THREE TIMES THE FUN

THREE TIMES THE FUN

Fun is double the fun when it is shared with one.  In most cases, it is triple the fun when it is shared with two.  In the case of my sisters and me, it is always multiplied when we are all three partaking.

I have made it clear in previous posts that Suzanne and I love garage sales.  Gail, not so much.  At least, that’s what she thought.  She has always loved estate sales, but shies away from garage sales. 

This weekend, Gail and her daughter, Lydia, were in our small city for prime-time garage sale-ing.  Saturday morning, Suzanne and I talked them into joining us for the fun, and I think perhaps we may have turned the tide for her. 

It was actually a jackpot for all of us, because there was a massive estate sale in town in a home that apparently housed its members—and their cool stuff—for many years.  We all came away winners from that one.  Gail even stuck around long enough to go back at noon when everything became half-price to score several more expensive treasures:  a large stone crock, a vintage blue fan, and a Depression glass bowl that completed her set.

Suzanne found goodies for her new house and a few other treasures; I found my usual stash for my art projects—especially vintage jewelry. 

These people were obviously cool folks, because we found some goodies from one of our favorite brands with a favorite message:  Life is good. Suzanne found a shirt, and I found a beautiful coffee mug. 

We proceeded to another estate sale, hoping to score big like we had at the last one.  Let’s just say I’m glad we made it out without any purchases.  We couldn’t leave fast enough, but I assured them all that this is indeed a numbers game, and you have to kiss a lot of frogs in the process—much like dating.  Gail was quick to whip her hand sanitizer out of her purse, and we proceeded on to a few more sales.  We should have taken a picture of the disaster that they called an estate sale, but we were too concerned about getting away with our lives, so snapping a picture may have been detrimental. (Have you ever seen the movie Deliverance?)

Then, we were redeemed by Alainna. 

She was the life of the party at her own garage sale, so they got along beautifully, and Gail came away with several beautiful pictures.  We all learned something new, because we had never even heard of a giclee before yesterday:

I chauffeured them around in my car, and with all these treasures we scored, space became tight:

Clearly, Lydia wasn’t having as much fun as we were, but she remained a good sport.  She had no choice, really.  Her mother and two aunts wouldn’t let her hang back.  We are like that when we are faced with a straggler.  Have fun or go home could be our mantra, except Lydia had no choice.  She was celebrating in other ways, however.  She and Gail were in town for her four-month check-up with her endocrinologist.  Her Type One diabetes is in control, her numbers are good, and she has won another four-month battle—and she continues to win the war. 

Gail and Lydia had to leave early in the afternoon, but Suzanne and I are priding ourselves on our possible conversion.  We think perhaps Gail may indeed have come around to our way of thinking. 

If so, next year’s garage sale season may bring exponentially more fun when we get her back to our small city for another morning of garage sale-ing.  In the meantime, Suzanne and I are preparing for one of our own in her new garage/driveway. 

May the circle continue; hopefully our fellow garage-sale buffs will find a new home for our cast-offs.

Gail’s thinking of a new do…

THE THRILL OF THE FIND

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THE THRILL OF THE FIND

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” –Unknown

It’s that time of year again. And, despite all that 2020 has had taken away in its first half, the beloved garage sale did not fall prey to our new culture of COVID. There may be a few changes, and requests to distance and wear masks, but the all-American garage sale is back.

Suzanne and I are thrilled.

Garage sales were a distant reality when we were growing up. For starters, we lived in a rural area outside of a small Kansas town. And—perhaps most importantly, it seems that when we were kids, people didn’t consume material goods only to sell them a short time later in a garage sale. Most families—ours included—bought only what they needed, and used it until it was no longer able to be used. When we outgrew clothes, they were passed down to the next kid, or perhaps given away to someone else’s kids.

Suzanne reminisced about the first garage sale she ever went to. She was ten years old at most, and we were in Wichita visiting our grandparents. There was a garage sale across the street from them, and she walked over with Mom and our younger brother.

