Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Cry - Relax

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.
Jim Goodwin

My husband is making me relax tonight. No work, no phone calls, nothing that requires thinking. I've had a bad week, and it's only Tuesday.

It started on Friday when I found out that the eviction of the grocery store was scheduled for Monday, the same day I had 2 zoning violation hearings. The Cook County Sheriff only gives you a day notice for evictions. Unable to reach a lock smith - the phone numbers I had collected were disconnected (I had previously received quotes from 4 lock smiths), we worked on getting ready for the violation hearings. Last week, the inspector had cleared up a couple of violation questions that we were confused about, so we did what he told us to do.

Then, yesterday at 6:30 a.m., I headed to Chicago for the eviction of the grocery store in my money pit. Because I didn't have keys (long story - don't ask), the deputies and fire department broke my door. Even though I pleaded for a locksmith, they used the jaws of life to open it. The frame is bent, the lock is broke, and the gate was broke. I couldn't leave until I could lock the door. A welder came to fix the gate, a locksmith came to tell me he couldn't fix the lock, a door salesman came to tell me the glass door would cost me $1000 to replace, and my husband yelled at me for letting them break the door. I cried.

Luckily, I, an amateur on glass doors and locks, figured out how to lock the door. The plate was in the way of the locking mechanism. With the help of the welder (thank God - I had no tools) who had fixed the gate, I removed the plate and the door would lock.

Since I couldn't leave the store, I missed my zoning violation hearings. Luckily, the attorney was very understanding, and said she could handle it. I was crying. (When you are out of $$$, and you have buildings that are over 100 years old, it's bound to happen, especially to me. 11 of the 15 violations were dismissed. The remaining four I cannot afford to fix. I cried some more.)

After the door was temporarily fixed, I began throwing out the expired food, which was probably 99% of all the food left. (Do you know how hard it is to find expiration dates on some items?)  Luckily, no mice or other nasty pests! As I'm filling giant garbage bags, I thought of all the hungry people that could have been fed. I filled up 8 of these giant bags with just potato chips. I could only put a couple in the garbage cans because I have to leave the other tenants room for their garbage. On the sly and feeling guilty while I did it, I did sneak two bags into a dumpster in my home town - dumpsters I knew would never get filled in the week. (My luck - someone saw me, and I'll be called on it.)

When I was going in and out of the building, I noticed that the lock is broke on the porch. Luckily, I figured this out right away or I would have locked myself out of the building. The lock will lock with a key, but not unlock. I cried again.

After crying to my real estate agent while I was asking for a lock smith reference, he asked me to change the light bulbs in the basements. On the way home, I remembered that I forgot to take care of the one thing he asked me to do. And, to top it off, I put a for rent sign in the window. When I went to lock the gate, I noticed you could not see my whole phone number, but the porch door was locked, so I couldn't get in to fix it.

After picking up the broke ceiling tiles in another unit, which were caused by a water leak in the above apartment, I noticed that the boyfriend of my tenant who fell down the stairs and broke both of her wrists, did not put the skid things on the stairs. I needed to find out why. I got in the car, called my chiropractor to tell her I would never make it back in time for my appointment, and then proceeded to cry all the way home, which isn't a smart thing to do in Chicago's rush hour.

I came home to work on paperwork that had to be done, took a bath because I smelled like potato chips, and went to bed way to late. Puppy woke me up in the middle of the night, and would not stop barking until I took her out. For those that aren't familiar with Puppy, she has bone cancer in her leg, so letting her out is getting her off the bed (I know - I'm a softy), getting dressed appropriately to go outside, picking her up, carrying her down the stairs, waiting for her to do her business, picking her up to go in the house, waiting for her to get a drink of water, and then picking her up to go back to bed.

Lack of sleep, tears, and stress cause migraines. Today, I went to work, feeling like I was hung over. When the pain got to severe, I went home and went to bed.

When I woke up, my husband had dinner made, and told me I was to relax and do nothing. After some protests, I agreed he was right. I needed to relax or I would be good for nothing.

At this moment, I am thinking that he is so right, I needed to do nothing, and I am laughing. Life happens. My day yesterday would have been a good sitcom. Nothing went according to plan. Nothing ever goes according to plan. God is the only one in control. Even with the most precise laid out plans, I cannot control what happens around me. I just need to know that He is there, and, if I put my faith in Him, everything, no matter how messed up, is going according to His plan. My husband's insistence on taking the rest of the day off was God telling me, through my spouse, I needed to relax. The million and one things that I need to do can wait, and will work out, according to His great plan. And I laughed.  If I would have laughed yesterday instead of crying, I might have not had a migraine today.

