Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hello Again!

Before I head out for my physical therapy appointment this morning, I wanted to let everyone know I'm doing great.I'm not yet running races, but am well on the way to using the new knee.

The doc said surgery went very well, and that the old knee was thoroughly worn out. (Good riddance!) I spent one night in the hospital, which was exactly like I'd heard it would be. Every hour or two someone came in my room to do something - take temperature, take blood, check monitors, read outputs. (Someday perhaps I'll understand why a catheter would need to come out at 3 am,,,) I'm sure I've more than made up for the lost sleep since then with a few days of fairly heavy pain drugs.

I'n not painkiller-free yet, but hope to be soon. And with the help of Howard, my walker (you know I name everything), I'm getting around pretty well. I was able to cook our breakfast yesterday morning, and that smoothie I made for dinner tasted pretty good!

The goal I'm supposed to reach is a 90 degree bend in the new knee by two weeks after surgery. When I did PT on Monday I could already do 88 degrees, so another week should see me well past that.

I'll be haunting the yard sales of Salem again before we know it!

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Quickie Update!

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm heading off for my knee surgery tomorrow morning! Had the angiogram last week and no blockages were found (whew!) so the cardiologist cleared me for surgery. My amazing buddy Marcia has extended her visit to the end of the month, and I have such great friends around here so I know I'll be well taken care of.

Also wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU for all the well wishes and support from YOU! More than half the fun of doing this blog has been hearing from my readers. I'm looking forward to lots more thrifty adventures in the years to come.

I probably won't be able to shop on driveways for a few weeks, but Marcia and I found some fun stuff over the past couple of weekends, so as soon as I can spend time at my computer I'll share some of that. Warning, there's some extreme cuteness ahead!

Monday, July 29, 2019

You Never Know

I think I met an angel at a garage sale the other day.

When you and I last met, I mentioned that my long-awaited knee replacement surgery was finally just around the corner. There were a couple of pre-op visits with doctors to get through and then my friend Marcia would arrive in town, we’d have a few days of fun and then the surgery.

Things didn’t happen quite like that.

My primary care person looked at the EKG that had been done in March and said there was an issue with my heart and surgery might have to be postponed. NO, I replied. We can't. I have so many ducks lined up by now that it looks like a waterfowl convention. (I didn't say you had four months to figure this out, but believe me I wanted to.) That was on Friday, and they scrambled around and found a cardiologist who could see me on Monday (one week before surgery). 

Saw the cardiologist (a bit of a saga of its own, him being or at least looking 12 years old), who ordered an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test. Finished the tests Thursday afternoon, after which he had his assistant call me and say that there’s an issue with my arteries and that he would see me in a couple of weeks when he got back from vacation to discuss how to proceed and my knee surgery is cancelled for now.

Um, no. 

It was the bit about his vacation that pushed me over the edge. I showed up at the heart clinic on Friday and very politely kept in their faces until I got an appointment with him that day. Long story kept (sort of!) short, they need to do an angiogram to find out what’s actually going on. If it's minor, they’ll put in a stent and I'll be okay for knee surgery. But if it’s something worse, I may be looking at a future bypass. (The fun just never stops, you know?) And the doc somehow was able to schedule this angiogram for August 7 at 7 a.m. I had the impression he was hoping I'd say oh no, that’s too early in the morning, but he doesn’t know I usually get up about 4 a.m.

Okay, you’re saying, so where is this angel you mentioned?

Marcia and I had a couple of hours to kill between the time we showed up at the heart clinic and the appointment time with the doc. So you know exactly what we did – we went to some sales! I spent a whole quarter at one place for this massager thingie. 

It feels great gliding over your tense back muscles and I figure I may be feeling some tension in the coming days.

It was actually our very first stop where we got to talking to the lady minding the sale. One of those conversations that hops, skips and jumps from one topic to another, and my postponed knee surgery came up. Turns out she has the same orthopedist as me and was telling me about how great he is. Then when she heard about the heart stuff, she said, “Now I know why we met this morning.” She came out from behind the table set up in front of the garage, and I said something like oh, I get a hug. “Yes, that too,” she said, “but I'm going to pray for you.” And she laid her hand on my shoulder.

