Thursday, April 6, 2017

Estate sales and prosthetic legs

Today, while running errands after work, I was distracted by yellow signs proclaiming "SALE!" So, naturally, I veered off-course to check it out because it's a Thursday and garage sales never happen on Thursday around here so who was I to turn down this amazing opportunity to browse through someone else's junk?

I followed the signs and eventually one said "Estate sale" and I died a little inside because an estate sale is NOT the same as a garage sale and here's why: an estate sale is either super cool, full of treasures and antiques and amazing finds, or it's a super-sad walk through someone else's memories and dreams and the remnants of a life lived tossed on a bed and priced at $2/apiece. Today's sale was the latter.

I love a good garage sale as much as the next person, and finding something vintage or useful at a steal of a deal brings me great joy. But estate sales make me sad. For one thing, it's weird to walk through someone's home when you are not an invited guest. At a garage sale, you can set your things in the driveway and maybe one part of your garage, and hang tarps or cover things to say "Stay away! Not here! Not for sale!" At an estate sale, you wander through someone's home - every last inch of it. The home often looks like someone left in a hurry - or suddenly died, which is often the case. No one bothers to make it look nice - instead, you shop IN someone's closet and items are often piled on beds and kitchen counters. Half-used toiletries fill the bathroom shelves and yes, they are for sale. It feels so invasive.

This particular sale was in a home that was probably once pretty cool. It had a sauna! And a bar! With swiveling bar stools! I'm guessing in the 80's, this place was the ultimate party house. But today, those gold-colored bar stools just seemed dated and the sauna was filled with piles of clothes and boxes. Plus, everything that was for sale was just old and useless. The clothing wasn't vintage - just outdated. And the prices are always higher at estate sales - since they're run by companies, there is overhead to pay, but I can't imagine who would be interested in buying a polyester lilac suit dress for $25 or an out-of-style hat for $12. They weren't cool enough to be ironic. In one room, there was an impressive collection of ladies' shoes - someone enjoyed a good shopping trip in days gone by!

I wandered from room to room, hoping to stumble upon a treasure - perhaps a piece of milk glass, which I like to collect, or a cool vintage hat for the drama department at the high school, but it was really all just "stuff", not treasures. Well, someone's treasures, once upon a time, but certainly nothing that caught my eye. Plus, it just feels so odd to browse through someone else's dresser drawers - is there no privacy anymore?

I decided to take a tip from my husband and head to the garage. When we go to garage sales, he heads straight for the tools, and almost always comes away with another wrench or doohickey that he simply must have, and which I am certain he does NOT need. Today's garage seemed uninspired, much like the house - a few tools, some holiday junk. There was a full-size shoe-shine stand that was pretty impressive. But I can't even imagine how the most creative home decorator would upcycle a shoe-shine stand. Certainly nothing popped into my mind. I figured the garage was a bust as well, and I slowly turned to wander out.

And that's when I saw it.

A prosthetic leg!

I am not even kidding.

It was an older model, I believe, but since I am no expert in prosthetics, I can't say for sure. All I know is it had a rudimentary bowl in which to place the stump, a metal bar for a lower leg, and a wooden, sock-covered "foot". I instinctively went to check the price and then a little voice inside my head said "What the hell are you going to do with a prosthetic leg? You can't even wear it, because unless you HAVE an actual stump, the thing won't go on your leg. So, what would you do with it? Display it? That would be kind of politically incorrect, right? But would it? Is it art? Who else could say they have a prosthetic leg when they're not an amputee? Wouldn't it come in handy in the case of a sudden, unexpected, amputation? If an actual amputee comes to visit, and sees it, would they be offended? Why are you touching it? Ew, who knows where that thing has been?" (The little voice inside my head doesn't know when to shut up. Kind of like the voice that comes out of my head).

