When you are in the bartering business every day creates an opportunity to learn something new. Today was no different.

We never know what someone is going to submit for a trade. Who can forget that 2 headed 3 eyed fox stole from the Huntsville widow of a taxidermist?

A gun safe and a 1930’s Barnacle Bill The Sailor toy had piqued my interest. I love an adventure. My twin loves looking for a treasure although we often are digging through a bit of trash.

Cindy was especially interested in the gun safe as she’s been shopping for one a few weeks now.

I was interested in Barnacle Bill. With Christmas right around the corner, it would make the perfect gift for our baby brother, Jerry who would often sing Barnacle Bill The Sailor to Cindy and I while home on leave from the Navy.

My brother sung both the male and female parts which left Cindy and I laughing each time. His version of the females lines were hilarious. Oh what memories of my brother singing that salty song we have.

Cindy’s been raising her twin granddaughters for 16 years now and doesn’t want Steve’s firearms in the house unless they can be secured. Steve like many has decided to buy a few guns due to crime affecting even Parker County. For twenty five years Cindy and Steve never locked their doors after leaving the city. That’s changed. Crime has increased not only in the city but also in the country.

Matthew and I have a safe in a secure area of our home and have for years but recently due to a break in near the Daniel Home, Cindy now wants to lock up her EBay jewelry.

On today’s adventure, we both had interests in this unique proposition from a man wanting to marry a female inmate in Federal custody.

The Sports Afield gun safe was pretty big and looked fairly heavy. Cindy has heart surgery last year and I’m now really cautious about my twin exerting herself on location. I couldn’t budge that safe. We were going to need to hire help. Shucks. Outside help always hits the “bottom line.”‘

My mind raced ahead to “who would be the most reasonable moving option?”

Fireman’s Finest isn’t cheap. I walked outside to make a few calls and was asked for dimensions and weight. I walked back in to ask. I walked back out to make more calls.

The quotes ranged from $200-$375. Renting trucks and especially hiring movers hits hard on our bottom line. I moved aside to talk to Cindy about this “problem.”

Cindy was already “set on this deal” but Wendy is (as usual) worrying about what we are going to be “out on transportation and labor.”

Cindy decides “we go with the cheapest bid.” I never like “lowballing a bid on movers” but I reluctantly agree.

Lowballing is going with whomever based solely on price rather than quality. I’m always nervous about lowballing. Why? Experience. On more than a few occasions, lowball movers have damaged property.

The $200 movers called Cindy today after not answering Cindy’s text about a time last night.

Obviously not knowing when they would be picking up the safe, we had things to do and headed over to a body shop to get Cindy’s suv repaired from a ding that occurred at Target while her daughter was borrowing it.

Leigh Ann swears she didn’t do it but nonetheless it’s an issue that needs to be repaired. Who knows how the car got damaged? I don’t care it needs to be fixed.

But, Leigh Ann continues to argue that she didn’t do it. I don’t let anyone drive my vehicles other than Cindy. My sister has consistently encountered problems when allowing Stephaney to “borrow her car.” It’s never been a problem for Leigh Ann and Leigh Ann wants us both to know “there was nothing wrong when I parked it. Call Target. Make them run the tape back.” We don’t have time for that. Leigh Ann contacts Target herself. Imagine her shock when Target tells her “they can’t see an accident occurring while the car was parked.” This only creates more drama as Leigh Ann nearly jumps up and down about “nothing being wrong when she parked the car.” It’s wrecked and it needs to be fixed. I tell Leigh Ann to please stop going on and on about what’s done. It’s done. I like simplicity. There’s a problem and I fix problems.

With the wind today Cindy was concerned about the bumper blowing off. The owner is friendly and sends two young men out then shows them the issue.

Within the time it took to load up all of the trash Cindy’s youngest granddaughter, Maddy had left in her suv, the car was repaired.

We walked in to pay and were told “no charge.” This confused both of us.

Those two men had worked on that fender at least 20 minutes replacing bolts. Cindy said “those young men fixed my car and you worked us into your schedule. There must be something we can do to repay your generosity.”

