September is yard sale month in Cabbagetown, the Toronto community in which I live. The second weekend in September is the annual Cabbagetown Cultural Festival and part of the tradition — along with the parade, mini-marathon and crafts show — are blocks and blocks of yard sales.

I must admit, I have never been a big purchaser at these yard sales, as much as I enjoy the Festival. It just seems to me that I have enough junk in my life without adding more. I understand the theory that someone’s castoff is someone else’s treasure but — where would I put it?

My husband and daughters, on the other hand, have fully embraced the theory.

When Rachel and Kate were small, the yard sales were a popular source of China (or near-China) figurines. We acquired a horse with a cracked leg, a chipped red-gold dog, a quite attractive owl, a hippopotamus ballerina. We still have them, dusty but proudly displayed in rooms my daughters only occasionally inhabit.

My husband, too, has brought home treasures over the years. The highlight may be his “swinger” glasses. This was a pair of crystal glasses still in their original packaging, which is what attracted him in the first place, I assume. (I wasn’t with him at the time.)
On the cardboard canister was a picture of a very happening ’60s party. People were dancing — hands free because around their necks hung these glasses.

These are no ordinary glasses. They are not flat-bottomed but rounded, with a glass ball at the bottom to act as a weight. The shape is round and full but narrowing toward the top, to keep your drink from sloshing over as you dance. The glasses came with a leather-thong basket which is how you suspend the glass from your neck so you have your hands free to dance.

Not that Norm dances much, but he has made good use of those glasses over the years.
Many a Cabbagetown Festival, his glass loaded with Scotch and hanging from his neck, he has wandered up and down our street seeing how sales were going at our more entrepreneurial neighbours’.

Which may explain why one Festival he had his hands free to carry home a scuba diving tank he had purchased “for a good price.”

Now, I know that at some point in his youth, Norm had done a bit of diving, but certainly, in all the time we have been together, he hasn’t. But we have a tank in the basement — should the urge ever come over him.

Of course, if Norm did decide to take up diving again, I know as well as anyone that he wouldn’t get the tank out of the basement. This is a man who for years proudly sported the bumper sticker: “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” He would go and buy the very latest equipment. What fun is taking up a new sport if you can’t buy new things?

So this year I have been considering joining the ranks of the yard-salers. As I look around our house, I see a Van Gogh poster from an exhibition in Washington, D.C., still in its original packaging. We have a glut of mugs, many with logos of mutual fund companies long since gone. Maybe they would be collector’s items. There is a picnic basket we never take on picnics. There are seven pairs of skis for three skiers.

And there is all the electronic and camera equipment that still works but has been surpassed by faster, sleeker newer technology. Does anybody want a portable CD player now that iPod is here?

Of course, the challenge would be gathering all this stuff together — and convincing Norm we should part with it. I could always load up his glass and get him selling instead of buying.

Tessa Wilmott, Editor-In-Chief