Monday, March 31, 2014

Big weekend heading into a big week

So we've been checking out local furniture, hobby, and book stores lately, to determine how to unload the things that aren't moving (or won't ever get posted) on Amazon and ebay.  The furniture store's a good possibility if we're in their "pickup" radius, and if they like the photos we will eventually send them.  We've found a train guy, and we might send him some pics this week, and maybe visit him in person again with a bin of stuff if HE expresses more of an interest than he already has (which is to say, sight-unseen, he expressed "interest" but needs to know if there's any "real" value).  One more trip to a bookstore, for cash and/or store credit, and then whatever's left in our possession will probably end up at a yard sale or flea market, priced at $.50/paperback and $1.00/hardback.  OR, I will cobble together various wine/liquor boxes of various titles and list them on ebay as "grab-box specials" for supah-cheap and see if I get any takers!  What the hell, right?

This weekend, I put a bunch of dolls in the ebay store, and had lots of communications with potential buyers, and made some changes in how I had things listed, and then I MOVED four dolls and got bids and watchers on dolls and self-help tapes and comics.  I was BUSY this weekend!  THREE packages (all porcelain dolls) went out in today's mail, and another Barbie is awaiting payment (I think that buyer's going to snag another Barbie or two and is waiting for a bulk-shipment invoice - I'm hoping he opts for my last three Barbies so I can be DONE with that line).

Tomorrow, Stephen has the day off, and he's found another consignment store that may have an interest in all of the plastic/vinyl dolls we have left - maybe twenty? vintage 50's or 60's dolls with "sleep eyes" and shoulder and hip joints that I'll never be able to research for ebay.  I'm almost at the point where every doll I list is going to go up for a ten dollar auction or fifteen dollar "Buy It Now" - I've already got a shitload of teddy bears listed at five apiece OBO... and have sold three, with a watcher on a fourth.

You may not know this, but just as some Facebookers are actually just "lurkers," reading other folks' posts but never liking or commenting or posting on the happenings in their own lives, some ebayers are "watchers" - and I may not ever know WHO is watching my store, but I can track at any given time how many folks are watching a particular item.  When I was shopping on ebay, I didn't bother to watch.  If I had interest in an item and its auction was appropriate, I'd bid.  If it got out of hand, I'd quit.  If it didn't get out of hand, I'd win the bid, pay promptly, and receive the item I'd ordered.  Ebay is FUN!  I doubt Amazon lets you do those things, or track them as a seller, since they're set up more for "Buy It Now."  And Stephen manages that store.

But anyway.  I'm still applying for work IN LOS ANGELES.  We're still following the "transfer his job" path with Stephen and Sam's Club.  We're still looking at apartments in the areas we know.  We're counting how many earthquakes hit before we get home, and figuring on rent being supah-cheap by the time we get there, since a portion of the population will throw in the towel.  We're still downsizing and calculating HOW MUCH STUFF we'll have to ship, and how to get it done effectively and efficiently.  We're still going to see his mom for her 70th birthday.  We're settled on the transportation of us and the cats - MY CAR - but haven't mapped out our route yet.  We've gotten an invitation from a pair of Florida-based friends with whom we'd built our relationship in LA.  I wouldn't mind seeing as much family as we can, one "last" time, while we're still on this coast.  Just don't know how yet.  None of this last paragraph has any bearing on today's post, unless one of the jobs kicks in this week.  Still gonna be a big week, though!  And for you?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Welcome, Netherlands!

Thank you for joining us!

So, What Happened?

Yesterday, I started my day with a text message from a woman I'd done some bill-paying for back home.  I was originally a twice-a-month subcontractor, but toward the end, I'd see her weekly (in trying to "train" the next personal assistant).  Her message was out of the blue, to be sure, but it was along the lines of "thinking of you - how are you - miss you" so I replied to let her know we'd be coming home in July.  She expressed an urgency (come home sooner) and then let me know how she's been, etc.  I told her she was funny and said the only way I could get home sooner was if she could employ me full time.  She told me she would probably be "divorcing" her business partner, and I didn't know how to respond, so I left it there.

