Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Village People

"There is more happiness in giving
than there is in receiving."
Acts 20:35

What happens when in life, a person gives and gives and gives and gives and gives?

When that person most needs it, they receive and receive and receive and receive.

This past weekend we heard some sad news about a dear friend, our precious Peggy in Davis. I have known her as long as I have known my husband and he knew her before we met. How can I describe this amazing person? She is full of life and spunk and humor and spark and has a twinkle in her eye that makes every minute with her memorable. She is more interested in experiences than things, she puts people ahead of possessions. Because of this, she has built up a group of friends, young and old, that cherish her. We were saddened to hear she had a massive stroke, that her brain was basically gone and according to her wishes, she would not be provided any measures to prolong her life, including water. Ernst went to see her, said his goodbyes through tears and sobs. I was going to say my goodbyes yesterday, if she was still with us.

Peggy had other plans. She woke up yesterday in the hospital and greeted the nurse who came in to care for the patient on "Comfort Care." She is awake, and while weak, is the same hilarious Peggy she has always been. I told her Ernst and his buddy Dan drank a shot of vodka in her honor the night before, she complained that she didn't get any! She told Dan he should shave off his mustache so the nurses would think he was even cuter. She is 89, in the hospital after a massive brain bleed and she is amazing us all.

We don't have kids, our family all lives in distant places. I see the work that my sister Joanne puts into taking wonderful care of our mother. My brother Jeff and his wife Chris left Bethel last year to help out. We tease that "it takes a village" just to do my Mom's hair. She has five kids and two of them are there doing what it takes to help a person age with dignity. But if/when I need it, who will be my village? These questions start to come up and they are disconcerting. No kids, no village?

When I saw Peggy in the hospital yesterday, my worries were calmed. Peggy has no family left, save for one grandson in another state. But she has a village, and it is huge. The nurse who showed me her room commented on how many friends she has. She has no idea! She's just seeing the ones from Davis. Peggy's friends span from Mexico to China to Vietnam to Warwick. She is reaping the rewards of giving what people need most in life - love and acknowledgment and approval. We don't know what the outcome will be for our dear Peggy, but her village is ready. And my worries have been calmed. Life gives us what we put into it. As we navigate through our health issues and medical scares, I know the very best choice is always to keep giving. Live like Peggy. Give like Peggy. That is a pretty decent way to live my life.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Last Garage Sale Ever...for now

Finally, after putting off our second garage sale of the season because of busy schedules, heart surgery, heat waves, smoky air from wild fires and a nasty virus of mine that just would not go away, we did it. We shed the stuff. We trashed the trinkets. We moved the mess. We finally managed to get all the KonMaried garbage, um, er, items out of the garage, onto tables, priced and sort of sorted to sell. It was warm but not hot, I was between antibiotics and drum roll please...it also happened to be right after payday. Which for getting people to buy your garbage, um, er, items, was the perfect weekend.

The goal was to get all this stuff out of the garage and out of our life, with some money to show for it. Where did all this stuff come from? From inside our house. Yikes. The garage became our "staging ground" for the entire decluttering process. That term "staging ground" made it all seem so civilized. The movers, the shakers, the beautiful people - if you listen closely, their conversations are peppered with the phrase "staging ground".

We had not one, not two, but three staging grounds. Here is what the room off the kitchen looked like while we were moving and shaking. It was a sea of big blue Ikea bags. How did I ever get through one day of life on this planet before big blue Ikea bags were invented? Ikea bags spark joy. They also hold laundry and ironing, but I don't hold it against them. And they are perfect at garage sales when someone buys a particularly large amount of your stuff, hands you their hard earned money and you get to put what they bought in a big blue Ikea bag to make them not feel like a sucker when they get home and look at the items they purchased. It's all about the whole experience, that's the joy of garage sales.

And at this point I need to bring up hard cider. We opened our sale, as is our custom, on a Friday night and got the items sorted. I normally don't drink hard cider at any garage sale, mine especially. But this night was different. Because I did a very bad thing. I sold all our crystal to a hoarder. I did. I knew he was a hoarder, and I shamelessly sold him an Ikea bag sized amount of crystal. He came back and bought more, And then he came back with his wife and got even more. When he was wondering what he would do with some glass punch cups my neighbor was selling, I reminded him eggnog season was quickly approaching. Shame on me. Then as he and his wife were discussing where they would put the glass punch cups in their already too full china hutch, I suggested installing cup hooks. Double shame on me. I even went to look for some cup hooks for him in our newly organized garage, but I think I KonMaried them. He bought every last glass punch cup and most all the crystal I was selling. He paid full price, because it was the perfect weekend for a garage sale, being held just after payday. Triple shame. Hence the hard cider.

After the sale was over, the money counted and the garage sale signs ripped down, it was time to deal with all the items people didn't buy. (How dare they.) Ernst piled up the back of the car and took trip after trip to our local Goodwill. No regrets, that stuff is gone and gone for good. I swept out the garage, and for the first time in months parked the car back inside. I danced in the garage. There was room, even with the car.

The remaining Ikea bags are all neatly rolled up in the newly improved place for rags and bags. Now the question is, how many Ikea bags makes one a hoarder? Maybe I should ask the guy with the eggnog cups, he should know.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Growing boys and trees

The most important thing by far when it comes to growing boys and trees is location. There has to be room to grow, spread those limbs, put down roots and really settle in. They'll need lots of attention and care, so putting them where all can keep a close eye is usually best.

Boys and trees take work. This isn't for sissies. Be prepared to put some effort in. You'll need the right tools, and you'll have to keep those tools in good working order. When one tool stops working, grab another until you find the perfect one for that moment.

This takes backbreaking effort. Use your legs. Put in your all, and then some.

When you think you can't do anymore, you'll have to do more. Put your heart into it. Somehow it will all work out. Have faith.

But when you honestly feel like you can't do anymore, accept help from others. They want to help. Future shade trees and solid men are at stake here, this is important stuff.

Watch those fingers and toes, avoid trips to the ER as much as possible. But keep band-aids on hand. Lots of band-aids. Preferably with super heroes on them. No princesses, those are for girls.

Take the time to look closely and see how things are going. Is there enough room to grow and thrive? Nice rich soil? Any obstacles? Good, let's keep up the hard work.

You're going to get down and get dirty, just face it. There will be dirt in the car, dirty clothes, dirty shoes, dirt dirt and more dirt. But dirt is good. Boys and trees need dirt. The more the better. Buy good detergent and hope for the best.

Once in a while take a step back and access the situation. Is everything going according to plan? Time to take a breather? Make some small adjustments? Nothing wrong with some mid-planting think sessions to make sure all goes well.

Sometimes you have to dig even deeper than you thought possible. But it's worth it. You're doing great.

After the hard work, comes the nitty gritty details. Making sure nothing is overlooked, all the potential pests and problems are under control. It's not such backbreaking work as before, but it's just as important. Trees and little boys need to be staked securely while given room to blow a bit in the wind, developing strength and character and deep roots. It takes time. It takes care. It takes love.

But just watch them grow!
Thank you sweet little man, we love you.