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WAITING TO DIE

This week has not gone as planned. Then again, when does anything?! I have too high of expectations that just because I do certain things, life will go smoothly. Someday I will have to accept that life will never go smoothly and learn to roll with it. In the meantime, it is stressing me out. Every time hubby is out of town for work, something awful happens. When he went to Indianapolis, IN, we lost power for 3 days. When he was in Philadelphia, our basement flooded. Now that he’s in Newark, NJ, our furnace died. The joys of home ownership never cease. :-)

Yesterday when I woke up, I could hear the furnace running but it felt a bit cold in the house. As the day went on, it seemed to be getting colder. I went to the vent in the dining room and felt it and even though I could hear it running, I couldn’t feel any heat. No air was blowing and it wasn’t even warm. I didn’t know what to do but figured I couldn’t just ignore it. I looked up the phone number and then called my hubby to let him know what I was doing. He knew it was out of his hands and I just had to deal with it.

I proceeded to call the heating/cooling guys we’ve dealt with a few times over the years. It’s always a crapshoot whether to go with a company you’ve had before vs. a new one. Even if you weren’t 100% happy with the one you used previously, it’s the known evil vs. the unknown evil. Not that they’re all evil but you know what I mean. They were able to send out a repairman fairly quickly. His name was Joe and he was probably the nicest “salesman” I’ve ever met. When we moved here in 1995, we were told the furnace was just replaced. When he opened the front panel on the furnace, he said it was made in 1989, the year he was born. He said he’d never seen one of the Lennox Pulse furnaces but had heard horror stories about them. That they’d all been recalled and they can’t get parts for them anymore. Well, he opened up one of the compartments and saw the blower motor had seized. He said it would be at least $500 IF he could get one to fit. Then there was no guarantee that that was the only thing wrong with it. So it could end up costing a lot more and it’d still be an old furnace. I wasn’t against getting a new furnace just NOT RIGHT NOW. I would rather do this when my hubby is home. Of course, things don’t work out that way. I’m never in a leisurely situation where I can do research and comparison shop to get the best deal. I’m always looking because something BROKE DOWN and I need a replacement ASAP. So I was quoted $3200 which I didn’t like but what can you do?!

Then Joe helped me move some of the crap we’ve got in the basement that might be in the way of the workmen. He was such a nice guy, I was impressed. He even tried to help me with a problem we’ve had since we moved in. Mom’s bedroom has always been cold like you’re chilling meat in there or harboring a ghost. No heat comes up through the vent on her wall. I’ve bugged hubby about it and he can’t figure it out. So I asked Joe and he showed me how to tell if the ducts are open, etc. He looked around and found one in the basement that was possibly closed and opened it. I won’t know until later today if it did the trick. The other thing it could be is that right before moving in we had the ducts cleaned. They could’ve knocked something closed or off when they fished the hose through. If that’s the case, a wall has to be knocked into to fix it. That can get super expensive. In the meantime, we’ve made do all these years by leaving the door to her bedroom open. It gets plenty warm that way.

Yesterday they sent 3 workmen to install the furnace. It was put in temporarily but not attached to the ductwork. So it would keep things from freezing last night but not a long term solution. Today one guy showed up to finish the job. He said it would be at least 3 hours. I had to get up at 6:30 am so I could get Mom up and fed before he came at 8 am. I’ve just been a nervous wreck. I never know if I should stand over them the whole time (which I hate doing) or stay out of their way. With 3 guys here, there wasn’t room for me to even be close enough to watch them so I stayed nearby upstairs in the kitchen. The stress is catching up to me. I couldn’t sleep last night, have a stomach ache today and almost as many pimples as when I was 21. :-( It puts me on edge having workmen in the house. You can’t relax and they are coming in and out steady, going to the truck to get supplies, etc. Yesterday I cleaned the kitchen just off of nervous energy. Today I am dead. Just waiting around for this to be over, feels like WAITING TO DIE. Nothing like being overly dramatic. :-)

I’ve been so proud of the dogs, they’ve behaved so well. They haven’t bothered the workmen at all. I didn’t have to put them away in another room, just let them be wherever they wanted to be. Amber barked when they first came here but then they all ignored them.

Now the worry of the unexpected expense comes into play. Every time we start to think we might get ahead, some bill comes out of the blue that we have to pay. We’ll have to use our entire tax refund and then some to take care of this. I’ll have to have a special Instagram sale to pay for the furnace. ;-) I don’t even want to hope that that’s the last of the bad things that will happen this year because I know that’s naive. I know more bad things will happen, I just wish I knew how to handle them better. Without turning myself inside out.

About a month ago, I was complaining to hubby about how I was having trouble finding things to be grateful for. I told him to name a few things for me. So you know what he said? “You’ve got a good imagination and a big mouth.” At first it made me mad thinking it was such a smart ass answer. Then I realized that those are good things to have and I have them in spades. :-) This is my 100th blog post and I wanted it to be something really profound. Instead it is more of what this blog is about–my struggles with daily life. Thank you for sticking with me as I share my first world problems. :-)

I’ve wanted to get on here and write for a few weeks but besides being monopolized by my new Instagram shop, I’ve been having internet/ wifi problems AGAIN. Those aren’t the only reasons why I haven’t been around. It’s been a rough couple of weeks taking care of Mom. I can see her getting a bit worse every day. It’s not a huge difference but it is noticeable to me. I was trying to find humor in it but it doesn’t come as naturally as you might think. I started a top ten list of ways that a person with Alzheimer’s is like a toddler but then couldn’t limit it to only 10! I told you I’d be doing an update here and there so people know what I’m dealing with. Not to get sympathy but just to vent. Last Tues. I talked to my postal friend Doreen in Milwaukee for an hour and a half. That was the first time we’d talked since last April. We used to talk every few weeks or once a month. It’s just really hard to carve out any time for things for myself. I get so many interruptions and distractions while caring for Mom that it’s just easier not to try. This time I did it while she was napping. It was so great to catch up a bit but we both spent time talking about the health of our mothers. She’s 3 years older than me yet her mom is only 80. Mine is going to be 93 next month. Her mom has physical health problems which is no picnic either. As much as I enjoyed talking to her, it was somewhat depressing since I don’t usually vocalize what I’m dealing with.

