Faces

He walks with a limp. Bent and stooped over he looks at the ground rather than straight ahead. With bowed legs and hips that curve to the left, his cane helps him to stand and move along.

That part I remember about him. He’s been like that for several years. But I was taken aback when I saw his face. Mouth sucked in. Cheeks seeming to drop off the side of his face. Almost puffy. Then I realized, he had no teeth! That was new.

When I was a child he had good teeth. Except the two front teeth on top, the ones that show the most. They were brown. He always said that was from being hit in the mouth by a rifle butt when he was in the army during World War Two. I guess that is true.

Then a couple of years ago I noticed that those two teeth had turned white. Dental whitening I thought. Lots of people whiten their teeth.

But the other day I took him to the dentist because his denture was hurting him. After the dental tech took him back to the chair the dentist came out to greet me. She said he’d been a patient of hers for a long time. The sign on her door read cosmetic oral surgery. Now I get it.

Turns out he has only two of his original teeth left. The rest are fake. And one of the originals needs to come out because it’s causing the denture pain. Damn, he’ll be down to one original.

Not like he’s thirty years old though. Not even forty. Or fifty. Hell, not even seventy or eighty. Nope, he’s ninety two years old. And still has one of his own teeth.

With his teeth in, in spite of his posture, he doesn’t look a day over eighty five. With the teeth out he looks like a cartoon character. Around the house he will leave them out. But when he goes out he puts in his teeth. He wants to look good for the ladies. And they all smile at him.

That’s my dad.

And that’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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The Bear

He was a big and hairy main. Bearlike through the eyes of a small child. And although he projected himself as a friend to children, in reality that was far form the truth.  He was a dentist.
The waiting room of his office was filled with Highlights magazines and LEGO’s. I enjoyed reading the magazines and the toys but when his wife, the nurse called me back to the examination room, fear and panic set in.
Sitting in the chair with my bib around my neck all I could see were the tools. Jackhammers and drills, picks and probes, all sharp and potentially painful. Then there was the novocaine syringe. At least a foot long. I knew it would be stuck in my jaw at least ten times.
I do not know if I was a bad patient or he was a sadistic dentist, but I always needed all of this treatment. Every time I walked in the door. I had more cavities than teeth!
When he began working in my mouth all I could pay any attention to was the hair on his fingers. Six fingers on each hand and every one the size of a hot dog. All of which was covered in hair and jammed in my mouth for hours.
As an adult I go to the dentist twice a year.  My teeth get cleaned.  And that’s all they need. A nice dental hygienist does a quick clean and polish. The dentist comes in and looks in my mouth, asks about the family and says he’ll see me next time.
I still don’t like going to the dentist. Memories of the bear cave are burned into my mind. But I go and my teeth are happy.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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It’s Everywhere!

When you are looking for something you need it seems like it’s often impossible to find. Once you have it of course you see it everywhere. And at a much better price. You might call that extra cost a convenience fee. Or just bad timing.

A couple of weeks ago the weather warmed up and the grass started to grow. And with it, the weeds. So, OK I thought, lets get out the weed and feed and kill some weeds and fertilize that good old grass. One problem: I didn’t have either the weed and feed, or the spreader to put it out. Off to the hardware store.

The weed and feed was easy to find. A dozen different choices. This one fertilizes and kills 250 different weeds. This one fertilizes for three months and kills every weed but crabgrass. And so on.

But wouldn’t you know it. There was only one spreader on the shelf in the store! The guy working there said that the warm weather had brought out the gardeners and there had been a rush on the spreaders the day before. Just one left. And more than I wanted to pay. But I got it because I thought I just had to have it to get this job done right now.

Fast forward one week. I’m on a road trip exploring Georgia’s longest yard sale. Two hundred and forty miles of highway lined with countless yard sales. And guess what I saw everywhere!

The first time I saw a spreader I thought it was humorous. Ten bucks. And then it seemed like I saw one at every sale. It was probably a dozen or so, and every one was ten dollars. Some almost new. Now I feel stupid.

