Monday, July 26, 2021

The Sheety Weekend

Am I becoming more discriminating in my old age? Or maybe it's a side effect of mostly garaging alone these days – I'm not distracted by the fun of hanging out with friends? Or I'm picking the wrong sales off of Craigslist? Whatever it is, it just seems like there are far too many I Don’t Know Why They Bothered sales this summer. But then again, if you just keep showing up, something is bound to appear.

Like sheets.

When I moved my queen size bed into the guest room and put the new-to-me double bed in my bedroom, I assured myself I'd soon find sheets to fit it.

I've had to redefine soon to include sooner or later.

So I've been making do with queen size sheets for several weeks now. Ironically, my queen size sheets were resized from king size, and the twin size sets for beds I no longer own were cut down from doubles, since at the time I couldn’t find any twins. 

I started to wonder if I bought all the doubles a few years ago (“Woman Singlehandedly Corners Market on Used Double Sheets” is the headline I'm seeing). But on Friday morning I wandered into the back bedroom in an old house and discovered who had really cornered the market.

This sale was advertised as a hoarder’s estate sale, and it certainly was packed. But to me a real hoarder is indiscriminating in what they acquire, and often store things quite haphazardly. This lady had sets of things – blue glassware, cranberry glassware, music books and many more. The row of half a dozen vintage accordians appeared to be well loved. In fact, I heard that the lady who had collected everything had taught piano in that house for many years, and in her younger days played in bands, including Lawrence Welk’s. Hence the accordions. The lady running the sale told me they found many items wrapped in tissue paper, as though they had been purchased as gifts and were waiting for the right occasion.

The back bedroom was chock full of textiles. Several vintage chenille bedspreads, wool blankets, maybe a dozen bed pillows…and a whole bunch of sheets. Which I quickly discovered were all the size I've been looking for. And the price for most was a dollar, though some sets were a little higher. There was just one catch – I could see by looking that some were cotton/polyester blend, and others seemed to be all cotton.

I love natural fibers, and I really cannot sleep on (or wear) polyester. Just can't. So I started looking at the sheets for all cotton.

Didn’t take too long to find a set, white with purple polka dots. That’s the serendipity of secondhand – you end up loving things you might never have looked at. Like purple polka dotted sheets. I checked a few more sheets, but you have never seen sheets more perfectly folded, and every single one wrapped around with masking tape. Unwrapping, unfolding, searching for tags, refolding…it was late in the morning, I was hungry. I gave up the search.

The next morning I was out running errands, and started to wonder if that estate sale was having half-price day. Which I'm happy to report they were, so now sheets were fifty cents apiece. I headed for the back bedroom and began to dig. Since the sheets were all folded so beautifully I did my best to return them to that state after I searched for fiber tags. The sale lady stopped by and said they were all doubles, so I explained I was looking for all cotton. She was a kindred spirit, we had quite a conversation about natural fibers and she didn’t seem to mind a bit that I was rumpling the sheets. I also complimented her on the incredible folding, and it turned out she herself had folded them all.

I soon realized there was another issue. A lot of sheets predated the era of fabric content tags. Which probably meant they were all cotton, but not a guarantee. However, I did a burn test when I got home on little snips from the unmarked ones and indeed all was well.

So now I am well stocked with double sheets. Besides the polka dots, I have two whites, a purple, a lavender, and a pink striped. My bed will be dressed in varying combinations, and neither it nor I will care when sheets don't match each other.

I left the sale with my $2.50 stack of sheets as music floated out behind me. Someone was playing a sweet version of Roll Out the Barrel on one of the vintage accordions. All those sheets and live music too. You gotta love thrifting.

Sunday, June 6, 2021


I saw there were some sales over in my old neighborhood this weekend, which is not far from the dog park I take Zoë to every morning. 

So I drove up the hill to check out the sales on my way home. And they were terrible sales. Way overpriced ($20 for a used laundry basket? I don't think so.) and nothing I'd want anyway. Pooh.

