Friday, September 20, 2019

Dished Up

I tell you, it only takes a short period of not being able to drive to really begin to appreciate the privilege! In fact, I've said for years that the best things about heading into “second childhood” (that rather condescending phrase) is that you get to be playful AND you can drive, unlike first childhood. So that period when my faux knee was still too new and painful to let me get behind the wheel lasted about half of forever.

But I'm back! And you know where my wheels would just naturally be heading – shopping on driveways. I ventured out with Judy a couple of Fridays ago (she actually drove that time) to a few sales, and only bought at one. It was the same folks down the street from my house where I bought 5 pairs of great shoes last year for a buck a pair (Danskos and Keens – who would pass up that deal?) I was much more restrained this year…I only bought 4 pairs of great shoes for a buck apiece! Keens, Danskos, Sketchers, 

and this cute summer pair. 

Plus I splurged fifty cents on a framed original watercolor. I know, I know, ever the big spender!

But today I actually did splurge, because I fell in love. With some dishes. Because about 3 days ago I was putting my clean dishes away from the dishwasher, and this little vagrant thought passed through my mind. Which was that while I quite like the dishes I bought a year and a half ago in anticipation of moving into my own house, I didn’t necessarily need to have a lifetime commitment to them. One of the great things about living alone is that I have only myself to please in these domestic matters.

As I made my rounds this morning, mostly on the west side of town, I was finding nothing of interest to bring home. But I was really enjoying myself because I was listening to a terrific recorded book, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. If you haven’t read it, run to your library today and check it out. Fascinating stuff. All about how we make fast judgments and decisions, and how they can be more reliable than well-deliberated ones. So it was undoubtedly being under the influence of this book that made me spot a woman at a sale and instantly think “I bet she’s a fun person.” As I got out of the car I wondered if I'd get a chance to test my snap judgment.

Well, all three ladies running the sale were great, friendly and outgoing (a middle aged daughter, her mom and grandmother). I heard one of them giving the entire history of a bicycle that had come into the family in 1971. You know how I love that kind of background. I wasn’t seeing anything to bring home with me until I reached a table full of fabric in the back of the garage, and since I recently did a major purge in my studio and have room again on my fabric shelves, I treated myself to this pretty piece, two yards for two bucks.

As I was leaving, I got into conversation with the mom, who asked me about the sweater I was wearing. It's an upcycle I created a while back, starting with an Irish linen sweater I picked up long ago

She noticed details that no one has ever seen before, so of course I thought she was brilliant! She’s now on the search for a similar cardigan to remake for herself (since I declined to hand over mine!) because she’s in a vintage golf group that only used old clubs and dresses in vintage-ish clothing to play. She was the one I'd made my snap judgment on, and I was absolutely spot on!

Made a couple more fruitless stops after that, both of which had fairly steep driveways – I was glad I had my cane with me. (Rehab is going great, but I'm still being pretty careful.) The last sale on my list didn’t look like they had much, but there was a cute dog wagging at me, and I make it a point always to stop for a cute dog. Apparently what this cute dog was trying to signal to me was “Get over here! There are some dishes on that table you are going to LOVE!”

He was so right. Gorgeous dishes, Wallis by Goebels of Germany (yes, the folks that made Hummel figurines for so many years). 

I was immediately smitten by their beauty, noted that the set has more pieces than the one I've been using (including a teapot, creamer, sugar bowl, and jam pot, as well as very cool bowls), 

and after the world’s shortest negotiation over price (would you take --? Yes!) they were mine. Not only that, the lady selling them gave me a big hug because she had so hoped the right person would come along who would love them – and there I was.

Don’t you love it when you can make someone’s day? And they make yours?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hello Again!

Before I head out for my physical therapy appointment this morning, I wanted to let everyone know I'm doing great.I'm not yet running races, but am well on the way to using the new knee.

