“E” A-Z Challenge

“E” is for estate sale.  I’ve never been to one.

My friend is a regular estate sale shopper and her home is filled with beautiful furnishings she and her love have picked up across the mighty Dallas Metroplex.  “You gotta know where to shop”, she says.

That same phrase applies to yard sales.  Ads get posted each week on the web and stapled on telephone poles across town during the week.  You can find lists in the local paper and Penny Saver.  “The best yard sales near you.”   Sometimes, I want the best sales away from me.

I’ve always shopped around for mason jars, cookware, and the like.  Sometimes, I’ll find an article of clothing but rarely do I look for that sort of item.  Lately, I’ve been on the search for cameras and antique sideboards.  Le Creuset dutch oven has been on my list for a while.  Unlikely to find one of those around here, but I haven’t been looking much.   There are many thrift and antique stores around and they have quite a selection of treasures but antique stores get a bit pricey.

Since I don’t have the first clue about estate sale shopping, I searched the web and found a couple of helpful “estate sale tips” pages.  My questions have always centered around haggling and return to pick up the bigger items.  Convincing my husband to go with me to an estate sale may be as difficult as loading a young horse in a trailer with a dragon.  I’ve learned about etiquette and feel more prepared.

What is your estate sale story?  Have you organized one?  Been to one?  Please share your suggestions.

 

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“D” A-Z Challenge

“D” is for dog.  And there is a dog lying under my chair snoring as I write this late challenge post.  The last time I had a dog living under the same roof with me was around 1997.   Two dogs.  One was a few extra pounds, we will call her “Lady”, while the other more aggressive, sovereign, alpha male, was “Ronin”.  Ronin would not let you leave the house. You could come in if he knew you but if you walked to the front door and opened it to exit, your life was at stake.   Never mind all of this as all moons past.  Why dig up what once was?

Right now, this sweet 12 year old cocker spaniel, is staying with me for 20 days.  She is house trained and a true delight but is unduly motivated by food to the level of extreme. Unfortunately, she suffers from separation anxiety and I endure tripping over this dog almost every step.  She is quite clingy and cries when I leave the house whether she be left in the back yard, the garage, or inside the house if we are gone no more than an hour or so.  What can I expect for this poor girl has had significant loss over the past 30 days.

She’s been to my house before years ago before I lost my Snow Cat to old age.  She annoyed Snow Cat but caused her no problem.  Dog does not chase cats, does not seek mischief.  Fortunately, she’s not been a real problem to my two cats except that she likes chasing squirrels because they run.  Cat R runs.  Cat B stares her down and walks authoritatively on with confidence while Dog stands attentively making no eye contact.  If cat runs, cat gets chased.  Eye contact deems conflict resulting in bloodshed.  I’ve cleaned that up on day 3.  Since that time, we’ve had no other problems and I can leave Dog, Cat R and Cat B together unsupervised.  Did I mention that Dog has a few extra pounds?  Try running across a tile floor overweight.

My boy enjoys taking her for walks each day.  She lays next to him while he is doing homework, reading, or watching a movie.  My husband pays some attention to her but he graciously helps with her when I’m out working in the evenings.  She looks for him when its bedtime because she sleeps on his side every night and waits for him if he isn’t there by 10:30 pm.

Not being a dog parent since the 90’s, I’m accustomed to the cat life and not having so much responsibility as with a canine.   There are feeding times, grooming sessions, doggy piles, and drama.  I’m an after hours nurse and when I need to sleep, I have no desire to let the dog out or take the dog for a walk or whatever it is the dog needs at their time.

Our family has talked about having a dog but cannot agree on breed.  Neither husband or I want a yappy little dog.  I don’t want a big dog either and I certainly don’t want to have to brush and groom long hair.  On the flip side of that, I love the standard poodle.  But the bigger breeds have big appetites.  I’m fine with a mix breed from the animal shelter that has good temperament and easy to groom that doesn’t shed much.  Having sweet Dog here with us has been a good refresher and helps us determine if we do want a dog or not.  I’m leaning to not having one simply due to our lifestyle.  Furthermore, I don’t expect we will buy from a breeder.  The shelter is our best bet, or a mentor.  I cannot support paying more than $100 for a dog especially if we do not plan on showing or breeding.

