Monday, March 9, 2015

Early American Yard Sale - Part 1

Life has been incredibly quiet recently, as LC and I have been mired in the banal and tedious.
With late February and early March temperatures in the mid to upper 50's we have continued to tear down a greenhouse that was both badly constructed and badly weathered.
Endless trips throughout the yard as we find new homes for seemingly endless wheelbarrows-full of dirt.   Filling in low spots in a yard that was not graded properly during the time when it should have been graded properly, and continuing to smooth out dirt from an 8 foot irrigation trench that was unceremoniously (but necessarily) cut through the middle of the back yard a month or so ago.
Searching for good used dryers and VCR/DVD players when both died within days of each other.
Exploring trying to trade our 16 foot camper for something smaller and lighter, and then quickly tiring of the effort after too many liars, beat up campers, and hidden catastrophic camper-accidents were uncovered..
We'll keep what we have and thanks anyway.
And finally beginning to paint the exterior of the house, which has likely not been painted since the time it was built in the 70's.
One day soon a faded yellow house will be a neutral brown house.............

Some random pictures of some random things inside our house..............

The mask is sitting on the wall in LC's office slash computer room, and when I look at the picture above it makes me smile.
I found it sitting on the ground in the bushes of an elderly lady who lives here in Atomic City.
It was deeply weathered and not in a good way, and I knew when I looked at it that it was one long forgotten relic that would simply continue to lay exactly where it had laid for years until the time when it simply turned to dust.
I had already gotten the little row boat from the woman after helping to move nasty boxes filled with moldy things from a damp storage trailer to her living room (Yuk), and as I walked back to my truck (that was parked in her driveway) I bent down and picked up this worn and weathered thing.
It was faded.   It had been colorfully painted at some point but very little of the paint remained and the surface was beginning to crumble away just a little.
Turning it over I looked at the back side of the mask, idly wondering if the thing could be saved.
I didn't know.
Walking back to the womans' front door I knocked loudly, and when she finally appeared I told her that I had found this in the yard.
Did she want it?  No she didn't.
Could I have it?  Yes I could.
Quickly thanking her I walked back to the truck with my new find, wondering if I had found a piece of junk that would eventually be tossed into the garbage can in the garage, or if I could save it.
Suddenly I felt like my son Chris, who (as a little boy) would regularly come home carrying some treasure or other that he had found in a junk pile or in a garbage can sitting alongside the road.  
(How many times did I tell a little boy to "Don't bring that thing in the house - take it outside!")?
After some light sanding, a couple of coats of stain and some clear coat, I realized with satisfaction that we had given new life to a beautiful wooden mask.................

