Friday, December 23, 2011


We have a couple of new things at our house. The first arrived in a box, and was a total surprise.



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My friend Cathy G., artist and children’s librarian, recently took a class on creating these photo collages. She sent me pics of some she’d done for family. I’m totally honored to be commemorated this way, and I love her work. You can sometimes find things she’s made in her Etsy shop, Penelope Basset, and I’m sure she’d take orders too. I have another piece she made for me from one of the Dresden paper cuts I gave her.


It’s rather like having my own personal shrine! I’ll have to display it with some quarters and a yard-sale candle.

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I’ll have to make sure the display is several feet off the ground. And that’s because of the second new thing at our house.


We have a new puppy! As yet unnamed (we’re trying out some possibilities, and are quite motivated to settle on something lest she be stuck with ‘Piglet’ which is what came first to mind. Right now Piglet would be perfect, but I figure when she’s a handsome, strong grown-up dog, being called Piglet will seriously erode her street cred), she’s 7 weeks old, a Springer mix. Supposed to be Springer and Lab, with a soup├žon of Pit in there as well. This is our third Springer mix. Kate was the first.

Katie Flashdance

Edward, of course, has set the standard for Springer mixes.

Ed 6 mo

We’ve had three black, longhaired dogs in a row  - Possum, Lizzie, and Edward..

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This new little one looks like she will have the same short, soft coat that Katie did. So far she’s quite a bit more mellow than Kate, who was a wonderful dog, but pretty much a maniac for her first 12 years. I think we’d had her about 2 days when my husband looked at me and said he didn’t know if he was going to be able to take it. I was thrown into a fluster of trying to decide which of them I could possibly give up, and the answer was neither – so I kept them both.


So far so good with little Nameless. She eats like a champ, sleeps for hours at a time, and is already figuring out what she’s supposed to do when we take her outside. And she’s cuddly, with the most impossibly soft ears you’ve ever felt.

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Charlie Brown was so, so right…happiness IS a warm puppy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Is It a Party?

This is probably the last weekend of 2011 for sales, and there weren’t many – but I was there! Well, mostly. There’s an estate sale going on today that I wasn’t able to find. When I got home I rechecked the address , and it turned out that they spelled the street name wrong in their Craigslist ad. Gertrude, my GPS, is an awful stickler for spelling, and as far as she was concerned, the street I was trying to find did not exist. And it’s too far and too cold to go back over there. But whattheheck, I managed to spend three bucks this weekend so I’m good!

Found one sale yesterday billed as an estate sale. Maybe. That description is used rather loosely at times. The folks were friendly, the stuff was clean, and the prices were absolutely silly. Ten bucks for a small electric heater – that was broken. A small bottle, very like ones I’ve dug up in backyards where I’ve lived, was $35. I thought a little friction car was ten cents…but looked again and saw that the decimal was somewhere else. As in $10. One of those sales where you smile, and say thanks as you head empty handed out the door.

Today I found an estate sale (seemed like a real one this time) not too far from home. Got there about ten minutes before the advertised time. There were a number of cars, so I parked a little way off, by a short cul de sac that had a huge trampoline set up at the end of it. (Evidently people here worry less about liability!) Four little boys were riding their bikes in the cul de sac, and as I headed for the sale one of them called to me, “Is it a party?” No, just an estate sale. He nodded wisely, seeming to know what I meant. “But some of us think it’s a party,” I told him.

As I walked up to the house, two ladies were talking on the driveway, and I heard one of them say, “And she wanted $20 for a milk bottle that wasn’t even old!” So I knew they’d been at the same sale I went to on Friday.

This sale was being run by a local company that I’ve encountered before. There was a sign up list on the porch, and I was rather chagrined to see I was number 30! I asked some of the others waiting how many they usually let in at a time, which no one could answer but it started a conversation about sales we’d all been to and the ones who let in 5 at a time vs. the guy who crowds everything into one room and then lets in 30 people at a time. (Hmmm, I think I’ve encountered those sales too.) Got lucky though; when the sale opened and she started calling out names, about half the people had disappeared, so I got in right away.

As I stood on the porch chatting and listening, I realized I was surrounded by dealers. Not little penny-ante dealers like me, who resell a few things on eBay or Craigslist from time to time. These were Dealers. Sure enough, when we got inside, one old boy headed straight for a box of jewelry, which he was still inspecting when I left. Another scooped up a rather nice MCM dining set, which at $250 was way out of my league, and I don’t need any more dining furniture anyway. They weren’t pushy or obnoxious (this is Salem, Oregon after all; we pretty much don’t do pushy and obnoxious up here) but they were quite focused. Especially the guy wearing a pair of glasses shoved up on his head with lenses like jeweler’s loupes!

