Saturday, June 29, 2013

Just the Stuff, Ma’am, Just the Stuff

This week I’ll give everyone a break who rolled their eyes at my last post and went, “Enough with the talking already! Where’s the STUFF?” It was pretty much too hot this weekend to go much beyond “Hi!” and “Good luck with your sale!” Didn’t get Judy to try on any hats, but did meet a handful of pets. This little guy wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to hide

Goodbye Kitty

or not.

Re-emerging kitty

These cuties are a mother and son…but I’m not sure which is which!

Black ScottyCream Scotty

In the “I’ve never ever seen one of these at a sale but since it cost $500 I didn’t bring it home” department we have a pedal steel guitar.

pedal steel guitar

Bet that would have driven the pets crazy. And all the neighbors too!

In the “mark it off my list” category we have a hair dryer for the guest bathroom

hair dryer

(finally one at a price I could get behind…seventy-five cents!) and an organizer thingie for my desk drawer

I WILL get organized

and a syrup dispenser

vintage syrup dispenservintage dispenser top

(we always use pure maple syrple and it’s very flavorful so I like to control the amount) and a nice, unassuming hand towel.

hand towel

The other evening as Steven left to take Zoe to the park he commented that he wished he had a carabiner (or knew where the one we’re supposed to have is hiding) to clip her water bottle onto his belt. And I plucked one out of a free box this morning. And once I put in a new battery, its little flashlight works.

Carabiner flashlight

Not on my list per se, but we have a home theatre so I’m always on the lookout for additions to our movie collection. (People laugh when I haul out my list of movies I already own…but it’s over 600 titles long and I get annoyed when I buy one I already own).

more DVDs

And then we have the “Couldn’t make myself pass these up” category. The stuff that jumps out at you demanding that you take them home. I try. I really do try to limit these! But seriously, how could I go off and leave the Oregon State Capitol Building Christmas Ornament?

Oregon Capitol Ornament

Especially since it’s made of such wonderful- and Genuine - materials.

gold flashed brass

I might have been able to resist this Seventies pottery vase

vintage vasevintage vase 2

if I hadn’t planted seeds that morning for Autumn Beauty sunflowers. They will look absolutely perfect in this. (Assuming that they grown and bloom. But they will!) The piece is even signed.

mystery signature

Though I always wonder about completely indecipherable signatures. Probably not the best marketing strategy!

I have no rationale for buying these hand rolled beeswax tapers other than their being quite beautiful. And fifty cents.

hand rolled candles

But no apologies are needed for picking up a vintage B. Altmann cashmere sweater for my hubs. Fits perfectly, and the quality is terrific. Probably dates from the Fifties.

vintage B. Altmann cashmere sweater

And a midcentury modern side table? When I saw the price tag was five bucks, I didn’t even hesitate. Reminds me of that Brasilia furniture that Lane did back in the day.

mid century modern side table

I need to go out and encourage those sunflower seeds to get going. That vase full of flowers is going to be perfect on this table!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


One of the things I love about garaging is the chance it gives you to talk to complete strangers. People you’ve never seen before and most likely won’t meet again. You get to have a tiny glimpse into other lives, which can range from fun to fascinating. I’m not very good at social events; parties and receptions generally render me incapable of speaking to anyone. But give me a long queue that I have to stand in or a driveway with stuff for sale and I’m good to go.

Case in point this weekend was the gray-haired couple sitting in their garage in South Salem. Two bright red cars stood in tandem on the drive, a Thunderbird and something else sedanish (don’t remember what it was), so our conversation began with how very red those cars were. The husband pointed out that the sedan was for sale but I said I love my convertible. They had noticed my car as I drove up, and the wife commented that she left the hardtop on her T-bird most of the time, not wanting to mess up her hair. I ran my hand over my short locks and said shoot, I just cut it off and enjoy the wind and she laughed. We chatted about this and that and somehow it came out they’ve been married for ten years. Because of their ages (i.e. older than me which means getting up there!) and settled air I realized I had assumed they’d been married much longer. Turns out both had been widowed, the husband twice. “Hmmm,” I said to the wife – and yes, there was a twinkle in my eye – “does that ever make you nervous?” Husband laughed, but completely deadpan she said, “Sometimes.” Then gave him a big grin.

Another sale was still being set up when I arrived, though it was well past their advertised starting time. I greeted the young woman and asked if she were having fun yet (nonsensical but effective conversation starter) and she replied, “Not at all.” O-o-o-kay. I commiserated on how much work it is to do a sale (quite true) and began to look around. Lots of books and knicknacks, including several boxes with the books turned spine down. It’s hard to sell them that way. Another young woman came out to help (they had the air of being a couple) and received instructions from the first on where to move the book boxes and how to display the contents. When the second woman heaved up one of the boxes I commiserated on how heavy books are (work in libraries for 30+ years and this is something you will know!) and she muttered darkly, “Yeah, especially when you have to move them ten times.” They were just not having a good day. Sometimes it’s better to donate to a charity than have a sale!

