Search This Blog

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A craigslist interlude in time

Late last week I came down with yet another cold. This makes about four (maybe five) this calendar year. I'm sick (ha!) of it if truth be told, but there's not much to be done about it other than suck on zinc tablets and stay home. I've given up on trying to power through it, especially during the summer. Things are quiet enough that I can stay home and watch the celebration of Norma Shearer on TCM and the world and university will not come to a screeching halt because I'm not there. Besides, if I stay home and actually watch old movies on tv, then I don't have to sit I my office mad at myself for not being productive and I can just try to get better. This strategy basically worked. Instead of being sick for ten days, I've managed to mostly feel better by the end of day five. I also haven't needed to take much OTC medicine, which I don't like doing in some weird throw back to puritanical ancestry. (That and my Dad has always resisted OTC medicine, so my reluctance could be linked to a more recent forebearer.)

I did decide yesterday after having a bad taste in my mouth and coughing up little chunks, which turned out to be called tonsil stones, that I needed to have my tonsils out.  I haven't backed up that conclusion with any member of the medical establishment other than

I didn't want to go anywhere yesterday and we were expecting a handyman to come fix our faulty drainage tube for the HVAC.   (Should I take a potshot at Sears? I have not been happy with Sears vis a vis our HVAC installation.  Not even a little bit.  So there.)

This conspiracy of forces (HVAC, sickness, Norma Shearer) coincided with a little craigslist focus in our house.  Last weekend, I had a fit of pique wherein I decided my customary chair was no longer the least bit comfortable and that I wanted another one.  After going to some unholy number of furniture stores, I had come to the conclusion that the only chair that might do as a replacement was an Ekornes Stressless recliner.

The problem?  They're a little spendy.  The Ekornes recliners.

Then I had a thought; why not check craigslist?  Sure enough, there was one listed for 1/4 of retail in Bell.  In case you're not wildly familiar with Southern California, Bell isn't exactly a vacation destination.  Currently in the news for wildly inflated salaries of civic employees, it's down off the I-5 in an area near, well, Commerce.  And Downey.  Yep.  That's the LA everyone knows and loves.

Nevertheless, down to Bell we go last Sunday night and I procure the chair.  The ever versatile GTI accepted it willingly into the hatch and we headed home.

(Not that there weren't any subsequent moments of concern.  I did have a near panic attack the next day that it was a fake.  Also my bank was pretty sure someone had stolen my ATM card because I kept going to the ATM to try to get money, not knowing what my daily limit was).

The chair was duly installed in the place of its predecessor, which now lives on campus at the Women's Center.  As my friend and co-worker who helped me get it over to the Women's Center noted, "they won't know it's not comfortable any more.  For them, that's how comfortable it's always been."

So, this weekend, what with the cold and the handyman, we decided to list some stuff for sale on craigslist ourselves.

On offer:

1) Two of our six bicycles.  We don't need six.  We probably don't need four.  But we certainly don't need six.

(That's the one of mine we're selling).

2)  One of my Timbuk2 bags (I admit that the pile of them in the front closet seems to consitute a collection at miniumum and an obsession if honesty is in my heart).

I have two sort of like this, briefcasey with a laptop compartment and I like the other one better.

3) My Tony Little Gazelle Elite.

You remember Tony Little right?  Screaming guy on the informercials sliding his feet back and forth on this thing?  Circa 2003 or so.  I bought it off craigslist.  Now, when I work out at home, I ride one of my bicycles (not that blue one above henceforth, to be sure).  The gazelle has been folded up, next to the hutch in our already small dining room.  It needed to go away.

4)  What Honey calls my barbie motorcycle helmet.  That "calling" goes sort of like, "it's a barbie helmet, barbie, barbie helmet."

I bought it online and didn't think it would be so, um, well, barbie.

Nice, huh?

So, we pop these things up on craigslist.  (Or should I quote "Your Mama" The Real Estalker and say we "heaved" them up on craigslist)

Honey starts getting e-mails about her bike right away.  The ratio of annoying to not was about 2/1.

I get an e-mail about the gazelle.  Could he come tonight?  He has lots of questions.

Now, it's time to tell you how much I was asking for the gazelle.  $25.  Yep.  And he was offering $20.  Which I said was fine.  But still, he had lots of questions.  I answered and tried to be nice.  He said he'd call and come get it in the morning.

He did not.

So, I listed it in the free section.  Which prompted an hysterical e-mail from a woman asking that I hold it for her.  She also called it an elliptical.  Um, no, not an elliptical.  Something you stand on and swing your legs in the air on.

Anyway, I went out to check to see if it was still there, though I was not inclined to hold it for her.  That mf was so hard to move that my shins got bruised just looking at it.  It was gone.  Probably for scrap metal.

No e-mails whatever on my bike.  It's now on ebay.  We'll see.

The Timbuk2 bag has gone back with its friends in the closet.

The barbie helmet is bound for Goodwill next time Honey goes.  (That will be this week, I'm sure).

On the upside, she does have interest in her bike, and not just from the guy who didn't want to raid his daughter's "colleg" fund.  I think she'll sell it soon.