We have loved having her here with us and feel honored that we could help care for her during this major life change.  Dog will be going home at the end of the week.  She must know.  Dogs are like that.

“C” A-Z Challenge

Cars

More specifically, car names.  Do you name your car?  Growing up, I remember my mom calling her yellow Galaxy 500 Gertrude.  Many people we knew named their cars.  I’ve owned a few rides in my life but have not named a single one of them.  The only inanimate object I own that has a name is my gun.  Don’t ask, I’m not telling.

My last car, a Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, a 2000 special edition, is a replica of the Daytona 500 Pace Car.  I call it my baby but not in conversation with others.  In her late years, more recently the past month, I sometimes sang to her, encouraged her but I don’t tell people that because like you, they roll their eyes and call me nuts under their breath.  I don’t care.   Her final drive was Thursday August 31, 2017.  Gosh, that was hard to write and there is a tear flowing down my cheek.  She sits in the garage right now and that is all I can write about now for my heart is broken.

Yesterday I brought home a new car.  It’s new to me but pre-owned yet as close to new as you can get.  This is a 2015 Dodge Charger Rallye.  It’s black and fully loaded, sleek, sporty, yet practical.  If I had it my way and the extra cash, I would have driven off that lot with the 2017 Challenger Hellcat sitting on the showroom floor purring as you walked next to it.

Considering car type, color, engine size, influences the name.  And naming this pretty Charger, I will.  I’ve always believed that cars are an expression and definition of our personalities and unfortunately how much we can afford.    While I drive off to the countryside to take pictures of cows and horses this  morning, share with me in the comments what your car’s name is.  21439496_10214776033054031_676519648_o

 

 

“B” A-Z Challenge

Bob

Bob is my cat.  Many of my friends already know his story but if you are new to my blog, I’ll briefly write on the adoption.  I did not say ‘his’ adoption.  He adopted us. Cats are like that.  Because I made one little trip to the nursing home one night to help a patient, I ended up with a cat.  I left the garage door open and found a kitten the next morning at the door demanding to be petted.  And fed.  And before I could catch my boy in time, he poured a small cupful of kitty chow on the cold concrete floor.  You know what that means. There is no saying goodbye when food is involved.

That was February 2015.  Romee, our female feline, was annoyed and glared at me and lay in the middle of the kitchen floor with that look of authority.  The queen had no desire to share her home or servants with another four-legger and we knew there would be conflict.  My husband did not want to keep him and quite frankly I didn’t either. But what do you do when you have a six year old befriending this sweet kitty and discover your husband secretly petting him in the laundry room  on day three when he was supposed to be in the garage because said husband say “no cat in the house”.  It was 20 degrees outside.  We couldn’t let him freeze.

He earns his keep.  He keeps the mice and rabbits away.  He plays with the Kid.  He sleeps at the foot of the bed.  He does not ruin the furniture but he will trip you up when attention, er food, is wanted.  The two kitties get along well these days and we have no regrets keeping him.  After a failed presidential campaign, Bob had taken to managing both our home and our next door neighbor’s property by leaving treasures on the porch and sleeping on clean cars.

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“A” A – Z in Pictures

I found a blog A to Z Challenge this evening while browsing some blogs from the Journalspace days. I actually have a list of several hundred bloggers names from that website and links to their blogs though many are now defunct, in hibernation, extinct, past their prime, or currently active. I don’t know this A to Z blogger but found the blog interesting and something to spark my imagination.  I’ll write about whatever comes to thought.

Twenty six letters make up the English alphabet and 30 days extend September. This leaves me with four free days to forget, ignore, or refuse to post. September 1 is gone.  I start today, Saturday, September 2, 2017.  The purpose is to post something regularly as a blogger should for at least 30 days.

A  Aquarium at Corpus Christi

Better known as the Texas State Aquarium dedicated to preserving and providing oceans and animals, has survived Hurricane Harvey.  I checked over on Facebook and Twitter and read reports stating, “Texas State Aquarium Returns to Full Operations in Wake of Hurricane Harvey”.  What a relief.  If only that were the case for the remainder of South TX and Louisiana.

