Yard Sale Documentation Project 6-30-12

It’s likely that you’ve seen one or two of the Chevy Chase “Vacation” movies. In one scene, dim-witted Randy Quaid shows off a prized possession to his big-city in-laws and proclaims, “That’s a fine quality item, Clark.”

Today was “fine quality item day” in yard sale world.

Kate was away for the weekend, so I was left to my own devices for the morning’s activity. While it’s not as much fun going it alone, it does afford the absolute focus on personal goals, which in my mind are paintings, art pottery, and anything of use in the garden.

The first sale opened at 7am, which should have been my first clue that we were dealing with real Mainers here. And I must say, this one might qualify as the single best yard sale of the season. (See YSDP 4-21-12 for the complete list of categories.)

First of all, the pile was huge; spread out over an expansive driveway overlooking the Scarborough Marsh, which at 7:30 on a summer morning is worth the trip right there.  Visitors were greeted by two cheery deeply-tanned women, probably in their early 70’s, who looked like they should be cover girls for Downeast Magazine.

Not only was the vibe friendly and warm, these lovely ladies were serving up free coffee and donuts. Normally I’m all about coffee and flour and sugar, but in this moment was too distracted by the goodies that were not edible.

The first thing to catch my eye was a rolled up rug (seen in the photo above), which I could see from the label was 5′ X 8′ and 100% wool; the price tag said $5. I looked for more zeros but couldn’t find any.

The next thing to capture my attention were 4 wooden window panels, the kind that create divisions in the windows where there really aren’t any. These things are great for the garden, for staking peas, or as a background trellis for winding traveling vines. I was thrilled to be informed that these were in the FREE pile.

It’s only 7:45am and my day’s already been made.

I leave with the rug, a free pad for the rug, the 4 free window panes, and this fine quality stainless steel spatula. I figure it’s gotta be all downhill from here.

However, the next stop had me wondering if I’d hit upon a genuine treasure.

My name is Jeanne and I have a pottery addiction. I LOVE art pottery…mostly the matte green — McCoy or Roseville or Haeger or Rookwood or Floraline, but the white stuff is nice too, and I do have some brown pieces… and a few yellow.  I also have some Swedish Hoganas, a few English pieces, and some Japanese pottery. I like pottery. But I’m at the point where it really has to be something special for me to buy it, since as you might imagine, there are quite a few pieces in the current collection.    

The piece pictured here could be a mediocre find or it could be truly spectacular. it all hinges on the mark at the base. (It might not have come home with me had it not been stamped.) I did some research, but it’s as yet inconclusive. If it’s Van Briggle or Greuby, it’s worth a bundle. If it’s a Roseville or Rookwood that’s good too. Whatever it is, at $2 it was special enough to take a chance.

Dan StaroffAn artist friend Dan Staroff sent me a print of one of his works, a Tree of Life pictured here. The frame shown above is the first step toward getting the piece hung in my office; next step: mat and glass. BTW, that’s a Larson Juhl frame, probably out of my price range under usual circumstances.

Another fine quality item!

One more home decor find to report, this handsome foot rest. As you can see, it perfect matches a chair that already sits in my home, one of my favorite pieces.  Now– I’m wondering if it’s possible that they were made by the same person, the similarities are so striking.  

The chair is hand-hewn, which can be seen in a up-close inspection of the woodworking. The foot rest bought today is obviously hand made and is unmistakably signed by its crafter. While it seems unlikely, the materials and date and style and scale of both are so similar that it does make me wonder if Mr. Robinson (a local Mainer?) made both pieces.

That’s one more project for the research department.

Here goes with today’s tally:

* 8′ X 5′ wool rug: $5
* Art pottery: $2
* Wooden foot rest: $5
* Fancy frame: $5
* Stainless steel spatula: 50 cents
* English plate: $1
* 4 window panels and a large non-skid rug pad:  FREE

Total spent: $18.50

I must say I did an excellent job of not ” buying just to buy” so as to take advantage of the multitude of high quality items out there today.