I find myself having to be more “present” with Mom. I don’t like leaving her in the room alone as much anymore. She doesn’t let me know if she needs help with anything and I have to watch just to see if she’s having trouble with anything. The computer was the babysitter for her for the longest time. She still plays slot machine games but often forgets how to play them. Obviously it’s not hard. I sit behind her on the couch with the laptop in my lap and shout instructions at her. Then when she doesn’t listen or can’t understand, I have to jump up and run over and take care of it for her. The latest thing is she forgets what a “mouse” is. I mean she’s known for 15 years yet now when she runs into trouble, I tell her to move the mouse and she has no clue what I’m talking about. A year ago we had to disable the 2 clicks of the mouse and make it only one because she couldn’t remember to click only on the left side of the mouse! Now we have it so she can “spin” the slot machine game by pushing the space bar on the keyboard. Then she forgets what a keyboard is. Gah! It’s frustrating but not even that big of a deal compared to other things I deal with. She’s fouled up the computer so bad that I’ve had to wait for Greg to get home to figure it out. One day I was working in the kitchen and came to check on her and she had a bunch of other stuff up on the computer screen. Like our picture files and she was also emptying the trash!! That was a little upsetting. As far as I know she didn’t delete our pictures but I could totally see that happening. :-(

When I say Mom’s getting worse, I mean incrementally. I try to have her do as much for herself as she can but I notice she wants to do less all the time. I always have her cereal bowl, juice, pills and banana laid out for her in the morning. I lay out her clothes but let her dress herself. At night when I get her ready for bed, I find out she’s been wearing her bra inside out. When she comes downstairs, she’s always been able to open and slice her banana, put cereal on it and add her milk, etc. Lately, she has tried adding coffee to her apple juice by mistake and claims she can’t open her banana or slice it. So I open it and cut it up. Then she wants me to put the cereal in the bowl and add the milk and carry it in the other room for her. I don’t mind doing it but feel like she still can do it but is being lazy.

My list of ways that a person with Alzheimer’s is like a toddler:

They can’t verbalize their wants and needs. They may point but are unable to let you know what they want at any given time. If they could just ask, life would be so much simpler.

They try to get away without doing what they’re told. You can repeat yourself every 5 minutes or every 5 seconds, they’re not going to do what you tell them to do. Unless you stand over them and make them do it and even then they might put up a fuss.

Their balance is unsteady like they’re just learning to walk. They have trouble getting up and then grab anything nearby (a piece of furniture or the wall) to steady themselves.

They hate baths, haircuts and having their fingernails/toenails cut. They protest and may even fight you. They act like they don’t trust you even though you’ve never drawn blood. They can’t hold their head still when you’re cutting their hair. This leaves them with a less than perfect haircut.

They don’t believe in hygiene. They don’t like washing their hands and think they shouldn’t have to. They never think to do it on their own. They try to do it without using any soap.

They don’t want to finish the food on their plate. They want you to eat it instead. You have to bribe them to eat their food by promising ice cream or some other sweets for dessert.

They love sweets. More so than the rest of the population. If they had their way, they’d only eat ice cream and candy. They can’t come to terms with why that is a bad idea.

When you turn your back, they let the dog eat their food. No matter how many times you tell them not to let the dog eat off their plate or not to give the dog food, they still do it anyway. When you ask why, they say “I don’t know” or  “because he wanted it”. This is especially problematic when eating something that is toxic to dogs like grapes or chocolate.

They take naps at the drop of a hat. They spend a good portion of the afternoon and late evening napping. If you’re counting on them falling asleep or specifically tell them to take a nap, they will stay up just to spite you.

They’re oblivious to their bodily functions. The doctor told Mom that the average person goes to the bathroom 6-8 times a day. If I didn’t tell her when to go, she MIGHT go twice a day. I make her go when she gets up, before lunch, before dinner and at bedtime. Sometimes I can get her to go another time if I give her coffee. Even when I tell her to go at these specific times, she’ll say, “But I don’t have to go!” or “I just went 20 min. ago”. Well, I’ve been with her all day and know it was 5 hours ago. It’s so tiresome that we have to do this go around every single time. Her body doesn’t tell her when she needs to go.

They wander off or get into mischief if you’re not watching. Mom doesn’t wander but she does start going into things. She’s curious or doesn’t understand what things are and any paperwork we leave laying around she goes through. I don’t mind since I finally instilled in her NEVER to throw anything away. She went through a spell where she was throwing everything away that she got her hands on. Whether it was hers, mine or Greg’s. I guess it’s a blessing that she’s forgotten where the garbage can is. ;-)

They can’t tell time. Mom still wears a watch and CAN tell time but still gets mixed up. If I wake her up from her nap to go to the bathroom before dinner, she sometimes thinks it is bedtime. She is ready to head up to bed at 7 pm. I have to corral her and make her understand that she hasn’t had supper yet.

They forget what you told them 10 seconds ago. If you tell them not to do something, you will have to say it again every 10 seconds until they get a different thought in their head. What’s even weirder is that if we have something to eat and I bring hers in first, then take her plate and bring mine in, she asks where hers is. She can’t remember that she ate it or even was served it just a few minutes before. That’s scary stuff.

They don’t cover their nose or mouth when they sneeze or cough. This is self-explanatory and too gross to go into detail about. I  have to constantly tell Mom that there’s kleenex on her right. Or else I run and hand her one. Then I have to tell her not to leave it laying around.

They don’t understand the concept of kleenex. When they get something icky on their hands that they want to get off, they wipe it on anything nearby. Like the strings on the banana, she will wipe on the edge of the counter. Or boogers. EW. I am forever going around cleaning things just to keep my sanity. The toilet seat needs to be cleaned after she uses it every time. If she sees she left a mess on it, she will take her finger and try to wipe it off which just smears it. Then she touches the handle which leaves a mess. One day she didn’t notice the seat was dirty until after she’d washed her hands. Then she was going to wipe it with her clean hand. I stopped her in time that time.

They don’t know how to wipe after using the toilet. They do wipe most of the time but the concept of in front THEN back is lost on them. I sometimes have to physically grab Mom’s arm to keep her from wiping in the front with toilet paper that has shit on it. I worry about her getting an infection from it or worse. I’ve got her using those wet wipes occasionally but I have to supervise. Shouting orders/ instructions which she may or may not listen to.