“The idea of shopping in someone else’s driveway was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and I thought ‘why don’t more people do this?’”  she recalled. “And then it was probably at least ten or fifteen years before I went to another one.”   She has loved them ever since.

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There are almost three times more storage facilities in America than there are McDonald’s restaurants.   We have become a culture of “stuff,” as evidenced by our need to store it outside our homes. Storage facilities have boomed since 2011, per U.S. Census data regarding private construction spending. In 2011, $241 million was spent on mini-storage facility construction. In 2018, that number had increased to nearly $5 billion. Americans need more space for their stuff.

There is my trivia for this post. My hope is that it helps you understand the surge in the “stuff” that shows up in garage sales. Suzanne and I aren’t complaining, it provides the basis for one of our favorite summer pastimes.

Gail is not a garage sale-er. She does enjoy estate sales; she even has the power to create one when there was not one planned. I’ll explain.

Perhaps you remember that she purchased “Lola,” a 1974 Chevy Nova from the family of a dear woman named Lola, who had moved to the nursing home in her small town. She treated herself to this gem as an early 60th birthday gift.

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As Gail does with people she gets to know, she got to know Lola’s family quite well. So, when Lola passed away several months ago, Gail was in touch with her son, who was making arrangements to clear out his mother’s house and eventually sell it and her remaining possessions. Gail, in her usual style, stepped in and offered to take a few things off his hands. What started as a few small transactions became a one-woman estate sale.

 

The fixtures and the furniture were too much for Gail to pass up.

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The retro kitchen speaks for itself.

On top of many treasures that Lola’s son sold to her, Lola’s house is now hers as well.

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#ALLTHINGSLOLA

It may become a vacation getaway, a hunting lodge, a weekend rental, or all the above. It may become a hangout for Gail. With Gail, all things are possible.   And these are all good things.

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Suzanne and I had a grand plan for our Saturday morning garage sales. The small town of Lindsborg, Kansas is just 30 minutes from my home, and this “Little Sweden” community was hosting its annual community-wide garage sale event.

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We were in.

We arrived early, and I found my greatest treasure of the day at the very first sale. It seemingly jumped off the table into my hands as I walked up the driveway.

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As a bonus, we saw someone we knew at the first sale. We even got to see her again at another garage sale later in the morning.

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Lucy was Gail’s area supervisor when she managed the Osborne Pizza Hut.  Suzanne worked there, too, so she knew her then as well.  Now retired, she lives in Lindsborg and she enjoys her time off doing whatever she pleases, including going to garage sales, and spending time with her granddaughter, Chloe.

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If this picture looks familiar, that’s because Lucy made the four-hour trip to Gail’s birthday party in February, shortly before the COVID shut-down. Gail makes friends even with her own boss, which likely doesn’t surprise you, if you know Gail.

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We found Lucy for the second time in this beautiful outdoor haven, in the courtyard of a local museum, dedicated to a local artist.  I found a few other treasures there, too.

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He sculpted this statue of our favorite saint–Mom’s too, Saint Francis.

Suzanne’s favorite find of the day cost her an entire quarter:

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This picture was the second runner-up:

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The town is a beautiful burg, with unparalleled Swedish—and American—charm.

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If you haven’t visited, I highly recommend you do.

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As noon approached, the sales dwindled, and we had plans to scoot on down the road to Hutchinson, where Suzanne needed to pick up a small dresser she had purchased at a garage sale when nearby Inman had their city-wide sales. She went with a friend, and left it at her house. After a delicious lunch and the dresser pick-up, we got to go to my favorite store:

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It had been over five months, much too long.

We’re already jonesing for the next round of sales. Even though Suzanne is the minimalist, she enjoys finding new treasures when they feel just right. Unlike her sisters, she wants to find only a few things, and she is satisfied.

I typically overdo it, and send a few things to my give-away pile as soon as I get home. But that’s part of the thrill for me, the thrill of the find. Which likely explains why I love to shop at my favorite store pictured above.

