04 October 2009

The Romance of Estate Sales

It starts with our weekly log on to estatesales.net. Hundreds of photos are scrutinized, picking and choosing, until we have narrowed it down to at least 3 sales that are in the same direction..which is only 3 directions in Chicago seeing that the only thing east is the lake. My friend Beth and I target an area where we think we can find "a lot of stuff, the good stuff". When an agreement has been reached the plan is set in motion. We meet in front of the building early the next morning.

If we are lucky one of us had printed out a Google map and hopefully not left it behind. We set off on our weekly adventure, Beth behind the wheel, me the willing accomplice, Waldo in his doggy seat and "Queen" Greta in one of our laps...(Waldo and Gretta being Beth's long haired dachshunds). We have stashed the treat bag that contains fruit, nuts and cheese away from hungry little dogs as we set out on our journey.

We are not in a mad rush. We are not the highly competitive dealers that stand in rain, snow and sleet at 5am to get a number, wait in line for hours to finally make the mad dash, pushing and shoving through doors, up and down stairways...not us, we are the more leisurely buyers who like to arrive late after everything has been picked over when we are left to quietly poke around at the tidbits that the vultures have left behind...the bones have been picked clean but in most cases there may be a piece of sweet meat left behind.

Besides enjoying the joy of the hunt (which for one of us, moi, is also a job)...we like the adventure. We like the trip to the country. We like the discovery of a cute little town that we never knew existed. We like to look at neighborhoods and gardens, pastures and barns. We find the beauty in sweet little unassuming houses and balk at the McMansions as we both agree that having lived in big houses we now feel most comfortable in our cozy vintage condo in the city...although we also both agree that we miss our gardens.

Last Friday found us in Woodstock, Illinois in the simple yet lovely home of an artist, craftsman, cook, reader, collector and world traveler, someone not unlike myself.

Everything was neat and orderly, well kept and categorized. The basement had shelves covering nearly every wall, floor to ceiling, with books of every sort, bound magazines, fabric, pickling jars, jigsaw puzzles and games. There was a wonderful little work/tool room and a large part of the basement that had been devoted to framing. There were frames of every shape and size, old and new, mats, glass and antique prints waiting for a new home. I am sure the frames had been picked over but there were still hundreds left. With out too much trouble I found a perfect little 8X8 inch square to frame one of my Scrap Paper Monologue collages.

According to the organizers, the shelves of fabric had been gone since the first hour of the sale, but believe it or not, behind a box I found a small roll of French cotton...if there was any fabric left I would find it! I also scored some vintage McCalls Needlework and Vogue Knitting magazines. The woman was a prolific knitter evidenced by the boxes of completely knitted sweaters that were never sewn together, some had been partially sewn with only the neck edge left to finish... I am talking about at least 20 sweaters! It is hard for me to believe that you could put that much work into a sweater and not finish it. I do admit to one unfinished project in my knitting closet...but it haunts me because I tend to be a "finisher of projects."

Upstairs I found the most adorable antique stuffed spotted velvet dog...how did that get left behind?...some beautiful old beads the color of a Robins egg, a sweet floral linen lace edged collar, a hand thrown art pottery bowl, a Victorian velvet pouch, an old hankie (I still use these) and a large glass scent bottle with a sterling silver stopper...and eclectic mix from an interesting lady who didn't finish her sweaters. Some of these treasures are making their way into my Ebay store tonight!

As I was paying for my purchases I said ..."this looks like the sale they will have when I have passed away"...only my sweaters will be finished!

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