After a moment, the owner said “you can buy their lunch and we will call it even. Please come back to see us for all of your future needs.” We tipped both employees $20 each and they were thrilled. By the way, that owner earned our business and our referrals for his generosity today.

We left the body shop to head over to the flower shop and check on flowers for my wedding this weekend.

A color change last minute has me anxious but the florist is working in a “soft blue” to honor the grooms fathers favorite color. Sadly, he passed away before his son was rescheduled to marry.

We will also have a chair in his honor at the event with a soft blue sash and photo.

Memorials are weddings are very important to many of my clients. Years ago, my daughter in law’s grandmother and I butted heads over the maid of honor being remembered at my son’s wedding. “It’s a wedding not a funeral.” I was furious about this.

Melissa was my daughter in laws best friend and her parents were attending the wedding. I argued and won. Melissa’s father took her bouquet home. His mother took a centerpiece. I handled all of the flowers at my sons wedding. I made certain that Melissa’s parents (although divorced) felt that her memory was with us.

The arguments and the chaos at my sons wedding made it the most challenging event that I have ever had.

That’s saying a lot because I’ve had several “memorable” chaotic events since then as my dedicated readers realize. The grandmother and I still barely speak but remain civil.

Leigh Ann and Maddy returned to Point Hueneme Tuesday. We miss them already. Last night one of my prison brides in California posted needing a photographer. I quickly tagged Leigh Ann. I can’t wait to see these photos. Veronica is surprising her fiancée with this photo shoot.

At about 1:30, the $200 movers called Cindy. She explained we were in Fort Worth since we didn’t hear back about scheduling a time today.

Obviously, we can’t be in two places at he same time. The mover gruffly stated “we will go on to our next appointment” and hung up.

He gave no estimated time AGAIN. Cindy and I don’t have time to sit around waiting on someone and this guys attitude wasn’t what we had hoped for. After all we were planning to pay this guy.

I decided to send Cindy back to Parker County and run to Taylors to check on my rental order for Saturday myself. Cindy planned to wait on the mover to call her at his convenience while being concerned about picking up the twins, Maryssa and Makenna from school at 3:55. She told that mover she had twins and must pick up and drop off. Perhaps he wasn’t listening? Angry she hadn’t been sitting home all day waiting on him? Come on. No one has time to “hope” someone bothers to show up.

For over twenty years I’ve had my issues with Cindy’s saucy handyman, Jessie. He’s gruff too. Cindy and Jessie argue over prices for every odd job at her house. This irritates me. Jessie starts high. Cindy starts low. When Jessie does his usual half hearted job that isn’t adequate, Wendy hires a professional.

Hence my ongoing issues with Jessie. I continue to try and convince my sister that hiring someone else to do it right after paying Jessie to do it wrong is far more expensive. Cindy must enjoy bantering with Jessie. I have no idea why. It’s annoying and after twenty plus years of Jessie and his shenanigans, when Cindy suggests using Jessie to move the safe, I flip out. “What if he drops it? What if it falls out of the truck? What if one of his guys damage the house getting it inside?

Jessie almost always winds up costing us more than you think he saves us on a project.”

Cindy agreed. This wasn’t a job for Jessie. She continues to wait on the mover to call.

I’m walking out of Taylors when she calls to tell me “a teenager left a note and came back. His father doesn’t speak English and they are out of work. I’m going to hire them to go get the safe instead of waiting on this guy.”

I don’t like this idea at all. What if these strangers don’t come back? What if they lose the load moving it from the barterers home to Cindy’s?

My mind rolls on at everything that can go wrong. I’m a worrier. A planner. OCD. I’m constantly concerned about unexpected expenses. Cindy flies by the seat of her pants. “They will come back I trust them.”

I’m at Hobby Lobby looking at table numbers when Cindy sends me a photo. They came back with the safe and they are unloading it. I’m shocked. They could have taken off and sold it but they came back.

Maybe Cindy and Steve’s “money pit of a house” finally has a new crew other than Jessie who usually gets paid first then doesn’t show up for days because he went out and blew the money getting drunk and arrested again.

