Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Out of Necessity, Some New Things Done

Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay. -Matthew Flickstein

In the past week, I realized that I have done some things I have never done before.

Although we had just been at the Queen Mother's house just three weekends ago, my husband revealed that he was hoping to place the house on the market in July. I called an estate sales broker and made arrangements to meet with her on the last weekend in May, which was meant that one of us had to be at the Queen Mother's house and that "one" was going to be me.

We packed up Dragon Heart with everything we were adding to the sale from our home and then...

I drove to Florida alone, completely and utterly alone. (Well, okay, my Lord was with me and we had a nice conversation). Last Thursday I left my husband, who promised to work in close to home, and my daughter at home to care for themselves and our pets and my gardens, while I drove the eight to nine hour drive to the Queen Mother's house in Florida. My husband actually worked a few hours away, which meant our daughter was home alone during the day Thursday and Friday while neither one of us could get home within 20 minutes, if needed. (Sometimes I have to remind myself that she is sixteen and at sixteen I could run a household if needed.)

My husband usually does the driving when we are together, so for thirty years I really have not driven even a portion of a trip like this (except for when we took two vehicles the last time we went)...and I really enjoyed the drive. The traffic was much lighter than I expected for being the Memorial Day weekend. The worst time for me to drive, even a short time, is in the afternoon when I can tend to get sleepy, if I am not highly engaged in something, and I would be on the most boring straight and flat highway for about two hours at that time of day. I have found, though, that a few sips of a 5-hour energy drink has just enough caffeine and B vitamins to get me through that afternoon drag when I am driving.

I arrived in the evening on Thursday and was not at all tired, so I not only unpacked the van but I began moving furniture, grouping items, and unpacking our things. (The Queen Mother has about 70 pieces of Capodimonte alone!) I had called my husband to let him know I arrived, and then my phone needed charging...but when I plugged it in to be charged, I discovered it would not charge. I called my husband at the time we usually talk when we are apart to say good-night and told him I had 6% left on my phone so whatever he needed to say, to say it fast. We had already turned off the phone, TV, and Internet service at the house three weeks previously, so I felt like I was cut off from the world and it was at that moment I realized...

I had never been alone at night in that house before—and I. did. NOT. like. it!

I finally made myself stop working and went to bed at 3:00 a.m. The next morning I thought I would sleep in but, no, I was wide awake at 7:00 a.m. with that not-enough-sleep hang-over feeling that makes one want to wear sunglasses when they should not be needed. I had yogurt and vitamins for breakfast and started looking at the drawers in the Queen Mother's room that we did not yet go through. I was just trying to fill my time until Best Buy should be open to find out if I needed a new phone, battery, or wire for charging. (Yes, I added that emphasis for a reason.)

Since I could not check the store times on my phone, I left the house at 9:00 a.m. and went down the road a little over a mile to the mall area with Best Buy across the street, but the parking lot was empty. I looked at the sign on the door and they would not open for another hour...in fact, nothing around there opens until 10:00. At home, some of our stores open at 7:00 and 8:00, but most are at 9:00, however Best Buy is 10:00 here also. Still, it seems Florida has its own alternate dimensional time zone, everything is slowed down and opens later in the morning but closes not late at night, perfect for the retirement crowd, I suppose.

So, I drove back to the house and then returned an hour later. Thinking that if I had to get another phone, I might not be able to pull off the information from the internal storage and that would mean that I do not even know my husband's phone number to call him, but I did know my daughter's as it used to be his work one, then it was mine when I had a flip-phone, and I passed it on to her. Still, it was going to be a huge hassle to set up a new phone that would take more time than I had to spare on this trip.

After waiting for about twenty minutes in line, I was beckoned up to the Geek Squad counter, probably looking like a woman on the edge with sunken, black, baggy eyes from lack of sleep and slumped shoulders of defeat, as I begged the young man in desperation: "I need you to save my cyber life!" After disappearing with my phone into the back room for a few minutes he returns and gives me the verdict. Later I called my husband to say that I had bad news and good news. The bad is that new phones are very expensive and the good is that I only needed to replace the wire, which was the cheapest of the three possibilities and the most convenient for me!

