"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Learning to bargain


Saturday we drove up through another small foothill town. This is Fiddletown. We were going to a couple of farm sales and to get to one of them you have to go through this town. Recently I wrote about Volcano, the town that we used to live in, and I always thought that Volcano was "small". Well Fiddletown wins, hand down, in the "small" department.
I don't know it's history and I don't know why a town developed up here, but there are some very old, very historic buildings on Main St. Some of the buildings are homes that people are living in , but quite a few just seem to be left in arrested decay and some others are being restored by a preservation committee.
It's interesting that there are still towns like this. The pace is so slow and the people seem relaxed and friendly. It's a mixture of old hippy's, farmers, people who have lived here forever and newer people who are referred to as "wine people". They have moved up here to start vineyards and produce wine. Most live in the Shenandoah Valley, to the north. It has become the new Napa Valley. They are usually well educated and have a lot of money. They build large wineries and huge homes. Some are very protective of the area and want a say in keeping it the way it is ,but some tend to throw their weight and money around just because they can..., and are use to getting their way. The conflict between all these different people is fodder for the newspaper. There is always some "conflict" going on in the foothills over who thinks they have the "right" idea. I guess this has been going on for a long time. The farmers, miners, business people and the "big money" have a history of conflict up here. Now the Amerian Indians are a rightful factor in all of this too. There's never a dull moment.

We drove through Fiddletown and across a creek, drove about 4 or 5 miles and found the farm we were looking for. Wow! Shades of the 60's. This place was not your grandpa's farm. I thought I was having a flash-back, especially when this hippy type young thing came out and asked us if we were looking for the "sale". We said yes and she pointed to the big barn on the hill .( That's the first picture.)
There were goats, sheep, chickens and dogs everywhere...., and then we started seeing all these painted trailers all over the place. My God, it's a commune! , and me without my long tie-dyed skirt and sandals. Just our luck they will have a huge marijunna drug bust today( it happens all the time around here) and we'll be in the Sacramento newspapers. What will our children think?
But, seriously, look at these wild trailers! I'm like a little kid in hippy wonderland, only I'm old and I don't have flowers in my hair.
Well, the owner didn't either. She was divorcing her husband, who was living in the house with the "hippy type young thing" and she couldn't wait to get out of there. I asked if I could take some pictures and she said "Sure". Then she told us more than we ever wanted to know about her life and how she wanted to find a place where she could be a serious artist. Turns out that the almost "x" husband has a camp here for inter-city kids who get arrested for tagging fences, buildings and trains. They come up here and paint huge canvases, live with the animals and the elements for a week or two and attend workshops about self- asteem; showing each other the creativity of their art and earning time on their probation. Not a bad idea. I worked with kids like this and some of them were very talented. The woman said that she loved the idea of all this but she needed to be 'somewhere else' now, whatever that meant. We bought some "organic" vegetables, a box of foam paint brushes, some tie-on tags for my gourd sales, one of those ugly light bulbs that last longer and are better for the environment, and a beautiful pumpkin that is pale and bumpy and going on my porch for Fall. Everything cost us $5.00. I took some pictures and we left, waving goodby, saying "Thank you.", hoping the D.E.A. wouldn't arrive before we got down the dirt road to the hiway.

We made one more stop on our way back home. This was one of those "someone died" sales. The barn was old but the house, up on the hill, was new. It's always sad to see all the furniture, books and clutter of someone's life sitting outside, lined up, well used, tagged and waiting to begin a new life with someone else. As I walked through the tables, touching all the plates, serving dishes and old stainless ware, I thought how someone had a lifetime of using all of this and, now, it sits collecting dust. They choose this place and they lived their life here and now they're gone . These are all the things that probably meant a lot to them. It's like a memorial. I needed to choose carefully and have respect for the one who used these things before me. That was when I spotted the kitchen chair.
Shades of my childhood! It was dirty, splattered with paint, rusty......, and in almost perfect condition. The seat and back were not torn. The rubber steps looked new. Nothing was loose and the tag said $15.00. I was so in love that I sat down on it. It didn't even wobble. I waited for the Prospector to come over. He ask me if I was tired. I said "No, I just don't want anyone else to take this." He said "What?" I said "This folding step stool." He took a look and said "It looks like my grandma's. Well, be sure you ask for less."
Now, this is the part of yard sales that I don't like: Bargaining and Bartering. I usually just pay the price and leave with my "find". I knew that I'd pay at least $30 or $40 dollars for one in an antique store, maybe more, so I went up to the man who seemed to be in charge and said I was interested in the red kitchen chair. We walked back to the chair and I said, in a most professional manner, " Would you take $10.00 for it?" He hesitated. Then, (and you have to understand I'm a novice at this) I said, " I have a $10 and a $1 in my wallet. That's it. I'll give it all to you." and I smiled. He said, "Well, I've already got it marked pretty low. ( I KNEW THAT!) I didn't say anything, but I opened my wallet and took the $10 and the $1 out and said "I might have another dollar in change." He looked at the chair one more time and then said, " You don't need to give me all your change. It's yours." YES!...., I'm getting better at this.
So...., I got a vintage "filled with memories" kitchen chair in really good condition for $11.00. The Prospector was proud of me..., and I'm sure his grandma was too.
Last night I clean all the paint off with some vinegar, soap and warm water. Isn't it beautiful? Need to work on the rusty metal . If anyone has any ideas on that I'm listening. What a fun day we had.


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4 comments:

castlewon said...

sure enjoyed taking that trip with you. Not so hot any more, is it?

Karen Deborah said...

My favorite find is some "retro" which I say tongue in cheek, itme that hs a lot of sentimental memory to it. To this day, styles come and go but I have the same lamp over my kitchen table as my mother had. It was not hers, it was just identical and I had to buy it. the table was hers, so it looks right together, just like home. What a fun day you had.

Bargaining does not mean that you have to bargain ever time. If you have a price you knowis low, and then they say they have it marked low I usually say something like,"wow I thought so, thaks for such a bargain," and don't barter at all. You did get a very cool piece. The trip sounds like a ton of fun.

Becky said...

What great finds. I love the chair... not sure how to remove rust, WD-40 on a shop towel?

I didn't get to your friends quilt show in Davis, just too much going on that week, but I would love to see your gourds on person.

That little town you visited sounds a lot like North San Jaun.

oldcrow61 said...

lol, you have me grinning here. You've brought back many memories. I remember many years ago when I lived in Ontario I would go to farm auctions. One time I bought so much, including a large organ and an old treadle sewing machine among other things. Got home, husband at the time says "You didn't get anything?" I said, "Well, actually, I had to hire a truck, it will all be here in the morning, lol. What fun! I still have the old sewing machine and use it all the time.