Friday, August 24, 2007

1450 Changing Direction

Friday, August 24, 2007

This journal is going to change direction, from personal to ... something else. Maybe philosophical. I don't know.

When I started blogging, back in June of 2004, I was just coming out of the isolation I had gone into when Jay died. I had so much I had to say, but no one I could say it to. After the three isolating years of our battle with his brain cancer, and three years of my grief, there was no one I was close to. No one whose life intersected mine. (There was Daughter, but I couldn't dump all this on her - she was TOO close.)

The journal (which started on AOL, at helped me to deal with feelings I needed to look at and purge. Because it was all about my thoughts and feelings, I was very open (I am normally anyway), and that openness has continued.

But now my life is different. There are other people involved now. My feelings are now bound up in the actions of and intersections with others, and maybe it's not fair to involve them so much in my journal.

I don't know how to avoid that yet, but I'll have to learn.

Now, the past three days, without mentioning anyone else (difficult!): Wednesday I went to NJ. I had a very good time Wednesday night. Thursday afternoon I visited with Daughter. Got home in the evening and found several calls on my home machine. Returned calls. Today, Friday, I went to the county fair. Met a friend at noon, and we spent the next ten hours visiting every animal barn, every display tent, every retail kiosk, and every food stand. Must have walked many miles! I was wearing walking shoes, and my feet feel like they are about to fall off.

In the antique farm machinery area they have, among other machines, a huge burping saw that makes cedar shingles. Watching it, I mentioned to the friend that I had always wanted to take some of the cedar shreds, "useless" byproduct of the shingle process, to put in net bags in my drawers and closet. Well, purely by chance, at the end of the building they had huge 40-gallon bags of cedar shavings - one fine and one coarse - for $2 a bag! I bought the bag of fine.

Next year I'll have to send out a mental request for smaller bags. 40 gallons of cedar shreds is still wood, and a LOT of wood. The bag was heavy. Maybe 40 pounds. I was lucky to have a friend along to get it to the car.

This is the first year since 1999 that I have had company at the fair. I had always gone alone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

1449 Dear Diary - Tuesday

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

To CVS for vitamins etc. They had a 2 for 1 sale on magnesium, but only one on the shelf, so I got a rain check coupon. Now I have to remember I have it....

Bank for cash.

IGA for cat food and yogurt. I forgot to buy iced tea mix.

To deli for iced tea.

Made reservations for Wednesday night.

Paid some bills.

P.O. to mail checks.

Cleaned cats' litter boxes.

Threw rocks in the side yard. It's funny how when you have rough land graded, it "grows" rocks. They actually push themselves up to the surface. I've been exercising my arms, and I was surprised at how far into the woods I can throw a rock now.

Took a dress in on the sides and marked it for hemmng.

Watered plants.

Took out the garbage.

Brought in a bunch of things from the car.


Monday, August 20, 2007

1448 Kitty Update

Monday, August 21, 2007

Since I sprayed the laundry room doorway with "comforting" pheromones this morning and Jasper was willing to come out, I've left the door open, and he's had the run of the house.

Miss Thunderfoot got several inoculations this morning, and she always runs a fever and gets sluggish for two days after, so it seemed like a good time to let Jasper loose.

They crossed paths only once today. Jasper was coming through the kitchen from the dining room, and Thunder was at her water dish. Jasper had to pass about three feet from her. She hissed, and he bushed out his tail, put his head down, and ran past her to get to the laundry room. She did not chase him. I praised both of them.

Jasper has the cutest little voice, and he talks a lot. Sitting here in the den I can track his progress through the house by the tiny high-pitched "Ee. Ee. Eep"s. He sounds like a shy sea gull.

1447 Dear Diary - Monday

Monday, August 20, 2007

Miss Thunderfoot's annual vet appointment was today. She weighs 10 lb 11 oz, within 3 ounces of her weight the past three years, so I guess I'm feeding her right. It's a little over 10 years since we adopted her, and she was under a year then, so I'd say she's about 11 years old.

I asked the vet how I could ease her acceptance of Jasper, and he recommended a pheromone spray that calms cats. I sprayed it on the laundry room doorway, and it had an instant effect on Jasper. Ever since Thunder spat and swiped at him Saturday, he wouldn't go anywhere near the doorway. Right after I sprayed the doorway, he came right through and gingerly explored the kitchen. Thunder was in hiding, sulking, at the time.