Yard Sale Documentation Project 6-23-12

This Saturday’s tour rates an “8.” Not because we scored any mind-blowing bargains but for the sheer amount of stuff that was out there at very reasonable prices. It was a good day to exercise that “don’t buy it unless you really need it” muscle.

Kate actually made the best deal of the day with this doll-sized high chair. Made of oak, sturdy and about 36″ tall, that and the green damask tablecloth were $10.

The eyeball-scorching pink thing is a child-sized memory foam-like booster seat (they apparently cost about $25 when new), and the stuff in the plastic bag is the Cookie Jar Bakery’s legendary oatmeal bread.  That brought Kate’s total expenditure for the day to $14.50.

I saw a lot of people I knew out there today. Jack (see linked blog from April 14th) was out and about; we ran into him at just about every sale we attend, most times seen flirting with some woman. We found ourselves poking through the belongings of a fellow-metaphysician, an astrologer and local radio personality. We also accidentally attended the sale of one of my very first Tarot clients.

This person lives on Victory Avenue, a name about which we chatted as we drove away from the sale. Kate thought it was a particularly nice name for a street, “Better than Downtrodden Lane,” she quipped without missing a beat.

The girl kills me.

People were doing some serious clearing out this weekend. If I’d been furnishing a new apartment or small house I would have been a happy saler today. Kate’s friend Whitney would have needed return trips to the ATM for more cash on a day like today.

Here’s my modest collection of things from the outing: you’ve gotta have architectural details if you can afford them, these two pilasters will probably end up in as garden ornamentation; a second attempt at the “floor protector for the office” dilemma, I’ve got a good feeling about this soft rubbery option which doesn’t have those evil pokey spikes that ruin your floors more than the chair itself would have; a lined basket for holding scarves in my well-organized closet; a bag of votive candles (can you ever really have enough of these?) and the pair of earrings which get special mention below.

My total for the day:  $12.

About those earrings: We had parked the car close to a young girl selling her wares: handmade earrings. Perched at the edge of her driveway, across the street from the neighbor who apparently had encouraged her to set up shop during her yard sale, the girl had about 30 pairs displayed on her table, each pair uniquely crafted and packaged in its own individual packet.

 At first glance it looked like the usual yard sale-related lemonade stand with its dicey offerings (see link), but there was something interesting about this girl.

Probably around 11 years old, she was sitting at her table so quietly and composed, no brothers or sisters or parents in sight, no ipod, no cell phone for texting, no book being read … just sitting there with her card table of stuff.

It wasn’t until I got home and really looked at the label on the packet that I became really impressed. A company name, a custom logo, her name right there taking ownership personally and responsibly… this girl had it together.

What a great example of the ability to manifest an idea, of putting in the time and effort to reach customers, of being proud of what you create, and putting a face to the product. Wow. I’ll be inspired by that girl’s spirit every time I wear these little beauties.

By now it must be abundantly clear — the day is about yard sale-ing and a whole lot more.

Five Things the Tarot Books Don’t Tell You

By the end of June I should have all the pieces of my master plan to take over the universe…. I mean my new marketing plan… in place:

*a complete set of video Tarot classes offering in-home Tarot classes hosted by moi,

*an ongoing monthly series of online webinars,

*a newly-designed and fab-if-I-do-say-so-myself website,

* a 5-piece class on Udemy called Learn Tarot 5-4-3-2-1.

Although the Udemy classes won’t be posted until next week, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at these classes via the first video in the series entitled, Five Things the Tarot Books Don’t Tell You. Even if you already know something about Tarot, I bet you’ll find something here you can use.

So — click on the link and enjoy this 10-minute video, and happy summer to everyone!

Yard Sale Documentation Project 6-16-12

It’s nearing the height of the season. The weather has been cooperating, and there are as many unadvertised sales as there are published notices for where to find a “Mega Yard Sale”, a “Cleaning Out Sale: 30 years in the Making” and a sale where “Everything must go.”

