Monthly Archives: June 2013

Garage Sale Adventures


garage sale

There is a popular alternative to the city landfill.  It’s called a “garage sale”.  Every summer I work tirelessly much like a squirrel gathering up nuts for the winter in preparation for the big day.  This goes on for a week or two as I prepare for this marvel of commerce that will unfold in my driveway.


When the much anticipated day arrives I spend it raking in the dough in exchange for things I might otherwise haul to the dump.  I learned the art of hosting a garage sale at an early age.  My mom had one every summer.  Back then it was fun.  I was young and took delight in cleaning and organizing the merchandise and writing out the price tags by hand in my best handwriting, attaching them with care to my treasures.  Fast forward forty years and I’m walking around the yard with a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie.  Never mind the dust and dirt covering the merchandise.  Using my finger I wipe off just enough dust so the tape will stick and move on to the next piece of crap.  Things I once would have just thrown in the trash are now sitting proudly on display with a price tag on it.


All the while I am having visions of what I will do with my earnings.  Yes, I start the day in this blissful state however, by the last hour or two of the sale, I am giving stuff away, begging the shoppers to just take it out of my yard.  I would almost pay them a dollar just to haul it off.  The thought of having to pack it all up and take it to the Goodwill is overwhelming at this point in the day.


Of course, I should mention that I could not pull any of this off by myself.  Thank God for my co-host and hostess, my friend Sharon and her husband Chris.  You guys make it possible for me to continue to do this at my advanced age – and for that I thank you.


When you are sitting in a lawn chair on your driveway with friends soaking up nature and presiding over this event you have plenty of time for philosophical discussion.  For instance I was explaining to my friend about garage sale etiquette.  Believe it or not there is such a thing.  And also there is the “Law of Crap” which states “the junkier it is the faster it will sell.”


Take today for an example.  We had three Weed eaters for sale.  This reminds me of the story of the Three Bears.  One Weed eater was in really great shape – worked like a champ, clean, aesthetically pleasing, and the prince of garage sale lawn equipment.  Another was O.K. – a little rougher around the edges, but worked, and then there was the old ratty looking thing that wouldn’t even start.  “What’s wrong with it?” they would ask. “Do you know what part is broken?”  “Nope.”  “Do you think it’s fixable?”  “We have no idea.”  Guess which one sold first?  Yep.


Once I had a lady come to shop who bypassed all the lovely household items laid out before her and made a bee line for my trash can excising a used toilet bowl brush.  “How much for this?”  She queried.  “Ugh, 25 cents?” I answered.  “I’ll take it.” she replied.”  Sometimes they actually pay YOU to haul off your trash.  You can’t beat that!


As the event draws to an end you may calculate that the sales you’ve made have nearly recovered the cost of the ad in the newspaper and the twenty dollars you had fork over to the locksmith because you can’t remember what you did with the key to that car topper the one time you took in on vacation.


All in all it was a good day – time spent with good friends, enjoying the outdoors on a beautiful day.  People paid us to haul away our castoffs.  I will soon forget the exhausting days of preparation and dragging myself around the yard at an ungodly hour of the morning setting out my wares.  I will only remember the fun we had and the extra influx of cash.  That’s why I will do it all again next year.  I have already started a new “garage sale box.”


Like Mother, Like Daughter…I Swore it Would Never Happen, but Alas, I’m Turning Into My Mother!

Mar 10, 2014 Mom and me circa 1960. Right after this photo was snapped I fell off the raft with my usual flair. My Dad handed the camera to his friend and dove in after me. He was successful in retrieving me unharmed.

Mar 10, 2014
Mom and me circa 1960. Right after this photo was snapped I fell off the raft with my usual flair. My Dad handed the camera to his friend and dove in after me. He was successful in retrieving me unharmed.

Before leaving the house for work this morning I conducted my usual routine of wandering around from room to room gathering up the gear that I thought I would need to get through the day.   With coffee in one hand and a fruit smoothie in the other I headed for the door precariously balancing a variety of tote bags stuffed with an assortment of useful items I deemed necessary so that I might survive my 12 hour shift as Saturday receptionist at the old folk’s home.  I made it out the door without incident and didn’t even get tangled up on the door knob or spill blueberry juice on my freshly laundered ensemble.

As I traipsed across the lawn I stopped to ask the little rabbit sitting nearby how he was feeling today.  Then I got in my car, hooked my seatbelt, waved goodbye to Mr. Rabbit and took off down the road.  That’s when I realized that even though I thought it would never happen and despite my best intentions, I am turning into my mother.

Mom has always talked to animals as if they were human and we always made fun of her for it.  For years now, I have made jokes about the back seat of her car which is stocked at all times with every item you might  need in any event that could possibly ever happen including, but not limited to, a nuclear holocaust.  Nothing could happen to her that she’s not prepared for.  Besides the usual assortment of neck braces, corn pads and a pharmaceutical collection that could rival Pfizer, she carries food and water just in case her blood sugar dips or she feels the need for hydration.