I just wish I wasn’t thrilled by so many treasures, and so does my husband. But he knows me well enough to know what brings me small measures of joy, and he knows I will pass them on in due time.

Life is full of treasures, and I don’t mean just at garage sales. Greater than that, there are many joys to take from life, many treasures that can’t be purchased at a garage sale or any store.

Whatever it takes, I hope you search for and find the meaningful treasures in your life. You’ll know them by the thrill of the find.

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THE BEAUTY OF JUNE

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THE BEAUTY OF JUNE

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”                L.M. Montgomery

Second only to July in my book, June is one of the most splendid months of the year.

My mind and heart hearken back to my childhood, where June meant the beginning of the three carefree months of no school, hot weather, picking cherries, swimming lessons, Father’s Day and the beginning of wheat harvest. The cherry-picking and swimming lessons weren’t always good memories then, but they are now. I love to swim, and I am so glad our parents took the time and effort to make sure we knew how. I was scared of the water when I first started, but not anymore.

I hated to pick cherries then, but I love it now. I remember Mom waking us up early to beat the heat with our cherry-picking. We climbed our two cherry trees with a small bucket, and didn’t get down until it was full. This was followed by an afternoon of pitting cherries at the kitchen sink. It was torture then; I love it now. My husband planted a cherry tree for me in our backyard several years ago, but the frost got the blooms this spring, so there will be no cherries this year.   I did just find a bag in the freezer from last year, so that will still make a good pie.

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LAST YEAR’S CHERRY HARVEST

Today, June 21st, 2020, is Father’s Day. My family gathered at our in-laws to celebrate the fathers in the family. Good food, drink and company were enjoyed by all, as we always do when we gather there. Father’s Day has become a sweet-bitter observation, instead of the mostly bitter day that I felt for the first handful of years after our dad was gone.

To anyone who has recently lost their father, who feels only the bitter, my heart breaks for you. But, I want to let you know that time heals, and in the coming years, Father’s Day will be sweet-bitter for you, too.

I promise.

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LAST YEAR’S WHEAT HARVEST

I remember celebrating most Father’s Days of my youth in the harvest fields. Dad and my brothers would be hard at work cutting and hauling wheat. This year, harvest has not yet started on our farm, nor is there much harvesting happening where I live, 80 miles south of there. The wheat harvest begins first in the south and moves north as the climate dictates.

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30 miles south of my home, a farmer is moving his combine to the field to cut. Note the red machine, vs. the green. My International-Harvester farm-girl heart will always favor the red ones.   I don’t mind getting stuck behind slow-moving farm machinery, because they feed me, too.

Today, however, the climate here is one of unrest, as we wait for severe thunderstorms to roll in, further delaying the onset of harvest.

Aside from the fly in the ointment that storms cause for harvest-hungry farmers, these storms are another thing I like about June.

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Garage sales and lemonade stands are another sure sign of summer.

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Last night was the summer solstice. The annual “longest day of the year.” The sun shone longer in the sky than any other day, and I always observe this peak day. The days will slowly, almost imperceptibly become shorter day by day until the winter solstice occurs on December 21st. I crave sunlight, and welcome each lengthening day until the summer solstice, and now, knowing that the days will get shorter, I will again welcome the longer days starting in December.

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We were at our brother’s house near our family farm for the last year’s winter solstice. Here, the sun is setting on the shortest day of the year.

July will arrive in nine days. So will our annual guests. I will eagerly welcome both, and we will celebrate the first week of July together.

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July, with it’s honor of being the hottest month of the year in Kansas, as well as a week with some of my favorite friends, Independence Day—my second favorite holiday, and perhaps a family vacation, is my favorite month of the year. My three favorite things about Kansas are July, June and August—in that order.

Because I was born in mid-April, I came into being in July. Perhaps this is why I love July so much. Independence Day, with its fireworks, food, family and freedom, should be savored year-round, keeping its spirit alive in our hearts all year, just as we should with Christmas.

