Monday, June 25, 2012

Rug Story

So I was at this sale on Saturday, and I noticed that some of the items had handwritten notes on them. Not everything, just a few items. The sale was for an elderly lady moving into an assisted living place and having to downsize her belongings. Guess she couldn’t be there to tell the stories of her favorites, so she wrote them down.

I noticed a rolled up rag rug with one of the notes. Fell in love with the bright blues and greens and the thickness of it, so I bought it. When I got home, I read the note.


In case the handwriting is unclear, it reads:

Made by hand – By an 80-year-old granny – Bellingham, Washington – in the middle 50’s – She would shop at thrift shops – looking for old wool skirts, shirts, & whatever else she could find – cut them into strips & strips – all 1 - 1 1/2 inches – always the same. MILES & MILES of wool strips -

It was her way of keeping her hands busy – out of trouble (?) & earn some extra dollars to add to her meager social security check. She found out my favorite colors and put them together for me. 2012.

See, this is what keeps me garaging and out of stores, even thrift stores. It’s the story that’s attached.

Besides, if I ever found a rug this great in a store it would cost a gazillion dollars. See, the Bellingham granny back in the Fifties didn’t just sew strips together. She had a sewing machine with a pleating attachment (which I know about because I have one on my elderly Singer 201), and she pleated all those miles and miles of strips before she sewed them together in a spiral to make her round rug. The pleats add body to the cloth so the strips can stand on edge. This thing is amazing underfoot. I’ve got it in front of the kitchen sink right now, and it’s like standing on one of those pricey gel mats, only better. As soon as you step on it, your knees feel better! And she searched for quality wool that hasn’t raveled or faded in all these years.


So the little old Fifties rug has a new home in our Fifties house, where it will be appreciated and loved – and its story will go on.

And besides – it’s a pet magnet!



Monday, June 18, 2012

Shade and Shoe Goo

Sometimes you’re out thrifting, and you find something that tells you “This is what you got out of bed for today!”

Like a market umbrella for the table on your deck. Which I have been looking for for YEARS. If you’ve ever bought one of these puppies in a store, you know they fall into the category of Not Cheap. Even the cheap ones are Not Cheap. And if you see one at a yard sale and ask the price, you’re always told it’s not for sale. Harumph. This is nearly always true of hand trucks too. People use them to move the big stuff out of the garage, then leave them sitting there and spend all morning telling eager buyers it’s not for sale.

Anyway, back to umbrellas. Saw one at a sale on Friday and knew it was for sale, because the sign said so. However, it was part of a set with a table and some chairs. I’m not in the market for table and chairs right now, and the $175 price tag was way too high to buy them all and just keep the umbrella. Lots of times people are reluctant to break up sets of things, but it never hurts to ask, so I inquired if the guy might sell the umbrella separately. He allowed as how he might. I asked for a price. He thought for a second, then said, “How about five bucks?”

How about giving me a heart attack from joy? Sheesh. But I’ve bought pigs in pokes before and been sorry. The umbrella was closed up, so I had him crank it open to check it out. No holes, looked pretty good. Then he showed me how it tilts to different angles. “Okay,” I said, “I can’t get a fiver out fast enough.” He laughed and loaded the umbrella in the back seat of the convertible. Then I said I’d better go check out the sale a couple of doors down from his. “Yeah, they’ve got better stuff than we do,” he told me. Went and looked. Mostly kid toys. On my way back to my car I told him, “They just have more stuff, but it’s no better than yours!”

All the way home I pictured myself popping that umbrella down the hole in the middle of the outdoor table. Only to receive a reality check when I arrived. The table on our deck has NO hole in the center. That’s when I remembered we sold the table with the umbrella hole before we moved up here. Oops. But not to worry. We picked up some U-shaped pipe clamps and will be attaching the umbrella to the deck railing soon. At which point I can take a picture for you. Meanwhile I can enjoy the facts that the clamps cost less than the umbrella (it always makes me wild to find some fabbo bargain and then have to spent three times as much to make it usable) AND that the clamps were manufactured in Peculiar, MO. So I have Peculiar clamps!

