JUST US AND THE CHICKENS

Charleston in July is hard pressed to find a day that doesn’t make it into the 90s.  And then, Mother Nature puts the icing on the cake and tops the heat off with a good dollop of humidity.  Just to let us all know that she is still in charge.  Thank God for Willis Carrier!  The Great One and I wonder how we ever survived without air conditioning.   So, who in their right mind goes to an outdoor moving sale on a day like that?  Looks like just us and the chickens. 

As the chickens were neighbors, they didn’t have to sit through the light at the Main Road/Savannah Highway intersection more than a time or two and hope that WAZE could find a street we had never heard of on Johns Island.  So, when we finally arrived, they had quite a head start, having been the early birds.  Fortunately, their tastes and ours were at opposite ends of the spectrum.  (Thanks to Danny and Veronica for letting Lessie, Beyoncé, Woodstock and Little Peep stand in for the chickens whose pictures I forgot to take.)

So, while the chickens negotiated with the sellers, we began to look around and lo and behold, there sat a Space Ranger box.  Wouldn’t our Space Commander love to have a backup vehicle?  All that stood between us and the box was an ant nest, which we didn’t notice until one of the ants, having had his home turf invaded by my foot, made his presence known. 

Now what are the odds that this hard to find cardboard box with space themed graphics would hold an entire set of Space Rangers in pristine condition?  Needless to say, it was worth the ant bite.

Our favorite find, of course, was the Space Rangers, but we found a few more treasures, as well.  Among them the one thing every home needs - an elephant doorknocker.

Certainly, every home needs a little red wooden puppy dog to sit in the window.

But most importantly, because it makes a house a home, “all you need is love.”

A NEW MONIKER FOR THE GREAT ONE

So how long had we been hanging on to that old Philco radio/record player console?  Long enough.  It's now a bar and is waiting for a new owner to find it at Antiques Market in Moultrie Plaza on Coleman Blvd in Mt Pleasant.  The Great One can check that one off of his to do list. 

Who would have ever thought he’d turn into Handy Randy?  And even more amazing, he is actually enjoying it. 

He now has a work table (we rescued from a trash pile) that takes up most of the garage, which has never housed a car anyway. 

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A vise, purchased from a yard sale, is now properly attached to his table waiting for the opportunity to be of service. 

And he is not lacking in screws, nails, nuts, bolts and other thingamajigs as we found some organizers at an estate sale filled with lots of goodies.  Probably way more than we'll ever need.

Because “a clean workspace is a happy workspace,” a large shop vac, sucks up the dust as fast as he generates it.  (Seems he finally realized that the tiny little one he insisted was all we needed is not going to cut it.  I won’t say I told him so, but. . .) 

Now if I can just talk him into a router and a saw or two.  I see signs and frames in my future.  

I'VE GOT SOME EXPLAINING TO DO

Unlike curiosity, procrastination will not kill the cat – the blog maybe, but not the cat.  So, what ever happened to that single solitary New Year’s Resolution I made? Although I had plans to post to the blog on a regular basis, old habits die hard.  Let me explain why the blog has been lacking in new posts – not excuses, mind you, just an explanation.

First, work has been crazy.  While the overall amount is less, the schedule is more fluid and it seems to arrive in dribs and drabs with no rhyme or reason to the timing.  I’m not complaining – an unpredictable schedule is better than a total lack of work.

Secondly, I decided to try my hand at refinishing an old desk and I’m hooked.  So then I took on a 1930s chest of drawers graciously provided by my next door neighbor and now am working on a Remploy tea cart.  Although I still have a good bit left to do on that, I’m already looking forward to my next project.  We have plenty to choose from in the garage – no cars, just projects.

And finally, the booth across from us at Antiques Market became available and we decided to expand.  We now have 4 walls instead of just 2 but our booth is still wide open with a nice wide aisle down the center.  Plenty of space for lookers and pickers.  We also now have room for all of the things that wouldn’t fit in the booth before along with all of Randini’s cars and planes.  Stop by and take a look.  If you go in on Sundays, you will even get to meet the Great Randini in person.  Now, how could you possibly miss out on an opportunity like that?

IN 2017, I RESOLVE TO . . .

New Year’s Eve 2016 is fast approaching and there are so many resolutions I should make.  But if I take the time now to evaluate each and decide which ones I might have the possibility of sticking with, I’d still be sitting here on the 29th of December in 2017.  So instead, I’ll start by resolving to make more time for my Midlife Pickers blog.  No more excuses about lack of time or creative juices.

At this time last year, we were getting ready to put our house on the market and move back to Charleston.  So, I had a feeble excuse to slack off.  Anticipating a long drawn out ordeal with prospective buyers trooping in and out for weeks and even months at all hours of the day and night, we were pleasantly surprised.  We had a few fast and furious days - less than a week.  Poor Spike, who has a major aversion to riding in the car, threatened to pack his bags and move in with a more stable family.

Then started the hunt for a new home - excuse #2.  Foiled again.  Despite an ice storm in Fort Mill, we made it to Charleston a day late, found a Spike-friendly new home and by the beginning of March were all settled.  And I was out of excuses for my procrastinating ways. 

But then because of lack of space, we decided to take our sizeable collection of treasures to Antiques Market in Moultrie Plaza on Coleman Blvd in Mt Pleasant and now I have a constant excuse for blog procrastination.  Keeping up with the Midlife Pickers booth is time consuming, but we love it.  Since we have no room at home for all the things that continue to entice us to buy them, the booth makes a perfect place for them to entice others to take them home.  They are doing a pretty good job of that.  I guess they just saw us as a stepping stone along the way on the path to their real homes. 

If there is a spot in your home yearning for something to fill it, maybe some of our favorite things still looking for a spot in someone’s collection will inspire you.  I know there is someone out there for each of them.  After all, the embracing couple, the pewter pig napkin rings and the Beatrice Grocery Group leather sample case all latched onto happy shoppers and followed them home as have Larry, Curly and Moe.

Hope your Christmas was merry and that the New Year exceeds your expectations.  

HAVE NUMBER, WILL BID!

