Saturday, October 29, 2011

Old Ladies and Mushroom Bowls

I’ve been sitting here fondling a bowl. Not just any bowl. (What do you take me for?) A mid century bowl.


A Finel  Mushroom bowl designed by Kaj Franck back in the Sixties. A pristine, mint condition Finel mushroom bowl. Picked it up this morning thinking it might have some resale value (it does). But dang, when you sit there fondling a bowl as long as I just did, you might have to rethink the resale!

I know I’m going to resell most of these – after I enjoy taking a peek through them.


Whole bunch of Mary Engelbreit magazines, some of which I haven’t seen before. I auctioned a bunch of these on eBay before we moved, so I know I’m not the only one who likes them.

They came from the kind of sale that makes the heart of someone like me go pittypat. (Cathy G., you would have been drooling!) Two women were clearing out their stashes of vintage and artsy and crafty stuff. The driveway was packed. About the first thing I saw was this book.


Didn’t buy it though – after all, I can write my own ‘long way to Oregon’ story! I flipped through the crafty books, admired the vintage embroidered pillowcases and fifties printed tablecloths, glanced over the tables full of stuff, stuff, stuff. Nearly succumbed to a small tablecloth with a vintage embroidery design stamped on it; one motif was partly stitched, and there was thread and a hoop in the bag with it. But I asked myself rather sternly how likely I was to actually finish this piece and use it, and the answer was ‘not too.’ So I left it for someone else.

Quite a few of their items had a higher price tag than I was interested in paying, but it was great fun to look at everything. Then I started chatting with another lady who was looking through a shoe box of old photos. She held up one. “Wow, look at this dress!” she said. I looked.


“There a name on the back.” She squinted at it. “Earl.”


We both gazed at the picture. “Well, maybe it is Earl at that.” We giggled. But I took the picture when she put it back in the box, and the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. The dress is amazing, yes, but it’s the face. If you look very closely, there are fine wrinkles all over her face.


I think she looks patient, and wise, and though her eyes are sad, her mouth is about to curl up into a smile. The pin at her throat looks like an Eastern Star pin, and I have in my button collection at least one button like the ones on her dress. While we were looking at the photos, one of the sellers came by and we asked where all these pictures had come from.

“Oh, my husband went to appraise a house one time,” she said, “and he found stacks of these things in the trash can. So he brought them home, and I used them in art projects for years. There’s a family name on the back of a lot of them, and you can kind of trace the history of the family through the pictures.” We all agreed it was such a shame that no one in that family had wanted or valued these pieces of their history. But this one at least has a new family – me. I’ve adopted her as one of my forebears, and she’ll be going in a frame soon. I think I’ll have her hang out with this other portrait I love.


That’s the author Dorothy L. Sayers, one of my favorites. And since the plot of the new book I’m starting to write involves some old family photographs, these two ladies will be here on my desk for the next few months as my muses.

I was about to leave this sale with my magazines and Mrs. Earl’s portrait when I saw one more thing I had to have. Back story: my husband could not get everything on the rented truck when he brought the last load of our belonging up from California, there just wasn’t quite enough room. Like the pioneers crossing the vast American plains, he simply had to leave some things behind. He made good choices, but one thing I really miss – my little footstool.


It wasn’t much to look at, but it was the perfect size to sit on and weed garden beds, or sort books on a low shelf, or give the cat a perch. If I ever see another like it, rest assured I will buy it. Meanwhile, I’ll use this.


A bit taller than my old one, but still compact and very sturdy. My husband took one look and said, “Nice lines.” The top is covered in old oilcloth, but it will be easy to take off and recover. And this is the sort of piece that’s at home anywhere, even among MCM pieces.


After this sale I headed north, where most of the sales in town were supposed to be today. But until I hit sale with The Bowl it was a bust. But the trees are putting on a lovely show, and though a bit foggy there was no rain, so a Saturday morning drive is a treat. And if I hadn’t headed north, I might never have seen this local landmark!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shop Local!

I think we’ve taken “shop local” to a new high. Went around the corner this morning to a sale in another Midcentury Modern house. The driveway was quite a hike – long and all uphill. Everyone was winded when we arrived at the top. One of the guys helping with the sale was talking to some other shoppers by the front door as I panted by him, saying, “Of course it is a really long climb, but we had one lady who was 91 years old while ago.” I stopped to tell him that I now felt 91. Inside I did a quick initial cruise checking for furniture (still need another pair of twin beds) and in one of the downstairs rooms I came to a halt. Long, low, MCM sofa in a tweedy gold/brown fabric. It was piled with other stuff for sale (placemats, a large piece of fabric, a bunch of thises and that’s) but I could see it was the real deal. And now I know why I finally broke down and got a cell phone: so I could whip it out and call my husband and say, “Come look at this.”

