Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Friday, July 25, 2014

One last yard sale and $42 in an old purse

Yard sale, two four-letter words spelled 'never-again.'

A couple of months ago our family ventured into the upper wastelands of our abode to organize, dispose of and prepare for sale, the detritus of our attic. It became an exercise in the futility of setting a price on that which is deemed worthless to one, and a prize at a quarter, to someone else. It also became an act of historic proportions to get my kids to go through the substance of their youth. I didn't threaten to fill a dumpster with what was left from their childhoods, I just said I'd keep all the money. They showed up.

Thirty years ago, after my last yard sale, I swore I'd never again put forth so much effort for so little monetary return. But the kids wanted to make a few bucks and I wanted out from under all our stuff.
After the cleaning and sneezing, ticketing and sorting, after calling the neighbors to warn of (I hoped) lots of traffic, after borrowing tables, making signs, hanging signs, posting on Craig's list and telling every single friend and family member not to come (I was selling some of their old gifts) we were ready for our own personal black Friday on Saturday.

We hauled our stuff to the end of our 1,000-foot driveway in the woods at 6 a.m., set up by 7 a.m., and hoped for the best. My oldest daughter was unable to be there because of a previous commitment, so we had to track her sales along with ours.

The first to show up - a swarm of mosquitoes. I made a mad dash back to the house for repellent. And then the dealers came. I used to sell antiques and imagined some of my items showing up on Antiques Roadshow, but I figured if a stranger made a financial windfall because I was uninformed, good for them.

The first customer was a classic I had been warned about by friends. For her $5 item she handed over a $100 dollar bill. Shop early with big bills and yard-salers usually let the items go for free, so as not to deplete their shoebox full of change. I was prepared. The only items I planned on giving away free would be the leftovers donated the following Monday.

During the course of the day folks came and went (even connected with some old antique-buddies) and negotiations for lower prices continued. One middle-aged father showed up with his young daughter, she was about 10. The little girl shopped and the father sat down and played one of the two guitars we had for sale. It was nice. He was friendly. They left with a tiny purple stapler and a small, well-used purse which had belonged to the daughter who was unable to help that day.

Within minutes the father and daughter returned, the little girl had found $42 in my daughter's purse. We were astounded, not only by the find, but because they actually returned with the money. I gave the little girl a $10 reward and after they left I felt guilty that I didn't let her keep the entire amount. I quickly checked the rest of the purses and found a nice pair of earrings. The balance of the found-money went toward our dinner of pizzas and salad that night.

Regarding the effort put forth, my kids did okay. As for me, I used my windfall to buy a new laptop, on which I am typing these very words. But I still wish I had given the little girl all the money she had found. Enough said.
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Monday, July 7, 2014

They ran, we sat in the shade (original title)

They ran a race, we sat in the shade

My husband and I traveled the Rt 8 northwest-passage, to the seven mile long Litchfield Hills Road Race. We weren’t running, but we were going to to sit in the shade, eat cheese burgers, fries, and watch 2000 runners dash around town in 85 degree heat. Our youngest and her husband were participants.

Litchfield is a, “you-can’t-get-there-from-here,” town, an enclave of the rich, famous and influential, with a welcoming atmosphere somewhere between Meryl Streep and Agway.

The town center is quaint. We joined the throngs on the beautiful green and pitched ourselves right at the start line. The cannon went off, the race started, we suffered in the shade while enjoying the beautiful afternoon. While the race progressed, the most physically taxing thing this inferior did was stand in the sun for fifteen minutes while anticipating when my daughter and son-in-law would cross the finish line. I cheered and snapped pictures as they finished the race. It was hot, I was sunburned and exhausted. Watching other people deplete their energy by maxing out their physical prowess makes me feel like a failure; I napped in the car on the way home.

That afternoon reminded me of when I lived in an apartment on the Post Road near the starting line of the East Lyme marathon in the early 80’s. All our friends and family gathered at our tiny apartment prior to the start of the race. They had to arrive early in the morning because the roads were closed. We’d stand on the lawn and cheer the start. Then we’d have a huge brunch and bulk up on bacon, sausage, home-fries and eggs. Add to that, half the sweets from Flanders Bakery and you can imagine how difficult it was to waddle over to the finish line at East Lyme High School as the runners came in.

We made a celebration of the event for several years until we moved.

The first time I made it over to the high school to watch the runners finish I was inspired, not to run of course, that idea is laughable, but to commit to something which stretches my physical boundaries. (More than thirty years later I’m still looking for that commitment.)

The top runners with the best times were elite athletes to be respected because of what they put their bodies and minds through on a daily basis, as dedication to sport. But it was the other runners, the ones with actual running times which did not matter as much as just finishing the race did, which I was in awe of. The pudgier runners, older runners, weekend runners who looked like they rode a desk all week long, those were the ones I cheered, clapped and cried for.  How do runners do it, how do they find the strength and tenacity to run so far and not give up? I would have dropped out or dropped dead. I can drive 26 miles, (not on a bike but in a car), as long I take a snack and stop to stretch my legs at the mall.

The Litchfield Hills Road race isn’t as long as East Lyme used to be. It isn’t as huge as the New York Marathon or as famous as Boston’s, but considering the number of runners from around the world, and the up and down aspects of the course, plus the heat, it might as well have been. My daughter and son-law-finished the race; their times were respectable. Will they run again next year? They say yes. Will I watch, eat burgers and take pictures, absolutely. But next year I’ll wear a hat. Standing in the sun for a quarter of an hour is tough, but I did it. Enough said.
            Carolynn’s latest exercise plan is to watch TV sitting up instead of lying down.