Once my phone was charging and functioning, I noticed I had a voice mail from the estate sales broker, who said that she was waiting for me to call to set the appointment for that day. As I remember it, I was to call her on Friday (that day) and she would come on Saturday, but I was flexible so she came that day. As she looked around, she said that she had a sale that fell through for next weekend so she could have her ladies start preparing ours next week as we had so many little items, but the sale was scheduled for the first weekend in July...well, it was for a few hours until my husband talked to her and backed it up another week.

My husband asked me to try to come home on Sunday, but with Friday being what it was and I being as tired as I was, I did not think I could unpack everything while kind of categorizing the items to make it easy on the ladies and so I could see everything and find the boxes that the Queen Mother kept from most of the collectibles; pack up all that was left that I needed to take; label the large items, mostly furniture, that we did not want to sell and my husband would be picking up in a month, a week before the sale; and move most of the personal items the Queen Mother might like or need when or if she goes into assisted living into her closet with a label on the door that nothing was to be sold from there; and pack up Dragon Heart all on Saturday...and be able make the drive the next day safely and alert.

I finished everything but packing up the minivan at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday and did the last of it when it was cooler in the evening. Although I went to bed at 11:00 p.m., I usually wake up at around 3:00 a.m. every night and easily go back to sleep, but at 3:20 I decided to just get up and go. I almost left the house exactly at 4:00 a.m., but I could not find my bluetooth, which was turned off so my locator app would not work. My Lord is so good to me...I honestly could have looked for an hour and never have thought to look where it was, but I placed my phone down on the bed I used and I felt something hard next to my fingers under the cover.

Then I was in the van and started to pull away, when I remembered the broker telling me to be sure not to lock the dead bolt on the side garage door as I had only given her the key for the knob and I had the dead bolt key made and left it inside for them as they would be there the next day. So, I stopped and unlocked the dead bolt. Thank you so much for that reminder, my Lord.

Then I was thinking that this could be the last time I ever stay at this house. In a month, my husband will take the few pieces of furniture we wanted and the next week everything will be sold. Then it is just clean the house and put it on the market, although we already have two couples are interested that are looking to move near their families, so we may not need a realtor. Property values have increased $10,000 since the first of the year, a realtor told us, so we are thinking about it all.

As I began my drive, I thought about surprising my family by not letting them know when I left. My husband asked me to call him when I stop for gas and I promised I would. I did that on the way down, so I thought that when I got over the Georgia state line (half way) with cheaper gas prices, I would stop for gas, maybe breakfast, and call him but not tell him that I am stopping for gas. So...I did. I told him I had grabbed breakfast and was on the way, so he was expecting me for dinner.

The really funny thing—and quite possibly proof that we have been married for a very long time—is that he was calling me as I was stepping up onto the front porch. He thought I should be stopping for gas and he wanted to talk to me about ordering pizza for dinner, however he also said that he thought that I would leave early like I did. We unpacked the van and then we joined our daughter, watching Daredevil on Netflix and had pizza for dinner.

Then my husband left to catch his flight for work the next day, but he was bumped twice so he decided to drive to North Carolina and catch up with his luggage which flew there without him. I decided not to try to do errands today and enjoy the summer rains after being in the seriously dry, drought in Florida. Perhaps because it is a dark rainy day, the Princess is still in bed after 10:00 a.m., but she knew I was going to be have a day of rest.

I love being home.

Thank you, my Lord, for being with me when I was so far away from my family, helping me with all the decisions I had to make and work I had to do, and just for loving me. Thank you, also, for reminding me that things are things and of little lasting value especially in comparison to the gift of Your Presence.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cutting Strings to Sell, Donate, or Trash

Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination. -Christina Scalise, Organize Your Life and More

Now that we have decided on having an estate sale through a broker at the Queen Mother's house, I am gathering things together from my own home to take down to Florida to be sold. Most of those things were gifts I did not really want from the Queen Mother that accumulated over the years, and I kept most of them because...well, the Queen Mother takes it personally when a gift she has given is not on permanent display and, yes, she would look.

Her gifts were gifts with strings attached with expectations. Once she gave a seven-year-old girl in the family a special edition Barbie doll and the girl, of course, immediately began taking it out. The Queen Mother was not happy because she gave it as a collectible. I though was cruel to give a doll to a young girl and expect her to enjoy just looking at it in the box, like she did hers. She did not think to try to explain that it was meant to stay in the box, after she unwrapped it.

