Sunday, September 27, 2009


The woman minding her yard sale was reading a book when I walked up—a sight guaranteed to gladden a librarian’s heart. I said hello and asked if it were a good book. She showed me the cover and I read the title: Strength Finder. My first thought was that it was something devotional, but no. “I have to read this for my job, and then take a test. It's supposed to show what my strengths are.” She sounded a bit dubious, as I probably would myself. I told her that by our age we probably already knew what our strengths are, and she nodded. “Maybe I could have used this more when I was young,” she said. I suspect that when she takes the test it won’t hold many surprises.

Some people a few blocks from my house woke up to a surprise though—and have cause to be grateful for the strength of a fence. When I started out I passed a police car parked in the street with its toplights going. Beyond it, in front of an apartment complex, a large tree had toppled in the night. But a stout iron fence held the tree up and off of several parked cars. Wouldn’t that put a crimp in your day—to go out to your car and find it under a tree!

It was another low-key Saturday, and I don’t even have going to the airport as an excuse! The past week was quite hot though, which can be discouraging when you’re planning a sale. And because sales go on all year here, there’s no motivation to get it over with before winter sets in. I spent a total of $2 this week. You certainly can't say I have an expensive hobby. But I found two items I was about to buy in a store. Don’t you love it when that happens?

One was this hair clip.
Those of you who know me are probably wondering what anyone with hair as short as mine would want with a hair clip. Wish I could claim it was for some really clever use, but I actually want it for my hair. Which, while in a short cut, is longish on top, and when I’m playing Wii tennis I'd like to be able to clip it up. And now for twenty-five cents I can.

At the same sale I scored a pack of 2 dry erase markers. Admittedly not a thrilling find, but we use a wipe board in the kitchen to keep a running grocery list. As soon as an item runs out and the backup goes into use, it's added to the list to get a new backup. I'm lucky to have a pantry, and happy to say we rarely run out of anything. And one of the things on the wipe board was…dry erase markers!
I don’t know what these folks were thinking to put a price sticker on one of the notecards, thus ruining it, but there are enough left to make them worth fifty cents.
Looks like I can make a couple of pairs of earring from these beads.
I got them knowing I have a stash of earwires. What I didn’t remember was that my stash is gold-colored, and for these I need silver! Oh well, I'll just keep an eye out for some silver ones.

This is my frivolous, have-no-idea-what-I'll-do-with-it buy for the day—two cards of pink beaded edging.
I'm not much of a pink person, but these forced themselves into my hands. And when the price turned out to be a quarter each, I figured what the heck. There's 3 feet of edging on each card. So if you have any ideas on what to use this stuff for, I'm completely open to suggestions!

When I left this sale I saw a whole herd of ducks across the street—walking down the sidewalk. (There were several more that wouldn’t sign a photo release so got left out of the picture.)
So that was my big Saturday morning, but it came with a bagel and cream cheese and I had a good time. I have to admit that the thing that amused me most happened before I left the house. I was checking the ads on Craigslist and came across this gem:

“Big Garage Sale, Better Than a Swat Meet.”

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Slim pickings Saturday, on both the stuff and the story front. I had to pick up my husband from the airport in the middle of the morning (what was I thinking when I booked that flight for him?) so I worked my way through the yard sales in that direction until he called. Ironically, he called when I was at possibly the best sale I saw all morning, halfway through a neighborhood sale! Oh well, there’s always next week.

I did manage to pick up a few things…a handful of ten cent magazines
Marisa Christina Halloween sweater

A basic tee—100% silk (sorry about all the wrinkles; I pulled it out of a box of stuff, and it hasn’t been washed yet)

And a pair of green suede jeans to cut up for craft projects.

All for a total of $4.50.

I wanted to bring you up to date on how a few of my earlier purchases turned out. For instance, back in early August I came home with a cute table with a warped top, and a paper-covered lamp that needed recovering. I'm still trying to unwarp the table. Thought I had it done, but there was too much warp and it overcame the glue and popped up again. So it's clamped together and wrapped with a damp towel, and my fingers are crossed that I can warp it back flat.

The lamp was fun though. Once I stripped off the original covering, I had this:
I thought I knew what I wanted to recover it with, but I had an evening alone when my husband was off doing something, so I started to play. I tried out anything and everything I could think of that might be interesting with light shining through it.
Plain white butcher paper
A vintage sweater
Two kinds of handmade paper

A panel of Irish lace that I crocheted back in the 70s.
Vintage tea towels

The ten-cents-a-yard silk fabric I made curtains from
Various embroidered pieces

There were several looks that I liked, but I finally homed in on the tea towels—which was not even close to what I originally thought I would use! I had two creamy white linen ones with colorful thread borders. I used the plain white butcher paper for a base and sewed the towels into a snuggish tube that i slid over the lamp. A little hot glue finished the top and bottom edges. I love the way it turned out!

I finished another project just a couple of days ago. Back in March I bought this satin thingie because my friend Marcia said it would make a great Christmas tree skirt.
I cut one side to the center with a circle for the tree trunk. Sewed it back together with button loops made from some yard sale ribbon, then added frosty green buttons from my stash.

