The through-line in Saturday’s garaging seemed to be dealing with the stuff that our elderly parents leave behind. It's certainly an issue in my own family right now. My mother has moved into assisted living, and as many before her have discovered, you cannot move forty years of stuff from a three bedroom house into a two room apartment. She was already amazed at what she found when she started going through my father’s desk after he died. I don’t know how he got it all into the relatively small space of a desk and a file cabinet, but there were financial records and receipts going back to the forties. She wore out a shredder and then took bags of stuff to a commercial shredding place. The scary thing is, he wasn’t known as the packrat of the family. You can imagine what’s left to be gone through! Kind of like the little scene I witnessed yesterday at a sale that had miscellaneous items strewn from the driveway all across the front yard. A young man stood by a single table of odds and ends, talking to a buddy. I heard him say, “This [pointing to his table] is my stuff. That [sweeping his arm to indicate everything else] is mom’s.”
In our case it's my sister who’s having to deal, since she lives about 1300 miles closer. I revere her! Go by her website sometime, maybe you’ll find a vintage item you can't live without. (Don’t miss the picture logo I made for her site!)
It seemed like about every third sale yesterday was stuff from elderly parents. At one, two ladies were talking about just this topic. One was moaning about the decades of detritus in her parents’ house. The other said her mother had taken a different tack. As she got older, she started giving stuff away. To anyone. If the gardener did a good job mowing the lawn, she gifted him with something from her house. The woman telling the story seemed glad she’d had less to go through, but she also said, “Some of it was stuff you wish she hadn’t given away!”
The sale I most enjoyed yesterday was just one of these situations. The middle aged daughter had a huge amount of stuff for sale, and she said it was just a sample. She’s planning another sale in two weeks, and she said her mother (who’s still living in her own home) doesn’t even realize this stuff is gone from her house because there’s so much more still there. Evidently her mother was a notable seamstress who had a huge sewing room. I found a number of vintage sixties dresses that she'd made. I bought one in hopes the stains will come out). There were vintage linens and fabrics and tablecloths. Another shopper picked up an old alarm clock, the wind-up type with the bells on top, and asked if it were vintage. “Well, it's from the seventies, I had it in my room in high school,” the seller replied. “I guess that could be vintage. Or an antique. Guess I'm the antique.”
I know a lot of us who love to go thrifting can be suckers for a good deal. The amount of stuff we have can get scary. My house is relatively uncluttered, except for my home office, which at times is stuffed to the gills. When I need to declutter, I remember what William Morris said: “If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” That might just say it all.
But even William Morris can't stop me on a Saturday morning, though I hope he slows me down a bit. For $9.25 I came home with these things that I hope are useful and/or beautiful:
A set of farmyard hand puppets for a door prize. Useful for storytimes!
Some prizes for my Summer Reading Program—embroidered bag (useful for carrying a book or two around!)
box of cute candles
vintage embroidered cloth
and a “Gnome garden” complete with three inch tall gnome, imitation grass, a garden background, and a book about gnomes. Okay, William might not like this one. I think maybe we need to add to his quote: “Or things that make you laugh.”
A couple of pieces of clothing to sell
A velveteen patchwork rabbit
And these are from the seamstress’s sale, pretty stained and somewhat battered, but with a little care I think I can coax back some beauty:
A couple of embroidered cloths, a very old one embroidered in silk, with insets of handmade netting (what do you think, Victorian period??) and a linen one that uses an unusual thick-and-thin braid which is couched into the design
Seven yards of vintage rayon fabric (for 50 cents!!). I may use this as the center of a bedspread, with some solid color borders to make it big enough.
And my favorite piece, this fabulous vintage apron. Looks like it was a kit, you can see the lines to embroider over in a couple of places. Don’t think this has ever been used.
Favorite quote of the day came from a man who said, “When I get ready to take my nap, everything that’s left is going in that dumpster.” Sure enough, there was a dumpster by the curb. My guess is his heirs won’t have a lot of clutter to deal with!