Wednesday, June 1, 2011

barn sale

Some of you might remember that between last Thanksgiving and December 13, I was helping my sister care for her dying husband.

Now that she's alone she doesn't want to live so far out of town (and her place requires more maintenance than she wants) and one day she noticed that the house next to her friend and boss (large lots) in the neighborhood she wants to live in was for sale. It's a foreclosure actually and will need some work but because of that, seeing the house for sale, she decided to put her house on the market and hope it sold before that little house did.

This seemed like a good strategy since the real estate market here is not that great (and there are about 100 houses for sale in this little town of less than 10,000) and the house in town needed to have some remodeling finished that had been started when the previous owners walked away from it. The bank would surely be lowering the asking price as time went on because no one would buy it at the current price.

Against all odds, she had a family come look in the first week her house was listed and they made an offer. Lots of negotiations ensued as different roadblocks appeared but eventually all hurdles were cleared and she is closing the end of the month.

Not only was she going through this process as a seller but also as a buyer, negotiations and roadblocks on the house she wanted to buy. Both closings seem to be on track now though so packing has begun again in ernest. I've been going over several evenings a week to help pack and we've already packed a lot of stuff but my sister has a lot of stuff.

She's a collector.

of dishes and dishware in general
of antique kitchenware
of plates
of cookbooks
of dragons
of books in general
of dolls (mostly keeper of the doll collection from our youth)
of art
of clothes (6 or 7 decades worth)
of family history
of yard ornaments
of antique furniture

And these are just the things I can think of off the top of my head. She's being very good though and is getting rid of some stuff.

Which is one of the reasons for the barn sale this past weekend. The other reason was her husband's stuff. He was a collector too. He would go to garage sales and haunted Craig's List and he would buy stuff, the more of it the better apparently.

They have a barn on their property as big as my property in the city. I could pick up my lot, house and all, and put it in their barn. That never ceases to amaze me. And that barn was full of stuff.

like tools new or old (hand tools, power tools, yard tools, machines, you name it)
like nearly 500 pharmacy bottles, all identical
like 18 sections of wrought iron fencing (five of which now live at my house)
like 2 dozen or so casement windows
like a propane range for outdoor cooking
like a kerosene outdoor heater
like a motorized bike (not a moped, an actual bike with a motor) that never got assembled
like four or five boxes of old cafeteria dishware
like an oxygen machine
like several dozen solar panels (he actually sold all but about 5 or 6 of those)
like all his hurricane window samples from his last job

And these are just the things I can think of off the top of my head. There was much much more stuff than what I listed.

Well, everything didn't sell but a lot of it did and the barn is, if not empty then much more spacious. The rest of the stuff will be given to the resale shop or to the local scavenger/recycler or hauled to the dump.

At one point my sister turned to me after some high dollar item walked out.

He's going to come back and haunt me tonight,” she said.

Why”, I asked, “cause you're selling all his stuff?”

No,” she said, “cause I'm selling it all for so cheap.”


  1. I am the opposite of a collector, so I applaud the selling of the stuff, even selling it cheaply.

    Love how in the pics it is all arranged so artfully.

  2. In my heart I am so minimalistic. But in reality I have much to get rid of. The end of your post made me smile.

  3. We keep trying to not accumulate, but we're only so successful. Fortunately, I'll bet our place would fit inside your city house :) so we can't get too carried away.

    This is a HUGE move for her - I'm glad that it's happening for her.

  4. Having help several friends during a similar time in their lives, I know it is difficult to watch things go "for cheap" but also it has even if it is inconsequential to the observer, it is emotional to your sis. Every bit gone is a piece of that part of her life. Now she is starting another new step forward to the rest of her life. You are such a great sis for helping. Linda

  5. Moving is always so much fun ... not !!! I can't even imagine having a barn full of things to go through. My H is a 'stuff' person too ... I'm always on him to clean up this or that.

  6. I'm like Ruth, wanting a simple life, and complicating things nevertheless. Good for your sister to clear out.

  7. Are you still considered a hoarder if you have a barn to hide 500 identical pharmacy bottles in?

    I keed, I keed - I know that was hard work and especially hard on your sister, but I am glad that she found a new home that she can enjoy.

    You are a good sister.

  8. It is amazing what we can accumulate. I wish your sister much happiness in her new home. take care.

  9. We are giving our home the evil eye. I think we are going to downsize back up to our small place at Lake Tahoe next year when our lease is up. Since we never expect to live in a house the size ever again - there is plenty to go. But it is hard to know that all of the "things" you worked for - will go for pennies on the dollar. But I guess it feels good once it's all gone and you are finally free of it. I read somewhere that we spend most of our lives collecting stuff and the later part trying to get rid of it. We must be in the latter part...

  10. It sounds like she's ready for a new start, I hope all goes smoothly for her in her transition.

  11. We also have a barn. Stuff goes in and it is like a giant hole opens and gobbles it up, never to be found again. He who is not in any way, shape or form organized will buy the same things over and over just to avoid searching. I won't go in our barn anymore.

  12. Collections can go overboard. I have helped liquidate a few and found dealers for materials that were in bulk.I laugh at what I have acquired in the five years since I moved to this area.I moved to a third of the house I had before so have gotten rid of a number of household items.

  13. So happy that your sister got the house that she wanted. I understand what it's like to have a lot of stuff. When I had a big house with a walk up attic and full basement, I collected way more stuff than I needed. When I downsized into a smaller home, I got rid of 3/4 of it. It's a good feeling! That last line made me laugh!

  14. i'm slowly arriving at a place where i can let things go despite their associations. my solution has been to give them away, to let habitat for humanity have them, to send them off to a local shop that sells stuff for good prices. it all works. steven

  15. Wow, dragons and cookbooks, art and oxygen machines...what a place. You have been busy. I know it feels good to clear the place out, and you have to if you want to move, but gosh it can be hard.

  16. Oh my! I shudder at the thought of what I will have to go through when I move! Yikes!
    So I can relate with your sister. I have a lot of stuff too!! Sigh!!
    A barn sale sounds like a perfect least many of the items will be gone by the time she moves.
    Glad her housing deals are moving along nicely. Especially in this crazy market!!


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