So, against all the weird impulses I was having to actually buy and own a prosthetic leg (maybe a vintage one?), I walked away from what might have been the greatest estate sale find of all time. Because I got sad again thinking of the poor person who lived in that house with their missing limb. Maybe they were once virile and healthy and a horrible accident befell them. Maybe they lost their lower limb to diabetes (and also had to stop using that awesome sauna because aren't saunas bad for diabetics?) Maybe the lady of the house shouldn't have had so many shoes with which to mock the poor, prosthetic-wearing person who might have been lucky to own a couple pairs of shoes that fit over the fake foot.

The point is, I don't know the story. I don't know the people, or the house, or the memories it held, or anything else, but I do know this: when you die, or are moved into an assisted living home, or otherwise leave your place of residence, there is a good chance that someone, on a random Thursday, will come and wander through your personal belongings, find your prosthetic leg, and make up crazy stories in their head about you. Better to just get rid of everything as you age. Leave nothing to your children. Sell it all and buy an RV. Take a road trip. Embrace the crazy and hold nothing back. But do it while you still can, before something unfortunate happens to take away the control you have over your own destiny. And if, while on that cross-country trip, your demise is imminent, drive to the Grand Canyon, and toss your prosthetic leg over the rim. Let some poor fool find it and make up fantastical stories about how it got there. Much more interesting than leaving it on the garage shelf for the estate sale.

The moral of this story is two-fold. One, don't hang on to things from the past. Sure, there are antiques and special mementos, but trust me when I say none of your relatives are going to want the crushed velvet skirt you wore to the Christmas party in 1989. Just let it go. Purge regularly. And two, if you come across a prosthetic leg at an estate sale, just buy the damn thing. You might regret it if you don't. I wonder if the sale is still going tomorrow?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lip scrubbin'

The other day I tried a lip scrub. For those of you who don't know what this is - it's basically another product designed to let women know that they need help with ALL parts of their bodies, even their kisser. This product is a mixture of goo (coconut oil, Vaseline, and the like) and some type of grainy substance designed to "slough off" the top layer of your lips to reveal the plump, luscious layers below.

Now, I don't know about you but my lips feel just fine, thank you. I mean, sure, I've experienced the occasional rough, chapped lip a time or two but a swipe of Carmex or cherry Chapstick or Bonne Bell Bubble Gum Lip Smackers slicked the rough layers right back to......well, normal lip skin. At least until I licked off the flavor off and reapplied. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

But not long ago I caved to the relentless pleasure of receiving mail and purchased a Target Beauty Box. It's like a Birchbox but with products real people use and only $5. I was pretty excited about all those sample sizes because I had a few trips planned and those travel-ready sizes come in so handy. Except on the first trip I took after I received my Beauty Box, I forgot to pack any of my new treasures. of the products included was a lip scrub.

The lip scrub sat on my counter for a few days and I gave it no thought. Until my daughter came downstairs one night and mixed up her own lip scrub with sugar and coconut oil. She said it worked better than any other lip scrub (who knew she'd tried more than one?) and "you can lick it off after!"

So, I figured I'd give my lip scrub a try. I mean, my aging face needs all the help it can get so why not have kiss-worthy lips? I took a small amount and applied it to my lips. Except it was chunky so it fell off. I tried again, this time smashing the concoction into my pout and proceeding to smear it around awkwardly. I wasn't sure how long this gritty massage was supposed to last but I worked it in nice and good and then wondered exactly how I was supposed to remove it? I certainly wasn't going to lick this chemical salve off - was it even edible?

I grabbed a piece of toilet paper to wipe it off which only left bits of tissue on my now-sticky lips, caught in the tiny grains of whatever they used for the "scrub" part (ground up nuts? rock salt? pulverized gravel?) Now, I had sticky, gritty, fuzzy lips.

I tried water - sloshing it up against my lips and rubbing to remove the grit. Most of it was successfully removed but a glistening, greasy sheen remained and my lips felt like I had just kissed duct tape. In desperation I grabbed a towel and vigorously rubbed my lips to remove all traces of the oil slick.

And when it was all over, my lips were red, rough and throbbed slightly. Sure, my pout was puffed but only because I had assaulted it. I resigned then and there not to try a lip scrub ever again. Besides, with my rapid-fire and non-stop talking, I'm certain my lips generate enough friction to slough off any dead skin while simultaneously delivering insults and sarcasm.

