Sunday, October 26, 2008


I do love overheard conversations. I walked up to my first yard sale this Saturday, which turned out to be all kid stuff—two young couples selling off what their babies had outgrown. One of the women was saying, “Did you know you can freeze breast milk for up to two weeks?”

I glanced at one of the husbands, who looked a little green. But the other guy jumped right in. “No, but I heard on the radio the other day that some guy in England is marketing ice cream made from human breast milk.” Several people—including me—made ewwww sounds. “They said he offered the recipe to Ben and Jerry but they didn’t want it.” Sighs of relief from the rest of us at knowing we won’t be seeing this product in our freezer cases, then the other husband said, “I'm just surprised Ben and Jerry turned it down.”

Maybe he knows Ben and Jerry better than I do, but it's hard for me to believe that the purveyors of Cherry Garcia would consider anything so icky.

I finished at one place and spotted a piano on the driveway across the street, so I wandered over. I don’t have room for a piano and no way to get one home if I did (antique uprights definitely don’t fit in the back seat of my car) but I'm always drawn to musical instruments. (Should there ever be a set of kettle drums on someone’s driveway, all bets are off—I've always harbored a longing for some. Never played them and would not be able to do anything more than accompany CDs but that would be okay. After all, I play along with a lot of classical music on my kazoo. Usually in the car.)

The lady selling the piano was very friendly. In short order I learned this was not even her driveway, but rather a friend’s. She recently downsized from a four bedroom house to a townhouse, and had no room for the big pieces she was selling. Her parents bought the piano for her when she was twelve, and she said it dated from the 1880s. I could well believe it of the piano, but not of the little bench near it. “The bench looks more like the Twenties to me,” I said. She agreed, then added, “I should probably just throw the bench away.”

My ears pricked up. To a thrifter, this is code for “offer a couple of bucks, maybe she’ll take it.” But wait, said the angel over my right shoulder, you don’t have room for more furniture. Remember the desk you didn’t buy? And you’d have to fix this up. But this is smaller than the desk, said the devil over my left shoulder, and it would be really cute with just a little bit of effort, and it would be such a sha-a-a-m-e for a nice little piece to go to the dump. Save the bench, said that little devil, and save the planet.

Well, we all need to help save the planet, right? So I offered her two dollars, and she agreed. “My butt spent many musical hours there,” she said. “I used to practice the piano with my parrot on my shoulder.” Your parrot? I prompted. “He was a red-headed conure named Shorty. Great name, huh, I don’t know where we got that. He loved music, and always sat on my shoulder or on the earpiece of my glasses while I played.” This was back in the day of sturdier glasses than we wear now. I asked if he sang along. “No, but he would dance from one foot to the other.” By now I had a vivid picture of a bespectacled teenage girl playing the piano for hours with a parrot on her shoulder swaying in time to the music.
(Picture borrowed from the Internet…)

She told me Shorty was re-homed when she went off to college and her parents moved to a smaller house. She has gone on being an animal lover, and currently has a blind boxer. (We used to have a blind dog, so I'm always up for a blind dog story.) She got him from the boxer rescue people, he was the one dog they had that her other boxer liked, and only after she’d chosen him did they mention that oh, by the way, he’s blind. The really amazing thing is that this blind dog had been living on the street, picked up by animal control. We both agreed that he deserved a good home, and I'd say he’s found it.

At another sale, as I chatted with the lady, I noticed a large display case in the garage with some kind of colorful display. I couldn’t figure out what was in the case. “Oh, that’s my husband and son’s Pez collection,” she said. We walked into the garage so I could take a closer look. It was absolutely amazing. Her husband is a woodworker who built the floor-to-ceiling glass and wood cases; more are planned as the collection grows. The pieces were in thematic groups, row after row. If this were my collection, it sure wouldn’t be in the garage!

I was heading home—or rather to the grocery store—when I happened on another neighborhood sale. One house had some pots in front, so I stopped. I noticed they had one of my favorite ornamental grasses, stipa tenuissima, in a couple of the flower beds, and they were clumpy with seeds. “You can take a stiff rake and comb out these seeds,” I told them, “and your grasses will be pretty again.” You’ve never seen such excitement. The young husband grabbed a little hand cultivator that was laying there and tried it, pulling out a big clump of seeds. “Hey, look at that!” he crowed. His wife ran and got her dad; evidently this was his house and he’d been the one who’d planted the stipas. I explained again about raking out the seeds, and now he was all excited. His wife said she had never liked these grasses, but she was going to go buy a rake that very day. Maybe there was something to them after all. I hope she does—this is a beautiful, low water plant that only needs a little grooming to be a show stopper. (Picture borrowed from Flickr.)

A few blocks away I stopped at one more sale. The pre-teen daughter had their tiny dog on her lap, which forgot it was tiny when a neighbor walked by. It started barking and growling. The neighbor held a leash attached to a dog collar, but no dog. “Invisible dog?” I asked. She laughed and said she’d just dropped Frosty off at the groomers (I had noticed a grooming place a few blocks away). But the tiny dog didn’t seem convinced there was no other dog there—or maybe, given its size, it saw this as the opportunity it had always been waiting for to intimidate. (At the opposite end of the bravery scale was this 6 month old Great Dane I saw earlier, which spent the entire morning leaning against his person and shivering.)

