Under the CoVid19 Lockdown

 

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Though dying is something we don’t often think about, nor do we want to, it is something that happens to us all someday.  “No one gets out alive!”

So now that the majority of us have a lot of time on our hands and are confined to the house we can occupy ourselves with somethings that we should consider while we’re still alive and well.  A book like this is a handy guide, it has 60 pages of things to consider while we still can.  I’ve been going through it and creating more pages of my own in addition to what’s already in there.  The Table of Contents will start you off with; Personal Information,  Contacts (family & friends), Pets.  Don’t forget your pets.  It’s a good time too to begin a trust fund for their care should anything happen to you. Important Documents, Subscriptions On and Offline, Social Accounts, Passwords, Where Things  are and what to do with them.  I added “Secrets I won’t take to the grave.”

This is great scrapbooking material.  Photo collages of people and pets in your life, Memories and mysteries to reveal.  Instead of letting your beneficiaries fight over the antique sideboard and family heirlooms in your possession, now is the time to give it all some deep thought and record your wishes.  I would recommend writing it all down in a notebook or on the computer so that when you make your entries in your book you are satisfied with them and can make a tidy entry. This is also a good way to take stock of what you have and inventory for insurance purposes.

 

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After reading this I probably quit driving the public around before any of my colleagues did.  I decided it was not worth the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it more widely.  I been saving up to replace my car but now I’m dipping into those savings to pay my bills.  Hopefully I won’t have to dip too deep.  Being self-employed is a lifestyle of feasts and famines so you learn to save during the good times because you know the bad times always come again.

I’ve read a lot of David Quammen, he’s one of my favorite Science and Nature writers.  He’s published a lot in National Geographic and his writing is clear and easy to read and understand.  You don’t have to be a genius to get it.  His other book, “Song of the Dodo” is another good read.  Anyway, this book was published in 2012 and this Corona Virus was predicted even before then.  In fact it should be no surprise.  With the population growing to 8 million the human race outnumbers any other animal species on the planet.  Think about that and then think about the “tent caterpillars”  he writes about in the end, or any other pestilence that rises in catastrophic numbers and then collapses.  Yes, we will too.

With that last thought in mind, I still hesitate calling this virus the big one yet, but we’re getting close.

One last word.  Does anyone think there’ll be many yard sales this year?

One more lady word. Remember, you can’t take it with you. (Your stuff that is).

SPRING CLEANING?

fullsizeoutput_36eMarch 2020

If you live in Minnesota then this is the time of year you begin to pull out of the long months of winter and look forward to the snow melting away and warm weather coming.  People start getting in the mood to clean out the house and mop up all the slop that’s been tracked in all winter.  Open the windows and let the fresh air blow through.  Yes, Spring cleaning!  I’m a reader so I’ve had lots of books to sort through and have managed to haul numerous boxes of books off to Half-Price Bookshops located around the metro.  Bit by bit I’ve been reading them up and sending them on.  Lately I’ve come across a few about the trash and second hand trade and became keenly interested.  It’s good to know that the next generations are working out solutions to clean up the mess the previous generations (including mine) are leaving behind.   Technology has made some fantastic breakthroughs but have also created some problems, fraud being a big one.  But those things all get worked out as time goes on.

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I really enjoyed these two books. Adam Minter is a good writer that is easy going and will keep you reading and awed at all times.  He opened my eyes to another world economy that’s making billions and right under our noses and feet.  It’s good to know that our waste is finally going to good use but we still ought to be less wasteful just the same.  One interesting thing he wrote about China buying up our trash by the fully loaded containers is that this trash has changed the whole country of China.  People leave work on the farms to sort through this trash and make more money doing it.  Imagine that, stuff valued over food!  There are some sad facts that need to sink into all of us, but then we knew that all along, didn’t we.  Another thing Adam made clear is that we didn’t dump our trash on anyone, they came here looking to buy it because they knew the value of it.  Recycling metal is better than mining it, etc. Those bone pickers you see walking the streets picking up trash and collecting it in bags just might not be such the poor sods they look like.   Cities are fazing out the landfills and burn trash that is used to generate energy to power the city.  The old days we went to the dump with our dads who had a trailer full of junk to get rid of while us kids had the time of our lives digging on the heaps looking for treasures and sometimes we found them.