This is also the time of year when friends are apt to join us for the Saturday morning adventure. I really enjoy sharing the event with a newcomer, but I also feel the pressure of wanting to make sure they have a good experience, enjoy their morning, and come home with at least one prime score.

My friend of 20-years Janice was with us this week. She’s long heard the stories and admired the objects that have landed in my home over the years of my participation in this addiction …. I mean hobby.

On Thursday, when I asked her what she needed in the morning to be ready to go, she mentioned what fun it would be to go out to breakfast for eggs and home fries before heading out. Obviously I had not been clear that the bus leaves at 7:45am and if there are home fries to be had, they’re on one’s plate by 6:30.

“You are one serious yard sale mama.”

But, my friend Janice knows how to suck it up. Here she is having her breakfast(sans home fries) on my porch at 7:30am, all perky and ready to go…

… sort of.

Niether one of us are chirpy happy in the morning.

Janice was impressed by the quality neighborhoods we visited during this morning’s excursion. Yes, the home seen below can bring tears of joy to a yard-saler’s eyes but there is a catch: if you live in a house like this, your idea of a bargain might be vastly different from mine.

Although Kate and I each did pick up a few things here, Janice experienced this gap in perception around the value of a metal planter. Hard to imagine that a buck or two either way really makes a difference here, but apparently it does.

Also this morning we also had the dubious pleasure of exposing Janice to one of the perennial yard sale folk, “Bike Guy.”

While it is honorable that this guy spares the planet his gas emissions by riding his bike throughout the 10-mile radius in which he can be spotted on any given Saturday, the guy has the personality of a door  knob, not bothering to look through the things in a person’s sale but going directly to the owner with the same repetitious, flat-toned words every time. “Do you have any CD’s, DVD’s , records?”

Janice maybe thought we were exaggerating the lack of couth on this one, but she had the opportunity to witness the monotonous and somewhat rude speech not once, but at two different sales. Same approach, same missed opportunity.

In contrast, and I’m kicking myself for not taking her picture, we met a most gracious woman who allowed Janice and I to ogle and aahh over her adorable, well-preserved 1920’s bungalow. We were in a modest seaside neighborhood when the woman, catching my friend and I peering through her open door to see what beauty might be resting inside, invited us inside to share the joy.

Original woodwork, a stone and brick fireplace built by the home’s first owner, perfectly proportioned windows, all with  a sense of spaciousness and grace matching that of its current owner — original, authentic, and beautiful.

This is the sort of thing “Bike Guy” will never experience.

On to the haul for the day. Janice did go back to New Hampshire with some new valuables and rated her South Portland sale-ing experience as an “8.”

In addition to the things pictured here (a new pair of Merrill shoes, a pair of decorative shoe clips from the 40’s which will more likely serve as sweater closures or a scarf clasp — the things have serious teeth!– a book for Vera, a humongous pillar candle for use on the front porch, a small picture stand, and a mirrored hook for the bathroom) there are two “honorable mentions” from my stash.

The first is the mirror seen here, already in position between my dining room and living room. It’s said that mirrors in a dining space increase the sense of abundance at the table, and even though this one is high above, it makes a nice statement and is a lovely addition to the room.

The final object du jour is this painting by a local artist, Rick Hamilton. This is the second “Hamilton” to come into my home, Hamilton the First hangs in the kitchen, whereas this one found its home in the dining room. I just love the shapes, the colors, and the simple happiness this painting conveys. And it’s nice to support local artists, even if it is in the yard sale venue.

  So there you have it. Total cost for the day’s purchases: $17.50. And while Janice gave the day an “8” and I’m glad she was happy with it, I’d call it a “7.”

I don’t want to shoot the moon too early in the season.

Father’s Day and The Emperor

Those of us who live in the US will be celebrating Father’s Day this coming Sunday. Since I gave Mother’s Day a shout-out via The Empress, it’s only right that I do the same for Father’s Day and it’s flag bearer, The Emperor.

Card image from the Rider-Waite Tarot (C) US Games Systems Inc.

Immediately some of you just went, “Ugh.” Don’t bother denying it, I heard you.

