Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hey, what happened to October?

Good heavens, it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow. Between a new puppy and a new sewing machine the days have just flown by. We head for the dog park every morning with Zoë and Fannie, and back again most days in the afternoon. A tired dog IS a good dog!

Fannie is spending this week “in jail” – she was spayed on Friday, and the only way I know to keep her quiet for the requisite week is in her crate. Fortunately she does not have the manic energy Zoë had at that age (still does, pretty much) and seems pretty happy sleeping and chewing on various toys. Zoë thinks this whole Fannie-in-the-crate thing is just weird and barks at her to come out and play. Ours is not always a quiet household.

Once the rains started a few weeks ago, garaging disappeared. We’re down to mostly estate sales, and a couple of weeks ago didn’t have a single one of those. So we were pretty excited on Friday to have three to attend. We lucked out, and the first one we went to was not the ones the obnoxious dealers started with. So we managed not to see them at all. Of course it's not just dealers who can be obnoxious. I was happy to find the cookie scoop I've been looking for.

But would believe that KK found one of these a few weeks ago, and some woman got all snarky at her over it? She saw KK pick it up to look at (it was in the kitchen with other utensils) and snarled at her, “That’s mine!” Evidently she hadn’t figured out that if you plan to buy something at these sales, you grab it and hang on. KK handed it over (I like to imagine she might have given a disdainful sniff as she did). One of our mottoes is, there will always be another one – and lots of times the price will be better!

At the next sale (the one I think all the dealers went to first) my big splurge was a vintage Mr. Bartender pouring spout. 

Since I don’t really drink I was thinking to use it on my olive oil bottle. But apparently it pours out a measured shot so that might not work. But it's vintage, it's chrome, it was one dollar…I'll think of something.

Added another vintage dish towel to the collection. This embroidered motif might give new meaning to the phrase about playing with your food.

Do you think there may have been recombinant DNA projects going on this far back – or that embroiderers may have come up with the idea? I mean, look at those vegies. Are they not walking around on grasshopper legs?

My favorite find of the day was not as practical, but I fell in love. Vintage dog acrobat.

No markings, I'm thinking Japan from the Fifties. Kind of reminds me of Zoë. If her paws could grip a bar, she would definitely do flips.

One more reason I love these sales. For just a few bucks you can own something that’s not just charming, but perhaps even a metaphor for life – or at least for the upside-down days!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

One Thing Leads to Another

A few months ago I went to a humungous church rummagesale, where back in one corner I found the only real bargain in the place. (This was the sale charging four bucks for tatty used t-shirts.)

A whole box of this great sewing magazine for three bucks. Which I am still making my way through. (I like to savor each issue.) In issue number 39 (February/March 1992)

I found reviews for two new “top-of-the-line” sewing-and-embroidery machines, and one of them sounded terrific. The Singer Quantum XL-1, which they declared “is indeed a quantum leap beyond any of Singer’s previous machines.” The list price in 1992 for this first of the Quantum line was – are you ready? - $2499. That’s the equivalent of almost $4300 in today’s dollars! Wow, I thought, maybe I can find one of these puppies at an estate sale or something to augment the capabilities of my much-loved Singer 201. So I’ve been looking.

I'm not sure how long they made the XL-1 before it became the 1000, and beyond. The current version appears to be the XL-6000. I kept an eye on eBay, where recently an XL-1000 went for $1200! A bit discouraging for someone who begins to flinch at anything that costs more than a fiver. But I kept looking, and saved a search on Craigslist. Meanwhile I kept picking up great pieces of cotton fabric to play with.

Last Sunday my Craigslist search paid off. An XL-1000 up in Portland for $100. How fast do you think I replied to that ad? The answer: faster than anyone else! I hopped in the car and drove up Interstate 5 in the pouring rain. Which is when I realized the fan in my car was kaput and the only way to keep the windows from completely steaming up was to leave the windows open. Brrrrr!

I got lost, even with my GPS, Gretel Pemberton Smith, telling me where to go. She was unaware of all the road work happening everywhere. Or at least everywhere I wanted to go. We persevered, found the address, where we met two lovely young women named Heather. Yes, both of them. One of them inherited the sewing machine from her grandmother ten years ago and hasn’t been using it. Her grandmother sounded interesting. They told me granny’s name was Florence, which she didn’t like, so she renamed herself Greer and went by that the rest of her life.

We plugged in the machine and turned it on. A touch screen lit up. I sewed a few inches. She purred. Done deal. One of the Heathers even toted her down to my car and heaved her into the trunk. This is one solid sewing machine – weighs at least as much as the 201 and she’s made of solid iron. My $100 also got me a fabulous rolling case (which alone would cost $100 or more retail), a bunch of presser feet, a cool pair of thread clippers on a retractable clip, and three boxes of Gutermann thread.

