Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Back Story

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I've been yard-saling for as long as I can remember. I went with my aunt and grandmother as a child and thought it was just the greatest thing ever. Grandma gave you a dollar and you traded that dollar for treasure.

My husband and I moved to Newport in 2001. It seems like a lifetime away now. We had just moved home from California after working through the dot.com hiring boom on the west coast.  We were just barely married, and we had we just bought our first house.  Right before we passed papers on the house, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Mom had fought breast cancer five years before and won, but this was brand new. This cancer came with an expiration date.  For the next two years, I was at Mom's side, visiting doctors and doing my best to make memories.

From a young age my mother included me in her "craft" projects. We liked to joke that if you fell asleep on the couch she'd wallpaper you. I'm not sure that that wasn't true. Growing up I was her sidekick. Lots of parents let their kids "help paint." But Mom took it to a whole different level.


My mom was meticulous and I was her faithful assistant. I leveled the wallpaper, not once but three times each piece. I loved to snap a fresh blade with each cut of the paper. I didn't get to slap paint on the walls. I was taught to cut trim. By second grade I could cut a line like nobody's business.  I loved every minute of it. Every second.
I may have a different aesthetic from my mother, but I grew up with a love of order, a taste for good design and the confidence to tackle any project put in front of me. What was the worst thing that could happen? You start over? You can't learn if you don't try.

When my mother passed away at the age of 56 in 2003, without even realizing it, I fell to projects. I painted the exterior of our house three times. In one week. Painting a wall for me is the best therapy $30 can buy. The feel of the paint sliding off the brush, the transformation that happens under my hand. I look at a changed piece furniture or a freshly painted wall and think, I LOVE THIS and I DID THAT.

People do different things when they are sad. Some people eat. Some people drink. Some people run. I paint.
Paint washes everything away and gives me a fresh perspective. A clean wall is a do-over. 

I tell you all of this because often people ask me why I go yard-saling every week. What am I looking for? I'm working on a project tonight and this question popped into my head. I think I do it to savor the memories. Right around the time my mother passed away I met a neighbor over a project.
I walked across the street and asked to borrow his pressure washer to clean off a table I had just picked up at the local thrift shop. He came over to help me and long story short, my friend and I have been yard saling together every single Saturday since for the past ten years. And every week I still get that giddy feeling that comes with finding a great treasure. I think it's the thrill of the find, the excitement of making something ugly beautiful and the memory of being a kid.

I love it.

A couple of today's finds... I can't wait to lacquer this trunk. What color?? White? Pink?? 

My new computer desk. It looks beat up now, and it still may when I'm done, but something about the shape of it that I was drawn to.




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