Five minutes later he was there, and he liked it too, and the price was thirty bucks, so we did it. Then we started figuring out how to get it home. He went ahead and took the cushions home in his car while I did a bit more garaging. I managed to spend one more dollar on a trash can for one of the guest room and a couple of throw pillow to recover for the sofa. Oh yeah, the sofa. The one that was still a block from home.

I mentioned it was long, right? This is a dachshund of a sofa – 8 feet long and 2 feet tall. With the cushions off it wasn’t horribly heavy (just substantially heavy). So we decided we’d try to carry it home, and if that wasn’t possible we’d call the U-haul place and rent a van (which would have doubled the price of the piece, and you know how I felt about that!). So back we went – downhill on our street to the corner, downhill to the left past the school, another left and uphill to the house with the sale, and another trek up that long driveway.


In the house, down the stairs. I picked up one end of the sofa and bravely said, “Yeah, let’s go for it.” There was a sliding door to the outside in that room so we headed out with it.

A  young couple was in the room shopping, and when she saw me holding up the sofa the woman said, “Here, my husband will help you.” He smiled as though she’s volunteered him for stuff before. We explained that we were planning to carry it uphill over to the next street. “That’s okay,” she said. “He can help.” I told her she was my new BFF, no wait, her husband was my new BFF, as I surrendered my end of the sofa to this nice young man. He and Steven schlepped it down the long, long driveway and paused by our Honda Civic.

“Maybe we could get one end in the back,” I said, “and you could hold up the other end and I could drive really slow.” Steven shrugged, nice young man shrugged, we opened the hatchback, and damn if that thing didn’t go in! Well, about a third of it went in. But it was securely wedged, didn’t look like it would slide out, so I got in the driver’s seat and off we went.

It’s really hard to drive as slow as a walking person! But turned out not to matter. Sofa didn’t budge as I went down the street, around the corner, up the hill past the school, around another corner, and up the hill to home.


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I’m awfully glad I didn’t actually have to carry this thing all the way from the other house, since getting it inside was enough for me. I pretty glad that Nice Young Man didn’t have to carry it all the way either! But get it in we did, and though initially we talked about putting it downstairs in the family room, now we think it’s perfect in the living room.


I’m not sure of the brand. The tag inside dates it to 1964, and the loose back cushions are down filled. It’s the original upholstery (the color is “Soiree Russet”) and though faded in some places it’s in quite good condition. I saw a picture of one like it that was identified as an Edward Wormley for Dunbar – but that one had been recovered in a cheetah print. Ig. I’m awfully glad mine is still Soiree Russet!

Noll Baxter is too.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Keeping Our Balance

I used up my old computer, and the new one arrived this week. Actually, I’m told that what  I used up was the memory on the old computer, making it slower, and slower, and s-l-o-w-e-r until I just wanted to scream every time I used it. We’re talking several minutes for something like a folder in Outlook to open. And, well, the relationship between my old computer and me has always been rocky. I wanted to love it, and I just never could.

So I’m thrilled to have the new one here. Less than thrilled at all the setup necessary though! We were able to transfer all my files – but not all the programs I use. So every time I start to do something, I find I have to download something and wait for it to install. I doctor all my pictures for this blog using Picasa – which wasn’t here. I write posts on Windows Live Writer – which no longer had a path or something and had to be downloaded again. We won’t talk about my movie editing program, or all the camera software, or Quicken, or…oh wait. We’re not talking about those!

It’s kind of like when you head out to go garaging. Before you can get in the car and crank the top down (assuming the weather is cooperating) there’s always a bunch of stuff that needs doing. I actually have a list in the front of my little notebook, reminding me of everything I need to gather. I’m sure this list has saved me countless hours over the years of trying to remember everything, not to mention the frustration of dealing with forgotten items.

Of course some items are so basic I don’t even have them on my list – feeding the pets before I go out, dripping fluids into Mrs. Wilberforce, our kitty with chronic kidney failure. It’s not our fave moment of the day, but she needs her “kitty juice” so we just do it. Which led to the note I wrote for my husband yesterday, who was still asleep when I left:


Okay, YOU try to think of a good rhyme for juice! Have to admit I was probably influenced by the picture my friend Cathy G.  send recently of her and an elk. Okay, so it wasn’t a moose. They’re both big, brown, and you don’t want to be run over by one. (No, Cathy was not run over by the elk. Though it would have made a better vacation story if she had been!) Steven said when he read the note his first image was of a large brown animal, but this was quickly superseded by a short internal video in which I was set upon by rogue hairdressers who slathered me with foamy white mousse.