The Great One and I have found that picking for others is not quite the same as picking for ourselves.  It seems our eclectic taste is a bit rare.  And his idea and my idea of what others will like are pretty comparable to the difference in day and night. 

Staging and pricing find us at opposite ends of the spectrum, as well.  But one thing we do agree on -  we need to spend more time hitting auctions, church sales, estate sales and yard sales.  Even when we come home empty-handed (which rarely happens) we’ve had a great time.

It didn’t take me long to learn that the Great One needs to be kept on a very short leash at Roumillat’s or Carriage House auctions.  He has been known to come away with items that I never would have approved, if I had been paying attention (also known as stifling his urge to splurge) instead of running my mouth. 

And then he has a habit of scanning the receipt when settling up only to find days later that his initial scanning was lacking in attention to detail and thus, we paid for an item left behind that we don’t even remember bidding on.  Fortunately, Roumillat’s held onto the item for us.  There it was, his number big as day scrawled in chalk.  He’s trying to blame it on me, however, he keeps such a death grip on the bid number, there is no way I could pry it out of his hands without causing a major scene that would be difficult to forget.

We’re getting a little better at looking at what an item can be instead of what it is.  And he has learned that his old standby, the Force Theory, isn’t always the best option when trying to repair or refurbish.

When we first started going to auctions, we came ill-prepared.  We had cash but lacked snacks and drinks.  After 3 hours at our first Carriage House auction, even though it was still going strong, hunger and thirst won out. 

It also took us a few times before the light bulb went off and we thought about bringing a bin and bubble-wrap.  Unfortunately, the bulb must have been a very dim nightlight.  We forgot that the bin “can’t take feet and walk” (one of Miss Edna’s favorite sayings).  All those breakables and no way to protect them because the bin of bubble-wrap was left sitting at home on the front porch. 

So what has been our best auction buy to date?  Would believe you a refrigerator for $27.50.  I don't mean a little dorm fridge.  I'm talking a full-sized Whirlpool refrigerator/freezer.  It took a lot of elbow grease and various cleaning concoctions, but it works and makes a great garage fridge! 

CAN’T LET THOSE RETIRED HANDS GO IDLE

Ah, the retired life, enjoyed by some (that would be the Great Randini), and envied by others (that would be me).  Yes, he is finally officially retired and maybe I’ll let him stay that way this time. 

Last time, I sent him back to work after just a 3-day retirement.  I don’t guess you can really count Saturday and Sunday as work days in his case.  So he was allowed 24 hours to experience the joys of retirement.  I didn’t want him to get bored - you know the saying about idle hands.  Of course, at that time we had not started picking yet and he didn’t have any projects hanging out in the garage waiting on him.

Even though I find my kitchen table turned into a miniature used car lot some days and an action figure convention on others, he is putting his time to good use so the toys can stay at least until my house starts looking like a hoarder’s house.  At the rate we are going, we should hit that point pretty soon.

His first priority, with a little help from me, was to reorganize the garage unearthing all those projects we kept burying out there.  Now that he has no excuse not to get started, he has been making progress and two new Great Randini Table Factory tables are in progress. 

When he finishes those, then, he has all those record player/radios that need to be revamped.  Once he completes those, we have 3 chest of drawers, a desk, an end table, a set of shelves, etc. etc. 

And then, just in case he truly runs out of projects, I’ve started a new list – the “Projects We Left Behind” list.  A visit to Port City Thrift in Ladson got me started on this one.  You see, there is a pretty little art deco vanity there that needs a little more than just a little TLC.  Of course by the time he gets to the end of his current to do list, it will most likely be gone.

Perhaps, that was his plan.   After talking with Tom at Port City Thrift, it seems the Great One is once again dreaming of an RV lifestyle, so project space may be quite limited.

CHECK OUT PORT CITY THRIFT AND THEN HEAD ON OVER TO NIGELS FOR LUNCH!

CHECK OUT PORT CITY THRIFT AND THEN HEAD ON OVER TO NIGELS FOR LUNCH!

Check out Port City Thrift in Ladson and then head on over to Nigel's for lunch.  You won't be disappointed!

SO MANY LETTERS, SO LITTLE TIME

Have you ever heard of Alfred Mosher Butts? (No, Randini, he is not Seymour Butts’ little brother.) While he was an architect by profession, the Great Depression came along in 1929 and changed life in America for everyone.  Because no one had any money for building, Butts found himself out of work with plenty of time on his hands.  However, he did not sit idly by bemoaning his fate, waiting for his ship to come in.  The man who had made his living drawing up plans for buildings, started drawing up plans for new games instead.

According to Hasbro’s SCRABBLE web site, he had a light bulb moment, which was the result of quite a bit of research on his part.  He began studying popular games and noted there were 3 types – numbers, moves and words.  Surmising that word games were the least popular because they were scoreless, he set about to rectify the situation. 

He called his first attempt to give birth to a new word game that combined chance and skill LEXIKO.  While a player’s knowledge of words, or lack thereof, provided the skill element, Lady Luck could step in and level the playing field in a flash with the random drawing of the letter tiles.  His game was a work in progress with multiple name changes.  Eventually, he added a game board, which governed letter placement giving players the opportunity to watch their scores soar to ever higher heights by using premium squares to their advantage.  After World War II with a final name change from CRISS CROSS WORDS, SCRABBLE as we know it today hit the market.

We have all been there.  You have the ultimate rack.  The player two turns ahead of you, leaves the perfect opening for your word – a bingo involving Triple Word and Double Letter bonus squares dances before your eyes.  You can hardly contain your excitement – good thing you’re not playing poker.  You’re adding the score up in your head and the player sitting next to you spoils it all. 

Cutting his eyes in your direction, with a smirk on his face, he gingerly drops down 3 letters -T,O,O - and your bonus points evaporate into thin air.  Deflated, you search frantically for your next play with the only possibility presented - adding an L for a whopping score of 4.  Oh, how quickly your hopes are dashed.  You definitely don’t need any help calculating your score for this turn.  The only thing that could possibly make this turn any worse – yep, you draw the dreaded Q.

