Sunday, April 29, 2018


Driving towards downtown on Wednesday morning, I spied it – right in front of the Episcopalian Church.

A sign. One I'd see before.

“Rummage Sale, Thursday Friday Saturday 9 a.m.”

I drove around the block and pulled the car over. Took my phone out. Texted.

“KK. Episcopalians are rummaging tomorrow @ 9!”

She texted back. “Bummer! Have to go to Eugene.” About 10 minutes later she texted again. “I’ll go to Eugene after!”

We’ve both made good finds among the Episcopalians’ cast-offs before. Mine included some $2 cashmere sweaters  that retailed for over $600 at the swanky San Francisco shop that originally sold them. Once something like that happens, Pavlov’s drooling dogs have nothing on you. It's a completely autonomic response. You MUST go to that sale.

And possibly drool.

This year’s finds were more practical than drool-worthy, but practical makes me very happy. A set of all-cotton sheets for the queen-size bed for three bucks? Yes please. (Macy’s house brand, online  price tag near $150.) Two pairs of pricey-brands crop pants for summer? Check. And for a little icing on the practical cake, a long (40” or so) strand of blue glass beads for another two bucks - embellishments for future textile pieces.

On Friday, KK and I took what I call a mini-vacation, which is any trip to an unfamiliar place, even if it’s just one street away from my usual route. She needed to deliver one of her paintings that was accepted into an art show in Corvallis, and there was an estate sale that looked like it might be good in nearby Albany. So I mapped out our trail down there instead of our usual stomping grounds.

I'm happy to report that for once the pictures did not lie, it was a good sale. (I define a good sale as one where the items belonged to someone whose taste matched mine. When that includes adorable vintage wooden toy thingies, bingo!) When we arrived I headed straight for the fireplace in the living room, where the pictures had indicated something I don’t see often.


No, not people hunched over in the rain the statutory 10 feet from a building entrance. Or the contraptions for smoking meat. I mean the German wooden figurines that you mostly see as a Christmas ornament. They come in all shapes and sizes, most often in the form of a man with a pipe. When you burn cone incense inside, the smoke comes out his mouth. I have a few, including Santa and a postman. My favorite in my collection has always been the aproned haus frau holding a bowl of dumplings – and the emerging smoke is the steam from the dumplings.

Sure enough, on the hearth was a lineup of three or four smokers, and unlike any I'd ever seen. I pounced, even though it was a bit of a splurge. The one with the acorns was a no-brainer.

And the elf sitting by his mushroom home? 

When I saw that the smoke comes out of the mushroom’s chimney, AND that he is sitting on a snail, into my bag he went. 

When I got home and inspected my finds, I saw that both were artist-made back in the 90s.

KK found me in the kitchen, where I scored a nice heavy kitchen knife and an Ove glove.

She was holding a little wooden object and asked if I'd seen it. Which I had not, or it would have been in my hands, not hers. I asked if she were buying it. Whew! She had picked it up for me!

Bunnies and chicks! Vintage music box. The tag said ‘as-is’ but who cares. I knew there was a music box inside because of the weight, but it wasn’t until I got it home and was cleaning off the dust that I realized how it is supposed to work. 

See that tallest bunny? ‘Tall’ being a relative term, he’s all of 2½” high. 

Well, he is the key – or at least glued to the key. You turn him to wind the music box, and then he’s supposed to revolve as the Blue Danube plays. Unfortunately he does not want to revolve on his own. But I have gotten other music boxes to play, and I have hopes for this one. I’ll tinker with it when I can take my time over it. Meanwhile, every time I look at the baby chick tucked up into the painted bed I feel myself grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

KK found my other buy as well – the Pinocchio egg cup. 

Though he may well become the Pinocchio candle holder, since I rarely eat a boiled egg. Or he can just around looking cute.

Hmmm, I just realized something. My last maxi-vacation was the trip to Chicago a couple of years ago, when I bought one and only one souvenir (a pair of vintage earrings from a thrift store). But I take a mini-vacation and look at all my souvenirs!

It's probably a good thing I don’t travel very often.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Further Adventures of Lucy & Ethel

A need arose in my life recently for a queen size bed. I email to KK to tell her, so we could both remember to watch for one. Her first reaction was something of a “ewwww” – that a used mattress could be nasty.

Which is true, but as I pointed out to her, the advantage to shopping at estate sales is you get a pretty good idea how clean the home is. All of our guest beds (twin size) came via Craigslist, and if I'm remembering aright the mattresses were all used as guest beds in their last homes. They have been great, and saved us a bundle.

Besides, we’ve all slept on hotel beds, right?

So I promised I would not buy anything remotely nasty. And off we went on our Friday travels.

There weren’t very many sales that day. At least partly because of the weather – not pouring rain, but threatening, and a cold, very blustery wind. I picked up a couple of pairs of earrings for crafting purposes (at a quarter per pair how could I go wrong?). Then we headed across the river to West Salem and an estate sale in a retirement community built around a golf course.

The sale was picked over when we arrived, and my expectations of finding anything were low. We walked into one of the two bedrooms, and there leaning against a wall was a double bed with headboard and footboard. One of those old mahogany sets with four posters that stand about 3 feet above the mattress.  I kind of liked it, though it wasn’t my usual style. “Maybe I should get a double bed instead of a queen,” I told KK. She immediately (and wisely) nixed that idea – really not big enough. Then we turned around to see what else was in the room and leaning again the opposite wall was a queen size mattress, box springs, metal frame, and headboard.