I’ve never had a toddler, only a relative with Alzheimer’s so I can’t say how accurate my comparison is. It seems like the mentality is the same. Except those with toddlers know that each day, the child will learn more and gradually be able to do more for themselves. I’m on the other end of the spectrum, knowing that each day a little more knowledge is lost. In some ways I feel like I’m doing a disservice by writing this. It seems like things like this should not be told. That acknowledging that they’re happening is giving them power and making them worse. In the meantime, getting this out of my system gives me the strength to cope another day. I want to thank my blog readers for all the support you’ve given me! I will be back soon this week with another post. :-)

I am ready to drop from exhaustion over the past 10 days. I took the plunge and started an Instagram shop on Valentine’s Day. I’d been thinking about it since I found the vintage community with tens of thousands of people on there a few months back. After watching and trying to learn how it’s done, the time finally came to stop agonizing over it and JUST DO IT. There are two ways to open a store on there. Start promoting it for MONTHS, telling everyone you’ll open when you have x amount of followers (usually at least 150), running contests, etc. The other way is to just announce it and start listing things. Which is what I did. I’m not saying one is better than the other, it’s just personal preference. I’m proud to say that within the first week I’d gained 150 followers and now after 10 days, I’m at 167. I can see how this is going to take time to build up a business. I’ve had 14 sales and one of them a repeat customer! :-) Sadly, I can see how people are all gung-ho when they start and get discouraged and quit fairly soon. I’m going to stick with it as long as I can.

Shop Introduction

Shop Introduction

I try to pick out new items in the morning and then photograph them between 11 am and 1 pm when the lighting is best. After lunch, I measure and write up a brief description on paper. I’ve been listing every night after supper. Sometimes supper is late like 8 pm  because I’ve been busy wrapping a package or doing paperwork. We watch the Winter Olympics while I’m writing up the descriptions on my iphone. I have done the entire shop from my iphone. Since my 8 yr. old computer does not work that well, I thought it was preferable. So far it’s taking me too long to list each thing. I know I put a lot more description than is needed but I want people to know exactly what they’re getting so there’s no problems later. The first night I put on all stuffed animals or plush (new with tags) and they haven’t sold. The next night I put all shot glasses and those didn’t go either. It could be that not enough people saw them. The 3rd night I started putting on a random assortment of things to appeal to a wider range of people. That seemed to be working so I’ve stuck with that. The things I think people would go nuts over, no one cares about. My favorite listings are a Hawaiian hula skirt from 1969, a ceramic lady with scarf flower frog, Nestle Quik rabbit cup, tin banks, a handpainted tin mirror from Mexico, Corn Flakes tshirt and hat, an Afro-Italian silent butler, a plasic wicker purse and a plastic thermoset leaf and vine necklace. None of these sold. Go figure.
Ceramic Personal Mail Holder

Ceramic Personal Mail Holder

The most successful sellers on Instagram seem to be the ones who not only give good customer service but are very social with customers. I’ve been shipping out immediately but haven’t had as much time as I’d like to socialize. Having the 2 accounts, I don’t get time to get over to my original account. I was afraid that was going to happen. There’s also a learning curve with shipping. When we sold on ebay in the past, we shipped everything Priority Mail and the buyer paid the postage. Now I try to include the shipping in the price. I know when I see something I want on there, when it says “plus shipping”, it turns me off. I always assume it’s a lot. In truth, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. When something is under 13 ounces, it can go first class and that’s usually under $3.50 depending on the weight. When I charge $10 shipped, I am paying the $3.50 shipping out of my own pocket, plus whatever the item cost me plus Paypal fee. It’s just the cost of doing business. I understand that and accept it. If it goes over 13 ounces, then it either goes Parcel Post or Priority Mail. Sometimes it’s only 20 cents difference to send it Priority. Other times it’s the same. So already I’ve sent 3 things Priority because they were heavier than I thought. I also have to look into some of the “bags” to ship in. Some sellers just bubblewrap things good and put them in a bag. I never would have thought of that!
Hedwig Owl Mug from Harry Potter

Hedwig Owl Mug from Harry Potter

I have some postcards and pictures I want to list but am unsure how to charge for shipping or mail them. I don’t know if they need to be in something heavier than an envelope like cardboard? I’ve been doing the best that I can to try to gain a good reputation. I can see how if a person got a bad one, it would end their Instagram selling just through word of moouth alone. It’s hard to know what to price things at. There are people selling things $2 plus shipping and I don’t want to do that. God bless them if they can afford to do that. They must be getting their stuff a lot cheaper than I am. I try to sell things that have some worth. At the end of the day, I want something for my trouble. When I price something and it doesn’t sell immediately, I think it has more to do with the right person not seeing it yet.
Lenox Elephant Hinged Box

Lenox Elephant Hinged Box

When buying, I usually know right away when I see something if I want it. If I don’t, I walk around and think about it. If I’m still thinking about it after awhile, then I definitely want it. If I don’t, then I pass. The way the successful sellers do it, when they have a sale, they list things and people are snatching them up the second they go on. Basically, the first person that sees it, gets it and everyone else afterwards just looks at it longingly. I hope someday my stuff starts selling that way! ;-)
Creepy Doll Head

Creepy Doll Head

As for only selling in the USA, it’s mostly due to the cost of postage. It cost like $87 to mail a hankie to Australia. Nobody wants to pay that kind of shipping nor do I want them to. Worse still, I don’t trust myself to calculate International rates correctly and would probably end up eating most of the shipping by accident.
Smokey The Bear Salt & Pepper

Smokey The Bear Salt & Pepper

I hope everybody who reads my blog checks out my Instagram shop! Even if you don’t have an Instagram account, you can start one just to look. You wouldn’t have to post any pictures unless you wanted to. All pictures in this post are of sold items.  It gives you an idea of some of what I sell. It looks like a lot of ceramic items and it is but also a huge variety of other items. It’s hard to believe it’s stressing me out already. It’s seriously cutting into my blogging time. ;-) I’ll have to figure out a better way to do it so I can still do everything else I need to and nothing suffers.
Lefton Madonna & Child Jesus dated 1957