The Great Northern Railway sign sits on the wall in our kitchen.
It is faded and chipped and on old wood boards.  I bought it at a very low price and love it............
An old metal squirrel (also in our kitchen) that was bought at a yard sale years ago in Tennessee.
I look around the house and it is decorated in decor that could only be described as "Early American Yard Sale".
I also look around the house and realize that it is a history of our lives over the past few years, with things purchased in Tennessee, Alaska, Wyoming and Idaho..............
A picture of moose partially hidden in the trees.
Without consciously thinking about it, themes have naturally developed in terms of how we are decorating the house.
Lots of browns, blacks and greens.
A whole lot of "cowboy" and a whole lot of wild animals (bear, moose, elk, squirrel, owls and eagles and antlers).
The picture is big and beautiful, and hangs over the love seat in the living room..............
I bought this old fireplace cover probably fifteen years ago, and have stead-fastly dragged this stupid thing all over the country.
It is made of cast iron, probably weighs 30 pounds or more and now sits on the wall beside our wood stove in the living room...............
My favorite picture.
It's big and fancy and a gallery grade piece of art by a known artist, and whenever I look at it in the living room it pleases me because it is beautiful.
I bought it very cheaply from a young man in Cody not long before we moved to Idaho.
He was trying to sell most of his belongings so that he could finance a move back to Georgia where his family lived, and I never expected to own something like this.................
And then there's my $2 painting.
I was at a yard sale a very long time ago and picked up this painting on canvas to admire it.
I loved all the different shades of green.  The coming storm.  The elderly man and young girl silently walking down the middle of the dirt road.
The flash on my camera makes the picture appear brighter than it actually is, and even though the mood of the picture is dark, the painting still speaks to me in that way that art has a way of doing.
Still holding the painting I turned to the owner and asked how much it was.
She told me $20 and as I returned it to its resting place on the ground and leaning against an old chair, I regretfully told the lady that I couldn't afford that.
I couldn't afford it, and after putting it back I continued wandering around the yard sale, the painting already forgotten.
A few minutes later the lady asked me if I would like to buy it for $2.
One more thing that I have also carefully dragged all over the country.
Last year LC made a wood frame for it, and it now hangs in the hallway..................
Two black and white nature pictures - one bought at a yard sale and one bought at a Goodwill store................
There is a 20 acre piece of property on the outskirts of town that is owned by one of our neighbors.
The empty piece of raw land is filled with.............junk.   Lots of junk.  Endless piles of junk.
Wood, brick, glass, cinder block, tires, broken windows, you name it and it is likely there somewhere.
The elderly man (for well over 20 years apparently) has wanted to clear that piece of land, but has never gotten around it, and likely never WILL get around to it.
But in the meantime he told us that we were welcome to take anything that we wanted from the land that we thought we could use.
We used a couple of old doors in the house (after so many coats of paints that those doors are probably bullet proof at this point).
We used a lot of wood - some for the inside of the house, some for the storage building we built in the back yard last fall, some of it cut up and burned in our wood stoves over this past winter.
One day last spring LC and I were digging through a pile of.........junk..........and I saw something flat and metal that was half buried in the dirt.
Bending down I fully expected it to be one more piece of random and rusted and useless metal.
Only it wasn't.
It was this Indian on horseback.
I don't know exactly what this thing was originally.  I wish that it wasn't broken.  
But I instantly fell in love with it.
Surprised and delighted at my unexpected find, I called LC over to look at it.
As he got closer he asked me what it was and I extended my hand to show him.
And just like a little kid I good naturedly smiled at my Mountain Boy and informed him "It's mine - I found it - you can't have it!"
He smiled back at me, and a week later it had been cleaned up a little, screwed to a piece of wood, and now hangs on the wall in LC's "cowboy bathroom"..................
Two more pictures in the cowboy bathroom.
The first one is done by the same artist as the huge cowboy picture in the living room, although when we bought it at a yard sale in Cody we did not know that at the time............

The Indian painting on horseback and chasing a buffalo was done on canvas and then glued to sheet rock.
LC made a rustic frame for it..................
It goes with nothing but I like this painting very much.
I found it at a yard sale in Tennessee and it was painted by the son of the woman holding the yard sale.
Why would someone sell her sons' old painting?  Who knows?
But I paid a quarter for it....................