But on a brighter note, I found out more about one of my last acquisitions that had me smiling. I've really been enjoying the two pieces of art I got a couple of weeks ago; hung them in my bedroom and admire them both every time I see them. I especially like the woodcut, and finally got around to googling the saying depicted, “When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”

In moments I found the source, an English poet named Minnie Aumonier, though not much about her. Then with an image search I found this actual woodcut, which is when it got good. It seems that my woodcut was made by a Vermont artist named Mary Azarian – and I have admired her work since my early days as a children’s librarian, when she published a lovely picture book called A Farmer’s Alphabet.

Apparently she is still in Vermont, still making art. Her website says these prints are made by hand from her original woodcut, then she hand paints them. My copy has also been framed, and if you’ve had anything professionally framed recently you know it can be pricey. So I’m feeling pretty good about the price I paid at the estate sale. I also learned that the former owner of the piece was one of the founders of a local garden conservancy, which my friend Lysa is involved with.

I'm sure it's obvious how much I love finding a great deal. But through the years more than half the fun I've gotten from thrifting has been learning more about what I've found. And while objects come and go in our lives, the knowledge is forever mine to cherish.

Saturday, May 8, 2021


Between iffy weather, lack of sales and gardening chores, my garaging efforts have definitely been sporadic of late. Then of course there is the truism that the older you get, the less you need to buy – and living in a house 1/3 the size of my last one definitely affects what I can bring home! The creek right outside my back door makes up for it though, and this is the season of baby birds. We’ve had three sets of goslings on our section of creek, and last week 10 brand new baby ducks paraded by. There’s also a robin’s nest in my birch tree, which is exciting but not as up-close as the nest they built last year. That one was on top of the light fixture on my front deck! We only used the back door while the babies were being hatched and fledged, and I got to watch the whole thing from my kitchen window. Unlike newly hatched ducks and geese, baby robins are naked and primitive, looking more like baby dinosaurs than birds.

I did turn my (aching!) back on the weeding and planting on my to-do list this morning and went out to a few sales. At the first one I met up with friends Robin and Ken, though between masks and hairstyles that have changed while we all stayed home it took a moment to recognize them! Didn’t find anything there (I think Ken made off with all the good stuff!), and the next stop was both picked over and overpriced.

Next stop was the second day of an estate sale, so a lot had already left the house. But it was in a beautiful older neighborhood near downtown (same neighborhood the governor’s mansion is in) and was supposed to have a lot of art. And art was indeed what I came home with – a couple of pieces for my growing collection. (Will she run out of wall space one of these days? Not yet, but stay tuned…) If it hadn’t been half-price day I wouldn’t even have considered these, though I do think having so many fewer sales to go to makes me feel I can splurge a little more on something I love. And love them I do – a framed applique 

(I'm a sucker for things acorn-related) 

and a gardening woodcut.

I also picked up some gardening magazines 

and a cute little handmade-paper accordion book that opens out into a Christmas banner. It's the sort of ornament I can use since I can hang it out of Millie’s reach. 

(That cat! You would never know she’s such a scamp when you see her like this!)

Made two more stops and found nothing, but I really enjoyed the fun conversation with the young lady about to leave for grad school in New York. She’s getting a master’s in public administration, and I'm sure I was chatting with a future city manager.

So today’s adventures were mild, but after the past year of being home alone so much it’s enjoyable just to be out and about. Now that we are fully vaccinated, my friend Lysa and I have had to laugh at ourselves for our excitement over a couple of trips to nurseries - In the same car! Without our masks! Whee!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

The Mysteries of Spring

Ooooh, it was a big weekend folks – went out on two days and spent ten whole dollars. This alone would tell me Spring is here – the blooming daffodils and forsythias and cherry trees are just the icing on the cake. (Of course, the icing often is my favorite part of cake!)

I stopped at a moving sale on Friday and picked up some DVDs. My 600+ movie collection has gotten a workout over the past year. 

Then I met up with my friend Lysa at an estate sale down the street from her house. It was billed as ‘huge’…and wasn’t. But I went away happy. It was a family run sale, and we were ably assisted by an adorable girl about 12 years old. She was friendly and helpful and clearly very proud of her grandmother who had lived there (she’s now moved to Seattle). Wish I knew her name – I'd certainly vote for her when she’s ready to run the world in a few years!

I love books on paper sculpture and all their books were free.