In some ways, it’s easy to dislike The Emperor.  We can readily associate him with lots of despicable things: abuses of power, “Big Brother,” corporate greed, the outworn patriarchy, the mean Dad who won’t let you go to the prom with 21-year-old Bobbie who’s just dreamy, that boss who is a real prick.

The Emperor can be a real party pooper.

But, and here’s where I’m about to piss off some people, I’ve seen more than my share of Tarot decks that totally disregard the positive aspects of this character, relegating him (and his cohorts in the Tarot deck) to a position of “should be in jail” rather than holding his own within the essential archetypes, which is where he belongs.

In an effort to give voice to “the feminine,” one unbalanced system was replaced by a different but equally unbalanced system. This does none of us any good.

We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water on this one.  The “Archetype of the Father” is not something you can take a personal stand against and say, “No thanks.” If there is a cultural crisis in America it’s, in part, related to the lack of positive Father Archetypes available to us, to both children and parents, to both men and women.

We can’t internalize something which isn’t modeled for us, and when we throw out that bath water a lot of personal power goes along with it. Since this is a blog and not a larger format, I won’t go on and on to belabor the point; you get my drift.

And so in honor of Father’s Day, I’m putting out the challenge to embrace, model, and/or identify a positive aspect of The Emperor:

*Step into a leadership role
*Take command of a situation
*Be the person who makes a change for the better
*Stand up for something that’s important to you
*Build a structure around some chaos in your life
*Create a plan to fulfill a goal
*Be the captain of your own ship, the king of your castle.

Come on, I know you want to.

And if you really want to go big:

*Build something (a shelving unit, a house for the dog, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, it doesn’t matter)
*Start your own small business
*Create a nonprofit, a charity organization, a “Walk for Diabetes” fundraiser
*Become a real Big Brother
*Be a good partner and/or parent

It’s not a crime to own your personal power, but it is a crime to waste it.

And finally: if you have/had a father who actually stepped into the positive energy of The Emperor archetype, be very grateful. You are among the few that are so blessed.

Yard Sale Documentation Project 6-9-12

We’ve often observed that some days of yard saleing seem to have a theme, in that there might be a specific but obscure item that appears in several sales on the same day.

There have been Saturdays where every time you turned around you were being stalked by a gang of outdated globes. (Cue Psycho music.) Bowling balls are another “theme” item; these along with the globes would make for interesting lawn ornamentation, wouldn’t you say?

The list of other random articles which have appeared in weirdly consistent ways has included Waring blenders, Polish-made dinnerware, doggie costumes, and pizzelle makers.

Today’s theme, if you were to gauge it by what came home with me, was  “container day.”

I do love old suitcases, lord knows why. Part of it is the story in my mind regarding the owner, which in the telling tends to be a man: Where was the person going with this case? Was it used on business trips or for pleasure? Was he cheating on his wife? Was he a smoker? Did he have money or was he looking for it?

There are several old suitcases in my house already (it’s probably a good thing they can’t talk) and most of them are functional, serving as storage space for linens, old books, and miscellaneous Tarot decks that I just can’t seem to part with.

The one pictured above, picked up today, is a real beaut — olive-green fabric with leather trim. Only problem is that the locks are stuck and the thing can’t be opened, a situation I do hope can be remedied by my clever-with-tools son-in-law.

Even still, it’s lovely, especially at a price of $2.

At the very last sale of the day, while wending my way back home — always traveling by a different route in case I missed something by having gone the other direction on the way out — I happened upon what looked like an estate sale.

An unadvertised sale (do I need to say out loud that I spend time on Friday evening scoping out the listings in the newspaper and on Craig’s List, mapping out a route … this is serious business, people!), this looked to be an estate sale, with a lawn full of old tools, boxes of kitchen ware, piles of gaudy-colored afghans, and lots of pine and oak furniture. I should have taken a photo of the scene but I got out of the car too fast and it slipped my mind.

Ooo, another container, a wooden grocery box. I might have passed this by but for the wonderful paper label still intact, “Huston’s Biscuits Auburn Maine.” I Googled the name but nothing came up, making it likely that this small business went defunct or was bought up by a larger bakery in the area somewhere along the line.

