Thursday, August 19, 2010

What if I Took a Hiatus and Nobody Noticed?

The title says it all! I didn't even officially get sidetracked. I just didn't accomplish anything for a while, and when I did, I didn't blog about it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Downsizing - Helping Friends Move

Visiting a couple of friends who moved to a new house in December and are working on getting their old house ready for the market showed me some of the problems that I have in common with them. They have a full complement of household items and personal belongings in the old house, even though they have moved and are living fully comfortably in their new house. My friend has clothes from forever, and most of them are way too big for her. She has lost weight, mostly through illness. We are hoping she will become stronger but not gain back much of the weight. She has clothes from when she worked in the 1970s and clothes for gardening (meaning sloppy disposable clothes, and many clothing items that still have price tags on them. Seeing the price tags reminded me of my mother's stuffed closet with many brand-new clothes with price tags still on. When we first started working on the clothes, my friend said, "I have a bag for storage and a bag to take to the new house." I said, "How about a bag for giving away?" She did agree, and many clothes went into that bag!

I saw my friend's pattern of acquisition as somewhat similar to mine. Getting things because they are on sale, keeping gifts received from friends, and keeping little things that are somewhat useless but difficult to throw away, because they are...nice.

I helped pack the photos from a hall closet that had boxes and folders and bags full of photos. Well, not as many photos as I have in my photo closet, but plenty. We packed all the photos in boxes and placed them by the door. My friend considers them precious and wants to be sure to hand carry them to the new house, rather than having any helpers move them or putting them in one of their 2 storage lockers. I agree that the photos are precious. My friend's husband said, "We'll never look at these photos!" Then, a while later, when we were done for the day, another friend was taking photographs of all of us. My friend's husband said, "Let's take more photos we'll never look at!"

I helped pack about 10 boxes of books. I am good at packing books! I was pleased to find myself so good at it. The books are my friend's husband's hobby. He loves to buy books and has thousands. He hopes to enjoy them during his retirement in a few years. Everybody was talking about how particular he is about the books. Someone told me to avoid packing the books, because he would probably be critical about anything I did that might damage any books. But he and I got along fine about my packing. He felt that I was packing the books in the same ways he tends to pack them. We are book collectors, who have packed many a book. We don't mind spending the time to find just the right book for the right spot in the box. I am not purposely building my collection of books now, but I am still buying books that I think will be useful to me.

I was glad to help my friends, but I did feel a little guilty about working on someone else's stuff instead of my own unfinished business!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Distraction - Downloading Music

The Pirate Bay, Bit Torrent Junkie...there are more, but I have used only these 2. It's just so easy, once you learn how to do it, to download music that you remember from forever. Music that you wouldn't buy but you remember. So you think of it, and you look it up on these sharing websites, and then you download it. Then you check your files and add it to playlists. And there you are listening to music and not doing much else, just like you did many years ago before you got so busy...

Value judgments on this: Music is good for the soul. Music can be either a distraction or a concentration aid. But, I guess when you download some old song or some new song, listening to it takes a lot of your attention, especially if you are singing or working at memorizing the words to the song.

Do I have time for music? Should I be doing something else? Hmm... Train is my new favorite group!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Downsizing - House Selling - The Realtor Makes the Sale

Although I have had a house on the market for 6 months, I often forget about the tremendous downsizing coup it will be when it sells. In some ways, selling the house seems almost a passive activity. I don't feel like I'm doing anything toward downsizing every day, but really every day I have been working on selling the house; well many days I have had to do something about it.

At first there was choosing the realtor. I set up interviews with (1) a friend who had recently taken classes and become a Realtor, (2) a Realtor at the location that had helped me find tenants when I used the house as a rental house, and (3) a well-established Realtor. The well-established Realtor cancelled our appointment, telling me she really didn't think it worth her time to prepare a presentation for me if I were interviewing others and might not choose her. I think she really didn't need the business of the small house I was selling, as she is quite successful and probably has bigger fish to fry. I chose my friend. The reason was that ever since she started the classes, she has been very excited about realty work. She had a good reference from another friend whose daughter she had helped find the perfect home to buy recently. I hoped her interest in her new job would compensate for any lack of experience she might have.

My friend the Realtor "executed" our contract today! Presumably all will go according to plan, and the closing will be later this month! It has been a lot of fun working with a friend on this, and she has proven to me that she is pretty wonderful! She handled all my ups and downs, and there were a lot of them, as the house went through an extended "money pit" stage before we were able to sell it. I grumbled all through the fixing and "disclosures" and then the inspection. By the time the inspection rolled around, the house was all fixed up. But the inspector found "deficiencies" in every aspect of the house anyway, and I was newly annoyed. My Realtor listened and let me vent and then we went onward to the next step.

One of my favorite parts of this is that I feel I can strongly recommend my friend's services to others. I like being pleased and then helping those who do a good job!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Distraction - The Sale Starts in 2 Days

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time returning things to stores. I keep the ready-to-return things on a small table, the top of a short shelving unit, along with my purse. The table is so nice and neat when there is nothing to return; then it has just my purse and maybe something I plan to take with me the next time I go somewhere. When there are things to return, the tabletop gets crowded and demands attention and feels to my eye much like a todo list.