Lefton Madonna & Child Jesus dated 1957

I just can’t help myself. I have many other things I need and want to write about but feel compelled to address Bob Costas’ pink eye. It seems to be the pulse of the world right now. He is the NBC commentator for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. At first seeing him with the squinty eye was mildly irritating for us, the viewers, now it is simply ridiculous. I don’t know if I expect this post to be funny or educational or a bit of both. There are a ton of websites following his bout with conjunctivitis. Most of them are humorous. The jokes and hashtags on Twitter about his pink eye have been hilarious. But enough is enough. Someone needs to buy this guy a clue!
Bob Costas' Pink Eye

Bob Costas’ Pink Eye

This must be the first time in his almost 62 years that he’s had pink eye because he obviously has no idea what he’s doing. Let me explain. It’s not that I’m a know it all or even an expert. I don’t have advice that maybe anyone else would recommend but it has worked for me spendidly. I just can’t sit by idly and watch this guy suffer for days on end. Obviously, I no longer have to watch him since he’s bowed out of commentating the Olympics since it spread to his other eye. But in the interest of getting Matt Lauer out of my line of sight, I’m going to give Bob a hand. A figurative hand. Albeit well washed.

In my youth, when I worked at the Post Office in Milwaukee, I was an LSM (letter sorting machine) operator. We had to sit at machines and type in carrier codes from memory as we read addresses on letters going by at 50 per minute. If I must brag (and believe me, I must), I had the best accuracy on our crew. This was a job I loved and it came naturally to me. The person “keying” would sit at a line of 12 consoles for a half hour or 45 minutes straight (depending on the rotatiion) and then get relieved by someone. The person keying would then go in back for a 15 minute interval to pull already sorted mail as it was separated into bins. Before the bins would get full (the machine would stop if it got too full and there was hell to pay), they would get emptied into marked trays for the carriers.

What has this got to do with pink eye? More than you’d think. Not only was I handling mail that was already handled by machines but countless human hands along the way. Filthy human hands. So there was that factor of touching mail. But the main thing that came into play was that this was basically a factory environment. This wasn’t your tiny corner Post Office. It was a huge block-long building that ran 3 shifts around the clock. From the second I entered the building, I was touching things that thousands of others had touched. Like the door handles, the elevator buttons, lunch tables, chair backs, mail carts, hampers, etc. The list goes on. The biggest culprit for germs had to be the letter sorting machines. With keys like a piano numbered 0-9, you could key any combination. People would sit there and for all I know, they were never cleaned. Handwashing has always been important but you know how many people don’t do it, right? I remember noticing when I went in the bathroom, how many women went in a stall, came out and just left without washing. EW.

Ok, I’ve just about lost you. You’re thinking, “Bob Costas doesn’t work for the PO or use a letter sorting machine. Where is she going with this?!” I am segueing into a story about my first pink eye. Aww, “Baby’s First Pink Eye”, how sweet. It was while I was working there. Like in my mid to late 20′s. All of a sudden, I woke up one day with no warning and my eye was glued shut. I’m going to leave out the gory details but when I pried it open, it was bright red inside on the white part. Yes, that’s the technical term: the white part. I honestly can’t remember if I called in sick. I might have. It was really frowned upon to go into a huge establishment like that with something contagious. Trust me, I found out later when I showed up with chicken pox. :-(

I went to the eye doctor who couldn’t give me what he said would “cure” it because I’m allergic to sulfur (sulfa). He gave me some other drops and sent me on my way. I’ve read a lot about it and it’s supposed to run its’ course on its own. Just ask Bob Costas how well that’s working for him. Over the years many people would show up at work with blood red eyes. Much worse than what I had. It looked so painful, I would cringe just looking at them.

In case you’ve never had pink eye, how it looks is the least of it. Your eye feels really gritty, like there’s sand in it. It also gives your vision a foggy look. The main thing to do is NOT touch your eye AT ALL while you have it. Of course, you can’t think of anything else because it itches like crazy! If you have to touch it, have clean hands, use a clean kleenex to wipe it and wash your hands again. Always throw out the kleenex. I can’t stress this enough! If you’re using eye drops, don’t let the tip of the squeeze bottle touch your eye. Similasan is a brand of holisitic eye drops and they actually used to make a Pink Eye formula. I was told they quit making it but not sure. Now I buy their Allergy Eye Relief eye drops. My eyes are very touchy and at the first sign of trouble, I used them. Instead of rubbing my eyes, I put in the drops and make myself not touch my eyes.
Eye drops FTW

Eye drops FTW

Now back to Bob Costas. My “quick” cure for getting rid of the real Pink Eye is a 2 pronged approach. I use a shot glass filled with warm water. I lean over the sink with the full shot glass and open my eye into it. I might tip it a little back (and end up with it all over myself) but I get the eye open in the warm water. I flush it a few times. As warm as I can stand. It does sting to do this. Then I take a cloth washcloth and get it wet. I might lightly wring it but there’s still a lot of water in it. I fold it in 4 so it’s a square, put it on a clean paper plate and put it in the microwave. Heat it up for awhile. I can’t remember how long but until it is so hot you can’t touch it. Maybe a minute. Take it out of the microwave and as soon as you can handle it with your hands, place it over the infected eye. It is going to hurt or burn because it feels too hot. It also feels good because it feels like you are killing the infection. If you can only do a few seconds, take it away. Keep doing this until you can hold it on there. When it cools off, fold the washcloth the opposite way and put it back in the microwave. It won’t do any good to put a warm or cool washcloth on your infected eye, it has to be HOT. You can do this up to 4 times with the same washcloth without it being contaminated (folding differently every time). As hot as I have it, I figure it is killing all the germs in the washcloth. Do this several times throughout the first day. By the 2nd day, it is so much better you can resume normal activities. If it seems like it’s getting worse, go back to the flushing shot glass and hot washcloth.

Supposedly Bob Costas is being treated by Russian doctors. I’m not going to rip on them but think that maybe they aren’t telling him things because they think EVERYBODY knows this stuff. But I’m starting to wonder if they do. There is no reason on God’s green earth that it should have passed to his other eye if he was doing the right things! Besides not touching your infected eye at all, you stop touching EITHER eye. No good can come from touching your eyes. When you wake up with pink eye, the first thing you need to do is strip your bed and get your sheets washed. Plus any towels you might’ve used. You had your infected eye on that pillow and now you’re going to sleep on it? With the other eye? This is the biggest thing. Just because you can’t see any evidence of it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I imagine poor Bob C. in a hotel room in Sochi where they don’t clean his sheets every day and if they do, he’s not watching them and they only change the sheets, not the pillow cases. I feel kind of bad for Bob to have his misfortune turn into humor for the viewers but Americans will laugh at anything. That’s why it’s America. We don’t have taste, we just think everything is funny and a big joke.

