Sunday, October 28, 2012


I arrived at the one and only sale near home on Friday to find they hadn’t opened up yet. A raggedy line of people filled the driveway, sandwiched between some furniture under a garden canopy and a table full of bedding and other textiles. I took my place at the end of the line, scanning what I could see on the driveway, and my bargain antenna began to vibrate wildly.

At the end of the table of linens, sitting on the drive, were two older vacuum cleaners. Both were Electroluxes, and one was a Silverado.

Now, if you’re not a vacuum aficionado (which might seem like an oxymoron, but more on that in a moment) you might not understand my excitement. If you’ve never had one of these older Electrolux vacuums, well my dear, you just have never vacuumed!

When my husband went off to college in the late Sixties, his mother had her old Electrolux, which she’d bought in the late Forties, reconditioned for him. It was probably this model.

Electrolux Model 30 (XXX) Vacuum Cleaner

My guess is that he was the only freshman guy who arrived at the dorm with his own vacuum – and used it! A few years later we married and continued to use it, until it finally died in about 1983. His mother always loved to tell the story of him calling her up to ask if it might still be under warranty.

Not long after this I came home from work one day to be greeted with the news that he had bought a brand new Electrolux that day from a door-to-door salesman.


Yes, I’m so old I can remember those! It was not inexpensive, but by gosh it was a Silverado – with a name like that it just had to be classy. And it was not only classy, it worked even better than the old one. Believe me, with all the furry pets we’ve had over the years, we gave it a workout.

Fast forward to 2011, nearly 30 years later, and the Silverado began to fail us. Still sucked up stuff like a champ – if it came on. We sadly had to choose between spending a significant amount of money to repair it, or buy a new vacuum. After some research, we decided to buy new and a few days later got our bagless model Electrolux. Which has been quite disappointing. Works okay on carpet, but Steven claims it will hardly pick up a grain of rice off the smooth kitchen floor. And our entire downstairs is laminate. (Yes, he usually is the one who vacuums.) So less than a week ago he told me he’d like to get the old Silverado repaired.

Hence the antenna going boingggg! I looked around the crowd furtively to see if anyone else was showing any interest in the vacuums, but I couldn’t tell. When the garage doors rolled up, I scooted over to the lady at the money table. “Do the old vacuums work?” I inquired. She assured me that her husband had checked them out and they were fine. “Could I plug the Silverado in and see how well it sucks?” We spied an electrical outlet on the wall behind her, and I fetched the machine in. She plugged it in and I turned it on. It immediately grabbed hold of a plastic bag full of Hallowe’en decorations and was not going to let go without a fight. We both nodded. “I’ll take it!”


When I got home I told Steven I had a present for him. This is an announcement that can presage absolutely anything, that being the nature of garaging. He was pleased, and set about seeing which attachments worked best. Our old carpet attachment was better, the new one’s upholstery brush is primo. Definitely the hose we had was better, because we had replaced it a couple of years ago. (Little known vacuuming fact: if your machine seems to be losing power, try replacing the hose. They get leaky over time and it can make a huge difference.) While he was doing that, I went online to see how much of a bargain I’d gotten. Answer: I did very well. Paid ten bucks for it, and these babies sell on eBay for up to a couple of hundred bucks. Then I started looking at some of the other websites and discovered there is a whole world of – yes – vacuum aficionados! Found a discussion forum where a bunch of good old boys were waxing rhapsodic about their Silverados. It was a lot like the old-car guys and their detailed discussions of fixing up their vehicles.

I kept reading, and started thinking maybe I should have bought the older machine there on the driveway as well. At this site on collectible vacuums (who knew!) I found this info:

The machine can be configured to expel (blow out) air as well as impel (suck in). For extra money, you could buy a number of air-powered devices such as a tire inflator, a paint sprayer or a crop sprayer. To tell the truth, I have never seen an Electrolux in the garden.... The "Expel" tools that I own are the Floor polisher, the Wax Sprayer, the Atomizer, and the Moth Sprayer. The floor polisher uses the current of air to turn a turbine. 

I really love the Internet!

The only other item I found on Friday won’t be used as much as the new/old Silverado, but it’s one of those practical items that’s perfect for its occasional use: a canning jar lifter.


No more trying to grab hot jars of tomato chutney out of the pressure cooker with an inadequate pair of tongs!

