Today’s yard-sale take

After the past few weeks’ rounds of dismal yard sales, and after an unusually tiring week, I couldn’t bring myself to do the full morning of driving and browsing. Instead, I picked out only two sales from the Craigslist postings, both of which promised sewing and/or crafting supplies. Both turned out to be good sales, and I also went to one more that was next door to one of them.

$2.50 – 14″ fake-terracotta plastic planter
$2 – wicker trash can (to store toilet plunger in!)
$6 – 16 sheets of vintage Naugahyde for crafts projects
$1 – beaded bracelet (very shiny — Erik says I got it “to satisfy the magpie in me”)
$1 – big flat cloisonné pendant (I am thinking of using it as an oversized zipper-pull for a tote bag)
$1 – buttonhook
$1.25 – many many hook-and-eye fasteners in different sizes
$3 – set of solid pewter buttons
$2 – pair of ornate goldtone buttons
$5 – assortment of horse magazines (Horse Illustrated, Equus, Organic Equine… I kid you not) for drawing practice and collaging, book-on-CD of A Wrinkle in Time
$3 – two big pieces of fabric (probably about 3-4 yd apiece), one a blue print and one a pink/red rose print, a King Tut book for collaging, a nature book for collaging, a rack for my thread spools, and many many buttons and other random sewing supplies contained in a (smelly) vintage Tupperware box

Grand total: $25.75, a real steal!!

Today more than ever I was reminded of how our material possessions basically have two fates: clutter, or treasure. As clutter, they take up space in our homes and in our minds, and then become trash after we’re gone. But if they’re properly treasured, we use them, love them, care for them, and pass them on when we don’t need them anymore. Today’s first sale was held in a tiny tiny garage, but had obviously been carefully planned out. Everything was neatly packaged (if necessary), intelligently displayed, and labeled with a handwritten description and price. The lady explained that many of the jewelry and craft supplies she was selling belonged to a friend of hers, who is in intensive care because of an infection following chemo for metastatic cancer. Many of the other items for sale belonged to the lady herself, who might be moving away to a care facility because of her health. Basically, these things had come to the fork at the end of their lives – their owners could no longer use them, and if people like me didn’t offer new homes for them, they’d be sitting in landfill forever.

The second sale I went to was an estate sale, where people were selling their mother’s things. That’s where I got that sewing kit for a ridiculously low price. This is the second vintage sewing kit I’ve acquired and they really have a lot of character in them. You can see what kind of taste the person had by the sort of buttons they collected, see what they liked to sew based on what other things are in the kit (in this case, yarn needles, zippers, fasteners, tapestry needles, and embroidery needles), see whether they were careful of their possessions or not, whether they were thrifty, and so on. This kit had random pieces of hardware in it, like screws and a nut, five googly eyes, two plastic charms shaped like blue baby pacifiers, and hardly any dust. It appears to have been a well-used and well-loved kit. Sometimes people think I’m kind of morbid for loving estate sales, but I’d like to think of my own possessions going to someone like me — someone who is excited to get them, and will care for them and use them as I myself did. Things are just things, but we owe it to the resources we use to create them to be careful with them and get as much use out of them as they will provide. And when we can’t use them anymore, it’s time to pass them on.