Lip scrub, indeed. Who needs it?

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 - A picture recap

2016 - it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In some ways, it was an unbelievable year of horror, celebrity deaths, and the election of an orange buffoon for President. Like most, I was happy to kick 2016 to the curb. But, plenty of good things happened this year so let's take a look back! 

In January I tried out straight hair with a keratin straightener. It was fun for a while, but I'm a curly girl at heart. 

Harrison turned 17! Here he is on his birthday, with his free Starbucks drink, at a work party for his upcoming play, Much Ado About Nothing. 

Here is his birthday table! 

Here he is as Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing. Nice 'stache. 

We went to Deming, WA to photograph eagles with my new 600mm lens. 

In February, Arlie turned 18! We celebrated at an Italian restaurant. She's an adult now! 

We had to say goodbye to our sweet Georgette, and it broke our hearts. Definitely one of the worst days of 2016.  She was the best dog ever! RIP sweet Georgie, May 25, 2002 - February 2, 2016

Jeff did a "living history" talk about mountain men at the local elementary school. The kids LOVED it!

Harrison was chosen as a participant in "Mr. Bothell" at school. His first pageant! LOL!

I took a food tour of Pike Place Market with my good friends Amy and Carla for Carla's 50th birthday! Here we are, scoring some premium weed. Lol, kidding. It's stevia. No, really.

In March, I went to Boise and went to Paint 'n Sip with Justine, Sydney, Marcia and Mimi. We did a painting of a wine bottle and some pumpkins. Except me. I painted a vineyard because I do what I want. 

I celebrated St. Patrick's day with my best friends Tonya and Janet! I swiped these glasses from my school. I really think they made my outfit. 

In April, we kicked off kayak season and I wore my awesome new shirt! Kayaking is my happy place. My zen. My me time. I love kayaking. 

Tulip season started off early but it was as beautiful as ever! Here are the tulips in Skagit Valley. I went up with a friend one sunny afternoon because no one else really wanted to go. I'm glad I went - it was gorgeous as always.

We took a trip to the zoo with a bunch of little ones. The zoo is always more fun with little kids. 

Harrison played Max Detweiler and Arlie played Louisa in "The Sound of Music." They were both so good and the play was one of the best I've seen at their school. So proud of these two!

In May, I fulfilled a bucket list item and went to a writing retreat with these two lovely ladies (and accomplished authors), Amanda Turner and Elaine Ambrose. I had a great time, outlined my book, and spent tons of time quietly writing, enjoying the scenery, and eating delicious food. 

And I was published in a book! My essay about pooping at Target made it into Feisty After 45, an anthology of midlife bloggers' funniest work. I finally got published in an anthology and it's an essay about pooping. That's such a metaphor for my life. 

Harrison and his band, Bushwhack, had a gig at Sound Check bar and grill. It has since closed, but was a fun venue because it's where the "big kids" play. 

Arlie went to prom with her boyfriend, Mason. Look how beautiful she is! I was at my writing retreat at the time and it killed me to miss it. Hayley took pictures, though, and they turned out great. 

We went kayaking and I came face-to-face with a bald eagle! Two of them, actually, but one flew off before I got my wits about me to take a picture! 

Hayley and Megan got engaged and we had an engagement party at our house. Yay, a wedding in 2017! We are so excited. Later, we reserved the venue, a historic chapel not far from here. We love these two ladies and can't wait for them to start their married life together.

We went to Teatro Zinzanni for Rylie's 18th birthday. So much fun celebrating with the one and only Christine Deaver (who came over to our house for dinner in the summer!). We LOVE Teatro and were so lucky to be able to get the whole family there. 

We kicked off June by doing some home improvement, inspired by a leak in the upstairs bathroom. Good times. Lots of painting (thanks, Jeff!)

Arlie received her senior speech at the Thespian Banquet, and Harrison gave a speech for his senior. Here they are with Ms. Glass, their drama teacher/director. 

