Monday, October 13, 2008


Be strong, I told myself. You can do it. Remember: No. More. Furniture.

It was a desk. Midcentury, teak, modern rolltop design. Probably would have fit into the back seat of the car.

No. More. Furniture.

I love desks. The first piece of furniture my husband and I bought after we married was the Eastlake desk that still graces the living room. We were at the bank to get checks printed and saw it in the window of the antique store next door. Love at first sight.

(That clump of dog hair by the leg of the desk is fresh—I really did vacuum yesterday!)

Expensive—a whole $50. I know, doesn’t sound like much now. You can easily spend that on dinner for two at a semi-decent restaurant (or dinner for four at McDonald’s), but this was in 1972. We dithered a bit over spending that much, then the store offered to deliver it, so when we picked up our new checks we wrote the first one for $50. One of these days we need to get the leather top replaced, which will probably cost more than the original price unless I can figure out how to do it myself. Hmmm, note to self—keep an eye out on Saturday mornings for a large piece of very thin brown leather…)

But: No. More. Furniture. I was brave and strong. I got in the car and drove away. Yes, I was the person in the green convertible chanting out loud as she drove: No more furniture. No more furniture. No more furniture.

After dealing with hundreds of pieces of stuff at the sale we did last weekend for my mother, I am determined to bring home only things I can actually use. In that spirit I made a little Halloween display in the living room yesterday with yard sale purchases (all except for the nose mask on the cat pillow—I made that about 25 years ago—a story for another time!)

This restraint will be good for my character development, right? And even though there was a huge neighborhood sale and I made dozens of stops, there was very little that actually tempted me. It was enough to drive around on an absolutely beautiful fall day, eavesdropping on conversations and chatting with people, petting the occasional dog.

I was about to leave the first sale when an older lady walked up with her cute little blonde dog, which promptly jumped on the little boy who was helping with the sale. “Don’t worry,” she said, “she won’t bite you.” Luckily for her the boy liked dogs and had a relaxed mother, so I won’t be called as a witness in their lawsuit. (Hey, this is California. Everyone sues everyone here.) I asked if the dog was part doxie, and she said yes, and cocker spaniel. “She’s the color that’s hard to train. Three different people have told me that color of cocker is extra hard to train.” I bit my tongue and did not say what I was thinking, namely that this was approximately the silliest thing I have ever heard about dog training. (I am willing to change my mind if you can cite me some studies.) I suspect the dachshund part might contribute to the training challenge; aren’t hounds less willing than, say, golden retrievers to see the human point of view? No matter though. The little boy thoroughly enjoyed the doggie kisses.

A couple of stops later, I recognized a cat as I got out of the car. “Did you have a sale earlier this year?” I asked the woman by the cash box. “I think I recognize your cat.” She said it was her sister’s house, and she was just helping out with the sale. Which explains why I would recognize the cat and not her—though I do have a far better memory for pets than people! She told me her sister had left her to mind the sale while she went to check out a couple of others in the neighborhood. “And that was an hour and a half ago!” I just hope her sister didn’t finally return with a fabulous midcentury teapot, like some sisters do! ;o)

The recognition shoe was on the other foot later when I got out of my car and the seller immediately said, “I remember you!” That always makes me nervous. Did I talk their leg off the last time? “Um, did I behave myself?” I asked. “Sometimes I get rowdy.”

“No, I remember your green car,” she said. Whew. We chatted while I perused her goods (nothing I needed). On one table lay an odd little hammer with a slender wooden handle. “That’s a jeweler’s hammer,” she said. “We were just talking about that. My friend brought it over to sell but I think I really like it.”

“Here,” I said, carrying it to her. “A gift from me to you.” She thought that was funny. I suppose next year she’ll remember my green car and that I gave her a present, sort of.

The oddest sight of the morning was not at a sale, but behind a house—a bicycle being ridden in the sky. At least that was the illusion. Turned out there was a retaining wall behind this row of houses with a bike path on top, but the landscaping hid the wall until I got closer. For a moment there I was thinking it might be time to head home and lie down quietly for a while.

There were so many sales in this large neighborhood that they all started to look alike, and I wasn’t sure if I'd been down some streets or not. I mentioned this at one place, and the young woman promptly said, “No, you haven’t been here. We’d tell you if you had.”

All those sales, and I spent a total of $2.25! But I like to think I spent wisely:

DVD of The Princess Bride (upgrade from the VHS tape, which will be available at a local thrift store soon!)

A lidded porcelain mug for my office. I'm tired of the oversize purple one I've been using, and the lid should help keep my tea hot.

And a set of fancy tea.

Have you seen these things? Little silk pyramids with a leaf handle, which according to the company’s web site are “individually hand crafted” and “provide the world's finest method to brew a cup of tea.” Fancy that. You can picture me in my office next week taking a little break for a “feast for all the senses, Tea Forte is quite possibly the finest, most elegant cup of tea of all time.” These puppies are normally a couple of bucks per tea bag, excuse me, pyramid. I got the box of six for a buck, which increases my personal enjoyment exponentially!

(Picture from the company website.)

My last thrifty act on Saturday took place not on someone’s driveway but at our vet’s office. Our cats Noll Baxter and Mrs. Wilberforce both need prescription cat food to keep ailments in check. Two different kinds of prescription cat food. (This is one of the reasons I keep my other expenses low via garaging!) Earlier in the week the office called and said their office cat had sneaked into the storeroom and chewed his way into a big bag of the food Mrs. Wilberforce uses. Would we like to have the damaged bag of food? Hmmm, let’s see—pay $44 or get for free…easy decision! We arranged that I would pick it up on Saturday. On Friday my husband noticed that Noll’s food supply was getting low, so he called and ordered a bag. They promised to have both ready for me. The phone rang about ten minutes later. It seems the office cat had once again sneaked into the store room and tackled a bag of food, Noll’s kind. So that bag would be free as well. It was the smaller size this time, but that’s another $22. Definitely the best deal of the day!

I have got to do something nice for their office cat one of these days…


  1. LOL, bout time the Vets give something for free. Walk into their surgery and you are in debt before you open your mouth!

    Someone my dh went to school with is the inventor of the pyramid teabag - according to the blurb he put on 'friends reunited'.

  2. Never heard of pyramid bags but they do not surprise me! You had some great experiences on this excursion and the vets cat getting stuck into those bags of food is priceless.

    Maybe they need something interesting for their waiting some furniture...then you could still indulge your love of furniture buying!

  3. I like your desk. I am like you I don't have any room for furniture. My husband and I went antique shopping in Temecula. I kept telling my husband that this is not fun. We don't have room for anymore stuff.


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

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