I did find one thing I wanted and offered the first woman a lower price in my usual manner (“Any chance you’d take X for this if I gave it a good home?”). She said sure, and thanked me for being polite. “Some people are just so rude and demanding, you know?” Aside from the fact that you’re more likely to get a price break if you’re nice, these poor ladies just did not need any more hassles. It’s funny, I’ve been to sales where the people are being grumpy and the atmosphere is so bad I just leave. These two were grumpy but it just made me want to pat them on the shoulder and go, “There, there, it will be okay.”

A bit later I pulled up across the street from another sale just as a neighbor lady was coming down the sidewalk. We smiled at each other and I noticed her t-shirt, which said “Read Responsibly.” Loved it and told her so, and she said, “I’m a retired librarian.” I had to laugh. “I’m a retired librarian too,” I said, “and what are the odds of meeting another one on a sidewalk?” We continued chatting as we continued to the sale, which was advertised as a “Pre-Death Estate Sale.” After a bit we got to introductions (hi, Anne!) as we looked around. She found a nice bag for keeping handwork projects in and was taking out the embroidery books it contained. Of course I had to look at them, and she asked if I embroider. “I’ve just started to do some after many years absence,” I said. “And I’m planning to start knitting again too.” So she invited me to a monthly meet-up group of mostly knitters (she’s the token needlepointer), which I’m seriously thinking about trying. Probably won’t go until August, since I don’t think I’ll have decided what to do with that brown yarn I got three weeks ago by the first Saturday in July.

Stopped at another sale that might have been called a Pre-Death Estate Sale – in this case a retired woman selling pretty much everything and moving to Florida. She had hired an estate sale company to do the work, and everything was pretty pricey. I fell into conversation with a woman and her daughter (age about ten) in one of the bedrooms of the house as we all looked at lovely scarves. Turns out they were next-door neighbors, and the girl told me about a desk she has that the woman having the sale had made out of rulers and yardsticks and other wooden items. Lacking Judy we had to have the girl try on the red vintage hat with the big poofy flower and a veil. Of course she looked adorable. Then we were back to the scarves and I showed them how to do the one tie I remember for long silk scarves (found a tutorial here – the second example).

At my last stop I happened upon a conversation about Camp Fire Girls (they were selling some vintage CFG item, don’t remember what it was) and one of the ladies mentioned that at her daughters school there is quite a CFG vs. Girl Scouts rivalry. I admitted to being a CFG as a child, though in college I joined the GS. We found out that the local troops owned canoes, so we started a ‘Campus Gold’ troop so we could use them. My favorite memory was the time we were canoeing on one of the local lakes and passed by a father and son fishing and having lunch. They finished their sodas and threw the cans in the lake, which we considered beyond trashy. So we paddled over and threw the cans back at them. A proud moment in my Girl Scouting career.

Besides the conversations I also garnered some loot. Spent a big old $23.50; nearly half was for one item – a 5 x 8’ rug in perfect condition. I think it will go in one of our guest rooms. This picture is just a corner – had the thing still rolled up.


Picked up a few books and movies


and a couple of magazines.


In the category of Hopeful Good Intentions we have this pattern for a jacket I rather like.


The couple with the red cars lightened their load by one virtually new electric griddle. And I’ve found a good home for the griddle we already had!


From various free boxes I gleaned a pair of orange suede gloves (even though they are suede I’m going to try washing them – after all they were free!), a bar of handmade soap, and a box of candles.


I thought this fondue-fork holder was very cool; never seen one like it.


But the forks are too tall to go in the display hutch with my Dansk fondue pot! I’ll have to find somewhere else to display them.


And from the rather grumpy ladies I bought this decidedly ungrumpy art tile, which I absolutely love.


It’s by an artist named Karen Howell, made back in the 80s. As you may know, I always try to determine how much I would have paid in a store for my yard-sale-buys, and was astonished to see that a very similar tile sold recently for over $100! Not only that, but part of the reason I bought this is that I have another piece by this artist – a porcelain tray I picked up on a very fun garaging morning back in 2009. Hard to believe I would ever find more than one of her pieces!


I still really love the Bunny in the Moon.


The tile has a notch for hanging, so I’ve placed it just over my computer monitor. I suspect I may start having conversations with those dancing bunnies. They look like they will have some interesting things to say!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Graceful Going

“Grace” was our watchword for Friday’s garaging adventure. Three women, one green convertible with  a small back seat – my companions took turns gracefully occupying the back! Then our first stop was a fundraiser for Grace House, a new shelter/program for homeless women. I don’t know about you, but I can imagine very few things that would be scarier than being homeless, and it sounds like they have a very solid plan in place. They had gotten quite a few donations for the place and decided to hold a sale to move out some things they had a surplus of in order to have some cash. “People don’t think of donating stuff like toilet paper,” the woman running the sale told us. I lucked out, finding a cute shirt in the most wonderful sky blue

blue shirtcute trim

and a pair of Keen shoes that look like they’d never been worn – and fit me perfectly. The shoelaces even stay tied!

Nifty Keens!

If you like these, apparently you can still buy them in stores, where they will set you back ninety-five bucks. Sheesh.

