Saturday, September 25, 2010


If you’re here to find out what treasures I purchased on the driveways of the OC today, we can get that over with really fast.IMG_9381Yup, that’s it. Two DVDs at a buck apiece. But of course one does not know that this will be the only score of the day until you’re back home again. That’s the gambling aspect of garaging—each quarter that goes into the slot machine just might be the one that hits the jackpot; each yard sale you walk up to might be the one where you’ll find your heart’s desire for fifty cents.

I did actually see some other items that might have tempted me had the prices been more in line with my values. (Yeah, we’re back to twenty-five cent cashmere sweaters as my personal monetary unit.) One place had a couple of acorn items; for the oversized acorn holding a too-smelly candle she wanted eight dollars. Not from the Queen of Fifty Cents, my dear. That was part of a neighborhood sale in a condo community. They must have had a committee setting their prices—all way too high. I finally stumbled upon a lady who had fifty cents marked on most of her stuff, and actually thanked her for realizing this was a yard sale, not a spendy boutique. She giggled and said she’d had a lot things marked a dime or a quarter and they’d all sold. We both rolled our eyes at her neighbors’ still well-stocked driveways.

Hmmm, I just had an idea. I could write and print up a tract about the purpose of a garage sale (i.e. to get rid of stuff) and the proper way to price your used goods (very low) and hand these out to people with overpriced sales. This could be the single most obnoxious thing I’ve ever thought of.

Good thing it’s more work than I really want to do.

My first stop was near home, where a middle age couple and their teen daughter had a sale that looked like a place I’d find something great. Turned out there was nothing I needed, but the wife and I had a fun conversation about being early risers. She’s another who wakes when the little hand is still on 4, and we agreed that sleeping in is when we make it to 6 a.m. And why is it, we wondered, that morning people always seem to marry night people? We finally decided it’s the secret to a long marriage—when your natural schedule is quite different from your spouse’s, you spend a limited amount of time together each day. Keeps things fresh!

A few stops later, this little guy came wandering down the driveway. It’s a wonder he didn’t get stepped on.IMG_9374His name was Paco, and they assured me he is a guard dog. Well, maybe. But from his rather portly figure I think what he mostly guards must be the dog treat supply.

His spiritual brother would be this border collie mix I came across next.IMG_9377His owner was eating a muffin, and this guy was absolutely riveted on that piece of food. In fact, this is a more true-to-life portrait of him.IMG_9375 

It must have been black-and-white dog day, since I also met young Lady.IMG_9379 Nine months old and yes, named for Lady & the Tramp. “I don’t have much imagination,” her owner confessed. From that gleam in her eye, I think Lady probably has enough ideas for the both of them.

Hey, speaking of ideas, here’s a good one: if you’re in Southern California, come to the Shopping on Driveways program I’m doing at the La Habra Library. It’s a week from tomorrow, Sunday October 3 at 2:30 p.m. Free, of course! I’d love to say hi in person.

LH flyer

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I was a little startled when I left the house this morning and saw a cop car parked in the middle of the street at the end of our cul de sac. I was even more startled when I got down there and saw another one parked a couple of houses away, and a third coming around the corner. Have no idea what was going on, there were no police in sight.

I forgot all about them when I turned on the radio and they were talking about a piece of classical music inspired by Linnaeus’ design for a flower clock. He was that guy who classified stuff (genus, species etc.). Evidently he came up with a design for a clock based on what time of day various plants open and close their flowers. Seemed like a cool idea to me, so I looked it up when I got home. When I saw the list of plants, which includes dandelions, bindweed, hawkweed, thistles and goat’s beard, I quickly decided that we will continue to rely on watches and regular clocks to check the time. But at least it was diverting enough to keep me from wondering about all the cop cars.

Met some charming dogs today. Hooper belongs to a family of sports fans.IMG_9336I had to ask if they had said Cooper or Hooper. “Hooper,” said the elderly lady who owns him. “As in basketball hoops.” He was pretty bouncy, so maybe that was part of the inspiration for the name.

Jacques had just escaped from his yard and was being re-corralled.IMG_9337He is a French bulldog. I asked if he barks with a French accent, but I think it’s probably pure California.