Then I completed a "Best Offer" on a tall, heavy, FRAGILE (all porcelain) doll and had to ship it out.  She'd been listed for over a month, and we'd reduced her auction price and "Buy It Now" price but she'd had no movement; very few views, and no watchers.  So when she completed her last auction, I let her sit idle for a few days and then changed her to a "fixed price" item, even though ebay kept telling me "you'll have 50% more views if you list as auction" (ahem, BULL).  I included "OBO" in the price.  Then we ignored her for a bit and focused on the teddy bears (all of which are listed at $5 OBO) that I'd actually sold but was waiting to ship in case the person who bought them also won the wooden cradle auction.  Long story short (I know, too late), the cradle auction wraps up today, but the bears buyer responded when ebay said "PAY FOR YOUR STUFF" and in the meantime, I got an offer on the porcelain doll, which I accepted.

So I had to wrap each of her limbs in bubblewrap and a paper wine bag, separate them further with more bubblewrap and paper and her knit blanket, stuff the original box into an outer box, line those empty spaces with paper, cut down the outer box, tape it all up and ship it.  It weighed 8 pounds.  Stephen took my car to work, so I'd get to drive the van to the post office, unless I managed to catch my mailman in time.  I cannot see my mailboxes from my apartment, so I made quite a few trips outside to where I COULD see, after the first one where I'd left him a "please honk at me if you don't see me" note, and just shy of 11:00, I saw him pull up and open the mailboxes.  Back up the stairs to fetch the eight-pounder, but I DID get her in his hands, and collect what little mail (and my note), and come back in ACCOMPLISHED.

Then there was a whole day of a stupid "Breast Cancer Awareness" game on Facebook.  I'm not saying that awareness of breast cancer is stupid; the game was stupid.  And it caused a stir in its stupidity.  And lots of my friends and family were (at least momentarily) "fooled" into thinking that I am pregnant.  I am not.  If I were, I wouldn't say "Guess it was too good to be true. I’m pregnant. "  Because really, how DO you respond to the latent "I'm unhappy with this situation" sentiment that's RIGHT THERE?

Anyway, I left that for a bit and listed two more dolls.  Then Stephen got home from work, saw the Facebook status and ASKED me "what does that mean, exactly?" and I was able to protect him from the game by telling him to NOT "like" or "comment."  Yay, me, #bestwifeever.  Right.  Then we went out to dinner in the next town, because one of our friends from HOME was in town on a gig.  Weirdest night in my recent history, if not ever.  That's because that particular friend's quirks are well known to Stephen but not to me.  When we get home, especially if we end up living in his apartment complex, then I'll get to know him better, and last night will be one I'll look back on as a starting-point, probably.  It wasn't a NEGATIVE weirdness for me.  Just weirdness.

Got home and decided to put an end to the FB game.  I was unsuccessful in that attempt.  Today I received a congratulatory private message.  Damn.  But I ALSO received another text from the businesswoman - "Hurry back now.  We need you!!"  I replied (again) with our timetable, but did I miss something?  Did she offer me a JOB?  Nah.


Today, I'm going to sort through all the rest of the dolls and get anything "bunny" listed.  It'll be a Bunny Day.  There are a TON of "bunny" items listed (on ebay in general, not yet in my store), and most of them are actually moving, because Easter is coming, and a stuffed bunny is a MUCH better gift than a live one.  Happy Bunny Day!  (And Happy Birthday, Rachel)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stuff Happened

All day today, as I was DOING, I kept thinking "I need to blog."  But then I'd continue DOING and never got around to it.  It's now time to go to bed, and if I sit here to completely blog, I'll be here an hour trying to make sure it's right.

So I'm going to get ready for bed, and then I'm going to go to bed.  And sometime tomorrow, either before I get bogged down in DOING, or when I'm in the middle of it and need a break, I'll come back here to catch you all up.

Suffice it to say, today was pretty good.  Stuff Happened.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Welcome, Kuwait!

Two new readers today.  In KUWAIT.  Yowza.  I feel really blessed!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I sound like a crazy woman.

