Monday, June 19, 2017

Singing Turtles, Giant Chickens, and Dress-Up Measles

This wool blanket from Ireland

has some holes in it, so it only cost a couple of bucks. “I actually like to mend,” I confided to the lady having the sale. She smiled. “I remember the first thing I had to mend,” she told me. “When I was five I had the measles, and I was so bored laying there in bed all by myself. So my busy little fingers started untying all the knots in the hand-tied quilt my grandma had made me. I took out every single one. My mom was so mad when she found out, but all she did was put the quilt away for a couple of years until she thought I was old enough, and then I had to tie all those knots back again.”

She went on to tell me how she got the measles. “I was not allowed to go play with the little girl next door because she had the measles, so I did not go to her house. But we played dress up by throwing clothes to each other across the driveway.”

Don’t you love that image, two little girls tossing garments to each other across the driveway? I do wonder what the one who already had the measles was doing outside though!

A good measles story would have been enough to make my day, but a couple of stops later was an even better scene. My picture does NOT do it justice.

That small dark object on the floor was a realistic-looking plastic turtle that walked while singing a song about slow down, you’re moving too fast. A woman had just bought it (how I wish I'd gotten to it first! Yes, I would totally buy a singing turtle) and was showing it off, and everyone in the garage gathered around to watch. I'm not sure what was funnier, the turtle or the sight of eight or ten women of various ages laughing as we all watched it.

Garaging just does not get any better than that!

After a measles story and a singing turtle, buying stuff was a bit anticlimactic. I did bring home a large-leaved hosta 

a “summer dress” for Fannie 

and a cute Peter Rabbit 3-D shadowbox.

And our last stop just happened to be at the house across the street from a giant chicken.

A good Friday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Let's Launch!

It's coming! It's almost here! At long last, book four in my Willow Falls Mystery Series will be published in a few weeks. Why yes, I am excited! And I'm here to ask for your help.

Bay in the Dark needs a launch team! A what? It’s a group of nice folks who help get a book off to a good start by reading an advance copy and then posting a short review on Amazon, on or shortly after publication day. Sometimes they are extra nice and also post about the book on Facebook, their blogs, Twitter etc. 

Reviews are an enormous help to an author, they really do encourage people to buy a book. So this is a BIG favor I'm asking…but since I already know you like to read I'm hoping not too big.

What’s the book about, you ask? Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

Bay in the Dark is part of a series, and I'm hoping to find launch team members who have read one or more of the others—but I also need members who are coming in fresh with this book. Authors always hope readers will start with book one but that’s not always the case. My dream is that people who start with book four will be inspired to read the others!

Interested? All you have to do is copy-and-paste the little application form below into an email, answer the questions, and send it to mrsdog [at] Deadline to apply is a week from Friday, 6/23/17. (Please send an email rather than leaving your info in a comment, for your own privacy.) We’ll take a look at the apps and get back to everyone as quickly as we can. Those who are selected for the launch team will be emailed a pdf of the book which you’ll be able to read on your computer or transfer to a tablet for reading. (Sorry, there are no print copies available yet.) As publication date gets near (most likely in early- to mid-July) I'll keep you informed so you’ll be able to post your review when the book goes live.

And that’s it! Easy peasy. You want to do it, you know you do!

So. Here’s the application information I need from you:
Are you eligible to write reviews for Amazon? (Their guidelines say you must have spent at least $50 on using a valid credit or debit card.) 
Have you written any customer reviews before on Amazon? On any other sites? 
Have you read any of the other books in the Willow Falls series (Sleeping Dogs Lie, In Dogs We Trust, or The Dog Prince)? If yes, which? 
Would you be willing to mention the book on your Facebook page, blog, Twitter or other social media sites, as well as post a review on Amazon?
 Anything else you'd like me to know?
That's it! Deadline to apply: Friday, June 23, 2017
Thanks so much for applying! We’ll let you know soon if you’ve been selected!
One of the characters in the series is a dog named Jack—a Basset/Lab mix just like my Fannie. I'm still amazed that I put her lookalike in books years before she came to live with me!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Just Ask

Friday was damp and chilly, but this guy looked pretty cozy in his box under a table. 

