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Around North Hagerstown

August 08, 2006

Saling away on a summertreasure hunt!

Warm and sunny weather is the backdrop to one of my favorite outdoor activities - going to yard sales. I very much enjoy these treasure-hunting adventures and relish the thrill of finding something I simply cannot live without.

Joe, being the ever-practical engineer of the family, is happy to avoid such commotion, his reason being that if he can buy something brand-new and in ready-to-use condition, why settle for an item that he deems to be second best?

Perhaps Joe is soured on the whole notion of yard sales for this particular reason - one Saturday morning a few years back he discovered a fellow perusing his beloved and cherished toolbox in our open garage during a yard sale which several neighbors on our street organized and that we were not part of.

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I, on the other hand, love to go yard sale exploring and have turned the girls on to this fun activity. I generally have a game plan in mind - once I finish reading Mail Call (yeah, I admit it - I'm a fan), I turn to the yard sale sections in the Thursday and Friday evening papers and sketch out my itinerary. If a sale is scheduled for two days, I usually go the first day so I don't miss any purchasing opportunities. I also carry lots of change and a couple $1 bills - there's no worse yard sale etiquette than showing up and using a $20 to buy something that costs less than $1! I also avoid being an "early bird shopper" - if a sale starts at 8, it's just not polite to show up earlier!

Over the years, I have found some neat items that even Joe grudgingly admits were good acquisitions: brass candle sconces that are now hanging in my living room, the old wicker basket that fits perfectly under my living room coffee table and houses all our magazines, the Belgian waffle maker, the desk and chair that now has a permanent home in my living room, a lovely oak table I plan to refinish and use as a computer table in the family room, and a cute yellow sundress I simply had to buy.

The trick to not being disappointed during a day of exploring yard sales is to simply have no preconceived ideas whatsoever of what you're looking for - and I guarantee you will probably find the one perfect item you cannot live without!

As I mentioned, Joe is not a big yard sale fan, but a few years ago, he had an experience that began to change his thought process regarding the whole business of used items. We were driving past a neighbor's house and Joe noticed the fellow had placed two boogie boards on the curbside, presumably for trash disposal. Joe circled the van back to the house without explanation, stopped, knocked on the door, and came back to the van, boogie boards in hand. Astonished, I asked what he was up to, to which he sheepishly responded that he thought Tori and Kelley would enjoy using the boards and the fellow said he was more than glad to let Joe have them. Needless to say, I got a lot of mileage out of the boogie board incident and I teased him mercilessly about it for months, until the following incident occurred.

Joe and I had a lot of items that we needed to drop off at the landfill that could not be picked up during our usual weekly trash disposal. Joe loaded up the utility trailer with containers of used motor oil, old car parts and tons of tree and yard waste and we headed out on an afternoon journey to the landfill - the girls get a kick out of seeing all the heavy duty trucks and machinery in action and the ride out to the landfill is actually quite pretty. Anyway, we take everything to its designated area of disposal and are ready to go when Joe notices a bicycle sitting off to the side near twisted remnants of old bedposts, bookshelves and other metal objects that are beyond use or repair. The front end loader is off to one side, smashing items together and edging its way closer to the pile near our van when Joe makes his decision - he jumps out of the van, jogs over to the bicycle, gives it a quick look-over, and finally hoists it onto the utility trailer and firmly straps it down, just as the front end loader demolishes the items where the bicycle had just been a few minutes before. I wordlessly watch him and when he finally gets into the van, my silent smirk gives way to loud laughter until my sides ache.

Since the "recycled bicycle incident," Joe has warmed up to the idea of purchasing second-hand items and has even taken Tori out yard sale exploring only to come back with yet another bicycle for the Schmidt family garage on one such occasion. Amazingly enough, the recent yard sale bicycle purchase has turned into Joe's daily commuter that he uses to get to and from Mack Trucks/Volvo Powertrain. It seems second-hand items and yard sales aren't so bad after all!

Birthday greetings

Happy birthday greetings go out to my husband, Joe, who will celebrate his 42nd birthday Tuesday, Aug. 8. Here's hoping you have a great day and a wonderful year, Joe - now you can no longer tease me about being the "older woman!"

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