Getting home from Portland proved even more challenging. Neither Gretel Pemberton Smith nor I knew it was the day of the Portland Marathon and we landed smack dab in the middle of the route, trying every way we could to get around the blocked off streets and back to the freeway.

The learning curve on this baby will take some time, but I have completed one small project. I've been wanting some kind of small trash receptacle to keep on my desk and decided to make one of fabric. Found a pattern on Pinterest, picked out two pieces from my stash, and off we went. And oh, my, can this baby sew! Look, she'll even make a wavy topstitch with the touch of one button!

And the icing on the cake? She threads the needle all by herself!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Our Friend Craig

I have a soft spot for Craigslist.

I know there are folks who never use it, believing it's full of scams and danger. And maybe it is. You have to be careful with anything.  But we’ve bought and sold things via Craigslist for years without encountering anything worse than idiots who say they are going to come see something you have for sale and then not showing up.

My favorite of these was the woman who made a specific appointment, didn’t show, and when I emailed to make sure she had not been run over by a truck, she said she forgot. So then I wanted her to be run over by a truck. (I'm not really a very nice person.) But only a small truck.

Craigslist is of course my weekly source for yard sale ads. In southern California I didn’t need to pay much attention to ads. The place is so densely populated and there were so many sales I could just go out and cruise, looking for signs. Not so here in Oregon, so Craigslist tells me where the sales are, I put the addresses in my GPS, and off we go. No wasted gas, no wasted time—which is the really important part, since you want to get to sales as quickly as you can before someone else runs off with the bargains that should have been yours.

We have found some good stuff the past couple of Fridays. I didn’t bother to take pictures of the practical stuff—a citrus zester, four Dansk linen placemats, a box of kosher salt—and while I'm excited about the top quality wood and canvas market umbrella, it’s out on the lower deck and it's raining, so you’ll just have to imagine it. Then imagine it with a $15 price tag. And it wasn’t even much hassle to get home. The house up the street that’s been on the market had an estate sale this weekend, and we just carried the umbrella and the quite heavy stand home. Half a block, downhill, made it. Whew!

This is probably the most ridiculous thing I bought. It was fifty cents, it's vintage.

It's in two pieces, and covers a booze bottle. I hope to resell it to some poodle collector. (They will have to supply their own booze, I'm keeping my triple sec.) How much do you want to bet it was a hostess gift at a bridge club fifty years ago?

I adore this Steinbach music box, even though it doesn’t seem to play its tune any more. 

Woodcutter elves! Playing a zither and doing that foot-slapping dance! Who cares if it plays? (Though if anyone could tell me how to fix it, I’d be happy to try.)

Probably my favorite driveway find from last week was this great rusted metal piece. 

It's a wind chime, but designed in a way that it doesn’t ring very loudly.

And it's all thanks to Craigslist. But that’s not the main reason I'm currently filled with Craigslist appreciation. This is.

Yes, we have a new family member, and found her on Craigslist! We adopted her from a busy family with working parents who found they had underestimated the amount of work she would be. She’s been spending long days in a crate with a short break for lunch and potty, and while I know they miss her, I also know we can give her a lot more attention and exercise. At the moment she and Zoë are asleep beside my chair, having been to the dog park for an hour this morning, followed by several romps out in the yard.

Looks like we’re going to change her name from Lucy to Fannie (for my husband’s Great Aunt Fannie). Fannie Lucille, to honor her first family. She is a basset/black lab mix, five months old. Zoë is a bit disconcerted but coping. We were more concerned about Millie since she’s still pretty small, and I have to admit the dogs have been chasing her. But don’t start feeling sorry for Millie. She can elude those galumphing dogs at will, and when they can’t keep up with her she circles back around to give them another chance. With, I regret to inform you, a very smug expression on her little kitty face.

Part of me is sorry we didn’t get to experience Fannie at this age.

On the other hand, she’s now crate trained, housebreaking is well started, and she’s pretty well socialized with kids and crowds (they were taking her to their son’s football games). 

But there’s another reason that as soon as I saw her picture I was sure she should be ours. If you’ve read any of my mystery series set in mythical Willow Falls (Sleeping Dogs Lie; In Dogs We Trust; The Dog Prince…and a fourth title coming out soon!) you’ll remember that one of the characters is Jack, a black lab/basset mix. Who I created in honor of a stray dog I met years ago and was not able to rescue, and I've regretted it ever since. And now, along comes Fannie.

Sometimes we do get second chances.
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