Wednesday, June 25, 2008

SOLD! to the highest bidder…

Years ago Michael and I started going to auctions. We got some great deals and some not so great deals, but we learned a lot about what we liked and what we didn’t. After a couple of auctions, we got to know a few of the local antiques dealers. We weren’t close friends, but we shared in some small talk during lulls in the action. We made up nicknames for the more colorful dealers… there was the eye patch guy, the weird guy, the hat guy and Stinky. While we weren’t creative, we were explicit.

For better or worse, Stinky liked to talk with us a lot. I found myself bidding against him quite a bit. I am more than a little bothered by the fact that Stinky and I had similar tastes, but he gave me some good advice as well as clearing out my sinuses. He assured me that if I beat him out by just a couple of dollars, I was getting a good deal. If he “won” the bidding, he would have to mark up the item at least 50 percent to make it worth his while. So, when I beat him I felt like I was getting a good deal. Conversely, when he beat me I felt like someone was getting ripped off… but it wasn’t me.

These dealers seemed to know what they were doing. They would turn chairs over, pull out drawers, tap on stuff and stand guard by specific items. We learned to do the same, but ultimately our bids came down to what we liked, not what we thought would sell well in a shop.

I really liked two deck chairs. They were a mess and the fabric was so dry rotted that you couldn’t sit in them to test them out. No one seemed interested in these chairs except for us. I didn’t need to stand guard, I didn’t need to worry about outbidding any collectors or dealers. We got the pair for $5.

After sitting in the attic for years and then moving them to the shed at the new house, we pulled them out as I was convinced we could use them on our patio by the pond (that we have yet to finish). I sanded them down, ripped off the material that was in even worse shape after sitting for more time and varnished them with a clear coat. I then reupholstered them with snazzy new outdoor fabric that was on discount at the fabric shop.

I think Stinky and the motley crew of dealers would bid on them now!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father’s Day

(aka: My first house)

My father must be so annoyed with me, but he’s never let on. He (and my grandfather, pop) built my first house for me and I’ve never mentioned it in all my words about our house. Before I even entered kindergarten, I was the proud owner of a detached custom home in Jarrettsville, Maryland. My first home.

I still remember the day we moved and I had to leave the little house behind. We couldn’t take it with us, I was told. I had to leave it for the next little girl to enjoy. And, even though I never met her, I know she loved it too. In fact, when that family eventually had to move, they cut it in half and took it with them to their new home. (What? How could they?)

By building that house for me and sharing in my childhood, my dad taught me that home is in the memories you cherish and not in a building (not even a really cute one with flower boxes and real asphalt shingles), home is in the people you share it with.

Thank you, dad, for making a home for us no matter where we are. Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My words melted…

In my last post I bragged about how much I enjoy summer and that the heat was bearable if not downright pleasant. I was tested on this Sunday morning when the thermometer hit the 90s and our AC stopped. Actually, it shrieked a horrible pained noise and then stopped.

At 9 in the morning, it was warm in the house. We opened windows, turned on fans and slowed down our pace. By noon it was cooler outside only because there was a faint breeze, but it was counteracted by a ferocious sun. By 4, we were in the car heading anywhere with AC. After about 9 glasses of water and a terrific meal, we headed home for a brutal night of sleep. We hooked up a window unit in the living room, but still couldn’t cool down the house.

The next day we rushed to work for institutional AC (ahhhhhh!) and scheduled a repair visit. Most places were so overbooked they couldn’t promise a visit this week, but we found one man (let’s just call him a hero, shall we?) that said he could come that evening after 5. Michael was off to meet him and I stayed in the cool of my office at work. By 8 that evening, we were the proud owners of a capacitor and three pounds of Freon. The house has cooled and we had a restful night of sleep.

Bring on the heat, we're prepared!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

It’s the week after Memorial Day and the sun -- and humidity -- are in full force. It’s also the time of year when those very clever folks ask, “Hot enough for ya?” I think not. This is my favorite time of the year.

To fully appreciate the Maryland summer, I bought a hammock when Michael and I were in Tijuana. Isn’t that why everyone goes there? That was back in December. And in March, I bought another one (don’t expect an explanation).

Spring arrived, and I was ready to lounge in one of the hammocks. But, nature conspired against me. Again. The trees were either too close together, too far apart, too small to risk swinging, or to covered in poison ivy. With thoughts of Goldilocks in my head, I realized there is no home problem that the local hardware store can’t fix.

We bought a hammock stand. So excited was I by the prospect of watching the world of our backyard in the comfort only braided rope can provide, I put it together as soon as we got home from the store.

Turns out, nature isn’t the only thing that conspired against me – the hardware store did too.

Did you know hammocks come in sizes? I do now. Seems both the hammocks I purchased with summer in mind were regular-sized; the stand I bought was for some super-sized hammock monstrosity the size of a parachute.

So after another trip to the hardware store – four feet (felt like 40 pounds) of shiny new chain and two industrial clips later, we were in business. Tuesday evening Michael and I sat comfortably in the regular-sized hammock with a glass of wine in one hand and a magazine in the other.

Bring on the summer… I have hammocks to spare.