Stuff I Do Get

The list of things I’ll never understand is a long one. I’ll never quite get why the sky is blue and not some other color, how eyeballs work, or what on earth a black hole is. And don’t even get me started on things like trickle-down economics, parallel universes, the theory of relativity, or that giant atom smasher thing in Switzerland. Physics? You can’t be serious.

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My brain isn’t wired for technology, finance, or business. Simple math? Yes. I can balance my checkbook, calculate percentages in my head, and discern the best price of any product in the grocery store. Anything more complicated . . . not so much. During my freshman year at college, I had to drop out of calculus after two long, frustrating weeks because I knew that no amount of reading, studying, or memorizing would have any effect on my ability to understand it. Required to choose either another math class or a science class, I switched to biology, which I actually did well in, only because I could apply its concepts to real life without too much of a stretch. In addition, I remember exactly nothing from the one economics class I took except that there’s something called microeconomics and something else called macroeconomics. ’Nuff said.

Let’s add politics to that list, just for good measure. I find the maneuverings and alliances and grievances between and among different peoples in the world mind-boggling. And it all seems to change almost daily. There’s no keeping up with it.

Fortunately, there are things I do get. Every day, I successfully assemble words into sentences into paragraphs into essays because grammar and punctuation and semantics are my thing. Working as an editorial assistant at a small book press forced me to surrender to The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam and Webster and let them teach me everything they knew. I learned more from them in a few short years than I did in all my sixteen years of formal schooling.

Art and architecture fascinate me, mostly because they have little to do with intellect and everything to do with our creativity and right-braininess and uniqueness. I’m intrigued by how certain colors just seem to peacefully coexist. My favorite artists were the Impressionists, those nomadic and often-penniless mavericks who defied convention and challenged the status quo. No one paints like that anymore. Similarly, I love old houses filled with quirky elements from another time and place: French doors and pocket doors, butler’s pantries, grand staircases and servants’ staircases, built-in china cabinets, crown molding, transoms, stained glass, foyers, turrets, and wraparound porches. Architecture is art on a grander scale.

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Art and . . .

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architecture

History holds me spellbound, especially the years from 1880 to 1945. The Victorians with their calling cards and dance cards and strict etiquette, elegant balls, classical music, and curious courting habits. The Roaring Twenties: full of decadence, the Steins’ salon in Paris, new kinds of art and writing. The 1930s and 1940s: the lean years, the war years, men in suits, women in dresses and hats and brooches, some of the best classic movies ever made. After that, we ushered in the Atomic Age, and nothing was quite the same again.

 

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Yes, it’s the beautiful, talented Ingrid Bergman.

I’m also a student of psychology, especially the abnormal kind. I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring people out. Let’s face it: We’re all dysfunctional to some degree because we’re all human and fallible. It’s so much easier to get along with others and accept and forgive them when you understand the whys and wherefores of their often-baffling behavior (especially when they’re your teenage sons).

 

No one is an expert in everything. Each of us is a unique recipe of gifts and talents and interests that’s never duplicated. I don’t need to know everything, and that’s all I need to know.

Ode to Otis

Disclaimer: This is not one of those feel-good stories about a dog who taught his hapless owners how to seize the day, stop and smell the flowers, let go gracefully, or any of that tripe. The dog referred to in the title is not one of those dogs.

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An Auspicious Beginning

Let’s travel back in time to that fateful day in July 2008 when my family met Otis at our local humane society. Lots of dogs—mostly big ones—barked and wagged their tails frantically, vying for our attention as we inspected each one in turn. One little guy, though, sat in the far corner of his kennel, glued to the back wall. He had been dropped off at the shelter because he was a bit too rambunctious for his previous owner’s small children. Abandoned in that noisy place, he seemed so forlorn, so lost, so sad.

I should have known better. I felt sorry for Otis. And he’s a puggle, for crying out loud. Is there anything more adorable than a mixture of pug and beagle? As my son Jake likes to say, “Don’t let the cute eyes fool you!” But I did. And once again, I have paid in spades for allowing myself to feel sorry for something and to choose love on looks alone.

We had another dog at the time, Boo, our rat terrier. (He has since passed away.) We introduced Otis to Boo at the shelter, and they got along famously so we brought Otis home. Fast-forward a few weeks and months. My children and I became slowly, painfully aware of Otis’s alter ego.

