Monday, May 16, 2016

The Moving Project Continues: Aftermath of a Yard Sale!

So, first of all, I hope you've had a chance to check out Dottoressa's guest post on Croatian cuisine. This is the first post in a series, I'm glad to say, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Our yard sale is done! Such a relief to be on the other side of all that preparation, the physical and emotional and logistical work involved. It went very well from a number of perspectives although my, yes, there seem to be enough leftover goods that we could open a small thrift store. . .
But that is not my problem. Pater has claimed that task as his fair share, and he's home for over a week, so I'm off to  Vancouver again for baby-sitting and for some self-care.

I'm thinking a few hours at the spa might help me from the emotional impact of having all the neighbours in to gawk at the cast-offs of my life, the now-dispensable ballast that I once purchased, supposedly, with hope, used with intent or skill or joy or frustration, even only with resignation to some once-necessary task or other...

There were some lovely moments, in Saturday's maelstrom. Certainly there were some grating ones: surprising how many people's delight in bargaining, pride in some interpretation of frugality, causes or allows them to ignore other people's feelings (oh yes! I have stories!). But why not focus on such happy vignettes as a friend coming to pay me for the shawl I'd knit years ago of a silk-kid mohair blend, all soft greys and lusciously lofty cables, a shawl I'd only reluctantly put in the sale. The five dollars, of course, wouldn't have bought a single skein of the 5 or so the shawl had gobbled, nor compensated for the tens of hours that went into its making. But to know that it would be keeping J warm for the next few years, that it was already newly treasured? Ahhhh....

Similarly satisfying sales were transacted with the three other knit garments I'd forced myself to let go of. Truly, this goes deep, knowing that someone else enjoys a knitted piece every bit as much as I'd hoped with each finger-throw of yarn around needle tip...

A neighbour stopped to tell me how delighted she was with a breakfast tray she'd bought with a loonie (Canadian slang for a dollar-there's a picture of a loon on our dollar coin). She's been trying to introduce a bit of colour to her decor, and the peach accents in the tray's surfaces complemented her new plans perfectly. She was even more pleased to learn that the tray had been a gift, 20 years ago, from Parisian friends who'd come to visit us on the island; my neighbour's daughter lived in Paris for years. Connections! Bonds strengthened somehow. My almost-ex-neighbour promises she will remember me when she uses the tray, remembers all the mornings that my running route would cross her and her husband's "daily constitutional." We never chatted much beyond "good morning" and the weather, but those simple conversations built up a cumulative pleasant sufficiency, and I'm surprisingly comforted to think the tray might carry them, long after their physical reality is gone.
The straw bag above I have had for nigh on 25 years, I'd guess, and I do love it in the summer, was a bit loath to part with it. But not once I saw who nabbed it: a young girl who accepted with considerable alacrity my offer to take what she wanted from the Miscellany table. A bit miffed that her grandma wouldn't buy her a used saxophone*, she added a stack of lined loose leaf paper to her new straw tote because "I'm writing a novel," she told me matter-of-factly. So there was a good reason I'd hung onto those leftover school supplies. Always good to support young artists, right?

I was elated to receive cash ($5 a pair) for a beloved pair of vintage Fryes and another of Fluevog ankle boots, not because the small sum would buy me anything sigificant, but because of the obvious satisfaction its previous owner had in giving it to me for the footwear. Yes, I'd been a bit sad at leaving those boots out of the moving boxes, but they weren't being worn enough to justify a place in whatever (definitely smaller) new home we find. And here was a young mom I like very much handing over some purple paper and telling me how much she's always admired my footwear and hoped she'd find something at the sale. If I'd known we shared a foot size, I'd have been hooking her up with hand-me-downs long ago. She works hard, has a great flair for fashion, and currently directs most of her income to mortgage payments and jeans for her three-year old. Now she'll be doing all that even more fiercely in great boots. Elated, I tell you! I'm elated about this!
Another happy-making vignette involved the foreign coins I'd sorted out of the piles Pater is wont to make, regularly, as he empties his pockets of change. There's a whole other post I could write about this habit (not too long ago, from his stash at the apartment, we netted over $200 when I insisted we haul the metal to the bank's sorting machine). But I'll just let you know that I separated the Russian, British, Euro, and old French coins into a hinged wooden watch box, and added them to the Miscellany Table. And just as I'd hoped, a young boy, perhaps 10 or 11, found the box. He came over to us and asked earnestly how much we wanted for the coins, opined just as earnestly, when Paul asked him what he thought would be fair, "thirty dollars." When I countered that maybe Free would be fair, he shook his head, doubtfully, but began to see where we were going with this negotiation, and decided to accept our offer. Not sure who was happier...those coins have been  taking up valuable real estate for too long Chez nous. Leaner, cleaner days are coming, baby!!

