Thursday, July 25, 2019

Life is like a roll of toilet paper . . .

     Andy Rooney was my favorite humorist. Click here for explanation of a humorist versus a comedian. I remember chuckling years ago when he said "Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes." But now that I'm almost as old as Andy when he made that analogy, it's not as funny. No disease (yet), just reminders from aging joints and tendons that I'm mortal.

     Traveling in La Lair for the past four years throughout the United States and Canada made me realize how small my life has been in rural Texas. It's a state that boasts about 54 things that are bigger in Texas. But I wasn't living large in Texas.
     Twenty-eight years ago, at age 40, I moved to quiet, peaceful rural "Piney Woods of East Texas" from the capital city of Pennsylvania, happily giving up my administrative public education career and urban lifestyle due to burn-out. East Texas was a good salve career-wise and recreation-wise. My fondest memories are finishing the day at my good-paying non-stressful federal government job (7 AM to 3:30 PM office job, no congested commuter traffic, mostly rural roads). In the heat of the day after work, I'd drive a few miles north on a dirt road to swim open-water in a clear quarry, no alligators!

     And after a refreshing swim I'd stop by a neighbor's ranch to ride my chestnut Thoroughbred horse JC who was as shiny as a brand new copper penny. We'd trot and get sweaty for a couple of hours in a private forest with over 20 miles of groomed trails to choose from (hunters took real good care of this forest all year-long). No highway hum, no police or EMS sirens blasting through the neighborhood (when will Americans demand siren changes?).  All I'd hear was leaves rustling in the wind and boisterous crows and songbirds . . occasionally a herd of deer leaping through brush in the distance. I'd crow-speak, deer-speak (bleat) and sing songs to JC because my voice assured her all was well in our neck of the woods. And it truly was . . .

     When JC died, I leased and rode Topaz an Arabian for a couple years from my good friend Sally. But Topy is 28 years old with arthritic joints too, and she's enjoying a well-earned retirement with plenty of treats and kisses. Sally's taking good care of her.

      I've been a lucky woman with a handful of great Texan friends. Plus thousands of acres of private and federally-owned forests, beautiful sunsets and wonderful dinners and companionship too at my neighbor Chef Jim's lake-side home, admiring migratory White Pelicans on Lake Livingston.  

But when I retired and traveled half the year in La Lair, my cottage was neglected more and more.

     Winters were spent scraping and painting. And stuff inside my cottage was collecting dust . . . a forlorn-looking vintage cookie jar from my mom hadn't held a cookie in half a century . . .

. . . sad-looking rolling pins from both grandmothers hadn't rolled in 50 years.

     In a short amount of time, vintage stuff that brought joy now brought angst and a bit of guilt. How many sheets of toilet paper would it take to keep my ancestors' stuff dust-free and displayed for whom, and for how long? And why?  This handmade wooden sign in my living room reminded me every day of my motto for the past 40 plus years.

     So I sold 43 vintage items on Ebay.  I became "an excellent seller" with high ratings because everything started at a low asking price and was packed well. My goal was to get rid of stuff to someone appreciative, not to make money. Sold a couple things via Craigslist and Facebook's Marketplace, made a few trips to Goodwill and to second-hand consignment shops (worn old pots, matching wedding bands from my first marriage, my Grandparents' mahogany Empire chest, a primitive jelly cupboard, my great Uncle Matthew's Saratoga Steam Chest, my Grandparents' two antique mantel clocks, etc.). Dropped off old computers and tech gear at the nearest Staples. I'm now less-owned by my ancestors' stuff which is liberating.

     Sold too was my 860-square-foot "Piney Woods" cottage which I bought with cash 28 years ago. Over 40 viewers "saved" my real estate listing on Zillow because it's a cute cottage. Not surprisingly, it was popular with women like myself wanting peace and quiet in a natural forest setting with no lawn to mow. Nor is it necessary to bag fall leaves.

     My next cottage if or when that day comes, will be designed for a 99-year independent old lady. It will have exclusively acrylic flooring (easy to clean, no vacuum cleaners, no grout to clean), metal roof (no replacements in my lifetime), one-story (no stairs), built-in shelves (no bureaus or end tables), walk-in sit-down shower and grab-rails (no falls and cracked hips), and a nearby (short walk or bike ride) indoor heated lap swimming pool and jacuzzi.

I'll miss the busy deer path in my backyard; nearby there's a ravine with pools of water.

     Won't miss Texas' abundant insects.  This Giant Walking Stick was climbing up my window outside (photo below).  I was inside for an underbelly photo shot, holding a 6-inch ruler. Its' skinny double antennae (longer than its' six legs) are on the left side protruding from its' tiny minuscule head. The tail tip (far right) looks like a clamp. Very interesting insect that moves slowly to fool its predators.

     Packed a U-Haul trailer, hitched it up to La Lair and drove northeast . . . almost 1,200 miles averaging 19.7 mpg in La Lair. Fortunately no mishaps!

     . . . put my whittled-down stuff in a 10'x15' storage unit in a small mountain town in Virginia.

     Now it's just La Lair and me on a different kind of journey.




  1. A job well done. Now you can take a deep breath and enjoy your travels.

  2. Yes! All the stress of the past six months is dissipating quickly now that my stuff is in storage . . . almost forgot how to enjoy traveling.

  3. You have always been a great writer !! Enjoyed your blog !!! Welcome Back home to EAST !!

  4. Great blog, Terri. Thanks for the suggestions on solving the problem of some family heirlooms.