A rolling stone gathers no moss. We’re not rolling stones anymore.
During our year of travel, Ace I and I gathered few things that we did not immediately consume – simply because, living out of a Jeep Liberty, the bulk of it being occupied by a big dog, there was no space for them (though we did get that cowboy hat).
Once we came to a stop – for now, at least, settling into the home I was born in 57 years ago – we have again fallen under the tyranny of stuff.
For nine months, free of stuff’s burden, we bounced around the country, going to a new town every day or two, and during that time accumulated virtually nothing except friends and stories. After that, during our month-long stops – dwelling in a trailer park in the Arizona desert, an unfurnished house in Baltimore and the basement of a mansion in North Carolina – we slowly started to get new things. Now that we plan to stay put, for six months or more, in Winston Salem – and have hauled the contents of my storage unit down south – we are inundated.
But there’s something else I’ve come to realize, sifting through my personal effects, about stuff: Inanimate as it may be, it has a life of its own, and it often goes on a journey of its own, down a path different than ours. That’s how I end up with your stuff, and you end up with my stuff.
I’m amazed at how much of “my stuff” wasn’t originally my stuff, at how perhaps even the majority of my belongings – furniture in particular – was handed down, recycled, procured through Craigslist, yard sales, thrift stores, or rescued from Dumpsters into which, in my view, it had been disposed of prematurely.
Our stuff, like people, like dogs, comes and goes from our lives. It moves on to the homes of friends, relatives, or complete strangers, via Goodwill, eBay or Craigslist (a good place to get stuff, just not dogs). It ends up, or so I like to think, where it’s most needed.
I told you last week about my mother’s desk, which became a home furnishing about the same time I did. It was in this house when I was born. I grew up with it in New York and, later, Texas. After my parents’ divorce, my mother kept it until she moved into a retirement community, and I hauled it up to Baltimore. Now, it has circled back to the first home it was ever in.
In my new place, the bed and coffee table I’m using are my cousin’s; the book I’m reading belongs to a Baltimore friend; the dining table I eat on was purchased, via Craigslist, from a local couple who started life together with it, but couldn’t take the fact that it only had three, not four, matching chairs. My clothes are in a dresser that I think once belonged to my father’s parents.
But most of my furniture — not counting that which came from Ikea or WalMart — came from my mother.
She revisited it all last week, coming over for dinner. My sofa, loveseat actually (though rarely used for that purpose, if you don’t count Ace), is one of two matching ones she had. When she moved into a retirement community, she only had room for one. The other went with me to Baltimore, but now sits in my new place, less than a mile away from its mate. In my place, too, are, among her former possessions, some marble egg-shaped bookends, a wingback chair and an old rocking chair she made a point of trying out one more time.
There’s also a large amount of stuff from my ex-girlfriend/still goodfriend, including five of her artworks, now prominently displayed. During my travels she kept some of my stuff. In my recent move, I got some of it back, left some with her, and took a few things she was looking to get rid of, including two bedside tables, some decorative pillows and this tray-like accessory that really pops, which I further like because the blue part reminds me of Ace’s tail.
I reclaimed my blender, for instance, but she kept my grill, my fire pit and, though I could never understand why she wanted it, a sad looking little platform I once built out of three pieces of plywood to make my computer monitor sit higher.
A few weeks ago, it became, with some slight modifications, a hutch for a group of new born bunnies found in her neighborhood.
Our stuff passes from parent to child, from brother to sister, from neighbor to neighbor, from friend to friend, and sometimes even makes it way from home office to animal kingdom.
About three months ago, I gave my friend Arnie in Baltimore my old, then in storage, bookcases. Just last week I sent him the hardware needed to put them together, found in the very last box I unpacked. The couple that moved into the Baltimore rowhouse I rented now has my entertainment center — solely because it was too darned heavy to move.
I guess we all go through life simultaneously shedding and gathering. I turn to Goodwill for both. It has lots of my stuff, and I have lots of their’s, because sometimes we part with stuff that, shortly thereafter, we find ourselves needing again. While staying for a month in an unfurnished rowhouse in Baltimore, I bought this lamp. If I sell it again, it will have to be for five dollars, because the price drawn on its silver base with black marker, I’ve found, is impossible to remove.