So, I learned soon after my marriage that if I did not love any gift she gave me, she seemed to take as I was rejecting her. It really was a stretch for her to get to know what I liked and there were a precious few times that she would surprise me, but for the most part I just saw those attached strings of expectations. I always had it in the back of my mind, even when she stopped coming here to visit, that she may live with us or near us and come here again.

I knew that those strings had me all tied up. I felt like I had to keep that stuff to keep the Queen Mother happy, because her love language to everyone else is gifts. I could have packed them away and only brought them out when she was coming, which was rare, but I just did not. And, I think the thing that bothered me the most—actually, weighed me down the most and paralyzed my thoughts to rid myself of them—was that I did not keep them out of respect for her, but more like fear of her being upset with me. Every time my eyes would rest on something the Queen Mother gave me, a thought of how it came from her and how she was insensitive to what I really like would surface, but in her defense, I do have eclectic tastes that only those who really know me or are attentive would get.

In honesty, I used to appreciate some of her collectibles, like the Boyd's Bears, because before the Princess, we had a children's guest room with a teddy bear theme and my husband likes teddy bears, but over the years even those have lost their appeal to both of us. I have switched from accumulative mode to downsizing back into simplicity and practicality for our lifestyle. I am now rather selective about what I want to look at and dust off every two weeks for the rest of my life and the majority of things the Queen Mother has given me are just dust collectors for the most part, not even my taste.

I am not really like most people from previous generations: for instance, I have always thought (even as a child) that having a formal dining room and another informal dining area is a waste of living space. I like one dining area, so I love the now popular open plans where the kitchen is practically part of the living room. However, I do like a quiet library room.

The Queen Mother has a china cabinet filled with her better dishes, which are quite plain, and hordes of her figurines and glass collections, while my china cabinet is not for fancy dishes we use a few times a year—although I have to say that is perhaps not entirely true, which I will explain in the next paragraph. Instead I have my everyday dishes, which are the Pfaltzgraff Tea Rose pattern. I had loved that country fresh pattern for many years and some of their heart shaped bowls and servers, so when a friend was putting together a good-bye party at our church in Florida before we moved to Georgia, she asked me what I wanted if people were to ask her and they were it. She bought us a set and I was thrilled. Later I found some bowls marked down for clearance at a K-Mart. I thought K-mart was discontinuing them but actually Pfaltzgraff had retired them. Once while shopping at an antique store, I found a large set with about 10 settings and a few other pieces that looked brand new and bought it all for $65. So, every day I see the dishes we actually use and we have to get all our dishes from there. Now Pfaltzgraff has again gone into production with them, but not with all the pieces they used to have.

In the bottom half of my china cabinet, I have another set of dishes that was given to my husband before we met. They are ironstone Colonial White by Homer Laughlin, which is the same company that made Fiestaware that has come back into popularity, so they are producing it again. I am not that fond of the Colonial White, but we have used it for holidays. It looks nice with a red table cloth and colorful Christmas trimmings. However, it is not fine china but was probably meant for everyday use, because it is heavy, which I actually prefer, and feels more like it should be in a restaurant. I have wanted to get rid of them several times, but I decided to again keep them because their high gloss and the angular Dover mold style makes it more up scale looking and appealing—and because ridding myself of the other stuff in the bottom of the china cabinet allowed more space.

Back to my point, I am trying to go through my house gathering items for the sale and carrying items to the two bins marked to sell or donate with the trash can handy. I will be going down to Florida on my own with DragonHeart packed full to meet with the estate sales broker, so she can see everything we have to sell. It is just amazing what I have accumulated through the years. However, I cannot tell you how freeing it is to have space and to think what I really would like to place here and there. I knew that I was feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in my home for years, but since yard sales do so poorly here and some things were worth a little something, I just held on them. Now I finally have an opportunity to really let go of quite a lot, which will be sold and what is left over will be donated and done with.

I probably would have worked through this stuff faster if I was not fasting, but I did not go into a full water-only fast. I have been drinking milk and kefir in very small amounts throughout the day to stimulate losing the fat and because I knew I would need more stamina to do this, although I have to say, it still takes it out of me. I think I was about 10 pounds over the what I like to call my comfortable heavy weight when I officially started on Tuesday—frankly I did not step on a scale until I had been fasting two days because I just knew. I have to start coming off of it today or tomorrow so I am strong for the trip. I am and should hold down to around that comfortable heavy weight and will have to try to fast again later to rid myself of the rest of it.

