Tag Archives: Thrift Stores

Weird Thrift Store Haul

I don’t have a clue what this thing was originally intended to do.

Neither did the people running the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

I watched the value reflected in the price tag for about six weeks falling from the original $50 to $14.95. 

Every time I went in there I folded it, unfolded it, stood it up this way and that way, squinted at it trying to figure out what it was for, but seeing other possible uses the people who designed it never thought of.

This thing is a tough, expensive piece of work. 

It was evidently intended to lock something in, or out.

And clamp to something along one side.

Whatever it might have been, it’s about to become a part of something else.  I pointed out to the manager that it’s been there at least six weeks.

He picked it up and examined it every which way, same as I’d been doing.

What do you suppose it is?”

“I figure it’s a way to block off the wind going through the chainlink door into my chicken house.  They just added a lot of extra parts.”

“Five bucks?”

“I’ll take it.”

“Bring me some eggs next time you come to town.”

Old Jules

Bat in the bug light and other big news and events

Evidently a bat got confused and got snagged in the buglight instead of coming into the cabin to fly around as they usually do.

Every m0rning the chickens feast under that light as soon as I turn them loose.  But I think I’d best unplug it before I poke around with a stick trying to get that bat out of there.

Ah well.  Maybe the chickens will eat it.

This cool morning had me putting on clothing instead of running around with nothing but shoes on to turn out the chickens and feed the cats.  But it reminded me I’ve been almost a year without any gas for the cookstove and no way except the woodstove to knock the morning chill out of the cabin.  I’m going to have to do something about that.

Then there’s this:

It’s coming nigh onto time to haul water again.  Probably also ought to try to figure out what’s wrong with that well pump.  It’s been since last December it quit, but I didn’t want to rush anything.  If I need to pull that pump I didn’t want to do it in cold weather when it happened, but didn’t want to do it in hot weather the rest of the time.

Saw this in the parking lot of the Humane Society Thrift Store the other dayInside the guy was easy to identify, looked about like you'd figure


He was poking around in a box of old LP records.  I tried to start a conversation with him about old music but he wasn’t having any of it.

This old XP’s going kerplunk.  I picked up a replacement at the Thrift Store and if I can figure out where all these wires go I’ll have it in here in a jiffy as soon as I get around to it.

Great day to you.

Old Jules

Food, Books and Other town stuff

FOOD:  There’s an all-you-can-eat pizza joint where you get all the salad you want, a drink and a selection of all kinds of pizza slices as many times as you go back for them and as many kinds as you want for $5.00.  You wouldn’t believe how much salad and pizza a person can eat in an hour-or-so.

Only trouble is I always feel sort of bloated and sometimes have stomach cramps after I eat there.  Maybe it’s something in the food.

Thrift Store 25 cent books acquired:

A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller:  Good SF I read every 10 years or so.

Rebel – Bernard Cornwell – I like Cornwell fairly well but I haven’t read this one.  Civil War historical fiction

Quick Silver – Clark Howard – Never heard of the author.  Taking potluck on this one.

Double Jeopardy – Colin Forbes –  Another potluck.  Never heard of the author.

The Heart of the Matter – Graham Greene – I might have read this one sometime.  But the only Graham Greene I’ve ever not liked was Brighton Rock, required reading in some English course.

The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco –  Time I read this one again. 

High Sorcery – Andre Norton – I might have read it 40 years ago.  Usually liked Andre Norton.

Fuzz – Ed McBain – Potluck.  Never heard of him.  Looks like an extortion, cops and robbers yarn.

The Third Man – Graham Greene – Once more before I die.

Hobbit and others – JRR Tolkien – Hell, for .25 why not one more time?

Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco – I dunno if I can do this one again.  I ain’t as young as I used to be.

The Blue Hammer – Ross Macdonald – I read all these 30 years ago, loved them but ran spang out.  Nice finding this one.

The Forge of God – Greg Bear – Never heard of him.  Appears to be SF.

Flashman at the Charge – George Mcdonald Frazer – Sheeze.  I love finding these.  I must have read the entire Flashman series a dozen times over the decades.  They never grow old.

Old Jules


Shaving with sheep shears

I don’t get to town all that often, so I naturally like to put on the dog, spiff myself up a bit.  Sometimes that includes shaving, but I’ve found the average electric just doesn’t do the job.  Add to that the fact the disposables and the replaceable blade razors leave a person with a dangerous piece of throwaway I’ve not yet figured out any use for.

Still, I like to look nice when I go to town, so I use the tool I also use to remove a lot of clogged hair from the two longhaired cats I share the place with.  The shorthairs consider it a blessing to be exempt.

Starting out here’s how it appears:

After.  You can see there’s a difference if you look closely.

Add a John B Stetson, a cleanest shirt and bluejeans, galluses, a pair of deadman’s boots from some thrift store and I’ll have the hearts of the town  ladies all a-flutter with the fantods.

Gotta get moving, dress up and walk up the hill to see if Little Red’s available for the borrowing.  Later this day maybe I’ll tell you what exciting happened there.

Old Jules

A Few Noticings in Town

The sign and that line of people outside the building suggests the Christians in Washington mightn’t have anything in common with regular old actual Christians of the old actual Christianity faith.

