Sunday, December 31, 2023

Ending 2023, my year in review. A tough year and glad it's GONE.

I probably should not wish a year to end as the coming year could always be worse, but it's hard to imagine. It was a year full of anguish and hard work. Once I got a breath, more bad news arrived but conversely some really depressing moments ended up positively.

Judy loved her cats!
Early in the year a dear friend passed away and I was named Executor of her estate. Prior to her death I was her Power of Attorney during her long illness. I had never been either so it was a learn as you go experience, emotional but educational and interesting. When I signed the original agreement we lived in the same town but as the years traveled along we had moved 3 hours away, making assisting more difficult. Fortunately I worked closely with her dearest friend to inventory her belongings and gained a new friend in the process.

My Mother-in-law loved Schnauzer's
As soon as I managed to get her estate in order, my mother-in-law passed away after a long illness. My husband ended up practically living with his mother and father for months (they live 6 hours away). I was glad he had the opportunity to do this for his parents. After her passing, we switched gears to figure out his father's situation, researching health care workers for him because he didn't want to leave his home. I discovered a veterans program where they pay for home health care for a certain number of hours a week. It has been a life saver.

A few of our amazing chickens from the past
Oddly, with each human death one of our chickens would follow. We now have no chickens after 10 years of managing and watching out for their safety from hawks and foxes. There is nothing sadder than looking out to an empty chicken yard, but we're planning for our retirement by not adopting more animals as we're determined to flee the coop and travel... ONE DAY. We still have our three cats which amazingly are hanging in there with various senior issues.

In between the ups and downs, I've somewhat neglected my online vintage business but I found time to kick it in gear for the holiday season. Surprisingly I've have a good sales year. I presume it's because I've been selling for 13 years now which gives me an online presence and I also have keyed in on what and where to sell.

My mother still lives with us and is very independent. Shopping for herself and pitching in with packing up goods to ship for my shop. We finally got her to visit our new Senior Center in the Fall to pick up a bridge game or two and the next week we all got COVID so that new venture has been put on hold until Spring. I also developed a sinus infection which was worse than Covid! Shutting me down for a month.

I captured this Bee sleeping in a Crocus
Unfortunately for our pocketbook we had to get a new roof but we're hopeful we will be dead and buried before needing another one! Happy to at least get that behind us because we suspect the roof might have been 43 years old! It was a positive experience and the contractor was awesome so that helped swallow the bitter price pill.

We ended our year with my husband, my mother, and me needing a tooth crown, all in the same week. As I was waiting for the permanent crown a different tooth decided to break. So I'm ending 2023 with a temporary tooth reconstruction awaiting a crown in 2024 (which Cigna insurance pays zero for - they only pay for 1 crown in 60 months - what a racket). So technically my 2024 is not starting well, but we'll just lump that with 2023 since it happened in that year. I am very grateful to my new dentist for stepping up for my two emergency visits.

We didn't have any big health dramas other than teeth, so we can consider ourselves fortunate on that front. My husband is now officially 65 and signed up for Social Security but will not retire for a few more years - wow - seems impossible.

Finishing the year refreshing the dining room in time for Christmas dinner. The table was overtaken with Estate business and my Grandmother's Chandelier was jerry rigged with a piece of wire for the last 14 years! We managed to clear out the stuff, clean and rehang the chandelier, and hang a large painting that belonged to my deceased friend over the table.

I always try to adopt an eco-resolution and this year I'm trying to limit my plastic purchases to #1 and #2 recyclable containers (or better yet - purchase none) since any other number can't be recycled and most of #1 and #2 are landfilled anyway - ugh. I'm also testing our appliance consumption with a device and researching solar panels, an all consuming research project. Better to generate less electricity and waste to begin with!

Wishing you a positive and healthy 2024! Keep the faith that turning the page to a new year can refresh and renew.


Thursday, September 14, 2023

How to find a new home for your stuff without stressing out

I cleaned and sold on consignment for a friend
Storing stuff seems to be a favorite past time for many American consumers. The shiny fruit is too irresistible. Worse than voluntary acquisition is involuntary inheritance. Don't get me wrong, my family heirlooms are my most treasured items. As a vintage seller, there is nothing I like more than an  antique piece of furniture or a piece of art deco jewelry with a beautiful patina. But as we age, how can we whittle our treasures down to what our heirs want in order to not burden them with a bunch of unwanted junk?

Trash or Treasures?
Recently I was the executor of a dear friends estate. She loved to buy things, and she had developed quite an online ordering addiction. As a vintage seller, it was quite interesting to go through her estate but it was unbelievably overwhelming, even for me! Mixed in with the good was the mess which is never fun to sort through. Fortunately she assigned the right people to deal with her items after she passed and we knocked it out over a series of months and were able to save the treasures and dispose of the rest. Out of respect for her, not to mention I'm personally committed to reducing the waste that goes into a landfill, we were able to divert many things into others hands.