Here are some lesson I learned:

1) My panic aside, people don't counterfeit Norwegian chairs and then try to sell them one at a time from their living room in Bell;

2) No one feel responsible for following up on their e-mails.  Civility and the social contract don't really exist on craigslist;

3) No one much uses full sentences, proper grammar, or punctuation in e-mails.  They don't even make a pretense at doing so;

4) Modelling grammar, civility, etc. for people in your communication with them will not result in their reciprocating;

5)  People are way too willing to give out their cell phone numbers;

6)  Teresa has better "taste" in bicycles than I do;

7)  Gazelles are played;

8)  Everyone has better taste than I do/did in motorcycle helmets;

9)  Everyone wants a bargain.  Perceptions of bargains are not shared across brains.

I'm glad our time with craigslist is coming to a close.  I won't miss it.

I did like the generosity of the woman who offered the fat from cooking her cats' dinner to anyone who wanted it, but wasn't sure she'd have any takers.

I suppose I can glance through that window into modern American Internet humanity now and again.  There's certainly something to learn.  Perhaps a bargain to be found.

Still and all, why do I think it's safer over at Etsy?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Water and grapefruit

I've been thinking some lately about water and the desert.

I grew up in the east, where the humidity made you wish for a little less water and a little more seersucker.

That's what roads usually looked like as I stared out the window in the cars of my childhood.

I've lived in Southern California a long time now and am still amazed at how adaptable I am to the dry.  I say that in what, admittedly,  has been a very mild summer with lots of "June gloom."  That's the marine layer hanging around the morning and keeping the afternoon cool.  Thanks so much Pacific.

I've been doing a little writing (of the academic type) lately about the "real" desert here in SoCal.

(That my paper proposal was rejected for my annual professional conference did give me pause.  I've decided to interpret it as a failure on their part, not mine.  My annual membership renewal for said society languishes in the mail basket, perhaps to go unpaid.  Oh, yeah, deny them that $100 and THEN they'll see!)

Honey and I have been frequenting an inn in Desert Hot Springs for a couple of years.  And, yes, I do mean frequenting.  Eight times in two years counts as frequent.  :)

Sigh.  We've just been back a week and I'm ready to go back.  I think the GTI has a homing beacon now.

The innkeeper, a man of considerable charm, refers to his pool and hot tub as filled by water from a "fissure."  He means, of course, that Desert Hot Springs is sitting on a big old fault in the earth.  Those tricky faults that cause all the quaking also can cause the water of spring.

Desert Hot Springs has all the water it needs and can use.  It's good water, too.  It's good to drink.  Lovely to soak in.

Elsewhere in the region, there's less water.

Looks dry.

One of my current fascinations is water of a decidedly undesirable sort in the desert.

That's the Salton Sea.  Formed by inadvertent flooding from irrigation canals in the early part of the 20th century, it was once hailed as the new playground to the stars.  Now it's a salty mess, that kills fish, smells bad, attracts shorebirds, hosts some odd communities, and just generally sits ignored (as best as people can) in the middle of the Imperial Valley south of Indio.

The kingbird probably has a better idea than the sandpipers.  Don't get in the water.

I got to thinking about water closer to home this morning.  When we bought our house eight years ago, I planted a very small grapefruit tree.  And small it stayed.  Mostly because I didn't water it.

When we did landscaping a few years ago, we had a bubbler put on it.  I thought it rebounded quite well.  Then Honey's mother pointed out that the "rebound" was what she called a "sucker plant" and not the "tree" at all.  Today, I looked outside and commented to Honey that a sucker plant had once again attached itself to the little grapefruit that couldn't.

We agreed to plant something else.

A little later in the morning, I decided to feed the backyard birds, something I've gotten a bit out of the habit of recently (for monetary reasons, mostly).  Nyjer costs.  Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't.

Everyone wants "wild canaries," but I'm here to testify that if you want goldfinches at your feeder, you got to pay for nyjer seed.  (Current price about $2/lb.)

Anyway, as I filled the feeders, I glanced at the grapefruit tree and thought, "what the hell, I'll go ahead and shovel it out today."  I figured we could replace it in the fall sometime.

So, after I put away the seed implements (bird feeding is complicated, don't you know).  Visit a Wild Birds Unlimited near you to find out just how money you could be spending!  Don't forget the nyjer is obligatory if you want the little gold ones.

I walked over to the grapefruit "tree."  Let me give you a sense of scale.

That's it on the left.  The tree (no quotes) on the right is the tangerine.  It has had many fruit every year, water or no.  Bless its over productive heart.

There's no doubt that water helps these trees.  Here's the orange tree that didn't produce more than a dozen in the non-water years.
See all those fruit?  We'll be up to our elbows in oranges again this year.

Did I mention that they're navels?  Yum.

So I'm standing over the grapefruit and I glance down.

Yeppers, those are actual grapefruits.

Water.  I tell you what.  Eight years on and the little tree that couldn't has four grapefruit on it.  And lots and lots of new growth.  I'm giving it another chance.  Redemption comes when it does, I suppose.

Now, if only it would rain.