TODAY's big project is adding more dolls and comics (mostly comics, so far) to the store, as well as taking pictures of FURNITURE and TRAINS.

Well, okay, the dolls and furniture and trains will probably wait until tomorrow or the next day.  But in Stephen's time off from his "real job" we've driven to a couple of local places that could BUY things like books and furniture and trains (haven't found nor even sought out a local DOLL shop).  We've already taken all the hardbacks and paperbacks (actual BOOKS) into the local "chain" used bookstores for cash/store credit, and we've come home with still too many.  We will likely make a trip to a new bookstore, see what we can unload, and then the rest goes back to the first store for store credit, and we'll come home with a handful of Blu-Rays rather than several boxes of books!  Win!

The train store was interesting.  The guy there only wants NEW stuff, and compared our Post-War train sets to a rotary phone that we might go into a wireless store to sell.  Stephen already found a place online that will accept your photos and inventory list, give you a quote, and have you ship 'em out (or maybe they're actually local and come pick 'em up?  I don't remember).  And they WANT the old stuff.  So we'll see about that.  If they offer us enough for enough to leave us with one working set, then we'll take one set home with us to establish a new-for-us-but-very-"traditional" tradition of a Christmas tree train and track.  We know there's at least one engine that's strong and has a functional smokestack, so that's our latest likelihood.  If they want to give us TOO MUCH for the working sets, then we'll keep a short length of track, one landscape "prop" and one non-functional engine, and mount it all in a Shadowbox.  Either way, we still have a piece of his Dad to take back to California.

The furniture store was a good fact-finding mission, and when we left there, we were going to wait until about May to follow-up.  Take a few pics for local peeps who have expressed interest, see what we can get, possibly lug everything to a yard sale or flea market (the flea market fact-finding trips were not horrible), and THEN try to get someone out to the apartment (rather than lugging it back out to the store) if our photos taken at that time generate any interest at all.  As of today, though, Stephen was all "we have GOT to clear out this space!  Sooner rather than later!  Let's see what's wrong with your dresser and get some pics!  Let's get some other photos of any furniture that might sell!  Oh, and while you're at it, I want to list these comics, but not individually, so I can't list them on Amazon, so will you take pics of these collections, while you're at it?" etc. etc.  (No, he probably did not repeat "while you're at it" but I was expressing his sudden urgency.)

So he started creating listings, and I started taking pictures.  And in between postings, I've gone back to email and Facebook, because while "ebaying" is kinda fun, it can also be draining.  And then I came here.  And now I can do some more ebaying, because I've rested sufficiently, and I think my camera battery is probably fully charged again, and... Wow.  I sound like a crazy woman.  S'okay.  I may very well be.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome, Belgium!

In case you're new to me... and if you're not, then I didn't welcome you when you were, so

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Welcome, Venezuela!

I believe I have now had at least one reader from every inhabited continent, altho I'm still missing some major  (and "minor") land masses.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Selling stuff is "weird," Part Three

Are y'all getting tired of this theme yet?  Last week, I went off-grid so I could do some physical labor.  In the meantime, nothing new got listed at either online store.  A few things got sold, and there was time to ship those few things out, but I had been running out of bubble wrap (and was really hoping to come home from the Furniture Market with a ton of gently-used b.w. but no such luck this pass), so my packing wasn't necessarily as careful.

The Amazon store took a "starmeter" hit when we had inaccurately posted an item that we had to tell the buyer about, and then cancel the sale at the buyer's request.  The ebay store received a positive review that mentioned some breakage... and then a message from another buyer who informed us of breakage... and then an issue from a different buyer with Buyer's Remorse.

The Amazon starmeter has since climbed a little bit on a daily basis, so we went from a 100% (A+) grade to an 85.something% (solid B) grade to increasingly better.  It's only been a few days, and we're back at 90.something% (minimal A).  I'm not sweating it, but it did bother Stephen that not enough of his buyers are giving him ANY ratings - we've been in biz this long and he's gotten FOUR 100%s.

I didn't follow up with the positive reviewer who mentioned breakage, because honestly, I don't know what good it would do.  She already gave us the 100%, with a written caveat.

