How to turn $ thousands into $ hundreds

Stuff, so valuable and desirable  when it belongs to us, becomes massively undesirable when it’s lumped together and sold in a garage (boot) sale.  I had the opportunity to follow someone’s stuff along its’ path from treasure to trash.

The story starts with the untimely death of a young woman.   (Well she was younger than me, so that makes her a young woman.)  She went into hospital, was doing fine and recovering, when she took a turn for the worse and died.   With no descendants or siblings and only a distant elderly mother, our group (actually one kind soul who does not take no for an answer) offered to help clear the house  and that is where it got interesting.   The deceased was a hoarder and her house was packed with giant piles of stuff.  Two stories of things with little pathways through to the important parts, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry (although there was not much evidence that the laundry room was used).  She had never allowed any of her friends to enter, so no one knew what was inside.

I am a lover of mystery fiction, so here was my chance to play detective, to look for hidden secrets.  I got to indulge my general nosiness and score some interesting finds.   When I look at some else’s belongings I wonder why they kept this, why was it important?

I spent 10 hours in her bedroom sorting and cleaning.   I examined everything I touched and it made me rather sad.  There was masses of unworn and unused items, now they would never serve their intended purpose.   It was obvious that she was enthralled with ‘retail therapy’, buying things to make herself happy.  Did she forget that she already had a dozen tweezers, or could she just not be bothered to look for them in the confusion?


After all, who has not one, but two of these things?  Not to mention 130 brassieres, 100 pairs of shoes and boots, 85 handbags, cupboards full of pots and pans, $400 dollars in loose change and at least one uncashed dividend check.  When she ran out of space in the house, she stored things in bins outdoors, in the garage and at a neighbors.  It took our group of ladies (none of us young) endless hours to sort, clean and haul away (this is where husbands and sons come in handy)  the hoard.

Then came the sale.  Over two days we flogged part of the detritus of her life.  Beautiful things, ordinary things, unusual things (but not the fur-lined handcuffs, I threw those away), all at about 10 cents or less on the dollar.  Lots of stuff sold, but lots was left over.


It made me sad to know that this too is the probable fate of my beloved stuff: my Godzillas, toys and fabric.  My nephew will have to come here and do this, or perhaps if my group still exists they  will do it for him.

The best part of this exercise is that all the money we raised from this sale goes to charity, so a bit of good will come out of all of this.  The 130 brassieres were sold to the art department at a local college and they will be part of an uplifting (did I really say this?) art exhibit.

Imaginary Journeys

The very best kind of travel is through the mind’s eye.   None of the tedium of packing and getting ready.   Making long lists of things to do: stop the newspaper, empty the fridge, arrange for the dog, etc.  None of the inconvenience of being treated like cattle to be moved, or sardines to be tinned.  So today courtesy of Mr. A, I went on an imaginary trip to Santa Fe and it was quite lovely.   I was at my health club when we got on our stationary bikes and took an imaginary trip down to Santa Fe by watching a video of street scenes as we biked along listening to a great musical soundtrack.

I have been to Santa Fe many times, when I was in college it was a special treat to go to Santa Fe and eat dinner at La Fonda.  The plaza was a real center of the town, with a hardware store, Woolworths, a department store that sold fiesta dresses and the Museum of the Palace of Govenors from the Spanish colonial days with Native American vendors in front of it.   Now the stores cater to tourists, with restaurants, trinkets and art.

It was fun to be on this imaginary trip, we went by the corner of the La Fonda, and I saw that the old post office is now a museum of Indian art.   I kept wishing that the camera had turned more side to side, I was greedy for more.  But, it was still a fun trip if a little short, so I had a shower then went on with my day.sf9

This is sunset from the rooftop bar of the La Fonda.


I sometimes wonder how so many  people can live together in cities.   I got an answer of sorts this weekend at the different festivals that were going on:  people split up into tribes.  The first tribe I visited were the lovers of motorbikes.  There were lots of them, split into the various sub-tribes:  Leather wearers, old guys on expensive bikes, young guys on cafe racers, etc.

tr tr1

Next up there was Juneteenth,  an African-American holiday.   When the Civil War started, many slave-owners took people to the Republic of Texas, to avoid having to free them.   News of the Emancipation Proclamation took 2 1/2 years to reach there, and this event commemorates that day.  This is a festival with food:  bbq ribs, chicken, hot links and sides and it was delicious.  It had rained right before I took the picture, so there weren’t very many people around.


There was a Celtic festival in a nearby park and it was fine excuse for men to break out their kilts and bagpipes.   There was plenty of beer and whiskey to be had, and Miss P and I had a delicious sausage roll.


There was also a group playing football (soccer),  and they looked to be immigrants.  (I guessed this because they were not speaking English, and they were playing football.)