Arlie and Rylie graduated! Yay, class of 2016! Arlie was salutatorian. We are so proud of these two ladies, overcoming many obstacles on their way to a successful end to their high school years. They worked so hard!

We went to the Pride parade in Seattle. So much fun and craziness! (However, this day was also a low point of the year when my camera and handmade leather backpack were stolen from our car later in the day - not in Seattle, but more local, in Lynnwood, outside of Fred Meyer while we enjoyed ice cream at Baskin Robbins for 20 minutes. Sigh. I'm still sad).

We also went to a Mariner's game the same day as Pride! Our friend gave us free tickets - score!

In July, Jeff turned 48! Here he is with his birthday table. He spent the day relaxing in his new lounge chair outside and reading. 

We went to the Bothell 4th of July parade! So much fun! Look how festive we are. 

Hayley turned 23. Here she is with her birthday table. The birthday fairy still comes even when you move out! 

Harrison starred as Cliff in Cabaret. Here he is with his Sally Bowles, Erin Hyatt. The show was fantastic!

A huge highlight of our year - we adopted our new puppy, Junie B! She is a Husky/Shar Pei/Shepherd/Pomeranian mix. She is so beautiful and look how little and cute she was! She has grown so much since then.

We went to Boise again, and back to Paint 'n Sip, this time with Mimi, Marcia, Sydney and Monica. We were supposed to paint an outhouse, but as usual, I did what I wanted and made mine a cabin outhouse? Wtf? 

We were also in Boise to celebrate the boys' birthdays. These three kids are our little loves! Wish we lived closer to see them more often. 

We took Megan kayaking and crabbing on the Sound. She had never had fresh crab straight from the water before. We cooked it on the beach. YUM! 

We kept up on the home improvement by buying new patio furniture. 

In August, we took a lovely vacation to Florence, OR and stayed in a bed and breakfast. This is a re-creation of a sunset pic we took of the kids in 2008. Nothing like the beach with family. So relaxing!

Hannah turned 21! Here she is with her birthday table. Finally old enough to drink! We did go to Red Robin so she could order a drink but she didn't even have to use her ID because the waiter knew it was her birthday. 

We took Junie B kayaking. Such a good water dog! 

Harrison and his band, Bushwhack, performed at the Seattle Premium Outlets, and received new Doc Marten shoes as payment! 

We had taco Tuesday with our good friends, Haley and Lexie. Love keeping up long-term friendships. Lexie was leaving for a study-abroad trip to Spain.

Flower and David visited Seattle and we went everywhere! Downtown, the Fremont Troll, Archie McPhees, the waterfront, Pike Place. It was a packed couple of days. 

We went kayaking at Lost Lake on Flower's 24th birthday!

We taught Junie B to paddleboard! Good dog! 

Bushwhack performed at the Woodinville parade, on the flatbed truck. Rock stars!

Hannah had double jaw surgery. It was tough - six weeks of no chewing, and a liquid diet at first. She was such a great patient! And her face looks so different now.

We went to see Joan Jett, Heart and Cheap Trick in concert at the White River Amphitheater. We decided we'd never make the long drive again but it was fun to hear some old favorites. 

In September we went to the fair! Selfie with a goat! And he's sticking his tongue out. Cheeky goat!

Hannah and I went to a Paint Nite event and she finally got to use her ID to buy a drink! We painted owls and, following paint event protocol for me, I made mine very "fall-y" because I don't like to be told what to do. 

Harrison started his senior year of high school. Class of 2017! This is it, folks. The end of an era - my last baby is graduating. 

Harrison and his boyfriend, Alec, went to homecoming. How handsome are they? I also missed this one and Hayley took pictures. I was out of town. Mom of the year. 

Arlie had her wisdom teeth out - here she is with Hannah - twins with their post-surgical chubby cheeks! Arlie's antics after surgery meds were hilarious and we have video for posterity. 

In October, Hayley and I went to an alcohol painting class. No, not the kind where you DRINK alcohol (sadly) but the kind of alcohol you mix paint with. Here are our masterpieces! 