Sammy is a chocolate Lab. Isn’t she a beauty?IMG_9340She is nine months old and is the only dog I’ve met on a driveway who immediately started licking my fanny pack. I don’t carry food in it. She was just a smoochy girl.IMG_9339 Her owners were pretty elderly too, at least in their seventies, and said she’s a great dog but needs a lot of exercise, which is hard for them to give her enough. But their daughter has a two year old Lab who comes over and the dogs play for hours until they fall down exhausted. We agreed that the old saying is true: a tired dog is a good dog!

After Sammy I met Katie.IMG_9343 Sorry my picture of her didn’t turn out better, because she was a love. Her owners told me they had been quite entertained by all the guesses people had been making about what breeds might have gone into her gene pool. I read somewhere that it only takes a few generations of completely random dog breeding to get back to the basic brown dog. Katie got sweet genes from all of them.

Around the corner from Katie, I stopped at a sale where the lady immediately told me, “I’ll trade you all this stuff for your car.” I declined (I’m sure it means I’m a terribly shallow person to love my car as much as I do) but encouraged her to go for a convertible the next car she buys. She told me she really wants one but it doesn’t seem practical, so I pointed out how extremely useful a convertible is for garaging on Saturday morning. Got that Heywood Wakefield vanity and mirror in the back seat just fine! As someone commented, my car is a pickup in disguise.

There were some shoppers at her sale with a small terrier (I’ve seen them around before) and when her husband came out with their dog they snatched the terrier up into their arms. “He doesn’t like other dogs,” they said. “He thinks he’s a person.” (I managed not to point out that I think I’m a person and I like other dogs.) Here’s the raging beast they were saving him from.

IMG_9345 IMG_9346

I guess you can never be too careful. Fortunately the terrier folks left before Nissa came by.

She’s a Samoyed mix that he got from the Samoyed rescue folks. I have a soft spot for these, since we had a Samoyed/Pointer mix for several years when we were first married.

So it was quite a doggy morning. Besides the dogs, I took pictures of one more thing while I was out. Saw this box and wondered what size they are.IMG_9341 Opened it up, and decided the contents would not fit.IMG_9342

I spent $4.00 this morning. This has been quite an inexpensive hobby lately! My first buy was some mailing envelopes.IMG_9356When your order your copy of MY NOVEL :o) you can now be assured it will be sent in a quality, genuine, yard sale envelope. (I know…how special is that!)

The lady who wanted my car gave me a good deal on a couple of DVDs.IMG_9355Can’t wait to try At the Earth’s Core… the back cover promises murderous monsters, scantily clad prehistoric playmates and telepathic pterodactyls in an underground empire where all the humanoids have been enslaved. Zowie.

Found one item to give away to a children’s librarian.IMG_9349 Hard to tell from the picture but the butterfly is mounted on the tip of a ribbon-wrapped stick, a sort of butterfly wand. Should be fun at storytimes. Of course, it means depriving our Noll. He was quite fascinated by those fluttering ribbons.IMG_9353 My last find came from Hooper the basketball dog’s sale, and I just love it. Another addition to my acorn collection.IMG_9360 It’s a vintage gold-toned pin, 1.5 inches across, probably from the Sixties, signed Giovanni on the back of the leaf.IMG_9363The leaf is etched to make it look more like an oak leaf. Tried to get a picture but my camera’s macro setting is just not that macro.

When I returned home, The neighborhood was still standing and no cop cars were in sight.

I took it as a good sign.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I've been on vacation from my job for the past three weeks, and I have no idea why I never took a three week vacation before. I have plenty of time saved up from working here nearly ten years. I guess I was being frugal with my leave time, as I try to be with other resources, but a longer time off has been so nice that I have seen the light on this one. I know I will most likely never ever catch up with my work, but I was never going to catch up anyway—there’s always more to do. We are not big travelers and had various appointments to keep, so we stayed home, slept in our own bed, and had a few special dinners out. I always say we live in a resort anyway, complete with a pool and a hammock. What more could one want on a vacation?