SCRABBLE has been manufactured in over 25 languages and has sold over a 100 million games in more than 120 countries.  Seems like Butts must have known a thing or two about designing games.  Not only has SCRABBLE stood the test of time, it has kept up with technology over the years and now comes in electronic versions as well. 

While the electronic version plays at a faster pace, there is nothing quite like fingering each wooden tile as you painstakingly draw your letters only to find the tiles you drew so carefully are all vowels –A,E,I,O,U,E,U – yes, every last one of them.  However, if you happen to be playing at Buckingham Palace with the Queen, you’re in luck.  Never heard of euouae?  Look it up.  It’s in the English dictionary.

READY FOR INSPECTION – USS ALABAMA (BB-60)

Since our Dad was a navigator in the Navy and served aboard the USS Alabama during World War II, I thought I had found the perfect birthday present for my brother at an estate sale today. 

I guess you can say I’m an impulse buyer and a bit filmless at times.   So, when I came across a – I’m not even sure what to call it – with USS Alabama imprinted on it, I just naturally assumed that it was the only USS Alabama I had ever heard of, the battleship. 

I had no idea there was a USS Alabama anything else.  (Yes, I have always lived in my own little world.)  You’d think the submarine on it might have tipped me off, or the SSBN-731 or maybe Neptune’s trident.  But I was so excited to see “USS Alabama”, I really didn’t look at the rest of it. 

When I got it home and really looked at it – well the submarine and the trident smacked me right between the eyes.   Yes it does really say “USS Alabama” only now I know it’s not what I thought it was, although I really still don’t know what it actually is. 

However, through the magic of the internet and Google, my little world expanded and I boarded the USS Alabama (BB-60).  I took the virtual tour of the battleship, which is moored in Mobile Bay in Alabama.  Then, we went to Missy’s and pulled out the Alabama book, the pictures and the papers. 

Bubby graduated from recruit training as the Honor Man of his company.  He served aboard the USS Alabama (BB-60) from 1942-1945 and received the Bronze Star for his navigational skills during combat against enemy forces in the Western Pacific. 

His Alabama was the sixth vessel to bear the name.  During its WWII service the “Mighty A safely carried her crew throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean campaigns, and never suffered any casualties or significant damage due to enemy fire.” 

In the 1960’s, when the Navy announced that many of the warships, including the Alabama, would be scrapped, a campaign was launched to bring the Mighty A home where she serves as a memorial museum.  The Living History Crew, which consists of “historical reenactors who demonstrate life aboard the USS ALABAMA during World War II,” invite visitors to take part in their demonstrations, which include “a general quarters rush to battle stations.”       

The USS ALABAMA, SSBN-731 was commissioned in 1985 and continues to play an integral role in keeping us all safe.  To the men and women and their families currently serving, as well as all who have served in the past, I admire and respect you.  I am thankful for the sacrifices you have made that allow me to live in the greatest country in the world.  May God continue to watch over our troops, who are always ready to defend and protect and their families who allow them to put us first.

A RATHER SLIMY TALE

Visit many a retail business and you’ll see camera signs everywhere, “Smile!  We’re watching you!”   These aren’t Allen Funt’s Candid Cameras.   They do catch anything and everything we do when we think no one is watching – many a butt being scratched, the occasional tooth picker (those Wild Wings sure do cram themselves into your nooks and crannies) and at times a “customer” taking advantage of a 5-finger discount.  Yes, security camera videos do show it all.  There is no longer any mystery about how things disappear.  All you have to do is watch the video.

So, we know what happened to our double snail inkwell, we even know where it went.  But being the eternal optimist who believes in the inherent good in all mankind, I prefer the following version starring Stan and Shy-Ann. 

About a century ago, a master inkwell maker searched high and low for just the right snail-shaped globes to use on his latest masterpiece.  His eyes first settled on Stan whose glass was glistening in the sunlight streaming in through the window.  As he brought Stan over to his work table, he spied little Shy-Ann who was nestled back in the corner of a box just beneath the table.  He knew he had found the perfect pair.  Without so much as a how do you do, Stan and Shy-Ann began their life as a couple.  They were present for many an official signing.  They watched as love letters were composed and written with a flourish.  And after World War II, they witnessed the proliferation of the ballpoint pen. 

As the ink in their wells began to run low, no one came to refill them anymore.  The pen resting above them was no longer in demand.  Eventually, Stan, Shy-Anne and the pen were shoved into a box and placed in a dark closet.  

Many decades later, an antique dealer from New York happened upon an estate sale where he found a dusty double snail inkwell and rescued Stan and Shy-Ann.  They were cleaned and polished and once again became cherished members of the family.  But alas, the antique dealer retired “down South” and with a smaller home placed, his collection in Antique Alley in Matthews, North Carolina.  That’s where we found Stan and Shy-Ann, brought them home and placed them on Grandmama’s Singer treadle sewing machine.  I could say, “and we all lived happily after.”  But, that’s not what happened. 

With the house on the market, Stan and Shy-Ann along with all of our other collectibles were bubble-wrapped, stuffed in bins and locked away in an Extra Storage unit in Charleston.  And that is where we went wrong. 

Day after day, Stan bemoaned their situation, blaming it all on Shy-Ann.  If she were just more adventurous, they would have spent all those years traveling the world.  Oh, the sights they would have seen, the places they would have been, the memories they would have made, blah, blah, blah . . . Shy-Ann sat quietly, biding her time.  (If she had had thumbs, she would have been twiddling them.)  When they were moved to our booth in Antiques Market, she had already formulated her plan.

One day, an admiring customer picked up the inkwell and placed it back on the Hoosier just a bit closer to the edge.  Shy-Ann looked over at Stan dipped her head ever so slightly and off the Hoosier they went.  The little red 3-legged chair was the perfect landing spot. 

Stan was amazed, but she wasn’t quite finished.  Inching closer to the edge of the chair, she spied the shotgun shell box and slipped onto that and finally, the Camp Boardwalk wooden box.  From there, the floor was a safe distance.

They found their way, albeit slithering at a snail’s pace, out the door, across the Cooper, the Ashley and into an antique store West of the Ashley.  There they perched on a shelf in a booth but didn’t stay long.  I’m hoping they will tire of their travels and find their way back home one day.  Like the father of the prodigal son, we’ll welcome them back with open arms, no questions asked.

