Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flea-ing the Snow

"Do you want to go to the flea market this morning?" I stared at my husband in something akin to shock, then pointed out the window to the over-a-foot of snow still on the ground. Now, don't get me wrong. There's pretty much nothing I like better than going to our local flea market (Golden Nugget Antique Market, in Lambertville, NJ) on a Sunday (or Saturday, or Wednesday) morning. It's the best antique flea market I've ever found, and it's only 20 minutes away. We've bought so much stuff there over the years that we joke our house is decorated in Early Lambertville. But...well, there's snow, LOTS of snow, on the ground. Still, hubby can be persuasive, especially about things he knows I love to do, and since the weather has made it impossible to do just about any of the things I love to do lately, I bundle myself up, clamber into the car, and off we go.

We usually get to Lambertville around 7:30 in the morning, earlier if we can manage it. Like most flea markets, you get the best bargains early. But, given the weather conditions, and the fact that it's pretty cold, 9 or even 10 seems a reasonable time to get there. We pull in at 9:50 and stare at the vendors who have braved the weather. Normally there are as many as 200 hundred dealers at the height of the season. This morning there are perhaps 25 or so. They're mostly huddled under the covered section of the market, and are surprisingly cheerful. It's almost like everyone came to a picnic, which got moved inside because of the snow.

I wander the tables, looking for something that catches my eye, weaving in and out of the other stalwart shoppers. A surprising number of the other buyers are Russian, although, given the weather, maybe that isn't so surprising. There's some interesting stuff, and the prices aren't bad -- they rarely are at this time of year. Hubby finds a box of aeronautical magazines for $20 ("I just thought they were interesting"), but, sadly, I strike out. It happens. As I climb back into the car and we pull out of the parking lot, I realize that I'm smiling and feel better than I have in days. I guess taking a walk through the cold, crisp air on a Sunday morning is a whole lot better than staying in bed.

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Winter Garden

New Jersey just got whacked with another major winter storm -- eighteen inches of heavy, wet snow. If I liked snow this much (or at all...), I'd take up skiing and move to Minnesota, where I suspect it might be a bit cheaper to live, and where I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they've gotten less snow than us this year! At this point I think my snow-blindness is getting permanent. Anyway, this is the time of year, and most especially this year, when a middle-aged lass's fancy turns to thoughts of gardening. The catalogs have started trickling in, and I'm beginning to feel a bit faint from lack of greenery. Fortunately I have house plants. One of my orchids has buds on it, my three-foot-tall Crown of Thorns is still blooming, and one of my miniature violets has a blossom and several buds. It's this last that I'm most enamored of right now. I've set it in an antique children's tea cup and placed it in a small tabletop greenhouse on my desk. When I look at it, I can almost feel the summer sun on my back.

Tootsie Time!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


My office area, with a few of my favorite things.
(Deep breath...) My name is Laurie and I'm a collector. There, I've said it. I collect a lot of things: antique and vintage toys, rusty bits of stuff for the garden, animal pull toys, hand-tinted prints, silhouettes, antique German toy barns, antique teddy bears, Skookum Indian dolls, Christmas, Easter...dear God, make it stop! (More deep breaths...) Really, it's okay. I collect a lot of things, but I don't collect a lot of *each* thing. Well, not by some standards, anyway. I have, perhaps, a half-dozen or so horse pull toys, and maybe 6 or 8 (some of them are packed up) toy barns. I do have boxes and boxes of Christmas stuff, but who doesn't?

My husband doesn't quite understand, though he tries valiantly. Don't get me wrong, he's a collector too, and fully supports my collecting hobbies. But he collects Golden Age comic books, early cartoon and serial posters, and other similar, quantifiable things. And it's the quantifiable factor that separates our collecting. He can look at a list of all the Donald Duck Comics and Stories ever printed and tick off the ones he has. He *knows* who wrote and illustrated every issue, and there's a standard by which the books are graded. And his goal is to get all the books (or at least the Disney 4-colors) in the best possible condition.

Who made me? Who knows, but I'm still pretty...
My stuff, on the other hand, is not quantifiable. Who knows how many different horse pull toys were made in the 1900s, and as for who made them? I doubt if anyone really knows. Oh, you can probably take a guess at where some of them were made -- some toy company somewhere in Germany, but I suspect many of them (and many of the other things I collect) were cottage industry made. And they're all a little bit unique because of that, even the "mass produced" ones. And while he collects to get all of a certain item, I collect based on my response to the item. I don't necessarily care what condition something is in, or even how much it's worth. My criteria is strictly based on how I react to the object: Does the bear's face make me smile? Can I imagine a small boy or girl pushing the horse across the living-room floor?

And that's what confuses my dear husband most of all. He says he's constantly pointing something out to me, thinking I'll love it, and is surprised when I walk right past it and pick up something he didn't even notice. He's getting better at predicting what I will and won't like -- we've been together for over 25 years at this point -- by I think I'm still a bit of a mystery to him. And I guess that's a good thing.