Sunday, March 22, 2015

Early American Yard Sale - Part 2

We bought a fixer-upper of a house in a town where few people wanted to live because of the isolation and the lack of amenities.
For a long while after we moved into this house we painted and decorated inside, trying to bring faded and aged and dirty creme walls to life with new color and texture.
Between what we had, what we found, what we repurposed and what we bought used from a multitude of sources, we succeeded (although there are still projects to do) in making the inside comfortable.
Both LC and I knew that we would very quickly need to do something with the outside of the house.
The building was constructed in painted wood siding over cinder block, and the siding was in very rough shape.
The cheapest option was to paint, and so we painted.
And painted.
And painted.
In some kind of weird color that I cannot remember the name of off hand, but which looks sometimes light brown, sometimes sage green, and sometimes medium grey depending on the light and the time of day.
LC rolled, and I used a brush to paint the hundreds of lines that were on the siding.  
So many lines so little time.  
Lines to the left of me, lines to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.  
Lines?  I got a million of 'em.
Lines enough to get tendinitis.
The back of the house was in the worst condition and it took three coats.  The rest of the house took two, and now it is almost done but not quite.
There are still..........more lines.  Lines very high and that will require a tall ladder and a good deal of initiative and balance.
Fewer lines that are low, that my question mark shaped back could no longer handle after spending too much time day after day hunched over.
Once a lot of the painting had been done LC and I began to cut and stain new wood and replace all of the frames around the windows.  
The frames look great but only serve to highlight the really old and ugly windows, and the really old and ugly screens that are complete with dust, the odd paint stain from the previous owners, and don't forget the odd pieces of scotch tape haphazardly placed over holes.
Nobody who ever lived in this house ever cared whether they over-sprayed, used a brush to inadvertently over-paint, used scotch tape to cover a screen hole.
Once most of the painting was done and most of the window frames were replaced, we got the bright idea to cut and stain more lumber and replace all the chipped and gnarly (and sometimes rotted) corner posts around the house.
Over the span of a very long week we moved from peeling and faded yellow house to a beige-sage-grey house.
And we moved from ugly, industrial brown window frames (LC and I joked that it was probably the only color paint the previous owners could steal un-noticed from the Secret Squirrel Lab) to stained natural wood frames.
There is still more to do.  
But the exterior looks a lot better, is structurally sounder, and will hold up (without the need for replacement) for a few years.
The exterior still needs prettying up though.
What to do.......what to make it look homier and welcoming and not such a blank canvas?
Not sure yet, but I'll figure it out..................