LEAVING REALITY BEHIND

When it gets so hot in the Lowcountry that even the Palmetto Bugs are toting little spray water bottles with a fan attached, the only option left is to pack up and head to the mountains.  So we did just that a few weeks ago.  Having forgotten just how high the mercury rises during a Charleston summer (flashback to the old cartoon thermometer bursting), we didn’t realize what a welcome relief our mountain trip would turn out to be.

The Great One loves to orchestrate group vacations – maybe he should have gone into hospitality.  (It’s still not too late, Randini, so say those AARP Life Reimagined/Second Act articles.)  After hours surfing the web for just the right mountain rental and a lengthy e-mail chain gathering input, his plan was set.  We settled on Sevierville, Tennessee.  The pictures were gorgeous, the home was available and schedules were coordinated – at least we thought they were. 

When Eric changed jobs earlier in the year, we were afraid he might have an issue, but luckily he was able to negotiate his time off.  Sara, on the other hand, landed a summer job with the First Tee program, which meant she had no time off for a vacation.  So we were down to just six. 

Traffic was moving right along, until we hit Hendersonville NC.  It was so slow, that the Great One and I pulled into the parking lot of Needful Things a gigantic antique/vintage mall just off Interstate 26 in Hendersonville.  We figured if we were going to have to wait on traffic to clear up, we might as well enjoy it.  Little did we know that the traffic we pulled out of was as good as it was going to get on a Saturday, in the summer, up in the mountains.  While we enjoyed ourselves picking, the traffic continued to creep spending more time at a standstill than moving at a snail’s pace and welcomed us back into the long, slow line with a “thought y’all were so smart smile” emanating from every vehicle as far as the eye could see.  Of course, we had found just a few things we couldn’t leave behind so it was well worth the stop.

Eric and Kayla, leaving from Charlotte, had a shorter trip and arrived first.  We were still inching our way along when they called stating that the pictures we had shared looked nothing like the house they found at the address we gave them.  They were wondering how in the world this tiny little home housed 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ bathrooms, a game room, a media room, a kitchen and a great room with a fireplace.  There was no sign of the balconies, porches or the hot tub.  But more perplexing, there were 2 vehicles already parked in the driveway and neither one belonged to any of us.  As it turned out, the vehicles belonged to the cleaning crew and once through the doorway, like the Tardis, the house magically opened up to its full potential, exactly as advertised.

It was a fast but enjoyable week.  We did some touristy things – taking in Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure dinner show and strolling the main drag in Gatlinburg.  Jonathan, Joanna, Eric and Kayla went kayaking.  Eric and Kayla went hiking.  Jonathan and Joanna went picking with us and also headed off on a hunt of their own following the Arts and Crafts Community Trail.  The pool table in the game room saw a lot of action, the media room was put to good use, the arcade video game had some new high scores set and we even washed and dried a few clothes – didn’t want that washer and dryer to feel neglected.  We never did make it to the hot tub, but we did plenty of eating and drinking and oh yes, Margaritas (among other adult beverages) were involved. 

Packing up Saturday morning, we headed home following a more circuitous and less traveled route, just perfect for picking and procrastinating.  Is anyone ever in a hurry to re-enter the realms of reality?

Winding (and I do mean winding) our way through Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina, we came across Bryant’s Antique & Unique in Franklin, North Carolina.  We can honestly say we have no regrets taking the time to stop and visit with Erik and Sarah Bryant and their little bundle of joy.  Their shop is not filled with the run of the mill items you see everywhere else.  They stay true to the “unique” in their name.  We found a vintage “Lego System by Samsonite” set and an ERTL Corvette die-cast metal model.   American Pickers, Mike and Frank have said more than once that we will regret those things we leave behind and we certainly do.  We should have bought that label printing machine that kept nipping at our ankles and the Beatles pin that kept singing out our names.  Looks like we're going to need to head back that way. 

SOLD TO BIDDER NUMBER . . .

Waking up feeling guilty because I skipped my walk yesterday, I headed out the door this morning with a dual purpose.  Of course, exercise was my first priority, at least that’s what I told myself when I walked out the door.  Being the dedicated walker that I am, I did take the long way to the garage sale and then hurried home the shortest route possible to show the Great One my new found treasures - a Ken Griffey, Jr. figure and Pinnacle canned baseball cards.  In no time at all, we were headed back in the direction from whence I came.  On second look, I even found a nice pair of wooden bar stools for Sara to take with her when she moves out next month.

Even if we had not found anything, this garage sale was well worth the stop just to meet this wonderful young man.  He had recently lost his father and we were honored that he shared stories about him with us.  They had spent many years building a sports memorabilia collection together and we could tell that he was reliving a lot of fond memories this morning.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have to blink back tears more than once.

As Charleston in July doesn’t offer much in the way of garage sales, we only had one more on our list this morning and by the time we got there, they were already closing up.  Can’t say that I blame them.  During the summer, we tend to gravitate towards one of my favorite inventions - air conditioning.  How did humans ever survive summers without it?  Yes, we are truly spoiled.

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While we were out, we headed over to Charleston Attic Mall on Wappoo Road.  It just happened to be a Carriage House Auction Gallery Saturday and I think we have found our new favorite way to spend a couple of Saturday afternoons a month. 

We had heard about their auctions before but never seemed to be able to get there.  We really weren’t planning on staying.  (I had barely brushed my hair before leaving the house; fortunately, I had changed out of my sweaty walking clothes but I sure wish I had taken a shower – a little make up would have helped, too.  Needless to say, I shied away from any mirrors.)  However, when we started looking over the items to be auctioned, before I knew it, the Great One had disappeared and returned flashing his bid card.  It seems a certain little Match Box Coca Cola truck had him champing at the bit.  Oh, if only we had stopped at that . . .

From what we understand, it was a record-setting night.  Auctioneer, Justin Pye, kept on going until 7:30.  With the tables still loaded down, reluctantly we gave in to our rumbling stomachs and pried ourselves out of our chairs around 5:30 knowing we were going to miss out on some of the best deals of the night.  We’re definitely planning on returning on August 13th  for their next auction.   Preview begins at 10 AM, auction starts at 2 PM and we’re staying until the lights go out.  

