The state of the Estate Sale

Nancy Drew and The Making of Modern America

I have to admit I’ve been pretty discouraged with how the Estate Sale is going. It hasn’t even started yet (it’s five am and I’m banging out a post before the sale starts at 8am) and I feel like I’m looking my family’s carbon imprint right in the face. Box after box I unpacked yesterday only to discover stained clothes, broken electronics, dusty coffee makers minus their carafes and a whole lot of junk that probably nobody will buy. Normal people would take this stuff to the dump. We try to sell it.

discount alley

We are selling a lot of my grandparents things too that are quite valuable but we’re also trying to get rid of junk that probably been collected from five or six different households over the last fifty years. My mom has been having garage sales for as long as I can remember. People know she likes to have sales so they contribute. While that is great and all, unfortunately instead of getting rid of everything after a sale is done, she’s held onto it. And every year it’s dustier and more depressing. The good stuff sells and we’re left with the (what I would call) trash. My Mom says she gets rid of stuff but I have my doubts. I think she tries.

The weather plays a big part too. There is never enough room for everything so things are crammed into sheds that leak, garages that are dustier than the wild west and in the latest case, tarps in the driveway that flap open and get rummaged through by the neighborhood kids.

As households combine, break apart and then combine again, (my brother and his family moving in and out of my mom’s house) things that normally would be thrown away or be put in storage are stacked neatly and put under “temporary” tarps until lives get sorted out. Of course lives never sort out the way we want them to so the stuff spills over telling it’s own sad story.

For some reason in our family there are no crazy fights where boxes are thrown into the back of a truck and someone takes everything to the dump in a mad huff. Sometimes I wish that would happen. At worst we bicker and then resort to sorting through each other’s things when they are not around. Silly silly stuff that we attach emotional value to.


I’ve written about my struggle with my family and their tendency to collect stuff before. This is really nothing new and not (supposed to be) the subject of this post. Because while it is difficult to be in the middle of it all, there is still part of me that brightens when I see something here in the midst of the rubble that dates back to 1965 or even beyond. Sometimes it’s cool to stumble across a box of your old drawings from second grade tossed in with bills and receipts and birthday cards that have been chewed up by mice. Most likely the pack rat gene is embedded in me too.

Of course the difference between this sale and all the other garage sales that I’ve been part of all my life is that this sale is an Estate Sale of my Grandpa’s things. That’s how it all started really. My Grandpa moved into a fancy old folk’s home and my mom moved into his small trailer. Now we are trying to sell all of his things and her things so she can have some room to move about. Collecting is great but having a living room to walk about is even better.


Some of these things are valuable. My mom’s latest hobby is researching depression glass and Royal Dalton plates and who knows what else… She likes to dream big. I’m not sure. I don’t know if the crashing economy is going to make people want to buy used things more or send them packing because we don’t take credit cards. I’m not getting my hopes up. We probably won’t be able to get as much for the plates and things as an antique dealer could or even someone who has an account on ebay or etsy but we’ll try. Or we’ll die trying or something…


In God We Trust

So between the sentimentality, the family obsession with collecting and the dirt, dust and grime, I think we’re up to our ears in the Estate Sale. Which is scheduled to begin about two hours. Excuse me, I gotta go put up some signs.

Estate Sale Sign Here

Hopefully I’ll live to post about it.

Meet Tweet.

Meet Tweet

Greetings from the sick desk. Funny how last week I couldn’t wait to write about all the fun we had with the alpha+mom projects but now that I’m slogged over the head with the snots, all I really want to write is, “Hi. See you next week. Pass the Kleenex.”

But I wouldn’t do that. I’ll just drink my big cup of coffee and plow on through. Coffee is my answer to everything and yes, I know I would probably feel better if I stopped drinking it. But that’s not going to happen. At least not this week with the time change screwing with my head. If I ever stop drinking coffee you’ll know I’m either very sick or pregnant.

So! Onwards!

Last week we made a paper maché turkey. It was a blast. So sloppy and messy yet fulfilling. I took a sculpture class at our local community college a few years before Bug was born and I always forget how much I love working in 3D. You think you have it perfect and then you turn your sculpture a few degrees to the right or left and lo and behold there’s an arm where a belly button should be!

It’s challenging but freeing at the same time. I think it works parts of your brain that wouldn’t normally be used. Sort of like that drawing-upside-down trick. If you can turn off the voices in your head that tell you a house should have a triangle roof and the sky should be blue, then your artwork comes out ten times better than you expect. Bla bla bla.

Bug and Tweet

This post is not about left brain vs. right brain, it’s about Bug’s turkey! Her turkey was green OF COURSE!!!! We named him Tweet. Cute, no?

up to our mousy ears in paper maché

I had to sort of “fix” her floppy strips of soggy newspaper when she wasn’t looking but she definitely got into it. In fact later in the day she kept referring to our “balloon newspaper” project over and over. I think it made a big impression on her. Kids really don’t care about the end result. It’s all about the process. And believe me, this process is about as hands-on dirty as you can get. I’m glad we didn’t have any permanent pigment thrown into the mix or it might have been a little too much mess even for me.

The thing I didn’t realize is that when flour and water and salt combine and then dry they really do create glue. Glue that sticks to your patio and carpet until you get down on your hands and scrub it off with a fork and eight gallons of elbow grease! Shizer! I still have bits of white crud stuck in my carpet and I had company on Friday that I had to clean up for! It was bad.

So, that is my warning to you: If you want to do paper maché, stay on top of the drips and drops and don’t let them harden and become tomorrow’s worst enemy. Maybe it’s not that bad. I just don’t like cleaning as much as I like making messes so I wish I had been more mindful as I was going along. I’m so used to just hosing paint off our patio with no effort that I didn’t really expect the hard labor scrubbing that came later.

One other thing: Paint. We were on a deadline when we did this project so I didn’t really have enough days to let things completely dry and harden. Then on top of the birds not being completely 100% dry, I used cheap kid paint to paint them. I think the water content in the kid paint is higher than my regular acrylics and that didn’t work well for me. It actually weakened the paper structure and when I punctured my turkey with the wire for feet, the balloon inside contracted and sucked the turkey in with it. It was a panic moment.

Thankfully, I was able to cut a large enough hole to fit my hand in and mold the turkey body back to it’s original un-dented form. But it was a close one. I think if I was working on something smaller, it would have been doomed. My second bit of advice, let it dry completely and use the good paint.

painting... her hand

Since we let Bug’s piñata sit for an extra day, it was fine. No crazy sunken-head birdy for her, good thing! We painted him up, glued on some googlie eyes, a paper beak and some feathers and he was done.

adding detail

I let her color on him with a Sharpie (I love living on the edge!) and she promptly punctured a hole in the poor bird with her pen. Then later when I was off doing dishes or something and the birds were sitting on the coffee table on display, she pulled off all Tweet’s feathers and stuffed them in that same hole.

What can you do, right? Kids will be kids. All I can say is that it was a fun project and it used up several hours that would have otherwise been wasted watching tv.