Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fundraising update

Beth and I have had a busy couple of weeks trying to raise some funds.

Manga on Ebay

Beth and I spent most of the last week listing over 60 items on ebay. It’s a lot more work than it looks like and definitely a team effort. Beth and I sort through the manga she’s read into what’s to keep and what’s to sell. The sell pile then gets sorted into different days items are to be listed. Each day either Beth or I take the photos and weigh the manga sets. Beth or I resize the photos and I calculate the postage. I start a word document entering in the name of the manga set, the weight, postage rates and the ‘fine print’ which Beth wrote last time we sold manga. Beth is the one who lists the items on ebay, she copy and pastes the info I put together and then writes her own summary and review of each manga set. She also finds or writes reviews to add to the listing. It’s not what most sellers do, but we’ve found that people are more willing to bid on an item if they have positive reviews to read.

Beth’s part is the most difficult part of the process. And it has come at a great cost to Beth’s health. I watched Beth spend multiple hours each evening listing the items. She’d do it no matter what physical condition she was in – nauseous, lots of pain, eyes not focusing, weak from sitting in the bathroom for hours, fingers blue and drifting in and out of consciousness. Emotionally and mentally there was a cost, too. The listings were done in the evenings. As evenings progress Beth’s cognitive ability deteriorates. When she’s really tired, which she was, she doesn’t know who she is, her brain can’t comprehend the words that I speak, and what she speaks comes out slurred at best and jibberish at worst. But even if it slows so that she has to concentrate for each movement and putting up a listing goes from taking 8 minutes to taking an hour, she simply won’t stop. When she is done I try to take her to bed. She says, “I can’t understand you” (A couple times she lost the ability to understand language), and she points to the computer, opens up her blog and starts writing comments. Will she understand me if I pull my hair out sideways and scream I wonder? Why is she SO stubborn (she calls it ‘driven’)!! And why can’t she trust me to take care of her?

I am always torn because I know she needs the money and it will boost her spirits when stuff sells, but I could see it was really making her really sick. So as the days went by, as she worked for hours for 9 consecutive days, I changed from letting her do the listings and adding in the weights to doing that for her, then doing the photos. But I hadn’t read the manga so couldn’t write the review and had no idea what to start the bidding at for each set. After six days of working so hard Beth asked if she could leave the rest of the manga for another sale later in the year. I quickly said ‘yes!’ as it just wasn’t worth the physical costs Beth was having to pay. I was relieved Beth wanted to stop as she’s a very driven person when she feels responsible for something. And she was feeling very responsible for bringing in the money and pushed herself too far. I think asking for permission to stop was a hard thing for her to do but I am very glad she did it. Of course then she just ‘added a few more’ for the next three days in order to bring it to 62 lots.

We’ve timed the items to finish on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night this weekend. Once they’re done Beth will spend more time and energy sending invoices and following up with winners and I’ll prepare the items for mailing. Some packages Cheryl can take back with her but I will be mailing most of them later in the week.

The bids are slowly going up which is encouraging. Most only have one bid on them so far. If you are interested in buying some manga you can check out our listings on ebay. Our seller name is
l-bstuff. You may notice that a few of the manga we’ve received as gifts are listed. We hope the gift-givers are not offended (Beth is worried about this, selling a gift she has read). I hope you feel that you’ve given two donations for the price of one! Beth enjoyed reading the manga that you sent and now she is turning it into cash for future use.

Beth will take half of the money earned to repay an old debt and a quarter will be used to pay for items relating to the postcard project already waiting (an email correspondence from Feb 20th turned into an invoice 2 days ago). The remaining quarter is up for debate. Beth could have a reserve to use for future purchases. But Beth wants to give me the money to put toward the van repairs. The ‘check engine’ light has been on the last two weeks and to get it to go off we have to get one of the oxygen sensors replaced (over $200). I, on the other hand, am hoping Beth will take the money and put it towards the Sakura-con in Seattle next month.

Books, Books and More Books

This is a fundraiser for medical expenses… on Saturday there is a garage sale at the local seniors centre. They have one a couple of times a year and I’ve been going with Beth’s books or book fair stock from the UK each time. I manage to sell about a box each time. This year I’ve bought two tables so am hoping to double my income – or possibly even more because I’ll have more space to display the books. Over the years doing dozens of book fairs, we’ve found the more books people can see and flip through the higher the probability they will buy something.

When I mentioned to Beth that the sale is this weekend and said she wants to pick out more of her books to sell. That means going through boxes of books, looking some of their values up and then pricing them. Even if I do the heavy lifting, I don’t think she has the strength to do this work. The way she pushes herself really scares me sometimes and I just want to take her away to a safe and financially secure place where there is no need to work and she can just rest. For now, I am trying to convince her I have enough books already priced that it is not necessary to do the extra work.