Last year my husband took my son and I to spend time on the Gulf.  We enjoy time down there, although the summer is brutally hot and I’d much prefer to go earlier in the year.  Unfortunately Spring Break and Memorial Day brings huge crowds and we have no time for pushing and shoving much less standing in any sort of line.  Everything about this trip was wonderful, although it was hot.  We took the Kid to this aquarium for the day and enjoyed it immensely.  He had an opportunity to pet the sting rays and that was a rather popular activity for many.  I found circumambient these jelly fish, as I jelly fish, as I always do, to be enrapturing.

According to the Aquarium updates on FB, representatives announced their hurricane plan and preparedness exercises prior to Harvey.  They were closed at times during the storm but it appears there were no injuries or significant losses.  They planned well with a bit of God’s blessing.

 

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Preserving Memories

Most people think of photographs first when putting together a memory album.  Not long ago, I found a box of letters saved by my most favorite Aunt and Uncle (both by marriage) that were written by my sister and I when we were kids.  I also found a box that I’ve had stored in the corner of the corner in the attic that has our school memories including report cards, photos, certificates, and more.  The poetry!  I found the poems most written in calligraphy on practice sheets.  I was such a geek.  With all my travels, I tended to keep the brochure of the museum, or state or national park we visited.

Over time much is accumulated and one questions why on earth they saved all this stuff.  Save it anyway and when you turn 50 something or whatever age determines your need to toss, you can then decide what is important and what is not.   What we do save can be carefully preserved in a variety of media types: Photographs, video/motion picture film, letters, poetry/essays, recordings.  I’ve got a few boxes of photos and other items that have been sorted through but I need time and motivation to get it glued down.

Scanning almost everything I’ve got has been quite a tedious task but well worth it.  If the house burns down, a Texas tornado whips through, or we get that black mold or if the town I live in is finally flooded by the mighty Lake Texoma then at least most, not all, will be backed up on a cloud and a webpage out there on the internet.  But not for all to see.  There is still quite a bit to scan.  Furthermore, I can share scanned pics and letters with friends/family.

I prefer the art of sorting and laying photographs and paper items on pages and writing about each one rather than the new and popular photo books.  There is nothing better, in my opinion, than the old black page photo albums our grandparents have situated on the shelf.  Photo books, however, do make nice gifts.

While in California I attended a scrapbook “midnight madness” night once each month with other scrappers.  It seems like I got more accomplished in the company of others for we were able to share supplies and stories. That may be what has kept me at bay with my own projects.  I must coordinate an evening with friends.   What are you working on?

Memories Lost

My friend called me today crying asking if I could help her recover 4 years worth of images she had stored on her recently crashed hard drive and a couple of retired cell phones.  She snaps pictures often and mostly with her iPhone.  Her computer is fried but there might be some way to pull those files back up.  Her two iPhone’s are going to be difficult to find.  She’s a lovely gal but if you saw the back of her Suburban you’d give up right away.  The house is in good shape but she’s got so much stuff.  Her newest iPhone, about a month old, is already loaded with selfies so I can’t say there is much to really stress over.  You might be offended by that but how many pictures do you really need of yourself in one day.  My friend knows I’m writing this and she’s already cried and accepted my criticism.  She dishes it right back at me.  We are good friends.

The pictures are lost.  Most are anyway.  She is not alone in this matter.  Back in the film days, we took care in taking pictures because we had to pay for film and pay to have them developed or at least pay for developing supplies.  Once we had them, the were treasured, mailed to family/friends, passed around at church or meetings.  Often these images were carefully placed in photo albums or photo boxes.  Ask anyone in my film family what they’d go for first when the house was burning down, they would tell you the pictures.  That still applies to me for I have albums throughout my entire life and generations past.

People will often ask me to take their portrait or shoot an event.  Events,  as they prefer, are to be processed and put on a website.  That is a good business actually.  Those images are then seen by many.  For those whom I shoot portraits, I put all the images in a special private photo gallery online in which the images can be purchased in print from a select photo lab.  But often the client will ask me for a CD.   I don’t like to see my work in print if they do actually print from CVS or Wally World, etc.  The color is not correct and often the print is in glossy finish taking away from that finished professional look.

Not long ago I visited a friend who I shot many years ago and found her images on her dining room wall, nicely framed.  My heart sang.  It was such a delight to see the pictures I took in print on someone’s wall.   She has same digital images in case the house burns down.  That is a good idea.

