Thursday, May 29, 2008

Filing the Trunk of the Car

During the 1980's -- back when I was teaching school the first time around -- Hubby and I spent our summers going to garage sales. We had a route, a pattern, and a limit on what we would spend. We bought things for the classroom -- and Christmas presents for the family. That's not quite as bad as it sounds -- many garage sales are of brand new / sample items. However, I must admit we did buy some interesting used items to give away, too.

During the 1990's, when I began to work year round, we gave up going to garage sales. Also, our house was, by this time, completely filled with "stuff" -- I dare not call it "junk" or Hubby will think I'm actually in the mood to downsize yet again. By the millennium we have completely stopped going to any garage sales ever. Instead . . . I took up e-bay.

Last year was my first summer "off" since I was now back teaching school after a 16 year absence. Hubby and I took in a few garage sales and I got some really great things for my classroom. The 16 year gap between teaching stints meant that all my teaching materials had been scattered far and wide and I needed to replenish the puzzles, notebooks, extra reading books, CDs/video tapes, and seasonal decorations I'd once owned as supplementary teaching materials. The best find last year was a huge wire pumpkin completely covered in tiny orange Christmas lights -- and it make the best fall display in any classroom in the building. The kids absolutely adored it -- and I got the thing for only $2 and had it lit from mid-September until December 1.

Just before spring of this year Hubby had a trash container placed in our driveway for two weeks and brought in a crew of men to clean out the "stuff" in the basement. If I had seen the items being tossed, I probably would have had a heart attack. Instead, I was at school and each night when I came home, I'd find mostly old broken chairs and old dining rooms tables in the container. During the early '80's, I had a thing for dining room furniture -- it's just that I never actually did have a dining room. Also, I found a lot of dried out crafting materials floating on the pedestal table bottoms. So I didn't really care much that they were throwing away enough stuff to actually fill up the huge railroad car-sized container. After the trash was removed, I discovered that Hubby had also thrown away all our summer pants -- shorts, culottes and capris. But it's too late now to remedy that particular mistake. Meanwhile the basement is nicely cleaned out -- and so is the garage.

That brings up to today. Well, actually yesterday. I had spent the last two days in the house, never getting out of my nightgown. By last night I was feeling a bit house-bound, so I suggested that this morning Hubby and I get up and take in a couple of early morning garage sales. He rolled his eyes but agreed.

This morning we gathered up the big cottage cheese cartons full of coins and dumped them into freezer bags. I took out $40 in quarters and then the bank turned them the rest into dollar bills for us (well okay, a couple of fives and tens and twenties, too). And we set out.

At first the pickings were really slim. I think we had completely lost our noses for sniffing out good garaging territory. So we took Fritzy to the vet to get his anal glands expressed. Poor boy has an awful problem with them -- we have taken to calling him "Butt Boy." I plopped him on the vet's scale and found he had lost six pounds since his last visit so we called the vet out for an examination. $150 later and a huge vial of blood for testing we were back on the road hunting bargains.

Again, no luck. We spied a Perkins and pulled in and each had a huge breakfast -- biscuits, pancakes, sausage, gravy, fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and muffins. Feeling refreshed we again headed out and this time, having revived ourselves, we began to have some luck.

The mother lode was a sale of sample books, none over $6, and interesting brand-new gee-gaws that make for fabulous sock gifts for the family (be prepared, Wendy! even Hubby thought what we got you was darned cool!). The most fun was a soda bottle with the material inside to make 49 science experiments to really "amaze your teacher." But we also found some Christmas cards for a buck, a finger-tip towel for a quarter, and a small change purse for a dime.

In the '80's we could shop all day. By noon today we were exhausted -- but pleased with our haul. I bet we go out again next week!

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