Here’s the thing. I certainly have spiritual beliefs that I hold dear, and happily discuss them with people close to me, but I do not participate in organized religion. So I was a little uncomfortable with being prayed over. But I could tell she was sincere and well-meaning so I smiled and stood there, and she began to pray.

And it was lovely. It was not pushy or proselytizing, but rather a heartfelt call to the universal spirit to take care of me. I don't remember exactly what she said except for asking for the “best possible outcome” for me. It was exactly what I needed to hear and remember. She and Marcia and I stood on her driveway in the warm Oregon sunshine as her voice drifted up to the heavens. And then she said amen, and we squeezed hands, and someone walked up and asked her about something that was for sale, and off we went.

Today should have been the day of my knee surgery, and I'm disappointed that I've got to walk around with grumpy knees still. But I certainly plan to wake up alive after that operation and if something else needs fixing first, I'm glad we didn’t find out the hard way. It's never easy to let go of our expectations, but I can do it in favor of the best possible outcome.

And I'm pretty sure the middle aged lady minding that garage sale was an angel in disguise, there to tell me what I needed to hear.

You just never, ever know what you’ll find, shopping on driveways.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sixty – Eight Cents and Counting

So my knee surgery is next week, and it turns out you don't just show up at the appointed time. Maybe if you’re having a wart removed you could, but for a knee replacement there is much to be done beforehand. Rearrange the furniture so you can move around with a walker. Talk someone into coming and staying with you for three weeks while you’re on pain meds (a million thanks, Marcia!). Wash extra bedding for the nights before the surgery when you’ve just taken a shower with the special bacteria killing stuff. Get cleared by multiple doctors. Get blood drawn. Have x-rays. Get more blood drawn. Have your nose swabbed to find out if you have the possibly really nasty bacteria (hooray, I don’t!). Get more blood drawn. Get enough groceries in the house so no one has to go to the store. Stop using alcohol and ibuprofen.


On Friday I had two doctor appointments, and figured I’d find a sale or two on the way to the second one. After all, the first one couldn’t take more than twenty minutes or so, could it?

[Insert hysterical, derisive laughter here.]

So, no sales on Friday for me. Although I did score my temporary handicap parking placard, which I've been longing for as much as anything I've ever found at a sale!

On Saturday my ex came by to see the broken latch on a slider screen. I thought the whole screen would have to be replaced, but it turned out to just need a screw. (Hooray!) Anyway, he mentioned he was going to go to a few sales, so I invited myself along. It turned out to be a bust for him, didn’t find a thing, but I came home with some great deals!

Just around the corner I plucked this handmade Uncle Wiggly from the free box.

One of those “so ugly he’s cute” things. A lot of work went into the britches!

Next stop, a pair of shorts in my size – from the free box. (Deep purple, cotton, elastic waist, you’ve got the picture.) A side seam needed stitching, took less than five minutes.

Next stop, a couple of books for a dollar – 

lots of eye candy and inspiration.

Another place had fifty cent DVDs, classical and sound tracks.

As we walked up to the last sale, the lady called out, “Everything is half price!” It was well after noon by then and she’d had enough (and didn’t have a whole lot left). We chatted about her tuxedo kitty and I got to tell a few stories about my Millie. Then I spotted a set of stemless wine glasses marked $1.50. I love these for my iced tea and broke my last one some time ago, and half price made them truly irresistible.

When I went to pay, I started counting out change from my coin purse. No quarters left, nickles, dimes…pennies…

“Would 68 be okay?” I asked, a trifle sheepishly. “Sure!” So my bargain was even more of a bargain.

When I got home I was entering my find into my garaging spreadsheet, in which I note what I paid and a likely retail price for the same thing. When I googled ‘stemless wine glass’ I found two interesting things. One was what appears to be these exact glasses, on Amazon at $18.95 for a set of four. The other was a discount dish site where one can evidently buy a stemless wine glass for – are you ready? - 68₵ each.