A prime kitty indeed. He reminded me of this poem by Eleanor Farjeon.
Cats sleep
Any table,
Any chair,
Top of piano,
In the middle,
On the edge,
Open drawer,
Empty shoe,
Lap will do,
Fitted in a
Cardboard box,
In the cupboard
With your frocks--
They don't care!
Cats sleep

Neither KK or I expected it to be as chilly as it was, so one of my first purchases was a couple of pashmina shawls, which we wore the rest of the morning. At fifty cents each, no need to be cold!

Both dogs thought laying them on the floor for picture taking was a great idea. Doesn’t ZoĆ« look like she’s ready for a magic carpet ride? 

Fannie was just ready for a belly rub. 

The rainy morning discouraged all but the more intrepid sellers, but there were a couple of estate sales. At the one in my neighborhood, I picked up this MCM piece.

It was filthy, but seemed to be printed on Masonite so I gambled a dollar that it could be cleaned.

And it could!

An old toothbrush, glass cleaner, a couple of rags and about ten minutes was all it took. What an improvement. I'm glad I saved it.

From the other estate sale I snagged this too-cute embroidery. 

Took it out of its oxy soak this morning. All the spots are gone! 

A moving sale netted a new iron, still in its box, for ten bucks. Next to a Rowenta, this is my favorite brand, and I figure if I go ahead and get a backup, then the one I'm currently using will never die. Such is the perversity of the universe. 

The one thing I kept trying to remember to look for was black sewing thread. I ran out the other day, which is amazing because I have dozens of spools of threads. Evidently I use black more than anything. Even though several sales had sewing stuff, there was no black thread.

Our last stop of the day was the one with this Craigslist ad:
FABRIC. Did I sat FABRIC? Quilter's you need to stop by. Bernina Serger 2000. Don't stay away just because you aren't into fabric. Tools. Did I say TOOLS? Radial Arm saw. Oscillating Sander. Tool Dock. If you don't see what you want, ask. It can probably be found.

The lady running the sale was delightful, funny and warm. Her fabric and yarns were in lidded plastic totes, which were all closed when we got there because it was sprinkling (again). “Wait ten minutes,” she said. “The sun will be back out.”  (She was right.) We didn’t wait to start looking though. KK found a couple of pieces of fun fabric for me right away. 

We talked about our fabric and yarn stashes and how they can run away with you. She had never heard the acronym SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) and loved it. Turns out she quilts professionally. She has a long-arm machine and says she does a couple a month for other people. I was enjoying our conversation so much I almost forgot to inquire about thread. I didn’t see any, but when I mentioned needing black thread she rummaged around in a box and handed me this. 

Not just black thread, but really good quality black thread – thousands of yards of it! And when I asked what she wanted for it, she said to just take it, that us stashers have to stick together!

I've never bought any thread on a cone before, not being sure how I could use it with my sewing machine, which has a horizontal spindle to hold the spool. But I tried just setting the cone in front and a little to the side of my machine and threading it, and it works great. So now I don’t have to pass up any thread bargains that might come my way.

I wanted to try out the thread when I got home, so I played with a bit of her fabric and made a little pin to wear. That's a vintage button for his nose.

The backside fabric is from the bag of free stuff I picked up last week 

and the nonsense word was made from the little letter-beads I found Memorial Day weekend.

I think I'm going to have fun with this! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Three Day Weekend

Maybe you think I'm referring to last weekend, the one with a Monday holiday. Nope, I'm talking about this weekend, the one that started with an estate sale on Thursday, continued with full-blown garaging on Friday, and finished with one more sale on Saturday. That’s my idea of a three day weekend!

The Thursday sale was on a century farm east of town, which was a good enough excuse for KK and me to take a ride in the country. The old farm house was chock full of interesting stuff and not very many folks were there looking. Unfortunately, the sale was being run by the local estate sale company that prices things the highest of any I've seen. Some pieces had prices marked, but many didn’t, and the woman running around giving prices was…how shall I put this? Probably the rudest person I have encountered in quite a long time. I recognize that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but most people I meet manage not to lose their tempers when speaking to me. We had quite an unpleasant exchange, which fortunately will never be repeated, because I will never go to another sale run by that company.


But it caused a bit of a dilemma for me. It is my practice not to buy things from obnoxious people – and there were a couple of things I wanted. But I do think it's okay to buy in that situation if you can convince yourself you are RESCUING the item! Which I was. The things being sold had belonged to people who were witty, humorous and had wide interests (judging by their possessions). Also, another very nice lady was taking money, so I did not have to hand over any cash to Ms. Nasty. I’ve decided whatever commission they got from my purchases went to the crew and not her. So there, nyah nyah nyah.

