Sunday, July 27, 2008

Creeping Charlie Goes for a Tricycle Ride

I spent $11.27 cents yesterday in my morning of garaging. Twenty seven cents? This time the odd amount was not caused by my occasional practice of offering whatever change I have in my billfold. No, the odd amount came from paying someone to keep something.

The sale looked great. Tons of stuff—it was a fund raiser for a church group, attended by several ladies and teenage girls, mostly African American. When I pulled up in front I told the first lady I saw, “This is the most organized sale I've ever been to.” She beamed and explained the layout to me. They were set up in departments. “Here are ladies' clothes, and these are for toddlers. Over there is infant stuff, and more ladies' on the hanging rack, and then just all kinds of other things.” Lots of people just dump heaps of stuff on their driveway, but these folks had their merchandising down pat.

The woman at the infant area was still folding and laying out items. She had gorgeous cornrows, darker over the silver at the roots. I told her how much I loved her hair. She laughed and said someone had asked her how she got the lighter color at the base. I started laughing too as I fanned out my own graying hair. “I could tell them how that happens,” I said.

Another lady was still unpacking newspaper wrapped items from a bag. One was a music box that she wound up as I looked over the items on the table. “You could dance to it,” she said. “Tempo’s a bit slow,” I replied, but when she pulled out another and wound it, I obligingly did a couple of slow dance steps. She giggled and added a couple more steps. The teenage girl watching us refrained from rolling her eyes. Barely.

In her bag I noticed a vintage looking green china object.

“How much is this?” I asked. “Do you know what it is?” she wanted to know. “I think it’s for flower arranging, a vase,” I said. (When I got it home my husband said it must be a candle holder. Anyone else have a vote?) She looked pleased. “Okay, since you know what it is, you can have it for…two cents.”

I looked at her. Two cents? Even I am not that cheap. Or not always. I pulled out my wallet and looked in the coin purse. “Here,” I said grandly, handing her a nickel, “sometimes I just like to live large.” She laughed and held up another item. “For that you get a free bonus.”

The free bonus was a small misshapen bowl, probably the ugliest thing made of pink glass in America. It held one spent match. I pulled out two pennies. “Here, I'll pay you to keep it.”

She took the two cents, and she kept the pink bowl. And she laughed.

The rest of the $11.27 went for these:

A glass to replace the one in my husband’s bathroom, and this fabbo cobalt cut glass bowl from that same sale. They weren't quite two cents each, but pretty darned close!

Embroidered top and skirt by Ulla Popken and in my size. The tag says dry clean but I'm going to hand wash them and hope for the best—keep your fingers crossed that they’re still my size when I finish!

Fabulous black velvet (I think it's silk velvet, but it pre-dates content tags) vintage swing coat by Lilli Diamond of California.

Two brown transferware small bowls. I love the intricate designs, and these feel old. No maker’s marks on the back. Anyone know anything about these?

A whole stack o’ magazines.

Couple of vintage science fiction paperbacks. After I got them home I remembered I read this Andre Norton recently and it's not her best, but hey, it was a dime.

A huge box of craft sticks to give to my children’s librarians. There are stick puppets ahead in storytime!

A couple of coordinated frames from two different sales; these will be prizes in my reading program.

Some fun earrings.

A book of lovely boxes to punch out and fold. Hmmm, maybe I can put buttons in some of them.
Some clothing to remake, including a Liz Claiborne skirt, sunflower dress and beaded pink skirt for future aprons.

Speaking of aprons, I recently finished a couple. Last week’s cute little skirt made this cute little number (the lining became the bib and ties) and the dress I bought back in early May turned out quite well. Even my husband commented on it; he liked the fabric flower of black chiffon with a vintage button.

A Jones New York silk skirt that will fit once I shorten it from the waist. A little bit of hassle, yes, but comparing the dollar I paid to the $90 or so it would cost in a store, should be worth it. I love the fabric.

The last set of sales were in a tract-wide event. I was leaving one of the sales when an old lady on one of those adult tricycles with the big wire basket on back paused in her ride to ask, “Do you have any plants for sale?” No, no plants there. She rode on, stately in her trek down the middle of the lane. I had to carefully pull around her down the block, don’t think she heard my car at all. She turned up on the next street as well. “Did they have any plants there?” she asked me. Didn’t see any on this block, I told her, but you can always ask. A couple of streets on I noticed some plants for sale, seedlings that had been potted up by the look of them. When I saw the trike lady again, I pulled up beside her. “I saw some plants at the sale down that street,” I told her, then noticed she now had a large and flourishing plant—creeping Charlie, I think—in her basket.

“I already found this one and I'm completely satisfied,” she said. With a jaunty wave she rode off.

I knew just how she felt.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thank Heavens for Bingo

Not all yard sales are well thought out, long-planned enterprises. The first one I stopped at on Saturday was pretty sparse, though there was a cute little desk that I bravely resisted. (I have a thing about desks. I dream of having a huge house with desks in every room.) I chatted with the seller for a few minutes, and as I was leaving he mentioned, “When I got home last night I saw that a neighbor had put up some garage sale signs, so I figured what the heck, I'll have one too.”

Spontaneity. A rare quality at seven on Saturday morning!

