of My Best

Farmer’s Market Covid Version

How does a person continue to write for a blog when his mind and heart are not in it any longer? After seventy some days without missing a single day of writing I became blocked. The past two days I spent as off days and enjoyed myself by walking and talking. I attended our newly opened Covid friendly farmer’s market and was pleased. The Village Father’s put some thought into it and I think they have succeeded in remaking it to close to where it was. The Frankfort Farmer’s Market had become the social event of the week. We had farmers from within a 110 mile radius selling fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers fresh baked bread, tacos, and what not. In addition there were booths selling slushies, lemonade, and other hand made drinks. My favorite was a Nun who drove in from Chicago with newly baked French pastries and breads. She and her fellow nuns are from France in Chicago on a mission living in a a converted old warehouse and doing charitable work among the indigents of the city. Another favorite is a lady who bakes pies. My favorite is her apple, cherry, or blueberry pies. She sends her husband to the market with a minivan loaded with pies. His instructions are not to return until the pies are all sold. He never takes any home and he leaves early.

Since the bouncer at the gate controlled the flow of people coming into the market area it was never crowded and lines at the booths were all very short. The line outside the market however, was very long. That is because the people were all spacing themselves six feet apart. The line never stopped. There were always people leaving to allow new people in.

On a normal Sunday, the market wraps around a building we call the Grainery. The booths are stacked next to each other closely to allow the most vendors into the least amount of space. In the Covid scheme the market was split into two areas, i.e. two parking lots across the street from each other. The second section was controlled the same way as the first, the bouncer lets you in and keeps the flow moving.

All in all, the market was the highlight of my day. I walked three and a half miles, and wound up carrying my slushie home before I could drink any of it.

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