My Lord, thank you for helping cut these strings that have had me tied to fear and keeping things I did not treasure. I am happy to let them go to people who do find pleasure in them and to have my home reflect only what I finding pleasing. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Slowing into Fast

Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. -Andrew Murray

With all the stress that began before Christmas when the Queen Mother fell on her knee, somewhere along the way I dropped my one-day-a-week fast and I did not get to my January detox fast and that is usually at least one week to three. And I gained some weight, into numbers that usually make me feel sickly and more pain, but I have been heavy on supplements and actually I felt stronger this time, which only confirms how much the stress was zapping my energy and the extra food and nutrition was keeping me going.

There is no good break for fasting within our lives right now, however my husband began his a week ago. My digestive system is a bit more sensitive than his. I usually do better if I work down to fasting over a few days, so I began to eat increasing lighter and mostly raw foods for the last week. I am feeling it. I was mindful that I have a dental cleaning scheduled tomorrow and there is no avoiding the breath issue when fasting regardless of how much mouthwash one uses, so I had it in mind to stop eating completely tomorrow after the appointment for at least a week or a little more.

Usually, my husband and I observe a rule that we made long ago that we do not fast at the same time, but we literally have only short breaks between planned activities. My husband wants to get his mother's house on the market in July. We decided that having an estate sale is the best option, so we are planning for me to go to Florida alone in a couple of weeks and meet with an estate broker. I will be taking some things from my home to be in the sale and bringing some things back that are keepers also. So, this week I am looking through our stuff to pack up and take to Florida to place in the sale—while fasting.

It does not escape me that this activity will take more energy, but there is a correlative aspect of detoxing and clearing out that I find to be appealing on both sides. Most of the dust collectors I have are ones that were given to us by the Queen Mother and we kept because she takes it personally if she did not see them when she used to visit, but we kept them because in the back of our minds, she might have lived closer to us one day. That is over in our minds now.

The Queen Mother had pneumonia and is having serious issues with water retention. We know her immune system is compromised, but now we are pretty sure that she has had damage to her kidneys and possibly her liver and heart due to the septicemia. She is now taking a diuretic, but it is having little effect. She is still border line for going into assisted living, now that the wound on her knee is nearly healed completely, but with the complications that keep showing up, it seems likely that she will remain in the nursing home for longer...perhaps for the rest of her life, which may not be for a year. It seems to us that she is in the early to mid stages of congestive heart failure or multiple organ syndrome, the labels seem interchangeable.

As sad as that makes me, it makes me sadder that she chose to live alone for six years when she could have lived near us, actually attended one of the Princess' recitals, or just went out to dinner with us now and then. Now we are trying to make decisions about whether or not to keep some of her furniture that she would need for assisted living or just sell it all, and if we do not sell it all, do we rent a storage facility? Just things like that. I have been asking my Lord and I feel like He is telling me that we will not need to keep any of the furniture, but a part of me thinks it would be better keep some pieces and not need them, than to sell them all and find out she will...and knowing how it will upset her if they are all gone.

This fast I am hoping that both my husband and I will hear God clearly and we will act on what He is telling us, not what we think is the logical course. 

My Lord, these are hard times with hard decisions to be made. Please guide us heavily.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

4 Nights and 3 Days in Florida

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
 -C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I was seventeen the first time I flew to Florida from Ohio with a window seat from the flat part of Ohio with patchwork crop and livestock fields to the far more interesting and unpredictable land forms of the Appalachian Mountains with its foothills and then to flat, washed out netting of roads so common in mid Florida. Do not get me wrong, when I was younger I liked it although I never really cozied up to the tropical plants, with the exception of fern trees and oaks. I admit that Florida is a lovely place if you like flat sandy, subtropical places. Been there, done that, and so very done with it! Since moving to the north part of Georgia, every time I visit Florida, I am thankful it is just for a short time. To me, its greens are bleached out and it has so many whole cities of mostly perpendicular north and south roadways crossed by streets spanning east and west that are unimaginative, probably a city planner's dream. I will say that it is senior friendly because everything is easy to find and you can hardly get lost.

We made plans to go to Florida to visit the Queen Mother and to start the process of taking keepsakes and things of worth we wish to keep from her house, in preparation of the ultimate goal to sell the house and everything else of value we would not be keeping. It is no small task to categorize the material residuals of life into piles of keep, sell, donate, or trash. I can only imagine it was harder for my husband, who had lived there from the time he was seven until he left for college at seventeen.