Money Savings Tips

Salt's granular texture makes it perfectly suited for scouring. Even though you can use sea salt or kosher salt, table salt is the cheapest. You can clean:
  • Artificial plants and flowers - Place the fake blooms inside a paper bag and pour in salt. Close the bag and shake vigorously. The salt will dislodge accumulated dust and dirt.
  • Glassware - Salt won't scratch the way a scouring pad can. To get out stubborn stains, add some salt to the wet glassware for extra abrasion and scrub. Salt and water is great for cleaning burnt glass coffee pots.
  • Greasy pots and pans - Sprinkle salt on cookware to absorb excess grease. Dump out the salt before washing as usual. (Not recommended for nonstick cookware.)
  • Spills in the oven - Pour salt on the oven spill to soak it up. When the oven is cool, wipe with a damp sponge.
  • Stained teacups and coffee mugs - Sprinkle salt on the outside of a lemon peel, and rub the stained area till clean.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

Even though I realize the majority of us go through our tribulations, it seems like things don't ever go according to plan for me. Now, it's not always negative things that happen to me (like yesterday). How likely is it that an eviction would be scheduled on the same day as violation hearings, but you don't find out about it until the evictions are posted the day before? Unique and positive things also happen to me. Getting lost once, we came upon the most beautiful mum farm. All you could see was color for miles.

My one friend calls them Janet-isms - if it's going to happen, it will happen to Janet. So, one of my favorite sayings is: "This could only happen to me," and I laugh.

Relax and Laugh,
Aunt Janet

Monday, September 07, 2009


Our stories matter... Your stories matter… For you never know how much of a difference they make and to whom.
Caroline Joy Adams

My dad was a great story teller. I loved sitting at the table listening to him recall memories of his youth. There was the time that his dad brought him a pet baby alligator. It didn't move all day. When my grandfather came home, he asked where the alligator was. My dad, thinking it was dead, had buried it. My grandfather explained to him that it was just hibernating. Well, when my dad dug it up, it was definitely dead.

My dad grew up during the Great Depression in Capone's Chicago. His stories ranged from raising chickens, helping family, to a stolen truckload of candy that somehow wound up in the garage - I think they were Baby Ruths. Let's say my grandfather might have been a little shady. His stories included World War II, where he served as a tail gunner in the Army's Air Corp. Having been stationed in Africa, when he was returning to the States, he tried to bring 2 monkeys home for my cousins, but he got stopped.  He saw Mussolini and his mistress hanging.  The Army fed them steak before each mission.

I could sit there for hours listening to his stories. He has been gone for twenty six years this Labor Day. Only 3 out of 13 grandchildren were born at the time. We were all still so young. I had just graduated college, and I was the middle child. I miss the storytelling.

Storytelling seems to be becoming a lost art. Everyone is so busy, running from here to there, with so much on their plate that we forget to tell the stories. Stories of where we came from, stories of lessons learned, stories to be proud of whom we are. I am trying to continue the storytelling - telling my dad's stories to my nieces and nephews, so that they will have a glimpse of this wonderful man. I also know that for the storytelling to continue, I need to add my story, the story of growing up in my family. Like when my brother and sister thought it would be fun to use the laundry shoot as a slide, why we called my sister chimp, or how every night my dad would yell upstairs "Wake up Judy and tell her to go to sleep." She always fell asleep on top of the bed with her clothes on. Her kids say she still does it.

What stories are you passing on? What stories do you have to tell? Share them!

Money Savings Tip

Here are some cheap stain removers from stuff you have laying around the house. Always test the stain removal product in a hidden area first to make sure it does not damage fabric in any way (bleach, fade, etc.).

  • Ink - Hairspray - Put piece of paper towel behind fabric.  Spray spot with hairspray until saturated.  Blot with paper towel. Launder as usual, but check to make sure stain is gone before you dry. If it isn’t, repeat above steps until stain is gone.
  • Gum – Freezer – Put the clothing in the freezer for about 6 hours. Chip off the gum from the clothing. If any gum remains, use vinegar and a toothbrush and scrub off remaining gum. Launder as usual.
  • Rust – Rhubarb – Cut rhubarb stalks in one inch pieces, put in water and bring to boil. Let stand for 15 minutes. Take rust stain clothing and let it soak in solution for 1-24 hours depending on stain. OR Lemon Juice and Salt – Keep in mind this method can bleach the clothing. Sprinkle stain with salt, then squeeze lemon juice over stain. Spread the garment in the sun to dry.
I’d love to hear your cheap stain removers. Please post any that you may have to share.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

I picked up a saying from my dad.  When we were young and slightly misbehaving, he would say stop it, cut it out, behave yourself, or whatever was appropriate "Or I'll put my nose between your teeth and I won't let go."  It would always make us stop what we were doing, think about what he said, and tell him that it doesn't make sense.  Smart man - he got the results he wanted.

You have something to share,
Aunt Janet
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