Sunday, August 26, 2012

Guessing Game!

“Be right back,” I told Steven. “There’s a bit more in the car.” I hauled in the second armful of garage sale items. “Okay, that’s everything.”


He looked at my finds. “All this,” I couldn’t help bragging, “cost…twenty five cents.”


I think he was impressed. I know I was! I didn’t have a lot of time for garaging Saturday, so I made four stops on my way home from the dog park. Strolled up to the first one, and the sellers called, “Everything over there on the grass is free!”


I immediately spotted a couple of things I could use and picked them up. Went over to see what was in the money-required section and thank them for the free stuff. The dad told me, “If you come back in about an hour, probably everything else will be free too. We just want it all gone!” I asked if they were moving. One of the teenage daughters said, “Well, we were going to move, so we started clearing stuff out to have a garage sale.” The mom added, “But by the time we got it all cleared out to get the house ready for sale, it looked so much better we decided to stay!”


I couldn’t help laughing. I actually read about people doing this in one of the books I looked at on how to stage your house to sell, last year when we were getting ready to move. I was a teensy bit skeptical about the writer’s claim that she’d had several clients decide not to move after she decluttered and staged their homes, but I guess it must have been true. Might be a lesson in there for all of us about the value of decluttering!


Didn’t find anything I needed on the money side of the sale, but as I headed back toward the car I spotted something else among the freebies I could use. And then another thing, and another. I was a happy camper as I put the stuff in my car and headed for the next sale.


At the second sale I spent a quarter (and nothing at the two after that.) So here’s the guessing game: which item did I spend cold hard cash for, and which came from the free pile? Was it the pair of red pillar candles that smell of cinnamon?


The very old handmade box that belonged to the owner’s grandfather?


The never-been-used curved shower curtain rod (an item I’ve been planning to buy for a year)?


The three globe light covers, which I will use for gazing balls in the yard?


The new-with-tags black wool hat (in my husband’s size!)?


Or the backpack that was instantly commandeered by Noll Baxter?


All for a quarter. And to think I almost didn’t go out at all!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Passing By

All these garage sales we go to…seems like many of them mark some passage in life. Sometimes it’s that the kids have outgrown clothes and toys, and it’s time to let those things go to some other family. I see lots of those, and sometimes I just drive on by. Since I no longer buy door prizes for children’s librarians, my need for toys has greatly diminished! Besides, there’s no need to tempt myself with too many beauties like this one…which I thought I might resell, but have not been able to part with.

Kouvalis Ladybug

Decluttering can definitely be a life event. Sometimes the decluttering is because someone decides to have a sale, and sometimes they have a sale because they decided to declutter. Either way, it feels good to lighten the load in our homes. I know that sounds strange coming from someone who goes out just about every weekend on a treasure hunt, but maybe that’s the key word…treasure. I bring new-to-me things into the house, but I’ve also sent boxes of stuff to the kitty rescue thrift store. I figure as long as something makes me happy I’ll keep it. Sometimes I’m quite surprised by what makes me happy though. Like this vintage mixer bowl, and a couple of 4” springform pans.


I can’t explain it. I pick up this bowl of heavy white milk glass and it just makes me smile. Perhaps it belonged to a very happy cook and absorbed those good vibes. And…it cost fifty cents!

One of my stops this weekend was an estate sale – definitely a passage. The things in the house had belonged to a woman who sewed, and made costumes, and kept children’s drawings. And she wrote notes about her possessions, like the lady whose rug now graces my kitchen. Didn’t buy anything at this sale, but I enjoyed some of the notes.


