Friday, February 5, 2010


Rain. All day today and tomorrow. So most likely no garaging this week. (A digression: have you noticed how accurate weather predictions have become? If the weather gadget on my google homepage says it's going to rain in two days, by gum it rains in two days.)

But last weekend I seemed to have so much to say that I had stuff left over. Wasn’t that fortuitous?

One of the leftover pieces has to do with dating vintage clothing. I knew it was cruel to mention that there’s a way to date clothing by the RN number on the tag and then not tell you how to do it. You can find quite a bit of information by googling something like ‘dating vintage clothing’ so I’m not going to give you all the history. Here’s the how-to:

RNs (Registered identification numbers) are issued by the FTC to clothing manufacturers. The first series ran from 1952 to 1959 and includes numbers 00101 to 04086. In 1959 they began with a new series of numbers starting with 13670. It's estimated that the average number of RNs issued per year is 2635. So here’s the math: subtract that first number (13670) from the RN on your piece of clothing, then divide by 2635 (the number per year issued). The result is the number of years after 1959 it was made. The RN on my sweater is 94209; so
94209-13670=80539; 80539 divided by 2635 = 30.56; 30 years after 1959 = 1989. Voila! I've used this formula with other pieces of vintage clothing and the results have always been close to what I estimated by the look and feel of the piece. So I think it works pretty well.

The other leftover piece from last week was the dogs I met. As I strolled up to a sale, these two little cuties were in the nose-sniffing stage of greeting a yellow lab.
Size matters not to dogs, it's all about attitude. Guess who was the dominant dog.
I petted them all. The lab was a rambunctious smoocher, and I had to explain to her that I do not French kiss dogs. Hardly ever. The Westie would have tried the same thing, but he was too short. The Scottie, Gwendolyn (sorry, forgot the others’ names) was a perfect lady. In a couple of minutes, off they went with their owners, continuing their walks.

A few blocks away I stopped at another sale and noticed another yellow lab being petted by a boy about 8 years old. Standing perfectly still and calm. Couldn’t be the same one I thought. But as soon as I got within petting reach, she just exploded with joy. More kissing. More leaping. It was indeed the same French kisser. Her owner kept saying something about her being so young still, which turned out to be two years old. Not exactly a pup. But that’s when I realized who she reminded me of…our dog Kate.
Kate was our second dog, after the Samoyed/pointer cross I brought to the marriage had left us. (There are worse dowries.) Kate was the most lovable maniac that ever lived. She was supposed to be mostly Springer, with a little Brittany thrown in; we never knew where she got her short hair. She loved everyone. LOVED everyone. People. Cats. Other dogs. Toads. An acquaintance with a crawling baby spent an evening with us once, and the whole time the baby crawled all over Kate. She sucked on Katie’s ears, and poked her eyes, and pulled her lips. The dog loved every second. The next day the mother called us and asked us to give her our dog for her child. We declined. More than once hunters tried to buy her from us, because she looked like she’d be the greatest hunting dog ever. And she did have the best nose, but the nose was all she cared about. She was the hardest dog to train I've ever encountered. At one point (after I realized dog training is something you can't necessarily learn from a book, which is a hard lesson for a librarian) I worked with a professional trainer to try to teach her to come, and the trainer said Kate was the hardest headed dog she’d ever seen.

But damn, that was one sweet dog. Everyone loved her back, and everyone kept telling us she’d settle down when she got a little older. Didn’t happen. She was as wildly enthusiastic at ten years as at ten months. It wasn’t until she was getting rather elderly, about twelve years old, that she finally slowed down a bit, and for her last two years she was really the perfect dog.
So I petted this yellow lab, and then she followed her owner down the street. And there they were at the next sale, and it was the same thing—an explosion of joy when she saw me. And it was just me. She wasn’t doing that with any of the other people around.

So I have to wonder, just a little bit, if my Katie got bored in heaven and came back as a sweet yellow lab. If she did, those people will have their hands full for about ten more years until she finally stops being a pup. But they’re going to enjoy every minute.


  1. You are so lucky to have just rain.. we had another 4 inches of snow. Just finished watching "Best of Show" the movie for the 4th time... still love it, still laugh, still love dogs.

  2. Thanks for the breakdown!! I'll add this to my repertoire when out and about! Do you ever go to estate sales? Those are inside! There are a few happening this weekend. :D

  3. The title of your post gave me the shivers. MATH? I have a phobia of math! I couldn't even help my daughter with her maths homework when she was seven. So when you started talking about subtracting and dividing... I scooted down to read about the lovely dogs instead. I feel calmer now! xx

  4. You learn something new everyday......glad there are patient people out there who figure these RN formulas out.....I guess I am a moore visual learner....anyway...just found your wonderful blog...really enjoying it...come visit Dianne

    P.S. check your email from me.....

  5. Hi! Found your blog, somehow, and read this post and cried. . . . Isn't it so, our hounds are our kids aren't they (don't tell my grown up kids!) Yep, for sure that was your Miss Katie coming back to say hey. Now I feel that for sure that I'll know it when Mr Chuckles (our Chuck * silliest Basset Hound EVER!) swings by from Heaven. Thanks for a wonderful read! Patrice

  6. Good thing you stayed home! We went out to look at cars and run to Walmart this am before the afternoon wave of storms came in. Even got hail down here. I have spent the last couple of evenings looking at basset vids on youtube, and there is one that is absolutly adorable of a little baby crawling all over the doggie, who would do no more than perhaps reposition herself slightly. I am thinking I need a road trip to Phoenix to pick up a basset i saw at a rescue site there!

  7. I love your blog and almost cried when I read about the yellow lab. I have 4 dogs and one is a yellow lab who is almost ten. What a wonderful story...I do believe that was your Kate.

  8. Kate looks like a German Shorthaired Pointer. Check out that breed and see if maybe that's where the short hair came from. We've had more than one of those, and the personality sounds like a match too.

  9. definitely Kate coming by to say hi. when you kept saying she was nuts over you, I wondered if it was only you. some people don't believe in that stuff but I think it definitely means something.

    and thanks for the math...who knew??

  10. The yellow lab looks like our Buster...only Buster has green eyes and pink nose:)


  11. Thanks for the RN primer! And for the doggie photos, too!

  12. I always love to hear about your thrifting finds but I most enjoy the stories of the animals. Your post made me think of the boys I've lost in the past three year,two very loveable, very sweet Shih Tzu's. I miss them every day. Thank you for bringing such sweet memories back for a little while on a grey day. Pat @ junkblossoms.

  13. Surprise:

    You are on 10 Best Junk Collector Blogs

    Check your email,



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

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