I keep hoping for that last pair of twin beds I need, but nope. I left the dealers to their dealing and picked up some hand soaps, a shoe brush (we can’t find our shoe polishing kit since we moved, so I’m slowly replacing it), a box of tiny tapers, and some insoles. It’s a pretty slow day when your items aren’t worth photographing! Well, except for one little bird ornament. Plenty of room for one more on that tall tree in our living room!



I expect we’ll be entering into a very lean season for sales, especially the next couple of weeks. But I’ll be doing my year-end retrospective, looking back at what I found in 2011. I feel quite excited about it. Is it a sign of age to get a little giddy over a spreadsheet?

Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to holiday activities with family, a lot of great food, and cozy fires in our fireplace. Hope your holidays will be just as good!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Little Items, Big Tree

There was a time when my husband and I had a running joke that if he came garaging with me, it was the kiss of death. We would find absolutely nothing. I told him on Friday that the curse was offically lifted, and he can come with me whenever he likes! Our first stop was an estate sale where we got to talking to the brother and sister and their cousin having the sale. The dad is gone, mother has moved to retirement home in Montana, and they needed to clear out a bunch o’ stuff. (Yeah, we helped some with that!) We got some wonderful stories. The parents were professional musicians who played in orchestras all over the country, including the Oklahoma City Symphony where I ushered for concerts when I was in high school. The mom was a cellist, and we saw a wonderful watercolor portrait of her playing. Dad played a wind instrument, but I can’t remember which they said. Their mother was one of four sisters who had been started playing instruments when they were quite young, I think the cello was started at age 8. Another story was about one of their aunts, who at age 6 broke a finger and so was unable to play the piano. Her mother stuck a viola in her hands (guess the broken finger was on the bow hand!) and told her to play, opining that ‘idle hands are the Devil’s playthings.’ The four girls formed a quartet (two violins, viola and cello) and were quite famous in the New England area when they were teens, must have been in the 1930s. “They traveled as far as Indianapolis, though how that came about I’ve never known!” we were told.

Steven found a couple of movies there. The thing they have in common is an orchestra background.


I noticed these interesting dining chairs. “Yeah, Mom made those. And the table,” they told us. Apparently you could buy frames back in the 60s and put together your own chairs.


She must have been a seamstress as well. There were sewing supplies, and I picked up this wonderful piece of vintage boucle wool fabric, the perfect size for a throw for my sofa.


I tried it out last night. It’s toasty warm, light as a feather, and a complete kitty magnet – I had one cat on my lap, and the other tucked into the folds of fabric where it dangled by my feet.

Speaking of kitties, the next stop was another estate sale where I found this. (Nope, that’s definitely not the price I paid!)

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At first I thought the can was empty, it weighed so little, but when I opened it there was an unopened bag of catnip in there. So I brought it home. Wasn’t sure if the ‘nip would still have any attractive qualities, but evidently it is as fresh as the day it was organically hand-picked. I sprinkled some on the cushion in the cat basket, and two seconds later Noll Baxter was in there sniffing.


And rolling.

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I couldn’t get any really good pictures because he wouldn’t stop writhing!

This adorable little ornament came from the same sale

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along with a strange little Pinocchio. about 5” tall. My friend Marcia thought he looked scary when I showed him to her during our Skype call this morning, but I love him. (Maybe he’s better in person.)

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I admit he does a great giant zombie imitation, looming over the snowman house.


And…I just discovered he can walk!!

Saturday I went to another estate sale, and it was almost a bust. They were only letting in a few people at a time, and there was a line, and it was cold. Then one of the guys working the garage part of the sale turned on an old radio, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was suddenly blaring. I commented to the guy behind me in line that being cold was bad enough without Rudolph, which made him laugh (thank heavens). Then the music changed to the Little Drummer Boy, which seemed to cement our new friendship. We chatted as the line slowly diminished in front of us. Turns out he knew the family having the estate sale, and that his dad had been a house builder who built the house we were at! So a fun conversation was definitely a mitigating factor. Didn’t find anything to buy until I was leaving and paused at a box of books in the garage, which included a whole stack of these mid-century guidance pamphlets.


I had to get the one published in 1957, the year our house was built. I think it will be a fun addition to the guest bathroom downstairs! And we’ve been getting all kinds of good advice from it. Like “How to be a lipstick artist…1.) Choose the proper color…and 2.) Apply the lipstick carefully.” Boys get good advice too. I wonder what the correct answer to this little quiz might be?


Saturday afternoon we did something that turned out to be surprisingly thrifty – and involves something I bought recently at a garage sale! We went to a tree farm and got our Christmas tree. A big one.