Maybe we’ll see you there. 

FAIR HAVEN ON A HOT HUMID DAY

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During the month of July, you don’t wake up in Charleston expecting a cool breeze to lift your hair and tickle your neck, so we weren’t surprised to run headlong into a squishy thick wall of humidity the moment we opened the front door.  It must have hitched a ride on the running boards, for it enveloped us in its spongy mugginess every time we stepped out of the truck making us wonder why we weren’t at home with a cold beverage instead.  However, believing that most places in the Lowcountry have airconditioning and aren’t afraid to use it, we continued on our way.

Looking for some thrifty bargains this weekend, we headed towards Bonneau by way of Moncks Corner stopping in at Collector’s Corner.  Once again, what we thought was a tiny little shop seemed to magically expand with every step we took.  Rounding up a set of 4 pewter pigs and a souvenir New York cream pitcher we finally made our way to the front counter and then reluctantly left the airconditioned realms and waded back into the humid mass that stood between us and our next destination. 

A few weeks ago, we had stumbled upon Fair Haven Market Place in Bonneau a bit too late to stop in.  Today, however, we arrived long before lunch and were greeted by retirees William and Delores Hoff, who have found their calling promoting and running the Market Place.  All proceeds from Fair Haven Market Place go to the Fair Haven Home For Men, started by Pastor Alfred Willis of Life Baptist Church in Saint Stephen, SC in 2010 to provide a "safe haven to rescue men who had faced adversities in life such as addictions, homelessness, etc.”   He believed that he was not helping just the man, but his entire family and the community, as well.

If you are looking for great deals, this is the place.  Prices are far better than reasonable, the stock is constantly replenished from a number of sources and you will not find a friendlier more appreciative couple to help you.  Did I mention AIR-CONDITIONING that works?  On this 90-degree summer day, that seemed to be a rarity.  Needless to say we lingered longer getting to know the Hoffs and the mission of Fair Haven, both the Men’s Home and the Market Place. 

Charleston Ghosts hid among the books on the shelves and The Duke kept watch over the store.  Searching the shelves, we found an Old Fitzgerald SC Tricentennial Collector’s Decanter, a Gamecocks Mug, and some Charleston Coke bottles.  I was truly surprised that The Duke didn’t come home with us.     

Heading on into St Stephen, we found Mary’s Collectibles and sitting on her shelves were some Fire King mugs and bowls.  Knowing that there are many folks who collect Fire King, we brought the bowls home with us.   If we were thinking straight, which was hard to do as the heat and humidity followed us into her shop, we would have brought the mugs home, too.  As always, we regret the things we leave behind, not the things we bring home.  After dragging our humidity to a neighboring shop, we headed back to Charleston.

Over the past few months, we have noticed that Animal Helpers Re-TAIL Store located on Savannah Highway West of the Ashley is quite a busy place.  So we wanted to see what keeps the crowds coming back.  Most likely, it’s the variety, the pricing and the friendly staff.  They are constantly adding new items, marking down older stock, conducting food drives for Pet Helpers and accepting donations.  We found a Hazel Atlas Apple Blossom bowl and a Pfaltzgraff Star Trek mug and while paying for those, two wooden toy boxes twisted the Great One around there little fingers and they came home with us, as well. 

All in all, if you ignore the humidity, it was a pretty good day, topped off with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to 3-year-old Kane followed by American Spirit Cake with candles that relit as fast as he could blow them out.

THE GREAT ONE’S ONE-OF-A-KIND TABLE FACTORY

So, what do you get when a 1940’s wooden tabletop Admiral radio/record player is married to a set of reclaimed midcentury modern industrial hairpin legs?  Who knew the Great Randini could be so handy and creative?  The man who has always believed in “stimulating the economy” by paying someone else to do the chores he prefers not to do – yardwork being #1 on that list.  The man who can’t seem to understand why Sara and I buy perfectly good large pieces of fabric, snip them into tiny little pieces and then stitch them back together to make an even larger piece of fabric.  In other words, physical labor and creativity are not his thing.  So when he produced this one-of-a- kind little table, I was speechless.  Of course, without Eric’s and Kayla’s tables for inspiration, he wouldn’t even be at square one.

Now, I’m looking at everything with a different eye and considering turning our garage into The Great One’s One-of-a-Kind Table Factory.  I’m thinking our mail lady is shaking her head and crossing her fingers that I don’t follow through on that plan.  She had to lug the box holding the 8 legs (yep, we’ve already got another table in the works) from her truck up to our door.  

This Philco radio/record player is looking forward to getting legged.  Initially, she was a little hesitant, afraid that the hairpins legs wouldn’t support her; but since the Admiral has shown her how sturdy his sea legs are, she is looking forward to doing a little dancing once her legs are attached.  Now she calls the Great One over every time he enters the garage asking, “What’s a girl gotta do around here to get some attention?”  He tells her that I’m the one holding up her transformation now.  All we need is a little TLC to bring this wooden beauty back to life and then he’ll leg her. 

Once the Philco dances out the door on her new old legs, there is a beautiful oak file drawer waiting in the wings for his time in the spotlight.  We haven’t decided what to do with him yet but he will have storage galore.  And as the winner of the pack rat gene lottery, I can’t think of a better selling point for The Great One’s One-of-a- Kind Table Factory tables. 

OVER THE RIVER TO ANTIQUES MARKET WE GO

After quite a bit of deliberation and procrastination, we finally got our act together, started an inventory list, made tags and I even let the Great One paint a piece of furniture.  After a not too close inspection, Sara understands why I never let her dad do any painting.  “Obviously, Dad didn’t grow up doing arts and crafts,” she quipped, hitting the nail right smack dab on the head.  Luckily, the cabinet is for display purposes only.  Although I must admit I didn’t do much better painting the shelves that went in it.