I take back what I said before. I AM a big know-it-all. I’ve got to go, my eye is starting to bother me. ;-)

Whenever it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, you can rest assured that I’ll eventually turn up with a tale or two to tell. We went a week without Internet access which isn’t exactly conducive to writing. Then we killed a whole day having the AT&T repair guy come out. I got him here 2 days sooner (it was going to be 9 days w/o wifi) because I complained on Twitter. Behold the power of Twitter! He was supposed to be here between 9-11 am and got here at 11:20 am. He was here until after 4 pm. He had to install new fiber optic wires and gave us a new modem. He also put a new box outside and who knows what else. He wouldn’t hook up our Apple Airport Extreme so that’s been just sitting there for a few weeks now. Greg found some directions online about how to do it. Now he just needs some time. I found out yesterday he’ll be going out of town for a week next month for work. I’m already dreading it. It’s not that I can’t handle things alone, it’s just a much bigger burden. At night, our bedtime routine entails him taking the 3 dogs out in the backyard so they can go potty and I take Mom upstairs to the toilet and put her to bed. If I have to take the dogs first, it just complicates things more. I shouldn’t feel bad. Greg’s the one going to Newark, NJ. Ha. At least he’ll know at least 4 people there that week to chum with. In other work news, he was passed over again (don’t ask how many times) for the same job he’s doing now at a  higher pay band. It’s beyond pissing us both off. He started applying for that pay grade at other airports and of course they all want him. I don’t know if I want to move though. All my life I’ve wanted to live in California but this is just the wrong time in my life for it. Time will tell what comes up next.

As I may have mentioned before, this is the weirdest winter in memory. Weather-wise, we’re being hit with tons of snow. Like three times as much as average years and a lot more than the past few years. When the snowflakes stop flying, the temperature drops to sub-zero temps. It’s only good for hibernating bears. For 5 years I’ve been walking the dogs religiously every day. Now since the beginning of Dec., they’ve only had a handful of walks. Not even one day a week. It bothers them a great deal but they still have a yard to run around in for brief intervals. I’ve been housebound way too much. I mean, technically, if I can sit outside in a Packers football game in 5 degree weather for over 3 hours, I can walk the dogs for a half hour. BUT that was largely due to not knowing it was going to be that cold when the tickets were purchased. Sure, it’s winter and all but we’re used to 30 degree winters. Some sunshine once in awhile. I don’t like walking the dogs when it’s under 18 degrees. Maybe that makes me a winp. Amber, the Shiba Inu, does well in cold weather and loves the snow. Elvis, the Jack Russell Terrier, is hearty too. But our Basenji from Africa, Ivy, just can’t take the cold. Her feet freeze and she starts limping after a couple blocks. I also have developed a fear of falling down. There’s a ton of ice on the sidewalks from people who never shoveled their sidewalks and then it snowed on top and then it froze again. In Park Ridge, there isn’t a law saying that homeowners need to clear their sidewalks. You know what that means, just under half don’t even bother. It really sucks. The snowplow piles the snow up at the corners waist-high where you’re supposed to be able to cross! I wouldn’t think of walking without my heavy winter boots but still, it’s not good. We’re expecting 2 more days of snow this week and we’re running out of places to put it.

Have I mentioned I’m going stir crazy? I get out with hubby a bit on the weekends which is good. I’ve become so scattered anymore though. Maybe distracted is a better term. I have the attention span of a gnat. I don’t know what the deal is but I can’t concentrate on anything. I go from one activity to another and never finish. I’m very unsettled. I don’t know how much of it is attributable to the weather and how much to this time of my life and circumstances.

4 years ago I got into the Winter Olympics for the first time! All my life, I’d never cared a hoot about them. I still don’t care for the summer ones. But we started watching the snow and ice sports and had a ball. This year, I was actually looking forward to it. I’ve been recording whatever NBC shows and we watch it at night. The Opening Ceremony is not to be missed. Of course, it helps to have a few drinks and make snarky comments on Twitter. I like the ice skating, hubby likes the luge, we both like the moguls and now our new favorite is called “slopestyle”. Snowboarding down a hill instead of in a half-pipe. The most ridiculous sport has to be curling followed by the biathalon. Cross country skiing and shooting a gun? They go together like peas and carrots! I don’t know if they have a triathalon but I’m sure that includes those 2 things and swimming. :-) The commentary is annoying at best. I don’t know who put Bob Costas in charge but it was a poor choice. He’s had a running narrative on his eye infection. Why he’s wearing glasses, how it’s not getting better and comparing himself to a cartoon character (from Peabody & Sherman) and a Superhero (Clark Kent=Superman). I expect him to come out in an eye patch tomorrow just to garner sympathy. ;-)

Aside from watching the Olympics, we’ve been working on getting our house in order. For years we had plain walls and now we’re slowly hanging our latest vintage acquisitions. A few weeks ago I got a pair of matching wooden shelf units. We finally got them hung on Sat. in our bedroom. We also hung 2 more (different sizes) ship’s wheels in our hallway for a total of 3. We have another one but it’s a bigger size and not sure where it’ll fit. Our house is starting to look like a museum and I’m ok with that. Hubby is getting obsessed with globes. The regular vintage globes in blue and tan and the ones that light up. I love them too. We’ve got a few in the LR and are going to add more to the other rooms. If I can’t travel the world, at least I can dream big! :-)

With all this time indoors, I’ve been getting more into Instagram. Not in the way I’d like. I haven’t taken hardly any pictures or posted any. Yet I’ve found a community of vintage collectors on there that sell vintage quilts, afghans, sheets, Pyrex, dishes, etc. They do it through Instagram and don’t pay fees. Just the paypal fee for collecting money and the postage fee which some pass on to customers. Some also sell on ebay and etsy but others do a huge business just on IG. I’ve gotten so involved in it. I started followed a lot of people and they post the items they’re selling. Since they only have one of each item and they’re fairly rare finds, they do it by whoever replies first with their email and zip code. This has caused me to spend an inordinate amount of time on there stalking their feeds. I’ve boughten from a few and have added to my glossy bird collection. (We also put up 2 plate rails in the dining room above the windows last week. One has my birds sitting on it, the other has my spaghetti poodles.) I’ve missed a lot of really extraordinary things but of course, none of it is anything I NEED, just stuff I enjoy. I’ve also run across things where they quote a price and while my cheap self is sitting there calculating if I should buy it, someone else comes along and buys it out from under me. Sometimes that’s a blessing.

