Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Further Adventures of Lucy & Ethel

A need arose in my life recently for a queen size bed. I email to KK to tell her, so we could both remember to watch for one. Her first reaction was something of a “ewwww” – that a used mattress could be nasty.

Which is true, but as I pointed out to her, the advantage to shopping at estate sales is you get a pretty good idea how clean the home is. All of our guest beds (twin size) came via Craigslist, and if I'm remembering aright the mattresses were all used as guest beds in their last homes. They have been great, and saved us a bundle.

Besides, we’ve all slept on hotel beds, right?

So I promised I would not buy anything remotely nasty. And off we went on our Friday travels.

There weren’t very many sales that day. At least partly because of the weather – not pouring rain, but threatening, and a cold, very blustery wind. I picked up a couple of pairs of earrings for crafting purposes (at a quarter per pair how could I go wrong?). Then we headed across the river to West Salem and an estate sale in a retirement community built around a golf course.

The sale was picked over when we arrived, and my expectations of finding anything were low. We walked into one of the two bedrooms, and there leaning against a wall was a double bed with headboard and footboard. One of those old mahogany sets with four posters that stand about 3 feet above the mattress.  I kind of liked it, though it wasn’t my usual style. “Maybe I should get a double bed instead of a queen,” I told KK. She immediately (and wisely) nixed that idea – really not big enough. Then we turned around to see what else was in the room and leaning again the opposite wall was a queen size mattress, box springs, metal frame, and headboard.

It looked pristine, and KK gave it the sniff test (she must have been a bloodhound in her last life, she has the most acute smeller). It passed that inspection. We laid the mattress on the floor and I tried it out. Very, very comfy. (Another shopper in the room commented, “Nap time? Would you like one of these blankets?”)

We got the guy running the sale in to find out what kind of deal I could make. I didn’t want the headboard, and it took about twenty seconds to agree on a price. Which happened to be just about all the cash I had on me. We loaded up the frame pieces in the back of KK’s SUV, saying we’d be back on Saturday with her husband’s pickup for the mattress and springs. And off we went, well pleased and thinking of a nice lunch.

We drove a few blocks, and she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh no! I forgot!” “What?” “We’re going to Bend for the weekend. We leave really early Saturday morning.”

Ohhhh. Okay. So now I have a queen mattress and springs and no transport. Between a Honda Civic and a Mitsubishi convertible, that’s just not a load I could haul. I don’t know any other pickup owner well enough to ask for help. We batted ideas around. The wildest might have been calling for an Uber and specifying a pickup truck.

We stopped at a light on the busy through street on the east side of town. KK reminded me we also wanted to stop by a U-Haul place to get plastic mattress bags to wrap the pieces in. I pulled out my phone to see if I could figure out where the closest one was. Then just before the light turned green KK looked off to the right – and saw the closest U-Haul place half a block down the side street. We could hardly believe it was that easy to find one!

Bags bought, we went on to lunch, still trying to figure out a way to get my purchase home. “It's my responsibility,” I finally said. “I'll rent a van for a couple of hours.” We finished lunch, headed out to her SUV, and she stopped in her tracks.

“I have a rack on top of my car,” she said.

She’d never had an occasion to use the rack before. What better way to inaugurate it than with a queen size mattress and box springs?

We stopped by my house for ropes, then drove across the river. Back at the estate sale we got the folks to help us tote those puppies out to the car. Hoisted the springs up, then the mattress on top. The estate sale folks said good luck and went back inside. We started to tie down, and realized there were two issues. The box springs are rigid, and we were afraid the wood cross-piece might be cracked by the bars of the rack. And we had managed to get one of the pieces up there with the opening of the plastic mattress bag facing into the wind.

But as my favorite calligraphy piece in my office states, “There is nothing, nothing, nothing that two women cannot do before noon.” We pulled both pieces down and got the mattress back up, then hoisted the springs on top. Both of them were facing the right direction. KK tied one end of a rope to the rack and tossed it over the top to me on the other side. Just as I grabbed it, a couple came out of the sale and headed to their car, parked behind ours. The man paused to ask, “Need any help?”

I am old enough and wise enough to know the answer to that one. “Sure do,” I replied, and he pitched right in. We were really glad to have his assistance, because it was clear he was able to tighten the ropes more than we could have. The ropes went back and forth, tied here and there, and he finally declared it was a steady as it was going to get. We thanked them profusely, climbed in the car, and started home.

