Giving new life to old stuff

On Saturday, we waved goodbye to my mother-in-law‘s furniture and miscellaneous items. There’d been an estate sale at the end of September, but much remained. We didn’t want to add to the landfill so put a FREE STUFF ad on Craigslist and let people know they could come from 10AM-2PM to claim whatever they wanted. Zippy and I went early to set up (including our Corsi-Rosenthal Box and free N95 masks) and to vacuum and dust off furniture. When we arrived at 9:15, a pickup/camper with a trailer was already in the driveway. As we unloaded our car, the man got out to approach us but I shouted to him that the doors would open at 10AM. Zippy and I hurried inside to get set.

At 10:00, there was a short line at the door. Turned out, they were all there for the same piece of furniture (which ended up going to the first in line). In the bustle of dealing with those folks (plus the several who came to check out the exercise bike), I lost track of the man in the pickup. A while later, I realized he was still in his vehicle and waved him inside. He came into the house and quietly began looking at what was available. When I asked if there was anything in particular he was looking for (because the furniture was spread throughout the house), I realized he spoke Spanish and not a lot of English. And then it hit me that he probably hadn’t caught what I’d yelled across the driveway to him when we arrived, and quite possibly hung back at 10:00 due to shyness/intimidation/uncertainty. He’d been the first to arrive yet an English-speaking person claimed a lovely buffet he may very well have wanted. I wished I could rewind and avoid the miscommunication.

But there were no do-overs.

After that initial rush of people was over, no one else showed up for our little giveaway. Not one more person. That’s the bad news. The good news? El hombre found much that he wanted to take! We spent the next couple hours loading three sofas, a freezer, two bed frames and mattresses, the exercise bike, lamps, tables, chairs, clothing, and a whole lot of miscellaneous stuff on his trailer and in the camper. The best part? We became so comfortable with each other that Estevao corrected my Spanish. “Uno más,” he said after I incorrectly announced “Un más” while shuttling bed frame pieces to his trailer. Unfortunately, much of my Spanish vocabulary eluded me and I found myself saying, “Lo siento,  no entiendo” more than I would’ve liked, but we managed.  Moving mattresses in narrow hallways and low-ceilinged stairways has a way of unifying people. It was kind of sad saying goodbye.

As Estevao headed out the driveway on his way to Chihuahua, Mexico, I hurriedly took pictures with my crappy phone camera.

I’d felt some anxiety as we prepared for Saturday. Despite the detailed information included in the Craigslist post earlier that week, I was getting emails asking questions about availability, taking stuff earlier, reserving items. Questions that were clearly answered in the post. Zippy and I don’t do indoor gatherings (in order to protect our health and that of others), so the thought of being in a house with a whole bunch of people wearing masks under their noses wasn’t appealing. But Saturday turned out to be a good experience.

Yes, there were lots of emotions being in my mother-in-law’s nearly empty home, watching it become even more empty. Knowing we’d never again gather there as a family brought tears. But Zippy and I got to spend time with a kind, properly-masked man who saw a use for items we no longer wanted or needed. He was breathing new life into my mother-in-law’s belongings.

Days later, I keep thinking about Estevao, hoping he had a safe journey to Mexico. It wasn’t until he was in the driver’s seat that my brain kicked in and I remembered “¡Buen viaje!” which I shouted too late. He probably didn’t hear my words, but I hope he felt the sentiment. I wish him nothing but the best.

Thankful Thursday: new paint now peace

Today I am grateful the week-long paint exterior paint job was completed several hours before the season’s first snowfall.

Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

I’m grateful we resolved a big mix-up. Turned out they’d matched the trim color incorrectly, which I didn’t realize until last night. I spent sleepless hours fretting about it and woke all out of sorts. When I spoke to them and didn’t get much satisfaction, I wisely went for a 38 degree run on the trails. The cold air and beautiful open space cleared my mind. Afterward, we talked more, they listened to my concerns, and agreed to return at a later date to repaint the trim the correct color.

It’s been 12 years since the exterior was painted and the southern and eastern exposures were brutalized by sun and weather. I hadn’t anticipated the incredible noise and disruption that would come with three guys sanding-drilling-pounding on various walls, often simultaneously. Not to mention occasionally being caught off-guard when I spotted strange men through the windows.

One more time: I am grateful the exterior paint job is complete! (For a while, anyway).

I’m very thankful for our home and our ability to pay for its upkeep. (And hooray that the supply chain issues only slightly affected the timeline for completing the job!)

It’s a good Thursday on the planet.

Traveling vicariously

Just finished a two-hour Skype session with Zebu. Haven’t talked much in the last couple weeks, so he was getting us caught up on his studies and travels. He and two friends just got back this morning from a trip to Oslo. Their favorite experience was at a sculpture park, Vigelandsparken.

Sculpture by Gustav Vigeland

Sculpture by Gustav Vigeland

He shared photos he’d taken, and this is one of the sculptures he’d especially liked. I found this image online, and posting it here helps me feel even more connected to my faraway son.

His travel is broadening all our horizons.




Fold here

Zebu is studying in Sweden for two semesters and has been there just over a month. Phone calls are expensive so we rely on texting and Skype chats to stay connected. He’s eight hours ahead of us so our Skype sessions are usually at the end of his day. Today we talked as he folded the laundry he’d just washed and dried at the student housing laundromat.

He told me about the pick-up basketball game he played last night, in which he was (at 6′ 3″) one of the smaller guys on his team. All communication by his teammates was in Swedish, but because Zebu is taking Swedish classes he now knows how to count which meant he knew the score at all times last night.

He also shared an anecdote about his German friend who speaks nearly flawless English with a penchant for old timey expressions. Apparently this guy recently described something as “a hoot and a half,” which made Zebu and a Canadian friend bust out laughing, and then a bit later the German described something not-so-good as “no hoot, no half.”

Skype allows you mobility and we often move out of camera range as we continue talking. I started the session sitting at the kitchen bar counter but as I watched Zebu hang shirts on hangers and match socks, I felt unproductive. So I carried the laptop/Zebu downstairs to the laundry room to retrieve a load of my clothes from the dryer where they’d sat for over a week (I know, I know). Then I came back upstairs and folded in unison with my son who is nearly 5000 miles away.

Disclosure: The product placement was inadvertent and I received zero compensation from HP.

Disclosure: The product placement was inadvertent and I received zero compensation from HP.

The family that folds together, stays together. Or something like that.