Independence–to me, means letting go of those things that hold us back and limit our happiness. With or without fireworks, it means freedom. None of us who enjoy this liberty should ever take it for granted.

As I anticipate another Fourth of July, I am delighting in decorating my home in a patriotic theme. I started on Flag Day—another great thing about June that occurs on the 14th. Today—Father’s Day, I am holding the memory of our dad close to my heart. I am also celebrating the father who made me a mother, and doing all I can to savor the beauty in every day, no matter how many minutes of sunshine it offers me.

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Our dad enjoying a lunch break in the harvest field.

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Last night’s fiery sunset was a fitting exit for our brightest star, shining longer than any other day of the year.

Happy summer solstice, happy summer, happy Father’s Day, and Happy June to you.

It’s a beauty of a month.

GARAGE FOR SALE

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GARAGE FOR SALE

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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  Anonymous

 

The guests from last week’s post are gone, I went back to work and the day-to-day routine kicked in again.   In the spring-summer-fall, this routine sometimes includes a Saturday morning trip in to town to check out the garage sales.

Sometimes, when it works, Suzanne and I hit them together.  This week, we did just that.  Gail wasn’t here for the weekend, but she just happened to call as we began the treasure hunt.  Of course, she wished us happy hunting.

Suzanne is the garage-saler extraordinaire.  She was a garage-saler from way back; I only recently became one relative to her long history.  Gail is a half-hearted garage-saler, but she will join us if we are all together and happen to spot one, and she reports she actually hits a few on her own sometimes in her small town.  Gail doesn’t, however, make it a quest like Suzanne and I do.

However, she is planning on having her own soon.  Suzanne has had a few when she lived in her small town, but, as a minimalist, she really doesn’t have much to sell.

I have tried twice to host a garage sale at my rural home, but it seems the distance from my small city is too prohibitive for the masses to traverse.

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Because I am a font of useless trivial information—just ask Gail and Suzanne, I am offering a brief history of the American garage sale as we know it.

Also known as a yard sale, a tag sale, or a rummage sale, the garage sale has its earliest origins in the early 1800’s, when shipping yards would sell unclaimed cargo and excess warehouse items at a discount.  These goods were known as “rommage,” and the sale was called a “rommage sale.”

In the late 1800’s, the name evolved to “rummage sale,” and they were offered in churches and other community spaces.  A variety of goods from various sources were included in an effort to liquidate miscellaneous merchandise.

The garage sale as we know it today was likely born in the post-war 1950’s-60’s decades.  The economy was bright, and the average consumer had much more spending money.  So when they spent their money on new things, the old things were cast off in a garage sale for others to buy and use.  The suburban expansion created the perfect set-up for the garage sale to be held in one’s neighborhood.

In the early 1990’s, garage sales continued to proliferate.  Consumer spending was good, which left more stuff to get rid of.  Newspaper advertising and cardboard signs were the primary means of advertising.  As this decade progressed and the internet became an everyday tool, it was used to advertise and locate garage sales.

Myself, I use both.  And, like Suzanne and I did today, sometimes simply driving around down is the best way to find them.  Some of them are not advertised online or in the newspaper, and they rely on signage on street corners.

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I found some very interesting garage sale signs online…

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I did some informal research online (which, along with reading books, is how I gather most of my useless information that I use to impress Suzanne), with a very specific question in mind:  Is the garage sale a uniquely American phenomenon?

My research results were minimal, but apparently other industrialized countries have such sales in an effort to shed their unwanted “stuff.”  I did find one source that reports that European countries do have them, with England calling them “boot sales,” because they are held out of the trunk or the “boot” of one’s car, just like we hold our “garage sales” out of our garages.

Without further research, I can be fairly certain of one thing:  Americans are expert consumers, and we have more relative wealth than most countries in the world.  Therefore, we have more stuff—and too much of it.  So, casting it off in a garage sale is how many of us get rid of it, and how many of us find more.