Welcome to the Dark Side . . . of Otis

It turns out, Otis is the doggy equivalent of the school bully. You know, that kid who pulled your hair and threw wads of paste at you in art class.

Not long after joining our little tribe, Otis revealed his true colors. He would physically push Boo away from their shared water bowl. Similarly, he would casually stroll up to Boo’s food bowl and begin eating as Boo trotted away quickly, not daring to look behind him.

He would stand—simply stand—next to the bed Boo was resting on until Boo stood up and walked away. Then he’d immediately make himself at home on the warm bed as if he’d just come across it and thought to himself, Ooh, look, a bed just my size. And it’s toasty too. How serendipitous.

This is a dog who not only ate his own excrement—or recycled snack, as I called it—but ate poop as it was being dispensed from the tail end of an understandably bewildered Boo.

Otis would wait until everyone had left the kitchen and then would sniff around the table and counters and lunge at whatever yummy tidbits had been left within his reach. He once swiped a loaf of bread from the edge of the kitchen counter. Needless to say, we all got in the habit of pushing our chairs in at the table and doing a clean sweep of the countertops after eating.

From Bad to So Much Worse

Fast-forward a few years. After a divorce and the dividing of assets that goes along with it, I inherited Boo and Otis. Maybe it was the pall of grief that my boys endured or the stress of adjusting to a new normal that caused Otis’s behavior to become even more egregious.

He would pee and poop in the house within five minutes after having gone outside, with the express purpose of peeing and pooping!

 He would pee and poop in his crate and then proceed to (pick one):

  1. stand
  2. sleep
  3. tap dance
  4. dream of his next meal
  5. all of the above

in said excrement, cheerfully smearing it all over the bottom and sides of the crate. Was this normal behavior? No. Did I enjoy dragging the dog and the crate outside every single day and washing/scrubbing/disinfecting them? Um, no. Were Otis’s days numbered? Yes. Yes, they were.

The Solution Appears

When I moved into a rented house, I couldn’t have more than one dog. Guess which one I took with me.

So what did I do with Otis, that unruly, rude, nasty bully of a dog? Did I return him, postage paid, to the shelter from which he hailed? No. Did I pawn him off on some unsuspecting frenemy? Nope. I did what any other woman in my position would have done: I gave him to my ex-husband, crate, leftover kibble, and all. Questions, anyone?

I swear I saw palpable signs of relief on Boo’s face. He now padded freely throughout the house, sleeping peacefully wherever he pleased, eating his food without fear of undue seizure, and no longer tip-toeing around the dreaded Otis of the mean disposition and hair-trigger temper.

These Days

I now dog-sit occasionally when my sons go on vacation with their father. Yup, I actually invite this buffoon of a dog into my house so he can terrorize me anew.

I call him Odie, referencing Garfield’s witless sidekick. My other nickname for him is Odious. One of his nastiest habits is scooting across the rug, leaving a smear of foul-smelling bum ooze in his wake. He sometimes plants his rear end squarely on top of my foot. He woofs and grunts in his demented slumber, stretched to the edges of his Serta dog bed. (Yes, the same company that makes mattresses for humans.)

 

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Here’s Otis playing hide-and-seek. Can you find him? (He’s not very good at this.)

 

He still eats poop every chance he gets, but there’s a catch. He won’t eat poop he’s freshly generated, but he will gobble up poop he excreted during his previous visit outside. Go figure.

Odie is about eleven years old now. He takes medication for an enlarged heart and receives regular cortisone injections for allergies, which make him scratch almost non-stop. Ironically, the medication that eases his allergic symptoms exacerbates his heart condition, so the days of cortisone shots are numbered. He eats expensive, wheat-free food and treats (in addition to poop, naturally) to minimize his allergic reactions.

OK, He’s Not All Bad

Despite his innumerable faults, the Ode Man does have some endearing qualities. Someone in his previous life apparently used to feed him ice cubes as a treat. Mere seconds after the freezer is opened, he materializes, stealthy as a ninja, waiting expectantly for a cold tidbit. To us, it’s nothing more than frozen water. To Otis, nirvana.

Otis can be quite clever. Here he is, opening the door of his crate. He’s used to the door opening on the right. If you switch things up on him, he’ll continue to try to open on the right until you say, “Other side, Otis.” After a few more futile attempts, he catches on. His brain may be tiny, but he does use every neuron.