On Saturday we had to be out and about early, because we went up to Portland for garaging. The Laurelhurst neighborhood up there has an annual sale day. A few weeks ago my SIL Linda got lost on her way to a meeting, and when telling a colleague where she had been driving around, she was told that this was Laurelhurst and that they had a wonderful neighborhood sale in September each year. So she told me to keep an eye out for it, and I even put a reminder on my calendar to do so. Then last week, when the hubster and I were at a neighborhood sale here in Salem, one of the ladies mentioned that she used to live in Laurelhurst and their sale was next week. NOT in September! I did a little Internet searching when I got home and found that June was correct. Linda and I figure that we were supposed to go to this sale, since our hearing about it depended on her getting lost (which doesn’t happen very often) and my chatting up the one woman in Salem who used to live up there. It set us up to expect we’d find something absolutely amazing, which I would say probably turned out to be the neighborhood itself. Beautiful old houses, mature landscaping, and gigantic trees that arched up and met in the middle over the streets.

My big score of the day was a pretty nice set of fireplace tools.


Linda seemed happiest with her bundle of three vintage Pierre Cardin pillowcases. They were from the sale where the lady told us that coming in was free, but we had to buy something in order to be able to leave. She had a twinkle in her eye when she said it, so I figured even if we didn’t find anything we’d be able to avoid ugly headlines along the lines of

Old Lady Knocked Down at Yard Sale by Retired Librarian.

But Linda’s purchase of three cases got us all out scot free. Whew.

This houndy fellow was the only dog picture I got


but we also met Sophie the labradoodle and Lola the Springer spaniel. Right after we left Lola, the next little girl we encountered was also named Lola. They were close to the same age. Classrooms will probably be filled with Lolas in a few more years.

Besides the umbrella and the fireplace tools, I came home with two tins of Victorian tinsel, originally from the gift shop at the Bush House

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a cute little tin, which will probably end up holding vitamins


three little spice jars


some sturdy cloth napkins


a Misto sprayer


a book of poetry


and a MCM serving piece.


Oh yeah, and a partial tube of Shoe Goo. We’ve got a couple of pairs that need some fixing up. I saw some last week and didn’t buy it, and kicked myself all week about it. So the the thrifting gods were kind enough to give me a second chance. Shoe Goo and a five dollar deck umbrella…hooray for the thrifting gods!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Help pick my next book cover!

Help me out here, would you? I’m just about ready to publish the third book in my series, entitled The Dog Prince. Chapter one begins like this:

The May sunshine was already hot as it sparkled on the collection of frogs strewn across a rickety card table. I was running late and had forty miles to drive. The battery on my cell phone had died, so I couldn’t call and say I'd be late. I stopped to look at the frogs anyway.

And put into motion a chain of events that included mayhem and murder. I tell you, you just never know what will turn up at a good flea market.

I have several versions of the front cover that I’m considering. Of course I want it to be clear this is part of the series, so all the covers have some of the same elements as the first two books, which look like this:


And here are the covers I’m considering for book three. You can click on each image if you’d like to see it bigger (helps see the details!):

Version 1

Dog Prince 1

Version 2

Dog Prince 2

Version 3

Dog Prince 3

Version 4

Dog Prince 4

Version 5

Dog Prince 5

The Dog Prince is very much a cozy mystery, laced with humor and featuring lots of dogs. I’d love to know which cover you like best. Feel free to make additional comments as well. Thanks so much for your help!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pups and Parsley and Neighborhood Fun

Now, I don’t expect everyone to like me. Okay, I sort of do, I’m pretty likeable, really. But I realized on Friday that I do expect most dogs to like me. This is based on years and years of empirical evidence, plus the fact that I nearly always have dog treats in my pocket (side effect of puppy training). But I don’t think this guy would have given me the time of day.


He may have been taking his cue from his owner, who was equally cold. That’s okay, their garage was full of overpriced crap that I wouldn’t have wanted even if they’d been nice. And any hurt I might have felt was instantly dispelled when I reached the sale at Ruhmer’s house. He greeted me by walking up and laying his muzzle on my stomach.


Yes, a tall dog! Probably a Weimaraner/Great Dane mix.


