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 Zoë 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!




  1. Had our own neighbourhood garage sale yesterday, only 20 houses this year.
    My favorite customer was the one who offered 5cents for a 50cent hardcover...when I said I would like 50 cents she flung the book down, jumped into her Mercedes and roared off.

  2. You went to La Conner! I'm jealous.

  3. Love your whirligig creation! And I think you could be a travel agent. Very nice description and enticing words about your area!

    I find it hard to pass up baby gates but have had to do so lately since I think we have reached our maximum. The dogs can be safely gated away or off of just about everything necessary. :)

  4. I love the class so much fun. I also like the dog that goes in the pot good find.

  5. That garden looks fabulous! I like your whirligig. It would move a lot here. It seems like the wind is here to stay here. The garden ornament does look like Zoe!!

  6. What a marvelous garden! Would love to get up there for the class and the flowers someday! Been staying away from the garage sales lately till I get more out of my house! But have been looking for old vinyl baby dolls to paint up as Skelly dolls! a challenge and a lot of fun.

  7. You made some great scores, but I love the stories of the school bus cats best of all.


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

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