We took both the Dragon Heart, our mini van, and Big Red, our new diesel pick up truck that can haul our trailer completely packed. We were not planning to bring back much, mostly things from the garage and work shed, like a wheelbarrow, the generator, and a rain barrel. We planned to make decisions when we were there about what we would take back with us this time. We left Thursday morning in the rain and rain it did for the entire 550 miles with the exception of the last two hours, turning our 8 to 9 hour drive into nearly 11 hours...and it began raining as we pulled into the driveway! However, Florida has been in a drought with wildfires so it was sorely needed there.

I had purchased a light diffusing box and lights for taking pictures of the Hummel figurines, dolls, and other collectibles. That was the task for the Princess. My husband and I rummaged through taking down pictures from the walls to be boxed up, looking through the hidden places for the silverware, and the jewelry. Memorabilia was high on our list as well and we even found a picture that the Queen Mother had always wanted of her husband that had been in his mother's house but was fought over with his sister...and she had it all along in a very unique desk that we had thought was a sewing machine table.

The morning of the first day, I looked through the Queen Mother's jewelry knowing that she had a serious affection for Black Hills gold jewelry and I honestly had no idea how much of it she had, but I wanted to bring it home to be placed in our safe. Mind you that I cannot wear it. The Queen Mother is a large boned woman, although shorter than I am. I think her rings could quite possibly fit my husband's fingers and her bracelets slip on and off my wrists without bothering with the clasp, as I have rather small hands and wrists. They could be fitted by removing a link or two on some, but I like a daintier bracelet, with the exception of my colorful glass bead bracelets.

My husband and daughter went to visit the Queen Mother that first day in the afternoon. She was in good spirits and handed my husband a list of things she wanted. She could have called and told us so that we were not scrambling to shop for some of them while we were there, but...well, the Queen Mother does not make phone calls unless there is a problem and this did not qualify as a problem for her. While there my husband began to again ease into the conversation of what was of value and should be kept. When the Queen Mother told them where her Black Hills gold jewelry was, the Princess eagerly—maybe too eagerly, given the situation and knowing them both—chimed in that we had found them and how pretty they are. The Queen Mother then looked at her directly and said "You have been into my jewelry!" My daughter realized that she might have made a mistake, but her grandmother then said she was just kidding. I was not there but when they told me, I was thinking she was not kidding that much.

The next day we went to see her, the Queen Mother was upset and weeping because of all the things my husband had talked to her about the day before. We came with almost all the items she wanted including the items I had to buy at the store that morning...which, of course, were not the ones she wanted. She told me she had written down all the information with the numbers (for the style although she did not tell me and assumed I knew what those three numbers mention off to the side meant) and I told her that these were the only ones in the store that were the size she wanted in the brand she wanted, so the style she wanted was not there in her size. Immediately, I began looking online and found it on Amazon to be placed in my cart to finalize the order later.

As I doing that, she said in a very commanding way that she wanted ALL her Black Hills gold jewelry with her "HERE" making a downward motion with her arm while pointing her index finger down. I looked up and asked, "All of it?" (Please understand that she has more rings than fingers and toes AND she is retaining water so she cannot wear any of them and I am not so sure she can wear any of the several bracelets either.) She repeated the words and gesture with a redder face as if how dare I question the Queen Mother. Trying to help her realize that would be putting all her valuable jewelry at risk, I asked her if she thought that was wise because...well, there was no secure place for it there, but she told me that she sees residents with keys on bracelets, so there is way to secure them there, she believed (but did not even really know because she had not asked yet, is what I got from that).

Taking a deep breath in and out, I then began to work on setting up other contacts on her phone that she might like to have. She has had a written list of phones numbers by her wall phone in the kitchen for years so we bought that. Now her phone is not a smart phone but a flip phone so inputting contacts is a bit more work. She was still quite upset, so I was just going to put them all in but the Queen Mother wanted me to give her all the names on the list so she could say who was in and who was not. So I was still trying to figure out how to even get to the contact list to add anyone and she was trying to get me to read down the list. I asked her to have patience with me and gave her a few names, when we got to a "yes" I would put that one in...because to be quite honest, at this point I am pretty rattled with her trying to control everything and everyone to do everything exactly her way. My husband was sitting next to her trying to calm her down and I was slowly getting through the list. She was determined that I would not put any of the grown grandchildren in there. My husband and I both mentioned that just because they are listed does not mean she has to call them or even answer their calls but it was for her benefit so that she would at least know who is calling...nope!