His owner kept trying to get him to leave me alone, and I kept calling him back so I could pet him some more. One of those dogs you’d gladly take home, in spite of how much he probably eats. Perhaps he looked underfed to some of the other garagers. One old lady said she had a couple of Chihuahuas at home he could eat, and another old guy offered his wife for a snack. I don’t make this stuff up. Fortunately he said it in a good natured joshing sort of way. Though we all know that relationships can be complicated. At another sale on Friday, two guys noticed some wooden skis in the garage and asked if they were for sale. The woman having the sale replied, “No, my husband said he wants to keep them.” Then with hardly a pause she added, “But if you gave me twenty bucks they’re yours.” Those guys couldn’t get a twenty out fast enough. These were very cool vintage wooden skis. I think she must have been mad at her husband!

Didn’t buy anything on Friday, just brought home a few magazines from a free box


and some parsley plants that they kindly let me dig up. One of the ladies in the garage had a handful of greenery that she said she wasn’t sure if it was cilantro or parsley. I pinched off a leaf and sniffed and gave my opinion that it was Italian parsley (the flat leaved kind) and the lady at the cash box exclaimed, “That’s it! He said he planted Italian parsley.” I mentioned I needed to go buy some parsley plants (actually written on the list in my pocket!) and they took me around the side of the house, put a trowel in my hand, and said dig. I dug!


But on Saturday I scored right off. My husband came along, and at the first sale I noticed a small three-drawer cabinet that looked very midcentury. “Hey, this would work to put that speaker on,” I said, referring to the subwoofer or whatever it is that’s part of our home theatre. Then I noticed some shelves that seemed to match, so I asked the guy if they went together. He said they did, and showed us the rest of the set up, and I knew immediately this thing was going home with me. You’ve probably seen the modular wall-hung shelving that was popular back in the Fifties and Sixties. I had read an article about it on Retro Renovation not long ago so I knew this was a desirable item! I believe the set we got is by Bruksbo, since the pieces are stamped ‘Made in Norway.’ It will probably be a while before we get it all hung on a wall somewhere, so meanwhile, here are the pieces.



And of course now I have a new name in MCM furniture to watch out for. Garaging is SO educational.

From that sale we headed to the first neighborhood sale of the summer. Talked for a bit to the woman who organized the sale; guess the real estate agents in this neck of the wood don’t take that on. She told me that participants each kicked in five bucks to pay for advertising, and that it was a lot of work to organize everything. My advice was to forget about paid advertising and just go with Craigslist and maybe I don’t think paying for an ad in the local paper makes sense any more. But I’m curious…where do you mainly look for the sales you go to, assuming that you do?

Anyway, it was a fun neighborhood sale, one of those events where everyone seemed to be having a good time. From one couple we picked up a black leather fanny pack for fifty cents, to keep puppy training treats handy. Then we found some glasses


some movies


some CDs


and a pair of pruners. There always something that needs pruning.


This kitty looks very much like one we had many years ago.


And next door to her lives another rather tall dog. Even taller than Ruhmer.


And yes – this dog liked me!



Sunday, June 3, 2012

Whirligigs, Irises, and School-Bus Cats

Plink. Crunch.

“Ummm, excuse me, but your dog is eating those beads.”


I just happened to be looking at this dog


at the precise moment a strand of beads hung on the gate fell to the ground. Dogs being what they are, his first thought was Snack! Fortunately he didn’t get to snack on very many beads before his owner hustled over and removed the temptation. Certainly no stranger than some of the things my dogs have snacked on.

But we won’t go into that!

The first item on today’s agenda is my plan for your next vacation. Yes, yours. You will really enjoy it, trust me. As any good travel agent would I have already tried out this itinerary and it was WAY fun. Go ahead and ask for time off next May, in the second half of the month. Then make your travel arrangements to go to a whirligig workshop at Hutch Studio in La Conner, Washington (about an hour north of Seattle). You can start gathering your materials now, and you’ll have plenty of time to collect a variety of windcatchers. I took two boxes of stuff up with me. I came back with most of two boxes of stuff, plus this:

Sharon's gig

Spent the day with Chris, the artist who runs the workshops, and Al and Tom, fellow ‘gig makers. We had an absolute blast all day.

us and our 'gigs

When you finish your workshop, the next part of your trip will be to come down to Salem, where I live. Your destination: Schreiner’s Iris Garden during bloom season. Their website barely hints at what’s in store for you. I figured it would be fields of blooming irises, like the tulip place we went to earlier. And yes, there are fields of blooming irises.