I can’t tell you how many times in 20 years this has happened because there ARE far too many “disappearances” with Cindy’s handyman, Jessie. Ugh.

I run into Walmart and see adorable Halloween costumes for my new grandson, Oliver and send photos to my son and his wife.

Robert and Stephanie are “feeding Oliver on a schedule.” Cindy and Wendy don’t understand this scheduling. We fed our children and grandchildren when they were hungry. On more than one occasion the past 6 months, Cindy and Wendy have both fed Oliver “off schedule” because he was hungry and “heard about it.”

I’m annoyed at this entire scheduled eating nonsense but have held my tongue. It’s not easy. My son answers my text. “We already have Halloween costumes. We are doing a vampire theme for Oliver, Stephaney and I.

Humph. Foiled again. I had found a darling Buzz Lightyear costume at Walmart. I sent a text back. “Well, I’m going to buy several outfits anyway that I think are cute he can wear them to play in. I wish you would both post more photos.”

My son “okay mom I know you and I know that you love to shop for Oliver but you are overbuying he has way too many things.” Me “well, I’m only going to have one grandchild and this will probably be the last baby in the family until the twins marry. Let an old lady spoil her new grandson.”

My niece, Stephaney is doing well at her job and I’m hoping she continues to do well. I panicked yesterday when she didn’t answer her phone. This always scares me. Her ringer was (thankfully) turned down.

We’ve lost Stephaney over and over again for 16 years. Keeping Stephaney stable this time is the last time I can go through. I’ve reiterated this with her over and over.

Cindy and I can’t go on the Stephaney merry go round again. We are too old, too tired and too burdened with responsibilities.

This is the last time for us to force her to straighten up. I know you’ve heard it before but this time we mean it. Cindy’s heart surgery last year was entirely due to the stress that Stephaney has put on our family all of these years. She’s forgotten the many things we can’t forget. I pray she continues to stay stable and finally get her life together. We all do.

I’m back at Fort Worth FMC tomorrow and realize that many of my clients are concerned about my health going back into prisons. Calm down.

Covid protocol is in place and I will take every precaution to ensure that I continue to be Covid free.

I’m not going to take risks and become ill making me unavailable for your event.

I’ve never missed an event in over 2k events and I’m too old to start now. I will be there and I will be there with bells on. I know over 100 people are relying on me to conduct your prison weddings and I will be very careful.

Many people have been contacting me regarding prison weddings although during this pandemic a handful of people are contacting me to “teach them to do what I do.”

This is surprising to me for a number of reasons but mainly because expecting someone successful to create competition that doesn’t exist is a crazy proposition.

I’m not employed as a teacher or tutor. What I do and who I do it for requires knowledge. EXPERIENCE MATTERS.

I didn’t just “wake up one day” and understand policy and procedure in 48 states pertaining to Federal, State, County and ICE guidelines. Quite the contrary occurred. I spent years educating myself. I am specifically sought after for many reasons and while what I do may “appear to be easy” it isn’t.

I answer a lot of questions and hold my clients hands through a very confusing and time consuming process. I know the answers to my client’s questions. I’m prepared and seasoned.

It’s not uncommon for me to talk to clients by email, text and phone call up to 20 or 30 times throughout the process.

What I do requires commitment. It requires loyalty, patience and experience too.

You can’t be me. There’s only one of me and my twin sister is my back up. Cindy also conducts prison and county jail ceremonies.

The barter today could have been a bust due to moving an item Cindy and I couldn’t move on our own but we worked it out and stayed within budget. We usually do and when we don’t, we take a financial hit but that’s the bartering business.

You aren’t going to win all of the time. No one does. But you learn from your mistakes and learning is something that everyone in business benefits from.

There will always be another “interesting proposition” right around the corner in the bartering business but Cindy and I have been flipping items for 30 years and over the years we’ve learned a lot by investing our time and experience to learn what works and what doesn’t. Again, experience matters. Other people’s businesses or jobs might look easy to someone who has no idea how much time and commitment is involved but looks can be deceiving. I answer texts, emails, phone calls and DM’s 7 days a week from 8AM-9PM.

Being available at all times for my clients is important.