By Shirley.

As Spring arrives, so does garage sale season – a direct result of spring cleaning. Every year, we have a neighborhood wide garage sale in my sub-division, where all neighbors are invited to sell or give out things they don’t want. For those, like me, who don’t want to spend a day sitting in the sun waiting for a customer, there is the option to go peruse the goods in our neighbors’ yards and, perhaps, acquire some of the treasures discarded by them. The thought behind this yearly exchange, being equal parts, an opportunity, or a push, for homeowners to work on their house cleaning and get to know the neighbors. It is important to have a sense of community, where you can recognize and even befriend your neighbors. And what would be easier than to be reminded of a story involving a very similar object that is now found in one of your neighbors’ unwanted piles. Maybe it is a kitchen utensil very similar to the one your mother once had or the discovery of a book or a toy, which is no longer useful in that family with slightly older children than yours. Wouldn’t it be easy to start a conversation with these people now that their objects have revealed a part of who they are?

In my case, I’m in a point in my life where I should be firmly on the side that gets rid of things and not on the side that brings home more things that can’t find a place inside our cabinets. The problem seems to be that I enjoy collecting pretty things. I seem to be especially fond of objects that enhance our table or our meals. Just recently, I purchased a set of vintage (1940’s?) cobalt blue glass tea cups and saucers. At last year’s “IN Books, Toys and Small Household Items Exchange”, I found an unused, still in the package, mold to make Onigiri (Japanese rice ball). Of course I had to have it!

In our IN goods exchange, I find it both easy and especially enjoyable to be able to talk to different and interesting people, discover new things about their culture, make new friends and get more things I should not bring home – a Chinese cooking book (written in Chinese) or a tortilla maker, anyone?