Another sale close to home was held by a couple who are moving to Peru and selling everything they own. The first thing I spotted was a red tea kettle. I needed a kettle with a whistle, so I asked how much. Two dollars, she said. I left it for the moment (I mean, two whole dollars!) and looked around some more. They had a very posh espresso maker with all the accessories. I mentioned that we have a La Pavoni from a garage sale, and the guy seemed impressed. I myself was impressed when he told me he wanted $400 for his machine—at a garage sale! We paid ten bucks for the La Pavoni and it's not only a great machine, it's a work of art as well.

These people are a little too proud of their stuff, I thought. But I kept looking around, and picked up a fabric remnant.

Fifty cents, the wife said. Ah, now you’re talking my language, I told her. And she immediately said, you can have that and the kettle for fifty cents.


My favorite sign of the day read “Kitchen wares $0.50 or best offer.”

Favorite product description: a harried young mother (her five year old son was supposed to be in his room in a time out, but kept showing up saying he was ready to listen now and getting sent back to his room) was selling a rain stick. These are great for library storytimes, so I got it for a door prize. She told me that it supposedly is made from a piece of cactus, and these spots (pointing) are where the pointy things were. (Spines, I wanted to tell her, but like her son she wasn’t listening.) “They bang in the pokey things,” she said, “and that’s what makes the noise when whatever is inside falls through.”

Okay. Could be true. And I could never resist any item where pokey things have been banged in. (Marcia, stop sniggering!)

Favorite product description of something I didn’t buy: one young woman had a basket with photos for sale. I idly asked if she was the photographer, and she said yes. “They’re pictures of tree spirits,” she told me. She picked one out of the basket and pointed. “See, here’s the spirit in this one.” I looked. Sure enough, there was a small face among the leaves. She pointed them out in a couple more pictures, including the one with the word Love spelled out on a fallen log. “They live in another dimension,” she said, “but they show themselves to me. I'm doing a book of them.”

Were the pictures real, or had she photoshopped in the little faces? I have no idea, but I felt strongly that she was completely sincere. I'd certainly prefer to live in a world where tree spirits show themselves to women who have yard sales on Saturday morning.

And finally, my favorite grandma story this week: two houses with adjoining driveways had set up sales. At the first, there were a lot of fake flowers and crafty materials, plus at least two dozen baskets with Christmas-y flower arrangements in them. Didn’t see anything I wanted, so I stepped over to the next drive and picked up a very small beaded bag. The young woman said she loved it but it was just too tiny. Twenty five cents. But too tiny for me either. Then the woman from the first sale popped over with another vintage bag in her hand. Turns out they were mother and daughter. The bag the mother had was her mother’s from a long time ago. It was a quarter too, and I decided to buy that one.

“And you get a free basket with any purchase,” they told me, indicating the pile of seasonal arrangements. Ummmm, thanks but no thanks. “Did I see their signs on the street,” they asked then, “or the ad in Craigslist?” Well, I did look at Craigslist, but I definitely saw the signs. “Oh, good, then you get a free basket.” Ummmm, thanks but no thanks. “Grandma used to make those, the grandma whose purse you bought,” the daughter said. And her mother added, “Yeah, she did that for years and years, but now she plays bingo, thank God.”

I spent $16, and here’s what I got:
Containers for buttons (oh boy, I get to play with sorting buttons!). The three glass jars came from the articulate mother along with the rain stick, and the covered, divided dish from Ikea was from the Peru people. The cute little tin full of bobbins is going to lose the bobbins and gain some buttons. No doubt Noll Baxter, who is modeling the jars, will want to help me sort buttons.

More soap (I must be a very clean person, from all these great soaps I've been finding!) in a box I really love, with cloth tapes on the lid that say “What’s the story? Morning glory” and a paper flower. Hmmm, another button container…

The red tea kettle, which looks spiffy on our recently purchased black stove.

China door hanger will be a summer reading prize for work.

Another piece of yard art, or maybe a summer reading prize…

…and a crook for hanging another lantern in the yard. (When the dozen or so candles are all lit out there it looks like fairyland, or at least a fitting place for some tree spirits.)

More buttons.

Inexpensive entertainment.

A new supply of jasmine tea, complete with charming instructions for its brewing.

A silk and cashmere top to sell. I hope. And if it doesn’t sell, I will be comforted by the knowledge that my buying mistakes are in the fifty cent range, while other people’s mistakes cost much more…

A silk Ellen Tracy jacket to sell.

A pair of perfect vintage dresser scarves, with a pulled thread and embroidery design. These are just begging to be curtains, and I don’t have one single small window in my house where I can use them, dang it!

Some vintage paper goods.

And some new-to-me clothes, including a fifty cent cotton sweater from Nordstrom; a bright yellow rayon shirt that turned out to have a couple of holes, but hey, it yielded a pair of good shoulder pads; a cute cotton tee shirt; a dramatic black tunic of soft rayon;

and a brand new, gorgeous wool wrap embroidered with sweeps of flowers. I can hardly wait to wear it to the theatre next winter.

I'll be the woman driving across town in the green convertible, wearing the stunningly orange embroidered wrap. You won’t be able to miss me.

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