The most poignant sale was for an elderly couple who are selling their home of many years and moving to a retirement center. Most of the sale was in the garage, where various family members were handling business. They were a fun group. I heard a woman complain that someone had taken something from “her pile.” One of the guys told her, “Hey, you can just charge her for your personal shopping services.” She seemed to like the idea of leaving a sale with more money than when she arrived. I saw a sign that there was furniture inside the house, so I went in to see if I could find that last twin bed I’m looking for. Nope. But the elderly couple were in the living room where a sofa and some other pieces were for sale. She was on the sofa, and I asked if she were demonstrating the merchandise. She said she was, and invited me to help her, so I sat and chatted for a few minutes. They seemed brave and resolute, but I could tell this was a hard thing to leave their home.

Another couple I met was also having a moving sale, but they were at the other end of life’s journey, with a little boy about a year and half old. Some of their items had a midcentury vibe, like this gem


which I did not buy. I wonder how many baby boomers have horrible memories of bad haircuts given by well-meaning moms who believed the “if you can comb hair, you can cut hair” promise. In fact, wasn’t that a chapter in one of Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins books?

I got to talking to the couple at this sale, and it turned out they’re moving not terribly far from me, into a midcentury modern house! They got quite excited when I mentioned we’re starting a group up for MCM aficionados, and fortunately I had some flyers that we made up recently. Seems like they’ll be a real asset to the group, since they took a handful of flyers with the intention of dropping them off at cool mcm houses they encounter. I can’t wait to get this group going, because everyone who’s interested really wants to have potlucks and see other people’s houses – which is my idea of a good time!


Spent a total of $8.25 this weekend. The rest of my finds were some movies


a CD I thought my biker BIL might enjoy (I thought the disc label was too cool)

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a handmade vintage apron with chicken scratch embroidery

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a fabulous Pyrex dish with lid and teak-handled rack (can’t you just see it at a potluck with baked beans in it?)


and a tea cozy.


It’s very nicely made, and appears to be German.

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Found it at my last stop, and I suspect it was still on that driveway because I was the only person who’d come along who recognized what it was. Kind of like the time I bought a darning egg (yes, occasionally I darn a sock) and the person selling it didn’t even know what it was.

Sounds like one of those life passages…being old enough to recognize a tea cozy!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

What Goes Up…

Got a bit of a late start on Friday morning for garaging. I took Edward and Zoë to the dog park for their morning run, and they had an awfully good time. Zoë met up with another puppy she’s played with before, and they romped through the wet grass, and tumbled each other around on the dirt path, and got quite, quite filthy. Didn’t show too much on the black puppy, but my white puppy had to have a bath as soon as we got home.


Fortunately she still fits into the kitchen sink, so her bath didn’t take too long. I don’t imagine I missed too many fantastic buys. And almost everything I did pick up came from my first stop. They were still setting things up but said I was not early, they were running late. The younger of the two ladies was pregnant and dealing with morning sickness, which had slowed them down. And the older wanted everything to be Organized – but they had way too much stuff for that. I picked up some fishing line for making former-xylophone windchimes, and actually ended up making a couple. I’m so proud of myself.


I also bought this Fiskars paper cutter thingie. I’ve used one before, at a school I used to work at, and it does one thing pretty well: cut a straight line. Which I cannot for the life of me do with scissors. You’d think by this age I’d know how to cut, but if it hasn’t happened by now I strongly suspect this is a skill I will never acquire. So for a quarter I can just let that one go. Such a deal!


While I was looking around their carport at Stuff, I noticed this clever border on a flower bed.


They seemed quite jazzed that I took a picture of it, and we started talking gardens. Our relandscaping project is growing nearer (new retaining walls in a couple of weeks). Turns out the older lady works in landscaping. “I’ve got this other kind of cool piece of wood I’m thinking about getting rid of,” she said. “Come take a look.” I did, and loved it.


It’s actually a piece of root from what she called a sweet gum maple, which I believe is a Liquidambar tree. She said the tree came down in a storm and she wrestled this section of root home, intending to use it in her garden, but never did. She wanted a good home for it, and I will certainly provide that!


