A couple of years ago, when I was living in Chicago, I spent a Sunday afternoon strolling the neighborhood garage sales and buying as much as I could carry back to my house for as much money as I had in my pocket which was/is never more than $11. I spend a lot of Sunday afternoons doing this and, since I’ve recently become unemployed, I imagine I’ll spend a lot of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons doing it too. But on this particular Sunday, on a tiny corner of a picnic table, was a dirty plastic bag of film negatives with no price-tag. The garage salesman didn’t even look like he recognized them, so he gave them to me for free. It slightly resembled the scene from “Little Shop of Horrors” when Seymour finds Audrey 2. Da doo.
Shang da doo.
“Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast and her crawling shakes it all over…” – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
It was 1 AM on Sunday, November 7. But really it was 12 AM…or 2 AM. The time change always screws me up. So there I was, awake in bed,waiting for my husband-to-be to return from a late-night band gig, and that’s when-as the late great Shel Silverstein would say–the Whatifs crawled inside my ear. What if the dandelion wine we’re serving at our first Thanksgiving is awful? What if the duct-taped rearview mirror on our car falls off? I settled on: What if I left the coffee maker on at work and the building is currently burning down? Yep, that should sufficiently keep me up for the rest of the night.
After googling “Can a Mr. Coffee burn a building down?” (you can find pretty much whatever answer you want to find) for a bit, I decided to put my anxiety about becoming an accidental arsonist to good use by making some cocoa almonds, a delicious snack I saw in a cookbook that I’ve forgotten the title of (but I’ve added the recipe below). However, as I was standing in my well-lit kitchen at 2 AM (or 1 AM or 3 AM), I noticed we had no curtain on our kitchen window and, of course, immediately began to worry that some creep was watching me coat my nuts in chocolate. Well, it’s only 2 AM (or 1 AM or 3 AM), never too late to make curtains! This way it would make an interesting police report when they arrested me for burning my workplace down: “The suspect was found humming to Patsy Cline and sewing a long curtain to hang next to her oven, presumably so that she could then set her own apartment on fire.”
I take things.
If I have to, I’ll pay for them. But I prefer to discover them in a cardboard box, on someone’s porch, even on the ground. No, especially on the ground. It just feels better than seeing something on a shelf next to thirty of it’s twin sisters and brothers. If Target or Macy’s wants more of my business, they should start leaving home appliances and lady’s accessories on the sidewalk between my apartment and the park. It’s where I do the majority of my shopping.
I get a new glimmer in my eye every summer: it happens the first time I see a handwritten sign taped to a telephone pole: “Garage Sale: Fri/Sat 9-4:30”. The sexiest words I’ve ever read. Besides being the most fun, garage sales are a collector’s dream, not to mention a home away from home for cheapskates. As both a cheapskate and a junk collector, I treat yard sale season as a holiday.
To kick of this summer of scouring my neighbor’s backyards and garages, I thought I would post pictures of just a few of the treasures I have happened upon in years past. I’ve found beautiful scarves, furniture (my couch!), fabric and old books aplenty. In fact, I have to look pretty hard around my house to find something that I actually bought new. Here are some of my fave finds: