I make my husband nervous when we are in antique shops. It seems that every time I touch something I knock something else down or something falls to the floor. He gasps and says "Honey be careful!" Once I dropped the lid to something and his eyes got big as saucers as it clanked around on the ground. I said "I'm sure they are used to people dropping stuff all the time." He didn't look soothed. Sometimes he just walks away from me because he doesn’t want to be around when I break something. I haven't broken anything yet but I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time. I guess I’m not graceful and can’t delicately lift a plate off a shelf without upsetting the things around it. I have a domino effect on stuff. I pick one up and three fall over. I am the proverbial bull in a china shop.
I think my real issue is I’m not happy with just looking at what’s on top, what can easily be seen. I like to dig around. I like to poke underneath and behind. I like to look for the treasure that might be hidden underneath something else. When you do that things get jostled and you’re going to make a little noise. While I hate that I embarass my husband, just like with people, if you look beneath the surface you are sure to find something wonderful.
This past weekend we threw together a last minute out of town get away to visit thrift, antique and junk shops. We hadn’t been away in a long while and we needed to hit the road. Turns out we really needed to hit the road because a bad storm knocked out the electricity at our house and in 100 degree weather we needed to find air conditioning and fast. We headed south to Richmond Virginia, capital of the confederacy and home to Virginia Commonwealth University. As it turns out also home to some really cool thrift and antique shops. I’ve always been a thrifter but since becoming a Pinterest fanatic I’ve also become interested in Upcycling. Upcycling means taking something old or useless and converting it in to a new product that is useful or has a higher value. In other words you take some old piece of junk you find in a thrift shop and you make it in to something cool to put in your house. My mission this weekend was to find a few of those old pieces of junk.
What we found was this place. We liked it so much we went twice. I came home with a solid wood antique window shutter for $12. Not exactly sure what I’m going to make with it but I know it’s going on a wall when I figure it out. My husband is building an antique tool collection and he bought an old hand saw and file for about $5. I got this old cookie crock. It was missing the lid but otherwise in perfect condition. The thing is heavy…solid. It spoke to me. It said “You are always making cookies…you need me in your kitchen.” It cost $4. I have repurposed it to hold my kitchen utensils. We found lots of old goodies for not very much money. Call me a simple woman but I got so much pleasure from digging through what basically amounts to other people’s old stuff. If you haven’t heard George Carlin’s routine about “Stuff” you must check this out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac
This place smelled like my grandma's attic which was one of my favorite places to hang out as a child. I found things that were familiar…things I had around me when I was a child. I would pick up something and say “My grandma had a mirror like that” or "My mother had a pan just like this." I couldn’t pass a Pyrex bowl without picking it up. I’m not quite sure why but there must be some deeply seated memory attachment to it. I found a red toy chicken from a farm set we had as children and I remembered playing with those Little People toys for hours and hours with my brothers and sisters. I wish like anything I still had my Fisher Price doll house. I can remember every detail of the thing from the fireplace painted on the living room wall to the thin little foam mattresses on each plastic little bed. I remember the daughters braids and the way the dogs ears stood up. I loved that little people family. They had a perfect little house and a perfect little life.
I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to this old stuff lately other than I'm getting older myself. I wonder 50 years from now what will be important to my grandchildren and their children. What will they pick up and say "remember when Grandma used this?" The idea of a part of me sticking around in my belongings and in my stories makes me feel really happy.
Now I'm off to eBay to see if I can find myself one of these.