With everything ready to go, Sunday morning arrived cloudy and damp.  A bit breezy, too, urging us to get our things across the newest Cooper River Bridge before the bottom fell out.  I know, it’s actually the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and it has been open since 2005 and it replaced both the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge and the Silas N. Pearman Bridge but with those two bridges no longer standing, it will remain “The Cooper River Bridge” at least in my mind.  (We won’t discuss the state of my mind, not today anyway.)

I’d like to be a fly on the wall at BCBC (Bungee Cord Boot Camp).  They must put those little guys through quite a rigorous training program before sending them out into the world to help us keep all our stuff Tetrissed into the bed of a truck going across a long, high bridge on a windy day without anything flying off into the wild blue yonder or the windshield of another vehicle. 

On the other side of the Cooper, with the help of Jonathan, Joanna and Sara, the booth began to take shape.  Rug down, Hoosier, curio and the aforementioned now black and white cabinet in place, we began to unpack our treasures.   

The Michelob neon light found a home inside the black and white cabinet, a far cry from its former home in a bar on the lake near Columbia.  We hoped the Miller mug light formerly located in a liquor store in Conowingo, Maryland and the Schmidt Bartender, not sure of his heritage, on the shelf above would remind the Michelob of its former glory days. 

The Marsh Hoosier-type cabinet became home to milk bottles, canning jars and some vintage kitchen staples.  The Coca-Cola and Pepsi:Cola metal carriers landed on opposite corners on top of the cabinet.  The Snowdrift and Jumbo Peanut Butter jars jumped into place on the top shelf along with Ma Brown’s Apple Butter.

The curio settled comfortably into the only corner hosting Made In occupied Japan items including salt and pepper shakers, figurines and a hand warmer with its original packaging.  A cup and saucer, the onlyMade in Germany – US Zone we have found took front and center.  Baseball cards (the Great One’s Dream Team) were granted a shelf along with a Michael Jordan Box Set and a couple of Starting Line Up Award Winner groupings from the 1990s.

An antique double-snail ink well claimed a shelf with a few vintage desktop items no longer seen in modern offices.  Nowadays, your desktop is a screen on your computer where you can find just about anything you need – that is until your computer dies on you and if you’re like me and get lazy about backing up your files, you’re up the creek without a paddle.  (Eric says, “Lazy would imply that you actually do occasionally back up the files, Mom.  When exactly did you last back up your files?”  That was a rhetorical question, right?)

The booth was looking pretty good but taking a vote, it was decided unanimously that the pegboard really needed to be covered and we had room for a few more items.  So early the next morning, armed with burlap, tacks, and pegboard hangers the Great One and I returned to Antiques Market.  It didn’t take us long to realize that in order to hang the burlap, we were going to have to undo all we did the day before without benefit of our 3 able-bodied young laborers.  And once we had done that and hung the burlap, we realized we should have taken pictures so we could set it all back up the right way.  The final lesson of the day, it is much easier to add to the inventory list and tag items at home.  I’m sure there are plenty more lessons coming our way.

THERE REALLY IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Once again, the even-bigger storage unit is full, as is the garage and we still haven’t found a way to stretch our rooms to accommodate all of the treasures we have collected.  And so they spend their days packed away in bubble wrap, no one to admire them and I’m certain, more than a few of them are a bit claustrophobic. When they do see the bright light of day again, they may need a bit of therapy.  So we have decided to move them once again – not to a new storage unit this time, but to an antique mall booth, where they can catch the eye of new admirers and find themselves a new home where they can be gazed upon on a daily basis by someone who will love and cherish them again.  Languishing away in anonymity is no way for these goodies to spend the rest of their lives.

Knowing that we were going to downsize tremendously when we moved back to Charleston, the thought had been in the back of our minds for a while.  We’ve checked out quite a few options in the area and luckily found a wide-open corner booth that will be available in the very near future and it looks like we’d better get busy.

First task – deciding what to take.  The Great One’s Spacemen and related toys are off the table.  They have already found a home on the shelves in our living area (the downstairs is all one room folks – kitchen/living/dining.  Fortunately, we get along pretty well, which is very helpful since we also share a home office upstairs.) 

My seltzer bottles are here to stay, as well.  Pretty much anything else is fair game.  I told the Great One he’d best be on good behavior or I might tag him Item #7 (in honor of his childhood hero) and put him in the booth along with all of our other treasures.

Back to our downsizing – remember my old front porch?  The one with the white wicker rockers?  It’s a good thing I left my rockers in Fort Mill.  This is my new front porch.  No room for rockers here.

However, my plant stand feels right at home.  I did do a Mod Podge revamp on the pastel pots so they would go better with the red front door, however, I do need to lose the plants with the pink leaves.

Although I lost the big front porch, I gained a screened in back porch which is quite a plus in my book. particularly in Charleston!

And a little balcony,  “O Romeo, Romeo!  Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

THE BEST DAY EVER

One of the perks of moving back to Charleston was just being able to be with family and friends any time we want without a 3-hour drive (not to be confused with Gilligan’s 3-hour tour).  So last Saturday, after a quick survey of the flea market in Ladson, Patty, Missy and I made a trip “out to the country,” as we have always called it, to St Paul’s Cemetery to spruce up some family graves before Easter.   When our kids were little, the trip always ended at Marvin’s Meats to see the monkeys and whatever else they had out front that day.  The firstborn of the next generation claimed visiting the cemetery, followed by the Meggett playground and then the Hollywood Dollar Store equated to the best day of his life.  Of course, that was long before he hit double digits.   

Obviously, Missy and Patty have been doing this for a while so with lilies in hand along with all the tools of the trade (Patty has decided before the next trip a small rake – as in garden tool, not the immoral, womanizing type  – needs to join the gang) we headed to the appropriate gravesites.  Sweeping headstones, clipping bushes and removing overgrown moss so the names and dates were legible, we looked like our own little brigade of workers worthy of mention in Amanda Stevens The Restorer.  I half expected to turn around and find “visitors” from the other side watching our progress and pointing out how we could do it just a little bit better.