A picture that I took while spending a week in Sitka Alaska.
I remember the very moment I took this picture.
The day was cold and drizzling, misty and grey (just as most of the other days were during my stay).
I was standing in the middle of a bridge that separated two islands, and these two homes where located on a small point out in the water close to the bridge.
LC was in Alabama, I missed the boys, I hated my job, the world was closing in around me and I felt as lonely and sad as anyone was capable of feeling..
It was the week of Thanksgiving 2010, and I spent a week away from Juneau wandering aimlessly, exploring endlessly, moving tirelessly.
But I liked Sitka very much......................
One day about six months ago I saw a posting on a local online classifieds site.
It was for a very large picture of two cowboys riding their horses downhill in the rain.
The second hand store that had the picture posted wanted $100 for it, and although I liked the picture very much I could not justify the expense.
100 bucks for something we did not need was not doable and so I put the picture out of my mind.
A couple of months later LC and I were in Idaho Falls.  We were going to the same second hand store to purchase a chop saw and by that time I had completely forgotten about the picture.
Walking into the store for the first time I was less than impressed.  
It was a dirty, dusty, disorganized store filled with piles of random things seemingly tossed everywhere.
While LC talked to the owner of the store and looked over the chop saw, I aimlessly wandered around the filled-to-the-rafters store intrigued by nothing that I saw.
LC bought the chop saw.  It was brand new, he got it for a very good price and happily walked out of the store for a few minutes to load his new tool into the back of the Tahoe.
As I headed for the door I looked down and (lying on the floor between a book shelf and a chair) I saw the picture below.
Bending down I pulled the picture out from its hiding place so that I could take a better look at it, and by the time LC walked back into the store I had pulled out the other two pictures as well, each picture larger than the previous one.
The first picture was uninspiring and the picture of the three horses was beautiful.
The third (and largest picture) was the same picture I had seen online a couple of months earlier.  
I had forgotten all about it.
Standing them all up against random pieces of sorry looking furniture, LC and I carefully regarded the three pictures.
We looked at the pictures and then looked at each other.  And then looked at the pictures again and looked at each other again.
$125 later we walked out with all three pictures.
I don't think that the first picture is anything special (although it was professionally framed and we both like the colors).
The second one I am still trying to find information on.
The third picture is a famous picture and really is something special.
They now all hang on walls in our master bedroom...............
LC and I were driving in the mountains outside of Cody WY during the summer of 2011 when we pulled into a gravel parking area that overlooked the valley below.
LC, Jamie and I wandered around the overlook, and I snapped many pictures of the valley that was surrounded in every direction by mountains.
After a few minutes LC and I sat on a large boulder talking and relaxing on a beautiful day, in a beautiful place, and then I looked down at the ground.
Something was half buried in the dirt almost right by my feet.
Curious, I bent down, dug around the object with my hand and finally moved enough dirt out of the way to be able to pull it up.
It was this little plastic figure.
He is only about five inches tall, and looks as though he would have made a great gag gift for a dentist, so what he was doing half buried in the dirt in a pull-off in the mountains, I have no idea.
He was curious and outrageously whimsical and he made me smile.
And so we kept him.....................
A shelf made from salvaged wood from our neighbors' junk piles, and that is filled with old tools that we have collected at yard sales over the years...................
One of two antlers that I have found while walking with Kory out in the desert over the past year................
I was walking with Chris and our dog Roxy not long after we had all moved from Canada down to Tennessee.
It was the day after a storm, and on this calm morning I wandered along the edges of a lake with my youngest boy and the small dog that he had chosen as his own from the local animal shelter.
It must have been in fall because the ground under our feet was covered with wet leaves.
Chris must have stepped on it initially because all of a sudden he bent down and felt for something buried in the leaves.
When he stood up he had this old wooden rudder in his hands.
We looked at it enthusiastically, both of us excited at such a cool and unexpected find.
I love the shape of it, the color of it, the texture of it.
And I have always loved that my young son was the one to find it, and that he gave it to me as a gift.
One more thing that has followed me all over the country................
When LC, Jamie and I went to Bonners Ferry to see Chris in the fall of 2013 I wandered into a second hand store that was located right across the road from the motel where we were all staying.
There was not much of interest in there and just as I was getting ready to walk out of the store I instead impulsively wandered into a section of brightly color toys.
On a shelf I found a sandwich bag filled with what looked like wooden puzzle pieces but I couldn't tell what the puzzle was all about.
Opening the bag I laid the pieces out on a shelf trying to figure out what the pieces actually made.
It was an eagle.
Paying 25c for the puzzle pieces I brought them home with me, put them together, glued them to a piece of scrap wood that we had stained, and now the whole thing hangs on the wall in the living room by the front door................
Old wooden spools in the kitchen window...................
While waiting for LC and Jamie to join me in Juneau in the summer of 2010, I one day went on a whale watching tour.
I had a great time, loved every minute of the morning, and took endless pictures of both whales and other sea life.
Such a great time.
After the trip was done I climbed into the death-trap of a car that I had bought very cheaply up there and headed towards home.
On the spur of the moment I pulled into the campus of the University of Alaska and followed the yard sale signs until I reached the dorms.
I bought the Red Moose Inn sign at that yard sale.
It hung on the wall outside the home that we were renting in Juneau.  
And then it hung on the wall outside the home that we were renting in Cody.
When it was finally put up on the wall outside our home in Tennessee, I remember looking at it wistfully and dearly hoping that it would stay up there for a very long time.
It didn't................................

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