Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Any Topic

Inspired by Cee’s B&W Photo Challenge: Any Topic

 

When we downsized in 2016 one of the many things eliminated was more than half of our record collection. Vinyl records…LPs and 45’s. We sold some to a local antique dealer. We sold some at a garage sale. We gave some away. Most we don’t miss. Some we do.

We saved two cabinets’ worth. No way was I parting with my collection of Carole King records or the “Three Bs” Barbra, Bonnie and Bette. Or classic Original Movie and Broadway Cast Recordings…Hello Dolly, West Side Story, Porgy and Bess, Saturday Night Fever…to name just a few. My tattered 4 record set 97 WWDJ/TOP HITS made the cut. My husband and I combined our Beatles collections via negotiating sentimental value of each. My beer stained copies of Meet the Beatles and The Beatles’ Second Album won out. My collections of The Carpenters, Herman’s Hermits and The Moody Blues did not.


Fortunately we still own our original turntable from the 1970s. My musician husband has maintained it meticulously over the years, along with the receiver and multiple wires and jacks and whatever. Including a cassette deck. And a CD player. No wireless mp3 system for us!

He also alphabetized all our music. The records are organized first by genre and then by last name or group. We have a zillion CDs alphabetized the same way. Phew.

One of the two record cabinets sits under the window in the living room area of our condo. Never mind that I flashback to dorm life.

A reminder of when rock was young…

LPs
Record Albums – Cabinet #1
(D. Ackles to B. Springsteen)

…and when we were young as well.

[We are also well aware that this collection will be the only thing our daughter and son will probably fight over when we are long gone. I doubt they’ll wish I had saved Close to You or Days of Future Passed….so I can rest easy]

Farewell

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #42: Farewell

forsythia

Every day is a farewell of sorts.

I am reminded of something I learned in science class years ago.
To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
For every farewell, there is a Hello.
A Welcome To sign.
A Chapter One.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a do-over.

Farewells accumulate more quickly…the older I get.
Crowding the rear view.

Perhaps blocking the front view…
…now that I have more time to notice.

This came to mind upon reading another blogger’s post today: The Art of Letting Go. The coincidence of finding this post in my inbox as I was contemplating V.J.’s challenge is probably more serendipity than coincidence.
One of those Pay Attention moments.

Farewells are often difficult. While trying to maintain connections. To people. To what is important. To who we are. It is a decision with consequences after all.

I have bid farewell many times in the last decades.

Mostly by choice…

Downsizing – thousands of farewells with every trip to Goodwill. Sale on Craig’s List. Yard sale. Donation to charity. Trash and recycling day. Even “stuff” that brought me joy. The reality of space as the priority. Realizing it was okay to let go.

Moving – from a home of 37 years. Where my marriage bloomed. Two beautiful children slept, ate, played, laughed, cried, hugged, stomped, yelled, studied, loved. And then bid farewell. A home where the grass grew tall. The trees and flowers blossomed. Glorious forsythias…a special Mother’s Day gift…flourished. Now all in the rear view.

…Also goodbye to mowing the lawn and shoveling snow. Raking leaves. Climbing stairs. Taking care of a big house.

Emptying the nest –  There was always that catch in my throat as I watched the train pull out of the station. Or the bus leave for the airport. Carrying my son, backpack in hand. My daughter, her oversized purse packed with books. Back to college. Work. A new home. In another city. I waved frantically…hopefully at the right window.  Or from the front steps of our home…as the car backed out of the driveway, shifted to drive and before I knew it, rounded the corner and disappeared. Farewell. For now.

…Also goodbye to listening for a teenage driver returning home late at night. Responsibility for raising ’em right. Laundry. Tuition.

Farewell to worry? Not so much.

First farewells – Perhaps the most etched in memory. My daughter – my oldest – at 3. Her first day at preschool. Pink corduroy pants. Flowered turtleneck. Eyes bright. Huge smile. More than ready. Sun shining that March day as I walked her into the coat cubby room. “Bye Mommy!!” A hug and a kiss. She hasn’t looked back since. A bittersweet farewell. That made perfect sense.

The most difficult farewells…the unexpected ones. Not by choice….