It looked pristine, and KK gave it the sniff test (she must have been a bloodhound in her last life, she has the most acute smeller). It passed that inspection. We laid the mattress on the floor and I tried it out. Very, very comfy. (Another shopper in the room commented, “Nap time? Would you like one of these blankets?”)

We got the guy running the sale in to find out what kind of deal I could make. I didn’t want the headboard, and it took about twenty seconds to agree on a price. Which happened to be just about all the cash I had on me. We loaded up the frame pieces in the back of KK’s SUV, saying we’d be back on Saturday with her husband’s pickup for the mattress and springs. And off we went, well pleased and thinking of a nice lunch.

We drove a few blocks, and she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh no! I forgot!” “What?” “We’re going to Bend for the weekend. We leave really early Saturday morning.”

Ohhhh. Okay. So now I have a queen mattress and springs and no transport. Between a Honda Civic and a Mitsubishi convertible, that’s just not a load I could haul. I don’t know any other pickup owner well enough to ask for help. We batted ideas around. The wildest might have been calling for an Uber and specifying a pickup truck.

We stopped at a light on the busy through street on the east side of town. KK reminded me we also wanted to stop by a U-Haul place to get plastic mattress bags to wrap the pieces in. I pulled out my phone to see if I could figure out where the closest one was. Then just before the light turned green KK looked off to the right – and saw the closest U-Haul place half a block down the side street. We could hardly believe it was that easy to find one!

Bags bought, we went on to lunch, still trying to figure out a way to get my purchase home. “It's my responsibility,” I finally said. “I'll rent a van for a couple of hours.” We finished lunch, headed out to her SUV, and she stopped in her tracks.

“I have a rack on top of my car,” she said.

She’d never had an occasion to use the rack before. What better way to inaugurate it than with a queen size mattress and box springs?

We stopped by my house for ropes, then drove across the river. Back at the estate sale we got the folks to help us tote those puppies out to the car. Hoisted the springs up, then the mattress on top. The estate sale folks said good luck and went back inside. We started to tie down, and realized there were two issues. The box springs are rigid, and we were afraid the wood cross-piece might be cracked by the bars of the rack. And we had managed to get one of the pieces up there with the opening of the plastic mattress bag facing into the wind.

But as my favorite calligraphy piece in my office states, “There is nothing, nothing, nothing that two women cannot do before noon.” We pulled both pieces down and got the mattress back up, then hoisted the springs on top. Both of them were facing the right direction. KK tied one end of a rope to the rack and tossed it over the top to me on the other side. Just as I grabbed it, a couple came out of the sale and headed to their car, parked behind ours. The man paused to ask, “Need any help?”

I am old enough and wise enough to know the answer to that one. “Sure do,” I replied, and he pitched right in. We were really glad to have his assistance, because it was clear he was able to tighten the ropes more than we could have. The ropes went back and forth, tied here and there, and he finally declared it was a steady as it was going to get. We thanked them profusely, climbed in the car, and started home.

We eachhad one hand out our windows, hanging onto the ropes to keep tabs on how stable our load was. Five mph, just fine. And at ten, and fifteen. At twenty, we could feel that mattress start thinking it might like to be a kite. And then we went around a corner and hit the wind, and that was the moment I realized that once again I was in the middle of an episode of I Love Lucy.

I, of course, am always Ethel. KK got to play the role of Lucy this time.

It was a slow and somewhat exciting journey back to my house. The wind would have been an issue even standing still. Especially over the river, which usually has wind of its own. But we just chugged along, grimly hanging onto the rope, and emitting squeals of alarm every time a big gust rocked our cargo. We sounded like a couple of eighth grade girls on a roller coaster, if you must know. But it was one of those times I was glad I live in a town like Salem. Not one driver was rude or impatient, they all just went around us with no fuss or crowding.

I did entertain a bit of a fantasy that one of those pickups passing us would call over, Hey, let us take that in our truck for you the rest of the way. But even if that had happened, I think Lucy & Ethel would have called back, Thanks but we’ve got this handled.

Backing into my driveway at last, I wasn’t quite moved to kiss the ground in gratitude, but I did give that mattress a pat. “Good job,” I told it.

I think it looked demurely pleased. And I just might have heard something like, “Thanks. But next time I want to be a kite.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Last Friday was one of those personal milestones that I never actually expected to see.

This blog turned 10 years old.
Good heavens, how is that possible! I certainly don’t feel 10 years older. Okay, maybe I do…but in a good way. I try not to tell younger people how wonderful this period of life is, because I don’t want them to suffer terrible pangs of jealousy. I'm thoughtful that way. (Insert your favorite smiling emoticon here.)

Of course there have been significant life events in that time. Retirement from a 30+ year career, moved 1,000 miles, made new friends. 

Lost beloved furry ones, 


and let new beloveds in. 

And created a new garden from scratch.

And through it all, my weekly routine of thrifting, both solo and with friends, has brought enormous pleasure, year in and year out. It's certainly kept me on track financially by providing high quality clothing, 

household goods, 


and d├ęcor. 

But even more than the great stuff, I've met such wonderful people, been given glimpses into other lives, that never would have come my way if I hadn’t hopped into the car with my list of addresses from Craigslist and zoomed off to see what the day would provide.

And absolutely one of the greatest pleasures has been you. Readers from all over the world have somehow found us. I have saved every single comment I have ever received, and I truly treasure them – and you.


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