I followed up with the message regarding breakage, but haven't heard back from him.  I think maybe he just wanted to let me know to pack porcelain parts better, but he still feels like he got a good deal and wants to go about any necessary repairs on his own.  I'm hoping that is the case, and that he will rate me as a seller with high marks.  The doll he bought is just beautiful, and I would hate to have to receive it back from him.  I'm willing, if he requests it.

The last message - the Buyer's Remorse one - got us both in a dither today.  I am not a doll collector, so every doll I list is based on photographs and other folks' listings and is priced below what comparable dolls are going for.  I mention that I have no other information, but if anyone is interested in a listing, they should definitely address their concerns BEFORE they buy it.  If anyone has ANSWERS, I will appreciate their input (regarding unknown markings).  I'm honest about not accepting returns, so know what you're buying before paying for it.  Anyway, I apparently listed a reproduction of an antique as an antique.  At my non-auction price, the doll was an absolute STEAL - if it were an antique.  At the auction price, it was still VERY REASONABLE - even as a repro.  But this chick wants to make a profit, and snagged it at the auction price, and now she thinks we committed fraud.  She's not filing a claim through ebay, though, because she realizes that HAD SHE FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS, she wouldn't be in this mess.  We've made an offer of a small refund.  We'll see what she has to say about it.

I'm grinding my teeth at night (PTL for anti-bruxism night guards!) over all of this crap that doesn't mean ANYTHING more than an additional "get us home" funding source.  I wish I could not give a crap.  I can't.  While I have an online store, I want to run it in the most professional manner.  Call me crazy.  It's weird.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

back on the grid

... and my back, and my hands, and my feet HURT.

Twice a year, High Point, North Carolina hosts an International Furniture Market for vendors and buyers of furniture from all over the place (in case you didn't "get" that from the words just before "for").  It's a huge boost to the economy of this struggling town, and for people like me who don't have a "regular" job.  I just spent the last four days leading a crew of art unpackers.  It's not that the work is HARD, by any means.  It IS physical; there's breaking down big crates and removing the individual pieces, and then removing the cardboard corners that protect them from each other, and then removing the staples that held the corners, then placing the sorted pieces around the showroom, stacked vertically against the carpeted walls WITHOUT sticking them to said walls by way of the velcro in the corners.

In seasons past, we've worked in a nearly-complete, carpeted showroom at the top of the escalator, with artwork already all over the walls, so we'd know where to put the new stuff.  We've unpacked and inventoried anywhere from six to nine crates in any one season.  We've had three or four six-hour days to do it in, and we've made decent money doing it.  THIS season, we're starting from scratch in a showroom that's twice as large or larger and has concrete floors and NOTHING already on the walls other than carpeting.  We unpacked TWENTY-THREE crates over the course of four eight-hour days.  I put in the most hours, followed by Stephen, followed by a girl who just got a real job at the same time, so she worked for us every morning but also had to leave EARLY every day, followed by my sister-in-law, and rounded out by a guy who had WANTED to work two hours at the end of every day but only worked the first one.  What a help he was!

We, the real team, got very good at what we had to do.  We had one tool we called "Magic" because it truly was.  We used boxcutters and screwdrivers and pliers.  We cut into our own hands when the tools slipped.  We gave ourselves paper cuts from the cardboard corners.  We walked back and forth across that concrete floor so many times, we could probably all do with a couple of weeks' worth of chiropractic adjustments, or at the very least, a weekly one-hour full-body massage for the next month.  We made note of frame damage.  I was in daily contact with the bossman via phone, text, and email, and I logged hours, progress, damage, and anything else.  I'll be referring the chick who got the full-time job as the foreman for the fall season, because WE will be in California, and she was really good.  Plus, she was the one that brought in "Magic."

Right now, my hands are swollen and tingly.  My feet and back are just sore.  Can I soak for a week?  No... I still have a little "admin" work to do so we can all get paid.  That feels good to say.  And I'm back for all y'all.  Didja miss me?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

going "off-grid" for a few days

The stores are still open but I won't be home during daylight ("business") hours to "man" them... I've got a cash gig, unpacking artwork for one of the High Point Furniture Market galleries.  I've done the work before, but this time around, I get to be "foreman" for the crew... tracking time and all that so we all get paid.