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When doctors started concluding office visits with “now that you’re 35…” these things happen. Which 20 years later morphed into “now that you’re menopausal” these things happen. To – finally – “autoimmune” happens. It might as well have become my middle name.

The doctors shrug. No longer look me in the eye.
Another farewell to who I used to be. What I could do.
No do-overs here; but adjustments for a new path.
Refocused.

 

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…Relationships desperately needing a shift.
Unexpectedly…no longer healthy.
Perhaps the most difficult. Challenging.
Familiar connections gone terribly wrong.
Out of my control. Into the deep end.

Leading to…Farewell.
~
Hello
Welcome To
the new chapter.

 

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Floor

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The theme this week is: Floor

 

Days before the sale of our home in 2016
***
Looking from part of the living room into the den…

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This floor of plywood 1 ¼” thick – covered with a carpet…supported a family…
Standing. Sitting. Running. Jumping. Crawling. Sleeping. Rolling. Walking.
Witness for more than 36 years.

Sometimes it squeaked in mysterious places at certain times,
but it never wavered for…

An infant crawling for the first time. Never minding the spit-up.
A baby, lying quietly, carefully picking out carpet lint. Fiber by fiber.
Popping it into her tiny mouth.
A toddler sprawled out “reading” a board book. And then tossing it aside for the next one.

This floor held…
Three cousins lying face down, chins propped in hands, watching television.
A sister and brother doing somersaults. Watch me mom!
Monopoly games…bank money, hotels, houses and the boy in charge of the bank.
Father and son jumping so hard the walls rattled when the Red Sox won the series in 2004.

Birthday party marching bands parading up one side and down the other.
Jump shots and slam dunks in the Michael Jordan Shoot-the-Ball hoop on a stand. Until it broke.
A young girl’s entire dance interpretation of NKOTB’s “Hangin’ Tough” including costume changes.

This floor remained sturdy when…
Standing for photos against the bifold doors: Easter. Halloween. Prom. Birthday. Group party pics. Or just because.
Teenagers collapsed in hysterics trying to master Twister.
Christmas trees were decorated.
Waiting for the gifts Santa would put beneath it.
No chimney required.

This floor supported a couch…chairs…coffee table…first hand-me-down…and then new.
Piecemeal furniture piled high with books, records, toys, magazines, framed photographs.
All steady and secure on this base for our home.

One might think a floor is just a floor.

But sometimes it isn’t.

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Scene

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by “Dutch goes the Photo”

https://dutchgoesthephoto.net/2018/08/21/tuesday-photo-challenge-scene/

The theme this week is “Scene”

One of the consequences of emptying the nest and downsizing is a scene such as this:

My (32 year old) daughter: You can throw these out, Mom.

Me: Are you sure??

Daughter: I’ll never make anything with them now. I don’t make jewelry anymore. 

Me: Are you sure?

Daughter: Yes!

Carefully designed and crafted rolls of polymer clay; originally they were small squares – each a separate color. Hours of work to combine and create. To slice up for earrings, pins and beads. From the age of 12 to 16.

Saved creations deemed irrelevant.

But preserved here nonetheless.

 

Fimo
Fimo Works in Progress – The Final Scene

 

 

 

downsizing and stuff – part 4 – nature

Downsizing does not include nature. Except for a few small houseplants, you don’t take “nature stuff” with you…from a house to a condo. It usually doesn’t get donated or sold. For the most part, that’s okay. Some of the nature I don’t miss: weeds, massive wasp tree hotels, chipmunk holes, poop in the back yard from the cat next door, wasp nests behind the shutters, leaf piles, ants. Oh, right….and piles of snow that need to be moved. We left that “stuff” of nature behind.