Now that I've demonstrated my maturity level for you, want to see what I got? Well, the brand-new linen dish towel was a must.

After all, there are relatives of our Millie on it!

And I fell instantly in love with this piece – three blown-glass hens mounted on a pedestal plate. 

Meet Hattie, 


and Nell.

They badly needed some love. Quite a lot of dirt was involved 

but we got them cleaned up. Nell’s hat-feathers got a bit wet, but feathers dry again.

I love them a ridiculous amount. Look how the plate has feather-like lines and dots that match their plumes.

I had already paid for The Girls when I noticed a case with some vintage jewelry, and I fell in love with, well, Santa Claus.

There is no maker’s mark on him but he is so nicely made I think he must have been a pretty pricey piece. See how his pink cheek rhinestones are a different shade from his nose rhinestone?

Best of all, he’s articulated. Santa can mo-o-o-ve!

I think the Yard Sale Gods must have felt bad about the unpleasantness though, because on Friday they went all-out to give us absolutely the nicest set of folks you could ever want to meet on a driveway. KK and I went to about 10 sales, and every single one was fun. Cheerful conversations everywhere we went. We both bought a few things, but it was the niceness we really appreciated!

Didn’t find anything at our first stop, but we learned that the sale was to make money for a family backpacking trip…to Seattle. Two parents, four kids ranging from 8 to 13, and part of the mom’s goal is to teach her kids how to handle money. On Saturday the kids were to have a snack booth at the yard sale to earn their spending money. They are taking the train up, using public transportation, etc. Each kid will carry their own pack so they have to be mindful of what they take. I bet it will be one of the most memorable events of their childhoods.

Our next stop was an older couple with a midcentury modern house and a great view. When I mentioned my MCM house, we found out they used to live a few blocks from me. KK was the one who spotted one of my best finds of the day – a wrought iron stand 

for the glass gazing ball I got a few weeks ago. I love it!

We laughed and chatted our way through South Salem, meeting enjoyable folks at every stop. I may even have picked up a new reader or two, for a couple of ladies promised they would look up my books on Amazon.

Our last stop was a sale that had planned to start late, so they were still setting up when we got there. Another great conversation, and we got to hear all about the crazy neighbor across the street who is addicted to the use of his leaf blower – one pine needle on his grass and he’s out there, blowing it to smithereens. He also has a surveillance camera set up; given the peaceful nature of that neighborhood this is definitely overkill. Which is why he was so thrilled when the ladies had a car stolen from their driveway, and he HAD IT ALL ON FILM! I bet he dined out on that for weeks.

Besides the gazing ball stand, I came home with a pendant to use in some kind of upcycle – maybe a jacket fastener?

These oversize rings are now clipped to a wire hanger in my closet and holding scarves. I may finally have found the perfect system.

Yarn, destined to be socks. A noble destiny!

Some garden tools.

And a great big bag o' fabric scraps from a free pile.

I had a ball going through it Friday night. How often do you get to go through someone else’s scrap bag?

Now if you remember (pages ago) I said this was a three day weekend. Had no intention of garaging on Saturday, but there was one sale right in my neighborhood and it started just about the time I headed home from the dog park. All I found to buy was (I know, I'm out of control) another bunny.

A painted rock bunny.

When I paid for her, I asked if they knew who had painted it. “Oh yes, that was my Aunt Imo,” said the gentleman. He launched into the story of Aunt Imo, his mother’s sister, who evidently would put paint on anything that didn’t move fast enough to avoid it. The two sisters grew up in East Texas on a dairy farm, where they milked the cows every morning before school, and delivered the milk cans on their way to town. During World War 2 they went to Oakland to help build Liberty Ships, and Imo learned the trade of lens grinding there, which became her profession. I heard how she met her husband, who was a salesman of lens-grinding supplies, and how they came to live in Oregon. I love it when something like a painted rock opens up these floodgates of memories.

As I left, we talked for a minute about retirement. He had just retired from his work (hence the many, many long sleeved button front shirts for sale). I told him how much he’s going to love it, based on my own experience, and asked if he had any special plans. His face lit up with his smile, and he said, “I bought a pickup, and a boat. I’m going fishing!”

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