Found a ‘grace’ connection at our next stop too, where the woman having the sale was fixing up her bicycle for the summer. None of us bought this book but it did start a conversation about how many dog stories have sad endings, and how none of us will read those. And we all agreed that Old Yeller was the worst kid’s movie ever.

Gracie book

I got a bit of a giggle over this doll.

insane doll

She looked perfectly demented, possibly the antithesis of grace, lying on her back and making esoteric gestures with her hands. Started conversing with the lady minding that part of the sale (hi, Elaine!). One of her friends had dropped off some stuff to sell, including a couple of big baggies of buttons. You know I can never resist looking at buttons, but I could certainly resist buying these, since they were marked $20. I mean, my last big button buy (goodness, five years ago!) was a similar baggie full – for fifty cents. Elaine and I chatted about pricing (she assured me the buttons weren’t hers and her feelings wouldn’t be hurt). As my friend Marcia says, the button owner was just way too proud of her stuff. I truly believe that yard sales are for the purpose of moving stuff out of your life, creating a space where you can breathe. If you make a little cash, excellent. But you most likely will not recoup your expenditures by reselling on your driveway.

Okay, will step off my soapbox now!

I kept looking around Elaine & company’s sale (it was one of those multi-family sales, which I sometimes see advertised on Craigslist as mulit-family) and picked up this little sculpture.

yard art

When I got home I noticed it was signed on the bottom of the rock.

yard art signed

Original art for a buck, woo hoo! It will most likely end up in the yard somewhere. Then I spotted a blender jar and recognized it as matching my blender. Complete with lid, bottom assembly – perfect for a backup in case something happens to mine. Elaine told me it was hers and that the weirdest thing happened to her blender. As soon as she said that I knew where this story was going – because the exact same thing happened to my blender. The teeth on the black rubber thingie that the jar fits over and makes the blade spin (which is apparently called a coupling) broke off one day, rendering the blender useless. I was quite annoyed, as it was a pretty expensive blender and I had bought the thing new (and we know how unlike me that is!) and Elaine said the same thing. But you know the old saying: Don’t get mad, get to researching! (Okay, that’s the librarian’s version.) Turns out this is a very common problem, but you can repair it yourself and the part only costs about six bucks. So I told Elaine she should keep this jar and I’d send her the link for the part to repair it. And she started to dither – she had bought another blender, but this was a better one, but maybe the motor had suffered when the part shredded, but maybe it would be okay…It was like hearing myself talk. Do you ever do that, keep going back and forth on something, even something minor, until you drive yourself nuts feeling indecisive? I’ve come to feel that the only important thing is to decide, and either decision will be fine. So I handed her the blender jar and commanded her to keep it and fix her blender. I know, I can be pushy like that! Besides, I saved the two dollars I would have spent on something I might never have used. A win all around.

Friday’s yard sale pets included this sweet little kitty

Peekaboo kitty

and golden retriever Lizzie, whose nickname is “the Lizard of Odd.”

Lizzie dog

I did a double take when I saw the picture I’d taken of this cat

Not Mrs. W!

because it looks an awful lot like our Mrs. Wilberforce.

Mrs. W being floofy

We also found hats for Judy to model. She was wearing her own green cap that day and it gives a really special look to a couple of things she tried on.

Winnie the Pooh earmuffsMeow!

These two might keep her ears even warmer next winter.

warm hatJudy the storm trooper

Speaking of keeping warm, I love this handwoven shawl.

pink shawlChurchill hand weavers

Thought at first it was knitted, but when I looked closely, it is indeed woven. Feels like wool and probably some mohair. The warp is a deep fuchsia and the weft a more strawberry pink. Absolutely yummy colors. And it was fifty cents!

On Saturday I had to take my husband up to the airport in Portland, and he timed his flight perfectly – I dropped him off just in time to get over to the annual neighborhood sale in a posh part of town. We went last year and I was really looking forward to it, but I have to admit to ending up just a bit disappointed. There weren’t nearly as many sales as advertised, and a whole bunch of them were just a card table with some kid stuff. But I did enjoy the huge gorgeous old houses and mature landscaping, and the pets that were hanging out. Like Dudley

Dudley the driveway cat

and Ralph.


Ralph is actually a girl; she came home from the shelter with the name Rafaela, which they tried to change to just Ella. But it didn’t fit – and Ralph did.

I also managed to come home with a couple more things on my “look for” list. The first was actually the latest addition to the list. Steven mentioned a couple of days earlier that we need more small spatulas. I think he was trying to get something out of a smallish jar at the time. And at my first stop I found a nice one of red silicone.

narrow spatula

I also got to cross off “brown belt for purse strap.” My old (I’m talking from the Sixties) Coach bag is doing great, but the strap was getting beyond tatty.

tatty old strap

I know that Coach supposedly will replace parts, but I doubt they keep any straps for vintage Bonnie Cashin designs laying around. So I was happy to see this belt for sale.

belt to repurpose

It’s a little darker than the bag, but that won’t bother me a bit. This little old bag is good to go for a long time now. With any luck, we can ride that trail from ‘vintage’ to ‘antique’ together. Gracefully!

Coach bag good to go!

Pin It button on image hover