What makes it even worse is that this weekend I went to a big sale at one of the local antique malls. Spring clearance! Half of the dealers were slashing their prices. And one guy had a, yes, a fertilizer spreader! It was very out of place in an antique shop as it was rather new. I think it was just there because the universe wanted me to feel even worse. Or maybe I just imagined it.

I’m in the antique business. I live in antique stores, thrift stores and flea markets. The only things I buy new are eyeglasses and food! Why did I buy that spreader at the hardware store? Who knows?

I learn life’s lessons well. Because I learn the same one over and over. Maybe one day I’ll remember what I’ve learned. Right!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Toothpicks

IMG_1103 The dog was barking at the window. From the sound of it I could tell she wasn’t looking at a squirrel. Or another dog. And she definitely wanted to go outside.

So I got up from my desk and took a step toward the door to let her out as I do a thousand times a day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something through the window. That is what she’s barking at!

Unbelievable! Coming down my driveway, eating everything in its path was an honest to goodness monster. No, not Godzilla or Gamara. Nothing quite like that. It was a machine.

Rolling toward me, on four giant tires big enough to make any monster truck weep, was a yellow bodied machine with a buzz saw at the end of its single arm. Spinning and chewing with both delicate precision and shark like ferocity.

I ran to the door and was outside so fast that dog didn’t have a chance to follow. As I ran toward it the contraption was turning around to start back up the other side of the driveway. Still shredding trees and branches. There was a man inside. My God, its eaten him too I thought. But he was the operator. He could not see me or hear me, so I ran on to the truck that was still headed my way.

Looking more closely I noticed that the truck and the saw had a logo on them. I don’t remember what it said, something about power and trees. They were here to trim the trees along the power line right of way. At least I knew I wasn’t going to die.

Do trees have feelings? I don’t know. I do know that they bleed when you cut them. And I love my trees. But six months ago one of the big ones fell down in the yard, across the driveway, and took out all the power lines and phone lines. Internet that is. It was a real mess cleaning up the tree, part of which is still lying in the woods waiting to be cut up. And getting the power and internet back were a real nightmare.

So I understand why the power company wants to keep branches off of their lines. And it’s ok if they trim the branches. Neatly. Sometimes they just hack away and it looks like a giant rodent came through and gnawed away at everything. Sharp and jagged splinters of trees standing, or leaning, where healthy trees once towered.

My mother stood guard over a beloved purple beech tree every year when the power company came through. They would have to get to the tree through her. And every year they left the tree, and the crazy lady alone. It’s a gorgeous tree.

I talked to the man running the crew and he reassured me that they would clean everything up. And that they wouldn’t be back for several years. I thought about asking him to leave the ground up mulch for me, but that would be a lot of trouble and I already had enough tree issues to deal with.

There are lots of trees here. Some I fear will fall on the house. Or the barn. Or the cars. Or even me. But the power lines are safe for now.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Sales Pitch

The sight of a twelve year old vehicle pulling into the lot makes a salesman drool. This guy has to be here to trade in that heap is the thought going through her mind. Let me at him!
I pull up to the service bay and notice her watching me. She’ll be waiting when I finish in there. When you bring the car in for service you can sit and wait or you can wander around and look at cars. Just be prepared for a sales pitch.
In another lifetime I sold cars. New and used. Luxury. And otherwise. I know the deal. Normally I don’t want to waste people’s time but I’ll at least let them try to do their job. You shut them down at the appropriate time.
Ok. Give it to me. I don’t have anything else to do for a little while. She asks what I brought the car in for. It’s been recalled I tell her. Nothing serious I hope she replies. I tell her it’s something about a shift lock mechanism. I don’t know if it’s serious or not. The manufacturer didn’t seem to be in a huge rush to fix it.
When I explain that the car is twelve years old she says the magic words. Have you thought about trading it in on a newer model?  Actually, I had.
What I have suits my needs well.  The right size. Easy to get in and out of .  Rides well. Looks like crap. But it’s always nice to think about a newer one.
I let her go through the spiel on new and certified used. We talk about what I’d be looking for. Oh, we have several of those she beams.  The idea is to get the customer into the car. To smell the new car aroma. To see all the features. Take it for s spin and get sucked in.  When she wants to get a key to show me the vehicle it’s time to shut it down.
She gives me her card and thanks me for speaking with her. If I can be of any service in the future please let me know. Car sales has a high turnover rate in salesmen. By the time I’m ready she may well have moved on. But someday I’ll have to get a newer model. And there will be a salesperson waiting for me.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours!

