A Home for the Marys?

The sound of breaking glass might have been heard beyond our garage walls. An hour of cleaning had yielded a large bag of stuff for Goodwill and a number of items that had no second use. The noise was the crash of an engraved mixed drink carafe with a matching stirring stick and two small engraved glasses. These were wedding presents that were very personalized and never used. The thought that there might be bad jokes in a stranger’s home because our name lends itself to humorous pronunciations didn’t feel okay.

Like many Boomers, our cabinets are crowded with generations of glassware, quilts, boxes of photos and family Bibles. As our parents passed, their treasures became ours to maintain.  Anyone want a few sets of 50thanniversary champagne glasses with my parents’ names? Again, their last name has a few quirky pronunciations that are better kept out of strangers’ parties.

A crystal statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary we received one Christmas has a sister that my mother owned. They both stand, hands folded, behind wine bottles on a top shelf in the pantry. Taking more shelf space was a beautiful glass Christmas ornament on its own pedestal that was once the most valuable useless item we owned. Add two clear glass platters decorated with horses and sleds to carry dozens of holiday cookies. Plus one that has a lobster engraving, a total mystery. And the green platter with Thanksgiving in a lovely scroll that I never saw used at my parents but came to rest in my home.

That ornament will hang on our tree this year and later fend for itself in a box of its peers. The pedestal is gone. Someone will be thrilled with the glass platters. Maybe even use the Thanksgiving one. Three orphan wine glasses wait to be used on Thanksgiving before starting the next purge. They are lovely, but we already have dozens of lovely glasses. Let a bride-to-be furnish her wedding table with these things instead of throw away items and benefit Goodwill in the process.

But those statues are another story like a box of rosaries upstairs. Is there a Goodwill equivalent for Catholic stuff? The Marys don’t really deserve to be mistreated or become white elephant gifts.IMG_5858

 

 

 

 

 

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Technology Work Around

Relatively low-cost technology including a reliable computer, makes freelance work possible for over 53 million Americans. It’s not enough to be able to use the old office suites, now there are multiple suites plus programs and apps. For many talented freelancers serving as their own IT department eats project, or personal, time when least appreciated.

My desktop computer began slowing down months before I was willing to accept it should be replaced or brought to a tech service group. The unit cost about $400 when I bought it on sale five years ago. The manufacturer still sells the exact same unit at a higher price. With confidence built on owning a new primary laptop, I decided to strip the desktop model to the manufacturer’s settings then reload what I needed. There seemed to be no downside unless you count relying on a couple of websites for total tech support.

About two hours later the desktop computer was back in working order and humming along as quickly as its old processer would allow. It isn’t fast, but better than good enough for writing and word processing. My tech confidence soared.

The devil is in the details that I haven’t been able to restore. While I know using the cloud to transfer data from the laptop to the desk unit may be the culprit, I haven’t been able to correct the annoyances. For example, I now have double entries in my contacts. A mess of old files found their way into my Dropbox. One email account doesn’t want to make itself visible. So I work around or ignore these issues and work on correcting them when there is time and energy.

Staying on top of technology is a challenge for many self-employed or retired people. I have a pair of role models that define expectations. My father managed technology fairly well into his eighties when motivated to learn about streaming services to follow his favorite baseball teams. We knew his cognitive skills were slipping when there were more calls for routine tech actions. My mother-in-law was ninety-one when she began struggling with printing photos from her iPhone and keeping up with hundreds of friends online.

Our smartphones and computers are a necessity of a full life. What will be more frightening to the Baby Boomers: giving up their car keys or losing the ability to schedule a Lyft?

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Trying on a New Lifestyle for Size

My husband and I have been peeping in strangers’ closets. Opening drawers. Pulling aside shower curtains. Wandering in backyards. That’s what house hunters do.

Now that our nest is nearly empty, imagining a new urban life is fun. Can we embrace alleys? Funky one-car, unattached garages? Being able to see into our neighbors’ windows just across the way? Hear their TVs? I don’t know, but we’re trying to find out.

We’ll definitely enjoy being closer to the lakes and rivers that the Twin Cities are known for. Walking to neighborhood restaurants and coffee shops sounds good, too.

But it’s odd to step into these intimate spaces and glimpse the telling details of a stranger’s life:

One house has a small bedroom has a single bed with a flower power bedspread. A teal formal dress hangs from the closet door. Inside are classic black Converse sneakers. What does this teenage girl dream of when she lies in that bed—the homecoming dance? Wandering around a college campus in those sneakers?

In another house, there are two much loved cats. They have cat beds, food bowls, and water dishes upstairs and downstairs, so the kitties won’t have to go far for a drink and a snack. In the living room, two middle-aged women with their arms around each other smile out from what appears to be an engagement photo.

The next place we visit is across the river. The front door handle comes off in our hands and the backyard is full of weeds. The carpet is old and shabby and the bathroom has mismatched tiles. A motorized scooter sits in a corner of the kitchen. This place is sadder than the first two and looks like the owner was too ill or too tired to keep up with maintenance and yard work.

Another place we see has great landscaping and a newly remodeled kitchen and bath. It looks as if the family has out-grown the house. Upstairs is a pink little girl’s room with a large girl-sized decal of a purple My Little Pony on the wall.  She has her whole life ahead of her, but it will be in a new house.

We too have a whole new life ahead of us—maybe in a year or two it will be in one of these neighborhoods.  For now, we’re just trying on this lifestyle for size.

Big porch

Stucco w red door