Sunday, September 9, 2012

From Classless to Classic.

I love attending Garage Sales. Not just because of the good "deals" you might find, but because of the diverse personalities you'll meet. In most cases, people are very personable and elated to get rid of their junk and make a little money doing it. And there is always interesting and good conversations, especially when I'm with Joe.

On the flip side, I loathe the coordination and execution of one.

Each year I coordinate and put on a fundraising sale, with the help of volunteers, to raise money for a charity I strongly believe in. We spend weeks collecting donations and hours sorting through the donated items separating the salable items from the not-so-salable ones. We size and price everything, pack it away until the big day arrives. And then we spend two long days setting up for the three day sale.

Besides the long hours of bending, standing, lifting, toting, aching feet and sore backs, we have the stress of the weather.Will we have nice weather? Will our tents weather any storms that are predicted? Anyone who has ever hosted a sale has experienced the hard work, stress and sleepless hours getting prepared to make a few dollars.

At this year's annual Save Our Tail Sale, a benefit for the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue, I personally experienced two situations that were so polar opposite it had my emotions all in a whirl.

The first one was by a young woman (mid to late 20's) with a very young child (2 or 3 female). She wanted a beanie baby that was part of a collection series donated to us with the request by the donor that we sale them as collector items, not toys. She did not want to pay the collector price tag, and wanted us to split up the set to purchase just one of the items. My efforts to offer her alternative choices, including other beanie babies less valuable were refused. When I tried to explain to her the promise I had made to this donor, she replied, "I understand, but it really is OK. Do you really think they will ever know?". I responded to her with "I'LL know. I'll know that I didn't honor her wish, and that's NOT OK with me!". I then apologized and said she could purchase the collection to get the one item she wanted, or select one of the other not so valuable ones for her daughter to play with.

But she wanted what she wanted, and stormed away, angrily, muttering derogatory comments about me while she returned to her vehicle. Some people may not understand why I made that choice, but I gave my word to the woman who had donated over 100 of these collectible items (obviously important to her), that we would treat them with the same amount of love and respect she had for them. Even though I'm not a personal collector of beanie babies, my conscience wouldn't allow me to make a "deal" with this woman just to provide her a toy for her two year old to "play" with. But knowing I kept my promise, did not make me feel any better about the nastiness I just endured by what appeared to be a very selfish and spoiled young woman. It would bother me for the rest of the day.

On the flipside, later that afternoon, a fragile woman, feeble in step, and with a cane that barely helped her balance, approached our sale. She was obviously moving slowly due to pain and when she entered the sale tents her eyes immediately fixated on the craft table. While she sorted through ribbon and crafting miscellaneous, her eyes lit up on the obvious prize of the day: the pre-stamped quilt blocks ready for the handy work of any person who loves to do needlework.

They were donated by a very dear friend of my mother's. Having polio as a child, this woman struggled and endured pain with every step she took. Working long hours as the manager of a laundromat proved to be physically challenging for her, but she found a way to find humor in her daily journey through life. She then was diagnosed with a brain tumor whereas she would be forced to retire, without benefits, and live the remainder of her life on disability in a chair. She would persevere for 5 more years through pain and suffering, whittling away the long hours in her chair doing needlework. She then donated her completed projects to what she would refer to as "the less fortunate." Last year she lost her fight and spirit and passed, but she left a legacy of kindness and perseverance that I will not forget. She also left some unfinished projects behind, which were then donated for the fundraising sale.

The buyer asked how much for the whole box of quilt block patterns as she loved to do this type of needlework herself. As a volunteer began adding up the contents of the box, this sweet lady shared with us all the things she loves to do and what she does with her finished projects. Listening to all the people she has paid it forward to, I knew right then that she would carry on the legacy of the original donor's generosity. But I wasn't prepared for her reaction to my offer.

I told the woman I would give her the entire box, including the ribbon that caught her eye in the first place, (valued at over $75) for $35. I explained my reasoning as being the mere fact that what she had just shared with me regarding her daily challenges is exactly the type of person the donor was. Having 2 hip surgeries, 2 knee replacements and surviving breast cancer that resulted in a total mastectomy, she still had the heart to "give" to others.

She burst into tears, gave both me and the volunteer a huge hug, and clapped her hands as if she were a child, free of pain. And then she grabbed my arm and said, "I promise you I'll do right by your friend. I'll carry on her legacy with these. I'll give them to those less fortunate then myself...I'll do you proud."

Humbly, I hugged her back and as the tears fell down my cheek, I completely forgot about the "what's her name" that came before her. And I felt much better about my decision and my judge of character! Within a few hours, I had met all types of people, from the classless, to the classiest! It was a classic case of what some call the "me" generation...and I'm glad I wasn't born in it, raised in it, and will continue to not be a part of it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Sad Tail...

Nothing can send me into a frenzy quicker than an animal in distress. Remaining 'calm' through a crisis is much easier said then done, and last evening I once again had the challenge laid before me with my little Skipper Doodle!