Meanwhile, my neighbors have been busy.  I think the Health Dept. gave them an ultimatum and now my backstairs are cleared off.  They haven’t looked like this in 30 years!  One good thing coming out of this mess, because the great grand kid who’s under six years old tested high levels of lead the health dept. is going to replace all the windows throughout the house, and it won’t cost us anything!  Wow!  Most old houses have lead all over them and ours is no exception.  So if you live in an old house that’s something to think about, it’s not healthy for adults either.  Radon tests were done too.  The city of Minneapolis has begun requiring these tests, disclosures and abatements to be certified  before anyone can sell their house.  We’ll have that in our hands too.  Hoarders are usually not bad people, they can be very likable even but very difficult. And when cleaning day comes along. . .  At this time it’s her and her family cleaning out the house, which is better than someone else doing it, therapeutically good, that is.  However she’s renting a lot of storage lockers now and that’s not good.  It’s draining her much needed money for one thing and later all that stuff will makes it’s way back here.  I can only hope that changes or else we get a hell of an offer on this house before one of us pops our perch.

With that best wishes to all and have a good Spring season.

Beware, What You Don’t See

fullsizeoutput_25eIf you look close you will see a horse in each of the squares.  By Bev Doolittle

I was at a sale recently that was in a luxury apartment building.  The building was a huge complex located in a prestigious part of the city.  The grounds were meticulously kept and the whole look of the place was nice and had an expensive sense about it.  However, as soon as I went in through the common entry door there was a smell like that of a really bad hoarder.  I live upstairs from a hoarder and the house never smelled like that even on a bad day at it’s worse.  The hall was clean and no sign of anything like a hoarder anywhere.  I went to the apartment where the sale was and that was clean and didn’t smell and I soon forgot about it.  I found numerous things I wanted to buy but when I looked in the closet at the bottles of cleaning stuff I saw a can of bed bug spray.  I got out of there fast and forgot about buying anything.  Later after I got home I got a little paranoid that I might have picked up bugs on me when I was in there but not really positive about that, so I looked up bed bugs on Google and learned that the smell from the halls in that building did not come from a hoarder, bed bugs leave a smell.  I will never forget it.

I look at all the new luxury buildings going up everywhere around me and can’t help but think what they might be like someday.  Luckily I don’t live in an apartment building and the hoarder I live upstairs from doesn’t have bugs and I rarely see a mouse.  The cats usually take care of the mice.  This is definitely something to keep in mind though.  And no, I didn’t pick up any bed bugs.  I didn’t sit down on anywhere in that apartment or try on any coats or such.  I think the bed bugs were eliminated but the smell in the hallway is there to stay awhile.  If you like going to sales and thrift shopping, it’s a good idea to Google up bed bugs and read through the materials that tell you how to look for them.  One of my other neighbors advice is to put whatever clothes you buy from a thrift shop or sale in the dryer for awhile because the heat kills them.  Putting something in the oven for awhile should work on other items.

I know, this isn’t good for business.  I still strongly support the reuse economy. We just have to be careful out there.  After all, even the posh hotels get bed bugs.

 

NEW TRICKS FOR A SUCCESSFUL YARDSALE

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Free House Plants, but the cat stays.

Last week I put these plants on the curb for anyone who would like to take one or more home.  They sat on the curb for two days and no takers.  The weather is changing fast around here, I couldn’t let them stay there for long and I didn’t want the city rubbish collectors thinking I was throw them out.  So, what did I do?  I posted them as free house plants on an app called “Nextdoor”.  It’s a free app for nearby neighbors to share information and community events.  It looks like a little green house. It’s a good app to have.  It didn’t take long for these plants to find new homes.  A week later I posted more.