So five bucks later I had this big tree root in the back seat of the convertible. Can’t wait to see how we end up using it. We used an old section of log at another home when we did up the yard, positioning it in the front yard and planting things around it. As time went by it developed its own ecosystem, with ferns and rattlesnake grass growing on it, and each year it relaxed a bit more into the earth.

Hmmmm. I’m sitting here feeling quite nostalgic about a log. Seems like it encapsulated what the last part of life should be like…and it was beautiful.

Well, off I drove with my root. My next stop was a few blocks away, and had a gorgeous yard. Thriving vegie beds and lots of flowers. An older couple lives there, and their two middle-aged daughters were on hand to help with the sale. The daughters were sitting under the arbor attached to the house discussing how to determine a cubic measurement. They were selling an old cooler and wanted to be able to say how many cubic feet it was. But none of us could come up with anything that made the slightest bit of sense – the numbers were huge. Finally one of them said, “I know what it is. This calculator is broken.” We all agreed that must be the case and felt way better about our inability to remember this particular geometry lesson from our youth. Their mother came and sat down with them, and the conversation turned to the beautiful yard (when you’re working on a landscaping project, you end up having a lot of these conversations). I mentioned that pretty much the only thing that has survived in our yard was the daffodils, and it seems they have a nice bulb show in spring too. “There’s one spot out there on the corner though,” the mother told me, “that’s still awfully bare. But I think I’ve figure out what to do. It’s on a hill so it’s hard to get to, so I’ve got this bag of bulbs, and I’m just going to scatter them over that spot. Then I’m going to pray to the dirt fairy so she’ll come and cover them up for me.” I thought this was a fabulous idea, but one of the daughters was a bit indignant. “Mom, I’ve got that spot in my yard that needs some dirt,” she said. “How come you never told me I had to pray to the dirt fairy?”

The root and I continued on to a few more sales, but found nothing to add to our bag. At one stop a couple was gazing in admiration at my root when I got back to the car and seemed a bit jealous that they hadn’t found it first. It’s always nice to have your good taste confirmed by an independent judge. Root and I headed home, where two of the neighbors across the street had lively sales happening on their drives. Actually at the tops of their drives, because they’re across the street on the uphill side of our slope. I trudged up there, feeling very, very glad I live on my side of the street, especially in the winter. At one sale I succumbed to the charms of this…guess I’ll call it a cookie jar.


Flare Ware by Hall China. I love that name, and the Fifties-looking stars. And at the other house I picked up this little hand bell.


Picked it up because of its (to my eyes) midcentury modern look, and it turns out to have a lovely sound. I’m wondering if there’s a way to hang it somewhere it can blow in the wind.


On Saturday I headed out for a different adventure. It was the one-year anniversary of my retirement (still the best thing I’ve ever done!) and I had a birthday a few days ago too, so the family came down and we did an excursion cruise on the Willamette Queen, a river boat that lives here in Salem. That was followed by a ride on the Salem Carousel. I never get near a carousel without riding it, I love them, and this one is quite wonderful. It was created by local artists over 10 years ago, and they continue to carve new animals. There’s a carving room where you can watch the work going on. I love the local scenes depicted on the top of the ride.


I rode a lovely steed

and thoroughly enjoyed every moment…until the last. The carousel began to slow down, and I thought darn, it’s almost over. Then I though, wait, my horse is still going up. I sure hope it keeps going long enough to go down again. But ever more slowly my horse and I rose, until the ride stopped when I was at the exact apogee of my horse’s trajectory. I looked down at the floor, and I could tell it was farther away than the length of my legs. And I am no spring chicken. My husband was on the horse next to mine. “Ummm, I don’t think I can get off,” I told him.

These are the moments that tell you how fortunate you were in your choice of mates. He quickly got off his horse and came to my side, and told me I could do this. I didn’t believe him, but between us we got one of my terrified limbs over the back of the horse, and I started to descend. “You can do it!” he assured me, and I did. But I was right about the floor being farther away than the length of my legs, and one of my knees was pretty unhappy by the time I was standing on the ground. I guess you can do what you have to!