The nature I do wish we could have taken with us? The flowers that came to life in our yard this time of year.  The little purple crocuses that sprouted up around the maple tree; sometimes so early they poked through the last of the melting snow. Purple irises that originated in my great-grandmother’s garden in Cincinnati – making it to my parents’ house in NJ and then to our home of almost 37 years. They multiplied over the years and we transplanted them from one side of the house to the other. And then next to the garage.  And later, we added trilliums, daffodils and black-eyed susans to the mix.

daffodils
2013
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
2007

My husband and I moved to that house in early 1980. No kids yet. We were first time homeowners eager to start “decorating,” so we bought over a dozen tulip bulbs that fall.  We ceremoniously planted them in a small patch of dirt next to the house (alongside the iris); with 2 little girls who lived next door watching over our shoulders.  We didn’t know it at the time, but although tulips are “perennials,” they don’t last forever. Gradually fewer and fewer showed themselves every spring. Perhaps the salt runoff from the icy driveway killed them off.  I think there may have even been a few years with no tulips at all. However during the last few years before we moved out, one tulip showed up. Hooray! A welcome survivor and salute to our first attempt at landscaping.

tulips 1981007 copy
1981
tulips 2015
2015

Lilies of the valley. I miss them most of all. Transplanted from my in-law’s garden in the late 1990’s, they multiplied like crazy – gradually taking over the strip of dirt in front of the house. So delicate. So simple, green and white. Their sweet scent was like no other…when that huge patch was in full bloom, it took my breath away. Literally.

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2014

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I drove by our former home a few months ago and spotted the crocuses. Next to the tree by the road…same as always. I slowed down, but didn’t stop.

One of those peculiar sad happy moments….

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Front yard crocuses – 2012

 

downsizing and stuff – part 3 – Craig’s List

IMG_0032 copy

SCHWINN Girl’s Bike – 18″$50

Lavender and white classic “coaster brake” style bicycle in excellent condition, few scuff marks. This is a Schwinn high quality bike, 18″ with adjustable seat and handlebars.

One July morning, I received an email:

I am interested in this bike and would like to check it out. I live in (town) so contact me if it is still available and when a good time would be.

The next day, a white box truck decorated with images of fruits and vegetables arrived and parked at the end of my driveway. It was from a local produce company which advertises “locally sourced produce…from farm to table!”
The driver – the man who sent the email – walked up towards me where I was waiting with the purple bike. We had saved it hanging on the garage wall for many years. To look at it was to remember our blonde 5 year old bound and determined to ride a big-girl bike all by herself. And she did.

I showed the man the original handbook I had saved. He looked the bike over, pleased it was in such good shape. He wanted to buy a “high quality brand,” even if used, rather than a cheap Walmart bike. He was planning to surprise his 6 year old daughter named Daisy. It would be her first big-girl bike too. I knew it was meant to be as I watched him wheel it down the driveway to the truck. I had to smile…my grown up daughter belongs to a CSA and is bound and determined to buy local whenever possible.

 ***

REDLINE 340 Boy’s Bike$60

Dark Blue 20″ REDLINE 340 “Motocross” bicycle in EXCELLENT CONDITION. Includes water bottle holder, adjustable seat and handlebars.

One July morning, 2 weeks later, I received this email:

I am very interested in this bike. I am a BMX collector. Not the type that “flips” bikes for money. I love older BMX bikes from the 80’s and 90’s and like to restore or refurbish them. However I prefer to have “survivors” like this. I feel your price is fair and would like to buy it from you but my wife has informed me that my bike fund is depleted right now. The soonest I’d have money to buy this would be next Monday or Tuesday. I understand money talks and BS walks but if you’ve still got it by next week I’d like to arrange something with you.
Thanks for your time.

I emailed him that it was still available and he got right back to me.

That is GREAT!
I get paid again on Monday afternoon and will be ready with cash in hand as soon as Monday night. I would love to have this all original survivor BMX in my collection. I love collecting and riding BMX bikes, I’ve included a picture of a few of the bikes in my collection. All the ones that are just frame and fork are ones that are currently being restored by me. The one that stands alone is my own personal survivor bike from when I was a kid, I bought it new and have held onto it ever since.
Not that most people selling a bike care about where it goes but I just wanted to let you know that if you decide to sell your bike to me it will be going to a good home. (Lol)

Three days later I emailed him that the bike was still available.

His response:

Thanks! I’ve been into BMX since I was a young boy. I’ve gotten really into collecting and restoring over the last five or so years. It’s cheaper than collecting and restoring old cars! Lol. I’ll have the money tomorrow but won’t realistically be able to get out to (you) until probably Tuesday or Wednesday if that’s ok with you.
Feel free to call or text me with any questions
Thanks again, George.