I’m thinking of taking the laptop with me to the sale and if there is a quiet time, compile a list of the books, their ISBN and their price. As several readers mentioned they’d be interested her books, I thought I’d put a list together on this blog and those who are interested can browse through it to see if anything strikes their fancy.

This and That

I’m also planning on having a garage sale (well, a curb-side sale seeing as we’re in an apartment block) in April or May. There are some things in storage that I want to get rid of and some other odds and ends around the house that are just taking up space. I may even sell a couple of old kitchen chairs which belonged to our previous table and are currently scattered throughout the apartment. More space is needed to make room for the mobility devices Beth has in order to get around.

I advertised the old powerchair we were given but almost never used and have someone coming to take a look at it tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed that he will like what he sees and takes it away leaving behind some cash!


I’m looking forward to going back to work soon. My GP is looking at me returning after Easter. This is good news as I really miss having a full paycheque. It has made things especially tight the last few months and I want to say again how much I appreciated the donations people have given over the winter. I think many people are having a hard time financially during this economic downturn. Because of the hard times, any donations people give mean even more to Beth and I as we know how much incomes have to stretch. We do not want anyone to go without basic necessities so if you want to donate to the medical fund, postcard or other purposes, please only give what you are able.

Thanks again and I’ll give an update next week on how the auction and book sale went.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The importance of daffodils

I thought I'd take a few minutes out of the daily grind to write about something beautiful. Spring has started to arrive here in Victoria and I couldn't resist going out and taking some pictures of the crocuses and daffodils outside of our apartment. While crocuses like this one are the first sign that spring has arrived for most people, to me it is the simple daffodil which shouts sunshine, joy and hope. Not only are daffodils one of the first flowers to bloom in spring here in Victoria, but they have been present in so many 'firsts' of my life.

My first encounter with daffodils was on my first job in Winnipeg. Winnpeg is a few miles off of the longitudinal centre of Canada. Basically this means you're a couple thousand miles from oceans - the Pacific and the Atlantic. Because it is in the southern portion of the province, it also happens to be about that far to the Arctic Ocean, too. That translates to extreme temperatures - intensely hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. And winter lasts longer than spring and summer combined.

The social committee at my work was promoting a fundraiser for Cancer Research, an organization that uses the daffodil as their symbol. I donated some money to purchase daffodils and weeks later they arrived. Here it was, the middle of winter, snow had been on the ground for months, the temperatures were in the deep freeze and I had these bright yellow flowers on my desk. They gave me such joy and hope for the future. It makes sense to me why daffodils are the symbol for that particular charity. My second encounter with daffodils was during my first visit to Victoria to see Beth and check out whether I wanted to live here. I believe it was late March or early April and daffodils were everywhere. On the journey from the ferry terminal in Sidney to Victoria, I saw fields cultivated with daffodils. This was a foreign concept to me, prairie girl that I am. Fields were for hay, for corn, wheat and other grains. But flowers? Amazing.

In Beacon Hill park, a few blocks away from where I was staying and where we currently live, the hillside was covered in daffodils. Most yards had daffodils blooming too. All these beautiful sunny flowers. It was a huge selling point for me to move to Victoria. Beth was number one, but I think the presence of daffodils and the lack of mosquitos were tied for second place!
The first time my mom came to visit me in Victoria was also in spring and I took her to see the hillside of daffodils and from that visit forward my mom thinks of me whenever she sees a daffodil. It's a special connection, I think.

That connection was also reinforced when I announced that Beth and I were moving to Wales so that Beth could pursue her PhD. For those who don't know, daffodils are the nation's flower. And on St. David's Day on March 1st, the girls traditionally wear daffodils. (The guys must have drawn the short straw because they wear leeks.) Daffodils were plentiful in Cardiff where I lived. They reminded me of Victoria and my mom out in the prairies. And there was that cheerfulness about them that always brought a smile to my face.

When we decided to move back to Canada there was one thing which I wanted to take back with me. I had always lusted over the carved Welsh Lovespoons. A few days before we left, Beth took me to one of the Welsh Lovespoon shops and I picked out the perfect spoon.Here in Victoria, it is daffodil season again. I feel so fortunate that I can buy two bunches of daffodils for the price of a cup of coffee and bring sunshine into our apartment. Daffodils remind me that there has been difficult times before, but despite any adversity (weather, moving across continents, illness or finances) there is always something to look forward to.