But the real attraction is the demonstration garden, showing their gorgeous irises in full bloom with a wide variety of other plants.


We were there on a weekday, which was nice enough, but a friend went on a weekend and in addition to the flowers there was live classical music. There’s even an iris festival with a parade and other events. So much beauty. You need to see it!


And of course while you’re here you might want to take in a few garage sales! Had a good time at those this weekend too. There was the weather-beaten good-old-boy at one sale who had some plants for sale, and I overheard him telling a buyer the Latin name of one. He did not look like someone who would be spouting Latin, but it turned out he’s worked in nurseries since he was 15. We had a nice chat about limbing-up shrubs. That sale was at his brother’s house; I got the history of the house and garden (formerly owned by an English doctor who worked in one of the local hospitals). Didn’t buy anything there, but I was amused by these slippers.

IMG_4793  IMG_4794

At another sale I arrived as they were talking about the lengths people will go to to get into a sale early. “Some woman ring my doorbell at six-thirty in the morning and ask to come through my house into the garage so she could see what I had,” one woman was saying. We all shook our heads over this pushiness. Then one of the guys said, “I had a woman come by about half an hour before starting time. She told me she had to take her husband to work in Portland [about an hour’s drive], so couldn’t she please come in now. I told her I was sorry, but we would not be open until nine. So we opened at nine – and there she was at 9:05!” Everyone cracked up and agreed that was the fastest trip to Portland and back ever.


Met some nice pets this weekend. Couple of sweet black Labs

  IMG_4826  IMG_4830

and a very friendly kitty named LT.


“He follows me everywhere,” his owner said proudly. Turns out his wife is a school bus driver, and she found LT on her route and brought him home. Which made me laugh, because I did the same thing once. Yes, many years ago I drove a school bus, and on my very first day I let off the kids at the grade school, and there was a little black kitten crying on the sidewalk. I went over and picked him up (he was skin and bones). He purred in my hands, then promptly fell asleep. So I stuck him in the glove box of my bus and took him home. (Yes, it was against the rules, but I suspect the statute of limitations ran out on that one about twenty five years ago.) We already had two cats, and when my husband saw this little scrap, he shook his head and said, “He’s awfully cute, but we just can’t keep him.” I probably sniffled. About fifteen minutes later he said, “Well…maybe we can keep him.” And for the next sixteen years he said he was still thinking about it, until we finally lost Soot of old age.

Soot 1984

Bought one thing at this sale…well, twenty things! A bucket full of whiffle balls, which ZoĆ« just loves.


She chases them all over our tennis court. She’ll also be chasing this.


Went out both Friday and Saturday this week, and parted with less than twenty bucks. Along with the dog toys, I brought home a couple of DVDs


(why yes, I do have eclectic tastes!), a bunch o’ magazines


and some gardening inspiration.


Found a couple of pieces for future whirligigs (definitely plan to make more of them!) – a vintage tin mold


and this Peter Pan tin which originally held toffee. I’m thinking a children’s literature themed ‘gig will be fun.


Picked up another baby gate; this one’s currently in place to remind certain kitties to Leave The Screen Alone.


I was shopping around their garage when I noticed this fabbo doll furniture, perfectly sized for a bookshelf.

IMG_4834 IMG_4833

Turns out the lady makes these, and has an Etsy shop. They’re sized for Barbie dolls, but I bet would work for others as well. If there are young children in your life, these would make wonderful gifts!

IMG_4836 IMG_4835

Filled up my back seat at a sale close to home, with this nice big pot


and a vintage lab stool. From the color of the seat cover I’m guessing it’s from the seventies.


And just because I liked it, picked up this garden ornament. Probably sized for a pot, since the pup is about six inches tall.


Personally, I think it’s a portrait of a certain young dog we know!



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