George, my favorite and most enthusiastic buyer ever – probably in his 40’s – lived 1-1/2 hours away and arrived with his pickup truck one hot July day. He told me the story of his BMX bicycle collection, adding more details to the email descriptions. After very carefully inspecting the bike and pronouncing it “a score,” he paid the asking price. I noticed a woman – probably his wife – sitting in the passenger seat, rolling her eyes, with a profound look of resignation on her face. George later emailed me and included photos of my son’s bike all cleaned up and shiny; looking almost like new.

I just wanted to send you a quick message to say thanks again for the Redline BMX bike you sold me. I have been working on it and getting it cleaned up. I was able to finally get it out for a ride the other night and I gotta tell you this bike rides awesome. It has now become my new favorite bike to ride!
Thanks again, George

Before George bought it,  it had hung in a special place on the garage wall next to his sister’s. Our son was also an avid collector…of bottle caps, sports cards, pennies….  Selling his bike to such a dedicated collector also seemed meant to be.

 ***

Wurlitzer Piano$200

Wurlitzer spinnet style piano and bench. Manufactured in 1967.
Very good playing condition with some minor wood finish discoloration on top.

One morning in early June, I received this email:

May I look at the piano tomorrow on Sunday? I live in (town), so it will be a fast trip. I want to teach my three year old son how to play and this will fit into the house. Please call…

A young man from a few miles away arrived that sunny Sunday to check out our piano. It had been handed down to us from my mother-in-law, who took lessons on it in her 70’s.  He wanted a “real piano” and not an electric keyboard for his 3 year old son to learn on. The water stains on the top did not concern him.  The bench came with the music books – even ones I had learned on including Teaching Little Fingers To Play with the red cover. He handed me $200 in cash to hold it until the following weekend. I insisted on giving him a receipt. He did come back with a friend the next weekend as promised.  I wonder how that (now 6 year old) little boy likes his piano.

***

Vintage Hutch Credenza$25

condition: fair
Solid wood credenza with 2 doors and 2 drawers (one with felt areas for silverware).
This is a very old piece of furniture that is structurally very good.
It is very scratched, but could be easily painted.
Dimensions:
60″ W
20″ D
27″ H

This would be the final Craig’s List sale…
Three days before we closed on the sale of our house, the Salvation Army truck arrived to collect the leftover giveaway stuff which filled the 2 car garage. The one thing they would not take was this credenza because it was too scratched. Originally belonging to my husband’s grandmother, it was handed down to us and then used for storage.
Within an hour of posting this, a young man emailed me. Two days later he bought it and narrowly missed popping a hernia getting it into his car.
On to its next home. A narrow escape from the dumpster.

***

Downsizing from a 3 bedroom house with a full basement, garage and attic takes time. Lots of time. Well, it does if you want to save the earth and not add your unwanted stuff to the local landfill.

Many friends have asked  – how did you do it?

One major player? Craig’s List.

My friend Chris gave me very good advice about using Craig’s List…
Don’t be surprised if the person never shows up to buy your stuff.                           Always get the cash before handing over what you are selling.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Timing is everything
    If you want to sell 22 year old working, but noisy, window air conditioners, post them on a humid 95 degree summer day. Boom! Gone in hours. As I recall a buyer wanted one to keep her cat cool when she was away. I hope the cat didn’t go deaf.
  • Use positive descriptions such as Vintage, Classic, Antique.
  • Avoid old unless it’s absolutely necessary (see “credenza” above)
  • Include the Owner’s Manual if you can find it.
  • Look up any serial numbers for describing old (i.e.: vintage) items.
  • Search eBay for pricing ideas
  • Measure anything that you can measure.
  • Take photos in natural light, outdoors if possible.
  • Dust/clean old (i.e.: vintage) furniture. Make simple repairs such as tightening screws or replacing a hinge. It can make the difference.
  • Set up a time during the day for buyers to look at your items – preferably outside or in a detached garage.
  • Never assume there isn’t a buyer for something you want to sell. You have no idea how many times I heard….Nobody will buy that!  – and then someone did (well most of the time)

A few success stories:

Classic writing desk, vintage bureau, vintage shelf, vintage Silver Streak sled, vintage Yankee Clipper sled, LP Record Cabinet.