So over the past few months I’ve been formulating in my mind that I’m going to start selling my excess estate sale goodies on Instagram. Thinning out the vintage and selling things I find that I think others would like. On the one hand, this isn’t that much of a stretch since we were one of the first selling on ebay back in the 1990′s and also still sell collectibles on our website. On the other hand, I’ve never done it in that kind of format. It’s a lot harder than it looks. I don’t gussy up my pictures when I take them. The sellers I’ve seen on IG, “stage” their pictures with a pretty backdrop. They write ON their pictures the price and any other info. They make announcements of sales and giveaways constantly. I don’t know if this is for me! I’ve got the name all picked out and once I’m ready to open, I will announce it on here. I don’t expect to sell to my friends. I’ve never really wanted to because I don’t want there ever to be any hard feelings. Then again, if I could treasure hunt for people and keep an eye out for them for specific items, that’d be pretty cool.

I started another IG account just for this vintage business but haven’t posted to it yet. I’m almost paralyzed with fear. I’m just terrible at starting things. And following through. I get super excited about things and when my enthusiasm wanes, it’s hard to carry on. I’m also worried that it’ll be hard to switch back and forth between accounts. I’m usually on my iphone 4 when I’m on there. I didn’t want to use my regular feed because it’s got a few thousand pics and all personal stuff. I don’t want to chase away the friends I’ve made on there by posting things for sale. Oh, the dilemnas I manufacture for myself.
Valentine's Day Cards

Valentine’s Day Cards

Yesterday I made Valentine’s Day cards on the computer. They turned out cute but I wish I had the time, skill and energy to make them by hand using markers, stickers, rubber stampers, ribbon, beads and all kinds of crafty things. I’m old fashioned enough to enjoy remembering special people by sending them “happy mail”. Most people really don’t care about that anymore. Valentine’s Day used to be my favorite holiday. All of my blog readers are my favorites and I want you all to be my valentine! I hope you have a wonderful day and get some sugar from your sweetheart! If you don’t have a sweetheart, hugs from your dog or cat then. :-)

When we went to the Packers football game in Green Bay, WI earlier this month, all those who attended the game were given commemorative “crying towels”. That’s what we call them anyway. To sob into when/if your team loses. They’re tiny hand towel sized cloths that fans wave during the game. We had put ours away and didn’t look at them until we got home. Attached to each towel was a coupon for Kohl’s department store. $10 off a $30 purchase. I like Kohl’s well enough, I just don’t go there unless I have coupon of some type. About once or twice a year, they send a $10 coupon in the mail that can be used for any purchase. When I get those, I usually buy a couple 3-packs of pretty socks and use the $10 off and only owe a few bucks (if anything). Kohl’s usually has something on sale when we go (or everything) and I always wonder how they can stay in business with cheaper prices than anywhere else. Since hubby and I both had a $10 coupon, we figured we’d go together on his day off.

On the morning of Thurs. Jan. 16th we went to the Kohl’s in Niles, IL. Hubby had asked me ahead of time what I needed. Well, I need bras, underpants and socks ALWAYS. I decided to focus on bras first. Since that is the most unpleasant thing to shop for. Talking back and forth in the car on the way there, we were trying to figure out when I bought bras last. Could it really be 25 years ago?! I don’t know. That seems hard to believe but if you know me, I’m still wearing clothes that old so it could be…. If it was after we moved here, it would be closer to 18 years ago. I know I haven’t boughten any for sure in over a dozen years. It sounds crazy but not implausible. There are some things I HATE shopping for and one is bras, the other is shoes. In the distant past when bra shopping, my mom always came with me. We always enjoyed shopping together and were the best of friends. About 12 years ago, she lost all interest in shopping, getting anything new and even going to the mall to people watch. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like doing things alone. It’s not that I can’t. I’ve driven myself to the mall alone before and walked around. Browsed in stores, etc but I don’t enjoy it. Half the fun comes from pointing things out to the other person. Showing each other what you like and what’s new. I always enjoyed shopping but now I’m more into the estate sale shopping where you never pay anything even close to retail!

My husband is a trooper for being willing to go along with me. He’s the greatest about it that anybody could be. He doesn’t pout and stand to the side making me feel like he’s waiting for me to finish. He actively helps me find my size! He is as interested in finding things for me as I am. Maybe more so! This didn’t come about overnight. We’ve been together almost 29 years. We’re a solidified team now, looking out for the other’s best interests. He is emulating what I’ve done for him for years. When he worked a job that required him to wear a suit every single day, I helped him pick out many suits. I gave input on having them altered, etc. When he needed other work clothes, jeans or anything else, I’ve searched through big & tall sizes. He hates shopping for himself and humors me by trying things on and I run back and get a size larger or smaller as needed. Everyone should have a shopping buddy since salesclerks are in poor supply nowdays.