Friday we took a little day trip. We talked about driving up to LA to the county art museum, but ended up instead in Long Beach. Long Beach? some of you are saying in a skeptical tone of voice. But it was great. Had a lovely lunch in a crepe restaurant we hadn't been to before, then hit Retro Row on 4th Street where there are a number of stores featuring Midcentury Modern stuff. Saw several pieces of furniture to drool over, but they had antique store prices. The most satisfying part of the day for me was seeing things I had bought at yard sales and the prices they would bring in a store. My $5.00 Siesta chair was there.
The one in the store had the footstool with it and the pair were marked $395. I win! We saw lots of Heywood-Wakefield priced about twenty times higher than our vanity.
I even saw a brown version of this mystery teapot I bought a while back.
Asked the dealer if he knew anything about it since there were no markings on the bottom, and he said there are some but they’re very faint. We made out the word Japan (no surprise there) and he kept studying the faint marks in the glaze. He finally decided he could see ‘Robert Steven’ and then a last name starting with a W. That’s enough for a librarian to go on! Didn’t find much info, but apparently the designer was Robert Steven Witkoff. I paid fifty cents or a buck for mine, the one in the store was marked $49. I win again!

One of the places we perused was a vintage clothing store. Thought you might enjoy seeing the doors on their dressing rooms.
There are also a few thrift stores on Retro Row. The Assistance League store was quite nice and I fell into conversation with the volunteer who was rearranging the vintage purses. They were fun but I didn’t see anything I liked as much as the ones I already have, like my little Saks bag I picked up a couple of years ago.
She had most of the bags arranged to her liking but there was a little coin purse that wouldn’t stand right. “This needs some stuffing,” she said. “You got anything in your bra?” I cracked up, then assured her there was nothing in there I could spare.

We started home and hit the freeway, merging into the crawling Friday evening traffic. We looked at each other and agreed we were awfully glad we hadn't gone all the way to LA.

Today I hit the road again with my friend Marcia and her sister Lynn, who was visiting from Sacramento. We got started a little bit late, because someone’s alarm didn’t go off. Fortunately I didn’t see anyone driving off from a sale with something I really wanted. Good thing, or someone would have been in trouble! But it didn’t matter, we all found stuff we could use, and these doggies were at home and willing to visit. First was this cutie, whose name was Cody or Cokie or something like that. (Sorry, old age. I never worry when I can't remember a person’s name, but it seems strange not to remember a dog’s.)
Scout was sequestered in his garage, and told us how very much he wanted to come out to help us shop.
Oreo, according to his owner, is the fastest and cutest dog at the dog park. Certainly has some of the finest ears.
Thought for a while I was going to make it home without buying anything, but ultimately spent $4.55. You may remember I bought my hubs a pair of Levi’s a couple of weeks ago, and rather than take their picture I had you imagine them. So now you have to change your mental picture. They were marked the right size, but had shrunk and were too small. So take the Levi’s out of the picture and substitute a pair of straight cut Ralph Lauren jeans. This pair is a little roomy, but I figure that’s a plus since they’re intended for working in the yard. And don’t you love being able to use a pricey brand for yard work? Ralph's jeans start at $75 and go up from there—unless you buy them on a driveway, when the price goes down. Way, way down.

A few stops later we were looking at some items and the lady told us that anything on the table was a dime. I saw this box of foam shapes and asked how much for the whole box.
She mulled it over, then said, “A dime.” I said I liked her, she spoke my language. So I ended up with a two dozen green hands and these cute little craft thingies where you glue in a kid’s picture and it has a magnet on the back. Future door prizes.

I also bought some red spray paint (I must have something that needs to be painted red)
some bookmarks
and a catch-and-toss game with polar bears from her. Ended up parting with a whole fifty five cents there.
Down the road I bought this book to give my next door neighbor.
She is a brand new kindergarten teacher; after years of being an aide she has her own classroom now. She will definitely need Frog and Toad.

I'll include some of these stickers I scored from a retired teacher, and the rest will be for my children’s librarians.

The retired teacher had a lot of bunny items, and I succumbed to the charms of these bunny pot feet.
Had to explain to my hubs what they are for (to keep plant pots from marring your deck or patio). I really got them for him, because our retirement house has that fabulous deck, and I know he will want to keep it pristine. And for that, of course he will need bunny pot feet.