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These too went fast.  I even had people ring my bell, (I invited them to do so) and come up for more I had inside.  I felt very good about the people who came for these plants, they weren’t just out to grab free pots or do anything destructive.  I wouldn’t do this with animals though.  I cringe when I see free kitten ads and such.  Anyway, this plant experience gave me an idea.  I live in a part of the city that’s hard to find, it’s a little corner behind hospitals, colleges and institutions.  People don’t look beyond those blocks and see there’s a neighborhood, so I’m hidden.  It’s definitely not a good area to have a yard sale.  The app allows you to expand your area and reach out to other parts of the city and suburbs, that’s where a lot of these people came from, many on their way home from work downtown.

Well, to begin with, I had one successful yard sale since I lived here and that was a number of years ago after my next-door neighbor died and his family hired an estate sale company to sell his belongings.  I realized that this was an opportunity not to be missed and had a pop up yard sale and I was out there early.  People will come from all corners for an estate sale and they will find the address no matter how difficult or well it is hidden.  Yardsales are different, people don’t normally go out of their way to look for a single yard sale.  People will come early to an estate sale too.  They take numbers and wait in line for a good hour before the doors open so a next-door yard sale gives them something to do while they wait. They’re treasure hunters and pickers and love a sale!   Be ready by 8:00am for that one!  My yard sale did very well.  I didn’t just pile the stuff around the yard, I somewhat mimicked the estate sales I’ve been to and worked at in the past, where items of likeness, like kitchen stuff, linens, etc. are organized together, clothes are hung on racks or folded neatly, it’s clean, tidy and displayed for attraction.  There’s room to move around and get a good look.  I didn’t have much left to sell after that sale.  I didn’t have to advertise it either.

As much as I loved my plants, I’m so relieved that I don’t have to drag them all indoors for winter and crowd the spaces in my house.  This spring I intend to fix up some garden vegetable starters from seeds.  I got the space now.  I’ll have the few I want for myself and the rest I’m going to put up another free plant ad and yard sale on Next-door.  Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t.  We’ll see.

EEUWW! WHAT’S THAT SMELL!

fullsizeoutput_145.jpegThis is what the basement looks like.

I was out in my part of the garage one day and there was a very strong smell that I can’t even describe.  It was awful!  Later I saw my neighbor and told her about it and she said she knows, it was the dog.  Her daughter that used to live in the loft in the garage had a dog, a pitbull.  I don’t know what happened to the dog, I just hope it’s not what I suspect, but the dog and the smell have since been removed.  This made me think of Jeffery Dahmer.  Remember him?  He was the guy that lived in an apartment building in Milwaukee that picked up young gay men and took them back to his apartment and murdered them.  It was a grisley.  He cut them into pieces and kept them in plastic bags.  Anyway, his neighbors who also lived in that apartment building commented that there was always a bad smell that came from Jeff’s apartment but they basically ignored it.  Yikes!  Well, if something did happen to that dog, I would blame the daughter and boyfriend and not my neighbor.  Chances are she didn’t know the dog was in there and she didn’t have the key to the lock her daughter put on the door.  I don’t think for a minute she’d have let something bad happen to that dog or any animal.  Not that kind of person.  I think I’d have known by now.  Anyway I guess the moral of this story is bad smells probably should not be ignored.  Minding your own business is one thing but there are times when you do have to step in.  I would also keep this in mind when buying a house or moving into a new place.

Lately, not much has happened around here.  I haven’t seen the inspector for awhile.  The last time he was here he said something about his boss has been after him for taking too much time here and wanted to free him up of this for other things.  I haven’t heard dicky bird from the health department either.  So, all I can do now is just shut my door and stay in my own corner of the zoo and hope the developers come along and make a good offer on this house soon.  Yes, I’m in a neighborhood that is trying to gentrify somewhat, it’s only beginning.  When that happens, and I believe it will, I’ll take that money and run.

SUMMERTIME, SO SOON TO END

fullsizeoutput_1d.jpegTent city in the backyard. None of it mine!