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I insisted on adding him to our family without the slightest inkling of the baggage he would bring with him. What goes around surely comes around.

Don’t let the cute eyes fool you, indeed.

 

 

God Is Not Your Copilot

Surrendering to God is like taking your hands off the steering wheel—for good. You can scoot over to the passenger’s seat, heave a huge sigh of relief like you’ve been holding your breath all your life, and finally enjoy the scenery. God’s driving now. He knows exactly where you’re going and how to get there. He knows all of the roadblocks and construction zones. He won’t be steering you into potholes and bridge abutments and roadside ditches filled with rainwater runoff.

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God is an extremely cautious driver. He never speeds, tailgates, or weaves in and out of other cars and semis going 80 miles an hour on the interstate. He never runs red lights or ignores stop signs or passes on the right. He is never reckless or aggressive. He never forgets that He has precious cargo aboard.

God never flips anyone the bird or rolls down His window to curse at other drivers for their lack of driving ability or bad manners. He loves them too.

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When you’re stuck in traffic and tell God you know a shortcut, He’ll nod and smile politely and continue to sit there, one foot on the brake and the other tapping out the beat of the song on the radio. (He might even sing along. He knows all of the words.) When it’s 112 degrees outside and the air conditioning is on the fritz, He’ll still sit there, cool as a proverbial cucumber. When it’s 20 degrees below and the heater is broken, He’ll sit back, settle in, rub His hands together. He can fix the AC and the heater with a look, but He probably won’t. He wants you to try something new, step outside your comfort zone, and rely on Him for every single need according to His plan and His timing.

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Sometimes during your journey, God will speak to you. If you have ears to hear, you will hear Him. Other times, He’ll be mysteriously silent. He’s letting you figure things out for yourself. He’s already given you the preeminent guide to life, the Bible, the only book you’ll ever need. He’s given you grace, or unearned favor, through His Son, Jesus. It’s free for the asking.

God knows you’re uncomfortable. He knows you feel like you’re wasting your time waiting on Him to move forward. He knows you want to bolt out of the car and run to the nearest gas station for food and supplies and help from someone. Anyone. But sit tight there in that car. He’s got this, and you won’t find what you need anywhere else.

Stay put. Keep asking, praying, believing, surrendering, and loving your Creator with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. In fact, He’s madly in love with you. He will get you out of this traffic jam and the next one and the one after that. If you believe nothing else, believe this: You can trust Him with all your heart.

He knew you were going to get sidetracked and lost and look for shortcuts. In spite of all your wandering that took you a million miles away from Him, He wants you back. Nothing you ever do can make Him unlove you. It simply isn’t possible.

God is not your copilot, friends. He’s your pilot: always in control, always in command, second to none.

You’re safe with God. Let Him do the driving. Just. Let. Go.

Anna Banana

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Anna as a baby with her parents, my grandparents

From Normal to Nightmare

My aunt Anna was born on March 1, 1923, the first of my Italian grandparents’ four children. She was apparently a happy, healthy child until she began to experience epileptic seizures at a young age. My grandmother traveled by train with Anna from her home in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to Boston and then New York to seek the advice of some of the country’s experts on epilepsy, but ultimately Anna suffered permanent brain damage as a result of her seizures.

Anna was never able to attend school. Unable to express herself clearly in words, she often exploded in violent outbursts. When she was about sixteen, her parents committed her to a facility for mentally disabled people in Palmer, Massachusetts, one hundred miles from their home. By then, they had three more children, all under the age of five, to care for. My mom remembers the many long road trips to visit Anna.

The Palmer facility was a nightmare for Anna. I’m not privy to the details, but I do know that she wasn’t treated well there. When she was fifty-one, Anna was moved to another facility in my grandparents’ hometown. It wasn’t much better than the first place, but at least she was closer to her family.

A “New” Family Member

Before this, I had neither met Anna nor even knew she existed. I was ten years old when I was introduced to a family member to whom no reference had ever been made. At first, she scared me. I couldn’t understand her when she spoke, and I didn’t know how to relate to her. When we visited Anna at her “home,” I was terrified that the other residents would hurt me somehow. They seemed so unpredictable.

I slowly learned about Anna’s quirks. She loved aprons and wore a different one every day. She was thrilled when someone gave her a new one at Christmas. She also loved candy and other sweets. I’m pretty sure I inherited my sweet-tooth gene from her.