The thing measures 12″ x 14″ x 9″ and has handles carved into the side of the box for easy portage. Happily, it hadn’t absorbed any funky smells along the way and it will now be used as a toy chest for my granddaughter.

This box has such character, and was a steal at $2.

If you have/had a favorite grandparent, or have any memories of your grandparents at all, the yard sale scene will take you on a trip down memory lane faster than anything I know.  Such was the case with the set of glass nesting bowls in the photo below.

It’s not like I NEED more bowls. There’s no such thing as a “set of dishes” at my house, it’s more an amalgam of various pieces that came in pairs or odd numbers from yard sales gone by. Somehow it all goes together, and these particular glass bowls were irresistible.

Firstly, all three in the set were intact.  Probably from the 40’s or maybe the 50’s, there’s not a scratch or a nick on them, embellished with a raised fruit pattern around the midsection of each one … I can picture green beans and cut corn at my Grandmother’s Thanksgiving table.

Had to have them.

Easily going for $20-$25 in an antique store, the sweet little estate sale lady was parting with them for $1.

The final container of the day is the Japanese porcelain box seen here. It doesn’t appear to “have age” but it is functional and has a nice presence. The porcelain box ($3) along with a new tablecloth ($1) and a maraca for Vera (40 cents) rounds out the tally for Saturday June 9th.

Total cost for the day: $9.40.

A morning’s entertainment, a hefty dose of nostalgia, my daily supply of vitamin D,  providing some neighbors with a little non-taxable income…it’s all good.

Tuesday’s Tiny Tarot Class 6-5-12: What if There is No Answer?

It could be an effect of the recent eclipses; or maybe the fact that much of the eastern half of the US has been getting pelted by rain for the last 4 days and we’re all feeling a bit soggy mentally as well as physically; or maybe it’s simply a factor within the particular people who are coming to my Tarot table.

Whatever the origin, there seems to be a significant “What the heck is going on right now” vibe in the air. Interestingly, the folks I”m seeing don’t seem to be especially bothered by this experience, but they are aware that things are shifting and are feeling unsettled by it.

With this in mind, and because my mind is a little soggy right now as well, I’ll share a paraphrased excerpt from my “Tarot Spreads and Layouts” book to address this situation in hopes of bringing some perspective to all of us who might be wondering, “What the heck is going on right now?”

“Important: Sometimes there is no answer.
How can this be, that there is no answer? It could be that the timing or the query is off, or an issue is not yet resolved on any level, and hence no information regarding it can be imparted.

When we hit a dead zone in a reading, the phrase “It is not yet written” often comes to mind. (In other words, it’s still in the works, somewhere out there in the universe.)

Lastly, we must remember that some questions are best left unanswered.

This is a hard thing for modern, thinking people to comprehend: that not all things are ours to know. Not all questions have answers, and not all that is knowable is available to us in any given moment. Our rational mind does not like this, but it’s true.

The best we can do is to knock on the door, question in hand, and hope that someone, someday, will open that door and greet us with guidance and clarity.”

Yard Sale Documentation Project 6-2-12

First rain-out of the season.

Sometimes this is a questionable call, waking up to a heavy sky and the threat of a few drips of rain. Trust me, we’ve been known to be out there on such a day.

Even late in the season when those drips have solidified into snowflakes instead of rain, if there is stuff in people’s yards we’re on it.

But today’s was no idle threat, with the 24-hour rainfall total nearing 2″.  Plus there was the wind.

The seekers will have to hold out until next weekend, finding other ways to spend the morning… no doubt a few closets got cleaned and organized, a long-delayed house project got the attention it deserved, and probably there were a few sleepers-in on this dismal Saturday morning.

Let’s not forget those folks who were hoping to rid themselves of a basement full of unwanted, unused, and outworn stuff, now forced to live amongst their debris until the weather clears.

A day such as this makes everyone concerned all the more willing to participate with renewed gusto next Saturday.

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