Copyright 2004 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner                                                                 June 10, 2004

A Tiny Rhinoceros

    My feet hurt, my leg muscles are sore, and my right shoulder feels as
though someone has tried to pull my arm out of the socket.  I probably have
an aching back, as well, but I'm not aware of it because I've sprung too many
of my other parts, and pain signals from my back aren't getting through to
my brain in the crush of messages from damaged anatomy.  No, I wasn't in a
fight or a car accident; I hurt myself by having too much fun at garage sales.
    The annual Old West End Neighborhood Festival took place this past
weekend in Toledo, and hubby and I did our usual routine of going to our
friend Tom's house for a two-day party and a trek around the art fair and
interesting garage sales that draw thousands of people into the area.  We got
a late start from home on Saturday, and only had time to hit a dozen or so
sales before it was time to return to Tom's for food, liquid refreshments, and
    Tom has lived in the Old West End for over twenty years, and for
most of those years he's used the Festival as a good time to throw a party for
his friends, neighbors, and relatives.  He's a great cook in general, but his
party specialty is smoked pulled pork sandwiches, a treat he does so well
that his parties are always well-attended.  Over the years, his house has
become a traditional gathering place for friends who want to enjoy the
Festival by going to sales and looking for treasures and bargains, then
retiring to Tom's front porch for martinis, cigars, and people-watching, or to
his back yard for food, music, and a campfire.
    After staying up into the wee, wee hours, we grabbed a few hours'
sleep, then congregated on the front porch to try to wake up while waiting
for our friend Jessie to arrive.  Jess just moved into a new apartment, and she
wanted to look for a couple of inexpensive chairs for her dining room.  Just
what we needed to inspire us for a day of "sale-ing," something to look for, a
goal, a mission!  Could we fill Jessie's Cosmic Order?  I was confident that
we could; you can find anything during Festival, including things you didn't
know you needed until you saw them.
    I didn't know I needed a tiny rhinoceros until I saw it, a two-inch cast
metal sculpture, nicely detailed.  Hubby and Jess made fun of me, "What do
you need that for?", etc. etc..  I didn't actually need a tiny rhinoceros, but I
wanted it, which, at Festival, amounts to the same thing.  "You'll see.  I'm
buying this for a reason, even if I don't know what that reason is, yet, except
that I want it!"  Sometimes, objects just speak to me, saying, "Yes! I'm
yours! Take me home right now!" and I almost always listen, because I
know from prior experience that if I don't, I'll soon regret it.
    A few blocks and several purchases later, we ran into my mother-in-
law, who'd come to the Festival to visit at Tom's and to take in the art fair
and to tour a few of the restored homes, which is one of the ways that the
neighborhood association raises money for its projects.  Chit chat, this and
that, and "did you find anything good?"  I reached into my bag and pulled
out my prize, exclaiming, "I found a tiny rhinoceros!"  I didn't know (and
neither did my husband, I guess) that my mother-in-law has a collection of
tiny animals, but she didn't have a rhinoceros.  So I gave her mine, and she
was very pleased, and so was I, because I'd once again proven that it is right
to obey the Garage Sale Gods when they tell you to buy something for no
apparent reason.
    When hubby and Jess decided to check out the sales with me, they
didn't know that I'd be leading them on a version of the Bataan Death March,
and Jess didn't know that the clogs she'd formerly thought of as her "walking
shoes" would turn into instruments of torture after a couple of hours.
Despite their pains, they both kindly acted as beasts of burden for many of
my purchases, after my own bag began to fill up and get heavier.  I didn't
mosey along between sales, but made a beeline from one to the next,
because I knew that they'd catch up to me, check out the sale, and then have
to wait for me before I was through examining the items for sale.  That's
how I find the good stuff, by looking closely and spotting things that others
have missed in their haste.
    During one of my forward forays, while my companions had stopped
for some food (food? who needs food when there's another sale further down
the block?), I found the perfect pair of chairs for Jessie's dining room, price
already reduced.  I was writing a check for the chairs when they caught up to
me, and it turned out that the chairs I'd chosen just happened to match the
table that she already had, natural varnished wood surfaces with white
painted legs.  It must have been meant to be.
    My "haul" for the weekend is a nice bunch of goodies, including two
large brass urns that were much admired and envied by the folks back at
Tom's, even though hubby still doesn't understand why I bought them.  I
found a Bakelite bangle bracelet for fifty cents, a bunch of books, a red
kimono, retro toys like wooden blocks and a spinning top for the grandkids,
several VHS tapes of classic monster and outer space movies, vintage Art
Deco and Fifties glassware, an antique cigarette lighter and mechanical
ashtray, a Japanese matchbox cover with a dragon design, a nesting
Matrushka doll for the Red Room, a Thailand T-shirt, a Castalia Blue Hole
souvenir thermometer (I loved the Blue Hole, and I'm sorry it's now closed
to the public, so I always grab Blue Hole stuff when I see it), and enamelled
copper dish, a Sixties wig box with the original "Ze Pel stain-resistant
fabric" tag still attatched, a painted wooden bowl from Russia, beaded
necklaces to wear or use to make other jewelry, an antique mirrored hanging
shelf, old "Life" magazines with articles about the space program, and a
vintage box of "I'M-OK" Gem brand paper clips to go with my Rolodex and
antique stapler. Oh, and a pair of vintage water skis, for free.  That isn't all of
it, either, but you can see it was a good weekend.
    Next Saturday, North Baltimore will hold its city-wide garage sale
day, and our friends will come down to hunt for bargains.  Despite my big
score at the Festival, I plan to be out "sale-ing" again, looking for things I
don't know I need until I see them and they tell me to take them home.  I
urge all of you to go sale-ing, too, and to listen to that voice that tells you to
buy something when you see it, for reasons as yet unknown.  That item will
come in handy, sooner or later.  If you, as I do, find it difficult to select gifts
for your mother-in-law, you might be surprised to find that she'll be pleased
with something as unexpected as a tiny rhinoceros.

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