I'm off now to book a facial, I think, as a reward for all the tough work a garage sale is (my jaunty tone here belies the horrid crying jag that set in hours after our last customer left...).  My upcoming week in Vancouver will be full of little treats, as I prepare for the last big push before the moving trucks arrive. Meanwhile, though, if you're curious about the sartorial requirements of a successful garage sale? This worked for me: wrinkled olive cargo joggers, Aritzia; navy sweatshirt with lace yoke inset (that's the casual glam bit, don't you know?!) J Crew; white Birkenstock Arizonas.

What about you? Have you held a Yard or Garage Sale yourself? Would you do it again? Any memorable experiences from yours? OR are you a champion Garage Sale Buyer? Know how to track down the best venues, spot the treasure among the trash? Care to tell about your best find or biggest disappointment? Grab the microphone down below -- we're listening (okay, it's a keyboard and a Comments section and we're reading, not listening, but go for it anyway, why don't you?! ;-)



 * I'll tell you later where that saxophone ended up, along with details about a few more satisfying transactions.  . .











42 comments:

  1. I loved these little vignettes you've shared of connections made, and new meaning for old objects. Life is all about the connections, isn't it? Now, go pamper yourself...you've more than earned it!!

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    1. Thanks, Sue, and yes, Only Connect. . . . as someone wise once said. . . that's really the most important thing we can do.

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  2. Such precious stories....love the Fryes and the young mom and the coins to that young man and delighted that the young girl who is writing a novel now has a stack of paper waiting for her ideas!
    Enjoy your week with the grandchildren and the facial sounds like a wonderful reward for all your hard work!

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    1. Thanks, L. We're surrounded by stories, aren't we?

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  3. What a wonderful accounting of your sale - and congratulations for focusing on the happy/joyous stories (although, later, I suspect, you will also enjoy the truly awful ones, as I have come to do). You asked, so I want to recount the tale of selling my mother's household, which included quite a few of her ceramic efforts (she made a great many vases, etc., and I had already chosen to keep as many as I had room to accommodate). I had regretfully put out one cute but not very useful item, a pitcher, that was immediately pounced upon by a neighbor I didn't know well, and I was glad to sell it to someone who appreciated it. Years later, at our town's yearly antique fair, I spotted this same item and giggled to see it being sold with the label "Known Artist" - the seller saw me laughing and I pointed out my mother's name on the bottom. He immediately insisted on giving it to me, saying it had been given to him by a friend in exchange for something she had particularly wanted. I accepted, but went home and selected a vase my mother had made that I had kept but really didn't like, and returned to give it to him in thanks. My neighbor (his friend) had happened to arrive at his booth by this time and we had a good giggle over the perambulations of this little pitcher. She was clear that since I had regretted my original decision to sell it years earlier, she would have been glad to give it back - I needed only to ask. And now I can stop regretting having let that little pitcher go (but I still have to find room for it). So it goes . . .

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    1. Marsha, this is the best story I could have hoped for when I asked for Garage Sale Tales! Just delightful, and I'm so pleased you got the little pitcher back.

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  4. Hi Mater, I love the story of the serious little boy and the box of coins! We have done one garage sale and one table at a school flea market so far. Nowadays we tend to just give our stuff to Value Village or the Salvation Army - it IS a lot of work, and sometimes very emotional, to preside over a sale of your life/past, as it were.

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    1. He was pretty cute, Patricia -- if you could have seen his hopeful little face!
      We donate most of our stuff as well to whatever thrift shop is handy and serving a good cause. But on the island, all that stuff has to be hauled over so laboriously that we wanted to lighten the load first. I don't think we'll ever do that again.

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  5. We've had a couple of table sales in our front garden. What I enjoyed most was meeting so many neighbours and seeing how pleased people were with their bargains. Old friends dropped by for tea and drinks as the day wore on. We are on a school route and a commuter route so ideally placed to be noticed.
    We got pretty hot and covered with needles and sap from the cedar tree that sheltered us. Anything not sold was immediately taken to the charity shop. Of course these sales were not done under duress and were just a fun way of clearing the decks and making some useful money. Your sale was a much bigger emotional undertaking. No wonder you need a little tlc.