After a long day of meetings and stress, I found myself on the telephone finishing up the day's business with a friend. Business conversation turned into our casual chat, which was after 10:30 of course, because that's when we have the TIME to catch up. Luckily for both of us, we keep the same nightly schedule.

I sat on the couch in the living room, chatting away, with animals all around me. Nothing is more soothing then sleeping companions next to you, that's for sure. Little Skipper quickly joined the ranks of sleepy time pets and settled in on my lap. That's when the call of nature hit.

Excusing myself I fulfilled nature's request. As I turned and shut off the bathroom light, I had my back to the hinged side of the door and began to pull it shut when I heard an ear piercing MEOWCH! As I quickly turned around I saw fur flying and cats running everywhere. Immediately I thought a cat had leaped on another cat. We have screamers in the house...for those cat lovers, you know that a screamer is a cat that never really gets touched but vocalizes as if he's being murdered!

As I rounded the corner to see "who" was yelling I saw a cowered little kitty, with tail whipping side to side and big black eyes staring right at me. I knew immediately that Skipper was hurt...something got him...something happened!

I quickly started towards him, but he zipped by me into the living room. My approaching energy set him into an escape motion, rather than a comforting one. I knew immediately I needed to take a big breath, calm down  or I wasn't going to get a hold of this cat to see what was wrong. In the meantime, we have the other cats picking up on this increasing energy level, and I didn't want an 'attack' to happen. Skipper was clearly in pain, and in defense mode.

I came into the room and once again was faced with a little cat, big pupils, arched back and tail a whipping side to side. I took a deep breath, and calmly said his name. "Skipper Doodle...what HAPPENED?" Everything from that moment on changed. He ran towards me, and reached up on my pant leg like he always does to be picked up. I swept him up in my arms and rushed him up the stairs to the bathroom, where I knew he'd be isolated and we could get him calmed down to assess him.

That's where I noticed the big bloody spot on his tail. And I knew he was in pain and confused.

We rushed him to the emergency clinic, where it was quickly decided he would need about 3" of his tail amputated. With bone protruding, they gave us the sad news, and we watched our little Skipper Doodle be carried back to the surgery area. I was torn between waiting there and coming home. I couldn't be with him, I couldn't hold him, comfort him...I could only sit in a waiting room and wait...and wait...and wait.

At 4:00 am we received a call from the hospital that he had gone through the surgery well and was waking up. They would call us around 7:00 am and let us know when he would be released. I frantically got a room ready for him while Joe went to pick him up.

By 9:30 Skipper was back home conehead and all. When we let him out of the carrier he went ballistic, thrashing about with the cone on his head, trying to back out of it all the while backing into walls with of course his wounded tail. When I asked why it wasn't bandaged, Joe quickly responded, "It was..for about 3 minutes!".

We removed the cone and decided someone will just have to be with him 24 hours until the healing process is over. He's a very active boy, and not someone who understands calmness. This makes the rehabilitation even more challenging, but we are getting through it.

I think the most important lesson here is about the power of the energy that we possess, and how we choose to use it, can determine the outcome of an event. I realize that if I remain calm, and don't get excited he will remain calm as well. He's extremely playful, despite the pain he is obviously in, but we will keep in on his pain meds, and remain calm. And hope that there is truth in the saying, "cats heal quickly".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Entering the World of Twitter...

Nothing can challenge you intellectually then to try and keep up with technology. I'm finding it more difficult these days to figure out how to communicate with the world. Perhaps that is why I never want to go anywhere!

I finally become functional in facebook, and they go and change it. The new "timeline" version is suppose to be more effecient for users. Really? Well I'm a user and am not seeing what everybody else sees I guess.

I see a webpage full of columns and text with scroll bars surrounding photos. I don't see any of my friends stuff, and when I do go searching for it, I find it's easier to just visit their wall. I'm a simple sort of person I guess. I didn't MIND scrolling over and over and over to see today's newsfeed! I guess the best thing to do is to admit, I need a facebook course. Online tutorials would be nice, wouldn't they?

So I figure what the hey, jump in and try. People will let you know when you mess up. So now I'm a tweeter. Well, not really, because I haven't tweeted anything yet. I REtweeted something. But that's different than tweeting...I think. Not sure. I know that I spent one hour just signing up for it instead of working like I should have been. I'll reprimand myself later for it.

So I'm an official tweeter. Yep, got an ID and everything. My tweeter is @LRBlakely. My user name is Linda B. Seemed short enough. It's really hard to come up with these things when you have a name like "Linda". My mother gave me her word that the name wasn't popular back in 1958. But I'm finding out that simply isn't true. Afterall, there IS a Linda convention (or used to be). And there's a "short" convention, too. I qualified for that as well. And back on track...

So, if you are a twitterer? well you'll have to follow me because I have no idea how to begin to follow you. I think I"m going to observe for awhile. The online help for hashtags and tweeting really wasn't that helpful. I have lot's of tweeting friends, perhaps they will decide to jump in and save the day so I can join the ranks of the twitterers around the world. Until then, I'll try and keep in touch via "blogging", another enigma to me.

Whatever happened to the good old telephone, or lunch with a friend?