Archive for June, 2014

Acquisitions and Divestments
June 27, 2014

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Where does stuff go when it dies, does it go to stuff heaven? ~ George Carlin

Last week I mentioned the cookware I bought for myself in college to start off my adventure in housekeeping. That set of pots and pans was seriously just about all that I owned as I began my post graduate life. The summer after I graduated, I worked at Methodist Hospital (I rode my bike there and back) and lived at home to save money before moving to Dallas and getting a job there. Once in Dallas, thanks to a friend who lived there, I found both a job and an apartment in an old quadruplex on the bus line (I had no car). My parents gave me an old mattress set, and I brought my desk and a chair or two. That was about it. The apartment came with a dining table and chairs, and the kitchen had a “murphy table” which folded down from the wall, revealing the narrow spice rack.

Joel’s mom came to the rescue with all sorts of furniture and dishes that she magically pulled out of her garage: a chest of drawers and mirror, a cedar chest, an upholstered chair that folded out into a single bed, a rocking chair, and two side tables. Anything she offered to me, I gratefully took. Plates, glassware, stainless flatware followed. Then came an old gas heater that looked like a fireplace, as the apartment had no heat (did I mention that the rent was only $125 a month?).

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She was on a mission, and thrived on looking for items that Joel or I might need in our respective apartments. One of her favorite things to do was troll garage sales. I never said no to anything she found and offered to us.

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Once I had saved a little money, I bought myself a small black and white TV. Then came a sofa bed and some cheapo, assemble it yourself bookshelves, all paid for over time. Things were starting to look pretty good!

Then Joel and I married, and he and all his STUFF moved in, in addition to all of our wedding gifts. Hmmm. We were starting to have too much STUFF in this one tiny apartment. But we kept thinking that we’d be moving into a bigger space, and would find a place for everything.

After Joel graduated from law school, we moved back to Houston and lived in a series of houses, each larger than the last one (with one exception). My mother in law kept at it, finding a dining table, sideboard, settee, and then she gave us her old piano. When her cousin passed away, we inherited a large four poster bed, a comfy upholstered chair and ottoman, an immense dining table (stretches out from 4 feet square to 4 x 12 feet long) and chairs, along with more dishes and glassware. And STUFF.

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Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the family pieces that have been handed down to us over the years. They are our history, and they make our house a home, which is unique in this day of matching suites of furniture that are not nearly as well made as they used to be.

But then it came time for both moms to downsize and move out of their houses to smaller places. More STUFF appeared. Later, Joel’s mom moved into the nursing area of the community, and even MORE STUFF has been piled into our garage. Now I understand why Joel’s mom’s garage was full, and I’ve turned into her! This has been a serious tipping point in my life.

Our 3 car garage now has only enough room to fit 1 car. Once Shannon has determined what she does or does not want, then she will help me get rid of it, one way or another. It is way past time to begin divesting instead of continually acquiring. I want my garage back!

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Direct Sales
June 21, 2014

 

 

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My dad, being a salesman, taught me you can sell anybody anything if you’ve got the ability to believe. ~Marilyn Manson

Over the years, I have sat through many a Cutco presentation by some very earnest young men. All have been guys from our church, so I always say yes when they call me. My thought is that if this young person has the gumption to make a cold call, and has the moxie to make a presentation to me, well then, I’m going to buy something from him. Cutco does offer good products, and I’ve always been pleased with my purchases.

The hard part is listening to the spiel over and over, but one must let them practice to prepare for presentations to others who haven’t heard it yet.

Going back in time, I am remembering a cookware presentation done in one of the “Dating Parlors” at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, back in the spring of my senior year, when I had visions of marrying a special young man (to whom I am now married). The product was called Thermo-Core, and was described as “Thermium Multi-plex Stainless Steel”. Made in USA.

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The salesman enticed me with promises of lifetime guarantees for this superior product. The package included a covered skillet, a Dutch oven, three covered sauce pans plus an insert to make a double boiler, AND another insert that went into the Dutch oven that would warm baby bottles! (of course, this was before the days of microwave ovens, which eventually made the baby bottle insert obsolete). But in case you didn’t need that baby bottle feature, there were little cups you could stick in the holes if you wanted to poach eggs like my mom used to do. He also demonstrated how one could stack sauce pans with that double boiler insert to keep things warm and save energy (pretty forward thinking in 1977!).

It all sounded good to me. But I had no money. Of course, they offered a payout plan, which I can’t believe I agreed to. My thought was that I’d get a job and pay for it later. I can’t remember, but I think the whole shebang cost several hundred dollars.

I didn’t ask my mother for guidance, mostly because it would have involved a long distance call, which involved money which I didn’t have, or a letter, to which I wouldn’t have a reply for maybe a week.

Speaking of my mom, I hate to admit it, but her cookware was pretty flimsy back then, and that was one of the reasons I made the executive decision to buy this “superior” product.

Fast forward 37 years. I am still using all of the pieces I purchased and paid out way back then. Well, except that I don’t much use the baby bottle insert, nor the egg poaching accessories!

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Yes, I know there are many new and amazing cookware products out there, and some are in my cupboard next to my Thermo-Core pieces. But I still go to those old saucepans and the skillet first. They are old friends, and way more than good enough for me. And they go in the dishwasher (bonus points!).

So you might think twice when someone calls you or invites you to consider a product. There’s a good chance you will be very pleased with your purchase! Here’s to all those who have ever been in direct sales, pitching cutlery, cookware, skin care products or costume jewelry, etc. You all have earned my admiration.

Tucker is Three
June 12, 2014

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Halfway up the stairs Isn’t up, Isn’t down… ~A.A. Milne

Three years ago, this wee pup melted our hearts, despite a birth defect (cleft palate) that required some major surgery at that very young age. It was ultimately a good decision. Tucker has matured into a confident and happy dog, who has won the hearts of many with his happy dances and his sunny nature.