This lush landscape is about to change.  Last year temperatures reached more than 50 degrees below 0, Fahrenheit!  It’s been a cool kind of summer but there were a few hot and muggy days and I did get the air conditioner out of the attic and used it a couple of times.

Saving the environment is one of the classic excuses hoarders use to justify the junk they collect.  They want to convince everyone that they’re doing their bit to save the landfills from filling up while turning their own home into a landfill.  A friend of mine had bought a house about 30 years ago that was previously owned by a hoarder.  After all this time his house still has that musty smell and closed in feeling.  I’ve had home improvement developers tell me that the only way to properly clean up a house after a hoarder is to gut the place all the way to the studs.  Tear out the walls and ceiling and even the floor that usually gets bowed under the weight of all that storage.  The property itself is usually neglected.  As you can see by the photo there is much work to be done here, the roof is 32 years old.  That’s well overdue and it’s getting replaced this year before the snow flies.  Needless to say I’ve been too lax around here and allowed my neighbor and house partner to talk me into putting things off so she can clean things up around here a bit first.  Ha!  Obviously I was in for a long wait.  Then her kids came along and made things worse.

 

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The daughter who’s in her 50’s has been living in the loft of the garage with her boyfriend for many years.  What had started out as giving them a place to stay until they find another apartment has become more of a permanent residency going on about 10 years now.  The grand daughter who’s in her mid to late 20’s was pregnant when she moved into a small room in the basement.  Her kid is now going on 3.  She too has a boyfriend and the father of her baby living like that with her.  This is dysfunctional  and not temporary.   When the first inspector came to look at the new boiler I had installed he had to go into that little room in the basement to check the gas meter.  I don’t think he saw it.  He stepped out of that room immediately with a look on his face like he just saw something from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  He didn’t say a word, he just quietly picked up his tools and left.   I received the first letters from the city inspector in February.  When that inspector  came and saw this and he was horrified.  He kicked them all out and got them into a hotel for the rest of winter.  The garage and the basement are not fit for habitation for humans or animals.  Fortunately my neighbor is not an animal hoarder and she does take her garbage out to the bins.  So at least I’m not crawling with bugs and rodents.  I’ve got 3 cats so whatever mice do show up they are on them.  There is a difference between a hoarder house and a garbage house, though the two are often combined.

As you can see by the photo that as soon as the weather broke the kids came back.  They thought they were clever putting up tents, there’s no law against having tents in the yard.  Well the city wasn’t fooled and had to kick them out again.  And again when they snuck back.  Sympathy is draining fast.  Can’t find affordable housing?  Ha!  A friend of mine recently moved back here and stayed with me after living on the West Coast for nearly 40 years and he found a job and an apartment in three weeks!  The apartment was small and the job didn’t pay a lot but he didn’t have much trouble getting it together.  My attic that is my space is a lot more habitable than the garage and the basement but he wasn’t interested in making that permanent.  So it can be done!  Yes, rents and property has sky rocketed in the past few years and people need to learn to pool their resources and work together more than ever now.    We see immigrant families doing this all the time and eventually they become very successful and independent.

So this is not good for business especially my business where I take people on tours to estate sales.  I’ve worked sales in the past and would see someone come in on the last day and make an offer on all the books.  They’re a big wheel on Amazon, so they claim.  I don’t recommend doing that.  I’m an avid reader with a Bachelor’s degree in English and I do have a lot of books and I too sell books on Amazon and I can tell you right now, not everything sells.  I’m just a small seller, I limit myself to one box of books listed on Amazon and the rest I take to 1/2 price books.  I used to put them on the retaining wall out front for anyone to pick over for a few days then I’d take the rest to Savers.  I now have a Little Free Library that I’m painting and getting ready to install out front.  I’m naming it “The Happy Shaman”.   I’ll definitely feel like a happy shaman if I can get this house cleaned up and in shape.