Back in the day, when you shopped for bras, you could NOT keep the salesclerks out of your business. I really hate to be bothered unless I really need help. I know how to find my size and try things on. I can tell if they fit, etc. Well, in the distant past, the sales clerks would count how many garments you took in with you and then they would stand outside the door and keep trying to come in the fitting room. They’d want to see how it fit. Then they would offer advice which coming from a stranger holds no weight with me. I used to be shy and not want a salesclerk to see me in only a bra. Now I don’t have to worry about it because there are NO salesclerks. Not kidding! That’s how Kohl’s is able to offer such cheap prices. They only hire people to ring up your purchase. No one is available to help you on the sales floor ever. It has been this way the last several times I’ve been there. So if you were alone and needed a bigger size, you’d have to put your clothes back on and schlep over and get another yourself. Unless you have a shopping buddy! :-)
White bras

White bras

A few years ago when we had gotten a coupon in the mail for Kohl’s, we had tried to find bras for me then. Both hubby and I remember it well because I left without any. There are racks and racks as far as the eye can see of different bra brands, sizes and colors. They are all hanging on hangers. I’ve never worn any of those. I’ve been a Playtex girl since I started wearing them at age 11. My mom has always worn Playtex so I guess that’s how that came about. I’ve always been really happy with them. Heck, they last like 25 years so how can anyone complain?! I’ve only owned white bras with the exception of a black bra which I bought to wear to funerals. Take my word for it, there’s not nearly enough funerals to warrant a bra just for that. Playtex are the only bras I’ve seen that come in a package (they used to be boxes, now they’re clear plastic with paper inserts). There’s a special 2 sided wooden rack with drawers that pull out that house all the Playtex brand bras. All the sizes are mixed up and totally random. You’d think they’d be put in by size but no, every size is jumbled in with all the others. So I would say there are maybe 1,000 bras on both sides of this rack. Hubby and I stood side by side and went through one side of the rack pulling out all the 42Bs. That time we left without any was because we had searched this entire rack and there were NO 42bs! At that time, I remember they didn’t have anything larger than a 40! I remember grumbling how I’m not the only big person so why don’t they make bras for big people. So then I ended up wearing those bras another few years to the point that they were disintegrating on my body. The inner cup lining disappeared from thousands of wearings and washings in hot water. The elastic on my old bras were so worn that it’s like wearing nothing. I didn’t notice until I tried on new ones how bad the old ones fit/felt. They were giving me the support of a string of dental floss and the straps were a perpetual source of aggravation.
Colored bras FTW!

Colored bras FTW!

So hubby and I searched through all the sizes and were shocked to find so many 42bs.  (I could swear I wore a 42b back 20+ years ago but it could have been a 38b. The tags no longer have printing on them from countless launderings.) I had many to choose from and took one of each style to the fitting room. Hubby stood in the doorway of the fitting room (no one else was around) and I went in and tried them on. Then I would walk out and show him. I went by feel more than looks. The first one I tried on, I loved right away. Then the 2nd one didn’t even come close to hooking. I read the size and knew why. It was a 36b inside of a 42b package. Grrr! There were several styles that I had gotten without looking at them to see if I’d like it. Taking them out of the plastic, I could tell right away they weren’t for me. They had 4 hook and eye closures instead of 3 and were made of that starchy lacey fabric that I don’t like. They were what my mom wears. The kind of support you need if you’re trying to lift a heavy load and don’t have a crane. ;-) One step away from steel reinforced. So I had 1 white one and 3 different colors I liked. I didn’t really know how many I would get ahead of time but planned on getting at least 2 or 3 white ones. So we went back to the other side of the rack and scoured that. I found a few more and tried those. Then I had it narrowed down to 6. At this point, you’re probably marveling that my husband’s a saint! 3 white and 3 colored (beige/tan, blue gray and chocolate brown). Kohl’s had a promotion going on where if you spend $50, you get $10 in “Kohl’s cash” to use in the future. Hubby talked me into all 6 and we rang up separately. The bras were $32 each (which I wouldn’t have paid!) but were on sale (35% off) for $19.99 each. That’s still more than I wanted to pay but having the $10 off helped too. So I got 6 bras for $100 and $20 to spend next weekend on underpants. We were joking on the way home that now I don’t have to shop for bras for another 25 years. I’ll be in my mid-70′s before I have to do this again! Yay. ;-)
Going wild with color!

Going wild with color!

At least I left feeling good about the experience. There’s nothing I hate more than going out shopping for a specific thing and coming home empty handed. My husband was a champ and when he’s so good to me like that, it validates my feelings of love and contentment in our marriage. When people say that you can’t have your spouse be your best friend, they’re just jealous. I’ve had it and it’s absolutely wonderful! :-)

Right before Christmas, I enlisted my spouse to go up to the attic to retrieve our holiday decorations. We hadn’t been up there for over a decade. Along with the artificial tree, ornaments, garland, lights and tinsel, he brought down an inconspicuous black garbage bag containing a cardboard box. He looked inside and said, “It’s some of your old schoolwork.” I couldn’t imagine that’d be very interesting. I told him to put it to the side and I’d look at it later. Later finally arrived this week. Next Monday, on the Martin Luther King holiday, we’re going to dismantle the Christmas tree and put everything back into the attic. We’ve never waited this late in the year to remove Christmas from our lives. Then again, we aren’t even used to having a Chrismas so we’re enjoying it more than we should. I knew the black bag and its contents would be put away then too. So it was now or never to look inside.

Hubby made this definition of my name

Hubby made this definition of my name

I have very few mementoes from childhood. All my toys were given away to my oldest half-sister’s kids. She had 5 kids and was always asking for them. My mom could never say no and we had such a small house, we had no room to keep them anyway. Some of my school papers were kept in the basement of the house I grew up in and I saw them briefly when my dad died. One thing that stood out back then was a crayon drawing I made of my dead cat Tiger in heaven wearing an angel’s robe that I wanted to keep. My brother was the executor of my dad’s will and made such an issue of ANYTHING being removed from the house then, that I just said forget it. He wanted to put a dollar value to everything, even personal property. I don’t want to delve off on a tangent about his because it still brings up sour feelings that I’ve for the most part overcome.
myownstories
I didn’t expect much when I opened the box but it turned out to be a magical box filled with memories from my youth. Memories long gone. Some things I’d look at and it and immediately recognize. Others I’d have to think about long and hard and then I could vaguely remember them. Still others are memories that might as well belong to someone else. They are so far removed from my memory bank, they may as well be a stranger’s. That is a scary thought. Looking after my 92 1/2 yr. old mother who has Alzheimer’s has shown me firsthand what it’s like to lose your memories. The good, the bad and the ugly all disappear as if they never existed. “We only have the present” has never been more true. Things that were so important, you wouldn’t think you’d ever forget. Or things that were so hurtful or upsetting. Now here I sit, not for the first time, wondering if I’ll be succumbing to the demon called Alzheimer’s as well. Or if I’m already a victim in the early stages. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking or worrying about it since there really is nothing that can be done. But loss of any kind is hard.
self portrait 2nd grade