We eachhad one hand out our windows, hanging onto the ropes to keep tabs on how stable our load was. Five mph, just fine. And at ten, and fifteen. At twenty, we could feel that mattress start thinking it might like to be a kite. And then we went around a corner and hit the wind, and that was the moment I realized that once again I was in the middle of an episode of I Love Lucy.

I, of course, am always Ethel. KK got to play the role of Lucy this time.

It was a slow and somewhat exciting journey back to my house. The wind would have been an issue even standing still. Especially over the river, which usually has wind of its own. But we just chugged along, grimly hanging onto the rope, and emitting squeals of alarm every time a big gust rocked our cargo. We sounded like a couple of eighth grade girls on a roller coaster, if you must know. But it was one of those times I was glad I live in a town like Salem. Not one driver was rude or impatient, they all just went around us with no fuss or crowding.

I did entertain a bit of a fantasy that one of those pickups passing us would call over, Hey, let us take that in our truck for you the rest of the way. But even if that had happened, I think Lucy & Ethel would have called back, Thanks but we’ve got this handled.

Backing into my driveway at last, I wasn’t quite moved to kiss the ground in gratitude, but I did give that mattress a pat. “Good job,” I told it.

I think it looked demurely pleased. And I just might have heard something like, “Thanks. But next time I want to be a kite.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Last Friday was one of those personal milestones that I never actually expected to see.

This blog turned 10 years old.
Good heavens, how is that possible! I certainly don’t feel 10 years older. Okay, maybe I do…but in a good way. I try not to tell younger people how wonderful this period of life is, because I don’t want them to suffer terrible pangs of jealousy. I'm thoughtful that way. (Insert your favorite smiling emoticon here.)

Of course there have been significant life events in that time. Retirement from a 30+ year career, moved 1,000 miles, made new friends. 

Lost beloved furry ones, 


and let new beloveds in. 

And created a new garden from scratch.

And through it all, my weekly routine of thrifting, both solo and with friends, has brought enormous pleasure, year in and year out. It's certainly kept me on track financially by providing high quality clothing, 

household goods, 


and d├ęcor. 

But even more than the great stuff, I've met such wonderful people, been given glimpses into other lives, that never would have come my way if I hadn’t hopped into the car with my list of addresses from Craigslist and zoomed off to see what the day would provide.

And absolutely one of the greatest pleasures has been you. Readers from all over the world have somehow found us. I have saved every single comment I have ever received, and I truly treasure them – and you.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Funny Little People

I sometimes wonder if I have the only Funny Little People collection in the world. Given the billions on the planet, perhaps not – but I've never heard of another! And if the denizens of my collection are not completely unique, they are certainly unusual. Including the new additions from the past Friday’s outing. Only two sales to attend, but both yielded treasure.

The first sale had to be one of those occasions where things make themselves invisible until the person comes along who is supposed to have them. I don’t think there’s any other explanation for these still being there, and on a kitchen counter to boot. Pinocchio acrobat? Check. 

Tiny wooden bunny and mushroom on a cart? Check.

Vintage dog (at least I think it's a dog!) push puppet? Check. 

Then there’s the other push puppet (both of these are from Italy) – girl with a funny hat, painted pearls around her neck, 

striped stockings and apron, all in Italian national colors

…and she’s holding a bucket and an umbrella. (Is there some traditional Italian story that goes with this character?) 

You’d think she would just have to be the most unusual character in the lot, right? But I think this guy with his lute might just take the prize—

because he’s a napkin ring!

You can imagine how someone like me, who loves vintage and wooden toys and whimsy (and bargains) practically danced out of that house!

So I was a happy camper as we headed to the second sale, which was run by one of the local companies that always takes a zillion pictures. KK and I had both spotted items we wanted to try for, which we knew would be in the yard. We made a beeline for the patio doors when we got there, but alas, her sundial and my hedgehog were already gone. Still there though was a potted honeysuckle with a small tuteur in the pot, so I picked that up, as well as  a couple of the round grow-through plant supports I need more of. 

There was a pair of these cool metal frogs, so we each got one. I love the way they are made.

He looks especially handsome on the garden wall.

Then KK found this wonderful round bunny in another pot, which I couldn’t resist. 

And though I'm not usually an admirer of fish (I find real ones intimidating) I love this yard-art trio. Can't wait to see them leaping above a sea of ornamental grasses. 

A few minutes later this adorable porcelain mouse found her way into my hand and heart.

I just love her, she looks midcentury modern to me. Perhaps she reminds me of vintage teak mice I've seen.