However, she did want one neighbor, who is as controlling as the Queen Mother, on the contact list, which surprised us. This neighbor has helped her, like making sure she went to get checked when she fell on her knee and visiting her and bringing her things from the house, but she is also overkill. The Queen Mother had come to rely on her in some ways, but also complains about how she has been confusing her, telling her what to do and such. There is a strange dependency that concerns us because she complains about the woman yet.... My husband can size people up accurately, his God given gift, and he does not trust her. Since there were two women with the same first name on the list, I did not know which was the one that we would have preferred to mistakenly (on purpose) not put on the phone. However, I have a pretty good idea why the Queen Mother wanted her on it, so she has a neighborhood snitch to tell on us. The woman had come over on the first day, Friday, when my husband was visiting his mother and she began telling me what I should do with this and that in the house as well as asking me what we planned to put in the trailer. I said that depended on the weather, but it did not escape me that she once had keys to the house for a few months and knew what was in it, so she would be watching to see exactly what we were taking and probably tell the Queen Mother.

The third day I did not go with my husband and my desperate-for-Internet child, who is thankful for the free wi-fi at the nursing home. The Queen Mother apologized to my husband for being so rough on me, probably thinking that is why I did not come and that was partially true. Being empathic has its drawbacks. I try to connect with people as my way of understanding and helping them not with just physical healing but emotional, it just happens without conscience thought...so imagine, if you can, feeling how helpless and out-of-control now that her things are being prepared to be sold or whatever the Queen Mother feels along with my own feelings of being the brunt of her anger and pain, and just trying to imagine my own feelings if I were in her situation, and trying to deal with my feelings about going through her things to decide if they have worthy sentimental or monetary value. The conflict is completely insolvable and I could not sleep that night.

So, when she finally had all the Black Hills gold jewelry, she reportedly said that she did not know there was so much...but kept it anyway. If it is stolen or "lost,"—well, it is her jewelry, even though legally it is not hers now. She signed everything in and of the house over to her son, which she understood but she still does not completely get. The Queen Mother on that day also asked to see her bank account, which only has her monthly income and it goes to the nursing home. My husband simply said that he did not have it with him. Yeah, I am thinking the snitch neighbor will be happy to tell the Queen Mother everything she can glean from us and the other neighbors.

I am very sad for her though. As I have been looking into the values of all her collectibles, they have lost value. Markets change. I always thought of collectibles as something that only have value because the owner enjoys them and not as an investment. The Queen Mother thought they were both, but she missed selling at the height of the market. Only the very oldest of Hummel figurines are holding their value. (Actually, I am not into all these collectibles but I had to learn about the several different trademarks on Hummel figurines so I could look up their value, even though of the more than eight trademarks, the only ones of real value are TMK 1, 2, and maybe some with 3.) Madame Alexander dolls are now selling for less than half of their purchase price, but there was a spike in the market in the late 1980's when Madam Alexander sold her company. At that time, the Queen Mother's set of First Ladies might have sold for as much as $40,000 and my father-in-law asked her to sell then, but she would not thinking they would continue to go up. There are other collectibles: Capodimonte ceramics, Avon, Shirley Temple, Fenton Glass, pressed glass, carnival glass, and Boyd's Bears.

Why the change in the collectible market? It is not just because we had been in a bad recession, but because of other several factors. One is when things become popular and demand is high, companies tend make more to sell more and it saturates the market so there far too many available; most of the time this is not a big factor because of population growth, items get ruined, and greater demand that drives up the price of the pieces as they become more difficult to obtain. However, another factor is that my generation and younger are not into collectibles; more people see them as cluttering dust collectors than as something precious. Another factor is eBay: instead of throwing away or finding an antique dealer to buy these items, people can easily list them on eBay and sell an item themselves, which has driven the prices down because people are willing to sell them just to get rid of them.

So, I was thinking how sad it is to see everything that the Queen Mother valued in her life become devalued. My husband and I have watched her through the years invest into and place more value on things that do not have true lasting value rather on the things that are worthy, like God and people. Yes, people can let you down and hurt you and even die, but they are eternal. God has invested in people and values people. I think those investments are the ones that really last. I think it is sad that she has only had a couple of visits from two neighbors after being in a nursing home for well over four months and yet I cannot think of a time that she has ever visited anyone in the hospital or in a nursing home other than family.

