Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Big Idea

The Big Idea

By Allison Adams 06-12-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 02-13-11

I had a garage sale once.

It was early in our marriage and my husband, The Minimalist, thought we had accumulated too much stuff.

On his way to and from work he passed by the occasional homemade “Garage Sale” sign posted in a yard and he decided if it was good enough for the Joneses (and the Smiths, and the Millers, and the Browns), then it was good enough for us, and he hatched a Big Idea.

“We need to have a garage sale, like the Jones, the Smiths, the Millers, and the Browns”, he declared one morning as I was feeling my way around the kitchen in search of a cup of coffee and a couple of diaper wipes.

And even though it was very early and all of my neurons weren’t firing I knew, of course, that by “we” need to have a garage sale, he really meant “me”.

“Think of all the money we’ll make!” he said as he grabbed his briefcase and headed out the door for work. (Now, that time he meant “we”.)

I rolled my eyes and followed him out the door with a baby on my hip, took her noodley little arm in my hand and waved it bye-bye while my enterprising husband backed his car out of our carport.

Then he stopped and hollered out of the driver’s side window, “We can use our garage sale profit to go on a vacation!”

Hold up. A vacation?

Nothing lights a fire beneath a stay-at-home mom with two children under the age of three, who has nowhere to go, and no reason to dress in anything nicer than sweatpants and an Enfamil-stained t-shirt accessorized with a burp rag permanently draped over one shoulder, than the promise of a vacation.

For two weeks in advance of the sale I worked diligently in between feedings, diaper changes, playtime, naptime, and even late into the night in order to sort through, select, and price our superfluous household items in time for the big day.

The promise of a vacation looming in my foggy brain even had me culling through our closet filled with We-Will-Never-Use-This-Thing wedding presents to add to the kitty.

I spent hours making eye-catching signs using poster board and Magic Markers. My lettering was big, bold, and perfectly centered.

I purchased an ad in the local newspaper.

I swept clean and hosed down the floor of our carport.

Under the cover of darkness on the night before the sale I carried our only card table to the carport and set it up.

Upon it I carefully displayed our trash-to-treasures, among them – a few out-of-fashion pocketbooks, a roll of red floral wallpaper, a set of 3 placemats (hand woven in Guatemala), a never-been-opened Este Lauder Bonus Gift, numerous coffee mugs advertizing anything from Penzoil to Piggly Wiggly, a healthy supply of bamboo chopsticks (still in their paper wrappers) from Wong’s House of Noodles, and the unusual candlestick holders (at least that’s what I think they were) that my mother-in-law’s bridge partner presented to us on the occasion of our wedding.

Sure that there would be a throng of shoppers that I couldn’t handle by myself I recruited a friend to help me control the cash and carry on the day of the sale.

I even hired a babysitter to watch my rug rats while I managed my event.

Cars began lining our street before sunrise on the morning of the sale.

When I could keep the buyers at bay no more, I pulled on my sweatpants and t-shirt over my pajamas and went to work.

By noon I realized I still hadn’t brushed my teeth, but I had sold the above mentioned items along with an arrangement of artificial flowers covered in a thin layer of dust, a broken boom box, a Richard Simmons exercise tape (which I paired with an exercise bike), a coil of clothesline, box full of cassette tapes, and a Christmas ornament that played “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”.

By 2PM I had pulled down my garage sale signs, folded-up my card table, dragged my worn-out body and bad breath inside and counted our profit: $68.90.

And THAT, Bill Adams, is why “we” will NEVER have another garage sale.

Don't Shoot!

Don’t Shoot!

By Allison Adams 05-29-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 05-30-11

Just once I’d like to be able to lift, aim, and focus my camera to take a picture of my kids without them scattering like ball bearings hitting a marble floor.

“Take cover! She’s got a camera!”

For heaven’s sake, people! It’s a Canon; not a cannon!

All I want is a couple of cheesy shots of my cherubs to slide beneath the magnets on the refrigerator door.

In the early days, even before my children knew exactly I what I was doing with the contraption that hung around my neck, I was usually out of film. Or, out of batteries. And they were always out of focus.

There was no such thing as a “candid” shot. No, sir.

Every photo was painstakingly directed, and then I spent an inordinate amount of time checking to see that I had all the photographic accoutrements (film, batteries), and then it took me a little longer to make sure I could keep the moving targets in focus.

Oh, the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the annual Christmas card family photo …

By the time I got my first digital camera my children were on to me and my quest to capture the moment, so I rarely got a chance because it was almost impossible give chase while I held the thing at arm’s length, all the while trying to keep the subject matter framed within the tiny screen on the back of the camera.

Autofocus was of no use to me in those situations.

If they really thought about it, my children would realize my photographs are harmless. I mean, anymore it’s not like I actually ever print the photos I take. They live perpetually inside my camera, stored on that little thingamajig the size of a postage stamp.

Someday though, maybe I’ll get my pictures off of that doohickey. Then maybe I’ll have prints made of the pictures I really like.

I’ll use photo-friendly glue sticks to adhere them onto decorative acid-free archival paper. I’ll sort through a selection of paper-punchers that create an array of themed shapes with which to adorn the page in the photo album.

I’ll write a little blurb about the picture, like where it was taken and who’s in it … except that I really won’t because the photos of my kids set against a scenic background turn out to be shots of scenery and a hint of a couple of nondescript body parts.

“Oh, THAT’S a picture of my children on our recent hike. See? The shadow right over there is the back of my daughter’s head. She spotted me with my camera and slipped behind that tree. And look! There’s my son – that speck in the upper right-hand corner is his left heel. He is quite a runner!”

When I finally realized that the only thing me and my camera were really good for was clearing a room or the wilderness, I became indebted to anyone who happened to snap a shot of my children and share it with me.

The fact of the matter is that if it weren’t for those who shoot and share (or shoot and sell), I’d have no photographs of my son’s teenaged years.

My son has even managed to slyly sabotage his likeness in professional photographs.

Recently, I parted with a nice chunk of change when I ordered a professionally photographed group shot of his whole graduating class, taken on the steps in front of the school.

When I received the photo in the mail I was so excited to have such a wonderful keepsake of this important milestone that it took me several minutes to finally find my son in the picture – lying face down on the pavement … like he was waiting for the police to show up with their chalk.

I am not making this up.

You better believe THAT one’s on the refrigerator.