As we prepared our house and garage to be tented for termites (a tedious process) my “stressometer” jumped into the red. If you don’t live where termites are a problem consider yourself lucky. Where I live in California, you can count on needing your house tented about every 15-20 years and filled with noxious Vikane gas to kill all the critters nibbling at your structure. All this requires a lot of prep and moving out for three days.
Weeks before I started going through kitchen cupboards to do some preliminary sorting as all opened food items need to be removed from the property beforehand or double-bagged in special bags to protect them from the gas. I tossed out a few expired spices, a nearly empty can of baking powder, old corn starch, a corn muffin mix from 2018, and on and on. It surprised me how much really could be thrown away.
And the fumigation company recommended removing all valuables, art, cash, jewelry and important documents offsite. But gosh, between my collections and my vintage business I have a lot of things I consider valuable. It felt like a nightmare. But I started by collecting up all my vintage and antique sterling silver pieces to wrap in tissue paper and put in a box to be safeguarded at a neighbor’s house. Here are two of my favorite antique creamers. I think both are Scottish.
My neighbors also got most of my jewelry too (like my collection of antique garnet jewelry) and my best store pieces along with a safe of important papers.
But so much was left behind including all my beloved art pottery, paintings and prints. It was painful.
One of the pre-fumigation steps includes cracking open every plastic bin, cardboard box, storage tote, drawer, closet, cupboard, etc. By the time we were done it looked like a bomb had gone off in our house… or at least a minor whirlwind. Well in the midst of pulling out plastic bins under our beds to open them, I discovered one filled with items I forgot I even owned! There were at least four leather purses, several beautiful silk scarves, antique lace bits and some very cool vintage hankies that I think belonged to my mother and grandmother. And I thought, “How could I have forgotten I owned these?!” I mean honestly!
Here are a few things I pulled out of that forgotten bin to list this coming week including a William Morris design silk scarf from the Met Museum and an antique crocheted cap.
It made me woefully aware of how much stuff we really have even though am always donating stuff and regularly set free stuff out at the street for neighbors. We have lived in this house for 30 years and it houses the accumulated belongings of four people, plus my vast inventory for my vintage business. It really is too much stuff and I am aware that it negatively impacts our lives.
My husband quipped that maybe this experience was a nudge to downsize more. And I agree. People I know who have moved often appreciate the forced downsizing that comes with it.
Well when we finally got to move back into our house three days later it was a relief to be home, but we had a lot to put away (we’re not done!) and we had to arrange to get our gas turned back on. But even with all the post-termite fumigation house rearranging to do, I simply had to go to our monthly flea market. After this stressful week it was a must. And it didn’t disappoint. (And yes that’s a man strolling in a top hat and cape.)
I bought an interesting collection of things, had a coffee and listened to the high school band perform a mean rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Remember.” And bonus I ran into my old thrifting friend Diana who was selling at the market. (She gave me a nice price on the two pottery pieces I bought from her.) When I got home and back to the reality of putting our house in order, I was in much better spirits than I had been all week.
Other than one last minute purchase (Army grenade box which stresses not to have these grenades transported above an altitude of 8000 feet), I bought all small items and only two breakable.
Total spent: $104.50
Sometimes when you start researching bought items, you get surprised. I started looking up info on the panda needlepoint above and found framed versions for $325 and $750! And I thought “What the heck!” Yes, I know framing is expensive, but these prices felt way out of line unless they know something about this needlepoint that I don’t. Hmmmm.
Now this Art Nouveau era metal compact (Djar Kiss) was sweet as can be but was quite corroded on the top. The seller wanted $20 and when I balked she said “It’s worth a lot more.” Well, I must have showed some doubt because don’t all sellers say stuff like that, but she said “No seriously. You’ll do well with this.” Since she was Diana’s friend I decided to trust her and bought it.
Back at home I started to clean off the corrosion with Simichrome polish. I’ve got about 70% removed, but I’m going to work at it more.
Currently listings range from $48 to over $500. Not sure what I’ll be able to list mine for realistically.
My only pottery buys were this signed burnished black jug and a tiny Otagiri pot with stylized birds (so ’70s!). I like how they look with my twisted-handle vase.
And this odd little metal basset hound was all big head and angles and was so different that I had to buy him. I’m thinking he’s likely 1930s-1950s.
Here’s one of my gambles…a carved bone vase that is possibly Russian or Eastern European given the scarf style. Information on her has been less than forthcoming, but I’m thinking I could list her for $60+.
I feel like I could go on for another 500 words, but I’ll close for now. I’m just so glad this necessary bit of house maintenance is behind us now and I can focus my attention and energy on better, happier things.
As always, happy hunting,