Thanks to all who left kind words about my book! If you’ve ordered a copy and find you like it, it would be great if you could leave a short review on Amazon or Smashwords to help us create some buzz. And no worries that I'll stop being the Queen of Fifty Cents—that will never happen!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I'd be announcing something special soon, and today is the day. I am so excited to be able to tell you all this:


Sleeping Dogs Lie is a funny, cozy thriller/mystery—with dogs. You are going to love it!
On a rainy October night, Louisa McGuire waits in the car while her friend Bob makes a dash into the grocery store. Soon he comes out again—but with him is a woman in a sleek red suit. She leads him to her Mercedes and they drive away. Has Louisa been ditched, or has Bob been kidnapped? She enlists the help of her cousin Kay, owner of an antique store, and two intrepid canines, Jack and Emily Ann, to follow the scant clues to find Bob. Find him they do—but when they learn who he really is, they learn that the stakes are high. Can they avoid being the next victims of a cold-blooded murderer?
This is the first in a series; the second book, In Dogs We Trust, is in the editing stage. And I've got a first draft written of book three (which means a lot of work left to do!).

Sleeping Dogs Lie is available as a trade paperback from the publisher’s website here. We hope to have it available soon from Amazon. But if you buy it direct we don’t have to share the money with Amazon, and quite honestly they didn’t help with any of the work of writing or publishing it! The price is $15.95, plus some shipping, and tax if you’re in California.

If you or someone you know prefers ebooks, you can buy the Kindle version from Amazon here, or go to Smashwords for downloads to Sony Reader, the Nook, most mobile apps [Stanza, Aldiko, Shortcovers], Palm Pilot and others. The ebook is only $3.99—such a deal!

Want to try a bit of it first? Read an excerpt here.

So here’s the shameless self-promotion: please buy my book! It’s sheer fun to read. Thanks!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Holidays are a good thing. I know this. I don’t resent them for decreasing the number of yard sales. That would be small of me. Doesn’t matter in the slightest.


Actually, it was a very nice morning. The town I live in allows sales only four weekends a year, and this was one of them. So my husband and I headed over to the posh part of town, with houses built from the Twenties into the Sixties. Many of them have huge front lawns, and there’s lots of beautiful landscaping. I had to laugh when the daughter at this place called it the “chia house.”
Here’s my favorite house of the morning.
The roofing rolls over the edges to imitate a thatched roof, and there are a number of examples in this neighborhood. But this one was just spectacular.

The homeowner is probably accustomed to people standing on the sidewalk gawping at their roof. At least no one came out to shoo us away.

Met a couple of cute little dogs. Betsy the poodle was enjoying her bed in the sunshine.
Pebbles is a Yorkie/Poodle cross. They called her a yorkie-poo, but I think this mix should either be a Yoodle or a Porkie.
You can't see it very well in this picture, but she had bows on her ears. It's her birthday and she was celebrating.

And even though the number of sales was pretty small, I experienced what had to be a first today. I was chatting with a young man having a sale; he was telling me about his two year old and being the good children’s librarian that I am I made sure she’s being read to. He’s doing all the right stuff. Anyway, as the conversation went on, it came out that we actually have a mutual acquaintance. He used to date the daughter of a retired colleague, a woman I used to go to yard sales with sometimes. Small world!

It's probably just as well there weren’t too many sales. I still managed to spend $7.50; just imagine how wild I might have gotten otherwise. The big splash-out was for a whole bag of Mary Engelbreit’s magazine.
This ought to be enough cuteness to hold me for a while. We also picked up a 1955 science fiction book that looks like a hoot and one by Orson Scott Card.

I resisted buying this vintage Harlequin romance, though the cover did crack me up.
Steven bought a trowel thingie for fixing some tiles on our front porch.
I splurged on a ball of garden twine.
And at our very last stop, a couple of blocks from home, we bought a luggage cart thingie.
Used to have one, but it got lost somehow in the past few months. These are getting harder to find since most suitcases are made with wheels these days, but they come awfully handy when you’ve got to get through an airport with a purse, a bag with your books that you must have to read on the plane, your laptop because you are giving a presentation, and your CPAP machine. Take my word for it.

Wheels are a really nifty invention. Maybe even better than holidays.

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