Things that Sing

Sometime when I was in early high school my Mom and I started yard-saling together. I don’t really remember why we started, maybe someone needed a dresser, maybe it just sounded fun, I don’t know. But what I quickly discovered was that the fun of yard-saling is in finding things that just “sing” to you. If you haven’t experienced this before, it goes something like this: You are walking beside the table of other people’s discolored tupperware, and suddenly you see something that you never knew you would like. For me it is sometimes in a color that I didn’t think I liked, but then find all at once, that I adore. Sometimes it is simply an item that has the right shape, and I fall in love with it in the color that I plan to paint it. Whatever the case, it is seldom something that I could have anticipated loving. It just hits you, you pick it up, and carry it around with you to look at the other totally unappealing things. Sometimes you run into someone you know, and of course they look to see what you are getting, what you have tucked under your arm – you might feel compelled to tell them why you are buying it – why they should regret not having even flinched as they passed by your little treasure.

Our house is full of things like this, things that I paid very little for, and still stand around to admire them. Sometimes I have them around for years and just keep on loving them more. Just a couple weeks ago I came home with a bulbous yellow vase (to be completely frank, the thing is nearly neon). I know it was marked at a dollar, and I think I paid less for it. But the funny thing is, since then I have not stopped moving it around to different places to admire it, using it as the centerpiece in some rather aggressively colored table settings, and stopping whatever I am doing if the sun is shining on it.

What I love about this way of gathering favorite things and then decorating with them is the extremely personal nature of it. You have to risk a little – think of the vaguely curious looks you got at the yard sale, and magnify that into a look around your whole house. It is a way of decorating that really tells about the people that inhabit the space, and ends up not just singing to you, but singing about you too.

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9 thoughts on “Things that Sing

  1. I’m with you, sister! All of my best bargains and so many of my favorite items around the house are from The Garage Sale Galleria…

    Providence is so often abundantly generous by way of the garage sale and I’m so happy when I can share the bounty at my own sale! One other wonderful aspect of yard sale purchases is the “easy come, easy go factor”–I’m so much less likely to meanly cling to my belongings. If someone needs or loves one of my purchases, I can cheerfully offer it to them. If a find breaks, disappears or gets stained, no big deal…

    Enjoy that wonderful vase & happy sale-ing!

  2. It’s also fun to decorate with hand-me-downs and gifts. I can walk through my house and enjoy the knick-knacks as well as the memories of those who gave them to me. I have a painting by an uncle who loved to square dance; and a pen-and-ink by another uncle who had some sort of secretive job with the government during WWII drawing maps; a set of book-shaped coasters from a very funny and talkative great aunt who was once asked by an intruder burglarizing her house to please be quiet; a gorgeous sea shell collection from a friend who was giving some of her beloved possessions away knowing she didn’t have much longer to live; knick-knacks from my father’s travels around the world.

    It’s a good reminder to share our things with others to enjoy too. Maybe they’ll think fondly of you one day when dusting that vase!

  3. First, welcome to the blogosphere, Rachel Elizabeth. (Your dad set me straight on the whole name confusion thing a while back.)

    Second, this post fairly begs for photos.

    Third, for some of us, thrifting and saling is more of a stumbling block than a boon. I, for one, have entirely too much STUFF already, and trouble keeping it in order, so I try to be careful to limit purchases to necessary…or at least reasonably defensible things (like a recent cookbook binge). A friend of mine used to hit the Goodwill once a month for their half-off clothing sale. She would regularly leave with two grocery carts full of finds for her family of 10. Certainly a sane approach to shopping for a family of that size…until you realized that they all had so many clothes that the amount spent would about equal a normal store-bought wardrobe. The day of reckoning came when her husband got transferred to Europe. I’m happy to say she bore it with grace, purging and packing with awe-inspiring efficiency. And I’m happy to say that Holland hasn’t offered the same thrifting temptations!

  4. I LOVE it when items start singing to me, especially in parts. I don’t have as much time to shop at yard sales as I’d like though, so I must make do with ebay for the moment. I’ve instituted the “box in-box out” method. If I bring something in the house, something has to go out (usually, there are exceptions). I’m regularly backing up my minivan at the Salvation Army with items that need a new home, but when you have 1500 square feet, 4 kiddos, and a husband, decluttering is a constant endeavor.

    Funny though, I can purge and then purge some more, but God always sends us more material blessings, whether it is a garbage bag full of hand-me-downs or good books.

    As for items that sing to me, it’s very difficult to ignore the castralto. You might want to elaborate on the benefits of duets or trios in another article.

  5. Angie B, I so agree! There is very little in our house that isn’t a hand-me-down or a gift. (Many gifts from my mom were once garage sale finds.) It’s so nice to look around and think of all the wonderful people in my life that have blessed us with our treasures.

  6. It’s great to see you posting! I can’t wait for the next installments. I just wanted to say thanks for editing “Hot Providence” cookbook. We love all the recipes, but I know we’re in for a special treat if the name Liz (or Luke) Jankovic is by the title. 🙂 Have you ever thought of a decorating book (with pictures) BTW?

  7. At work I’m currently hunting for a photo to use for our annual Christmas card. As my supervisor and I were chatting yesterday about the options we have so far, we decided to keep looking because “I haven’t found one that sings to me yet.” Behold what influence your blogging has already had on the world!

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