Sunday, August 28, 2005

movie stars and yard sales

It has become our custom to rise early on Saturday and go yard saling. I read a zine called something like "trash to treasure," written by a yard sale enthusiast who attempted to describe various yard sale types, behavior of yard sailors (my term), and general what-can-I-expect? information. She missed a few things, but it was good overall, and I hope I haven't lost it. I'd like to include her url here. Well, maybe later. We are the classic yard sale couple: my husband looks at bikes and tools, I look at stuff. I love stuff. My favorite new saying:
You Can't Have Everything.... Where Would You Put It?
But this does not deter me. I try to follow the "one thing in, one thing out" rule of clutter management, but it kind of goes like this: One giant box of unsorted linens in, one broken coffee cup out. So from the perspective of mass alone, I fail. But if you've been reading along, I am no stranger to failure. I embrace it.
Okay, so what did we find on our tour yesterday? I know you're wondering.
The great thing is finding a real yard sale. By my definition, a real yard sale is one where you can get a Picasso for a quarter. Everything should cost a quarter. "How much is that?" A quarter. Now that's a yard sale. It's where the hosts are nothing but willing to make that deal. And negotiating the price is important. If they tell you the price is five dollars, and you don't ask if they'll take three, you're just not trying very hard.
The Find: For about 30 years I've been looking for a certain print. It is of a three-masted ship in a storm at night. You know the one. It's famous. And I've never found one for sale.
Until yesterday.
We drive by this yard sale in Sellwood, and there is cool shit strung from curb to porch: old shit. And I wonder if this is a yard sale or an antique sale. There is a big difference. In an antique sale they have the same stuff, but know its resale value. These guys had no idea. I always wonder why yard sales are held. There are, in my time-tested opinion, three valid reasons to have a yard sale: clutter, moving and death. This one seemed like death. A woman died, I'm betting. She, if alive, would never have sold this stuff.
So there at curbside is my painting. Now, it is not in mint condition, but I don't care. There it is. I love it. I must have it. It is in a cheesy gold frame that is held tenuously together with pink ribbon. We coast to the curb and I jump out of the truck as quickly as I can, before someone else will scoop up my treasure. Finally, I have it in my hands. My painting. My ship on a stormy sea. You can just see the moon through the clouds. One light on deck. I think they are coming home.
So I ask the guy how much for the painting. He considers my question, says, "Eight dollars." I would pay eighty, but he doesn't know this. "How 'bout five," I counter. "It's pretty trashed." He agrees. I hand him five bucks, squealing with internal joy.
I have so much shit that it is tough to make me this happy with material stuff. I have everything I want. Except this painting. And now I have it. My world is complete.
There was other great stuff, but not in the same category. And the painting is trashed. I'll have to reframe it. Clean it up a bit. No problem. I am inspired.
So off we went to Lake Oswego. Downtown Lake Oswego is the Rodeo Drive of the metro area. All of the well-tended people, just out of therapy, crowd street cafes, the lakefront. All too posh. We wanted to buy from the rich and, well, that's it. That's what we wanted to do. But it is such a protected community that they don't allow garage sale signs unless you use their own: a nicely designed, circular sign with print so small you'd have to slow down to find out where to go. We concluded that these guys don't sell, they donate.
So we left.
On the way out of town was a huge sale. They are identifed as such: Big Sale, Huge Sale, Gigantic Sale. I wonder what kind of turn out we'd get if I posted something like: "Smallish Sale, Okay Stuff That We Don't Want But Will Sell To You For As Much As We Can Get." I just wonder.
So there we were, picking amongst the ruins of someone else's life, going through the Christmas decorations and tupperware. We began to negotiate for a convection oven, the one designed by the Galloping Gourmet. It was only ten bucks. There were three women who seemed to be hosting the sale, one very old with Beverly Hills makeup: heavy too-tan base, false eyelashes and heavy liner. Her hair a Marilyn style platinum wig, her breasts high and firm. And very big. Looking great for an eighty year old woman. I don't know how we got on the subject, but she began telling us that she used to be the girl who held the curtain back for the Jackie Gleason Show. Turns out she was an old Hollywood actress, had hung out with Sinatra, had doubled for Marilyn Monroe. You could tell at a glance that she was once a stunning woman and had defied gravity to stall time. Her name was Lisa Hall. She need us, strangers, to know who she had been. And it made me think of all the people I have been, and how important they all are to me. I listened to her, and thanked her for her stories. I do love a story.
That is one of the great things about yard saling: The human beings. Like the guy who quoted the prices like this. "Two bits." I asked him what that meant. It is a quarter. I knew that, somewhere in my distant childhood memory. I could almost hear my father and my uncle, both long gone, who described value in the same way. Like the woman who sold us her radiant orange TREK while telling us about her back injury and subsequent use of Methadone. Or the old woman and her daughter Janice ("a little slow but not retarded") who sold her 6 speed bike because it made her nervous.
Anyway, there is so much to tell, but I'm tired of typing and the grandkids are up. It is Sunday morning on Clinton Street and there must be a sale somewhere.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I don't know if it is true that you can't go home again, but I know that the times I have tried, it hasn't worked out that well. Transition is a funny thing. For instance, I swore I'd never marry the man I am so happy to be married to, then, suddenly, it was the only thing that made sense. I never believed (another example) that I could buy a house, that I was a lifelong renter, that I was in that category, that there are two kinds of people in the world: owners and renters, like lords and serfs, and I was a serf by birth. But I bought my sweet little house. I vowed I would never move, that it was MY HOUSE, my one and only house. I decried the real estate whores who buy only to sell again, who have no sense of home or place.... but love and distance combined and I have moved, only I then vowed never to sell. But now, I have sold my house, and at a tidy profit, and when I was in the valley this weekend, I stopped by for one last walk through while it is still mine.