During my mother’s visit last week — and we’ll give you the full “reveal” of my new place next week – she also recognized a footstool that once belonged to her. It’s the only item that did not really fit in with my new color scheme — color schemes, though the phrase sounds nefarious, being another thing, like accessories that pop, I learned the importance of during my unfortunate addiction to HGTV.
My mother had re-covered the footstool decades ago with a shiny striped fabric of mauve and blue, so it would match a chair she had re-covered in the same material.
She agreed that, given my color scheme, I should re-cover it again.
“What’s underneath this cover?” I asked. She had no idea.
Removing a few tacks, I pulled it off to reveal the original cushion cover — a handmade needlepoint by her aunt “Tan,” whose grave we had visited and put flowers on the day before Easter.
At the time, not remembering her that well, I attempted to learn more about Tan, whose real name was Kathleen Hall. There’s a school named after her in Winston-Salem, but I could find little information about her on the Internet, as she died in 1983. Leaving a potted delphinium on her grave, I regretted that — even supplied some memories by my brother and my mother — I could reconnect with her only superficially.
It was a little eerie — her handiwork turning up in my house a week after I visited her grave. But it added a little more heritage to my new place, a link (real, not the Internet kind) to another family member, not to mention, though I’m no expert on it, what appears to be some damn good needlepoint.
And, in an added touch of serendipity, it matches my color scheme.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accessories, accumulate, accumulating, ace, animals, aunt, belongings, bookcases, color schemes, connections, craigslist, desk, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, dumpsters, family, footstool, furnishings, furniture, gathering, goodwill, hand me downs, home, junk, kathleen hall, life, loveseat, moss, moving, needlepoint, north carolina, path, pets, possessions, relatives, road trip, rocking chair, rolling stones, roots, serendipity, stuff, thrift stores, travels with ace
Y’all know how much I love Craigslist — the website where you can click your way across the country in search of used stuff, finding everything from hookahs to hookers, often right there in your own hometown.
In recent months, I’ve navigated its blue hyperlinked byways a lot. I’ve fallen into a few of its potholes, such as houses listed for rent that really aren’t, but I’ve also met with success. It’s where we found our temporary trailer in Arizona, home for a month, and our mansion basement in North Carolina, home for another.
It was through Craigslist that my sister bought me four lamps to brighten up my “man cave,” the ones by whose light I am writing this post, which, by now, is a few days old.
By the time you read this, Ace and I will have been to Baltimore, reclaimed my life’s possessions from my storage unit and be headed back to move it all into my new place — the small, two-bedroom apartment unit my parents lived in, almost 57 1/2 years ago, when I was born.
Reuniting with my stuff, after 11 months apart, is something I both dread and look forward to. I don’t cherish the idea of packing and hauling and unpacking, especially considering, the last time I dropped in, my stuff was all peppered with mouse poop.
But I look forward to locating, I hope, a few needed things, and, more than that, reminding myself exactly what I have. Not to mention. I’ll get a chance to see some old friends, who don’t live in my storage unit, and reunite with my cardboard girlfriend, who does.
I placed everything in storage — she, who I rescued from a Dumpster, included – at the outset of our travels. I’ve paid $90 a month for it all to have a home — money we’ll now be able to spend on something more exciting, like utilities.
But as I try to decorate my new, unfurnished place in my mind, I find I can’t remember exactly what I have. I know I left some things — the heaviest ones — with the young couple that moved into the rowhouse I was leaving. I know I’ve loaned/given some stuff to friends, but I no longer remember either what it was, or whether it was loaned or given. I don’t think I have a coffee table anymore, or bookshelves, or my TV stand/entertainment center
I know that much of my stuff — it also having been pulled from Dumpsters — is probably not worth hauling in the first place, and won’t fit anywhere once it gets here. But the bigger concern is that I have no handle on what I have, meaning I have no handle on what I need.
I was certain, though, that I didn’t have a dining room table, and my new place has an entire room dedicated to dining. So I turned to Craigslist.
I came across an oak pedestal table offered by a guy named Woody, who lived in Woodleaf. Then I found a maple-looking table and three chairs right here in town, offered by Mr. and Mrs. Sapp, whose home I went by to pick it up.
All my time on Craigslist has led me to discover some interesting regional variances, depending on the town you are virtually visiting.
In Texas, for instance, some rancher might be trying to get rid of his surplus Bob Wire. It’s not unusual, across the country, to find baker’s racks or porch furniture that are made of Rod Iron.
And in North Carolina, and other locations southern and/or rural, you’ll find Chester Drawers.
I’d never heard of Chester Drawers, but a lot of people seemed to be offering them for sale on Craigslist. Initially, I thought Chester Drawers might be like Franklin Desks, an item of furniture named after the person or company who first built or inspired them.
Not until I repeated the term three times in my head did I realize it was malapropism/colloquialism.
I’m not making fun of malapropisms, for I quite love them — from ”oldtimers disease” to “a blessing in the skies” to, my favorite, “a new leash on life.” They add some character to our language and our culture, both of which can get so dry over time that we take them for granite.
I’m not badmouthing Craigslist, either – even though its fraught with scammers and helped kill newspapers, the industry in which I made my living.
Nor am I poking fun at the south — even though some people here pronounce my dog’s name “Ice.” I am a piece of it, and it is a piece of me. I was conceived here (more on that later) born here, schooled here and just maybe it’s where I belong.
Or not. I don’t know yet. All these things, I’m sure, will become clear over time, just as all my stuff will find a proper place, at which time I will no longer be so discombobulated. Give me a month and, I promise, I will be combobulated.
Now, though, I need to find the key to my storage unit lock.
Last time I saw it, it was in my Chester Drawers.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bob wire, chest of drawers, chester drawers, colloquialisms, craigslist, dog's country, dogs, furnishings, furniture, home, housing, humor, malapropisms, moving, north carolina, pets, possessions, rental, road trip, rod iron, storage, stuff, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, winston-salem
Where I’d like to live and what I can afford are two different realms, two very different realms – a fact I bring up not because I’m the first person to experience that phenomenon, but because it is one of the reasons Ace and I are having difficulty settling down, even temporarily.
All I want is a small cabin or cottage — they being much more romantic than something called a house – away from the hubbub, with heat and electricity, perhaps on the water, with a view of said water, and maybe a porch, possibly a fireplace, and washer and dryer, either near a park or with a big backyard that Ace can romp in, for, say $700 a month.
I’m not set on that. I’d also settle for a huge artist’s loft, utilities included, under $800 a month, where I could spread out and tape notes to the walls and write brilliantly when I’m not at the neighboring dog park, or enjoying the downtown skyline of (insert city here) from my deck, or taking part in the thriving social scene and cultural activities within easy walking distance.
Am I asking too much?
Of course I am.
For those of you who haven’t been following the recent adventures of me and my dog Ace, allow me to summarize. Eight months ago, we hit the road to see some America — freeloading off friends and strangers, staying at cheap motels, spending a week on a boat, a month in a camper, a few nights in the car and in my tent. Part of the reason was to find ourselves, and find home. Part of it was to see if we could be vagabonds, roaming the country for the same amount we’d previously spent on rent and utilities at our rowhouse in Baltimore.
The trip gave me a deeper appreciation of my dog and my country; a better understanding of its faults (the country’s, Ace has none); and it confirmed my suspicion that most of the great places to live, scenic-beauty wise, have been co-opted by the rich. It also instilled in me — if it wasn’t already there — a thriftiness that, while mandated by my economic situation, borders on obsession.
I just can’t stand spending money on overpriced things, like gas, fancy restaurants, hotels, electricity and rent.
Arriving back in Baltimore, still unsure where home was, we were lucky enough to land in an empty house near the Inner Harbor that’s awaiting its new tenants — three soldiers returning from Afghanistan, expected to be back at end of February. It more than meets my needs and my budget, as it’s a friend’s house that’s costing me nothing. I, essentially, am squatting, with permission. But the clock is ticking.
So everyday, I visit Craigslist, most often “housing, sublets and temporary,” looking for a place to live for March, maybe April and May, maybe longer. I’m not limiting myself to the Baltimore area. I’ve also searched, on the Internet, the Eastern Shore, North Carolina, Delaware, Philadelphia and, on really cold days, Arizona.
My options are limited because I’m hesitant to sign up for a year’s lease and, of course, by my dog — but also by my cheapness. I will probably move to wherever I find the best deal.
For awhile, I thought I’d found it, in Wilmington, N.C. — a pet-friendly, two-bedroom home overlooking the woods on a quiet cul-de-sac close to Wrightsville Beach. At $695 a month.
I emailed about what sort of pet fees and restrictions might apply, and got a speedy response. The house was still available, and they allowed all dogs — except for for Rottweilers, Akitas, chows and pit bulls.
Ace — as some of you may know, and in answer to the question many of you have asked — is a mix of Rottweiler, Akita, chow and pit bull.
The next day I found affordable paradise again – a “cottage” in Ellicott City, Md., one that, from the pictures, looked just like what I was looking for. It was secluded, wooded, with two bedrooms and a porch, for only $700.
Again my inquiry was quickly answered:
“Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house..I am Banke Jur, the owner of the house you are making inquiry of. Actually I resided in the house with my family, my wife and my only daughter before and presently we have moved out due to my transfer from my work now in Warsaw,Poland. Presently my house is still available for rent for $700USD (rent already includes utilities). More so Now, i’m currently in the (West African) for an international Christian follower’s crusade …
“Await your urgent reply … please we are giving you all this based on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words, you know that we have not seen yet and only putting everything into Gods hands, so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this …
“The house is available for rent at the moment so you are free to move in as soon as you wish to. A Deposit of $500 (which happens to be the security deposit) is required before moving in. Arrangements on how to get the keys and other necessary documents delivered to you.”
Problem was, the same house was listed at $1,650 on a dozen other rental websites, including the Re/Max website, its official listing agency.
My findings thus far? What appears to be a dandy deal is often a sleazy scam. What appears too good to be true, generally is. And what I can afford seems to be a “sleeping room,” a roomate situation, or in a neighborhood that, while the house has been “rehabbed,” the neighbors, unfortunately, have not.
Searching Craigslist has given me some new pet peeves: ads that don’t include a price, address, or even neighborhood; ads for places that proclaim dog-friendliness, but limit that to dogs under 25 pounds; ads proclaiming dog-friendliness that turn out to charge an extra $100 a month for it (Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t “friendliness” you have to pay for generally called prostitution?); ads repeated so often as to make you scream; ads pretending to be offering a property that just funnel you into some other website, sucking up your time.
Not to mention they get no editing. There was one house whose owner boasted it was ”recently remolded.” Apparently the original mold wasn’t good enough.
Another ad on Baltimore’s Craigslist offered free rent for 2 months — on a farm, with pets and horses allowed — in exchange for “painting services that equal 40 hours/week.” I could do that. What I could not do, though, was pay the $3000 cash deposit they asked for.
I also came across this ”bachelor or bachelorette pad” at $875 a month, which features a built in bar, stripper pole, and, at least in the photos, what appear to be tools of restraint. I exercised some and didn’t seek more information.
There are plenty of ads for roomates. But at 57, I just can’t see moving in with a roomate, or two, or three. I thought some about this one in Canton, a shared rowhouse, for under $700 — three female roomates looking for a fourth of any gender. There were already some “mellow dogs” living there, according to the ad. Ace and I both fit into that category. While it did set me to humming the theme from “Three’s Company,” I didn’t make an inquiry — mainly because, as much as I’d try to be Jack Tripper, I’d come across as the token old coot. I am, come to think of it, a lot like Don Knotts/Mr. Furley on the inside, masked beneath the cool/sleepy exterior of Norman Fell/Mr. Roper. (Not that I actually watched that show.)
What all this is telling me is that humans, at least those on Craigslist, are not to be automatically trusted — that maybe newspaper classified ads, because people had to pay for them, were at least a bit more reliable, not to mention spam free.
It’s telling me too that that there should be a blacklist of landlords and insurers that unfairly blacklist entire breeds.