Anna’s life didn’t improve at her new home. I often heard my mother, aunt, and uncle refer to mysterious injuries, including black eyes and broken bones, that were always the result of the same explanation: Anna “fell.” It’s quite possible that this was true. Anna wasn’t steady on her feet. But it’s no secret that abuse is rampant in nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, and group homes, and Anna seemed to be a constant victim.

A New Life

After my grandmother passed away (twenty years after her beloved husband), our family was approached by the director of a state-run program that allowed mentally disabled people who were not a danger to themselves or others to live in mainstream society. Everyone was on board except my uncle Frank, Anna’s brother and legal guardian. He thought the whole thing was too good to be true and that Anna would be victimized further. Fortunately, some heart-to-heart chats with his sisters and the director finally convinced Frank that this would be a good move for Anna.

It was.

Now in her seventies, Anna first moved into an apartment in an old, renovated school in Fall River, Massachusetts, and a couple of years later into another one in a renovated mill in the same city. The setup was ingenious. Anna’s friend Sandy lived in the apartment next door, and they had round-the-clock nursing care. At night, their nurse slept in the connecting room between their apartments.

Anna’s life had officially begun. She picked out all of the furniture and artwork for her new digs. She had a social life that included swimming, dancing, and bowling with Sandy and her friend Paul. She often went out to lunch and to social gatherings with her peers. She spent Sundays and holidays with various family members, to whom she referred as “my people.”

 

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Anna during a visit to her brother’s house, Easter 1998

 

Anna’s nurses, most of whom lovingly referred to her as Anna Banana, limited her intake of sweets to keep a check on her weight and overall health. They cooked her meals, ensured that she bathed regularly, washed her clothes and bedding, and ferried her to doctors’ appointments and outings. They made her favorite treat of a cup of coffee, which she would sip, steaming hot, through a straw.

Anna loved jewelry and would dress to the nines every time she got to go anywhere. Every outfit was color coordinated and highlighted by earrings, necklaces, and a ring on every finger. Her once-straggly hair was now clean and professionally coifed. She finally gave up her apron collection when her real life began.

Anna’s Legacy

Nothing fazed my remarkable aunt. She endured two mastectomies as well as brain surgery to repair a subdural hematoma that resulted from a fall in the bathroom of her apartment. (This one was a legitimate accident.) When we visited her in the hospital during this latter trial and asked how she was feeling, she replied simply, “My head hurts.”

When Anna passed away in the spring of 2005 at the age of 82, her nurses were heartbroken. They truly loved her, probably more than anyone in her family ever did. To be fair to my grandparents, they were simply a product of their generation, unenlightened about the proper way to treat people who don’t fit the mold of what we consider “normal.” They grew up in an era when people with mental or emotional disabilities were shunned, locked away and hidden, and regarded as damaged goods rather than unique and valuable human beings.

 

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My son Luke, 6 months, and his great-aunt share a smile, the common language of all human beings.

 

I’m grateful that God blessed Anna, at least for a few precious years, with genuine happiness, joy, friendship, and true “care” givers. I’m grateful that God taught me, through the gift of Anna, that all people, regardless of their limited intellect or potential, have innate value and deserve to be treated with respect, kindness, and dignity.

Anna, you were a blessing.

 

Raising Readers

 

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Luke and Jake with one of their favorite things: a book

 

Like a lot of modern moms, I began reading to my first-born son, Luke, in utero. I wanted to give him every possible advantage on his life’s journey—a head start of sorts—so I read little board books aloud to him as he floated in his temporary home of amniotic goo and poked his elbows into my ribs. I imagined his brain absorbing those words and ideas, his heart calmed by the steady measure of my voice.

img_20161030_103609154When Luke was eighteen months old, he would refuse to lie down for a nap until I’d read one of his little books. By that time, I was awaiting the arrival of son number two, Jake, and was absolutely exhausted more often than not. Sometimes I’d turn two pages instead of one or pretend the story was finished when it wasn’t, and he’d usually catch me and complain vociferously. All that mattered was the book.

While his second-place status meant he rarely had my full attention, Jake did get to hear me read to Luke every single day from his crib or from his bouncy seat perched on the kitchen table or from his blanket on the living room floor next to the dog. And he tagged along on wobbly legs as we visited the library week after week, listening to stories read aloud by the librarians and then picking out our own jewels to take home.