I’m not usually a fan of paranormal novels, but The Restorer was a Free Nook Book Friday selection and it was set in Charleston.  So I figured I didn’t have anything to lose by downloading it and I rarely pass up a book set in the Lowcountry.  (Pat Conroy and Dorothea Benton Frank top my list.)  As it turned out, I found this book extremely hard to put down and read it pretty much nonstop from beginning to end.  It was first in The Graveyard Queen Series and once I get my Charleston County Library card, I’ll be checking to see if they have the rest of the series featuring Amelia Gray.  I believe there are 5 at this point.   

These days, wherever we go I am constantly looking for antique/vintage shops, flea markets and malls and this trip was no different.  I found three and when I got home, The Great One was just as anxious to check them out as I was.  The “Where are we going to put anything else?” issue aside, we hopped in the truck covered with “Charleston Gold Dust” also known as more than our fair share of pollen and headed out to Hollywood.  We had emptied another box in the garage and there was a whopping 324 square inch space just begging for something to fill it.

First stop was Robert Sarco Antiques and Restorations in Hollywood.  The former site of an auto dealership, there was plenty to see.  An Anheuser-Busch crate caught the Great One’s eye and would even have fit in that 324 square inch space with room to spare.  However, unless we win the lottery, that one is out of our league.

Next we cut through Ravenel on the way to 17 South and at the railroad tracks, stopped at Ravenel Treasures.  According to their card, they “buy, sell or trade a lil’ bit of everything.”  Dennie Metts, the owner, had just returned from a very successful “buying trip” and was wondering where he was going to put it all.  He had little time to ponder his predicament as the truck was arriving the next day.  We’re planning on heading back out there tomorrow.  He has a yard sale on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month which includes vendor booths as well.  Looking at his Facebook page, it looks like he might have a good selection of plants and garden art this weekend among other things.


Our final stop was Farmhouse Antiques on 17 South.  Since he had passed on the Anheuser-Busch crate, The Great One snagged a Mateus Rose Wine crate from the Azores.  I’m assuming this one wasn’t a Boone’s Farm cousin.  The Farmhouse was a truck stop in its former life and still sees a number of folks stopping in on the way to and from hither and yon. 

THE QUEEN OF KLUTZ STILL REIGNS

Grace personified I am not.  I should have bought stock in Johnson & Johnson because I have certainly done my part to keep their first aid supplies in high demand.  Bandage-free days were few and far between in my childhood – klutziness and asphalt playgrounds are not a good combination.

Then there was Charm Class at Palmer with Ms. Walker.  Yes, in order to get an Associate Degree in Business, that was a required class, part of which involved learning to walk properly – back straight, shoulders back, chin up and eyes straight ahead.  Guess what happens when I don’t watch the ground upon which I am walking – considering that even when I watch it, I have issues.  I managed to trip over open file drawers. Navigating stairs wasn’t a piece of cake either.  It didn’t matter if I was going up or down – I’m an equal opportunity tripper.  

Jogging? That was a short-lived exercise regimen.  My knees hit the ground more often than my feet.  Bleachers?  Once you have fallen from the top bleacher splitting your lip inside and out, you shy away from those or at least sit near the bottom.  And let’s don’t forget icy parking lots.  I can sprain a pair of ankles in one fell swoop on a patch of ice that I’d swear was not there when I got out of the car 20 minutes before.

So now in my 60s, I seem to have graduated to sidewalk joints.  You know, that point where two sections come together and as time goes by, one raises up while the other sinks down.  They have caused me to become way too familiar with more than one stretch of sidewalk over the last few years. Banged up knees and elbows, broken glasses and torn pants were the minor falls.  There was the time that I took all the skin off my nose, chipped a tooth, split my lip and bruised the right side of my face from brow to chin. A neighbor stopped to offer me a ride home, but not having looked in a mirror, I assured him I was fine and headed home on foot.  A week later, when I thought I could stand to let the dentist check out my teeth, I was happy to hear there was only one chip and no cracked teeth. 

My latest encounter with a sidewalk involved talking while walking, fortunately I was not chewing gum as well.  Who knows what injuries I would have incurred with that trio.  Having hit the concrete hard enough for the Great One to hear the thwack, he prevailed upon a very sweet neighbor to drive us back home.  Having just moved into the neighborhood, we have not met many of our neighbors yet, but she was willing to step up and help us.  Then he insisted on an ER visit.  I voted to “put a rag on it,” Motrin and an icepack. But we headed to the ER with a bag of ice wrapped in a rag.  I guess we can consider that a compromise.

At the St Francis ER, I was promptly, checked in, evaluated CTed, cleaned up and superglued.  There is still a brain in there, no swelling, no bleeding and my orbits are intact.  The laceration above my brow was closed with Dermabond – no stitches, no Xylocaine – and I went on my merry way.  As you can see from the picture, I have quite a shiner!  Now if I could just come up with a better story as to how I acquired it. 

EMERSON BROTHERS REUNITED

EMERSON RADIO RECORD PLAYER.JPG

When Eric and Kayla brought home two mismatched 1940s wooden tabletop radio/phonographs (an Emerson and an Admiral), he already had a vision for their transformation.  The rest of us not so much.  Storing them in our garage, each time we passed them by, a glimpse of their future would flash before our eyes – which at that point looked like a date with the junkyard.  So one day (years later, of course) we offered to start the process. 

Cleaning, gutting, deodorizing and then cleaning some more all while trying not to damage the knobs, radio dial, tubes and finish we gently removed all the other innards and fed them to the recycling center bins.  Away with the turntable and all of its parts, out with the speaker and wires too numerous to count, and don’t forget the decades of dust, leaving a cavernous space for storage.  Now tell me, who doesn’t need more storage.   

Considering their age, the wooden cabinets were in remarkable shape.  Scratches and nicks here and there but nothing that couldn’t be camouflaged with a little Howard’s Restore-A-Finish.  We added a bottom to the Admiral and a back to the Emerson because storage space is only useful if it can contain all the junk that is shoved into it and an open bottom or back would make containment a bit difficult.       

With the radio face, chassis, tubes and knobs still intact they were ready to be legged.  Staying true to his vision, Eric began to search in earnest for the perfect legs.  And he searched and searched and searched.  Which turned out to be a good thing.  For lo and behold, on September 19, 2015 at Resettler’s Antique Mall in Statesville NC we found the long lost brother to Eric’s Emerson and so now he had a matching pair.  At least with a lot of TLC they would become a matching pair.  