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Flat Tire

The sound was loud. Enough so that it could be heard trough the windows, coming from outside the car. Hissing, like a snake. The tire.

Crashing the wheel into the drain grate in the curbing, trying to parallel park, she had managed to pop the tire on my van. If it had just separated from the rim and lost its air it could be blown up. But no, it had a big hole in it.

I just happened to be there. But I wasn’t really of any use. My back is screwed up enough that I can’t change a tire, even though I sure would like to.

Fortunately I have roadside assistance coverage as part of my auto insurance. Call them up and they will send someone out to jump you off or change a tire. Even tow you away if need be. At this point I’ve used it for all three.

The towing was also because of a flat tire. I tried to change that one, but the lug nuts were on so tightly that I actually broke the bolts trying to get the nuts off. Three out of five. That vehicle is not driving anywhere!

So she called the roadside assistance folks. It would be a half hour. Since I didn’t have to work that day, I got to stay and wait.

He was early. Came from in front of me and drove by, giving me the eye. Then he turned around and pulled up behind me. I noticed he had a handicapped permit hanging on his rear view mirror. Oh boy, how’s he gonna change this tire I wondered. Turns out he had some special tools.

Not special really, just the right ones for the job. A power jack and an air wrench. So much easier with the right tools!

He was a very nice man, doing this work as an independent contractor. Works when he wants and enjoys meeting people. I told him I would have done the job myself, but he told me not to put him out of a job. I let him do it, but couldn’t resist helping just a little.

It only took about ten minutes to change the tire and put a little air in the spare. And off he went. Now I could go buy a new tire.

At the tire place we discovered that not only did I need one new tire, I needed two. And an alignment. A couple hours later I was all set. The van drives like a sports car now.

The next day as I was going to get into my truck, I noticed a tire was a little low. Nail. Dang! The universe seems to be trying to tell me something here. I hope it’s just that I need a new tire.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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A Life

It was one of those fabulous old antebellum homes for which Madison is so well known. Off the main street, a couple of blocks back into the residential area. Academy Street.

In obvious need of exterior painting, and some roof repairs, it was nonetheless a grand old house. Twelve foot ceilings. Large rooms. Beautiful hardwood floors. And lot’s of quirks. Like the staircase with only a six foot clearance for heads.

But it wasn’t the outside of the house which had drawn me here. Or the others standing in line waiting to go inside. For me it was the things inside, treasures amassed over a lifetime by the last resident of the house. Now all for sale.

My understanding was that the last resident had, at age 98, slipped this mortal coil. Her family had sold the house, and was now parting with everything inside. Strange things you might find. Someone pointed out that there were hundreds of family photos. And even the guest book from the funeral. Small things can sometimes make big statements.

What I noticed was that there was a relatively small turnout for this sale. There were several people in the line that I recognized. Other estate sale junkies. Or antique dealers.   There were plenty of treasures here indeed. The owner had obviously been a collector, on a small scale, all her life. And she had treasures from every time period, and from around the world. She seemed to like Asian items. I mention this only because that is something I always look for, and am excited to find.

Most of the crowd seemed to be local people. People who knew this woman. They wanted to see the inside of the house. And perhaps to claim something that would remind them of her. One woman wanted the handwritten recipe cards from the kitchen. Zero monetary value, but tremendous sentimental value of some sort.

There was also at least one family member there. She identified herself as such when told that the item she wanted was already sold to someone else.

Maybe she was family. Maybe not. That one thing that she had always wanted was somehow not willed to her, or passed along by closer family members. She found something else and was satisfied.

I have no ties to this person. Or to any of the people whose estate sales I go. I’m a collector and reseller and that is my purpose and interest in these items from someone’s life. I do often wonder what kind of person this might have been, and usually end up creating my own story about them. Everyone is a hero.

One day my estate will be sold off. I’m glad I won’t be there for that. But I will at least know the story behind every single item sold.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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