Does having that all-important head start make kids joyful, enthusiastic readers, lovers of books great and small? You bet it does, as least in our case! Luke still loves to read. He loves to read so much, in fact, that he’ll continue to read when he should be getting ready for school or making his way to the dinner table or going to bed. I sometimes have to surreptitiously insert a bookmark and close a book with his nose still in it to make him stop reading.

I’m at home wherever there are books, and I’m the type of mom who thinks hanging out at the library on a Saturday afternoon is fun. And while my boys may hem and haw at the idea of having to set foot inside an actual library during summer vacation, they immediately zoom off in different directions as soon as the door opens before them, Luke to find the latest Percy Jackson or Heroes of Olympus installment, Jake to the comics section, searching in vain for a Calvin and Hobbes collection he hasn’t yet devoured.

So what do you do if your son or daughter isn’t a born reader? Every kid has an interest, and every interest, no matter how obscure, has had a book or magazine devoted to it. Is your son begging for a hermit crab, guinea pig, or gerbil? Say OK but only if he first reads up on how to care for said pet. Does your daughter want to learn to water-ski in Sarasota Bay? There’s a magazine for that called—you guessed it—Water Ski.

And—oh, yeah—read with and to your kids, no matter how old they are. Jake’s fourth-grade teacher read the student version of Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered aloud to the class. Every student loved it. Even those kids who weren’t avid readers enjoyed listening to a simply worded, action-packed historical novel read slowly and purposefully by a teacher who understood the power of a well-placed pause. They could identify with Zech MacIvey, a boy their own age, even though Zech’s story takes place 150-plus years before their own. And they could identify with their patient teacher, who obviously loved the book as much as they did.

Note: This post was originally published on the Pineapple Press website in 2012.

 

Technophobia

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The wise and witty Mark Twain once said, “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”

Right on, brother.

I was born in the early 1960s, one of the last of the baby boomer generation. I’m approaching—at warp speed, it seems—the final third of my life. According to my charming children, I’m older than dirt, hopelessly out of touch, seriously uncool—in short, some prehistoric creature who obviously knows nothing about life, school, friends, homework, life, technology, nutrition, integrity, fairness, life, etc.

Did I mention I know absolutely nothing about life? Because I’ve been on the planet for only, like, half a century. But, still, I’m clueless.

OK, so I don’t “get” most of the technology out there. I own exactly one rather old television, one desktop computer, and none of the following: DVD player, Blu-ray player, Kindle, Nook, laptop, iPhone, iPad, iPod, or anything else that begins with a lowercase I. A couple of years ago, my son Jake asked an average of once a day if I would buy him a laptop and/or an iPhone. Each time, I quickly responded, “Dude, I don’t even have a laptop and/or an iPhone!”

Sometimes my children say very sarcastic things like, “Gee, Mom, did they even have TVs when you were a kid?” and I respond with raised eyebrows, accompanied by “the look” and an equally pointed barb, such as “Yes, and we actually had to get up off the couch and walk on our legs to the TV to change the channel. And we got a whopping seven channels, all in glorious black and white. And we usually had to make physical contact with the antenna on top of the TV to make it work.”

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I digress. The point is that they’ll always know more about some things than I will, and I’ll always know more about other things because I was there and lived it. Nyah, nyah!

I know, of course, that I should at least make an effort to keep up with all things technological so I’m not left sitting in the dust thirty years from now, wondering why I can’t send a simple e-mail while my grandchildren are busy sending e-thoughts. But, you know, I’d rather not. Keep up, that is. At least, not any more than I absolutely have to. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Yup, I’m a dinosaur, and a very happy one at that.

I sincerely enjoy and look forward to simple things: settling down in the evening with the newest issue of my favorite (paper) magazine or a quaint old (paper) children’s book I picked up at the Goodwill bookstore; sipping a delicious caffé mocha; meeting friends for lunch; watching a movie with my boys, a big bowl of popcorn propped nearby, and not caring about the mess they’re making on the coffee table because someday I’ll miss both them and their mess.

popcorn-166830_1280Truth is, I know a lot more about life now than I did at twenty or thirty or even forty. I know how not to hold a grudge, how not to worry about every little thing, how not to sweat the small stuff, which is all, by definition, small stuff.

