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Saturday, January 28, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO! (Jan. 28, 2012)

On a warm turquoise-skied Saturday morning I hopped into the truck and headed west. To the beach? Nope. A gorgeous day like this is the perfect day for…garage sales.

What??!! Isn’t Sarah allegedly on a downsizing mission? Why, yes. In fact, I brought things to the thrift store twice this week. I haven’t gone to a garage sale in many months. But today I decided I would check out an estate sale. I’d gotten a good night of sleep. I’d stretched before hand. I’d taken my vitamins. Braving an estate sale would require stamina, an alert mind, quick reflexes.

I found the house easily. To an extent, all garage sales look the same: as though the owners pulled their drain plug, allowing the house to leak its contents onto the driveway, revealing a little bit of this, some of that, and who knows what else.

A quick scan of the garage and then it was inside to see what lay within. Although seriously, I do want to own less stuff, I am an artist after all, and the kind of art I do sometimes involves smashing ceramics for mosaic creations. Maybe I’d find something to use in an art piece. The kitchen had some ceramic sugar bowls and plates but nothing that screamed at me. Other rooms held furniture, knick-knacks and picture frames. As I glanced into two bedrooms, I feel a little uncomfortable tromping through someone else’s house, as though as I’m spying on them. Garage saling involves the quick determination of whether I want something. But who am I to judge another person’s stuff (indeed their life) as good, bad or ugly? It’s a weird experience to see the most private rooms of a stranger’s house. You can’t help but form a quick opinion about their style, and I don’t like making judgments about people. But garage sales require you to make choices.

Estate sales are generally at households where the same person has lived for decades, and sometimes these houses feel like time capsules. Their bathroom wallpaper is the original 1960s pattern. Their kitchen, their furniture, everything is from another era. Sometimes it’s just depressing to me. Other times it means I find a treasure, since I love old stuff. This family has lived here for forty years, and they have tons of everything: cloth napkins, jewelry, tools. I feel like an archeologist, digging through piles and forming theories about who lived here. In the garage I sift through vintage beaded purses, hand-made shawls and other special items. I’m momentarily tempted but try to be strict with myself, really considering whether I’d use these things or whether I’m simply appreciating their craftsmanship. It’s the latter, so I move on. I find a tiny ceramic container that would be interesting in a mosaic. Then I see an item I’m very tempted by. Since I always have my camera with me, I take a photo. It is so ME. It’s quirky and playful and it calls to me. It’s a purse, smallish, maybe eight inches tall, a woman's head and face. But I need a big purse and I’m not sure I’d ever use it. It’s so FUN, though! Somehow the practical part of me reins and I leave it for another person to discover and love.

Stepping into the back yard, I gaze way, way back to the end of the yard. It’s like a football field, deep and green, framed by succulents and, surprisingly, a tall pine tree. Immediately I notice potted plants and plant stands. Oh, no. I’m doomed. I’m such a sucker for plants. I find a strawberry pot I want. I’ve wanted one for ages and can envision my succulents growing out of its pockets. At garage sale prices, who can resist? I limit myself to two of the hanging plant containers. These will be unique and I can kind of justify them because gardening is one of my favorite hobbies and I’d use them. Four items: $8. I don’t try to haggle with the cashier. The prices are fair and I’d feel like a heel if I tried to take advantage of someone by low-balling.

There is another garage sale three houses down. I really shouldn’t amass any more stuff but I see a package of two brackets from which I can hang the plant holders I’ve just bought, so I get those. Then I ask the owners if there’s any chance I can buy a piece of the cactus growing near the front door. It’s different from others I’ve seen. Its branches bend and fold irregularly and I like it. They agree, and $1 later, the cactus, the brackets and I are headed to the truck. $9 spent today. Not bad.

Could I live without these seven items? Of course. But I’ve gotten a deal, and I will use each of these items. They will help make our home more personal, as I believe homes should be. Interesting that so many items in my garden are from other people’s homes/garage sales. I wonder if a tiny piece of their lives becomes part of mine when I buy their things. Is my life a mosaic of pieces from other people’s lives? Each piece different, but together making one unique life? Who knows. Maybe I’m getting too philosophical.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some gardening to do.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Adventurer (Jan. 26, 2012)

Limerick #2: The Adventurer

My webtoed friend moved to Mexico City.