It's probably just as well the fabric is polyester…or I might have been tempted to try this as a jacket!
A couple of skirts were waiting in my closet for refurbishment. Both were too small and way too long—and that spells opportunity! I shortened them from the top. The denim Smith & Hawken skirt lost its pockets in the procedure, but otherwise was a simple project of sewing a casing at the waist and putting the original elastic back in. Now it's a comfortable gored skirt, fun to wear with a tee shirt.
Two weeks ago I bought a pumpkin-colored hemp skirt. It was definitely tight (something I assiduously avoid!) but really long and cut on the bias. Again I cut off several inches from the top, and added that fabric to one of the side seams. Sewed the original waistband back on, with a bit of fabric added in the middle back, and used elastic to replace the original twill tie. When I finished I had this much of the cut-off fabric left:
I'm really loving this skirt! So far I've worn it with a dark brown tee and the vintage linen sweater I got last year for seventy five cents. I checked the maker’s website and they still sell this skirt—for something like $76. Makes me feel like I won the lottery!
I had to try out the green leather for leaves on a felted sweater rose:
This was literally a five minute project—while the hot glue gun heated, I cut out a circle from the felt, cut it into a spiral, and rolled it into a rose. One of the back pockets on the pants was cut off and two leaves snipped out. A few dabs of hot glue and voila!

My last little project used up the end of the foofy edging I got to make party collars for my dogs.

Found a vintage coat button in my stash and constructed the piece on a circle of felted wool. Too bad I didn’t have the green leather yet, that would have been perfect! A pin back (another yard sale find, natch) completed things. I think it's fun. I can never get pins on straight, and with this one I don’t have to worry about that!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Early morning traffic light
Turned red
Reflected against the marbled dawn.
I stopped my car
(Rag top down, crescent moon hanging low)
And glanced idly at the sky
At the precise moment a falling star
Blazed its final glory.

First thought denial:
Trick of the eye, contrail, satellite,
But yes. Waiting for green
I saw a falling star.

Driving on I marveled
Anything can happen.
Surrounded by other cars,
Drivers unaware
That magic had just passed
Somewhere, someone else saw it.
Just one? Thousands? I'll never know,
And we are joined forever
By that touch of light.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I got to play Yard Sale Pricing Consultant this morning. At the first sale, they had some beautiful men’s clothing that a young man was checking out, but he left without buying anything. The price they quoted was $15 for a pair of slacks. Which would be a dirt-cheap bargain in a store, but not on a driveway. At least not in my book. So while I was chatting with the nice folks having the sale I mentioned that clothing around here sells for very little at yard sales. I suggested they try asking five bucks, and if that doesn’t fly then go down to a dollar. After all, the point is to get rid of stuff. Sometimes your choice is to get a buck for an item, or donate it to the thrift store later. And people are genuinely thrilled to get a good deal—witness all the blogging that goes on about what we find thrifting!

While we were talking the lady’s sister arrived and handed her a Starbucks cup. She said thanks, now she had two cups since her husband had gotten some too. “Give it back,” her sister demanded. I think setting up a yard sale probably requires at least two cups of caffeine.
The nice clothing they were selling came from the couple’s son in law. I told the wife she looked way too young to even have a son in law, and her sister beamed at me. “Thanks,” she said, “I'm the younger sister.” And her husband piped up, “Yeah, and I'm her oldest son!”

They gave me four little stuffed animals to pass along to my children’s librarians. Won’t these be fun at storytime or in a book display?

Met a couple of cute dogs. Frankie is a French bulldog.
When they let him out of his pen so I could say hello, he went straight to the garage next door. “He knows there are tennis balls in there,” they said as they retrieved him. Turns out Frankie is their daughter’s dog, and she has just moved back in with them and brought the dog along. Up till now our conversation had been light, but evidently the return of daughter with dog has been the cause of some tension. The mother began a rant about how no one should ever get a pet before they have children, you just want to run around when you’re young and don’t want any responsibility. By her theory I could never have had pets since I've never had kids. But maybe I was never really young; don't remember much running around! I soon made my good bye and good luck speech.

This adorable pup was passing by on her morning walk.
Lily is a six month old cocker/lab mix. Don’t you want to kidnap her?

Another sale this week was advertised on Craigslist as The Yard Sale of the Gods. Don’t know if it was the same folks who used that phrase a few weeks ago. You had to make an appointment with those gods to view their stuff. Since there was an address this time I went by. Perhaps the sale had been more divine earlier in the morning, but if this was the Yard Sale of the Gods, they were very minor deities. Definitely upheld my belief that the more hype around a sale, the worse it will turn out to be. My husband calls it a Two Bald Tires and a Candle Stub sale.

I felt like I didn’t find a thing, but I actually managed to spend $5.25. Brought home this nice linen shirt, one of Macy’s house brands:
It says to dry clean, but you know that’s not going to happen! Twenty five cent clothing gets a lovely handwash and if it shrinks, off to Goodwill.

This funny guy is a gift for a colleague who likes skulls. Now if I could just find a Screaming Banshee she’d be ecstatic!

Found some DVDs…
…and a CD of bagpipe music.
At my last stop I picked up this cute lantern, a tiny bit tarnished but that should polish away easily. It will be fun to see stars across the yard.
When I left the lady having the sale said, “Wish I could get in that convertible and go with you.” Come on, I told her. I'm just going to the grocery store, but we’d have a good time!

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