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!


  1. Oh I wish you had remembered or photographed the Camp Fire Girl vintage item! I was in CFG's from second grade through high school. What a wonderful experience it was! I have only my beaded vest and memory book from those years. Nice purchases though, from the sale!

    1. I don't have any stuff left from CFG days except some memories! Mostly good memories, but did you hate selling that candy as much as I did? ;o)

  2. Replies
    1. That's good, because it's in 'your' guest room! Come visit it soon!

  3. Another successful day, it looks like!!

  4. I do enjoy reading about your yard sale conversations! I really like the Karen Howell piece and how cool that you already had another of her pieces. Those bunnies are too cute though they look a lot skinnier than the Peter Cotton Tails that have been munching the clover in my backyard!

    1. As long as they stick with your clover and leave alone any vegies you might be growing, you'll be okay. Guess these guys are skinnier from all the exercise they get dancing under the moon!

  5. I've been enjoying reading about your yard sale adventures. Perhaps someday I'll get brave enough to go to one [or more] alone.

    1. Believe it or not, I have my very shy moments! Shopping on driveways is a great way to practice interacting with strangers. And if you take a child along, it's the perfect time to teach frugal shopping!


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

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