A bargain, sure (though I wonder how much they charge for shipping!) – but I still got four for the price of one!

Sunday, July 7, 2019


I'd say it was a quiet holiday weekend…but the 4th of July isn’t quiet, is it? My poor Zoë is one of the zillion dogs driven to distraction by the noise of fireworks (also thunder and anything else loud and sudden). I hope it's going to end soon; we haven’t had a whole night’s sleep for a week.

I was on my own again Friday and headed out with low expectations, although I had my grocery list so I knew the morning wouldn’t be a complete waste. But the first sale I stopped at yielded some great deals and a fun story. I knew they were on my wavelength when I saw the price of this 6 ounce Pyrex custard cup.

Then my attention was caught by a bunch of things made out of spoons, and I started hearing the story of The Spoon Man. The guy having the sale used to have a photography studio in downtown Salem, and he did the photo shoots for their catalog. Seems that the Spoon Man started his craft business back in the early 70s, selling at craft fairs including Portland’s Saturday Market. I understand they there sell to this day. He grew it into a mail order business, and they still have a website (you too can have some spoonery!). At some point a teenage boy started working for him, and eventually bought the business and has kept it going. I think that’s kind of amazing – you get a part time job as a teen making things out of spoons and it becomes your life’s work!

My first selection was this bunny pin, 

then I also picked up a spoon kitty

and a spoon boy. 

And a spoon kitty keyring. 

And these cute elephant earrings. 

And then I heard the tinkling sound of spoon wind chimes, and picked out this set.

But the piece de resistance was the spoon mask. 

I’m going to hang it on the wall in a handy spot in case I ever want to wear it. Hmmm, I have an appointment tomorrow for an eye exam, maybe I should wear it there? “Hey, doc, have my eyes changed very much since I was last here?"

I managed to resist the head pieces – with difficulty!

That’s quite a few spoon things to bring home, but my visit to their sale set me back all of three bucks. I refuse to feel guilty!

I went on to three or four other sales, and picked up a piece of original art for another dollar.

Heading back to my car I spotted their free-stuff box by the gate, and liberated this very nice canvas bag. Salem is now a BYO shopping bag city, so these come in handy. 

This one even has my initial embroidered on it! All it needs is a good washing, and if it should shrink or something my groceries won't mind a bit.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Solo Fun

All my buddies were otherwise occupied Friday morning, but I always enjoy solo garaging. Sometimes it's nice to go at your own pace, blithely driving on by minimal sales as the spirit strikes you.

(Using that word ‘minimal’ makes me wonder, though – with the seemingly growing minimalist mindset among young folks [a new book on minimalism seems to be published about every 20 minutes], what will the yard sales of the future look like? Okay, there’s your writing assignment for the week – describe a minimalist’s estate sale!)

I saw what I considered to be the most ridiculous item of the day at my very first stop.

A board book version of Moby Dick. I believe it was actually a counting book using the Moby Dick reference as a gimmick, but come on. Board books are aimed at toddlers, Moby Dick is considered one of the milestones of American literature. Think how confused the kids who were exposed to this thing at an impressionable age are going to be when they get to high school or college and find out that Moby Dick is about something other than counting sea creatures.

Needless to say I did not bring this non-classic home with me, but I did find a few other items to add to my non-minimalist lifestyle. Like an ornate metal frame for a 1909 postcard Judy gave me recently

and a beautiful little Wedgewood demitasse. I don't drink coffee, but this will be perfect for sipping tea.

I didn’t think these painted shoes would actually fit, but they do. When KK saw them her comment was, “Those are SO you.”

I've been watching for a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, and have passed up several because the prices were too high. This one was fifty cents – the price was just right.

These aren't the greatest for scooping ice cream if it's very hard, but perfect for scooping muffin batter. Much neater than using a spoon.

