Saturday, April 30, 2011

Books. Books. Books.

One of my maniacal garage saling/verge gleaning friends came to town this week for a holiday. It was the end of the Easter/Anzac Day very long weekend.
Day 1.  Tip Shops.  We checked the local one, which is on the right track but doesn't seems to recycle as much as it could.  I snaffled a book - 10 Days That Shook the World by John Reed.  I had a copy but the golden retriever ate it some years ago. There were also a couple of rusty bits and pieces. We decided to trek westwards to neighbouring Denmark (not Scandinavia but certainly not here).  
We were delighted and surprised to find the Anglican Opshop open for business and positively hopping. You have to love $5 a bag day.  I found a fabulous book which contains nothing but old photos of people and their dogs.  It's just lovely.  My attitude of fiscal restraint continued, due to an impending holiday and the interval to payday.
I did invest in a famous Denmark pie. We stocked up on yummy fresh baked bread and spinach and feta scones, took in the local colour, observed the natives in their habitat (the main street), and headed to the Tip Shop.
The Denmark Tip shop is so very special. Nothing goes to waste, but I am always surprised to see how much new house stuff, unused, gets tossed - especially kitchen and bathroom sinks and fittings.  I would probably think about the purchase and install the one I bought, but maybe that's just me.  Certainly seems wasteful but at least they get recycled there.  NOT so sure about the manky used toilet seats. Sometimes it's OK not to re-use things.
There are 3 sheds now. The best bit for me is the treasure house with the huge metal trays and tins of rusty nuts, bolts, fixtures and fittings.  It truly gladdens a girl's heart, especially a girl like my friend who lives in an uncivilised area without such places.  We wiled away a happy hour and a half, examining every corner, workshopping possible projects. She grinned like a loon and kept saying 'oooh lovely' in her Geordie accent. It really shouldn't be possible to have that much fun for $3.
Day 3.  Opshops. We have 11 opshops in this city.  It's possible to do them all in one day if you are really focused.  We aren't, most of the time, and can get distracted, so we split them over 2 days.  Dietary subsistence: chocolate frogs from the RSPCA shop.
Day 4.  The other half of the opshops. The school holidays, 2 daughters in tow, half price sale at Good Sammies.  Good grief, it's like herding cats.  Drinks later at the loverly Liberte, curled up on the couch, not watching that wedding, french champagne.  Nice.

Note to self: sometime I must ask why the same round was $24 the first time and $30 the second.  It can give a place a bad rep.

Day 5.  Garage sales - nothing much, but you have to be there and there's always something to look at. The State Library book sale - tables and tables and tables of books.  Me. Book sale. Oops.  I called it quits when I was dragging my two bags along the floor.  I tried to lift one onto a shoulder and almost killed a pensioner. Why is it that you see things in other people's hands and suddenly they become desirable?  I considered mugging someone for the hardback mint complete works of Oscar Wilde, but I would have had to let go of the books I already had. I got to come home and sit in the sun and look at them and decide which I liked best. 
Day 6.  Tomorrow.  Garage sales and my friend wants to squeeze in another tip shop trip before she returns to the frontier of civilisation.  And maybe just a couple of opshops on Monday, who can say.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Life in a cold climate

Last week - warm.  Friday and Saturday -Easter- sunny and warm.  Sunday - warm and sunny. Monday - dark.  Wet. Cccccc-cold.  I flatly refuse to light the fire on the first cool day.  Not going to happen.  But I am wearing ugg boots.

I know the weather usually cracks up after Easter - but the day after Easter?  

I'm getting ready for the Mother's Day market at Vancouver Arts, so everything is festooned with jewellery, drawings, display - you name it, it's out on the floor, or hanging over something.  Now I just need to configure it onto one table. So much stuff, so little space.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aunt Sadie, Alice and the Easter Bunny

Last week, I picked up a copy of one -well, two- of my favourite books for 50c.  Today, I picked it up and re-read what is one of my very favourite opening passages ever:

"There is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children sitting round the tea-table at Alconleigh. The table is situated, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, in the hall, in front of a huge open fire of logs.  Over the chimney piece plainly visible in the photograph hangs an entrenching tool, with which, in 1915, Uncle Matthew had whacked to death eight Germans one by one as they crawled out of a dugout.It is still covered with blood and hairs, an object of fascination to us as children....There they are, held like flies in the amber of that moment - click goes the camera and on goes life... " Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love

I love all things Mitford - fiction, biography, autobiography. I love them individually and as a group. I can read and re-read them and see them and hear them and forgive them their foibles.  I have been sorting out some old photos of my own family, and the opening passage of the book goes on to talk about the qualities of those frozen moments in time and their sepia-ness. 