Technology changes fast, equipment obsolete
How can one avoid leaving a disaster area for family before one passes on? Waiting to cull your stash at end of life is not the way to go about doing this right. Graduated gifting is my preferred way of getting rid of things and there are several free sites where one can gift almost anything, even what one would consider to be junk. Joining several local Facebook buy and sell groups is currently the way to move items. Even simpler is to give to a local thrift store. Please consider donating first to the SPCA, salvation army, refugee organization, or church charity.

My Grandmother, a keeper!
Additionally, identify items of historical family significance and find those heirs that are interested in such things and pass them along now so there is no confusion once you have departed. Identifying items of value can be tricky but google has become pretty helpful in such matters. Try googling a few items that you believe to be valuable and see what you can discover. No one wants to accidently donate a valuable piece. You hear about it from time to time. I wonder how much of this is due to panic selling. Overwhelmed by a family members death and just wanting to get rid of all the stuff. One person's trash can indeed be someone else's treasure. I remember as my Grandmother aged she was throwing out the baby with the bathwater. She didn't need all this stuff any more. I remember grabbing sterling silver out of the items she had set aside for a garage sale.

Country cute, not worth the energy or time
The key to selling is to gradually do it and not try to get rid of everything in a weekend out of desperation. Chip away at your stash and make progress. I would recommend that you set aside anything that you really treasure or believe is valuable and start with the "junk and excess stuff".

If you believe you have a somewhat valuable item that could bring you some revenue, by all means, try to sell it. I don't sell anything for less than $15, it's just not worth the time and energy unless your are desperate to pay the light bill! Facebook Marketplace is the easiest place to list and sell right in your own community. The speed of listing has all but taken over selling from Craigslist (which still is a viable option). You can ship through Facebook but that's another complication you don't need initially.

Mirror's perfect for FB Marketplace
Listing on Marketplace is somewhat of an art. Like anything that catches on, scammers target inexperienced listers. If your list an item that is of significant value, a scammer will hit you up seconds after you list. Before messaging anyone back, check their profile to see how old their account is. An account created yesterday with a top models photo is a dead giveaway that it's a scam. Accounts with no followers are dead giveaways as being fake. Do not ever, ever, ever, under any circumstance give out your cell number to anyone that asks! They will steal your Facebook account or sell your phone number to other scammers. If a buyer can only find your meet up spot or house by calling your cell number, then they have no business buying an item through Facebook. Ignore, report and block any account that appears to be fake as a scam and move on. Price items higher than your bottom line price because rarely does anyone pay full price on Marketplace.

Seek expert advise for tricky collections.
If you don't have time to research or sell things, look for a friend of family member that is a savvy seller that can help for a fee. Often it's a matter of trying to determine what has value and what doesn't so you can actually take the first step to dispose of items. For your sanity, it just might be worth paying someone to help you! If you have a really really valuable collection you will need a reliable second opinion. I recommend you only discuss your collection with someone that is an expert or is a close friend or family member. Sadly there are scammers waiting to take advantage.

It's not acceptable to buy more stuff to replace what you are gifting or selling. The habit of acquiring needs to come to an end in for your to make progress! Picking up free stuff that you really don't need, has to be halted. Move your life forward to be a considerate consumer, purchasing only what you NEED to live on, helping to save the environment from industrial pollution created from the manufacture of new goods.

I hope this helps to get you started. Set a goal to identify three items a day to get rid of in an environmentally conscience manner.


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Annual National Butterfly Count in Albemarle County Charlottesville Crozet Virginia

Monarch on Milkweed
One of my favorite things to do is participate in the annual butterfly count. Around the same time each year, several teams scour Albemarle county in search of butterflies. Tallies are sent into the North American Butterfly Association that keeps track of sightings nationwide. Counts occur at different times nationally depending upon when sightings are most likely.

Sulphur Butterfly in a flower field
This year it's been reported that numbers are down and we did find this to be true. Some believe it is because of the multiple torrential Spring rains that we experienced. Others feel it might be from the late cold snap, the same one that wiped out my Peach and Plum blossoms leaving me fruitless this year.

Big eyed Robber Fly grabbed a Bee
Insects are a wonderful indicator species that can give us a heads up if something is off-kilter. Approximately 30 different butterfly species can be found in our area. It would be nearly impossible for all 30 to be accounted for during the annual count. We also track the number of individual butterflies in each species. The big numbers usually come in for Tiger Swallowtails but not this year. Other more rare species were even harder to find. Sadly no Zebra Swallowtails in my yard this year.

National numbers have been collected for 30 years. I'm glad someone is watching and I certainly have found it fascinating and educational. I've learned so much about nature from the counts. I always encounter some strange plant, tree, or insect leaving me inspired to continue searching for new critters while preserving native plantings in my own backyard. 

Tiger Swallowtail in Echinacea
~ Rebecca



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...