Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Weekends 2012: Saling Around

This summer is moving too quickly. For some people in CT, it's "moving" more quickly that they would like. How do I know? I spent one Saturday up in Fairfield County (aka one of the more economically well-off counties than the one I grew up in) with my friend B**** from the Big J going around to a series of moving sales, or what are more commonly known as "tag" sales. Except for the most part, these were NOTHING like the tag sales I was used to.

Let's just say, I've seen where some of the former 10% used to live, and I've been through their stuff. Also -- Karma? She's a um .... female dog! "Downsizing" my butt; more like "right-sizing" for some people, maybe.

Anyway.... why was I tag-saling? Not for stuff, but for Quality Time with friends.

B**** grew up in one of the W towns of Fairfield County, i.e. Westport, Weston, or Wilton, and still regularly drives up from NYC at least once a weekend to check in on her father. We had been talking about a day in the "country" for a while, and finally found a Saturday to get together and spend with her dad. Part of their ritual is to go check out all the tag sales in the area. I didn't realize how serious an undertaking this was until she started telling me about all her recent purchases. She's re-furnishing an apartment after a life-style change and has been getting things like lamps, end tables, and various accessories like silver platters and chargers. It's so serious an undertaking, she brings her vintage 1990s mini-van, AND she and her dad go out "on the hunt" for hours. It wasn't until she showed me the listings in the car that were highlighted and indicated their plan of attack did I realize that this was to be an adventure. (r: after a day on the road, B**** studying the list to see what's left to hit.)

I initially felt silly. I only brought $20 and a camera. On the other hand, I don't have a three bedroom apartment to furnish and I didn't really need anything. I decided to treat it more like a socioeconomic undertaking. In the end, I did a lot of snarking/giggling over "excessive rampant status-conscious consumerism" and taught B****'s 86-yr-old dad the word: ginormous, as in, that house is GINORMOUS!

Throughout the day, we ended up visiting eight various sales - starting with the "normal" driveway tag sales I was used to, with the homemade signs; to garage sales that had gorgeous crystals from a chandelier for sale and bags and bags of skeins of hand-dyed tapestry wool (I passed, they needed to be washed, dried, and then rewound into balls before they could be used for anything, not to mention they were WAY of my price range); to moving sales in people's home and run by the owners (really awkward); to the craziest estate sales I've ever seen.

I felt weird taking too many picture in people's homes, especially if the owners were around. At one of more "modest" house-- if you can say that for a million+ dollar home in Fairfield--I just loved the landscaping so much, I couldn't resist. My dream cottage will have absolutely have a white picket fence, hedge roses, hydrangeas, a red barn in the back, and a "secret garden."

This family was moving to Charleston and seemed sorry to have to move, and more than a tad bittersweet that all their New England Colonial-type furniture wouldn't fit in their new Southern lifestyle.

After moving on (sorry, puns) from the "modest" yard/garage sales, we started ending up at the moving/estate sales with their rooms and rooms of remnants of a family leaving their house for a variety of reasons.

Of the moving/estate sales, I loved the first house we visited for the way that the estate agents had indicated which rooms, stairs, and closets were off limits by using the same colored-ribbon to block off access, hang signs, and/or lock doors. This was an older couple, having raised their children, and now having almost adult grandchildren, were moving "closer to town" into a smaller space. The house had a lovely warm feeling, with neighbors and friends helping out and/or stopping by to pick up stuff for their own homes. There were rooms within rooms of things to pick through. I had a blast in a nursery/clothing room looking at scarfs, bracelets, and ties and imagining how to repurpose them (quilting squares, etc.). There were also two large plastic hampers full of 100s and 100s of embroidery skeins. While I took a picture or two of the colored collage of skeins, I passed on a lot of the other materials, due to budget and home storage.

However, I couldn't resist taking a picture of the kitchen because it exactly hits all of the buttons of what I hate about watching House Hunters on HGTV: Granite/marble countertops/backsplash, 6-12 burner stoves, stainless, baking stations, hidden fridges, etc. That center island? Is bigger than my entire kitchenette. Not pictured: the pantry, the eat-in breakfast nook, china storage, and the rest of the kitchen. THE REST OF THE KITCHEN!

Sadly, this house also seems "modest" compared to the biggest one of the day. You know it's going to be a little ridiculous when a) l: it's an "Estate Sale" b) r: there's a police presence for traffic control and for security c) the are "you are under surveillance" signs all over the house

d) l: this is the "yard" and e) r: this is the driveway.

To quote Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
I wish I would have felt more comfortable taking more pictures in the house, but it was a little ridiculously overwhelming. There were $10,000 painting on the wall, for sale, at the estate sale! Why would you want $10,000 abstracts in oils when this is your view to the backyard? l: looking to the outside to the studio/barn and exterior stairs up to the master wing r: to the multi-tiered pool area

Snapped as we were getting ready to leave, having purchased nothing. From the 2nd story, looking down to entrance.

I have a feeling that this was more of a situation where the owners had lived beyond their means and were forced, due to economics, to have to make a radical lifestyle change and/or leave in a hurry. The house didn't quite seem as homey as some of the others, for all of the trappings of a music room in the basement, a billiards room, and a super sunny craft room (see below). [I opened cabinets in that room -- they weren't even finished off on the inside. The hardware was still in bags and shelves were put in!]

I did take some other mental notes in all the houses about things which would be great in a future larger dwelling; great art which reminds me of my grandmother's quilting, shipping crates which could be converted into end tables, and pull-out drawers in a future kitchen or future craft room.

My favorite moving sale was at the home of a pair of Brits who were moving to France. They were super "foodies;" in fact the wife was a critic for a food publication. I had an interesting conversation with the husband about the etymology of my last name. I had to use it to explain, that yes, despite being American, I did know what Marmite was, thank you very much, I was English in origin. (Not that I've ever eaten Marmite, or want to, but I do know what it is!) I scored the most "loot" at their house, and had I more funds, would have scored more. I had a mental list of, "oh, if it's there and the right price, get it;" like a food steamer, or a blender, or something. While there were unopened appliances, like an immersion blender, they were also charging "real" prices for them. The black tea crate pictured above was at their house. I actually found my favorite purchase of the day at their house, and although I got it to be a present, I'm still waffling about whether it's going to be gifted, or stay in the Attic. (Thus, no picture, cause then it would be a spoiler for someone's birthday.)

After a long, gorgeous day exploring Fairfield, followed by a delicious lunch and conversation with B**** and her dad, and a stop by their family home, it was home to feel better about my tiny Attic. It may be tiny, one room, and packed to the brim with my stuff, but I'm not sprawled out all over creation, or label conscious.
Aside from electronics and my Walmart bookshelves, all of my furnishing were already gently used, having been second or third hand. If I look around, I can see that my bed is the one that Dad got down our street in CT at a yard sale decades ago and the paint on it is from where I was painting my last apartment. My bureaus, hutch, and dining room table came from Mrs. Z***** who lived next door to us in CT for years and years. My quilt rack is the one that I gave Mom for Christmas one year, as is my kitchen island (or as Mom would say MY kitchen island, as I gave it to her too). If and when I move, I expect that all of this stuff will go on to another home or be repurposed. It's not stuff in a building that makes a home, it's the people and friends in it.

So, what was my haul for the day?
Here's the loot, but remember not everything is posted, as most of the purchases are to be gifted eventually. Grand total: $20.25 The best purchase "deal" of the day was the unopened Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica for $4.

However, the best part was spending time with friends. I need to start saving my extra "fun" money so I can head up to CT with B***** again and see what other sights and sounds are to be found "saling" around Fairfield.

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