It'll be a good gig, and I'm hopeful that my workers will feel the same.  But I haven't held an 8-hour day job in awhile, so I'm heading off to bed shortly and getting up at a reasonable hour in the morning (vs. the sleeping in I've been allowing myself), packing a lunch and my necessary tools and


Woo Hoo!


So you may not see me or hear from me again until next week.  G'Night, Gracie. ;)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Selling stuff is "weird," Part Two

Had a pretty good cry tonight.

It's been very EASY for me to do this "selling stuff on ebay and Amazon" gig because so far, I have had ZERO attachment to any of the items for sale.  ZERO.

Sure, Stephen listed my old VCR, which left immediately, and then we listed my DVD player, which hasn't had a nibble.  But mostly, we're selling HIS books and HIS comic books and HIS GRANDMA's dolls and bears and blankets and such.

But a week ago, I created a listing for the drum kit of my PS3 Rock Band One kit.  I indicated that if the buyer needed the rest of the kit, I would list all of it minus one guitar, because I knew Stephen would want to keep one guitar, even if we sold the rest of the kit.  I indicated that I've gotten pretty good on Rock Band drums and want to improve further by upgrading my kit to include cymbals and the second kick pedal.  There's no upgrade to the RB1 drum kit, so it means buying a whole new RB2 or RB3 kit.  Drum kit.  When I get home, to California.

Stephen didn't know why I had listed the kit, and it wasn't until it sold today and we tried to find a box to ship it in that I had words for it.  And those words made me cry.

EVERYTHING we've sold prior to the drums has had some meaning for HIM.  EVERYTHING has been a sacrifice for him, at least a little bit.  That drum kit was my first sacrifice.  Seeing the "hole" it has left in the living room is a VISIBLE reminder of both its absence and my need to downsize.  It SHOULD make it easier for me to declutter/decrapify/downscale/downsize MY STUFF.

I did want to play one more time before I packed it up.  If the downstairs neighbor leaves in the morning, I will set it up one more time and do that.  If not, I will "build" the box I need and get it shipped out tomorrow, and then I won't have drums to play again until I get home.  In Juny/Jule.  Probably July.

Just needed you all to know that I am human.  The one physical, material THING that really mattered to me is almost gone.  By all rights, I shouldn't have the right to play it - I should just ship it.  But ebay's giving me 48 hours from payment, so it will definitely make it out in tomorrow's mail.  I promise.  Doesn't mean I won't cry again when I send it to its new drummer.

waking to gunfire and the dragging of bodies

Poppop  Pop ... POP!  Scrape, scrape, scrape...  twenty to thirty minutes later, repeat.  Starting around just-barely pre-dawn? and through to when we finally emerged from the warm cocoon of the bed.

No, we haven't relocated to a war zone or a slum.  We, like the rest of the Eastern Seaboard (of the US of A) had an ice storm last night.  What sounded like gunfire and bodies being dragged was simply the weight of the ice killing the local flora, namely tall trees without the protection of leaves or flowers.

I haven't got photos, but many of my "this side of the country" friends have posted the carnage on their Facebook walls.  Looking out my window right here, I've got giant green wizards bowing to an unseen superior.  It's all a bit disheartening.  Plus, we had a brief "brown-out" to warn us not to get too comfy.

Stephen says that once North Carolina understood that we are NOT here forever, and that we WILL be returning to California this year, "she" decided to give us one last winter we won't forget.  Like "missing winter" would ever be a reason to return!  HA!


I was about to post this when I looked out again, and the wizards were genuflecting.  These are thirty-foot evergreens I'm talking about, rocking violently.  That must be some serious wind.  So grateful I've got nowhere to be today.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

This is a test of the Emergency Facebook Friends List Cleansing System.

I have 240 Facebook friends. That's not a boast or a "pity me" kind of statement, it is simply a statement. I have 240 FB friends.

Of that, AT LEAST 90% are true, actual, in-person friends/family, even if we're not physically in the same location for very long - if any of those folks ever needed ANYTHING that I could provide, they'd know that they'd only have to ask, and it would be done (and vice-versa).

