sailing the seas of yard
Sunday, June 8 2008
David (of Penny and David) called me from the a yard sale today asking if I wanted any of several items he proceeded to list. I said I'd take the five inch Black and Decker bench grinder. I then said that I wished I was out yard saling with him. So he said he'd come over right away and pick me up.
So I spent the day yard saling with David. He obviously has a lot of experience at it, knowing which neighborhoods are best (upscale) and what to look for (day glo paper signs at intersections). The main advantage of yard sale purchases, of course, are the prices. The grinder David had bought for me had cost him $1, roughly three percent the price a similar item would have cost me at HarborFreight.com (the absolutely cheapest source of reasonably-usable new tools). We quickly exhausted Marbletown and continued into Rosendale, where we found few yard sales but much interesting architecture (particularly in the hamlet of Bloomington). It was clear that part of the fun of yard saling was the excuse it provided for driving through random neighborhoods off the main road. I've seen a lot of backroads Ulster County from my days as a computer housecall technician, but I'd never seen much of what I saw today. There was this one place off Route 32 where we found several blocks of beautiful Victorian houses centered around a large, blocky, windowless industrial building equipped with a loading dock and a massive transmission antenna. None of its signage provided any clue as to what its business involved.
In this area, we rolled up to a house which was holding what David later referred to as a "permanent yard sale." When we arrived, a mellon-shaped man came out of the screen door to say hello and watch us as we looked over his smattering of grubby wears, which centered around a collection of fist-sized porcelain angels. The mellon-shaped man said something completely nonsensical about a motorcycle wagon, and I made like that was very interesting. Then we hurried back to David's Land Rover. Part of the fun of yard saling is sailing into the worlds of people whose lives would otherwise remain invisible. And part of the fun of seeing those worlds is being able to string together jokes about them immediately afterwards, jokes that conjour up images of mothers sitting in rocking chairs years after they've died, anal violations via various everyday phallic objects, and any of a number of familiar cinematic clichés about simple folks who don't happen to be photogenic.
It was in the relatively-posh Kingston neighborhood of Albany Avenue where I made my first serious yard sale score. A woman and a man had put out an interesting collection of books, including a series from 1974 called The Family Creative Workshop, an A-to-Z encyclopedia of craft and super-light-industrial knowledge. When I picked up the G-H volume and saw something about both glass working and greenhouses, I thumbed through them in interest, eventually buying three of the volumes (at 25 cents each). I also bought a microwave oven which, unlike ours, features a turntable (essential for evenly-microwaving food).
Eventually we found our way across the Hudson to Rhinebeck, and as rain first threatened and then sputtered to a start, we zeroed in on a pair of yardsales on well-hidden sidestreet. One of the sales still had some good stuff, including a small backpack (which I bought) and a $100 player piano (which seemed like an incredible deal).
We retired to downtown Rhinebeck, and David went to its liquor store to buy one of his four vices (Calvados brandy, the other three being lottery tickets, his Land Rover, and air conditioning). Next we had some slices at Village Pizza, and then drinks at Fosters Coach House, the coldest, darkest bar in the entire region. It was great to get off the street, where a bank thermometer had the temperature at 98 degrees Fahrenheit.
A thunderstorm had happened by the time David dropped me off at my place. Sally was nowhere to be seen, so I rode up the street on a bike to find her. She gets scared in thunderstorms, and lately if nobody is home she will go to a neighbor's house. Normally she'd go to Andrea's place, but since Andrea wasn't home either, she'd gone to the Greenhouses, who had gladly let her in and made her comfortable. When I showed up looking for her, the Greenhouses invited me in and handed me a glass of wine. Before long they'd put me to work lubricating a ceiling fan and connecting their DVD burner to their satellite box. They're in their 80s and such things are impossible for them and effortless for me.
This evening Gretchen cooked up a delicious meal of tempeh and risotto and invited over Penny and David. We ate out on the south deck, which was sort of a mistake because, though we were all being devoured by mosquitos, none of us had the initiative to move the party inside.
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