Today I did something I wasn't proud of, leading to a pair of pants being on the table. I thought about not doing it, but I did it anyway, mostly just because I could. Two days ago, I received a sale flyer in the mail for one of the stores I like, Kohl's. I received a coupon for 20% off of everything plus another coupon for $10 off. I went to Kohl's that day, as I was out on errands in the vicinity, and I knew of some undergarments that I had been planning to buy as soon as they went on sale. After finding the undergarments, I took a brief trip to my favorite department and oh dear, I found a pair of jeans that fit! When jeans fit, buy them! Words of wisdom! I think I'll put them in my "Things I Learned Today" column. At the checkout counter, the cashier pointed out that the sale had not started yet. The mailing had the dates of the sale on it, but I had just grabbed it and gone to the store without noticing. The sale would start in 2 days. I put back the undergarments, figuring I would come back and get them on sale. The jeans, however, fit so well that I decided to buy them at their full price rather than risk coming back to find them gone.

Today the sale started. I was on errands again, so I stopped at Kohl's. I got my underclothes, and do you know what I did? I found another pair of those jeans! Actually, I found 2 pair, one the same as what I had bought and one in another color. They fit that well! I bought everything with the sale coupons. I plan to take the new jeans back with the receipt from when I bought them at the higher price.

I don't really condone this. But, I rationalize it by figuring that I wouldn't have bought the second pair of jeans if I wasn't going to save the money on the first pair, so Kohl's wins anyway. The lady in front of me today saved $100 by buying $300 worth of clothes. I saved $90 by buying $70 worth of stuff. Kohl's always wins! I know that, but it's fun to play.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Downsizing - EBay Sale

I sold something on ebay that I have been meaning to sell for close to 10 years! It was a ceramic Lladro figure. I always wanted to sell it and meant to because I felt uncomfortable moving such a fragile item from storage shelf to storage shelf! Finally I took the few minutes to list it. Actually, I had to list it 3 times before it sold, and I had to reduce the price twice. But, I'm glad I did what was needed, because someone now is happy to have the Lladro; and it is not broken, and I got good feedback from the transaction! "Exactly as described" was what the feedback said; that's good feedback indeed!

There was one problem for me. When I sell an item, I want to be sure the buyer receives the item and accepts it before I leave feedback. I put a little card into my items that asks the buyer to acknowledge receipt by leaving feedback for me, and I say I will then leave feedback for them. But no; that's not the way things are "done" these days. Buyers expect you to leave good feedback for them as soon as they pay. And, I guess people also don't read the small print on the cards I send, even though it's just one sentence. But, if the buyer gives the seller a hassle after receiving the item and the good feedback, then the buyer already has the good feedback and the seller can get stuck with bad feedback. I think ebay may be changing their feedback system...again. Perhaps with the maturity of the website and the clientele, all the angles have been discovered and there is no way to keep everyone happy.

Distraction - Outer Things

Right in front of me is a Costco sales brochure for February. It's short enough that I can look at every item and decide whether or not to buy it. But it's long enough to take 5-10 minutes. Then there is a newsletter from a social group I belong to. I can look at it and decide what events to attend; 15 minutes. I actually also have to write an article for next month's newsletter because I am the Chair of a committee for the group; 30 minutes. That's close to an hour just for today's mail. And there was actually more mail...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Distraction - The Holidays!

I had thoughts and experiences about downsizing during the holidays, but I was too busy getting ready for parties to write anything! I had a smattering of parties among my local friends, plus my husband's work party and a party my brother was giving in NYC for his 40th anniversary. It was the New York party and the work party that distracted me. I wanted to look good for both parties, and I wanted to be warm in NYC. The goals turned into a fashion fiasco!

I tried on everything I owned, and I found a dress I had bought on a lark in high school that I honestly thought was very weird back then but that I have always loved. I used to wear the dress with long boots, and boots are in this year, only with very short skirts. So, I bought a pair of short boots and shortened the dress to look good. I loved the outfit! But my kids said it might not be appropriate for a conservative party.

So then it became all about the boots! I wanted to wear the cool short boots. So, to be fashionable, I would need a skirt just the right amount of short or a pair of skinny pants and a top that would work with them. I shopped and shopped and shopped. Mall, outlet mall, online, individual stores: everywhere! I shopped for skinny pants and tops, for dresses to go with leggings and short boots, and for accessories that would go with my standard "little black dress,."

My dear friend, Linda, who is the smallest of them all, loaned me 2 black dresses that are a little big for her. One was a little tight and very short but provided a gorgeous, classy, and warm dressy outfit. The other was a little dull but comfortable and warm.

After shopping, I had bought a bunch of things: pants, tops to go with pants, a jacket for my dress, purple patterned leggings... I tried everything on with everything!

For one of the local parties, I wore my old dress with the boots. I got lots of comments and compliments. Some people immediately knew it was a dress from the old days; that impressed me! It was a lot of fun. But I decided to go more conservative with the other parties.

I don't remember what I put together for the office party! I really don't! I was deciding up to the last minute, and I wore a short dressy jacket. I wore the boots, and I think I might have worn the skinny pants. It was not a standout outfit, but I felt like I looked good, respectable, and respectful.

For New York, I went with my standard black dress with the new short velvet jacket I had bought, and regular shoes. I looked fine. People were fairly conservative there, as my sister-in-law had told me they would be. I looked fine and fit in.

I like to fit in, though sometimes I like to stand out a bit!

These clothing considerations were the biggest distraction and time-sucker of the holidays! I spent a lot of time cooking for parties and going to parties, too. It was a fun time! But, I can't help wondering what I might have gotten "done" if it hadn't been for my frantic fashion frenzy!