There was yet another tribe at the park, skateboarders.  They are there with the most frequency because they have a permanent structure.


This is just a small sampling of the many tribes from around here.  You don’t need a sorting hat to figure out which one you belong to, just show up.  And of course you don’t have to belong to just one tribe.  You can find me on the outskirts, looking in.

May Flowers


April showers are alleged to bring May flowers, but here in the high altitude of Colorado it works a little differently.   April may have rain or it may have snow or there may be nothing.   This May had a blizzard and plenty of hailstorms, so the flowers are only starting to come out now,  in the middle of June.   Miss P is posing at the high altitude iris testing grounds over by the library.

One Problem Limit

I have had some health problems before and since I went to England.  But when I went to my doctor he was in a hurry and told me that I only got one problem, the most recent one.   “One problem”, I was outraged, I expect value for my money and I always have more than one problem.   But then I started thinking about it in the larger context of life.

When me and my friends were teenagers we talked endlessly about our parents: how stupid they were, expecting us to behave, etc. etc.

When we were young couples we would talk endlessly about our friends who were still single (definitely an immature state).   They needed to grow up and act responsibly.

When friends had children we would talk behind their backs about what brats other friends kids were.

Then there were the career years, didn’t really talk much about anything except work.

Now I’ve realized I’m in the doctor years .   Yes those years when every conversation includes bits about the latest problem and the doctors that we see.  I have my group of doctors that I like and I live in fear that they will retire because some of them are my age.  When I see a young doctor I always think ‘I have fillings in my teeth that are older than them’.  “You’re only as old as you feel”, “50 is the new 40”, etc. are the lies we tell ourselves to disguise  the facts of aging.

Then next stage of life is the one where you talk about the funerals that you’ve been to, and fortunately I’m not really there yet, although it is fast approaching.

So why did I only get one problem?  My doctor was being taken to court by one of his ex-wives for more money, so HE had one problem.

p.s.  That I got bit by a dog was my problem.   And on my next visit I did get more than one problem, so I’m happy.

Fry Bread Dog


Miss P and I were out and about today when we decided to go to the pow-wow.   The first thing they said to me at the entrance was “Is that a service dog?”  I looked down at her.  She’s a labramutt wearing an ordinary collar and a gentle leader because she pulls.  No sign of the special harness of a service dog.  “No” I said, “She’s a fry bread dog and she is here to get some fry bread”.   They looked her over for a moment and then said, “Well, in that case she can come in” .



So, we ordered a Navajo Taco to share, which is fry bread topped with pinto beans, meat, lettuce, cheese and salsa.  And it was delicious.   What is fry bread you might ask.   Depending on the treaty, the United States Government is obligated to give Native American tribal members certain things, like cloth and bacon, and very often flour.   Again, depending on the treaty, the government does this to this day.  Fry bread has become traditional at pow-wows, thanks to this policy.   It’s a simple dough, made with flour, water, baking powder and salt, then fried.  Sometimes it’s served with honey or icing sugar on top as a sweet.


There were wolves from the wolf sanctuary there, and Miss P does not like wolves so we left before the dancing started.   Also as usual the drum was late, so it was going to start on Indian time.

Art and Grief


I just had time for a quick pop in at the National Gallery.  Not to see the currently flogged exhibit of giant pictures of celebrities, just to breeze through the other portraits.  First up, I was face to face with Richard III.  I can’t say I was very familiar with him before they dug him up.  History is written by the victors and he lost.   But he was the subject of one of my very first blog posts, written on my late husband’s site.   I admired that he was a king who led his troops into battle himself, not waiting  on the sidelines and telling others to go out there and get the job done.   Further investigation showed that he was actually a rather good king rather than a villain: removing arbitrary taxes started by Edward IV, supporting personal, property and mercantile rights, allowing bail for the accused rather than immediate confiscation of property.  I did a selfie with him, now we are intertwined.

The next gallery was even more exciting.  Anchored by portraits of Elizabeth I, the young and the old, there are lots of bog standard portraits of people looking rich and snotty.   But in among them is the most amazing portrait, done in the style of a graphic novel.  With Death on one side, and fame on the other it shows the story of a man’s life.  The sitter would have no doubt preferred a more conventional portrayal, but he was dead and this painting was ordered by his widow.   Grief takes you to unexpected and unknown places, and she wanted a different kind of picture of her husband.   It’s a remembrance of a life lived, proof that she did the right thing in giving him a good send-off and it’s her tribute to their love.


Art and Fear

The creation of art comes from the desire to express experiences in tangible form, transformed into something else.  Fear comes from the idea that the emotion could be recognized and judged.  This is a blog about random events:  life mostly, art sometimes, events, ephemera,  memories and absurdities.  This blog is for my friends from blogging class and I hope to publish once a week or so.