I can't say I was looking for solar lighted house numbers, but I was willing to gamble a dollar. It's still charging so I don't know if it works yet. Fingers crossed.

But I have been looking for some shelves to put in my carport next to the potting bench, to hold pots and such. I had saved a search on Craigslist, and just as with beds, there are a lot of ugly and overpriced ones out there. But there it was – exactly what I was looking for. 

And it's even cute.

Finally, I bought a couple of original paintings. One was by the lady who had lived there (there were several of hers), an Oregon seascape.

I hung it on the wall underneath another very Oregon scene, a little study of tree tops. As I did, I thought now all I need is a valley picture.

I really love the other painting from that sale. When I rearranged my guest room I ended up with a blank wall where a bookcase had been and hoped I'd find something big to put there. And I did. I'm a sucker for wheat, I think it's just beautiful and for years had a bouquet of some I picked when I lived up in Wenatchee, Washington. And here was the wheat I love, along with a nest of robin eggs to remind me of the baby robins that were hatched on top of the light fixture on my deck last summer. It's a really textured oil, signed and dated ’72 and clearly from that period. 

The style reminds me of Brian Wildsmith’s art, like these.

On Saturday, KK and I went out for an hour or so. Some of you may recall I some pictures of a sale back in February of a house jam packed with collections, mostly china. Well, they unearthed another 1500 boxes of stuff from the basement and had a second sale. We were there on the second morning and there were still a zillion pieces. 

It’s a big old house and every room had shelving on all the walls and tables down the middle and all were jam packed, mostly with china lamps and figurines and teapots. I didn’t even bother to go down into the basement. Actually, I thought this box was the cutest item in the place.

Didn’t think there was a single thing I wanted, but on our way out through the back yard I spotted a wind chime. I've never passed a wind chime without making it ring, and this one was surprisingly mellow. And only a couple of bucks (probably the least expensive thing there), probably because it appears to be homemade. Some rusty wire, 

an old funnel and three pipes, 

some kind of game ball as a ringer 

and an embossed piece of tile for the sail 

and voila, you have a wind chime.

We checked out a couple more places. The first was the kind of sale where you roll your eyes as your leave thinking why on earth did they bother? – and I don't say that very often! But our last stop netted a mini jackpot. I've been looking for something to hold my silicone lids to free up space in the potholder drawer, and there in a free box was an adjustable rack to hold a roast that seemed worth trying. (I don't need it for its original use since I've been a vegetarian for almost 50 years.) Looks like it will work.

This odd Japanese utensil was marked a quarter and I thought I can use it to scrape stuck-on stuff from pans before they go in the dishwasher. Guess its intended use is in cooking rice, so maybe it will be dual duty.

And then on another table I spotted a small framed painting, also priced at a quarter. Original signed art…and here’s my Oregon valley scene I was thinking I needed!

Even better, when I went up to pay my fifty cents, she said, “Oh, just take them.” I told her she’d just made my day. I think I made hers by taking the Japanese mystery utensil!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

A Million Thanks

Early last Saturday morning something momentous happened on my blog.

There’s a good chance you’ve never noticed the counter at the very bottom of the page. It sits there quietly adding a digit every time someone visits my blog. And early on Saturday morning, someone visited and the counter ticked over to…one million.

Now, I know there are sites out there that hit that number in days, or even hours. Took almost 13 years here (next week is the blog anniversary). But for a site that has never advertised – or accepted an advertisement – and remains true to the focus on having a wonderful time paying the least you possibly can for practically anything, a million visits makes me very happy.

A million is big. A million hours equals a tad over 41,000 days. A million days is 2737 years, 10 months, 6 days and a few hours. The height of a stack of dollar bills would be as tall as a 30+ story building. (I'll take my share from the bottom, please!)

A million is a whole, whole lot. And of course I've never counted, but I bet I've had close to a million laughs and moments of satisfaction and amazement over what can be found when you go out thrifting. Whether you favor garage or yard sales, estate sales, rummage sales or thrift stores, the sheer entertainment value is priceless. And that's not even counting all the good stuff you can add to your life for a tiny fraction of a million dollars.

So I send a million thanks out to all who have come along on this journey for the past 13 years, with double thanks to those who have left comments.