I chatted for a few minutes with the mom here about decluttering and mentioned I'd been in Oklahoma recently helping with my mother’s sale. She perked up. “Where in Oklahoma?” Turns out that her father in law recently died and left them a piece of property outside Crescent, about 40 miles north of OKC—160 acres that was originally a claim in the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. If I remember my Oklahoma history from 8th grade, 160 acres was the amount of land you could claim in the run, and then you had to ‘prove it up’ in order to keep it. So the land this family now owns is probably intact from April morning, almost 110 years ago. She told me there’s no house there now, and when it rains the mud on the road in is a foot deep, but they’re going to keep the place and maybe retire there someday. I recommended that they read one of my favorite books, Miss Charity Comes to Stay by Alberta Wilson Constant, about a family that took part in the Run. The story is told by 12 year old Betsy and she is a hoot. If you liked the Little House books this is even better, so go check it out at your library, and if they no longer have a copy ask them to interlibrary loan it for you. You’ll love it!

I spent $7.75 and brought home:

A Disney lithograph of Oliver and Co. No, I did not buy this. The lady felt bad because the book I wanted to buy, a punch-out-&-assemble diorama of Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, was missing all the pieces when I opened it up. She gave me the Disney piece instead. Hmm, anybody want it? Leave a comment and I’ll do a random selection. Deadline…next Thursday, October 31. Woo hoo, my first blog giveaway!

DVD of High School Musical from the Cub Scout yard sale. Had never seen it, but we gave it a whirl on Saturday afternoon and it was totally a hoot. If we put in the second disc, we can learn to do the big finale dance. Gee, can't wait.

Very cute nursery rhyme picture frame.

Another leather jacket (not as spiffy as last week’s!). This one I really will cut up for craft projects, for though the label is Pierre Cardin, it's not in perfect condition—and it cost twenty five cents. I can cut up a leather coat that cost a quarter with no qualms.

A nice vase, not too big, and a sleek silver magazine holder for my growing collection of Fine Gardening. Most magazines I read and pass along, but FG stays forever.

A tiny wooden duck, a gift for the children’s librarian who has burnt her fingers numerous times with hot glue making activity mitts for me with little ducks on the fingers. Wouldn’t want her ever to forget those good times!

Some great pots from the folks with the stipa grasses. The glazed one was fifty cents, and the taller clay ones with the inset tiles were a buck apiece—woo hoo! I keep seeing something tall like a rose standard in those, but I don’t do roses. I'll think of something.

Lizzie takes her modeling duties seriously, doesn’t she?

And this is the vintage bench that came with the parrot story, in its ‘before’ state. I hope to have an ‘after’ picture before too long!

Oooh, I had a brainstorm while I was taking its picture…I can use it at my sewing machine!

Don’t forget to leave a comment by Hallowe'en if you’re interested in entering the drawing for the Disney drawing!


  1. I love overheard conversations. I usually have to pipe in and add my 2cents. Yeah, I'm that lady. I
    was once at a yard sale where there was a little grandma spouting off to the man having the garage sale. I'm sure what her problem was but she was ticked off at him. Next thing you know, the city police showed up and hauled her off. As she was leaving the guy having the sale waved at her in the back of the police car and said "I told you not to come back to my garage sale Myrtle"
    My friend Donna and I laughed so hard all day and to this day it still makes us laugh.
    You find the best stuff! I always love your posts.

  2. Ohhhh.., the bench.., it's lovely!

    The piano looks a lot like the one I have. A friend, out of the blue, asked if we knew anyone who wanted a piano. He was about to take it out and burn it. When I said I would LOVE it, and that I was sure a piano would not burn, he said "Wanna bet?" and told me he had done it at least twice before.

    I love my old out-of-tune piano. My playing is awful, but I just blame it on the old piano.

  3. What an awsome Pez collection!!!!
    Have a great week!

  4. I LOVE the bench!
    That is a real treasure. What sort of fabric are you going to use on the cushion? Black suede?

  5. You had a busy Saturday! I'm getting a boxer for Christmas. I wouldn't mind if it were blind. But that is sad that it was living on the street. :(

  6. Awww love the little bench and the parrot story.

  7. Fantastic deal on the 20's bench. I look forward to the "after". I always learn how to be a better yard saler by reading your stories. Thank you. Also, thanks for the book recommendation. Who doesn't love a good recommended book?? And, boxer fans unite! I had a boxer growing up - such lovable dogs :)

  8. I love how you turn garage saling into a social outing! I'm always in such a hurry to get from one sale to the next that I miss out on some fun probably.

    I'd have had to have the bench too! ;o)

  9. Good morning! I'm the woman you bought the bench from on Saturday. It was really fun to read your blog about it. But when I scrolled down and read an earlier blog, I almost died, the dishes that you bought a couple of weeks ago are the same dishes I have! I have a nearly complete service for 12, with all the side pieces! So if you ever want to unload your pieces, I would LOVE to have them.

  10. I look forward to your blog every week! Keep up the GREAT recounts of your escapades!!

  11. Beautiful little bench with a great story behind it. Too bad you couldn't take the piano too. That was just gorgeous!

    I have tagged you on my blog. Come on over and play!

  12. Hi! I have an award for you on blog...come over & see me!

  13. Oooh, some great finds! I love the pots!!!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

Pin It button on image hover