self portrait 2nd grade

Getting older has taught me to be more forgiving. I had very high expectations for my parents. Maybe everyone does?! I mean unrealistic in expecting them to be perfect. Of course, I expected myself to be perfect too. My mom was 41 yrs. old when I was born (her first and only child). My dad was 48 1/2 yrs. old then (I was his 5th child). More than once my dad forgot to pick me up at school. I usually took the school bus but for appts had to stay late or leave early. This happened in jr. high and high school and I had to walk home. 5 miles and 2 miles. He did remember before I made it all the way home but I could never get over the fact that he could “forget” me. I took it VERY personally. Now I wonder if I had kids late in life (instead of not at all), would I forget them? I know it’s different now, there’s cellphones that weren’t around back then. I don’t forget the dogs but I can see how it could happen. I am now in position to forgive a man who’s been dead for almost 25 years. It wasn’t like I was still holding a grudge or that this was the only thing wrong with our relationship. But I’m able to see how clueless I was to his side of things. How generous of me so many years after the fact. Oy. (I have another post in the making on unrealistic expectations in relationships.)
We are family

We are family

The contents of the box are mostly things from my early adulthood. The exceptions being a 2nd grade book of my stories colored in crayon and a few other items. I also found the book of Wacky Packages I made. These were stickers in the ’60′s and ’70′s that mocked different household products. I found them hilarious and had been wondering what became of the book. There was a newsletter I made for a club I formed with the neighborhood kids (COFYADU). Named after the first letter of my name, the 2nd letter of the vice president’s name (Joe), the 3rd letter of the secretary (Jeff), the 4th letter of the treasurer (Susy), the first letter of Doug, the 2nd letter of Julie. Everything I did had to be so elaborate back then. It wears me out just thinking about how I would think this stuff up! I had handwritten journal pages inside from my senior year in high school. There was a lot mentioned in those that I still don’t recall. There were some love letters from my husband from when we were in our 7 years of courtship (we were engaged most of that time). I had forgotten he made a definition of my name right after I started working nights at the Post Office which still makes me smile. There were the letters from the PO telling me I was hired. Addressed to “Mr”. ;-)
Wacky Packages

Wacky Packages

There’s a few sentences I had written in about 3rd or 4th grade that always get my husband roaring with laughter. It’s where I compare things to other things “only there’s more of it.” The reasoning of a 9 year old: “A rat is like a mouse only thiers more of it. A turkey is like a chicken only theirs more of it. A wig is like your own hair only theirs more of it. A field is like a yard only theirs more of it. A world is like a map only theirs more of it. A rectangle is like a square only theirs more of it.” How profound. One thing I notice in all my early writings was my spelling was atrocious. I’m surprised I ever learned to spell correctly. I remember when I first learned to write, they taught us something “new”in schools at the time. We were encouraged to spell words phonetically. The way they sounded. It’s amazing I was able to learn it the right way later. I don’t think this was taught everywhere. My husband grew up in a different part of the state and he didn’t learn this way.
A turkey is like a chicken...

A turkey is like a chicken…

I remember in around 7th grade having to take an outline of our silhouette and write in all the things that filled our brain or lives. Everything we liked, spent time doing or thought about a lot. My biggest section was BOYS. Ha ha. I was one of those weird girls who liked boys from Kindergarten on. I always had a crush on some boy or other. Sometimes 6 at a time. Other things taking prominence were: macaroni and cheese, babysitting, Chetek (where my folks had a cottage), Curtis my dog, fishing, talking on the phone, listening to the radio, etc. Things that took up a smaller section: playing records, penpals, homework, playing cello, Dairy Queen and bugging people. ;-)
Inside my head

Inside my head

The cutest thing to me was the postcard and letter I wrote to my cat Tiger when we were on vacation when I was 10 years old. My parents indulged me and let me use the free motel stationery but didn’t let me use actual postage to mail it. That didn’t hinder my imagination any. Part of the letter reads: “I might get you a mouse or a bird or some toy but I won’t forget you. I’ll make you a tuna fish cassoroll when we get back. I’m lonesome for you. I wish you were here.” The postcard reads: “I hope you took a bath while I was gone.” Ba ha ha! :-)
Letter & postcard to my cat, Tiger

Letter & postcard to my cat, Tiger

One of the greatest things I saw were several pages I wrote down starting in June 1991 when hubby got a management consulting job. It was with a now defunct company located in the city we live in now. We were living in WI then and hubby had to travel around the country, to at least 2 cities a week. Before cellphones, he had to fly, get a rental car, take a bus or drive  his own car all over hell and back through all kinds of weather. Even to Canada. It was so hard on us since we only saw each other for a day a weekend or sometimes a few hours or some weekends not at all if they kept him out on the road. I wrote down all the businesses he analyzed and the cities and we had both forgotten a lot of them! I can hardly believe we survived that. It’s a blessing that I wrote it down because if I didn’t, there would be no way to recall that info. It would just be forgotten which is maybe what it should be. Hubby loved the work, he’s a people person and liked helping others. He wanted to make the businesses a success and learned so much about so many types of businesses. The travel was so draining. The people he worked for were not nice people and he had so much stress. He made good money then though but I don’t know if it was worth it to be apart from each other so much. Anyway, looking at the lists of places he went, I didn’t even remember writing them down. Gah!
The house I grew up in

The house I grew up in

If I’ve learned anything from opening the box, it’s to write everything down. Things you think you won’t need to know later or care about in the future can in hindsight be golden. I wish I’d been able to keep up a journal for my entire life. I tried numerous times as a child to go the diary route. It all seemed so mundane and I got too lazy to continue. Then I would read even the boring entries later with interest. Too bad I could never finish anything I started. There are so many things I’ve experienced that I still remember but only in the vague “had a wonderful time, did this and that” type of way. I don’t remember all the minor details that fill in the blanks. If I could pass words of wisdom on to anyone, it would be to start a blog from as early as you start using a computer. Even if it’s kept private for your eyes only. All the feelings you write down will be at your fingertips to experience and relive again and again. You can look at how far you’ve come. How much you’ve changed and how many things about you haven’t changed over the years. The only thing it would cost to do this is time. Time is a precious commodity but it is a fair trade to keep the memories alive.
Autumn: another name for Spring!

Autumn: another name for Spring!

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