Sunday, November 9, 2014

Spilling Paint 'n Bending Nails


     Who else would conceive of making a vintage cigarette machine into a bathroom mirror and cabinet, but a guy whose handyman calling card says “Spilling Paint and Bending Nails”?  On a sunny November day Rae began selling his accumulation of paint ‘n nails, saws ‘n pumps, levels ‘n blades and erstwhile machines of puzzling uses.  Rae won’t be without most of these, as he has many duplicates of them at the beach.  Flying kites at the ocean drew Peggy and him away from Walla Walla for longer and longer periods until his little house and shop sat quiet year-long.  His dearest, Peggy, passed away and the little house sat even quieter eyeing the road for Rae's return.  On Rae's visit this time, the little house was to be left behind for good.  The vintage cigarette vending machine cum bathroom mirror to be left behind.

    Rae shook old friends out of their routines, mixed in his house ‘n shop with its conglomeration of stuff, stirred them all into silliness, and poured out an estate sale of heroic, poignant and comic dimensions. 
Randy happened along a lent a hand and a ready smile.
     The shop needed some serious attention to get ready for the sale.  Randy, Jerry, Adam and Rae focused on the shop and the yard.  In a quiet moment  I wandered this shop with the light slanting in from the small windows, while the tools and surfaces seemed to speak of dignity, beauty and of a life of well-lived use.

Screwdrivers of many vintages
Saw blade
Shop essentials: bench, cigs and a hammer
     Outside the afternoon caught the warm colors on the items laid about on tables or tucked here and there.

Light case

Scraping tools
Paint Contraption
     How does one determine what to take and what to leave?  How does one paint this object with too much meaning to leave behind and that object to be brushed aside?  Difficult choices one after another.  The house held three generations of stuff.  Bomber jacket from World War II, Rae's grandmother's black bulldog, the brass vase that Rae's stepfather shot a bullet through, quilts, china, Valentine cards, sewing supplies and a handmade cedar chest.  Rae generously let his friends trade work for coveted items, keeping them then somehow in the "family".

Peggy's garden sculpture, now in my garden
    But where are those silly friends to help make light of the difficult choices, to laugh over the early yard sale nut who arrived at 6:20 a.m. for an 8:00 a.m. start, and whistled about for awhile as Rae woke up and then spent only 50 cents?  Oh, there are those friends.  Fooling around in slow moments with mirrors, strobe lights, rolling pins and curtains.  




Rae, Florene and Kathy

Rae decked out in a shop curtain bridal vail.  Becoming.
     The little house and shop chuckled at the sights, relieved that the warmth of all those years will be remembered now forever by a gathering of good friends, each carrying away something special that will remind them of Rae and Peggy and their little house and shop.

    It was a good home.  It was a good shop.  Bye.  Thanks little house and little shop.  And thanks Rae for inviting us to join you in this important endeavor.  We all know where to find you.  We will see you again.  Spilling Paint 'n Bending Nails.



  1. What a lovely send-off for Rae and Peggy to know their memories and treasures live on in the homes of friends.

  2. Rae noted that he laughed and cried while reading this post. Leaving that little house was emotional for all of us.

  3. It made me have goose bumps and tear up. Pegs what a gal

  4. Peggy was quite special. Her presence was so palpable in the house. Her little sewing room, beautiful pictures and small treasures all spoke of her being happy. Rae had made the patio and koi pond for Peggy and seeing it one just knew that the two of them enjoyed many hours together.


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