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.

Planning Ahead

A friend of mine recently posted on his Facebook page what I believe to be his own eulogy. I’ve known the man for thirty plus years and I know he is fighting cancer for the past ten. Later, another friend told me he is in hospice care.

With that in mind I am preparing for my own demise be it in the next five seconds or five decades, I think I have found the perfect tombstone inscription, except I would plagiarize the words and exchange the name and photo with mine. Let me know if you agree.

Dear Senator Burris

 Dear Senator Burris:

My Flag Flies Everyday

    Congratulations on passing the single largest social legislation bill in the history of the country. I am sure you are proud that this bill will be a part of your legacy. You should also be proud of the fact that you and your fellow senators disregarded the will of your constituents. You will also carry the bankruptcy of the United States to your grave as the real legacy.

     You purchased your seat in a somewhat questionable manner, and now you have convinced me that you did it to support a president whose sole agenda is to change America into a socialist country.

     I cannot believe a single word of the letter you just sent me regarding all the benefits of the bill because I am convinced that you did not read it, nor, do you have the intelligence to understand it even if you could read.

     You can convince me that the health care bill is a good thing for the country by contributing the proceeds of your retirement benefit from the Senate to pay for the program. Surely, you believe in the re-distribution of wealth do you not? Or, is that a concept you believe only if the wealth belongs to someone other than yourself?

Respectfully yours,

Grumpa Joe

Legacy Book

Barb At 30

Barb At 30

Memories evoke emotions. Today, I scanned a series of photos. All of them brought tears to my eyes. The emotions stirred deep as I viewed my Barbara as a bride, young mother, and grandmother. I actually screamed at her, “why?” It doesn’t help, it won’t bring her back. The scream merely let me vent an emotion that is long over due.

Her prayers and poems did the same. She saved every poem that she thought was beautiful, or conveyed her own thinking. Some of them were insights into her future. Others were directed at me and the kids expressing her love. I scanned a bunch of them. Her five year anniversary is nearing, and I want to give each of the children a “Legacy Book.” The book will contain her favorite poems, prayers, and the journal she kept while going through chemo-therapy twenty-nine years ago. I will add the photos of her as a child with her parents, and as a young nurse. I’ll include Barb’s geneology in the form of a family tree. The information will be spotty since only Aunt Marie remains from her family. At ninety-three, Marie’s memory is not what she would like it to be. 

Barb’s children and grandchildren need to have this memento of her. The love she conveys to us in her clippings, and writings is real. She loved us in life, and she left us with many reminders of how much she loved each of us. I hope the book has the same effect on the kids as it does on me everytime I work on it.

This Thursday,  July 10, Barbara would have celebrated her seventieth birthday. Instead we will celebrate her fifth birthday into the kingdom of heaven. There is a special mass for her Thursday, and I will attend. It is one way to be near her again.

 I will present the Legacy Book to the kids a month from now on the anniversary of her death.

Not a Grass Farm Anymore

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerSo many things to write about so little time or desire to do it. Memorial Day was spent quietly. A walk in the early hours, followed by breakfast then a trip to the Breidert Green for the VFW Program. I’ve lived in Frankfort for seventeen years, but this is the first Memorial Day Service I attended. I was drawn to the program to hear my two beautiful grand daughters play in the band. The flag was lowered to half mast followed by the invocation. The Hickory Creek Tiger Band played three numbers, The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, and a third number that I don’t recall. The mayor read the names of all known service people currently serving. After, a Veteran read the names of all the deceased vets from Frankfort. The VFW color guard gave a twenty-one gun salute. Three members of the Tiger Band trumpet section played taps in echo fashion. It brought tears to my eyes. Even though I avoided serving, I grew up with WW-II, Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq. In between those there was the Bay of Pigs, Lebanon, Grenada, and some that I’m sure I have forgotten.

I drove the girls home and chastised my son for not being at the service. He was busy painting his garage door.  

The rest of the afternoon, I spent trying to barbeque some chicken breasts. I say tried, because I ran out of gas on my grill. I had to use a roaster oven to finish. Thank God I paid the electric bill. Peggy and I ate a late lunch. We cleaned up then sat on the patio.  We listened to the sound of the waterfall. A pair of mallards waddled through the yard trying to find a path around us to the bird seed. Finally, we went in to let them enjoy the seed. I’m hoping they are in a family way and will bring their young to the pond. Wouldn’t that be a joy!

This evening, I re-boxed some golf balls for shipment to Iraq. After that I took a baby step to sort through Barb’s favorite poetry and prayers for the legacy scrapbook I am assembling. Another baby step went toward getting my bike ready for the road. In years past, I would have had fifteen hundred miles logged by now. This year I’m struggling to get started. I figure a baby step toward making the bike ready will get me to take the next step, i.e. bring it up from the basement.

Wow its warm. It is our first warm day, and I have every window open and all the fans running to stay cool. Even this laptop is adding heat to my discomfort.

Tomorrow, I will bring the bike up after breakfast. In the afternoon we will shop for more flowers. With all of the trees, shrubs, and perennials we planted around the pond last week, the yard is beginning to look like a real garden again. Goodbye grass farm.