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YARD SALE
May 1, 2011
 
Nobody would take those old records, I was certain of that. Many people don't even have turntables anymore -- ours died long ago. Even my CDs seem clumsy now -- mostly I listen to music on my computer.

But never say never -- Ted Latham came by and bought all the records. He uses LPs for projects for kids who visit the Thomas Edison Museum down the road: they build a working model of Edison's first phonograph. He was carrying one with him, and demonstrated it: what looked to be a common pin and a piece of plastic fishing line affixed to a stick hovered over the disk, which he spun manually, and out of a construction paper cone on the end of the stick came the voice of Perry Como. A little scratchy, but I kid you not: Perry Como.

I helped him load the records into his car. There was the Stokowski recording of Beethoven's Ninth, bright green, with a giantic black "9" dominating the jacket -- I listened to that constantly while studying, back in the days when I could read and listen to music at the same time. There was the soundtrack to the BBC's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII," and the soundtrack to "Hair," and Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" -- I blasted through my housework to those in the 60s and 70s. There was Paul Simon and Vaughan Williams "Job," with one of those presciently psychedelic Willliam Blake illustrations of the book on its cover. There was my Scott Joplin and my Joan Baez, my Bach Magnificat. There was my Glenn Miller and Sinatra's "Trilogy." There was my Haydn "Creation."

I thought I might have to leave.

How could I do that to all my old friends? Give them over to become science projects? It was a hard-hearted thing to do, one of the many involved in closing down life in one house in order to open it in another. You cannot drag the train of your old life behind you; it's a mile long.

Someone bought the picnic table and six chairs, host of thousands of meals under the dogwood tree out back, the table that provided the arena for teenage sullenness and parental frustration, the table that welcomed prospective sons-in-law, grandchildren, scores of New Yorkers out here to slow down a bit, sit in the chairs and breathe. Someone else bought the settee that was their littermate.

A decent reproduction Queen Anne chair in need of a new seat. Some baskets. A wicker nightstand -- nobody bought the lovely wicker armoire that went with it. "That's okay; we'll put it on Craigslist," my daughter told me. "People don't generally buy expensive items at yard sales. They want everything to cost fifty cents."

But the icon of Adam naming the animals went. The glass orange juicer. The salad bowls and the vases and the aprons. The odd crystal votive holders. The wonderful art book I owned primarily because I coudn't resist sticking my head in the door of a bookstore in Greenwich Village to ask "How much is that Daumier in the window?"

All gone. All in other people's houses now. All moved on to the next chapter of their inanimate lives. Good luck to them.

Many of our customers remarked upon how much they love our house and our garden. Some had stories about how they stop to look at it, about how they walk by the garden and stop to see what's new every day, on their way to the train. Most were dismayed to hear that we are moving on. I looked around the front garden -- it's tulip season now, and I think it is more beautiful this year than ever before. I pulled a few weeds in between customers, but this garden doesn't really get very weedy -- old perennial gardens provide their own protection, with minimal help from their human friends. It will be fine without us, and it will treat the new owners well. And we will make a new place. A new garden -- Q has already made his new compost pile at the new house. Tulips are blooming over there, too, in front of the little picket fence.

Nice. I've always wanted a picket fence.

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AIDSWALK/NY is May 15th this year. I hope to raise $5,000 -- actually, I hope to raise more than that! If you can, please help me in this work -- great strides have been made in fighting HIV/AIDS in the United States, but worldwide it remains a killer, and has orphaned millions of children in Africa and Asia. You can sponsor me by visitng http://www.aidswalk.net/newyork/. When you get there, click on "Sponsor a Walker" on the left side of the screen, and type in "Barbara Crafton" when prompted to do so on the sponsor page. If you prefer not to donate online, send a check made to AIDSWALK/NY to me at 387 Middlesex Avenue, Metuchen NJ. 08840. I will be grateful to you, and the fight against this deadly scourge will be strengthened.
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