I do too.  I have just about every print scanned and backed up for that reason.  I don’t print as much as I used to but when I do I pick out the best of the best and order prints to go into an album or collage.  When I visit people, older people, there is almost always a large collage frame in the hallway.  This is the older style frame that held 10 or 20 3 x 5 pictures of family memories.  Rarely I see this type of display anymore and I visit many people in their homes.

When I was growing up, my cousins and I would spend hours paging through the many photo albums at my grandparents house looking back to their years as children on the farm, the new Ford Model T.

Many articles have been written by bloggers on lost memories.  According to research, in a nationwide survey conducted by Professional Photographers of America (PPA), 42% of people (ages 30-44) will likely look back and wonder where photos of their childhood, holiday get-togethers, relatives and friends have gone decades from now.

My friend is in a real pickle. Those last four years of pictures are of her grandchildren who are about that age, 4-6.    Her daughter has hundreds, no thousands, of digital images but few in print.  She’s got DVD’s of images she’s purchased from photographers but have had only a few pictures printed.  All those birthday parties, firsts, reunions, school activities, run and fun in the yard are carelessly stored; most on lost iPhones shoved in the back of a desk drawer or under the seat of a cluttered 2010 SUV.   When those kids grow up, where will their childhood pictures be?

My best advice, and you won’t care or adhere to this, is to stop taking so many snaps.  Instead pay attention to the activity and take a few really good pictures, even digitally, and have them printed.  Printed pictures bring people together, bring joy to the heart.  Don’t lose yours.

Season of Excess

While I am happy for all of you who celebrate this time of year with genuine joy and affection and meaning, we have to make room in our celebrations for people’s real pain. Their real experiences. Their real selves. Too often I observe how many of my own friends expect others to celebrate the season a certain way. For example, “It’s not Christmas if you don’t get together with family”. Not everyone has family. Some family members are on a military assignment elsewhere, in jail, the nursing home, at work, the bar, getting a divorce, shooting heroin, on a missions trip, dying, moving, coming out of the closet, home bound, bed bound, driving an 18 wheeler, or celebrating a different religious tradition. Furthermore, not everyone has family they like to spend any amount of time with.

I like that everyone has different Christmas experiences, traditions, and expectations. And that is what makes Christmas so beautiful to me. I am drawn to those who celebrate differently from the mainstream. One year, my dad and I were together for Christmas alone and decided to take a drive up to the mountains, I think somewhere on the Cajon pass, and hike. I’ve told some of you about this. And some of the some of you reacted as if I was out of sorts because I was not sitting by the tree with a turkey in the oven. One person said, “how sad”. I was rather insulted by this. Why can’t I celebrate the birth of Christ with a backpack, boots, a trail, and my dad who, by the way, feels much like I do?  And so what if my Christmas tree was nothing more than a tall oscillating fan adorned with some handmade decorations, later found tipped over due to a cat attacking it. God is not keeping score of how many lights you’ve hung on tree, and all the gifts you’ve bought. Sometimes I think He rolls His eyes and nods His head at the nonsense on this dysfunctional planet.

This is the worst time of year to have the TV on the mainstream networks or just looking at adverts. TV is good for favorite movies and horse racing. But it is easy to become wrapped up (no pun intended) with the suffocating holiday shopping ads and Hallmark stories that do not accurately represent a large population of the northern hemisphere’s families gripped in this inescapable force we call Christmas and the sheep mentality that we must behavior a certain way. I’d like to say I refuse it but I’m stuck with it because I share space with other humans (not referring to my family). I want to see this season presented with different angles of celebration and not so much excess. There are days this time of year I want to go somewhere and see not holiday decorations, shopping ads, the force of the season. I want to celebrate my Savior’s birthday but I don’t want to drown in garland, lights, wrapping paper doing so. At least on Yom Kippur, no one’s chasing after me with a Yamaka. And I’ll say “Happy Holidays” if I want to.

Caring For The Cat

This advice update is written for someone very dear to me that was recently adopted by a four- legged furry feline. I write this to assist in preparing the newly adopted pet parent with limited experience in servitude. The most important task you must consider is managing their bewildering behavior.