Another 10 5% are friends-of-friends, FB friends that I've connected with via mutual associations and with whom I've found commonality.  Most of my friends-of-friends I haven't ever met in person, but that doesn't mean that a statement of need wouldn't be met if I were the only one who could fulfill the request.

The last 10 5% are folks that I've "friended" out of some obligation - we had a connection at one point, but we don't really see eye-to-eye on the things we each hold dear.  I read a lot of negativity from that 10%.  Maybe that 10% reads negativity from me.  I don't know.  

Often, y'all will say "I'm cleansing my friends list - if you don't want to be dropped, message me."  I'm not interested in doing that.  So here's what I'm going to do.  I'm just going to stop "following" you, if you're one of my 10% and I'm tired of your negativity.  I may come back to following you, if after some time has passed, you've made positive comments on posts of shared friends or even on my own.  If I've re-followed you, only to find that you're still whining about your lot in life, then I'll just unfollow you again.  No big deal.  You're welcome to unfollow me, or unfriend me.  If you want a better connection with me, contact me to see if we can compromise our PsOV.  If you don't care, then that's cool.

This is a test of the Emergency Facebook Friends List Cleansing System.  This is only a test.  Had there been an actual emergency, well, then, what the hell would we have done?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

New month - new adventures?

Well, kids, it's March.  Weather's gotten really weird everywhere (MAJOR drought became MAJOR rainstorms in California... next come mudslides and flooding!  Whee!) but it's still just kinda cold here.  Still listing and selling, still looking for "real" work, Stephen's still going to his job and has put in for the transfer - the ball's in their court now, and I've been completing simple surveys online.

Don't ever let anyone convince you that completing surveys is a worthwhile way to make "serious" money.  If you're completely unemployed, as I am, then you have all the time in the world to do them.  But when you're completely unemployed, you're typically disqualified because you're not so much a consumer as you are a "non" - when you're not working and you're able to, you're not contributing to society, and so your opinion on consumables, even if it's entertainment, is not valued.  I don't say this to disrespect myself in any way.  It's not that I consider myself a "non" - it's just that I find myself disqualified from many more surveys than I am allowed to complete.  And then there's the "serious" money.  The GOOD surveys pay about a dollar a minute.  The crap ones pay somewhere in the neighborhood of a penny a minute.  I've gotten a handful of entries into a $50K drawing, but I don't know if that's monthly or what, so it's not like I'm expecting that windfall.  The others have accumulated enough "cash" for me to claim my reward in the form of a gift card;  not that there's a gift card that's particularly "good" - they're for specific websites, none of which appeal to me, or the most generic ones, like Amazon and Visa, "cost" more to redeem than their value.  So I'll wait until I really need twenty bux that I ain't got to be able to buy something I would never spend real money on.  What a crock.  I will, of course, continue completing them while I still have all this time on my hands.

But wait!  This was supposed to be about ADVENTURES or at least not some negative diatribe about online surveys (I mean, don't even get me started on all the "work at home" opportunities that are out there)!  So what ADVENTURES shall we have this month, eh?

There's the big Furniture Market returning to High Point in a couple of weeks.  I get to head up a team of unpackers of artwork, which is always good for pocket cash and some laughs.  I may get to stand on a street corner for a week, handing out flyers for another exhibitor, which will also be good for pocket cash and some laughs, and maybe it'll be warmer than it was in October.  In case you don't know, High Point, NC, used to be the CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE when it came to furniture, particularly for selling new designs to retailers.  Now, twice a year, it becomes that center again, for a week, and the local economy is reinvigorated for about a month.  So the locals always look forward to Market, and those of us who aren't really "from" here but are available to contribute do as well.

And then there's the last "gig" for which I submitted a resume: Personal Assistance, FULL-TIME, in Los Angeles, with a minimum of one-year commitment.  Starts immediately, and when I got the notice, it had been posted for a week already.  So we'll see what comes of that!

What adventures will YOU find yourself in this month?  We're heading out of winter - you must have something up your sleeve, right?