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Life in the Boomer Lane’s neighborhood yard sale

The Yard Sale: Land of Buzz Lightyear and Broken Dreams

| Sande Caplin |

Life in the Boomer Lane’s neighborhood yard sale was yesterday.  This year, the neighborhood combined forces with two other neighborhoods.  In total, 125 families deposited all of their unwanted items in front of their houses, grabbed their cash boxes, and prepared to negotiate the value of something they didn’t want anymore. It was like selling a house, except one doesn’t end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars and a nagging fear that one is in for a lawsuit the first time the purchasers fall asleep and the dog next door starts barking its head off every time he hears the slightest sound during the night.

If one could put all of the yard sale items back to back, and LBL isn’t sure she understands why anyone other than a professional who was actually being paid to do that would want to, the items would probably circle the globe several times. Or else they would go several blocks.  Either way, it’s a lot of stuff.

Something happens when items lose their usual place in the home and end up on a table with a bunch of other random items. We can’t remember why we ever bought them or why anyone else would want to buy them but we are fairly sure that we will hold out for a premium price for each item.

This time, LBL invited several clients who she had just sold houses to bring any items they didn’t want anymore.  Unfortunately for LBL,  they took her up on her offer. She now added a  glittery apple the size of a large pumpkin, an appointment book from 2009, and an oven mitt obviously made from nuclear waste. She also added about 100 other items, all with their own histories and associations. Many were gifts, in the category of “Why did I ever think this person was my friend if they would give this kind of thing to me?”

Two items were gifts from a man who did LBL’s client wrong.  They were relatively tasteful gifts, but T (as we will call the client) didn’t want to keep anything that would remind her of him, and they were things that she didn’t want anyway so it didn’t matter.  LBL noted that neither item was a piece of expensive jewelry or designer clothing. One was a large framed photo of a concrete cherub.  The other was an ornate Pottery Barn photo frame. Cherubs, being unusually popular yard sale items, along with tools and knock off purses, sold almost immediately.  The photo frame languished alongside other tasteful and unused photo frames.

Now Husband’s major contribution to the sale was six or seven unused personal flotation devices (bright orange life jackets).  LBL suspected there was a closeout of PFDs at the local West Marine, or else Now Husband was planning a business involving taking people out on his sailboat who were terrified of the water. LBL gave the PFDs little or no chance of being sold. About an hour into the sale, a woman came along who snatched up all of them.  She said, “I came to these sale to find two items.  This was one.” LBL is still trying to guess what the other might be.
LBL, in an annual attempt to get rid of items and not accumulate more, never walks the neighborhood to see what exciting items others are desperate to divest themselves of.  But this year, she broke her rule, the rule being “Don’t buy other people’s crap.” She waited until five minutes before the yard sale was scheduled to end and walked around the corner to see what was there.

At the first house, a small ceramic bowl caught her eye, primarily because it belonged to her. She turned it over to verify and sure enough, her friend’s initials were on the bottom. The bowl was part of a set her friend had made for her. It was now being sold for $2. The neighbor saw LBL examining the bowl and said, “It’s not mine. Someone left it here and we didn’t know who it was.” LBL of course answered that it was her bowl and the neighbor said, “You left it here!  Hurray!  Now you have it back!”  She didn’t charge $2 for it.  LBL took the bowl, happy to have it back and mystified since she had never been inside the neighbor’s house.

At the next house, LBL’s across-the-street neighbor who she was walking with, bought a life-size stuffed dog, to go with her actual breathing dog. This made sense to her and delighted the seller.

The next house had the dregs of leftovers that a young family with two boys have. Most involved electronic games and XXX. But there, almost hidden by other items along the fence was an almost brand new, high quality Buzz Lightyear spacesuit for $3. LBL scored. (Readers note: The Buzz Lightyear spacesuit was for LBL’s 5-year-old grandson, not Now Husband. If he wants to dress as Buzz Lightyear, he will have to buy his spacesuit himself.

All in all, it was a successful day, LBL having divested herself of numerous items to people who will probably try to sell them later at their own yard sales. And, for those readers who are consumed with the mystery of the small ceramic bowl, you should know that LBL was telling another neighbor the story.  When she said, “The strange thing is that I have never been to L’s house for dinner,” the neighbor said, “Oh, we have been there a ton.” Then, the light dawned, and she continued. “I think you must have left the bowl at our house when you came for dinner, and then we used it when we went to L’s house and forgot to take it home.”

This all makes perfect sense to LBL, who is just happy to have her bowl back and has already started to accumulate items for the next sale. Is anyone out there interested in a glittery apple the size of a large pumpkin?

Renee Fisherabout Renee Fisher……

Renee’s entire life has been formed by her naturally curly hair and her having topograpanosia, a real disorder of the frontal lobe that results in a complete inability to orient herself in space, as well as an inability to remember people’s names. Because of this disorder, she gets lost a lot.  If you see her wandering around anywhere, don’t call anyone.  Just get her ice cream.  That will calm her down.  For the hair, there’s not much you can do.

She is, indeed, a former hula hoop champion, as well as the co-author of two books for women over 50.  They are Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50 and Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50.  She is also a Featured Blogger on Huffington Post.

If you are a very important publisher, a wealthy donor, or if you would like Renee and her co-authors to speak or lead a workshop for your group or organization, you can contact her at:

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