It seems that the long lost brother had had somewhat of a hard-knock life.  Somewhere along the way, someone showed him a little mercy and began to restore him.  A wirectomy was performed but I guess he lacked the coverage to proceed with further surgery. (He must have missed all those commercials about Obamacare.)  He could have used a little cosmetic surgery as well and his lid didn’t fit quite right.  So we brought him home and the reunion in the garage was like a Hallmark moment.  Needless to say, the two Emersons forgot all about the poor little Admiral who was knocked down a notch from best buddy waiting for legs and a new home to “oh, that other guy.” He’s still in need of legs, but I think we’ll keep him.

THE FORCE WAS NOT WITH US IN BLYTHEWOOD

While my last blog post may have left you believing we have conquered our urge to pick and packed it away in some of those bins and boxes in the storage unit, that would be a false assumption.  After high-fiving and patting ourselves on the back in celebration of our newfound strength allowing us to leave Summerville empty-handed (which was certainly not an easy thing to do) we headed home to Fort Mill.  The Force was with us and we were going home to declutter our offices so the house could go on the market.  (Did I ever tell you that the Great One wanted to name our first child Force?  Fortunately, I had more sense.)  

Well, we may not be a lot of things, but we are most definitely a great pair of procrastinators.  So after merging onto I-77 and leaving Columbia behind, we decided to swing by Blythewood Consignments just to look, of course.  We had proven that we could do just that earlier in the day and were certain we could do it again.  The Force was with us and we expected no relapses.

According to the store hours posted on the door, we were not going to have to test our resolve for more than a few minutes.  Breathing a sigh of relief we thought we would just say “Hi!” and return another day (after the big move, of course).  However, Liz Humphries, the owner told us to take our time and look to our hearts’ content.  Oh, the treasures she has to offer. 

We were barely in the door, when the Great Randini spied a wooden table top Philco radio/record player and well, our strength and fortitude followed our commitment right out the door.  The Force was not far behind.  Did we really need it?  No.  Have we relocated yet? No.  Would it help us declutter our offices?  Absolutely not.  But did we enjoy buying it?  Oh, yes indeed! 

So we bought one little table top radio/record player.  No big deal, right?  Just one little lapse in self-control.  Then this little set of coasters winked at us.  They knew they had us hooked when we stopped and picked them up to take a better look.  They wouldn’t take up much room, so why not. 

Had we stopped there, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but as we approached the counter to check out, a set of end tables jumped out and blocked our way.  Each table grabbed a hold of one of us and before we knew it, they were in the truck heading to Fort Mill with us.  (What is it about a pair of tables that gets us every time?  I must say they do look nice with our sofa, but I also like the last set we bought.  Maybe I can have monthly table rotation.) 

And that is why we decided we needed a bigger storage unit.  So last weekend, we headed to Charleston and moved our treasures down the hall to a larger unit.  Now the only problem is that there isn’t much room left in this larger unit, so unless we learn to behave ourselves, we’ll soon be moving the contents from this new unit to an even larger unit.  I wonder if they have a 2 bedroom 2 bath unit available?  Aren’t sealed concrete floors easy to maintain?

STORAGE UNIT OVERLOAD

We certainly started the New Year off with a bang and Summerville is where we set our sights.  Because of Connie Minter, we have been following Antiques & Artisans Village on Facebook, so we decided it was time to check it out in person.  Antiques & Artisans has 2 locations in Summerville and we visited both on Saturday.  Our ever faithful GPS took us to the Old Trolley Road location first.

We had our fingers crossed that they would be open on this holiday weekend and along with a lot of other folks, we weren’t disappointed.  The Old Trolley A&A is by far the larger and busier location.  It is light and bright and filled with “I just have to have that!” and “Do you really expect me to leave this behind?” kind of items.

After our loss of self-control on New Year’s Day, we gave ourselves a stern talking to, reminding ourselves that we needed to reign in our purchasing until we have managed to relocate.  This time, hard as it was to do, we listened.  We spent more time talking and looking and no time purchasing.  There were plenty of one of a kind treasures vying for our attention, but we resisted.  (Of course that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a list.)

Did you say you needed a beautiful wooden bowl made by a local artisan?  You need to go to A&A.  Are you looking for locally made jewelry or painted furniture?  You’ll have a multitude of options.  Looking for a friendly helpful staff?  Then A&A really is your kind of place.   Proud of our home state?  You will find SC pride items in many of these booths. 

Leaving the Old Trolley Road store, we found our way to the downtown location.  Summerville has grown a lot over the years, but downtown still has the feel of a small town.  Maybe being the “birthplace of sweet ice tea” gives Summerville that front-porch-swing-summer-day feeling all year long.  Fortunately, on-street parking in Summerville does not involve parallel parking.  (Remember you had to learn to do that properly before you could get a SC driver’s license?  How often have you had to use that skill?)

When we arrived at A&A’s downtown location, we entered a different world.  High ceilings, wooden floors, large shop windows and beautiful woodwork.  It isn’t as large as the Old Trolley location but it has charm and character galore.  I spied an antique Victrola record player that still works and a gorgeous Hoosier cabinet.  We constantly had to repeat the mantra – “Window shopping only!  No room in the storage unit!”  (Of course, one phone call can rectify that problem, which it did days later.  Too late for these guys, but then we do still have a garage full of projects waiting to be restored or refurbished in need of a temporary home until we decide what we are going to do, as there is dissension in the ranks on this subject.)  Once again, we left empty-handed; but I’m sure we’ll return to find even more treasures in the future.

We can’t forget Main Street Antiques.  Don’t let your eyes fool you.  When you drive up, you are going to think that this is a teeny tiny shop and you’ll be in and out in minutes.  Once inside, you’ll see there is another room, and another and it just keeps on going.  We almost gave in here and bought some tables from their mid-century modern collection, but then a little voice in our heads piped up and brought us back to reality.  Then another little voice said, “Jonathan and Joanna love mid-century modern.” Which they do, but I think even they have no room for tables currently.  We’ll be checking back on this one, too.