Bigger 'n Nothin'

It was, by all accounts, a glorious weekend. Perhaps a tad chilly for some, but with the sun shining brightly and temps flirting with the mid-60s, it was pretty perfect for little old me. Makes me want to fill the window boxes of our house with bright-faced annuals to admire from the street and the comfort of our back deck, but Michigan natives warn me the finicky nature of the weather here makes it unwise to do so before Labor Day. We were due a glorious weekend, I think, as last week, when it rained, it poured...if only figuratively on our end. Though it is my understanding that it both rained and poured back in St. Louis, where the basement of our little blue house took on indoor pool status. As if a leaky basement weren't enough, our renters informed us that the water heater was leaking and the refrigerator was on its last legs.

Being a landlord is difficult enough, but doing it from a distance, finding reliable service people and coordinating repairs and replacements is a particular kind of stress. Truth be told, were the market not what it is, we'd consider selling the house just to get out from under it. But now's not the time. We promised our little blue house o' love a kitchen upgrade and some bathroom repairs before we sell and if things would just quit breaking down, we may be able to afford it in between tenants.

Enough about that, though! Saturday, itching to get out of the house, I found a listing for the Bigger 'n Texas Sale, billed as a "giant community garage sale" to benefit the Ann Arbor News. Sounded like fun browsing, so I pried Chris away from the computer and lured him out to the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds to check things out. After paying $5 for the privilege of parking (reminding ourselves that we were supporting local media), we headed towards the sale.

To be honest, our first instinct was disappointment. I pictured something far grander in scale, but in reality the sale took place in two large barn-like buildings with tables set up in the middle of and around the perimeter of each room. Now, I've been to a few garage sales in my time. Even wrote about them for St. Louis Magazine once. But this, my friends, despite its promise (or, perhaps, because of) would qualify as the crappiest ever.

It was a strange mish-mosh of true garage sale crap -- tables piled with junk that was pushing it to have been purchased once, let alone trying for another go 'round -- and jewelry, crafts, perfume knock-offs and infomercial fare (complete with vegetable-peeling demo). Some of the crafts were obviously hand-made, possibly by blind people. Others were obviously purchased -- gross after gross of wooden roses tinted unnatural shades, for example -- and here for the resale.

It's likely that some of the stuff for sale, dusty and dented in its packaging, were straight off the back of the truck. And talk about variety! At one booth, you could buy a genuine bottle of Armani cologne -- a single box, slightly scuffed at a third of the usual price -- or walk tables away and save even more with a similar looking box of R. Mani perfume.

Chilly, or just like your throw rugs to make a statement? Consider the booth selling giant, garishly-colored synthetic fiber throws with subtle graphic imagery, like a half-naked woman or the Confederate flag (with or without "Git 'er done" acrodss it). Need a peg board with ducks on it? Ladybugs? Geese? Trucks? Cars? Boats? Cats? Dogs? Jesus? Anything? You're in luck!

It took us a whopping ten minutes to stroll by every booth, careful not to make eye contact with the desperate folk behind each table. (I learned the hard way by looking twice at the vegetable peeler display, mostly because I thought they were selling browning chips of sliced potato. I managed to free myself by declaring, "If my husband finds out I can peel vegetables, what's next? He'll expect me to cook them?")

Even accounting for hyperbole, whoever named this sale has never actually been to Texas. Or looked it up on the map. The Bigger 'n Rhode Island Sale probably wouldn't draw a crowd, but it'd have been more accurate. In fact, the only thing bigger 'n Texas here was the size of the average rear end. As a not-small woman myself, I confess to being stunned at the number of morbidly obese people lined up to buy small plastic buckets full of fries from the concession stands. I didn't even know there were this many fat people in Michigan.

We felt we had to buy something to justify the $5 entry fee, so we bought some alarmingly cheap replacement blades for Chris' razor -- which he needed anyway -- and came out about $2 ahead and rich in the knowledge that we would never make the mistake of repeating this event in the future.

The rest of the weekend went swimmingly. Saturday night we stayed in and finally watched The Good Shepherd, which has been sitting on our DVD player for about three weeks. (If you ever order a DVD from Netflix and it says "long wait" next to the status, the reason is people like me.) While it's still mildly adorable to watch Matt Damon attempt to play anyone over the age of 25, I think a better title would have been The Extremely Confusing and, Really, Only Moderately Interesting Shepherd.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was glorious so after running a few errands, we hit Gallup Park in the afternoon, where Chris took a run and I did my version of walking (interspersed with brief, brief bursts of what barely qualifies as running) along the lake. Such a beautiful sight, people snoozing in the grass, whole families on bicycles, kids and parents cutting through the water in kayaks or paddle boats.

Then, being the true nature lovers we are, we headed to Ikea in the hopes of finding some chair cushions to make the adirondacks on our deck a tad more comfy. No dice in that arena, but no worries! We still spend $50 on crap I didn't know I needed until I got there. Gotta love the genius mentality of the place, "I MUST spend this money because it's so CHEAP." Or maybe that's less the mentality of the place than the mentality of me. Either way.