The doc said surgery went very well, and that the old knee was thoroughly worn out. (Good riddance!) I spent one night in the hospital, which was exactly like I'd heard it would be. Every hour or two someone came in my room to do something - take temperature, take blood, check monitors, read outputs. (Someday perhaps I'll understand why a catheter would need to come out at 3 am,,,) I'm sure I've more than made up for the lost sleep since then with a few days of fairly heavy pain drugs.

I'n not painkiller-free yet, but hope to be soon. And with the help of Howard, my walker (you know I name everything), I'm getting around pretty well. I was able to cook our breakfast yesterday morning, and that smoothie I made for dinner tasted pretty good!

The goal I'm supposed to reach is a 90 degree bend in the new knee by two weeks after surgery. When I did PT on Monday I could already do 88 degrees, so another week should see me well past that.

I'll be haunting the yard sales of Salem again before we know it!

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Quickie Update!

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm heading off for my knee surgery tomorrow morning! Had the angiogram last week and no blockages were found (whew!) so the cardiologist cleared me for surgery. My amazing buddy Marcia has extended her visit to the end of the month, and I have such great friends around here so I know I'll be well taken care of.

Also wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU for all the well wishes and support from YOU! More than half the fun of doing this blog has been hearing from my readers. I'm looking forward to lots more thrifty adventures in the years to come.

I probably won't be able to shop on driveways for a few weeks, but Marcia and I found some fun stuff over the past couple of weekends, so as soon as I can spend time at my computer I'll share some of that. Warning, there's some extreme cuteness ahead!

Monday, July 29, 2019

You Never Know

I think I met an angel at a garage sale the other day.

When you and I last met, I mentioned that my long-awaited knee replacement surgery was finally just around the corner. There were a couple of pre-op visits with doctors to get through and then my friend Marcia would arrive in town, we’d have a few days of fun and then the surgery.

Things didn’t happen quite like that.

My primary care person looked at the EKG that had been done in March and said there was an issue with my heart and surgery might have to be postponed. NO, I replied. We can't. I have so many ducks lined up by now that it looks like a waterfowl convention. (I didn't say you had four months to figure this out, but believe me I wanted to.) That was on Friday, and they scrambled around and found a cardiologist who could see me on Monday (one week before surgery). 

Saw the cardiologist (a bit of a saga of its own, him being or at least looking 12 years old), who ordered an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test. Finished the tests Thursday afternoon, after which he had his assistant call me and say that there’s an issue with my arteries and that he would see me in a couple of weeks when he got back from vacation to discuss how to proceed and my knee surgery is cancelled for now.

Um, no. 

It was the bit about his vacation that pushed me over the edge. I showed up at the heart clinic on Friday and very politely kept in their faces until I got an appointment with him that day. Long story kept (sort of!) short, they need to do an angiogram to find out what’s actually going on. If it's minor, they’ll put in a stent and I'll be okay for knee surgery. But if it’s something worse, I may be looking at a future bypass. (The fun just never stops, you know?) And the doc somehow was able to schedule this angiogram for August 7 at 7 a.m. I had the impression he was hoping I'd say oh no, that’s too early in the morning, but he doesn’t know I usually get up about 4 a.m.

Okay, you’re saying, so where is this angel you mentioned?

Marcia and I had a couple of hours to kill between the time we showed up at the heart clinic and the appointment time with the doc. So you know exactly what we did – we went to some sales! I spent a whole quarter at one place for this massager thingie. 

It feels great gliding over your tense back muscles and I figure I may be feeling some tension in the coming days.

It was actually our very first stop where we got to talking to the lady minding the sale. One of those conversations that hops, skips and jumps from one topic to another, and my postponed knee surgery came up. Turns out she has the same orthopedist as me and was telling me about how great he is. Then when she heard about the heart stuff, she said, “Now I know why we met this morning.” She came out from behind the table set up in front of the garage, and I said something like oh, I get a hug. “Yes, that too,” she said, “but I'm going to pray for you.” And she laid her hand on my shoulder.

Here’s the thing. I certainly have spiritual beliefs that I hold dear, and happily discuss them with people close to me, but I do not participate in organized religion. So I was a little uncomfortable with being prayed over. But I could tell she was sincere and well-meaning so I smiled and stood there, and she began to pray.