Every morning, I let him out the back door, where he invariably heads to the northeast corner of our yard to bark at a neighbor’s dog, who always barks back. His path through the pine trees is well marked. On the morning of his birthday, oh boy! He interrupted two cats, one of which managed to scale the fence, but the other one failed. I’m not sure what happened out there behind the ginger lilies, but Tucker emerged, energized and primed for breakfast. I think that the cat must have squeezed its fat self under the fence somehow.

After breakfast, it’s always time for “walkies”. On that same morning that he surprised the cats, we encountered a man walking a seven week old Golden Retriever. The pup was petrified by all the cars and noise, and had parked himself on his owner’s foot, just frozen there. I totally understood the situation, because all of our country raised dogs felt the same way at first, too.

So I approached him with Tucker, who wagged his tail and distracted the puppy from his fears. It was like magic. That puppy wiggled and waggled, jumped and kissed both Tucker and me, and then, when Tucker and I walked on, I looked back. That fat little fellow was walking along his owner, just as confidently as could be. What a good teacher you are, Tucker!

It began to rain on us as we were heading for home, so we stepped up the pace a bit. But I wasn’t too concerned about getting wet, as I knew that our ace groomer, Susan was scheduled to come give Tucker a bath, trim and manicure later that morning.

Whenever the doorbell rings, Tucker races to see who’s there, and gets so excited whenever people come visit (he thinks they are coming to visit him). But he knows what Susan’s van looks like, and once he saw it, he retreated to the kitchen, where he was cornered without much difficulty. Thirty minutes later, he was fluffed and buffed, with some extra treats to make him feel better after his trauma.

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After that, it was time for errands, which means a ride in the car to go to places that are dog friendly. First stop, Twin Oaks Cleaners, where he loves to visit his friends who work there. They make a big fuss over him, and honestly, if I go there without him, they are very disappointed. And here I must say that I’ll never opt for home delivery/pickup, because Tucker loves to go to the cleaners so much!

And the drive through bank, as well. I am well aware that I could deposit my checks via an app that would allow me to do it online, but there would be no cookies that come with it, like they come with the deposit slip at Bank of Texas. Tucker LOVES Bank of Texas, and I would suggest to all banks that they stock up on doggie treats to keep those canine customers happy!

On other mornings, our routine may involve working in the garden, with my faithful companion. He never strays, and I love having him keep me company as I pull weeds or transplant things, etc.

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As you can tell, Tucker’s mornings are always filled with activities. If I am eating lunch at home, it usually means tuna or chicken salad, and Tucker gets to lick the spoon… a big deal to him! And then comes nap time. He probably snoozes a few hours. On a good day, I may snooze, too, albeit just for 30 minutes or so.

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Later, it’s time to wander down to the mailbox or patrol the perimeter. 5:30? Time for a cookie! His stomach clock seldom fails. Then when the dad gets home, oh boy, it’s playtime!

Tucker gets sleepy pretty early; I think his body clock goes by the sunrise/sunset. Daylight means it’s time to wake up, and sunset means it’s time to go to sleep. I need to get into his rhythm for the summer months, because in Houston, it’s too hot to walk/run a dog after 8 am.

You may be wondering about that quote from A.A. Milne. That’s Tucker for you. His “brothers” Shadow and Bailey quickly learned about stairs and ran up and down with abandon. Tucker? That’s the one area that he hasn’t quite mastered, even after 3 years. He will go up and down with coaxing, but he hesitates as if he isn’t quite sure about it.

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I think he’s waiting for us to install an elevator.

Happy birthday, Tucker… What a good dog!

Lost and Found
June 5, 2014

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Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. ~ John Newton (1725-1807)

In 1998, my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary. One of the gifts my dad gave to my mom was a Bible, a New Revised Standard version, complete with study guides. He wrote a touching inscription to her, and it is clear that she used it, because it is stuffed with random devotionals that she saved, and she had made notes and underlined various scriptures.

I never knew he had given her this Bible until just this month, when a staff member at our church, St. Luke’s UMC, e-mailed me to say that they had found it. Apparently it had been in the Lost and Found since 2001 (there was an Upper Room from 2001 stuck between the pages). Initially, Noralyn couldn’t tell to whom it belonged (since Dad didn’t include their last name in the inscription), so she asked a long time staff member if she could figure it out. Laurie knew right away whose it was, and they contacted me.

When I picked it up, I was drawn to the words he wrote to her. Not only were they tender, but his handwriting was so familiar and strong. At the time he wrote them, we didn’t know that Alzheimer’s was slowly creeping up on him. So I studied the words and tried to see any clues in them. Was there any wobble or hesitancy? Maybe the words were a little crooked, but it’s not easy to write in a straight line when you have no guides to go by.

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I was so excited about returning this Bible to Mom, and when I did, she exclaimed, “Where did you find it!!??” I told her the story, and she said she remembers the exact Sunday she left it behind in the pew. When she went back to get it, it was gone. I suppose she checked the Lost and Found, but somehow her Bible got tucked away and forgotten for 13 years. Mom said she really loved this Bible, because it included some great study guides.

Two years after Dad gave this gift to Mom, we first began to see indications that something was not right with him, and 9 long years later, he passed away as a result of the effects of Alzheimer’s. Just seeing this tangible evidence of the days when he was strong and healthy brought back memories of his presence… happy memories.

It was clear that Mom was thinking these same thoughts. She said she loved re-reading the note Dad had written to her, and said that she felt like she had received a love note and a present from heaven.

Thanks, Dad, for your thoughtfulness from 16 years ago. All these years later, we cherish it even more than we did back then. And we all really miss you…