Lest you think I was carried away by all the cuteness, I must also report a practical buy that made me nearly as happy as the mouse. We’ve been cleaning out our basement storeroom and my husband was planning to head to a big box store soon to buy one of those Rubbermaid garden sheds to hold all the yard tools. And there it was, the exact one he was planning to buy. I didn’t even blink at the $35 price tag, especially after I got home and looked up the price of a new one. Which was $200. Now that’s a nice discount!

So the garden shed is now at home down in the garden, the funny little people are among their cohorts, 

and the bunnies 

and the dog 

are in their respective collections. And to all a good night!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


The daffodils that are starting to bloom in my yard are definitely a hint that spring is around the corner, but they are not the only one.

How does a thrifter determine that spring is coming? By the advent of church rummage sales, of course!

We ran over to West Salem for a moving sale that started early Friday morning (before heading to one of our favorite rummage sales). It was one of those that you immediately are positive that there will be nothing you want among the dribs and drabs on display, and then find something you like. (I love that kind of surprise.) My first surprise was a sweet little blue vase from Sweden, for the window ledge collection.

It throws a lovely blue shadow in the sun.

Then in a back corner of the family room, I spotted what has to be the epitome of midcentury atomic kitsch.

I bet most of us remember these salt & pepper shakers. Everyone had them back in the day; with the snap-on lids they were perfect to carry in a lunchbox or with your camping gear. I love the font.

But the stand! What a hoot. And apparently a hollow in the top of the knob is for toothpicks. So practical!

So all the omens were pointing toward a good day, and the rummage sale did not disappoint. This was the annual sale at the Methodist church where you buy a big paper bag for five bucks when you go in, and anything in the main room you can stuff in is your loot. As we have previously established, I'm a pretty darned good bag stuffer. So how did we do this year? Well, KK only found a couple of items (linen pants and a wool muffler), so into the bag they went. Then a toothbrush, new in package, always good to have a spare; and a piece of felt to practice sewing paper onto it before I try it with my vintage picture book. There was a mixed bag of embroidery thread (that's Millie at the top of the picture, who very much wanted it for her own), 

a large cone of sewing thread, and a linen jacket (it's too small for anyone I know; I want to try embroidering some of the motifs and making them into cute little pins). 

Plus two floral linen shirts, 

a pair of Travelsmith linen & cotton slacks with a hidden zipper pocket, 

and a Lagenlook-style top and matching skirt. 

When I looked up the brand, I found it was made for an exclusive shop up in Portland and must have originally cost at least a couple hundred bucks. I'm not a regular wearer of skirts, but somehow I love this one. And the top is the perfect showcase for my fabric necklaces. All of it great stuff, averaging less than 42 each. Woo hoo!

And that wasn’t all. As always, they had the “special” room with items deemed too valuable for bag stuffing. Fortunately this year the prices were better than I remember in the past, because I found a wonderfully ridiculous sweater that yes, I will wear, though I'm not sure anyone else ever did.

NOT a Christmas sweater, but a country music one! With lots of amazing beaded motifs 

and even a beaded lariat. 

Looks like something you should wear line dancing—except you’d die of overheating if you tried to dance in something this heavy.

We were on our way out when we remembered the jewelry room. I’ve never found anything there before…but this year I did. These Graffiti 93 brand mixed-metal earrings hang long on me but I care not, I love them. 

Notice that they are not identical - the heads are different shapes, as are the decorations on the clothing. The wires look to be handmade.

And the vintage clip-ons are actually comfortable to wear, which I find astounding. They’re so three dimensional. Aren’t they cool?

So that was Friday. The next day was the other big church rummage sale we usually go to…though I think this may be my last visit to them. The first year we went I found some great stuff, including a wonderful stash of yarn. But not so much since then. It is an astounding madhouse of cast-off stuff and hordes of people in a huge echoing gym—I can't help thinking of that painting of Hell by Hieronymus Bosch. And it's made even worse by the terrible blast of thumping rock music they play all day (being forced to listen to music I hate is my personal vision of Hell). When all I picked up was an admittedly lovely silk scarf and a blank book 

(I was lucky enough to find a rather hidden pay station back among the furniture so I did not have to stand in a long line to hand over my buck and a half) I decided this is probably the last time I'll attend this one.

But that’s okay. There will still be the big downtown church with its bag sale, and the Episcopalians, and of course our lovely Methodist ladies to look forward to each year, heralding the arrival of warmer days and sunnier skies.

Pin It button on image hover