A Most Excellent Swap

IMG_20160509_162719003   Ray's Afghan

IMG_20160320_093340395   IMG_20160320_093354064-2   IMG_20160320_093431136   IMG_20160320_093413973

My wife, Kathleen, has spent much of her spare time the past few years crocheting and knitting. Mostly crocheting, though. She’s made washcloths and place mats; hats, shawls, and ponchos (both adult and kid sizes); afghans and bed coverings (she chooses not to call them bed spreads). And no telling what else.

I couldn’t count the number of baby blankets she’s made as gifts for family and friends. She made a little girl’s dress for one of our church staff member’s daughters. She made an afghan as a wedding present for some very special friends and another as a housewarming gift. On and on the list goes.

She made two vests and a beautiful heavy wool sweater for me, and she’s making another one now. I’m not sure it’ll be finished before cold weather finally yields to warmer weather, but I’m looking forward to it.

Sometimes Kathleen makes something just for the fun of making it, and if someone sees a picture of it and wants to buy it, she sells it. She periodically accepts a request to work her magic for pay. Her products might sound expensive–the bigger products are worth anywhere from $200-400 and possibly more–but that’s at an hourly rate of only $4.00 plus the cost of materials. No wonder the kind of afghan I used to take for granted might average $175-200.

Ray Melton is a member of our church, and he is a woodworking wonder. I’m not at all sure what’s involved in the projects he creates, but I can tell you that a set of salt and pepper grinders–in this case they’re just a fraction of an inch under a foot in height–has the same value as Kathleen’s afghans.

Kathleen had been wanting a set of Ray’s salt and pepper grinders for ages, but that didn’t fit in the family budget. Not even the birthday or Christmas budget.

But it turned out that Ray had been admiring Kathleen’s work on Facebook. I don’t know which of them made the original suggestion, but Ray agreed to make a salt and pepper grinder set especially for Kathleen in exchange for an afghan she would make to his specifications. One request was to have “Ray’s” put on it in big enough letters that no one else in his family would dare to use it.

Isn’t that kind of bartering a great way for two people to get what they want with each person paying only for the materials used?

One Sunday morning recently when both projects were complete, Ray and Kathleen took the finished products to church and made the exchange in our Sunday school classroom. The top row of pictures are of the completed works. The second row are of the exchange being made.

Have you ever bartered with someone for something–maybe something you couldn’t afford otherwise? How about leaving a comment?


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Best regards,

A CraigsList Miracle

Okay. Maybe this tale doesn’t exactly fit into the miracle category. Not like when I survived acute viral encephalitis in the eighth grade without any ill effects after several days in a coma.

But it’s still pretty remarkable…

Some years ago I bought a “real” bass guitar. A Fender Precision, for readers who want precision about the details of the story. I loved it and thought I’d want to keep it forever.

Although I’d been a guitar player since I was a junior in high school, I started fooling around with bass probably around 1970.

I went through a series of cheap basses, but I only used them for home recording, and the ones I’d used were adequate. Sometimes I also played bass in church, and when I had the money to get the Fender, I did. Presumably the last bass I’d ever want or need.

About a year ago–I’m sure of the time because I was practicing the bass part for the Christmas musical and having to tote my heavy Fender back and forth between home and church–I decided it was time to buy a second bass. I settled on an Epiphone Viola, which was appreciably lighter than the Fender. I liked the sound so much I decided to use it at church and keep the Fender at home for practice.

What I didn’t pay that much attention to is the fact that the Fender is what’s called a “long-scale” bass and the Epiphone is a “short-scale.” That has to do with neck length, and that–of course–affects the width of the frets.

But this year the heaviness of the Fender–I’d developed muscle pains in my chest wall–and having to make mental adjustments in playing when switching between the two basses had really gotten to me in practicing for the Christmas musical. So I decided to sell the Fender and get another Epiphone.

I already knew that music stores don’t begin to pay as much for a used instrument as the owner thinks it’s worth, but Guitar Center would pay only $190 in order to sell it for $315. Hmm. Did I mention that the Epiphone I wanted was $350?

The family budget wasn’t set up to handle the difference, so I decided to try CraigsList. Since the guy who’d helped me at Guitar Center thought I could probably get $350 for it, that’s what I listed it for, although I would’ve been willing to compromise.

Within a day I had a serious nibble from someone who asked if I wanted cash only or whether I would consider a swap. I replied cash…unless he happened to have an Epiphone Viola bass to swap.

And would you believe he did? And he wanted the Fender because he was having problems going from a short-scale bass to a long-scale–the exact reverse of my problem.

He sent me pictures of his bass, and it appears to be in good condition. We’re supposed to be meeting this morning (the day I’m writing this, not the day it’ll be posted) to check out one another’s basses in person.

I’m trying not to get my hopes all the way up, but it’s not easy. After all, what are the chances two people would even potentially be able to make such a perfect swap? As far as I’m concerned, God had a lot to do with this happening. He knew what I needed before I even thought to ask Him for it. Thank You, Lord.

Have any stories about purchases or swaps you’ve made? How about leaving a comment?


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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,