And now let's get started on the second million!

Sunday, March 7, 2021

She Shoots! She Scores!

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure the dreaded 2020 is not over yet – 2021 seems to be channeling the spirit of its predecessor quite nicely, thank you. I actually wrote this post over three weeks ago, but I dawdled a bit on posting it…which was a mistake.

The first glitch was that we had an ice storm. From what long-time residents tell me, this was an ice storm like no one had seen here before. If there are Hundred Year Floods, then this was the Hundred Year Ice Storm. First it rained, then the rain got colder and colder, and turned to liquid ice, and coated everything. Everything. Salem is known for our beautiful trees, and every tree had an inch or more of glittering ice on it. Which weighed them all down, trees were bent to the ground. And then – they started to break.

Huge limbs started falling in the night. Whole trees split down the middle. Birches and oaks were especially hard hit, and a lot of huge oaks were completely uprooted. Power lines, tangled in the huge street trees, started coming down. And transformers began to explode. I heard four or five in the area around my house go before there was one more large bang – and the lights went out.

My electricity was out for five days. My gas furnace needs electricity to ignite, so no heat. I was able to manually light burners on the stove to cook, which is a very weird experience in the pitch dark. Thank heavens for my headlamp I bought for early morning trips to the dog park. It got colder and colder. After the second night, I begged a bed from my ex (his apartment had only a brief power outage) and the dogs and I slept over there. When they crews finally came and reconnected my block, I went out and clapped and cheered for the guys. I hope I never take heat and light and convenience for granted again.

However, the fun was not yet over. The city looked like a war zone – in fact, the WWII memorial downtown looked like a battle had just taken place there. Cleanup crews were out immediately, and it's only the last few days that the sound of chain saws and wood chippers has not been constant. Part of the collateral damage was that the Internet was knocked out. And even when it showed they had fixed the storm outage in my area, I still had no WiFi. I'm not particularly proud of the fact I was more fretful over not having any Internet for three weeks than I was about not having power. It's a little scary, how much of our daily lives depends on the Web. It didn’t help when they failed to show up for the repair appointment I had a week ago, and I had to wait five more days for another appointment. In fact I was in a right old snit about it. I send out huge thanks to my friends who listened to me whine during that week!

We are more or less back to normal, and Spring is getting closer; in fact, there are daffodils blooming in my yard. Perhaps it was 2020’s last hurrah. Let’s hope so!

With that explanation for the delay, let me take you now to the post I wrote in those more-innocent days of three weeks ago…


Driving home from the dog park Thursday morning I noticed a big Estate Sale sign leading into my neighborhood. Even though it was early, barely eight o’clock (we hit the dog park at first light), naturally I followed the sign, which led me to a street 3 blocks from mine. I went on home with Zoë and after feeding the gang, checked Craigslist for more info on the sale. Sure enough it was there, along with a listing for another sale back in my old neighborhood, and that one had a Picture of Interest.

Back in October when I had knee surgery and Marcia was staying with me, I put my queen size bed in the guest room and moved the twin bed for me to use. Much easier to get in and out of than the larger and higher one. I liked having the bigger bed in the guest room, so I decided to part ways with the pair of twin beds in there and get a double or queen instead. That room has a rather large closet – in fact it is just about the size of a twin bed, and so I put a bed in there. 

It was quite cozy and I enjoyed sleeping in there from time to time, but as I've gotten older and creakier it got harder to do things like change the sheets. So I moved the bed out of the closet and have now turned it into my cozy reading nook.

So…I have been looking for a different bed since fall. Saved a search on Craigslist so I see all the new listings, and let me tell you, there are a lot of ugly beds out there! I looked at that estate sale listing and saw a possible candidate, so I headed out, all masked up and keeping my social distance.

When I got to the sale, I chatted with one of the workers while I looked at a few things on the driveway, and I noticed a footboard and side rails for a bed. Asked her if they went with the headboard I'd seen in the picture and she said she didn’t know for sure, her boss at the estate sale company handled the furniture. “He’s the one who knows about that, things like what kind of feet are worth more,” she said. My heart sank a little, sounded like he might actually be an expert, and when I went inside I saw that some things were pretty pricey. Couldn’t locate the headboard in any of the bedrooms, but then I realized they had moved all the furniture into the living/dining room. And there it was behind a couple of ottomans, a double headboard just the size I've been wanting.

