Sunday, April 20, 2008
Everyone counts the arrival of spring in their own way. To a farmer, it's time to plant. To Ellen Tebbits (remember the book by Beverly Cleary?) it was when she got to abandon her scratchy winter underwear. For me, it's the Saturday when there are so many neighborhood sales I can't get to them all! I knew we were off to an exciting start when the sellers at the first sale were all in pajamas and robes. Well, all except the woman in the tiger striped pj pants and the black sports bra—the better to display her several tattoos.
Neighborhood sales are great—lots of sales close together. Housing around here is mostly built in walled tracts, and real estate agents sponsor of these events. They put up signs, run ads in the papers and on Craigslist, and cruise the neighborhood on Saturday morning handing out doughnuts to participants. Many tracts have annual sales, and some people participate every year. And some of those people yesterday remembered me from last year.
It feels odd to be recognized by someone you had a casual conversation with a year or more earlier. I feel completely anonymous cruising the sales, with perfect conversational freedom. Most of these conversations I forget before the day is out (of course, seems like I forget most everything before the day is out anymore). Then you have that moment when you walk up to a house, say hello to the seller, and she says, “Oh, hi! I remember you from last year. We talked about cats.”
If you are an animal person, you will understand immediately when I say that as soon as she said that, I recognized—not her, but her cats!
After that, I saw other people I remembered, including the elderly gentleman who sold me a pair of vintage leather Harley Davidson gloves last year. (My brother in law is a Harley rider, and now the gloves are his.) The story that came with the gloves was that this gentleman had bought the last one of a particular kind of Harley in 1957, and as he rode it off the lot the dealer handed him these gloves. They were in mint condition, so he must never have worn them to ride, and when last I saw them they were still in mint condition so I guess Bob isn’t wearing them to ride either. But they are cool.
Two doors down from the Harley guy I met up with someone else I talked to a year ago. This guy owns a retired police dog named Buster. Buster was so reliable judges would issue search warrants based solely on the his indicating that a car or RV or whatever held drugs. And Buster has lost none of his skills. He still sometimes give his alert signal when out on a walk with his owner, but the guy said when that happens he just hurries on by. Buster has just had surgery to remove a tumor from his mouth, but is back home and recovering nicely.
The most entertaining encounter of the day, however, was not someone I'd seen before. I'm sure I would have remembered this woman! I heard her as I climbed out of my car across the street from the sale, exclaiming in an accent I couldn’t quite place, but that included rolling Rs and long E sounds for the I: “Eeet is priceless! Prrriceless, I tell you!” She had long, wild dark hair, a prominent nose, and was surrounded by an energy field you could bounce baseballs off of. Her sale was mostly junk—some expensive items but everything jumbled together and old and dingy. But she was flogging her wares with the enthusiasm of a fairgrounds huckster selling waterless cookware or knives that remain perpetually sharp. I found a couple of sweaters to buy, her prices being low enough for my standards, and after I paid her she grabbed one of them out of my hands and held it up. “You do not know what you have here,” she told me with great intensity. “Thees ees alpaca from Peru!” I murmured that I figured it was, given its feel and the alpaca motif knitted into the front. She swept on. “Thees ees a wonderful sweater. Very expensive. You are stealing it, stealing it!” I forbore to point out the holes in the front of the sweater (I'll be felting it and using it for something, someday) and thanked her, but by then she was off to the next customer, holding up a stuffed toy and exclaiming, “See thees? Eet ees prrriceless, I tell you, prrriceless!”
As you might expect on a morning where there were more sales than I could get to, I spent a whole lot of money: $17.00. Here’s what it bought:
Two ceramic pots, each about 15” in diameter. Hooray, room for more plants! The gray one will be an upgrade to the plastic planter that holds my miniature water lily, since it has no drainage hole.
Oh, here’s a picture of the planter I got a couple of weeks ago—aren’t the leaves of that begonia just amazing?
This silly bird will be fun somewhere in the yard.
A funky little homemade bench…
…two vintage embroidered dresser scarves…
…a Christmas ornament, and some fabulous origami paper for some lucky children’s librarian.
Other door prizes are a Curious George apron and a full length cape with a spider’s web painted on.
Scored a bunch o’ soap…
…and a sweet little figurine for my office.
A couple of things to sell: cute chenille jacket and beautiful embroidered sweater.
And from Ms. Priceless, Noll is checking out a linen sweater from Ireland (apparently a brand sold only by Bergdorf Goodman and Saks in the U.S., so its original price tag would have had many more zeros than I spent on it) and the famous alpaca sweater.
She was right. It was a steal!