I'm not sure now what I expected, but I think it did help me along toward closure of a distant-seeming period of my life. I walked through the house and looked at the kitchen, the perfect cottage kitchen that I designed on graph paper. I stared at the two perfect colors of green paint I mixed by hand because I just couldn't find the right swatch at Home Despot. I mixed the dark wall paint three times before I got it right.

I walked through the rooms where I spent the last years of my single life, the life I was certain would always be mine alone. And it was hard to be single that long. But the thing about the passage of time is that all of that banging against the walls of what is, what is, what is.... eventually finds acceptance. And that acceptance seems to be the key that opens the door to what is next.

And this is next.

Retrospect is good for the soul. I walked through my back yard and told Elinor, the girl who lives in my house, that my dog Spencer is buried in the far back corner and that if she plowed it up, there would be a gray wool blanket wrapped around old bones. I told her that the Peace rose in the opposite corner of the yard was planted for my mother and that the ornamental cherry tree was for my brother Marc when he died. I told her that my son built the winding rock path that leads to nowhere, and that the gardens weren't always there.

I needed someone to know. I didn't need her to care, but someone needed to know. It is how I am certain that I was there.

I have disappeared from that life, and selling my house makes it complete. But like deals are, it is not done, and the chickens are not counted.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Today is Sid's first birthday!! We got him peanut butter dog cookies and a new cloth frisbee. He was the hit of the Hosford pack, as usual.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Weekend one:
My ordinary quiet Sunday morning on Clinton Street was punctuated by the high-decibel rant from the nutbag that lives next door. It had been going on all night, and by morning, I was ready to call the police. A drunk crazy man with a knife is what the police are all about. So they took him away in cuffs, and told me they'd only keep him for about four hours. Just long enough to really piss him off. He'll be back, I'm sure.

My truck has been keyed three times lately, and my neighbor Sarah (the sane one, on the sane side of our house) just had her car windows blasted out. We want to move to the hills. While talking to Sarah about crime in the neighborhood, I discovered that she designs Pendleton blankets for a living.

Weekend two:
We drove to the beach. I wanted to get out of dodge for a night, so we stayed with friends in Newberg, then headed out early saturday for the coast. I'm still in lots of pain, and things like riding in a car and turning while sleeping really get me down, so it was a short trip. There and back. Occasionally I just need to see the water moving in and out, mind of its own, to remember yet again, that I am an ant on a log, moving down a raging river. Occasionally, I believe I can steer the log, effect its movement in some way, but one glimpse of the ocean and I remember my place in the great scheme of things. I am here.

Some things I saw this weekend:
In Tillamook, the highschool ball team is called "the Cheesemakers." I think this is an unnecessary bow to industry. The least sporty team name I've run across. "Go Cheesemakers!!" Really.

We were walking on Hammond Beach and happened across a washed up bridal bouquet, lavendar ribbons and lace, tying lilies and has-been daisies into a sodden wad, washed up on the bank where the Columbia meets the sea. Now there is fodder for a mini-series if I ever saw one. I'll write it. My husband wants to move to Hammond and open a restaurant called Hammond Eggs, beside it, an all cotton clothing store called Cotton Fever. Old Junkies. Whatcha gonna do?

And speaking of eggs, we drove far and wide to find the perfect place for breakfast. Our goal was to find fare similar to that of the yuppie haven Henry's (down the street) with roasted red potatoes, perfect eggs, toasted hard sour dough, homemade freezer jam.... nestled in a cove on the Oregon coast. But we did not find it. We had bad ham, bad eggs and no choice in bread. White. White bread. Old white bread. In Garibaldi.

On another note: My son is legal for the first time in about 10 years. I've encouraged this, based on the Dylan (Bob) quote: "You gotta be honest to live outside the law." So, he can drive now, only it takes a breathalyzer to start his car. That brings the family disease into stark relief for me. Heartbreaking. He is trying to figure out now how many beers before it kicks in.... Of course, I have offered the unheardof suggestion: You could always NOT DRINK. But in my family, that is akin to treason. We Drink.

I bleached the shit outta my hair.