The vet said that Thunder will need to express her desire to be dominant, and since Jasper doesn't seem to be aggressive and therefore should be willing to accept her dominance, it should work out eventually.

I hope.

The Hairless Hunk mowed my lawn while I was at the vet's, and he's out there now with a trimmer. Wearing a shirt. Boo.

Roman called today to lock in our day to go to the fair. It starts tomorrow and ends Sunday. We decided on Friday. He originally mentioned Wednesday, but I'll be seeing The Man Wednesday evening. I didn't tell Roman that. I just said that Wednesday and Thursday weren't good for me. Not that I'm hiding anything. Lines drawn and all that. None of his business, really.

I'm kind of blah today, don't know why. Stuff to do and I'm not doing it. Rebelling.

1446 Auction Tutorial

I've learned a few things about live auctions.

Never, ever, bid on anything you have not actually held in your hands and examined. This is rule #1 and the most important. Auctions always have a preview. Go to it. If there's a preview a day or more before the auction, go early, and then do your research. Who is that artist? How much does that chair usually sell for? Then ALSO go late to the preview immediately before the auction and reexamine the things you plan to bid on. Between the first time you looked at that music box and the time it goes up for bid, many other people have touched it, and someone may have broken it. Parts may now be missing.

Once you have decided on your items, make a note of what you consider a reasonable price, and promise yourself you won't go more than one or two bid levels over that. I mark items with one, two, or three stars. One star = absolute limit. Two stars = I'll go over one or two bids. Three stars = I WANT IT AND I WILL HAVE IT AND NO ONE WILL STAND IN MY WAY, DAMMIT! (I'm allowed one of those every few years.)

During the actual auction, do not be temped to bid on something that seems wonderful, and the bids seem low, if it's not something you had already decided to bid on. Because you had not decided to bid on it before, you didn't examine it carefully, and the temptingly low bids are probably because of a major flaw.

Never jump at the auctioneer's first call. He'll ask first for, say, $100. This is an indication of what he considers an acceptable bid, but if there are no bidders, he'll drop. He'll ask for $85, then $70, and he'll keep dropping until someone bites. The lower you let him drop, the lower you might get it for. In most cases, once he has the first bite, it will rapidly go up to what he really wants, and in the process he discovers who in the audience are the interested parties. Which leads to the next pointer.

Once the bidding starts, don't wait to get in. The temptation is to wait until the bidding slows, the theory being that the fewer bidders, the less rise (which is not true, it won't go any higher than it would with or without you), and maybe you want to see how high it will go before you decide to get in. However, understand that the auctioneer is looking out over a large herd of people, and watching for sometimes subtle signs. During the first round or so he spots the interested bidders, and "works" them against each other. If it gets hot and heavy, and you decide to jump in late, you can stand on your chair and wave a red flag, and he might not see you. He might call it sold before he glances to the left and sees you. Display your interest early, and understand that once you shake your head no when he looks at you for the next rise, you are out of it and probably won't be able to get back in.

During bidding, maintain eye contact with the auctioneer. He will indicate when he expects to hear from you with eye contact. If he glances your way and you're looking down or away, he will interpret that as "No", and you may find yourself out of the bidding.

Be very careful of multiple identical item lots. Know exactly what your bid means. The catalog might show and state "a pair of garden stools", and the helpers bring out a matched pair. Don't assume your bid will be for the pair. Listen carefully for the words "times the money" or "per item", or the like. It may be said only once, and if said, it means that your bid will be multiplied by the number of items. So if you win the bid at $50, you must pay $100, and you must buy both stools. Claiming that you didn't understand that your bid was going to be doubled, that you thought you were bidding $50 for the pair, will get you nowhere.

You can make some types of side deals with other bidders. I'm not talking about collusion to keep the bids low. That will get you thrown out and barred forever, if not sued. However, if you bid on and win two garden stools for $50 times 2 in fair bidding, and you really want only one, if you happened to notice who it was who made the next-to-last bid at $45, it's acceptable to offer them the other stool for that lower bid, $45 or lower. (If you want to make a profit, do it off the auction hall property.)

Don't jump too soon on bidder's choice items. Sometimes there will be a tray of items, like, say, a tray of 20 similar silver candlesticks. The winner of the first round of bidding gets one or more of his choice at that price each, let's say $50 each. If there are still items on the tray, they will be offered to anyone else who wants choice for the same $50 price.

Now, this is my opinion, and it comes from a LOT of experience. If there was one particular candlestick you want, and you're willing to pay $50 for it, then win that first bid, or take the first offer. Otherwise, don't move too fast, because now the remaining candlesticks will be reauctioned! And the second round is unlikely to go to $50. It might go to $40. The third round will be even lower. The last five candlesticks might go for $5. The only danger here is that if you hold out too long, on the second or third round the winner might elect to take them all.

A live auction is "as is" and "buyer beware". It's not like eBay, where if the seller's description leaves out something important, like "Hey, man, it doesn't work!", you can get your money back. The live auction house makes no representations and gives no guarantees, and descriptions in the catalogs are assumed to be puffery. So if you bid on and win that "brand new in the box" weed whacker, and when you get it home it isn't new and it doesn't work, well, tough. You have no recourse (especially if you had the opportunity to examine it). All you have a right to expect is "something" in the box. You must understand the implications of "as is" when you decide how high you're willing to bid.

Remember that the auctioneer is faster than you are. Be careful of that first very low bid for junk. They bring out a sad little something, maybe an ugly afghan. The auctioneer drops his asking bid way down. $5. Nobody wants it. He begs. He says, hey, for $5 you could put it in the doghouse - and six hands shoot up. Bam! You've been suckered! Auctioneers are quick. Bam bam bam his hand shoots around the room as he says "$5 $10 $15 $20 $25" and as he's pointing at you, "$30", and surprise, you just bought an ugly afghan you don't want for $30! The auctioneer can nail you faster than you can react to get your hand down.

Hint - if you have a right-handed auctioneer, the front on his left is a bad place to sit if you're susceptible to begging. He'll usually start from his "prime" side and swing around, making left front the last and highest "pity" bid. Guess where I always sit....

Sunday, August 19, 2007

1445 Auction / Bylaws Meeting

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Roman, FW, and I were supposed to go to the auction together last night, but FW cancelled out, so it was just Roman and me. This was his first estate auction, and I was afraid it wouldn't be "his thing" and he'd be bored. Actually, I think he was, but he's trying awfully hard these days to humor me. In return, when I looked ahead and saw that there was nothing I had marked on the last four pages of the catalog (of 16 pages total), I suggested that we could just leave early. I think he was grateful.

When I say he's humoring me, over the past two years I have twice invited him to the county fair, and both times he made a face and told me he doesn't care for fairs, and he clearly had no interest. Last night I mentioned the fair, and we are now planning to go together. Hmmmm. I may have to be careful about that. It begins to look like he's doing things with me not for the things, but for the with me part. I probably shouldn't allow that.

I did well at the auction. I bought a gorgeous blue and white Chinese vase, and a Swarovski crystal chandelier for the dining room. My dining room set is 1880s Berkey & Gay, and the chandelier that had been in there is modern smoked glass. This one will go so much better. It's not the "wedding cake" style - it's all curves of brass with scattered strings of crystals. It gives the impression of a graceful woman with long crystal earrings.


The first bylaws revision committee meeting was this evening, and it went really well! I was surprised at how well. We all seemed to be on the same wavelength. We got through about 1/3 of the material, and so far it's looking good.

The member about whom I had been worried and I had had a small spat about a week ago, and we were being very respectful of each other's thoughts and comments. And I think my ranting in this journal two entries back really did release steam, so I wasn't tempted to push buttons (although I DID mention a few things that had gone wrong with the previous revision, and I really didn't have to do that, and I am a tiny bit ashamed that I did. I promise to control myself better in the next session.)

1444 Sweet Home Ala Bama

Ok, this is, to quote Jack, too rich to pass up. I give you the Leningrad Cowboys and the Russian Red Army Choir, performing "Sweet Home Alabama". Enjoy. They obviously did.


Update: After this video there is usually a set of "related videos" offered. If "Leningrad Cowboys, Leningrad" is offered, WATCH IT! It's beautiful and sad. If it's not offered, go to YouTube and search for it.