Sunday, November 16, 2008


Saturday morning was hot—in the literal sense. Even though I've been in southern California for over seven years now, it still seems weird to drive around in mid November in short sleeves. And before I got home I noticed an ominous gray pall to the northwest, which I knew had to be smoke. If you’ve been watching the news you know the OC is battling some awful fires, though I suspect some teens are not as sad as they should be that their high school burned. The fires are miles from our house and we seem to be safe, but I have to admit I was nervous enough to get both cat carriers don from the attic and jot down a list of what I would grab if I had to evacuate. My theory is that the stuff you plan for usually doesn’t happen, so I felt much safer!

One of this week’s yard sales involved a number of family members who had all brought stuff. As is usual in these parts, no prices were marked on anything, and the sellers were all asking each other how much they wanted for an item. The matriarch of the clan had a lot of items on the driveway, but she wasn’t there to answer price questions, and one of the others asked where she was. “Oh, she’s in the bathroom,” was the reply. So they started going to the kitchen door and hollering to mom in the bathroom “How much is such and such?”

Further down the road I passed a young man pouring gas from a can into his van by the side of the road. Bummer, I thought, then noticed the skateboard by his feet. He must have resorted to this mode of transportation when he ran out of gas. Plucky!

At another sale a woman asked if there was any Pyrex for sale. There was a Pyrex pie plate on the table in front of me, so I held it up. “That’s where that is!” the seller exclaimed. “That’s not supposed to be out here, I told my daughter I had an extra one for her and then I couldn’t find it.” Her sale apparently was an estate sale of her father’s things. I unearthed a stash of shoe horns, and she told me he must have picked up a new one nearly every time he bought more shoes. If he bought one of something, she said, he bought six. Her sale had started on Tuesday and there was still a lot of stuff in her yard. A strong argument for decluttering as we go through life!

At the last sale of the morning I got into a conversation about selling on eBay. Like a lot of other folks I'm not real excited about what’s going on over there, all the new rules, and combined with low sales because of the economy I'm pretty much giving it up for a while. This guy told me he sells antique books about fishing. Talk about a niche market! He said it’s just a little sideline, he only makes about nine thousand a year. Nine thousand! This must be a new definition of little, if you ask me. We both agreed that sales have been awful, that items that would have sold in a heartbeat a year ago get no bids. Then he said that his real concern is his portfolio, and started talking about his GM stock and T bills, and I'm standing there nodding my head wisely like I know the slightest thing about any of this (well, maybe the slightest but not a heck of a lot more). As I headed back to the car I was thinking, weird—I don’t think anyone has ever spontaneously started talking about their portfolio to me before. I mean, the year I worked in a business specialty library it would come up, but not on a driveway on Saturday morning. Then I got a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror and realized I was wearing the sun visor with the Adams Golf logo that I picked up for fifty cents a couple of weeks ago.

People who golf and people who have portfolios often overlap. If it happens again maybe I should dangle a tag from it like Minnie Pearl always had on her hats, with a disclaimer “I bought this at a yard sale and have never touched a golf club in my life.” Or maybe I could just start giving investment advice—like “shop at yard sales, you can't go wrong.”

My personal investments totaled $5 this week; my return on that investment:

Two DVDs, a replacement for a video tape and one I didn’t own. I think it's interesting how fast DVDs have reached the yard sale price level of about a dollar apiece. Evidently people equate them with paperback books—use once and get rid of. And given the price of new paperbacks these days, that makes sense.

A puppet for some lucky children’s librarian.

Another wallet for a gift. A friend saw the one I bought recently and said it was exactly the style she was looking for. So Marcia, I found you one!
Five wine glasses for our annual Christmas open house. I abhor wine from plastic glasses and hate to throw away unnecessary plastic, so I start buying yard sale wine glasses this time of year, use them at the party, then donate them to the thrift store in January. Last year I managed to break about 6 of them on the way home, so I'm being much more careful this time around!

On one street, two sales were across the street from each other. I went to the one that I parked by first, even though there was loud laughter coming from the other. There was nothing to buy, but I noticed this poster, and it looked as though they were really enjoying the woman at the other sale who was laughing so loudly.
I commented that the Rat Pack looked like they were having a good time, and the seller said, “Yeah, that’s how I want to live my life.”

Amen, sister!

And speaking of sisters, I want to say thanks to my sister Marilyn for the fabbo QOFC picture she sent me. I made the logo for her site and now she has returned the favor!


  1. Too funny about the portfolio conversation. My only contribution to a conversation like that would be polite nodding.

    As for declining eBay sales, do you ever check out It's mostly for handmade items but you can also sell anything vintage, or over 20 years old. Pyrex is a big seller if that tells you the vintage of stuff there.

  2. Looks like you've had some great finds. Be sure to check out it's a free online garage sale site that's free.

    Good Luck

  3. First, I'm thinking of you and hoping the fires are put out soon! It's such a tragic loss out there!

    I had to laugh about the visor and the portfolio conversation. :) And $9,000 for vintage fishing books? My eyes are now peeled. Thanks for the tip!

  4. You haven't changed a bit--except perhaps minus the bow...
    The fire is about 2 miles from our house. The air is pretty thick out here, is murder on your sinuses, and gave me a wonderful headache! Youngest son hoping that FCC will be closed tomorrow, but I think he is out of luck on that one....

  5. I *heart* your investment advice! Love the Minnie Pearl tag idea too. You had me giggling.

    Hope the air down there clears up soon.

  6. Hi there-good finds my dear! thanks for stopping by too!

  7. it is rainy and cold here today
    and just reading your post
    warmed me up :) Thanx

    ahh, I sure miss those great
    yard sales I used to visit in
    southwest Texas.....I will
    have to live vicariously threw
    you :)

    Thank you for stopping by
    my blog. :)

  8. Thank you for visiting my site. i was very excited to get the Singer machine - as I learned to sew on one, and can remember the knee control ones in classrooms when I was at high school.

    According to the accompanying manual (yes it has all the manuals and accessories) it is a 201K. I am so tempted to set it up and use it as my usual sewing machine - except we get spoiled about zig zags etc.


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

Pin It button on image hover