Suzanne and I are always on the lookout for clothes.  Perhaps one-third of my wardrobe is from garage sales.  I like used clothes, mostly because I’m cheap.  And, I already have a ridiculously large wardrobe, so it is pointless to spend a lot of money on them.  Most everything else is bought on clearance at my two favorite stores:  Marshall’s and TJMaxx.

Besides being good for the earth, and doing my part to decrease American consumerism, buying used clothes works for my overactive imagination.  I like to think that perhaps these garments traveled the world with their previous owner and have travel tales to tell.  Better yet, I like to think that just maybe they got peeled off their last owner by a handsome man and thrown in a heap on the floor—you know, like in the movies.

So today, I found a few more pieces of my favorite brands and styles.  And, in case I haven’t already impressed upon you that my stepson’s wife Lindsay is simply delightful, I will further reinforce it here:  she, too, likes used clothes from garage sales, she is my size, and we like a lot of the same brands and styles.   As a further bonus, she buys their children mostly used clothing at garage sales.  I found multiple pieces I am pretty sure she will love, and they were cheap—just like me.

If you know me well, you likely have received a garage sale treasure as a gift—gag, or the real thing.  I am not above offering these treasures to my loved ones.   If they are cool with that, then I love them more.   Suzanne and I have an unspoken understanding that if either of us finds something the other can no longer live without, we buy it, give it to them and expect no payment.  It all shakes out in the end, I am sure.

Gail, Suzanne and I are always on the lookout for cool stuff for our homes.  If I had to describe my decorating style in my home, I would call it “garage sale eclectic.”  For me, it is whatever catches my eye.  No unified style, just whatever speaks to me.

In my research today, I found a few stories of real treasures found at garage sales, like original artwork by famous artists and valuable pieces of history.  I haven’t got any stories quite that awesome, but I know what is valuable to me.

My mosaic art/random art hobby is fed from garage sales.  And books—I have dozens of great books others have decided to share, and I am forever grateful to them for sharing the love of good books at rock-bottom prices.

So today, Suzanne and I found a few small goodies.  I am pictured here at the end of the morning with my haul, including:  four pair of jeans for our granddaughter Avery, two sweatshirts–one for me, one for Lindsay, a green light bulb, 2 pretty scarves, a glass water bottle, one Christmas ornament and a patriotic Beanie Baby (on top of the pile) that will be used in next year’s Independence Day decorations.

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Suzanne found this awesome shelf, her catch of the day:

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We tried out the balance board, but neither of us felt the need to work hard-core on our balance, even though we obviously should.

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This awesome hat came home with Suzanne.  Despite the 90-degree temperatures this morning, it won’t be long before she will be sporting this on her head for real.

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She told me about a sale she had driven by that consisted of two unattended tables with a sign that said “Free.”  We went back to it and the house looked strangely familiar to me.  Turns out it was a house my husband recently remodeled for the owner.  Then, several weeks after that, my college-age son was looking for a cheap couch for his dorm room.  He answered and ad on Craigslist for a free couch if he could pick it up.  Turns out it was the same house.

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Our small city of approximately fifty thousand really is small.

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Suzanne dropped me off at my car, and I spotted a sign for another nearby sale that she said she had been to, but didn’t find anything.  I decided to stop.  I pulled up and remembered the house from last year.  I remember they had cool stuff, and the proprietors were cool people.

Again this year, I wasn’t disappointed.

In my never-ending quest to find good books, this one caught my eye.  A great topic for these great middle-ages I am living through, by an author with a great first name.

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And speaking of great first names, the owner agreed cheerfully to a picture and to a spot in this blog.

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Thank you, Mark.

I promised my husband Mark I would do my best to live by the one-in, one-out rule.  So far today, I’m not doing very well.  I need to go get busy getting rid of some stuff…

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To give credit where it is due, the award-winning book pictured and mentioned above is available on Amazon and other online booksellers:  Brehony, Kathleen A:  Awakening at Midlife:  Realizing Your Potential for Growth and Change.  Riverhead Books, copyright 1996.  I just got into it, and it is a great read.