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    1. Lucille, we probably should have done something like your table sales regularly throughout the years. Because I flung myself, fairly late in life, into a demanding job and was also away often to visit aging and ailing parents and then the new grandchildren, I just didn't keep up, although we did occasionally put unwanted items outside the front gate for anyone to pick up. Your approach will stand you in good stead if you ever have to do a more global clearing-out.

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  6. I am moving home myself after twenty four years in our present house. You could be writing many of my own thoughts and it is indeed uncanny that I could feel so moved by the writings of a woman on the other side of the Atlantic (I'm in Ireland) -- you are a total stranger but I feel I know you.I don't of course. You are as I said --a total stranger.
    It is such a surreal experience to dismantle a family home. It nearly seems that I am reading your words and your experiences to tie down what is happening me too because I myself don't have the words to express the bitter sweetness of it all. Thank you Frances.
    Mary

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    1. Mary, somehow it really moves me to read this. I do sometimes wonder why I keep writing here, and I find it very gratifying -- validating even -- to know that I've managed to articulate something that allows others to see their own experiences reflected. You're very welcome, and thank you!

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  7. A lot of work. So many emotions. So nice stories.
    We don't have garage sales (yet!)
    We have weekly fairs.
    I went once as a young girl with couple of things. And have brought them home- I just couldn't part with things one by one. I gave them all together to Red Cross later
    Enjoy your weeked,you deserve it!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Of course, our garage sales here are the result of rampant consumerism -- we all have so much more than we need! I've been appalled to recognise how many items I've sent off to thrift shops or put out for our sale or even sent off to the garbage dump, items that were scarcely used. And I would say that I'm a very modest consumer (although clothes and books are my weakness, I will admit).
      Do you have anything like what the French call "vide greniers" then? Very similar to our garage sales, I think, so it must exist in some parts of Europe.

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    2. Yes,indeed (I have first to google it,I was not familiar with the term), maybe more similar to UK car boot sale-but,as I was not near either vide greniers nor car boot sale......:-)
      D.

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  8. I have never had a garage sale but I am donating a lot of household items to our Recreational Club garage sale. My best buy was in Paris (bien sûr) at the annual
    vide-grenier. I bought a Quimperware dish just outside an apartment in the Fifth.
    I'm glad that you were able to find suitable homes for some of your belongings. If I were your neighbour, I probably would have bought your blue rimmed Mexican glasses as I have a collection of them. Enjoy your Vancouver week!

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    1. I'm sure that every time you use that dish, you're back in the 5th again! Well worth packing it up carefully to bring home -- what a treasure!
      Very good eye, spotting those Mexican glasses. I was very surprised that no one wanted them but they'll go to a thrift store now where someday . . .

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  9. After my grandmother died we held an auction of her household items. She had lived in a big Victorian house that had been in the family for at least 3 generations, so it was full from basement to attic. We took a few things we wanted but most of the items were sold. It was actually fun to see people get so excited winning the bidding for some piece large or small. A friend wanted a stovepipe cover so he bid on a mixed box that contained one, paid $1, took it out and put the box back in the auction at the other end of the table. It sold a few minutes later for $3!

    Last summer my mother moved from her house to a retirement home. She wanted to have a garage sale, so I helped her with it. We should have done a lot more purging first; it was a lot of work. But still, it was a good day if exhausting. And I think it made her happy to see someone get enjoyment out of items she couldn't keep with her anymore.

    It is amazing how much stuff accumulates over the years. After these two examples I've been making an effort to clear out things I don't use anymore a little at a time, either selling on line, taking to consignment shops or donating. I'm hoping that if I decide to move when I retire it won't be so much work to clear out my excess belongings.

    Enjoy your rest and relaxation. I've no doubt that you've earned it!

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    1. Wow! I can't imagine emptying out a family home with three generations' accumulation of household goods. But I think an auction is a great way to move stuff -- and it would have settled the dilemma we faced several times throughout the course of divesting our house of stuff and of selling our boat. There were a number of quite attractive items that we had several people trying to buy, and "first come, first serve" isn't quite as easy as it sounds.