My favorite find of the day came from the annual sale of a couple of ladies over on the posh side of town. (The governor’s mansion is a few blocks away; that kind of posh.) They always have interesting textiles, and one of them this year was an $8 king size quilt of probably hand-printed cotton from India. 

It's stuffed with thick cotton batting, and the fabric is very soft. And it's reversible, so twice the wear before needing washing.

But of course the important thing is, the girls love it!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Plates and Pups and Parts of Sweaters

Years ago I heard Garrison Keillor say something on Prairie Home Companion that I’ve been quoting ever since (sometimes with humor…sometimes in exasperation!):

“How can I miss you if you won't go away?”

Sorry I've been AWOL! Just been lazy about writing. But I’m touched beyond belief by comments that some of you have missed me. Gosh, you guys, you’re the best.

Actually, it's been slim pickings for several weeks. Judy and I have been out a few times and I've come home empty handed. When your very best find of the day is a five-cent staple puller you know that a) you are incredibly frugal; or b) sales have ridiculously high prices; or c) you’ve seen nothing worth bringing home; or d) all of the above. Yeah, choose d.

Of course, this is the best staple puller I've ever seen.

But Judy and I found our first full-fledged neighborhood sale of the summer today, hooray. I managed to navigate it with only a small outlay of cash ($8 in all) and bring home some goodies. I couldn’t resist this balance toy at our first stop (you know me and toys). He was fifty cents, which is my calling card, right?

I was happy to find a couple of pairs of those footie socks (purple, you can picture them) and this cute bottle. I'm going to try flavoring a small batch of olive oil with fresh basil and some of the preserved lemons I made, and this bottle seems perfect for it.

From a free box came a Ralph Lauren sweater – or what was left of it. The lady at that sale had cut it up to make a Christmas stocking, which she said came out very well. Since the sleeves are both still there, I can use them for arm warmers (or maybe leg warmers!). And maybe I can use the yoke and turtleneck for something. Hey, it was free, I can do anything I want with it!

Another free item was this little velvet bag. I was planning to make something like it to hold my new earbuds (my cat Millie chewed up the wires of my last pair!). I figured if this one was a dollar or less I'd get it and save the sewing time, and when I asked the price they said, “Just take it!” I had absolutely no problem with that.

Several years ago I found a Spode Archive Collection plate at a sale, and it's KK’s favorite whenever she eats at my house. I was thrilled today to find her one just like it (fifty cents! Twenty bucks from that replacements china place in case you need one!). AND another from the same collection, one for each of us!

(I got curious as I wrote that paragraph about the first one I found – how long ago, how much? My goodness, what a day that was! July 3, 2010, fifty cents – which was also the day I met a guy who made his own false tooth from an opal. Check it out if you’ve got a few minutes! )

My favorite finds today came from a sale of a lady who recently moved to Salem. Judy and I welcomed her to town and encouraged her to bring her three cute dogs to the dog park at Minto Brown Park. Can't remember if I've told you about our dog park, which is pretty special. It's on an island by the Willamette River, with only one road in. Most of the park is a wildlife area. The dog park section is a quarter of a mile long and wide. Big! Dogs can really run there. I estimate my Zoë runs at least 3 miles every morning retrieving balls. (Me & Fannie, not so much!) Now that I think about it, it's also where I first met Judy!

Besides three cute little dogs, this lady had some fun jewelry. I first succumbed to these ceramic owl earrings.

Judy and I were both admiring some bracelets, and I started thinking one of them might be really fun as a decoration on the pull string for one of my ceiling fans. Then the lady mentioned that she had made them, but that they had turned out too large. I'm sure my ears stood up and swiveled like a collie’s – because I rarely encounter bracelets that are large enough for my big-boned wrist. These both fit, and for a dollar each, they were mine. She did a beautiful job making them, and had to have spent way more than a buck each for the beads.

So it was a good morning, and hopefully the harbinger of more to come. I have just a few Fridays left between now and knee-replacement surgery at the end of July which will put me out of commission for probably several weeks. I'm stocking up on fun (and goodies!) now!

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