And it was lovely. It was not pushy or proselytizing, but rather a heartfelt call to the universal spirit to take care of me. I don't remember exactly what she said except for asking for the “best possible outcome” for me. It was exactly what I needed to hear and remember. She and Marcia and I stood on her driveway in the warm Oregon sunshine as her voice drifted up to the heavens. And then she said amen, and we squeezed hands, and someone walked up and asked her about something that was for sale, and off we went.

Today should have been the day of my knee surgery, and I'm disappointed that I've got to walk around with grumpy knees still. But I certainly plan to wake up alive after that operation and if something else needs fixing first, I'm glad we didn’t find out the hard way. It's never easy to let go of our expectations, but I can do it in favor of the best possible outcome.

And I'm pretty sure the middle aged lady minding that garage sale was an angel in disguise, there to tell me what I needed to hear.

You just never, ever know what you’ll find, shopping on driveways.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sixty – Eight Cents and Counting

So my knee surgery is next week, and it turns out you don't just show up at the appointed time. Maybe if you’re having a wart removed you could, but for a knee replacement there is much to be done beforehand. Rearrange the furniture so you can move around with a walker. Talk someone into coming and staying with you for three weeks while you’re on pain meds (a million thanks, Marcia!). Wash extra bedding for the nights before the surgery when you’ve just taken a shower with the special bacteria killing stuff. Get cleared by multiple doctors. Get blood drawn. Have x-rays. Get more blood drawn. Have your nose swabbed to find out if you have the possibly really nasty bacteria (hooray, I don’t!). Get more blood drawn. Get enough groceries in the house so no one has to go to the store. Stop using alcohol and ibuprofen.


On Friday I had two doctor appointments, and figured I’d find a sale or two on the way to the second one. After all, the first one couldn’t take more than twenty minutes or so, could it?

[Insert hysterical, derisive laughter here.]

So, no sales on Friday for me. Although I did score my temporary handicap parking placard, which I've been longing for as much as anything I've ever found at a sale!

On Saturday my ex came by to see the broken latch on a slider screen. I thought the whole screen would have to be replaced, but it turned out to just need a screw. (Hooray!) Anyway, he mentioned he was going to go to a few sales, so I invited myself along. It turned out to be a bust for him, didn’t find a thing, but I came home with some great deals!

Just around the corner I plucked this handmade Uncle Wiggly from the free box.

One of those “so ugly he’s cute” things. A lot of work went into the britches!

Next stop, a pair of shorts in my size – from the free box. (Deep purple, cotton, elastic waist, you’ve got the picture.) A side seam needed stitching, took less than five minutes.

Next stop, a couple of books for a dollar – 

lots of eye candy and inspiration.

Another place had fifty cent DVDs, classical and sound tracks.

As we walked up to the last sale, the lady called out, “Everything is half price!” It was well after noon by then and she’d had enough (and didn’t have a whole lot left). We chatted about her tuxedo kitty and I got to tell a few stories about my Millie. Then I spotted a set of stemless wine glasses marked $1.50. I love these for my iced tea and broke my last one some time ago, and half price made them truly irresistible.

When I went to pay, I started counting out change from my coin purse. No quarters left, nickles, dimes…pennies…

“Would 68 be okay?” I asked, a trifle sheepishly. “Sure!” So my bargain was even more of a bargain.

When I got home I was entering my find into my garaging spreadsheet, in which I note what I paid and a likely retail price for the same thing. When I googled ‘stemless wine glass’ I found two interesting things. One was what appears to be these exact glasses, on Amazon at $18.95 for a set of four. The other was a discount dish site where one can evidently buy a stemless wine glass for – are you ready? - 68₵ each.

A bargain, sure (though I wonder how much they charge for shipping!) – but I still got four for the price of one!