Saturday brought more rain, only a couple of sales, and no purchases. But I was glad I went out, because I heard a good story, and it fits perfectly into the theme of practicality. It seems the folks having the sale used to live down the block, in a one story house. This house was two stories, and the lady living there needed to find a single-level home. And since they liked each other’s houses, they simply traded!

So that was my pragmatic weekend. There’s only one snag to the saga of the new/old Electrolux: I think it’s probably out of warranty already.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rainbows and Tarts and Finished Stuff

I saw the most amazing thing this morning – a full, complete, perfect double rainbow, arched over a group of trees turning gold. It started as just the left-hand leg, and as I watched for several minutes grew more complete, and then the secondary rainbow started and it too make the full arch. I’ve never seen this before. I so wanted my camera to be able to share it, but sometimes our cameras keep us from really seeing with our own eyes.

I know a lot of us dread the coming of winter, the gray skies and rain and snow and cold. I’m sure I’ll be less and less enthusiastic about getting the dogs down to the dog park each day, but my reward today was this amazing sight. Oh, and two well exercised dogs who have been asleep for several hours. Zoë was quite puzzled about why I was standing there staring up instead of throwing her ball. But she was patient with me while I gawped at the celestial show. Yes, gawped. I’m sure my mouth was hanging open!

As I was leaving the park, it started to rain (again). But an Oregonian cannot let rain keep her from her appointed rounds – especially when she’s appointed herself to check out a sale just a few blocks from home. I got to chat for a few minutes with the elderly lady who’s moving into a new stage of life – and she’s not altogether sure what that will bring. Her home of 34 years is for sale, but many houses are staying on the market for a long time here. But she is going ahead with her downsizing. She told me her husband used to be a trial lawyer in Los Angeles, but (just like me) they grew tired of the traffic and crowdedness and came back to Oregon. He sounded like an interesting guy. Besides lawyering, he was a sculptor and painter, and when I picked out these pans to buy, she told me he used to bake something special in them, she thought it was Yorkshire pudding.


Sure enough, these are Yorkshire pudding pans. I’m going to try making little tarts in them; I think they’ll have a nice ratio of buttery crust and shallow filling. Little individual pecan pies, and lemon curt tarts, and…uh oh, I’m making myself hungry!

Perhaps I can serve my little tarts on this very MCM tablecloth


made back in the days when everything Californian was glamorous.


I gambled a dollar on a dog seat belt, hoping it would fit Miss Z. It’s former owner was a pug. Must have been a biggish pug, because it turned out to be the perfect size.


My last find was a set of 6 vintage Christmas ornaments with the most delectable sheen. They appear to be silver inside, so I’m thinking they may be mercury glass.


I’m hoping I’ll get to use them this year. We may not do an actual Christmas tree, because of young miss dog. Last year at Christmas she was a mere babe in arms.

Baby Zoe

She’s going to be a year old in a few weeks (where does the time go!) and even with two runs a day at the park, she’s pretty energetic in the house. I may resort to an strategy we used when Edward and Noll were babies, which was to swag greenery over the windows and hang all the ornaments up there. Still festive but safe, and the season will be far more relaxed if we’re not worried about the tree.

I’m still working on actually using some of the great stuff I’ve found in the past, and finished a couple of biggish projects this week. I mentioned last week it only took me six weeks to get my little train case refurbished, and yes, that was really fast for me. It’s been over a year since I bought this sweet little Danish rocker at a church rummage sale.


It now has a new seat and we can actually rock in it! The caning will darken in time.


Putting in the new seat was harder than I anticipated when I so blithely bought the chair, but now it’s done. Even better, I learned a lot doing it and will be able to do it better should there be a next time.

My other completed project has a sort of dual timeline. Back in 2006 I bought this amazing 5-yard piece of fabric for five bucks.


You’ve never seen such heavy material; I bet it weighed twenty pounds. So I had this fabulous piece and no idea what to use it for. Thought about reselling it, but we both liked it (and lordy, the shipping would have cost a bomb). So every once in a while I’d take it out and we’d look at it and then put it away again. Then a couple of weeks ago we brought it out, and happened to drape it over our Sixties sofa that we found exactly a year ago.


The sofa is rather worse the wear from our household, but when that fabric hit it we went, That’s it! So I picked up some plain black for the back and created a throw for the sofa. I love it.