It is sobering to see what has been sown in life is what we reap.

My Lord, peace is so hard to find right now, so I must rest in You more. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When a Tree Falls in the Woods

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people. -G.K. Chesterton

My daughter is in love with photography and she has the eye for it. For her 16th birthday, we gave her a Cannon Powershoot G9X Mark II, which is a solid mid-range point-and-shoot digital camera. Her favorite thing to do is walk around taking pictures of anything that catches her eye. Sunday she was out in the backyard and came to show me the dead tree in the neighboring yard finally came down...on our fence.

The first time we had a dead tree come down on the fence from the same neighboring yard was within in just a few months after we had moved here nearly twenty years ago. The neighbor came over and told us. Honestly, we did not see it from the house because of the overgrowth of the wooded part of our yard. The neighbor asked us to give him a few days to take care of it. He replaced the top bar of the chain link fence and re-attached the chain link part. It looked good when he finished. Those were our first neighbors on our north side and they were nice people.

A few years ago the neighbors on the south side, the daughter of the owner, decided to hire someone to remove a few trees and one heavy branch fell on our fence. They had not warned us that they would be having trees removed like her mother would have done if she still lived there, which would have been nice as it is quite noisy, but I just looked at it as she is a young mother and probably just did not think of it. I had to tell the her about the fence being damaged and asked how to contact the company. They did not tell her about the fence and fortunately it just missed our shed. They removed the branch but the fence was still damaged after they left and apparently they were going to leave it that way, until we insisted it was fixed. The company finally repaired the fence, not professionally, but at least it was functional.

For the last several years, there has been a dead, split-nearly-completely-down-the-middle-of-the-main-trunk tree in the neighbor's yard to north side. That property has had several occupants since our first neighbors as it became a rental after the second owner moved closer to her work and she rented it to her boyfriend at first. When he moved out, the owner contracted with a property management company. The first renters were there for five years and the tree was obviously dead while they lived there. After they moved away, there were two more renters within just over a two-year period—the first one is still a good friend of mine. My friend would not let her children play in the backyard and called the property management company several times about the tree but they, or the owner, would not have it removed.

That tree finally came down on our fence. We did not know when and did not see it because it is on the very back corner which we cannot see from the house but the Princess found it just yesterday. So, my husband goes over to our newest neighbors, who are the new owners and have not said but a handful of words to us since moving in months ago—actually they ignore us and walk away when they can. Strange family.

I walked up hearing my husband being diplomatic and offering to help them with clearing the tree and repairing the fence. The wife then begins to say that she was trying to figure it out who was responsible because...well, now I have to say here that Georgia has some weird laws and one of them is about fallen trees. If the tree falls onto your property, it is your responsibility. However, I knew that there is a bit more to that statute if you look at case law.

She went on to say that it looked as if the fence damage was our responsibility. I told her by law, she is right with the exception of when the tree is obviously diseased or dead and that tree had been dead for years. The whole time her husband is sitting on the porch behind the roll-up blind that was rolled down so we cannot see his face and will not even get up to address us, but my husband again offered to help him with the tree and our fence. He said something about not having a chainsaw and his father only having a 16-inch one so that would probably not work. My husband mentioned he has one and to let him know when he wanted to work on it. That went better than I thought it would because from the conversations we cannot help but overhear from behind the rolled down blinds, the guy talks like he cusses everyone out all the time, especially at his work.

When we walked away, I apologized to my husband for stepping into the conversation with the legalities-responsibility thing, because I probably sounded a bit short with them. Reading the attitudes when I walked up, I already knew they were not going to be cooperative and my husband was already irritated but keeping it well controlled. That is when he told me that they had known about the tree for a week, which they told him before I came out, and he was already put off thinking: who does that? 

So, we are not expecting them to do anything to make this right...but I keep hoping that I will be surprised about how wrong I read into how they will handle it.

Still, if this is how God is giving us the sign that we should move to more open spaces, it is quite motivating.

My Lord, I am not sure if You are trying to motivate us to move or giving us a challenge to love our neighbors/enemies, perhaps a both. Make Your path very obvious to us and help us to be good witnesses of your forgiveness and love.