The house we lived in up in Juneau was 30 miles from town in an area known locally as "Out the Road".
One day I was walking close to home with our sweet dog Jamie and passed by a pile of junk that one of the local residents had haphazardly thrown at the end of his driveway.
This weather-worn paddle was laying half-hidden in the pile.
Looking around me to make sure that no-one was watching, I walked closer to the pile and then bent down to take a closer look at the paddle.
Some of the yellow paint remained, but mostly the finish was gone.
Turning it over in my hands I realized that I really liked this dumper-diving find, and after knocking on the home owners door and getting the nod, I walked home with my new find
I never repainted it, but did oil it and now it hangs on the wall above the very heavy fireplace grate that I bought at a yard sale in Tennessee..............
The tall wooden owl, the cast iron horse head, and the old wood box (that contains old shaving gear) were all yard sale finds in Tennessee..................
Not long after me, my two boys and my second husband moved down to Tennessee I went to a yard sale and saw the two pewter goblets that are on the top shelf in this picture.
They were heavy, sturdy, smooth, hard feeling objects in my hand and I regarded them for a few minutes, drawn to them but not really knowing why.
It cost me $4 for the two of them and I drove home pleased with my unexpected find.
That was almost 20 years ago now, and in that time I have somehow managed to amass about 50 different pieces of pewter from yard sales and thrift stores.
They were all equally as cheap as my first two mugs, and I have no idea whether any of them are old and actually worth any money or if they're all just junk.
It doesn't really matter.  They look nice on shelves and they please me.
The fact that they are indestructible has been an added bonus over these past years of moving far too far and far too wide...............
A wolf print from Tennessee, a multi-purpose tool from Alaska, and a rock tool from Idaho..............
Another one of those collections that was unplanned and that developed seemingly out of nowhere.
Stoneware crocks are not difficult to find in the south, and I bought my first one at a yard sale not long after moving down to Tennessee.
These ones are on a small shelf in the bedroom, but the rest (25 or so) are all in the living room.
I doubt if I have spent $150 on all of them.
They are rugged and rustic and utilitarian, and are in all the shades of brown and beige and creme and black that I seem to gravitate towards when it comes to decorating the house................
My Alaska bear rock.............
I don't know what to believe in.
I haven't known what to believe in for a long time now.
But I like the sign anyway...................
This dusty wood mask is hanging on the wall in LC's office.
It is heavy and crudely carved out of one piece of wood, and it spoke to me for some compelling reason that I don't take the time to question.................
I bought this huge swan at a yard sale in Tennessee many years ago.
It made its way safely all the way to Alaska, and then safely made its way to Wyoming, back to Tennessee, back to Wyoming and then over to Idaho.
It was sitting on the kitchen table and a few months after Kory found her way into our lives she learned that she could jump up onto the table to see out of the kitchen window.
When I came back into the house my wood table was scratched, one of the chairs was scratched, and the swan was laying in two pieces on the floor.
Swan had safely traveled all away across the country three times, but was no match for our new puppy.
LC glued his broken neck, and he now sits in a place safe from the youthful energy of a dog named Kory..............
A total dumpster dive find..............
A friend that I was working with in Tennessee found this in a park one day during the summer.
When she pulled into the parking lot of our main work building she pulled it out of the truck and showed it to me, and I admired it greatly.
It was a cast iron door stop in the shape of a cat, and was a weird and eclectic combination of paint and rust.
It was so ugly it was beautiful.
 The woman came to a Christmas party at our house many months later.
It was my last Christmas in Tennessee.  I was scheduled to start a new job on January 9th only a couple of  weeks later.
I was scared.  I was excited.  I was hopeful.  I already missed everyone and everything that I was leaving behind and I had not even left yet.
There were a lot of people at the house for that party, and everyone had brought low cost gifts that were placed under the tree.  The kind of generic gag-gifts that you buy for co-workers who would draw numbers and pick a package.
The lady told everyone that her gift was specifically for me.
When my number finally came up I reached under the tree and picked up a large, flat, heavy box.
Intrigued, I quickly unwrapped the gift.
It was the cat.
I had liked the cat.  The woman remembered that I liked that cat.  And she gave it to me many months later as I was getting ready to leave everything and everyone that I knew.
I'll never forget her kind gesture..
It sits by the fireplace in the living room now.
And it is still so ugly that it's beautiful.........................
There was about a year after we first moved down to Tennessee when money was very tight.
My husband at the time was not making a lot of money, and my immigration status was still not finalized yet so I could not work.
There was occasionally money enough to pick up some odds and ends at yard sales, but even those kinds of trips were few and far between.
We lived in an upper middle-class area about 30 minutes north of Nashville, and (as it turns out) upper middle-class people throw away some very nice things.
Like the wooden sled in the picture further up in this blog post.
And like these wooden boxes.
I picked these up on the side of the road during three separate dumpster diving excursions and have had them for a very long time now.................
Left on the wall in the mudroom by the previous owners of this house................
LC and I bought two newer tractor sprinklers at two different yard sales last summer, and they cover the entire back yard.
This one is the real deal though - heavy, old, slightly rusted, most of its original paint, beautiful.
It sits in a corner of the living room..................
I bought these two rabbits at a yard sale in Tennessee years ago, and they always made me smile because they were both as cute as hell and because they reminded me of the boys.
Cute, goofy, always happily wandering through life, all the while keeping one eye on each other in that semi-competitive way that two boys close in age have with each other...................

Do we own things, or do they own us??...........My friend M&M (previously from Tennessee - now in Arizona)

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