Call it cat logic. Just because the kitty is loving all over you by purring and rubbing on your leg does not mean he/she loves you. You are his/her territory. It’s nothing but a form of marking/branding. You can show all the love back and call it mutual but it isn’t. Get used to it.

Your cat has now established your favorite chair (inside or out or maybe both) as her/his place to relax or sleep. He will move only when you remove him. Don’t try to call him off the chair like you do with your well trained respectful canine. The cat may open an eye, glare at you, and resume the snooze. Join the club of cat ownership and just sacrifice your chair. You can get another one.

Because you serve your kitty well, she/he will reward you with gifts. Since your cat is outdoors, you will be blessed with a variety of bloody bedraggled carcasses left neatly your doorstep at just the right distance so that your foot lands squarely on it as you take your first step out unaware of the collision.  My best advice for you is to inspect both porches and entryways on your property before stepping out the door.  And don’t leave it with expectation of discarding it when you return home from work for that will be the one day the UPS delivery person leaves a parcel at your doorstep.  It really grosses them out.  Be kind and help your community.

Feeding a cat is an art.  It’s not as easy as it appears.  The early years better known as kittenhood aren’t too bad but as the cat matures you will observe a shift in dietary habits.  Your vet, friends, the feed store all say to feed your cat a well balance diet.  While that is the goal, your cat will define that for you.  Once your cat has established food habits you will need to ensure you have good medical insurance and/or life insurance policy.  This is the best advice I can give you in this section of reading:

  1. Don’t be late feeding your cat.  Your life depends on it.
  2. Don’t change up your cat’s diet.  Your life depends on it.
  3. Don’t underfeed your cat if you feel the calories have exceeded the daily recommended allowance.  Your life depends on it.

I keep a bowl of dry quality cat food available at all times.  I feed a portion of organic, non gmo, no grain, blah blah blah cat food at 6:00 am each morning.  Fresh water is served daily.  I do not feed my cats at 6:01.  I’ve ended up on the kitchen floor when they tripped me up walking through the kitchen to get their food.  And they don’t care if you are pregnant!

Another bit of advice.  Tuna and sea food meals often lend to urinary problems.  Avoid those.  Milk is tolerated on rare occasions but often cause nausea, diarrhea due to lactose intolerance.  Cats love raw chicken but a lot of people will strike me down for this suggestion.  I don’t care.

The best part of serving a cat is the hours of interesting observation and communication, whatever that may be.  Cats like to play, snuggle, and own you.  It’s a wonderful, yet infuriating life.

 

Who Comes Up With This?

I occasionally snack on a small bag of Lay’s potato chips just to fulfill an emptiness on my tummy midday or simply to satisfy a salty craving when consuming large amounts of cold water in the hot summer months.  About a month ago I went into an Exxon station or maybe it was a Shell gas station and grabbed out of the cooler the usual Fuji water and while walking down the snack isle my attention was drawn to the Lay’s chips display, particularly the green bag.  I’ve never had a chip of this flavor much less ever eaten Brazilian Picanha.  I pulled the bag off the display and marched up to the counter to pay with all quarters.  I was pleased with the flavor and vowed to try it again if I could find it.  It’s good!

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A couple of weeks later while roaming the grocery store isles in search of time, I browsed the chip isle  in search of an item not related to this story.  Not real hungry for much, I needed some items for home and had already found most everything on my list.  There, on the shelf at eye level sat a Lay’s brand bag of chips called “biscuits and gravy”.  Mind you, it’s “Southern”.    Who comes up with this?

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Biscuits and gravy is a treat I eat maybe once per year when traveling.  We don’t eat this much or at all at home.  I traveled often as a teen with extended family and it was Denny’s in Indio, CA that was our stopping point to and from Yuma, AZ where we’d enjoy brunch.  It was biscuits and gravy every time.   I bought the bag of “Southern Biscuits and Gravy” and had not even gotten out of the parking lot before consuming half the bag.

There is a whole boatload of Lay’s flavors.  No, no, it’s called Lay’s Passport To Flavor.  You can hop over to the website to gain all the flavor information and contests.

What I’ve had so far:

Sour Cream & Onion

Barbecue

Cheddar & Sour Cream

Salt & Pepper

Flamin’ Hot

Limón

Chicken and Waffles

Cheesy Garlic Bread

New York Reuben

and my all time favorite, “Plain”!