Sunday, July 7, 2019


I'd say it was a quiet holiday weekend…but the 4th of July isn’t quiet, is it? My poor ZoĆ« is one of the zillion dogs driven to distraction by the noise of fireworks (also thunder and anything else loud and sudden). I hope it's going to end soon; we haven’t had a whole night’s sleep for a week.

I was on my own again Friday and headed out with low expectations, although I had my grocery list so I knew the morning wouldn’t be a complete waste. But the first sale I stopped at yielded some great deals and a fun story. I knew they were on my wavelength when I saw the price of this 6 ounce Pyrex custard cup.

Then my attention was caught by a bunch of things made out of spoons, and I started hearing the story of The Spoon Man. The guy having the sale used to have a photography studio in downtown Salem, and he did the photo shoots for their catalog. Seems that the Spoon Man started his craft business back in the early 70s, selling at craft fairs including Portland’s Saturday Market. I understand they there sell to this day. He grew it into a mail order business, and they still have a website (you too can have some spoonery!). At some point a teenage boy started working for him, and eventually bought the business and has kept it going. I think that’s kind of amazing – you get a part time job as a teen making things out of spoons and it becomes your life’s work!

My first selection was this bunny pin, 

then I also picked up a spoon kitty

and a spoon boy. 

And a spoon kitty keyring. 

And these cute elephant earrings. 

And then I heard the tinkling sound of spoon wind chimes, and picked out this set.

But the piece de resistance was the spoon mask. 

I’m going to hang it on the wall in a handy spot in case I ever want to wear it. Hmmm, I have an appointment tomorrow for an eye exam, maybe I should wear it there? “Hey, doc, have my eyes changed very much since I was last here?"

I managed to resist the head pieces – with difficulty!

That’s quite a few spoon things to bring home, but my visit to their sale set me back all of three bucks. I refuse to feel guilty!

I went on to three or four other sales, and picked up a piece of original art for another dollar.

Heading back to my car I spotted their free-stuff box by the gate, and liberated this very nice canvas bag. Salem is now a BYO shopping bag city, so these come in handy. 

This one even has my initial embroidered on it! All it needs is a good washing, and if it should shrink or something my groceries won't mind a bit.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Solo Fun

All my buddies were otherwise occupied Friday morning, but I always enjoy solo garaging. Sometimes it's nice to go at your own pace, blithely driving on by minimal sales as the spirit strikes you.

(Using that word ‘minimal’ makes me wonder, though – with the seemingly growing minimalist mindset among young folks [a new book on minimalism seems to be published about every 20 minutes], what will the yard sales of the future look like? Okay, there’s your writing assignment for the week – describe a minimalist’s estate sale!)

I saw what I considered to be the most ridiculous item of the day at my very first stop.

A board book version of Moby Dick. I believe it was actually a counting book using the Moby Dick reference as a gimmick, but come on. Board books are aimed at toddlers, Moby Dick is considered one of the milestones of American literature. Think how confused the kids who were exposed to this thing at an impressionable age are going to be when they get to high school or college and find out that Moby Dick is about something other than counting sea creatures.

Needless to say I did not bring this non-classic home with me, but I did find a few other items to add to my non-minimalist lifestyle. Like an ornate metal frame for a 1909 postcard Judy gave me recently

and a beautiful little Wedgewood demitasse. I don't drink coffee, but this will be perfect for sipping tea.

I didn’t think these painted shoes would actually fit, but they do. When KK saw them her comment was, “Those are SO you.”

I've been watching for a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, and have passed up several because the prices were too high. This one was fifty cents – the price was just right.

These aren't the greatest for scooping ice cream if it's very hard, but perfect for scooping muffin batter. Much neater than using a spoon.

My favorite find of the day came from the annual sale of a couple of ladies over on the posh side of town. (The governor’s mansion is a few blocks away; that kind of posh.) They always have interesting textiles, and one of them this year was an $8 king size quilt of probably hand-printed cotton from India. 

It's stuffed with thick cotton batting, and the fabric is very soft. And it's reversible, so twice the wear before needing washing.

But of course the important thing is, the girls love it!

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