He brought with him his Siamese kitty.

He’s a tech guy by day,

Collects Barbies (not for play),

He’s nineteen and sings when he’s giddy.

(In case you haven't read my post from Jan. 23, "Loony for Limericks," here is the why behind this limerick: I chose five slips of paper from a bunch of phrases and challenged myself to come up with a limerick using those phrases.)

It's fun, good brain exercise, and vastly more entertaining than organizing the mountain of clean laundry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fence Fabulous! (Jan. 24, 2012)

Six months ago I decided our fence needed accessories. It’s a plain fence and by mid-July the pretty lilies below it had dried into sagging brown stalks, which I got sick of looking at and ripped out. The yucky dead plants were gone but now that part of the yard looked lifeless.
(See how drab this area is with no color?)

Enter accessories. I bought a piece of 1” plywood, cut it into two equal pieces, and started painting. I was desperate for some color to break up this long, drab fence. Nature scenes seemed a fun idea so I painted a Monarch butterfly and a ladybug. I could already picture how the bright colors of paint would pop behind the lilies, once they grew back. While I waited for the lilies to return, at least I had two colorful spots on the fence, which broke it up a bit and brought life to the yard.

The lilies started growing in December and now their dark orange blooms are coming out. There are tons of them, and they’re so pretty. My photos don’t do justice to the intensity of their color. My art and the lilies look great together, if I may say so.

A lot of results for only a little effort. It took a mere $5 in materials and only about two hours to paint and install everything.

Oh, and six months to wait for the lilies to come in.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Loony for Limericks (Jan. 23, 2012)

Groaning, I hoisted myself out of the flannel nest I’d built for a read-n’rest and lumbered toward the computer. I typed twenty-five phrases, printed them (on paper I intend to recycle when all this has been completed), and feeling cold, brought the two sides of my red robe together with a binder clip (because the sash’s location is…unknown. Temporarily.).

My read-n-rest bad been so fab. I’m immersed in a great library book and am still tired from the major nausea of last week. The only answer was settling in to read-n-rest, head upon several bunched-up pillows, only my face and hands visible above my sleeping bag cocoon.

Why rip myself prematurely from this oasis? Very few things could have prompted me to exit my warm nest. Free fabric give-away at a local sewing store? Maybe. What did it was this: a phrase from the book I was reading. It was the cannon that shot me out of bed to start typing.

Why? It was such a wonderfully-crafted phrase. And it inspired me. Do you stop short when you read certain phrases? For me, these halt-in-your-tracks phrases usually involve something unexpected. They paint such a vivid picture. This prompted me to get my butt to the computer and type up a list of phrases. My idea was to write five tiny stories (or maybe limericks) based on a random combination of ideas. To create the random ideas, I wrote twenty-five phrases onto tiny pieces of paper. There were five categories, each with five options. The categories were: age, job, place, trait, quirk. (This last category was for fun because quirky elements make a better story.) My plan was to turn the pieces over so I couldn’t see which I was choosing, and I’d choose one from each of the five categories. Then, I’d come up with a story using these five ideas. Fiction is a departure for me, as I have loads of weird stuff from my own life about which to write. But it seemed fun to me, and I hope you will find it fun, too.

(These are the first five strips I chose at random.)

If I’d thought of it, I would have had Hubby write the phrases so I’d really be surprised when I combined them later. But I was propelled by my gusto, not by a planned-out agenda, and I think we’ll all be entertained anyway. Why five? Two seemed not enough and ten seemed too many.

As a side-note, I sometimes laugh at myself when I am struck by the lightning bolt of creativity, because it is often when I am up to my roots-are-showing hair in Important Stuff To Do. My creative projects rarely are born out of having nothing else going on. It’s the opposite. When I am one tiny mishap away from losing it completely, I think my brain kicks into Auto Pilot and conjures up something that likely will save me from…ME. A creative project. When my life feels like it’s 99.99% To Do Lists, finding something that is 100% something I WANT to do makes the rest of it less overwhelming. It recharges your heart and soul. And everyone needs that…

Limerick #1: The Clogger

I know a tall man from Prague.
He’s left-handed and loves to clog.
He eats pretzels with Tootsie Rolls,
And is 62.5 years old.
He’s a forest ranger with a 3-legged dog.

age: 62.5
job: forest-ranger
city: Prague
trait: left-handed

quirk: passionate about tootsie-rolls and pretzels together

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Doppelganger (Jan. 19, 2012)

Yes, this is random, but you heard it here first: singer Huey Lewis and tv’s Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe are practically twins.