      If I have any wisdom at all after this, it's exactly what you say in your third paragraph. Clear out as often as possible. Try to get rid of much more than you bring in. Think of your possessions as you would Scrabble tiles -- they will count against you at the end of the game! ;-)

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  10. I have never had a yard sale of my own, but during grad school my friends lived in a neighborhood that has a huge rummage sale one weekend every year. I would cart anything I wanted to get rid of down there and spend a bit of time staffing their section.

    I'm glad your shawl and some of your other items have found new homes.

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    1. I think those big rummage sales are a great solution. A fundraising group on our island is hosting a roadside sale the weekend before we move -- if only it had been a month earlier! They've even arranged to have all the leftover stuff taken to a thrift shop (for a small fee by a local with an expediting business).

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  11. I loved your stories and I share the feeling of satisfaction when something you used to need and love but don't use any more is now going to be valued by somebody else, preferably somebody you know. I try to get rid of things more or less regularly, taking them to a flea market in the barrio. It is mostly books I am not very aattached to, so there are not many feelings involved. In general, I rush in and out without looking at the other stalls because I am easily tempted to buy something I don't really need. I love all types of ceramics and crockery, so had I been there at your sale, I would probably have fallen for two colourful plates I saw on your photographs.
    I am not surprised you had to cry when it was over. Because of the exhaustion, physical as well as emotional, but I suspect also because it was another step on the way to parting with the house, the island, the view (most of all). No matter how excellent your reasons may be, your decision is a painful one nevertheless, and it will take some time to get over it. Your week in Vancouver will help, I hope.

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    1. It is emotional, Eleonore -- thank you for understanding. I will be missing aspects of my life on the island for years to come, even while I'm enjoying whatever comforts and joys and adventures this next chapter may reveal.

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  12. I found garage sales of my things so dispiriting because of the haggling and attempts to get something for nothing by way of the put-down ("Well, this isn't exactly new"), that instead, in the last huge move, we put things on our basement shelves and invited everyone I knew with young adult children to come over, have a farewell glass of wine, and take what would be useful- everything from handbags to basketballs to a portable smoker.

    I was not willing to put up with the general public's shenanigans (though some are really nice) for $5 here and there. We only sold electronics in a street sale- it's hard to be emotional about a blender :)

    Enjoy the R&R!

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    1. It's true! Some people are so thoughtless, and believe me, it's tougher when those people belong to one's immediate community (I mean, there are fewer than 400 of us living on this little island!).
      But for this move, a big yard sale was the most efficient way to lighten the load. I love the idea of inviting over the young adults who will need to be setting up their own households -- wouldn't have worked for our very particular geography, but generally, an ideal approach.

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  13. Love the story of the boy and the coins, and the one of girl and the boots. It's wonderful when your cast-offs become someone else's finds. I mentioned in my comment on your last post about the sale, the yard sale we had after Stu's mum died. And one of my funny stories around that day (well, besides the many who picked up two garden rakes and just walked off with them) is selling some of my very old belts and accessories to Stu's ex. Now that was funny. Kind of like I grabbed him and she grabbed the belts and said "trade ya." Ha. Except for the fact that I met him years after their divorce.
    Enjoy some pampering... You really deserve it. Especially since it's your birthday today. Happy birthday! Darned Facebook is such a blabbermouth:)

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    1. Ha! That's a good garage sale story! (the garden-rake thief is an entertaining tale as well -- did your jaws drop as you realised what was happening?!)
      And yes, no discretion to FB at all! ;-)

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  14. A great post and a heartfelt share. Oh my yes, garage sales from the past :( .. Woe the 'early birds' . My garage sale terror is when the buyers collect up a few items and then say I'll give you this much $$ for this or I'll take away this item and then give you $$ , or how about I'll add this in and pay you $$. Math on my feet was never my strong suit. I've loved reading everyone's comments too !

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    1. Glad you enjoyed, Sandy, and thanks for stopping to comment. I was smart enough to hire a neighbour to help Paul with all the transactions, knowing I was probably going to be overwhelmed by emotion throughout the day -- so I didn't have to make to much change, but I did get to count the coloured paper as the pile grew!