What never sold:

Cassette tape storage racks, video cassette player, Mad Men – Season 3, very large vintage speakers that still worked (and why couldn’t someone see how great they still were?).

And, last but not least, when you use Craig’s List to off load your stuff, you may meet some really cool people in the process!

[NOTE TO SELF & READERS: definition of spam….
An earlier response to my son’s bike posting – after I emailed back to a short inquiry asking if the bike was still available…..
Thanks you for the response according to the description,am okay with
the price and the condition pasted on cl. I am ready to make instant
purchase.My mode of payment would be in CERTIFIED CHECK and i will
arrange for a local pick up as soon as you get the check, because that
is the only inconvenient means for me and due to my work frame i can
not be able to get there and i promise everything will go smoothly.I
really wish to be there to check out the item but i don’t have chance
cause am very busy person (US MARINE). Concerning the pick up, i will
arrange for it after you receive the payment and it clears… Pls get
back to me with below info so that i can proceed with the payment
immediately if you are selling to me.
Full Name:
Address: Not P.O.BOX
City:
State:Postal Code:
Total amount for the item
Phone Number: That i can send text
And as soon as this is provided, the payment will be overnight to you
and i will let you know when its mailed out. Thanks and i hope we
handle this in good faith while waiting to hear from you. i will add
an additional $50 so that you can hold it for me till the check reach
you. Best Regards]

downsizing and stuff – part 1 – the nest

Many of us are:

  1. thinking about downsizing.
  2. talking about downsizing.
  3. reading articles about how to downsize.
  4. going through stuff wondering “where did this come from?” as if it had snuck in when we weren’t looking. Or better yet “why did I buy this?” and having no answer to “why did I keep 6 shovels or this roll of ‘perfectly good’ rug scrap for 30 years?” [My favorite – “I swear these hangers are reproducing overnight. I keep finding more.”]
  5. purging piles of stuff or at least trying to.

And what is stuff? Well, everything is stuff. The hardest stuff to deal with….are those once precious belongings or mementos and, yes, diaries and journals that we hold on to for….”later.” Boxes and bags gathering dust in remote corners of houses and apartments and basements and attics; the stacks increasing year by year. The packing tape yellowed, cracking & falling off. This process is often jump started when adult children move out. Really move out.

The thing is…the term “empty nest” is misleading. The nest is not empty when the kids who inhabited said nest leave all their stuff behind…crammed in the nest they flew out of. Hmmm… That is not helpful.  A good friend of mine suggested Rubbermaid storage totes. “Put all their stuff in those totes. Let them come get them.” I knew we could never downsize with buckets of toys, sports cards, dolls, stuffed animals, books, clothing, magazines, saved schoolwork, etc. The Molly doll that my daughter saved up money for? — upside down in one of those buckets, glasses askew. That didn’t seem right. She once had a seat at our Thanksgiving table. Sigh.  Well, the kids flew the nest and and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Back to stuff. The solution to getting rid of the kids’ stuff ending up being fairly simple. I offered to ship it all to them via a pod. They could put it in storage where they lived (400 miles away in a major city). Panic ensued. “We don’t have room. Wait. WAIT.” They arrived a few months later, sorted through (most of) it, pared it down and rented their own storage unit nearby – a vastly cheaper alternative. It’s been 4 years and Molly remains safe and sound and upside down a few miles away. She is surrounded by 10,000+ carefully catalogued sports cards, a dog-eared collection of Babysitter Club paperbacks, and much more. Sorry Molly.

Adult children these days (when did I get old enough to say “these days”?)….do not want their parents’ (free!) old furniture or dishes or silverware. Ew. Old brown furniture. Ew again. No sentimental attachment to the kitchen table where one made earrings out of Cheerios? Or displayed the college acceptance letters? Or spread out racks for cooling Christmas cookies? They politely decline. I am not sure what the deal is there; but it is comforting to have this ice breaker discussion with any downsized empty nester. I am not alone. Look in any Goodwill, Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity Restore facility – it is packed with old brown furniture that baby boomers have donated. Their kids don’t want it. An antique dealer I spoke to about this phenomenon snorted “all they want is that cheap Ikea stuff.”