(In case you're confused by which is which, Mike is on the left and Huey is on the right.)

(For some reason I can't convince the computer to put their photos side-by-side so for now, this layout will have to do.)

(Now before I go on, let me just say this: I am in no mood for argument, so TAPKAE and anyone else out there who might disagree, just save your responses if they are something other than, “Wow, Sarah, you are a genius and absolutely right!” The fam and I have been sick for 4 days and I am so over being housebound. We’re doing tons of laundry because of all the puking. I puked fourteen times, and the others didn’t get it quite as bad but it's been crazy around here. I have no patience left, so please, if you think I’m crazy for seeing the similarities, keep it to yourself, or I’ll come breathe on you, and believe me, you don’t want the flu I’ve had.)

Back to Hue-Rowe, as I cutely have combined their names, Hollywood style.

I will admit that I might not have happened upon this revelation had I not been house-bound for several days. This morning I passed the time (between puke-clean-ups) checking out 80s tunes on YouTube, including a song by Huey Lewis and the News. (He had some very catchy songs in the 80s so give him some love.) EUREKA!!! How could I not have seen the similarity before? He looked exactly like Mike Rowe, host of cable’s Dirty Jobs show. Mike’s been on Ford commercials for years and recently on Viva paper towel ads, so his image is fresh in my memory.

(I realize that this is not life-changing news for you. But please bear with me. When you’re housebound, you do things you aren’t necessarily doing on a Thursday morning and these revelations come to you. Is it blog-worthy? Sure, why not. It makes a nice backdrop for my sob story about our household, which we now refer to as Sick and Sicker.)

Since I was already going down this road, I did a little research on their ages, just to see if my comparison was as airtight as I thought. Huey is twelve years older than Mike, so Mike now looks like Huey did a few years ago. But hey, you’ve got to cut musicians some slack. They age like anyone else, plus with that rock’n’roll lifestyle they may age faster than others. And Huey rocked it in the 80s. In fact, he’s been rocking it recently, too, so give the man some props. When I watched MTV as a teen I liked his videos. He definitely had a sense of humor, which many musicians don’t have, as they’re so focused on appearing dangerous and sexy and see no place for humor in their image. Mike Rowe is very funny on Dirty Jobs, and even in commercials, which are a good measure of someone's humor. Not everyone can be funny in a 30-second spot.

Now, I can’t expect every last person to agree with my views. Some may look at these two guys and say, “Sure, they’re as similar as any two Caucasian guys.” WRONG!!! They have similar facial structure, similar chins, mouths, coloring, eye shape, and hair color. I can’t be the only person who has noticed this. And I may have flu-like symptoms but I'm not delirious!

Once we’re all over the flu and I am less housebound I will re-enter the outside world and my blog pieces may seem more relevant to the important political and social events happening in 2012. Of course, probably not. As you know, I much prefer to comment on the things I notice: the funny, the creative, the random. And that’s why you love me!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dear Diary, You Won't Believe What I Saw Today (Jan. 8, 2012)

Some people might feel compelled to make their first blog of the year serious or philosophical in keeping with the rebirth/clean slate mentality that a new year can bring. Not me.

Welcome to my 2012 blog! This scene is not one I created for blog laughs. While bike-riding today I happened upon this giant stuffed orangutan in the back of a pick-up. (I’m not completely sure it is an orangutan but my research online didn’t help solve the mystery. It didn't look monkeyish. So for now I’ll call it an orang, but do let me know if you have proof otherwise.)

I can’t make this stuff up! The unexpected combination of a stuffed animal (and a huge one at that) and a pick-up truck is what makes it so funny, and I knew I had to share it with the rest of the world.

And just so you know, discovering things like this only reinforces my obsession with wandering neighborhoods with my camera. No doubt I will post many more photos to my blog this year about unusual things I’ve happened upon accidentally. Stay tuned. I’m sure it’ll only get wackier…