At some point during the past week, a whole bunch of trees in town decided it was Fall.



After ten years in Southern California, I’m really enjoying the show. (I suspect I may enjoy the inevitable raking a bit less in a few weeks.)

I had the thrill on Friday of finding one of the items on my “hunt for” list. Not a huge thing, but something I use often – and the only thing that got broken in our recent move.


You really can’t complain when, out of all the stuff we crammed into two rental trucks, only one box got dropped and one item broke. But I’m so happy to find a replacement for a buck instead of having to go to a store. And I scored a few movies at the same sale.


My favorite encounter on Saturday was talking to a nice young woman who’s getting ready to move to Portland. (May her breakage report be as good as ours!) She said she got a job there a while back and blithely told herself the commute wouldn’t be bad, it’s only 45 minutes, no problem. Unfortunately her commute does not take place in the middle of the night, which is about the only time she’d actually be able to do it in 45 minutes. She also thought she’d have a couple of month to prep for her move, then learned her apartment was available NOW. Having just moved I can totally sympathize. Turns out she’s a jewelry designer as well; she showed me a picture of a very cool silver cuff bracelet she’d made. Somehow we got to talking about my creative endeavors (more on that below!) and she told me about a job she used to have as a technical writer. Apparently one of her co-workers left out some information in a manual, which resulted in a $9 million lawsuit! Have to admit I’d never thought of the awesome responsibility involved in tech writing.

As on Friday, I ended up buying things at only one sale, which seemed to be the remnants of an estate. As soon as you walked into the garage, you knew this home had belonged to a bird lover. China birds, cloth birds, more china birds, bird books. One piece was so unusual (and priced so right!) that I had to have it.


Ummm, it’s just a couple of odd birds on sticks, you’re saying. It’s not until you touch one that you realize they are balancing on the tips of their beaks!


I just thought that was cool, and you know I love bamboo. So I grabbed it, and kept looking around, and finally noticed a couple of small cloth bundles with a Dansk tag on them.

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My MCM antenna started to vibrate. Each is a roll of 4 vintage Danish placemats or napkins – they’re placemat size and shape, but woven of lightweight linen. The price was right (I spent a total of $7.50 this weekend, so you know it was!) so the Dansk cloth came home with me. Of course the first thing I did was see what I could find out about them on eBay and other sites. One set of 8 placemats sold for over $70! And all the ones I found on other auction sites and Etsy have been sold. So these babies are currently on the re-sell shelf– unless I find I need them for myself!

The downside to looking up something like Dansk on eBay is seeing all the other stuff I’d like to have. Not to mention the set of teak handled stainless flatware that looks awfully like the set we used to have (bought at a yard sale in the early 80s). We used them for years until too many pieces lost the wood off their handles and we moved on to something else. Now I see they were probably the ones designed by Jens Quistgaard. Sigh. But, I also see that my little candelabra I picked up a few weeks ago is another Quistgaard design from Dansk.


Now I feel better!

Okay, this is now “below” and here’s some news about my creative endeavors: the second book in my Willow Falls series will really and truly be out soon! In Dogs We Trust is getting formatted as an e-book, and I expect the galley proof of the trade paperback from the printer early this week. I’ll let you know when it’s all a “go” – and in the meantime, if you haven’t yet read Sleeping Dogs Lie, it’s very much available!

SDL FRONT COVER       dogsWeTrust front


Friday, October 7, 2011

First it wasn’t raining, then it was…

…and it turned out the rain didn’t matter a bit!

I found it interesting when we were still in Southern California the way people often reacted when they learned we were moving back to Oregon. “But it’s so RAINY up there!” (Said in tones close to horror.) I had to reassure any number of people that we had lived here before and had some idea what we were getting into.

MY concern of course what what rain would mean in terms of pursuing my favorite activity. (Yes, the weekly treasure hunt.) Well, it turns out they do something very cool up here.

They have their garage sales in their GARAGES.

Imagine that!

So when I did my morning weather check (which consists of sending our dog Edward out to the back yard for his morning constitutional and then seeing how damp he is when he returns) and determined that it was misting, I set out anyway with my list of sales and Gertrude Pemberton Smith, my gps. It misted a bit, then stopped, then started, on through the morning, but the main effect was that I had to leave the top up on my car. (I only pouted a little over that.)

