Thursday, September 22, 2016

Both Sides of the Hill

“So did you girls bring a pickup?” inquired a gray haired gentleman as we walked up to the first sale last Friday. He had a definite twinkle in his eye. “Because we need to load it up for you. There’s even free stuff.” He pointed to their free box. We demurred on the pickup but dove into the free box (never pass up the free box; usually it's pitiful junk but not always!).

I pulled out a large spoon-shaped object that had been made from a gourd. Judy & KK and I looked at it and all said, “SUCK-ulents!”

See, two or three years ago, Judy and I went to a Ladies Night event at a large local nursery. There were refreshments and a little fashion show and demonstrations of how to create your fall d├ęcor (with items you could purchase right there at the nursery, because of course the point was for you to shop, shop, shop). We sat through a couple of the demos, hoping for inspiration, but were not terribly impressed by the originality of hay bales, corn stalks and pumpkins on the front porch. The next lady had all kinds of junk and proceeded to show us how to plant succulents in various objects. You’ve seen them – a shoe or boot, an old hat, a rusty trowel, anything that can hold a bit of dirt. If you want to dally in front of your computer, go to Pinterest and do a subject search for something like ‘creative succulent planter.’ But the thing that had us holding in our laughter was the way the demonstrator said succulents. Heavy emphasis on the first syllable every time: SUCK-ulents. For some reason we thought this was hilarious. Naturally we shared it with KK, so now all three of us go around saying SUCK-ulents any chance we get.

Okay, so we are easily amused. And now I had a gourd spoon, and yes, I have planted it with SUCK-ulents.

It was a fun sale. I spent a whopping fifty cents for a decanter that KK spotted and handed to me. Turns out it's by Dansk.

Looks great with the other decanters.

The real draw was not just the barn full of stuff to look through, but the couple having the sale. As we looked and chatted their story emerged. The property is where the wife grew up; her parents owned that side of the hill, and his parents owned the other side of the hill. They raised cattle for a while back in the Sixties, but Christmas trees had been their business for many years. They were selling boxes of gigantic pine cones and stacks of curious wire forms in several sizes, which turned out to be wreath forms. The wife picked one up to show us how they had constructed wreaths from fresh greenery and pine cones, using some kind of machine that pinched shut the prongs on the metal form when you pressed a lever with your foot.

“My parents used to come over in the evenings and we would all make wreaths,” the husband reminisced. “It was a lot of work, but we just had the best time.”

They were so much fun to talk to that we hated to leave, but finally forced ourselves back to the car to go to the other half dozen sales we had planned. A couple of these turned out to be nonexistent (do you suppose there are people who put ads in Craigslist for a joke?). All of the others had chicken objects for sale.

You know how there’s usually one motif that runs through a day of garaging? It can be anything – baby gates, martini glasses – and today it was chickens. I even bought one.

Isn’t she cute? She was fifty cents, and her plump form reminded me of my pottery duck. They are hanging out together on the deck.

Another sale provided a DVD I was thinking I needed only the other day.

I love it when that happens. Another sale provided fifty cents worth of vintage magazines.

Eye candy galore.

I always love the way they pose the men. The manly men.

Our last stop was at an adorable little cottage in a neighborhood near downtown. I spotted some vintage linens to drool over, and picked up a large lace tablecloth to show KK. “This could be upcycled into a really cool top,” I said.

The cheerful red-haired lady presiding over the sale noticed what I was holding and came to tell us its story. “That was made by a lady I knew back in Wisconsin.” We looked at the piece more closely and I realized that it was indeed handmade, in a technique called Mondano netting. Wish I had taken a picture for you, but it was something like this.

“We were good friends, even though she was much older. She wanted me to marry her son,” the lady went on. Her own son, the owner of the adorable cottage, was amazed. “You never told me that,” he said. She looked demure. I bet she has a few more secrets he doesn’t know. “Her grandson did marry my cousin though.” We moved on to another lace tablecloth. This one looked to be machine made lace, and had a few tears. We got to talking about mending, and I told her how I would repair some of the damage. Just as at the first sale, I was enjoying myself so much I could have stayed all day, and when she mentioned that she lives in an old Craftsman house in the country up near Gervais, it was all I could do not to invite myself over!

Let me close with a couple of completely gratuitous kitten pictures. Our Millie has been growing. (She is draped across my arm as I am trying to type this.) Here she is with the Velveteen Rabbit back in July when we brought her home.

Here she is with VR this week.

And when she is not tipping over houseplants or scaling the fireplace, she is still pretty darned perfect!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Happy Returns

My friend KK and I had breakfast the other morning at a local coffee shop, and during our conversation she mentioned that she had meant to go back to the estate sale we’d attended the previous Friday. “I was hoping there might still be some paints available, but I never got over there.” KK is a painter, paints are spendy. We always have our eyes peeled for art supplies.

Since it was a holiday weekend I had little hope for a decent number of sales, but the first one that popped up on Craigslist was the artist’s estate sale! It seems that the previous week the family had turned everything over to an estate sale company to handle, but there was so much left that the middle-aged brothers and sister decided they would handle another sale themselves. The house is on the market, their mother has moved to assisted living, and everything that was left in the house and studio needed to go.

When we arrived, KK headed straight to the studio at the back of the property, and I went in the house to see if anything was left. A nice man held the front door open for me to enter. Then I had to go back out again to read the hand-lettered sign on the door! Five bucks to fill a big paper bag, or two bucks for a plastic grocery sack. I overheard enough conversation among the sellers to know that if anyone showed the slightest interest in anything they were going to make sure it went home with them.

Of course a lot of stuff had already gone, but the back bedroom was still piled with a variety of linens. The estate sale company had tied things into bundles, which is not always a good strategy. I was happy with the bundle I bought last week (the kitty embroideries & the days-of-the-week towels) but there were matched pairs of items in separate bundles. I don’t know if it was carelessness or they figured they could get people to buy two bundles to complete a pair. As if.

I figured by now the bundles didn’t matter; clearly the family wanted stuff gone. So I pulled the two adorable poodle pillowcases from their bundles.

Last week KK bought a bundle with a plaid tablecloth, this week I found eight matching napkins in two other bundles.

This appliqued linen case is beautifully made, 

and has a felt insert inside. I wish I knew what it had been made to hold.

I might use it for a pocket on some upcycled piece of clothing.

In one corner of the room was a jumble of old sheets, a bedspread, and a plaid coverlet of some kind. I pulled out the coverlet, and my hands instantly proclaimed, “This is wool—nice wool!” I checked it over, and found this in one corner.

A Pendleton throw, in perfect condition!

By now it was clear I had at least a bag’s worth, so I went to the living room and got one of the two-dollar bags. Yes indeedy I can stuff a Pendleton throw into a plastic grocery bag! The only other thing I wanted in the house was another adorable vintage piece, this clothespin bag.

It was in a closet with a few aprons; into my bag it went. 

Happy with my finds, I went out to the studio, where KK had scored an oblong wooden box and filled it with tubes of paint. She said that all the oil paints (which she doesn’t use) had been cleared out, leaving the acrylics (which she does use) for her. I told her about the two dollar bags, so she went off to get one and check out the house. But when we were finished I realized we could get everything in one bag.

Okay, it was one really full bag, and I felt a little guilty. So when I went to pay I said, “We really stuffed this thing, so if—” The lady didn’t even let me finish the sentence. “That is FINE,” she smiled. I handed over two ones.

It's a wonderful thing when two bucks can make both parties happy!
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