Now I come to think of it though, the alternative would have been to keep riding that beautiful carousel, round and round and round. Steven’s such a good husband, I’m sure he would have brought my meals to me…at least until my horse came to a stop much nearer the floor!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hunting in Pairs

I’m now on a garage sale hunt for a flower.

Not for my yard. For a dog.

There’s a cute fluffy dog who comes to the dog park, who used to sport a flower from her collar. She looked quite dashing. Her name is Sally, and she and Zoë have romped together several times with never a harsh word between them. Then on Friday morning, that flower caught Zoë’s eye, and she walked over and wrenched it off Sally’s collar and laid right down and chewed it up. I guiltily looked at Sally’s owner, who tried to remain straight faced as she exclaimed, “Your dog has deflowered my dog!”

So I need to replace Sally’s finery. Alas, all the flowers I found this weekend had stiff plastic stems that won’t wrap around the collar. I need something with bendable wire. The search is on!

We did a little different searching Friday morning, though we did manage to take in some yard sales along the way to our destination. They were singularly uninteresting, but our destination was fabulous. We had arranged to visit Wind Dancer Garden, a local nursery and demonstration garden that features ornamental grasses. We want to use a variety of grasses in our relandscaping project, and we were so inspired by seeing what Carolyn has to offer. Zowie.


She took us all over the nursery and the garden surrounding her home. If you’re ever in Salem and you’re a gardener, be sure to plan a visit.


Now we have the hard part coming up…deciding which wonderful grasses to plant, since we can’t have everything. (Dang it.)

As we neared home again, we saw another sale. Yes, of course we stopped! And finally managed to spend fifty cents, on another sofa pillow. It needed one corner stitched back together, which took about two minutes. Hope this one survives the Zoë teeth!


Saturday morning I headed out by my lonesome, and it was kind of too bad because it seemed to be a couples sort of day. The first sale I stopped at was being run by two couples, and another couple was shopping at the same time I was. Can’t remember how it came up, but I mentioned that my husband and I always trade off on cooking, a week at a time. Immediately all the husbands there started groaning and imploring their wives not to listen to me, and the wives were all ears for more info. Good natured banter ensued, which included the wife who was shopping pointing out to her husband the iron skillet she held in her hand. He was quick to agree to whatever her point had been.

A little later I happened on another sale where a couple of couples were shopping. Both husbands had white hair, and one of the ladies thought she was standing next to her husband when she wasn’t. You know how you just look from the corner of your eye sometimes and think you’re seeing what you expect to see. The guy she was near was quite surprised when she nudged him and demanded some money for something she wanted to buy! Of course a second later she realized it wasn’t her hubs, and they all cracked up. Her actual husband said he’d be quite glad to have the other guy pay for her stuff though. I like it when people are generous like that, don’t you? ;o)

I managed to spend a whole five bucks this weekend, and that included a piece of furniture. Besides the pillow, I came home with a handsome mug


which is just like one I managed to break within seconds of bringing it into the house;


and a cute addition to my collection of silicone spatulas.


Now the gingerbread man spatula can hang out with the snowman spatula.

Also found a spiffy candy thermometer.


Since it was the hottest day of the year so far, a vintage wool blanket was obviously a must-have.


This bark-covered birdhouse will live somewhere in the yard. I doubt that it will ever harbor any baby birds, but I like it.


And I found a couple of MCM items. I really like the lines of this coffee table, though the finish is pretty beat up.


I grabbed a piece of sandpaper and did a little rubbing to see how it came out. I’m hopeful that going at it with the finishing sander will erase most of the damage. If not, I won’t feel bad about painting this piece. When you buy a table for one buck, you buy the right to paint if necessary.

And at my last stop, I picked up this mid-century ram figurine. Bitossi style, but most likely not the real thing.

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Still, he really has a Sixties look about him. And (don’t tell anyone) I can never resist a really cute butt, can you?



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