I almost didn’t find the first sale on my list. I was looking for a house – and it turned out to be in a sort of shop building near the Winco store. One of the ladies having the sale is moving to Hawai’i, and you know what that means – everything has got to go! Didn’t find anything like I did at the sales that Mikey the insurance guy had when he was getting ready to move to the islands, but I did pick up a couple of items. I couldn’t resist the color of this nicely-sized Thermos bottle:


The photo doesn’t do it justice, it’s a fabbo coppery orange. Of course it does have writing on one side


but that just kept the price down in my price range!

The other thing I found here is for re-selling – an absolutely gorgeous Pendleton pleated skirt.


I knew by looking at it that it’s vintage, and I think the visual clue was the edge stitching on the pleats. The pleats are stitched down over the hips, and then just the teensiest edge is stitched to keep the pleats crisp.


If you sew, you probably are looking at that stitching with as much awe as I am! It wasn’t until I was taking pictures that I noticed this tag:


It’s reversible! Here’s the other side.


Evidently Pendleton made their Turnabout skirts in the 50s and 60s. Wish it fit me – I could hang around my 50s house in true vintage style! But alas it does not, so will be going on sale probably on eBay soon. Though if you’re interested, send me an email and we can work something out. (And BTW, I’ve got 9 auctions going this week, including a couple of great Halloween sweaters…)

There was one sale this morning where I totally cracked up. The house had a lovely garden and I chatted with the owner for a bit about gardens, since I have a lot to learn about what grows well up here. Another older lady showed up and we were all talking. The lady having the sale had a couple of items she’d ended up not using in a remodel, a sink and vanity top, and a Jacuzzi tub. A guy looking for tools noticed the tub (which had a sort of protective cover on it) and asked what it was, and the older lady popped out with, “It’s a salsa bowl!” I don’t know, just hit me funny. I told her if it was a margarita bowl I’d be coming to her party.

My other fun stop was the rummage sale at the Episcopal Church not far from the house. All the ladies running the sale kept reminding everyone that “everything is half price today, so buy a lot!” I had a sort of vision of all of them lined up, Rockette-style, chanting, “Half price! Half price! Buy, buy, buy!” but they were too busy for me to see if they were up for it. But since things were half priced, I found I was a lot more interested in the rocking chair I’d seen than I was originally. I revisited it with one of the sale ladies, who told me she thought they had really overpriced it to begin with since it needs some work, and between us we got the price down to one I liked. And I really love this chair.


The shape of the arms, the carving of the runners…

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The cane seat needs to be replaced, but I can order the pre-woven cane stuff.


I even kind of like the place on the end of the runner where a puppy did some teething.


I was trying to figure out what it was that made me think it’s a really nice piece. I don’t see any maker’s ID on it. I think it’s the shape of the piece at the top of the spindles.


Many spindle-back chairs have a top rail that’s straight across, so all the spindles are the same length. The curve on this one means it must have been more work to construct it. As is my wont, I started looking online to see if I could find a match to get more information. Didn’t have any luck at all for a long time, until I finally searched something like “Danish Windsor rocker” in Google Images. And I found one in an antique store in Miami! They have it listed as a “Classic Danish Modern Walnut Rocking Chair” and I admit theirs is in better shape than mine (at least until I get the seat fixed!). But…their price tag is more than $500 more than mine was!

Rain or shine, I win!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Garaging in 2/3 of the O States

The rumors that I have fallen off the face of the earth are largely exaggerated. Busy, yes; slightly crazed, definitely – but still here, and stll garaging! I’ve been frustrated at not getting to post for a couple of weeks, and I’ve got less than an hour before the hubs has to work on the computers some more, so let’s dash away.

Yes, he’s here – got all (well, most) of our stuff moved up from the OC and into the house in Salem. The truck he rented wasn’t q-u-i-t-e big enough, so last minute decisions had to be made about what to leave behind. Our former neighbors Bob and Ruby now have my little pond, water lilies and the mosquito fish; some bookshelves went to a college student down the street; and the park bench we carried down the street when a former neighbor put it on the sidewalk with a free sign is still in the backyard we left. But the important stuff got here – husband, pets, bed, fridge – and after all, stuff is just stuff. Those of us who shop on driveways know there will always be more stuff!

The day before he arrived (two weeks ago) I figured I'd better go out looking for sales on Friday since we’d be unloading the truck Saturday morning. Didn’t buy much, but it was one of those days that remind me why I really go to yard sales. It’s not actually for the things I buy. It’s to see things I'd never otherwise see, like this amazing house that’s clear across town. I turned a corner and did a double take. “That house has a lighthouse attached to it,” I said.


