Tag Archives: Thrift store finds

Are We Loosing Our Books?

Wisdom in Old Books

Wisdom in Old Books

While reading my email the other morning, it occurred to me that as we forge into the electronic age, we are also leaving the age of good old paper books, and we seem to be doing that  at warp speed. Call me ancient, but I still love the feel and smell of a book in my hand.

My iPad has seen it’s share of downloaded books, and while they may be easier to read with the ability to change font size, and brightness, they still aren’t quite the same as holding a real book with delicate pages, and an embossed cover.  As an artist I’m tactile, I love the feel of things like fabric, handmade papers, and yes books!  When one can’t feel the pages, or the slight imprint of  embossed text,  there becomes  a loss of romanticism, and mystery.  Touching the pages, or thumbing through the chapters seems to be the missing link to a world on imagination, and creativity.

While nosing through a thrift store, there seems to be   a huge selection of outdated, previously loved books, maybe even some books one might find can’t be lived without, or  even finding a rare and valuable edition.   This is a treasure trove for a mixed media artist, but a sad day for the books, who sit bitterly on an old plank made to hold other books like themselves.

One of my artist friends  looks for large, thick, old books so she can alter them, taking the insides out, embellishing them,  and making boxes out of them.  Her creations are to die for, and those large, thick discarded books are just what she looks for.  I guess she might say that this would be her lucky day to find such books on a dusty old shelf just waiting to be found, and brought back to life.

How do the books feel about all this?

On the other hand I pick one up, and immediately my thoughts go to the life it has had, and the stories they could tell if only they had a voice.  Sometimes there are little notes, or messages written inside that tell a story.  But, mostly we only need to use our imagination, and off we go on a merry-go-round of thoughts, and ideas!  If only those gloriously old books could reveal their stories about where they lived,  who they lived with, and what kind of shelf they resided on throughout their glory days.  Did they have more than one home, or were they given away each and every time someone was finished with them?  Had they been tossed around, or gently handled and cared for?images-7

How did they end up on a shabby shelf in a musty old thrift shop where the chances of ever finding a  forever home again are all but lost.  Had their owner died, leaving them homeless, or were they discarded like an old shoe?  I can almost feel their pain!  I can feel how rejected most of them must feel at the loss of clean crisp pages, or a undented or undamaged cover.  My heart goes out to them, and I want to bring them all home only to reassure each of them that they are loved, and as long as I’m alive they will never again be mistreated, or thrown around.  They would now have a place on a shelf that isn’t dusty, or crowded.  Their own place to be proud of…

Sadly I have always longed for a home with a large library,  floor to ceiling  –  with a big rolling ladder enabling me to  get way up at the top to retrieve one of my most cherished books to read.  I say sadly because, I have never been fortunate enough to have such a fabulous library, and now we have downsized our home to a small bookshelf in our office that barely holds the books we use each day.  My dream is sincere, and if I was able those books would have their forever homes.images-8

I know we have libraries, but as with puppies and kittens, there simply isn’t enough space for everyone to live side by side peacefully.   Would the answer lie with each of us building a large private library of our own to help out?    This I can not say, but I am saddened by the direction we are going, and the lack of those beautiful books of  days past!

Thank you for stopping by to read my post, see you next time…

So….Mom Wasn’t Perfect After All!


In our house the words, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle are common place.  Don’t get me wrong,  we both love to spend money, and buy new things, who doesn’t?  Actually,  I think I’m the best at spending.  My husband thinks he’s the best at it!  Ok,  both of us have to keep check on each other!

When I was small, mother and myself would go out junking, or antiquing, depending on the store.  If it was called an antique store, everything in it would be higher in price.  If it was called a junk store, prices would reflect that.  Today even junky Junk stores are pricy, and antique stores are out of the ballpark!  When it comes to reusing something, I’m the one in our household who loves taking something old, and repurposing it.

Many years ago, when I first got married, we didn’t have a lot of money, so Mom and I would look everywhere for furniture that we could both fix up for my new home.  Mom could sniff out the best bargains of anyone I have ever met, and she really knew how to negotiate the best price for those bargains  too!  I remember finding an oblong pine drop leaf table that was in great condition.  Just the table, not the chairs.  I really needed that table, so after bargaining with the shop owner,  the price was dropped to a doable amount, and home we went with our new purchase.

The thing is, I never really liked that table!

It was maple, and looked too Early American for me, but since I needed one, and the price was right, I bought it!  Mom loved Early American, and she secretly wanted me to love it also, but my style was more country.  I liked that worn look of history!

Several months later I found a different table at the same shop, and this time it was the table of my dreams!  This  table was an old, oak, oval, kitchen table with two drop leafs, and a square pedestal.    It had really been beaten up, and you could tell it had lived a colorful life just by sliding your hand over the top.  Character, and personality, oozed out  the grain of the wood, and  it had a charm that the other table would never have!  As I proceeded to negotiate with the shop owner, I could feel my stomach churning with excitement.  It wasn’t long before he agreed to take the other table in exchange for my beautiful new farm table.  Even in those days, these tables were rare, and to this day, I’ve never seen one exactly like it.  Even reproductions aren’t close!

That same afternoon, Mother, and myself loaded the maple table into the back of her wagon, and off we went to return it to the shop, and exchange it for my new farm table.  We worked quickly before the owner of the store changed his mind.  He most likely could get more money from the first table, it certainly was in better condition, but I only wanted to make sure the oak table didn’t find itself in another home by mistake!  As everyone knows, one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure!

The real fun began when Mom and I delivered  the oak table to my apartment, and spent the rest of the afternoon deciding how to clean it up without damaging it even more! I think we used Murphy’s Oil Soap on it, followed by a robust application of steel wool to smooth out the surface.  Today, I use  Murphy’s for cleaning my make up brushes, and my art brushes…it is the best, most gentle thing you could ever use on brushes!  When we were finished cleaning up the table it had a beautiful patina, and the grain of the wood was fabulous!    Let me tell you that table gave us many years of wonderful service, it always looked so beautiful when it was dressed up with fancy skirts, fine  china, and my best  silver.   I can still see it, and long for a table just like it, maybe a place to put it while I’m sitting here longing would be nice also!

A couple of years later I received a call from my Mother one afternoon, late in the day.  She told be she had found four bent wood chairs, and she asked if I would I like to have them?  Of course, “ I’d love to have them!”  I’d been dreaming of having bent wood chairs, and had never found anything close to a chair like that  on my  junking days, so yes!  Pretty soon, I was pulling the ugly chairs I’d been using out of my dinning room , and replacing them with four cleaned up, and polished bent wood chairs.  That really made my day!

I found out later that Mother had lifted (literally lifted),  the chairs from the back of a Thrift Store where someone had donated them.  I guess Mom wasn’t perfect after all!

Mom, and I went on like this for years until Dad decided to retire, and sell their home to live aboard a  boat in Long Beach Harbor.  That turned out to be fun too, but the antiquing days as we knew them, would now be only a memory, and  we never kicked around like that again.  Occasionally, while one of us would visit the other, we  would  do a little garage sailing, and thrift store shopping, but it never was the same.

Those days were so much fun, we were able to do so much as mother and daughter, and those memories are  something I will always cherish!