My own old photos reminded me of the smells and the textures of my own childhood with surprising clarity.  I found an old teacup in the opshop last week, a sad reminder of what was my favourite Auntie's best teaset: the one used for Sunday afternoon tea, birthdays and get-togethers.  This teacup is well past its finest but just seeing it I can almost taste the scones and the sponge cake with icing sugar on top. I bought it and brought it home just to keep that feeling.

I have other bits and pieces, nothing valuable, but little fragments of lives.  Another Auntie's brooch - I can't really remember her face, although I know what she looked like; but I can remember the sense of her, and being given the brooch by my Uncle when she died.  It's not a valuable brooch, but there was a sense of being grown up when he gave it to me when I was about 8.

That one diamonte brooch is probably why I love vintage jewellery as I do. It reminds me of the Aunts, and great-aunts, of being taken to CWA meetings, of hanging with the cousins, and picking raspberries and real gooseberries and dress-ups. 

I remember the Uncles, too, of course; the cardigans and the sheds and the pigeons and dogs. But they seemed somehow not to be the centre of things: the women were constant motion, food and talk and movement and kids.

In my case, the colour is not so much sepia but rather that strange intense colour of slides and photos from the late 50's and early 60's, drifting into the yellowish tones and uncertain focus of the 70's snapshot.

I have continued my fascination with all things Alice and clockwork with some new pendants featuring Alice and some vintage pocketwatch faces, some Alice brooches, and I am working on some drawings of Alice, and some nursery rhymes. Given the time of year there are also some bunnies in the bathtub. I'm having some trouble with loading images, so haven't spent too much time on images which may disappear.  When I have some better photos and a more reliable way of leaving them up I will add some more.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Biiiiig week this week.

A late blast of summer with warm days and warm nights, followed by the first of the westerly weather patterns for the year. Later in the week, some really big rain, which was so refreshing after the warm. We have a thing here - it generally rains at night and is sunny during the day as we ease towards winter. Everything looks and smells clean and fresh and green. You go to sleep with the sound of rain on the roof.

I found something I didn't know I had lost, and realised that it was really pretty special.

I was reminded how beautiful the south coast of WA is. When you see it all the time sometimes you forget, but when you see it through someone else's eyes for the first time it can take your breath away.

I started to prepare for the move from my summer outdoor sitting room (the front veranda) to my winter one ( the back veranda). The view is not so spectacular, but there is less likelihood of hypothermia. The sun comes in and its sheltered from the wind. The chairs are comfy and it's peaceful. I will be able to work my way through my book stash in the fresh air.

There is a couch under the window in the kitchen which perfectly captures the winter sun and is perfect for Sunday afternoon sloth.

I watched an owl being chased by crows as I walked to work. I've seen this a few times and hope it's the same owl, and it gets away every time. Hawks hunt the crows, so I guess it evens out in the end.

I found a lovely little piece at a garage sale. It belonged to the man's father, he used it as a shaving cabinet. It's been neglected but won't be that hard to restore. I also sorted out the workbench in order to be able to start the process.

I put something in a skip. This was most unusual, some would say unheard of. (Someone commented once that my rubbish bin doesn't get much of a workout.) True, I prefer to re-use or re-purpose anything which can be. It was an interesting experience, the skip experience, but minimalism isn't me. I felt slightly wasteful. I didn't even check to see if there was anything I wanted, I just walked away.

There will be other skips.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekends are just not long enough...

Its simple. The whole work thing is officially cutting into my social life, garage saling, op-shop trawling, jewellery making, model building, and crap collection. Seriously.

This weekend was productive in so many ways. Op-shopping, check. Garage saling Saturday AND Sunday (o joy) - check. Grocery shopping, washing, housework,sort out back verandah, check. James Lee Burke novel - the first in the Hackberry Holland series -(discovered in an op-shop for $1)completed. Other acquisitions included pocket watch faces; records; a turntable which transfers records to USB; one of those shopping trolley things you can use to drag your stuff home from the supermarket; picture frames (various); two cute sidetables; a lovely and comfortable old cane chair; a table easel; and various other bits and bobs.

I don't usually use this blog to talk about other peoples' blogs, but I do have to mention a couple of sites I found this week, simply because they lead to other interesting ones.

Via Etsy, I found

Described as a place to catalogue the things you love, its like a massive pinboard of stuff on all subjects from anywhere. I haven't had time to truly explore yet but the little time I have spent has been most interesting. Kind of like random snippets of other peoples' likes...sharing everything and being able to re-pin the things you like. I sense considerable time wasting in the near future.

Seesaw offers 'daily inspiration' and covers all sorts of things, from DIY, art, fashion, furniture to their own handmade products. Again, some interesting stuff to distract one from the daily drudge.