Yesterday I drove down Jupiter Road from Allen, where I live,to Garland, where I have my office, some forty minutes or so away. I chose the surface streets so that I could hunt for estate sales on my drive down. I like to look for old books, and I have a "quest" on for an inexpensive 10 gallon fluorescent light aquarium hood.
When I got to the corner of Bethany and Jupiter, in Allen, I found a local "preschool PTA" had a giant 90 table rummage sale in session. I stopped and took a look. Unfortunately, about ten percent of the tables were people selling "products", like Dorling Kindersley books or special mixes for cookies, the sort of thing that people run parties at peoples' homes for. I think this sort of thing is all well and good, pink cadillac-ish and small scale capitalism and all that, but when I'm flea marketing, I'm in search of things well-used and marked way down. Otherwise, I'd go on the 'net and find it at marked down retail, or go to Wal Mart. I almost bought a five dollar trick yo-yo, as I do not have one now (my tricks, by the way, stop at "walk the dog"). I meant to buy the ornate show kite but forgot to do so. One fellow had a 29 gallon aquarium with lots of cool accessories. But when I asked him what he wanted, he said "50 dollars". I have bought two aquariums at yard sales this year, each time paying 5 dollars. The fellow, nice enough, began a sales pitch about how in the stores I'd pay some 50 dollars for the tank alone, and that the accessories cost two hundred dollars--he'd seen the receipt from the "lady" who bought it. I was polite enough not to say that (a) I do not buy at yard sales in order to pay even the merest fraction of retail, otherwise, I'd go on eBay or to a store; and (b) if this "nice lady" paid 250 dollars to set up a mere 29 gallon tank, then I have ocean-front property in Nebraska to share with her (although I'll bet, now that I think of it, that some paleolithic ocean may have run through Nebraska--I suddenly imagine "Sandhill Crane Shores", filled with fossils). I did not buy anything.
As I crossed into Richardson, two suburbs south, I saw a sign for an estate sale. I stopped. Although, sadly, this estate sales was being run by "professionals", who sometimes mark things what they are worth, this was nonetheless an interesting sale. I love to see the books. The books are what matter to me at an estate sale. Here the books told the story--the old engineering books, with a slant towards petroleum engineering, coupled with newer books with a Baptist slant, including hymn books. I constructed a whole story in my head--he's been dead for decades, but he worked for the oil company; she was devoted to her church, and she's just passed on. I did not buy any books, though I lingered a bit over an older hymn book, but only because the cover said it had shaped notes, which I mistenly read as "shape note", which I thought was going to be the older notation (like in the Sacred Harp songbook), which I would sell on eBay, but then it wasn't that at all, just mainstream notation. I am not a big singer of traditional hymns these days, but I must remember next April to attend the shape note singalong they have at some seminary in Fort Worth this year--I love to hear those unison singers. I'm pleased about our local Polyphonic Spree,by the way, becoming hip, but that's another topic for another day. I dislike singing in four-part harmony, because I have an imperfect voice, unable to hit tenor notes, but too high for proper bass ones. Give me unison, and a world in which all people are one.
At the estate sale, I reluctantly passed up all this great camera and home movie equipment, but I did get the great stereo dynamic microphone on offer, a little panasonic with two mikes facing opposite on a little triangle bar. I'm ready to begin recording again, and I can have fun with this. Now that 4 track cassette recorders are so dirt cheap, I keep trying to score on on eBay for less than fifty dollars, but my forty dollar bid on one was outbid by a dollar. I am tempted to use overdubbing with my 2 track, a symphony of cheap cassette recorders playing, a hiss festival, at least until I can get my friend Scott to bring his studio over again.
I drove on into Garland, where my immediate destination was the huge Garland Public Library book sale. This annual sale is grand. Tens of thousands of books, one dollar for hardcover, fifty cents for paperback. I bought ten dollars' worth, a potpourri ranging from Rosicrucian musings (in one of those little thin hardcovers that such works often come in) to a better copy (than I have) of Thomas Trowards "Dore Lectures" to a guide book to western Canada to a well-used copy of the childrens' novel "The Phantom Tollbooth" to a book on guppies, to this great Audobon society book on "lesser known mammals", which featured those little Audobon stamps of colorful animals pasted in over the black and white picture. The book cover said "Donated by Girl Scout Troop 1400" and I was grateful to Brownies everywhere. Some of those mammals were wiggy, and anyone who thinks that there is no sense of humour in the Universe has not read any Audobon books.
Then I went to my office, as I had one thing I had meant to do Friday that I wished to do Saturday, and I knocked it out with despatch, and wrote an e mail while I was there.
I drove back up Jupiter Road to J'Kusina, a "hole in the wall" Filipino restaurant I'd been meaning to try, and read the Troward book while I ate a good meal of chicken adobo. When I paid for my meal, I noticed that they had a tiny "all you can eat" lunch buffet, which might have been fun to try things I've not tried, but probably just as well as I did not overeat this way.
I stopped off at another estate sale in Richardson on my drive back. I bought a radio I thought was a shortwave (but only turned out to be Am/fm/weather). I'll eBay it off, as it's not the "travel cheap shortwave" I'd hoped to get. I also got a small chess board, made of processed wood. Finally, I got a watercolor original painting of a butterfly on a flower, which the seller said was painted by Elizabeth Todd, "a direct descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln", and who could quarrel with that? The three items all told were essentially nothing (far less than the cost of a 29 gallon aquarium), but I did not find any aquarium stuff this trip.
I did pull in our Allen outlet mall to see what stores they had now, and noticed that they have enough stores to be really a shopping locale in their own right now. I am skeptical whether one actually finds any "bargains" at outlet malls, but it's nice to know that next Xmas I can shop there without having to drive way down to a crowded mall. Last year I used eBay a lot, though, and maybe that's a good solution this year. I would hand-make presents, but my crafts skills are such that this plan would work only if I wish to end communications with each recipient relative. At the remaindered bookstore, I found a book on the Pacific Northwest for a travelling friend, Jane Austen's "Persuasion", and a sundry few other things, all for a very inexpensive price.
When I got home, my wife and I headed to the Trinity Trail to take a nice hike together. The weather was perfect--I love north Texas October! There were more flowers everywhere than I have ever seen on the trail--huge yellow susans, a purple pineapply thistle flower and lots of little violet-type things. When we got to the lake, which is where we turn around, we stopped to watch great white herons fishing and great blue herons flying by. We saw a huge hawk hunting, and killdeer shouting "kill deah". Sea gulls were dive-bombing the water for bugs or small fish. They would "splat" as we watched with a lot of force and noise. Everywhere we saw migrating monarch butterflies, ever so slowly moving towards Mexico. Monarchs taste bad to birds, so they lope around with no fear whatever of being eaten--like a slow motion moment in a Fellini film. We also saw huge spider webs, seemingly in mid-air, occupied by giant spiders taking advantage of Autumn gnats. Horse riders passed us, equally entranced by the beauty of the trail. We spoke about how, when we retire, we may just stay in Allen.
We had dinner at the rockfish grill (I had Lousiana gumbo for an appetizer, followed by grilled catfish), then settled in to watch the fellow from Texas Tech who throws for more passing yards than can be believed, but then we tired, and fell asleep, and I do not remember my dreams.