Jeff and I took a trip to Pennsylvania for a conference where he was a speaker. We took a covered bridge tour this day. Beautiful fall colors everywhere!

We visited Hershey, PA where we experienced all things chocolate at Hershey Chocolate World. 

We also took a quick side trip to New York City! It was a whirlwind but we had David and Flower as our guides and we accomplished a LOT in one day. We will be back in Jan. 2017 when Harrison performs with his choir at Carnegie Hall. 

Harrison was in the homecoming court at his school for "virtuoso" - someone who excels at his activity, in his case, choir and drama. Here he is before the game. 

We managed to squeeze in a trip to the pumpkin patch the day before Halloween. We spent $120 on pumpkins and only carved half of them. Next year it's bring-your-own-pumpkin! Plus it was muddy and kind of cold. Perhaps it's time to give up the giant family pumpkin patch visit?

We celebrated Halloween! Here is Hayley in her costume - Eleven from the TV show "Stranger Things". She made Hannah go to the store with her to get this shot with the waffles. 

In November, we did a quick photo shoot for Harrison's yearbook photo. This is after he dyed his hair purple and it had faded out. He's so handsome!

Harrison and his boyfriend, Alec, had their wisdom teeth out on the same day and recovered together at our house. It made for some funny pictures!

We celebrated our sister-in-law (and aunt) Heather's 44th birthday in the hospital after a successful double lung transplant that we never thought would happen! It was a miracle and a very special birthday, indeed. The second pic is the day Heather's girls, Makayla and Maiya, first saw their mom post-surgery. It was an emotional reunion.

We had a big family Thanksgiving with Sydney and Stu, the littles, Greg and the girls. Lots to be thankful for this year!

Loved spending time with these three over Thanksgiving weekend. 

In December, we saw The Little Mermaid at the 5th Avenue Theater! It was amazing!

We had a snow day! Junie B loved the snow like the little Husky she is. Also, look how big she's grown!

I celebrated my 49th birthday. Here is my birthday table. How did I get to be 49? I thought I was 29!

On my birthday, Jeff and I celebrated at his company party and stayed overnight at the Sheraton in Seattle. We got all dressed up - I borrowed my dress from someone on my gifting group. Afterward, she let me keep it. The party was a masquerade theme in a ballroom with ice sculptures, dancing and karaoke. Fancy pants!

We had an ugly sweater party. It was more of a gathering of the kids' friends - and only one adult came, which was fine with us, because we were tired. Proof that we're getting old. Ugh!

We celebrated Christmas early with Hayley and Megan because they were headed to Indiana to spend the holidays. Onesie jammies for everyone!

We went to Snowflake Lane to experience the magic of the season, but it turned out to be just a huge crowd and a parade/show we couldn't see. Still, fake snow! Yay! 

Christmas morning came and we celebrated with our not-so-little-anymore kids. Ok, so two of them are technically adults. Sigh. 

We had a big family Christmas with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, fiancees and boyfriends. We are so lucky. There was a present explosion. We had brunch on paper plates because I couldn't get my shit together to do real plates, and also the tables weren't cleaned off so we just sort of ate around the junk and it was messy and loud and chaotic. But it was also so good. Because, family. 

We said goodbye to 2016 in a grand finale of celebration, seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Key Arena (another bucket list item checked off) and then stepping out to the spectacular fireworks at the Space Needle as snow started to fall. It was so perfect and magical, right up until we spent two solid hours in the parking garage because the traffic did not move one inch. And then we were hungry so we went to McDonald's at 3 a.m. and waited in line for like 40 minutes only to find out they were only serving breakfast so we just came home and ate whatever we could find and collapsed into bed after 4 a.m. But still, it was an incredible night and when was the last time we stayed up till 4 a.m.? 

Farewell, 2016. You were good in all the best ways and you kicked our asses in other ways. But look how lucky we are. Another year gone, another year of memories tucked away and a clean slate awaiting us for 2017. We're ready!