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  15. I'm pretty good at filling bags for the charity shop periodically but have some weaknesses , like handbags & jewelrey so I'm no angel . I couldn't do a sale like yours though . I've manned too many stalls at charity fairs & it is quite dispiriting to have people haggling over pennies when such good causes are involved ( the worst are the dealers who plan to resell them ) . The children are often a joy , especially when a cuddly toy is involved - the mums are usually rolling their eyes at the thought of fitting another stuffed animal in the house !

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    1. Sorry forgot my name - well not literally
      Wendy in York

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    2. It's horrd, the haggling people do, and yet I know they pride themselves on it. The few times we've sold items on the island, I've announced clearly that the money will be going to a wonderful project spearheaded by one of our neighbours (The Village Medical Project in Sierra Leone - worth googling). The community has been fabulous about supporting this worthwhile endeavour, and no one has ever questioned the price if that's where the money's going. I can imagine how maddening it would be when you're volunteering for a good cause and someone's trying to stake out their own profit.
      And yes, I've been one of those eye-rolling mums! ;-)

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  16. Over the years I've had many, helped other with theirs and attended too many. During leaner years, the finds were a great joy.

    Now I give most items to charity and high grade better things to special events.

    I felt my prices were always reasonable. If a pro or some obnoxious person tried to barter, I'd just say "I'm not really sure I want to sell it." Funny how quickly they met the price. My attitude was that I really didn't need the money and if selling it made me feel bad, it wasn't worth it. It would be gifted.

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    1. Julie, you're a woman after my own heart -- I said exactly those words last weekend. A few times, when people were offering $15 for something I'd priced at $25 (beautiful, large ceramic planter filled with a mature specimen of a particularly desirable hosta), I said just that, thinking to myself that I'd rather gift it to someone I liked -- even at $25, I was hardly going to be padding the bank account!

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  17. A great post, I admire you for picking out the good parts of the day. I would find it hard to have such a sale in my home I think, I'd rather do it at a neutral venue, but from what you have said about island living I can see that would have been hard to arrange. I have a horror of hoarding, but I also love rummaging in charity shops and book shops, and hardly a week goes by without something making its way into the house. I keep a big carrier bag at all times for charity donations, and a steady trickle of outgrown clothes (my boys'), old shoes, books, and miscellaneous 'bits' end up in it for delivery every week or two at our local charity shop. X

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    1. Yes, I'd have preferred a neutral venue as well, or simply to have been able to haul it easily to a thrift shop for donation. You're very smart to keep sending out as much as you're bringing in, especially if you get joy from rummaging to find new treasures.

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  18. Well done Frances! I'm glad that you found some joy and comfort from seeing who became proud owners of your possessions. Like Wendy I find it disheartening when people argue over pennies, but hopefully that didn't happen to you. I do remember passing on some of my older children's toys, in particularly a large rocking car to my neighbours for their grandchildren. It eventually made it's way to my local school fete ...across from where we live. My children were thrilled to buy it back along with many other toys for their younger brother! I, of course, was thrilled to welcome all those toys home again!! :)
    Rosie

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    1. How wonderful that your children were able to buy those toys back for their brother -- how wonderful that they would think of such a purchase, wanting to share something they'd enjoyed. Very cool!
      (I find that disheartening as well, especially because I very happily gave items away if I sensed or knew that someone's budget was tight -- it was easy enough to do this in a face-saving way, throwing in a few extra items along with something purchased. Or in some cases, asking if someone would take it off our hands and save us from having to pack up and take an item into town to donate.

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  19. A belated "Happy Birthday" Frances! Hope you enjoyed your special day :)
    Thanks also, for your good wishes for my hubby's birthday.
    Rosie

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    1. I did enjoy it -- thanks for the birthday greeting (and glad your husband had a good day as well)

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  20. We didn't do a garage sale in our last move. I felt like I spent my days haggling with the caregivers (more so in NY than here even) and couldn't bear the garage sale haggle. Luckily we lived in an area with a strong Freecycle community and I posted many things, which were all snapped up by grateful people. It took longer, but the exchanges were often rewarding experiences. We also gave away much through personal or other connections. However I see how a garage sale would work better for you for this move, and understand the relief of being done with it and love how you highlight the bright moments in what must have been a difficult process.

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    1. You were lucky to have that community. We're going to have to do one more round of culling, I'm quite sure, once we settle in our new place and deal with the reality of too many boxes in a storage unit. I'm hoping we'll be able to find young family and friends who might be able to use some of our goods, or at least a really good charity thrift shop to donate to.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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