In addition to being prepared for disasters and feeling a connection with small woodland creatures, I have begun to notice other things my mother and I now have in common, my wardrobe for instance.  Back in the days when I wore purple crushed velvet hot pants I swore I would never be caught dead in slacks with an elastic waist like my mother wore.   These days I can be spotted any day of the week gallivanting around town bedecked in clothing from my once fashion forward closet which is now filled with an array of slacks manufactured with the “comfort waist”.  My stylish high heels have been replaced with support loafers and a non slip tread.  My panties are no longer silky satiny or lacey.  Today I sport panties made of 100% cotton with a high waist that climb out the back of my jeans when I bend over.  I know it’s not sexy, but I’d rather have people see the top of my underpants than a part of my anatomy that has a crack in it.  I don’t care how pretty you are or what kind of body you have.  Nobody’s  derrière looks good from that angle.

Yesterday I arrived home from a long work week and met up with Mom who had come by to drop off a few things and was just leaving.  She was in a hurry, but stopped long enough to tell me about how she has lost 20 pounds and now all her slacks and underpants are extremely saggy in the crotch, which was very uncomfortable.  I got the blow by blow description complete with visuals right there on my porch in front of the neighbors and anybody driving by.  She said she wished she could stay longer, but had to go to J.C. Penney to buy new underpants because her saggy ones were giving her a rash.  She went on to depict the condition of her nether regions, but I will spare you the details…you’re welcome.

My conversation with Virginia was apparently a repeat performance.  My son told me today that he had gotten the original version while he was trying to get ready for work that same day.  Grandma stood there in our living room he said, tugging on her crotch and actually showing him her saggy underwear (I can only imagine the look on his face at the sight of that) while he feigned interest because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  At least he has respect for the elderly.  If I tried that he would get up and leave the room at just the mention of my unmentionables.

I realize I’m becoming more like Mom when I do things like walk out to the end of the driveway to get the newspaper still wearing my nightgown and slippers or upon seeing the look of horror on my son’s face when I ask his friends how they are doing.  I know he’s thinking that any minute I will break into song or regale them with stories about my hemorrhoids.

When did this happen to me?  I used to be so cool.  Where is the girl who left the house with nothing but her driver’s license and a tube of Chapstick in her pocket?

My son tells me at least once a week that I sound just like Grandma.  There was a time when that statement would make me cringe, but today I’m thinking that becoming like my mother is not all bad. The older I get the less I care about what people think of me and I tend to live my life the way I want, which I realize is what my mom has been doing for years.  Before I know it I’ll be wrapping toilet paper around my head at night to keep my hair from getting messed up while I sleep.  Heaven help me if I start wearing a neck brace and carrying around my own pillow to sit on.  That’s just going too far.

Lower Standards



I swear, my purpose in being here on earth must somehow involve understanding what it’s like to be perpetually broke.  I’m so financially strapped right now that I actually googled how much I might be able to expect to fetch for that gold filling I got done at the dental school in Omaha back when I was young and single and had an extra 30 dollars.  As it turns out, it’s only worth about $40 which would hardly be worth the trouble. 

 Like so many other things in life, I’ll just have to accept that this is my assignment from the universe for whatever lesson I am supposed to be learning.  I have faith that someday it will all make sense like why, for instance, when I happen upon a slight windfall of a little extra cash that the water heater blows up or the washing machine shoots craps and poof!  Money…gone.  At one point in time this paradox really upset me, however nowadays when I am blessed with a few extra bucks I just sit tight and wait for the other shoe.  I have become very accepting of the situations I find myself in, much like a Zen monk.

Gone are the days of being a perfectionist.  Now, one of my favorite things to say is, “It’s good enough.”  Like today, I was installing some ceramic tile on the top of a little cabinet by my stove.  I had the adhesive spread all around and was arranging the tiles when a piece of shredded cheddar cheese somehow leapt off the stove and landed in the adhesive between two of the tiles.  Instead going to the trouble of picking it out, I decided to just leave it there.  After all, I was going to grout it the next day and nobody would ever know that there is a piece of cheese in there.

I seem to care less and less about almost everything with each passing year, things like my wardrobe for example.  There was a time when I could be seen cavorting around town bedecked in the latest fashions and accessories that had been carefully selected and coordinated to emanate at least a little bit of class.  Today I continually surprise myself as my standards sink lower and lower.  You wouldn’t believe the outfits I find acceptable to wear out in public now.  It is not at all unusual for me to be seen clad in sweatpants that have been cut off into shorts and an old T-shirt from Joe’s Crab Shack with stains on it. I don’t bother with shoes, my flip flops are fine and at my age makeup doesn’t really help all that much and besides, it’s expense so why waste it unnecessarily?  You know it’s time to wash your hair when you drive to Culver’s for some ice cream with all the windows down in the car and your hair is so heavy with dirt that it doesn’t  even blow around.  It just sits there stuck to your greasy head.

I’ve drastically lowered my standards for housekeeping as well.   We have dust bunnies that get so big we actually give them names, like they’re a pet or something.  I’m embarrassed to tell you how long the sheets have been on my bed or how much filth I will let build up on the carpet before I break down and vacuum it.  My kitchen floor is always covered with muddy paw prints and there is a perpetual pile of laundry in the floor that never seems to get any smaller no matter how often I run the machine.

I tell you, I don’t know if I’m old and tired or have just become apathetic and lazy, but there’s really not much that motivates me to reach any higher these days…  I really should go out and finish painting my porch.  All I need to do is a little space right in front of the door, but instead I think I will just throw the door mat over it so I can go watch Oprah and eat my ice cream from Culver’s.