It’s so heavy that it stays in place amazing well. Of course it’s so heavy we’ll have to find a Laundromat with a huge washer when it needs cleaning – or we can just turn it over and use the black side. Think how great it will look with little white Zoë hairs decorating it!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Need to Take a Train Ride!

Some of you may remember that back in September I bought a vintage American Tourister train case. For a buck.


I really liked it, but lordy lordy was it ever scuzzy inside.


Didn’t take me too long to rip out the lining. Project almost ended right there, because that sucker stank. Apparently most of these old cases do. My guess is it might have something to do with the glue they used to secure the lining.


Some vigorous scrubbing and several days in the sunshine went a long way towards mitigating the smell issue. Putting in a new lining has been on my to-do list for a couple of weeks now. Just couldn’t decide what fabric to use. And then I picked up this fifty-cent yard of fabric.


So a mere 6 weeks after I bought the train case (pretty darned fast for me!) it is refurbished and ready to go.

IMG_5943 IMG_5945

Completely silly, and I smile every time I open the lid.


It’s been many, many years since I went anywhere on a train. I think I need to buy a ticket and see how much this baby can hold. Perhaps to somewhere sunny, since our rains started this weekend. Didn’t even try to get to any sales. But I did faithfully take the pups to the dog park.


Where I got to watch our dignified 10-year-old Edward


steal the ball out of his sister’s mouth


and proceed to have a good roll on it!


Saturday, October 6, 2012


One of the things I love about thrifting is embracing imperfection. When I buy something in a store, new, retail price, I expect it to be pretty darned perfect – which can certainly lead to disappointment. But the secondhand…we expect imperfections, and they let us relax. Really, perfect is a pain in the butt. One must be careful around the perfect.

These musings were brought on by some of the vintage linens I picked up last week from a free box. Especially this lovely hand crocheted panel.


It had a glob of black shiny something stuck to it that I decided was melted plastic. I was able to get the big glob off,


but nothing I tried would remove the remaining marks.


Do I throw away this piece because of its imperfections? Heck no! I’ll do a little mending where the glob left a hole, and I’ll drape the piece over one table or another, and maybe I’ll place a strategic vase or plate, maybe not. All you have to do is move your eye away from the imperfections to see how lovely it is. Someone spent hours making this, and their skill and work deserve more than to discard it for a flaw.


Shoot, just think what trouble we’d all be in if we got discarded for a flaw or two!

Of course, even I will admit there are levels of imperfection. I picked up this frog sprinkler at a sale this morning.


I’m not sure I’d ever admitted, even to myself, that I’ve wanted one of these since the first time I saw one. The price tag of new ones was off-putting (would you believe they run in the $40 to $50 range??) but this one was just right at a buck. I figured there’s not a whole lot that can go wrong with a water sprinkler. But when I was googling to see how much these babies cost, I came across a recall order for a toad lawn sprinkler.

Picture of Recalled Toad Lawn Sprinkler

The reason for the recall? “A small hose inside the toad can fail, allowing water to fill the toad's cavity. The increased water pressure can cause the toad to explode, posing the risk of injury to anyone nearby.” Zowie, your cute lawn sprinkler suddenly turns into a grenade! Now THAT’s what I call imperfect!

My non-exploding version was my only purchase today, though I found two items yesterday at the Episcopalian rummage sale. Just haven’t been many sales near enough to home the last few weeks. I had to laugh, reading someone else’s blog the other day, where he was lamenting that everyone in his town has their sales this time of year, and he wasn’t able to get to every sale last weekend. He was pleading with his neighbors to spread out their sales – for his convenience. Wonder how perfectly that will work?

The rummage sale started on Thursday, which I didn’t realize, so it was somewhat picked over when I arrived on Friday. But about a minute after I walked in I spotted a wine glass with some other bric-a-brac under one of the long tables that I recognized as Lenox Windswept.


Which I knew because I found one of these on a driveway a couple of years ago. That one got broken a while back. We’re terribly hard on china and glass, and it would kill me to smash something I’d paid full price for. Turns out the one I bought Friday is actually the iced tea glass (which looks just like the wine glass but is taller) – which you can find at Replacements for about $55. Each. Right. I’d be terrified to drink from a $55 wine glass – unless I’d paid fifty cents for it.

My other find was this cozy, heavy cotton hooded sweater.


Should be perfection for those chilly early morning trips to the dog park!

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