There were large fantastic creatures in the backyard, and the front was pretty amazing too.


I continued to the sale I was hunting, where I saw this funny Yoda-esque dog sitting in his owner’s lap.


“Sing to him,” she commanded. “Sing Happy Birthday.” Obviously a person who has not heard me sing. I hemmed and hummed a bit. She herself began to sing Happy Birthday, and after a few notes the dog started to whine and howl. She switched to another song (can't remember what it was, maybe She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain) and the dog stopped. As soon as she switched back to Happy Birthday, the howls resumed. Funniest thing you ever saw. Wish I'd filmed it, could have gone viral on Youtube. I bought a couple of things there, and started to leave but then remembered the house down the street, so I went back and asked about it. One of the ladies actually lived just a few doors away from it, so she gave me her version of their life story. It used to be an ordinary little ranch house, and the guy who lived there enjoyed building stuff. The lighthouse was created for the house plants his wife loved, but when it was finished they were chagrined to realize how hot it got with all that glass, and all the plants died. The large animals in the backyard were made for grandchildren to play on. I imagine the d├ęcor in the front yard was accumulated slowly over time. It's hard to tell in my picture, but along with the railroad crossing signs etc. there is a real cannon!

Last weekend I made a trip to Oklahoma to take care of some family business. Since I was there on Saturday morning, my sis asked if I wanted to go to some sales. Duh! is the only proper response to that question. It was a hoot driving around with her and her husband. Wish I'd had my camera with me, because I know you’d love to see the most unusual item I noticed for sale – a rattlesnake hunting kit, complete with burlap bag.

Back home again, my GPS, Gertrude, and I have been out both yesterday and this morning. It's been more of an exercise in exploring the town than in purchasing stuff, but that’s just fine with me. Who needs to buy stuff when you can stand amazed before a patchwork sculpture

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or meet a lovely smiling kitty named Becket.


I just looked at my spreadsheet, and over 3 weekend I’ve spent $39 – and almost half of it went for a single item today. I still believe this is the least expensive hobby ever! The (relatively) big ticket item was something I've been watching for on Craigslist, and only happened by the sale where I found it by accident.


At the moment it’s residing in our quite large master bathroom, which has an open 8’ x 10’ area in the center. Plenty of room to exercise, and you can jump straight to the shower when you’re done! Later it will go downstairs after we get the icky carpets out and some other kind of flooring in. Soon, I hope, since I can't unpack down there until that happens.

Yesterday all I found were a couple of vintage decorating magazines.


But there’s a lot of furniture in them to lust over! I’d like two of these beds in the twin size, two of the benches, and one of the chair, please.


Even though I didn’t buy much, I really enjoyed the drive. Headed to West Salem, including a sale on a country road. I had to pause on the long driveway while some cows were delivered to a field.

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Turned out not to be what I consider a yard sale – more of a high end antiques sales at antique store prices. But who cares if you buy anything when the wares include fabulous stuff to look at, like this antique piano that had been upholstered in bright pink vinyl and mirrors. My jaw dropped.


Last week we found some sales in and around Claremore, OK, and my sister, Midcentury Marilyn, scored several things for her eCrater store. I came away with a couple of things I could fit into my suitcase, a DVD


and a Belgian tapestry. I've never seen Humpty Dumpty depicted this way before. The people watching him fall seem quite calm about it.


It may have been our Noll who knocked him off his perch. Bad cat!


The week before, waiting for the hubs to arrive, I had pretty good luck. My BIL, Biker Bob, was quite chuffed at the brad nailer I found for his compressor thingie. He had asked me to keep an eye out for tools to use with it, and I was amazed to actually recognize something.


I couldn’t resist buying something from the guy who made this locomotive.


He had all kinds of things he’s made from wood.

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“I don’t like to watch TV,” he told me, “so I come out in the garage every morning and think about something to make and then I make it.” He seemed quite pleased when I had him sign the locomotive. “Nobody ever asked me to do that before,” he said. I assured him he is an artist, and artists should sign their work. “That’s what I keep telling him!” his wife chimed in.

Picked up a few things for the house as well. This soap dispenser is in my half-bath, the one with the vintage pink fixtures.


We needed a chalkboard for the kitchen. I really like the bunny, and the hubs is cohabiting with it uncomplainingly.


This vintage wool blanket will be cozy on one of the guest beds. It washed and dried beautifully.

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And I fell in love with this glass switchplate cover. I've put it up in the guest room with all the children’s literature toys.


So we’re settling in with all our new (used!) stuff. And I'm hoping the rains that have started will confine themselves to weekdays!

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