I can enjoy the peace, patience, and perspective that come only with age. I live every day with a sense of calm, a sense that everything will be OK, and, even if it’s not, that I’ll be able to handle it. If only I had been born with this hard-won wisdom.

Good old Sam Clemens would certainly agree. And he didn’t have an iPhone either.

Scoring Vintage Treasures on Florida’s West Coast

Since childhood, I’ve adored all things vintage, antique, and historic: houses, furniture, books, ephemera, bric-a-brac. For the past twenty years, I’ve been a collector. Given free rein, I would buy everything under the sun, so I’ve had to slowly hone my collecting chops over time. Now I focus on a few favorite vintage things: books (always!), sewing notions (especially wooden thread spools), sheet music, picture frames, fabric, and photographs and postcards. (Yes, I know, it’s still a long list.)

No matter where you live, chances are there are at least a couple of thrift stores, consignment shops, antiques malls, and a Goodwill or a Salvation Army store within spitting distance. Here are some of my favorite haunts in Bradenton, Florida, just up the Gulf Coast from Sarasota.

Community Thrift Shop

Located at 5704 Manatee Avenue West, this shop benefits St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. It recently expanded into the space next door to accommodate more furniture. Separate rooms highlight women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing; shoes; children’s toys; household goods; craft supplies; books; and a boutique of better-quality women’s clothing. You’ll find everything from fine and costume jewelry to picture frames, purses to linens, and lamps to crystal. (Note: This store is not open during the summer.)

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This is a consignment shop (despite its name), which means that each item has a tag with three dates and corresponding prices. The longer the item has been in the store, the lower the price. This is good and bad: good because if you spot something you like but don’t want to pay full price, just wait a few days or weeks until the price drops; bad because if you wait too long, someone else might scoop up what you had your eye on.

During a recent visit, I scored some lovely treasures at the Community Thrift Shop. The vibrant, German-themed tablecloth ($8.50) is in near-perfect condition. The unframed needlepoint panel ($5.25) is a bit off-kilter but fixable. The red picture frame ($3.50) and ivory rose earrings ($2.80) aren’t vintage, but, then again, not everything has to be. I’ll use the rolling pin ($3.82) to roll out clay for crafts projects.

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Manatee Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop

Situated just down the road from the Community Thrift Shop at 4517 Manatee Avenue West, this thrift store employs volunteers and benefits Manatee Memorial Hospital. This store also expanded its interior to create a room devoted to books, magazines, and holiday décor.

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You’ll find just about anything you’re looking for here: furniture, clothing, linens, shoes, toys, stationery, household goods, games, craft supplies, and jewelry. The prices are virtually unbeatable. Here’s what I found during two recent visits.

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The most expensive item was the 1956 Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book ($6.00), which is chockfull of color photos and adorable illustrations. Everything else was $3.00 or less. Vintage postcards are 20¢ each unless otherwise marked. (Some are $1.00.) Bags full of sewing notions are usually $3–4.00. Since you can’t open the bags in the store, the fun part is getting home and discovering the goodies you didn’t notice earlier.

Retro Rosie’s

I’ve saved the best for last. This is a true antiques shop brimming with everything vintage. There’s so much to see, you’ll have to go more than once. Located at 817 Manatee Avenue East, Rosie’s offers an entire room stuffed with clothing from the early part of the twentieth century through the 1970s, including military uniforms and lots of lovely Lilly Pulitzer. This is the local go-to destination for outfits and costumes from another era. There’s also bridal paraphernalia, books, lamps, furniture, and loads of vintage jewelry.

In addition, a converted garage behind the shop is home to The Warehouse, in which you’ll find owner Lisa Mead’s eclectic collection of estate sale finds as well as her signature cellophane packages filled with antique photos, ephemera, keys, buttons, metal gears, and unique findings. Even her price tags are cut from ephemera such as wrapping paper, photos, and catalog pages.

I hit the greeting card jackpot on my most recent visit! On the $1 table just outside the front door, I scooped up a bunch of packages filled with vintage cards, some with postmarked envelopes and handwritten notes, making them all the more interesting. The most expensive item here was the old film reel ($5.00), which I found in The Warehouse.

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If you live in the area (or are just visiting) and love antiques (or just old stuff), get yourself to one or all of these shops in a jiffy. And stop by often, because the selection changes every day. There’s always someone cleaning out a garage or even an entire house full of things collected over a lifetime. All that stuff has to go somewhere, and lots of it ends up at places like these.