Certainly the tallest tree I’ve ever had! Yes, it’s going to take a ladder to do the top part. Hope our ornaments will do it justice. Oh, and the thrifty part? Well, aside from the farm being only a couple of miles from home, every one of their u-cut trees was a whopping fifteen bucks. The people were a hoot there too. They had a big sign that said ‘Christmas trees with personality.’ Yes, but what kind of personality, I asked. “Oh, different trees have different personalities,” the lady told us with a twinkle in her eye. “Don’t cut down any of the ones that reach out to slap you!”


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guess if I’m supposed to have it, it will still be there!

What in the world are these people thinking? I was by no means the first person at this Friday sale, people were leaving with their hands full, and yet this was still sitting on the first table I came to.


The world’s cutest mixing bowl. A batter bowl, no less. Wait till you see the inside!





Even the logo on the bottom is cute.


Oh wait, I remember now, lots of people don’t cook any more, which is why there is a fast food place everywhere you turn.

I admit, I DO have other mixing bowls. (Not the mushroom bowl any longer, it’s winging its way to a new home – in Norway.) But since I bake bread about four times a week, the process is made a bit more wonderful by a bowl like this.


But perhaps a bowl won’t attract everyone. Or even an adorable German Easter egg candy box.

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But on Saturday, the lady at the first sale where I stopped (make that ‘the shivering lady at the first freezing cold garage where I stopped’ – it was like 29 degrees out) told me that dealers were lined up on her driveway at least half an hour before she opened, peeking in the windows. And yet those dealers left me two Coach bags that were very reasonably priced. Not fifty cents (dang) but still reasonable.

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The smaller one apparently is a Bonnie Cashin bag from the Sixties.

My next stop, which had been going for at least 45 minutes by the time I got there, had two Wilton 6” cake pans…in the free box!


And in a box of toys I uncovered this beauty.


Not just any pull toy, but a Kouvalias, which are quite high quality. And as far as I can tell, any kid who got one of these adorable ladybugs still has it – I’ve only found a couple of auctions where they were sold, and an ad for Christmas toys in a November 2000 magazine. When you pull her along, her wings go up and down. And it turns out that besides being beyond cute, we’re talking total kitty magnet. I finally had to shove Noll Baxter away so I could take pics.


Then there was the pair of Eddie Bauer wool gloves. Who couldn’t use a decent pair of wool gloves in this climate? Especially for a quarter?

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Probably most people around here already have a Christmas tree stand. We had one, but the hubs didn’t think it was strong enough for the size tree we’re planning to get this year. And there was the one I needed, for about a tenth of the price in a store.

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Had fun just talking to people too. At the sale where I got the cake pans and pull toy, a mother and her grown-up daughter were shopping. Mom tried on a pair of sunglasses and asked how they looked. When I assured her they were stunning and wondered who that mysterious woman was, she struck a model’s pose with her hand behind her head. We kept chatting, and I admired her boots and asked where she got them. She said she got them for free, so the two ladies having the sale and I had to have the story. “Well, in August my home burned down, and I lost everything,” she said. Of course we are all riveted. A local store provided some replacement stuff to the victims of this fire (it was in an apartment complex) and they were told they could choose a pair of shoes, and her daughter talked her into this pair of boots. When she told us some more details of the fire, I realized she had lived in the same apartments where my niece use to live – before she was burned out in a fire a year before this one. My niece escaped with all her kitties, but this lady’s kitties were all killed in the fire. But she’s recovering and moving on, and I got to see the picture of their two new kittens.

Met a young couple having a moving sale and got to talking, and found out they’ve started going to garage sales every Saturday; it was driving them nuts to have to mind their own sale instead of going out treasure hunting! I gave them some tips on mapping out a list of sales before heading out, which has turned out to be pretty necessary here. “And never buy anything new!” was my other advice. Actually, it’s okay to buy stuff that’s new…as long as you find it in someone’s garage!

On Friday I stopped at a sale in the neighborhood just north of mine – mostly gorgeous older homes but some MCM beauties too. This sale was in a little cottage probably dating from the Twenties or Thirties. When I arrived I asked the guy if he was having fun yet, and he said he was, even though people had warned him that garage sale shoppers could be very aggressive. “Dang,” I said, “they’ve been talking about me again!” As I looked around, I asked him if he had any twin beds for sale (still need one more pair), and he said he had a pair but they had just decided to keep them. “I guess this is where I have to prove my reputation for being aggressive,” I told him, and he laughed and said I could at least see them. He led me into the house, and luckily for him his twin beds were not at all what I’m looking for. He had a very narrow escape – if it had been a couple of Heywood-Wakefields there’s no telling what might have happened!

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