HOARDER HORRORS

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This is my back stairs but not my stuff

 

Going to sales can be a lot of fun and sometimes we might even find something on the curb that’s good but if your not going to use it anytime soon or do something with it like fix it up and sell it, Hey people have opened shops doing just that so don’t knock it, and if you don’t have room in your house for it, then forget it.

I live upstairs from a hoarder and now the city is paying us visits.  How did it get this way?  How did I wind up owning a duplex with a neighbor that’s a hoarder?  Well, it’s a story that I’m going to share here.

To begin with, I lived in a housing coop for many years and the majority of the homes were duplexes.  The coop decided they needed to refinance and restructure and so offered some of the homes for sale.  It was a great opportunity and so me and my downstairs neighbor decided that we would partner on this house with a Tenancy in Common agreement.  Separately we wouldn’t have qualified for a mortgage so this was beneficial to both of us.  We get along alright and I could see she had too much stuff but at that time nobody took hoarding seriously.  Today that’s a different story.  Hoarding has moved up to the national highlights of mental illness and other delights and now I’m living with it!

I have no regrets buying the house, it was a good move though a bad deal it was still a good move.  Rents these days have made a lot of people homeless and I don’t expect things will get better soon enough.  I also live in a great location near two downtown districts and easy access to anywhere in the city.  I’m very centrally located, close to the river and across the street from a lovely park.  It’s quiet and practically crime free.  I couldn’t live in a better area in the city.

Her hoarding has actually prevented me from accumulating too much stuff.  Most of us have a pretty good grip on our stuff.  We might have some clutter and a messy house from time to time but hoarding is a whole different lifestyle.  Since I began realizing that it’s a huge problem I’ve been doing a lot of reading about how to deal with it.  I’ll have to tell you from the start.  You cannot talk to a hoarder and get results.  You can’t put your hands on anything that is theirs or help them clean out their house.  They won’t let you.  You’ll go to war and you’ll lose.

So, what does one do!  There are different types of hoarders but they are still hoarders.  You have the emotional attachment hoarder who just can’t part with something because it reminds them of a lost loved one or their childhood or some such.  There is the Big Idea guy who collects stuff and has big plans to do something with it that only come to naught and then there’s the clutterer who just can’t get organized or make decisions.  Fear of throwing something away they might need, or the emotion of guilt and protecting oneself by hoarding.  These people would like to keep their hoarding and their private lives a secret but the hoarding speaks louder than words.  It’s not a fun place to be as the world watches while you get your house cleaned out and city trucks and dumpsters are parked out front.  It’s a push over the edge when that happens and many times the hoarder winds up in a hospital or committing the drastic act of suicide.  This is bad, very bad and it’s only beginning to play out at my house now.  I do worry what’s going to happen to me if the city condemns the house?  I can’t tell you at this time but I can keep you up to date on events and the final results.

What I have done so far is call a lawyer and have the Tenancy in Common Agreement formally written up and filed with the county.  Something that should’ve been done when we first partnered on the house.  I paid for it myself because I didn’t think my neighbor was going to sign it if there was a fee involved.  It wasn’t much and will save me a lot more down the road.  I hope.  I talked to the city inspector and gave him a copy of the Tenancy in Common Agreement and the letters stopped coming to me with my name on them.  I do get copies now when my neighbor gets them because as a co-owner of this house I need to know what’s going on.  My neighbor doesn’t seem to agree with that, but it’s a fact.  So I would advise this to anyone who lives in a townhouse, condo, or anything that shares with a neighbor.  Get whatever you need formally written up and filed.  You also want to stay on top of what’s going on, so be sure to talk to the inspector.

Needless to say, I haven’t been going to sales for awhile.  This experience has been a wakeup call for me too.  I decided no more sales until I sell off the stuff I have accumulated just to sell and I’ve done a lot of that.  My last eBay sales I sold everything except one item.  I made some money on one and broke even on the others, maybe a I made a little but anyway I broke even.  Look at it this way, you win some, you lose some.  That’s just how it goes.  Timing helps too.  Something that doesn’t sell today might sell just before Christmas or a buyer’s birthday.

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