When I got close, my heart started to go pitty pat. I could see immediately this was a midcentury piece, either teak or walnut, possibly Danish. I've never seen anything like it (and I've looked at a lot of midcentury furniture since I bought my MCM house). 

Though made of wood, it appears to be woven – the top rail is carved, I'm sure by hand, to look like thick straps going over.

This thing is absolutely exquisite, and I knew I wanted it – if I could afford it. I tipped it toward me so I could see the price written on a piece of masking tape, fingers crossed.

Are you ready?

Five dollars. Five dollars. Holy yard sale gods. I about fainted…but didn’t want to take the time to pick myself up from the floor. I started wrestling that puppy out from behind those ottomans. About then the lady I'd talked to on the driveway came in and asked me if I wanted her to take it out for me. I managed to keep myself from jumping up and down with joy as I let her take it, saying I wanted the footboard and rails too.

I did a quick turn through the rest of the house, and emerged with a little splurge – a $4 Noritake hen with lovely details

plus a $2 original watercolor that’s been nicely framed. 

Let’s just say I was distinctly unimpressed with the knowledge of the ‘furniture expert’ who priced the bed, but perfectly happy to make such a score.

As it happens, I was even less impressed with the man when I stopped by the other sale on my way home. Turns out both were being handled by the same estate sale company, and I'm sure the "furniture expert" was the guy who seemed to be in charge at the second one. The guy in the garage greeting people – and not wearing a mask. In fact he appeared to be boasting about it to the person who went in just before me. Unlike the first sale, this place was way crowded, and I left almost immediately. If I had felt any twinge of remorse over my bargain with the bed (okay, I really didn’t!) it would have vanished after seeing him.

So my guest room is on its way to a new look. I still need to find a mattress and bedding, but that’s an adventure for another day. I've searched and searched online to try to get a line on the maker of the bed, but have found nothing comparable. So it may be quite rare. I found a stamp on the back that seems to be a date, “Aug 18” but the year is blurred, I think it's something like 1965. And ‘waln’ hand written, so it's probably walnut. But even though I haven’t found a match for it, perusing eBay and other sale sites convinces me I found an amazing deal, one of my best ever. Hop over to eBay and do a search for ‘midcentury headboard’. Let’s just say that none of them are priced at five dollars!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Brrrr, February! I'm okay with winter until February rolls around, and then I've had enough. And a couple of years ago, I swear to you we had February and then we had it again, March was just the same. If I were the kind of person who winters in Palm Springs, this is when I'd go. Truly makes me wonder how I survived the winters I spent in Minneapolis, but I was young then and apparently quite a lot tougher.

At least in Oregon, even in February we get the occasional sale to go to. There was an estate sale last weekend I almost attended. The pictures were so crazy I sent them to my posse just for a giggle. The person must have been a very determined – okay, crazed – collector. It wasn’t hoarding, there were definite themes and appeared to be a lot of specially built shelving throughout the house. Lots of midcentury china, lamps, Hall teapots, swan lamps…let’s just say there were 183 pictures like these: 

I'm sure every dealer in the West was there. And because of Covid and the house being so crowded with Stuff only 10 people were allowed in at a time. KK and I talked about going on Saturday afternoon (the 3rd day) but in the end decided not to. Some things just take more energy than you have to spare, and it wasn’t like I wanted to buy any of this stuff.

But I did luck out on Saturday morning. Saw there was a moving sale listed on Craigslist that stated at 8 over in my old neighborhood, which is near the dog park I take Zoë to every day. So we went by on our way home and I scored a couple of plants for the yard, both in decent plastic pots. One is some kind of clover with a red center that I may plant out as a ground cover. 

The other is just beginning to leaf out, but was described as having small red flowers all summer and being an absolute magnet for hummingbirds. I’m pretty sure this is an autumn sage, salvia gregii. Best of all, they were a buck each. 

Then I splurged another fifty cents on something I plucked from another pot.

I ask you, what kind of a gardener goes out and actually buys a snail? But…it's a really cute snail!

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