And, when I read between the lines, it’s telling me that maybe we’re not meant to settle down. Ace, I’m mostly convinced, wants to. Part of me does, too. But another part is saying that, if I invest in anything, it should be a home with wheels.
Maybe we should continue traveling the country, this time in an RV, Ace and me, perhaps with another zany sidekick – not Fran Drescher – simultaneously filming it for use as either reality show or sitcom.
You better hope I find a home, or you might have to watch it.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, akitas, animals, arizona, bachelor pad, bachelorette pad, baltimore, bans, breed restrictions, breeds, cabin, chows, cottage, craigslist, delaware, distrust, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, eastern shore, economy, freeloading, frugality, home, house, househunting, housing, income, insurance, landlords, lease, north carolina, pet fees, pet friendly, pets, pit bulls, prostitution, recreational vehicle, rent, rental, renting, roomates, rottweilers, rv, scams, settling, sharing, shelter, squatting, sublets, temporary, threes company, thriftiness, travels with ace, trust
Six-year-old Kayleigh Crimmins sold her toys on Craigslist to raise money to buy bullet-proof vests for police dogs in Newport News.
The Virginia girl received a well deserved standing ovation from the Newport News City Council Tuesday.
“I think she’s determined. I think she loves dogs,” her mother, Lee Crimmins, told MyFoxDC.com. “And there’s no end to this. She’s made that very clear.”
Crimmins who also sells toys donated by friends, as well as t-shirts and stickers, has made similar donations to K-9 units in Maryland and North Carolina.
Some of her donations have gone towards other safety equipment for police dogs, including a heat alarm for patrol cars that alerts officers to rising temperatures that could be hazardous for their canine partners.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bullet-proof, bulletproof, city council, craigslist, dogs, equipment, K-9, k9, kayleigh crimmins, maryland, money, newport news, north carolina, police, raises, safety, sells, toys, unit, vests, virginia
Lane DeGregory has a knack for finding good dog stories, and a style of storytelling so simple, sparse, hype-free and on target that reading one is like viewing a piece of well-conceived, no-stroke-wasted art.
Condensing one to a blog entry would be an injustice. So, at the risk of getting in trouble, here’s the whole thing, presented for dog lovers, and lovers of the written word alike …
(Photo: Yolanda Segovia and “RaeLee,” by Willie J. Allen Jr., St. Petersburg Times)
Yolanda Segovia heard a knock on her door one morning, just before 8 a.m.
Her neighbor was on the porch, with a dog and a story.
Stacey Savige had found the little dog in front of an elementary school. He wasn’t very big, looked like some sort of terrier. Burrs clung to his belly. His honey fur was caked in mud.
He didn’t have a collar. Stacey had taken him to the vet and he didn’t have a chip, either.
Now Stacey had to go to work. Could Yolanda keep him?
Yolanda is 47. She’s a divorced mom with two boys. In recent years she has survived breast cancer and cervical cancer, lost her dark hair and eyelashes to chemo. A hairdresser, she hasn’t worked since 2006.
“You can leave the dog here,” Yolanda told Stacey. “But just for today.”
They took photos of the dog and made a FOUND flier. Stacey ran off 4,000 color copies. She and Yolanda stuffed mailboxes, put ads on Craigslist.
Yolanda took her boys to the dollar store and bought a collar, leash, ball and brown bed. Her 10-year-old, Azaiah, decided to call the dog RaeLee, pronounced “Riley.” He said he had heard it on TV. All afternoon, he walked the dog, threw the ball, laughed while the dog licked his face.
“Don’t fall in love with him,” Yolanda kept warning.
Her elder son, Christian, 21, watched through the window. Christian has Down syndrome and an array of other ailments. He has had heart surgery, a kidney transplant. He can’t speak or bathe himself.
That night, when the boys climbed into their bunk beds, the dog dragged his new bed from Yolanda’s living room, down the long hall, into their room.
• • •
Posted by John Woestendiek August 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: azaiah, christian, craigslist, disabled, dog, dog story, down syndrome, downs syndrome, found, handicapped, how to tell a dog story, lane degregory, lsot, mother, odie, rae lee, raelee, reporter, st. petersburg times, writing, yolanda segovia