I don’t know what they’re doing to help those people in there, being a non-Christian, but they must be doing something.  That line stretches all the way out into the parking lot.

I don’t need a gas grille, but if I did I’d have snapped this one up from the Salvation Army:

It’s missing the burners and regulator, cheap to add and retrofit, looks barely used, but the price is amazing:

Only thing I can figure is the Chinese have bought out Harley Davidson:

Damned thing is 200cc and has a pull starter like a lawn mower.  They charge extra for ape-hangers.

But it looks as though they’re also wanting to cash in on some of the automotive company bailouts:

Notice the suicide shift above the right fender.  You have to turn loose the steering wheel to shift gears.  Can’t imagine how they got that through Ralph Nader’s US Department of Transportation and Welfare.

Best for last, though.  Here’s a free crapper and exercycle from Habitat for Humanity:

Tempting, but I’ve already got the one, and I get my exercise just trying to stay alive.  Fact of life.

Old Jules

Loudon Wainwright– Glad To See You Got Religion

Upside Down Thrift Store Horse Trading

This 24/7 music to keep owls from killing my guineas at night  [ White Trash Repairs and Fixes – Owls and Rock ‘n Roll ] is hard on audio equipment.

A while back I was without music to confuse the owl-folk.  I’d spang worn out my Kerrville FreeCycle-donated 200 CD Sony player and was scouting around for whatever the Universe had in mind to replace it.  A couple of months had passed, to I figured the Universe was ripe.

Salvation Army Thrift Store in Kerrville was having a half-price off on electronics sale.  I nosed around among the 8 track tape players, the television sets, the wires with all kinds of connections pretending not to pay any mind to a Sony 300 CD player staring at me as though I was the abyss.  The door was open on it and it seemed a bit battered, but someone had taped, “WORKS” on it, along with a price of $65.  $32.50 with the half-price on electronics.

The guy I think must be the store manager was at the register, and we’ve done enough business over time for him to know my ways and for me to know his.   Between ringing up purchases he was watching me not lo0k at that CD player with a half-smile on his face.  I moseyed over to it scowling, making sure in the corner of my eye he was looking, and tried to mess with the door to get it closed.  Shook my head, then looked up and met his eye.

“If that thing has a door it doesn’t seem to close.”

“Bring it over here and we’ll talk about it.”

I put it on the counter and we both scowled at it.  “That’s a lot of money to have to risk for something might not work.  If I bought it could you write down something so I could bring it back if it doesn’t work?”

We both knew the answer to that one.  It’s sold as is.  “I can’t do that.  But I’d sure hate for someone to buy it and get stuck with it not working.  What do you think it’s worth risk-wise?”

He and I have been through this enough times before to know how we play the game.  “I couldn’t pay more than $20 for it.”

No,” shaking his head, “I’d rather give it to you free than let you pay that much.”

“I’m not taking that out of here free.  I’m not begging.  I’m just trying to find a price we can agree on.  How about $15?”

“How about a buck?”

$10?  I’m not sure I can go any lower than 10.  A man has to live with his conscience.”  I feigned away from the counter as though about to walk off.

“Noo, no, no!”  Him acting frantic.  “How about $5?  Could you go $5?”


He carried it across the counter to the register and started figuring the tax.  “It’s half-price for electronics today.  But you probably don’t want to use that, do you?”

“Naw.  Just ring it up at the full price we agreed to.  I’m not looking for any bargain.”

Old Jules

Steve Goodman- The Auctioneer

Cornering the Umbrella Market in a Drought

Compulsive personality.  That’s the only possible explanation I can think of for this recurring pattern in my life.

Today I had to go into Harper to pay a bill due tomorrow.  I hate to make a trip in without getting full value for the gasoline expended getting there, so after I’d taken care of business I drove around the several back streets.  I was craning my neck, straining my eyes, looking into the back yards of abandoned houses for a cab-over camper or camper trailer I might be able to pick up cheap as a potential way to give myself an escape route if something goes sour here.

I’ll be posting about some of that Harper thing another time.  But after I finished nosing the back streets I went to the Harper Library Resale Store just because it was there.  Picked up $6.00 worth of used books at 25 cents each, moseyed around and eyeballed a wireless weather station with rain gauge, anemometer, all manner of goodies for $20.  But the box was open and there was dust on it.

My computer-like mind registered this and concluded it had been sitting there a while, nobody willing to pay $20 for it.  So I carried my books to the register and while she counted them, “That weather station back there looks as though it’s been here a while.”

She stopped counting and looked at me grinning.  They know me there.  “You want to bargain about it?”

“Wulll. Actually, I’m not sure I want it.  I couldn’t pay more than $10.”

She grinned and pointed to the room where it was located, started walking back there.  “You’re going to TAKE $10?  You ought not take $10.”  Sheeze.  We don’t get any weather here and who cares how fast the wind is blowing?  When we got there she picked it up out of the box, frowning.

“The wind direction doesn’t work is the only thing.”

“Bobby Dylan and I decided a long time ago we didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

So back to the register.  $16.00.  She holds up an orange card.  “Do you have one of these yet?”  No, I nods.  “Every time you buy $10 worth of anything we stamp it.  When you’ve got $10 stamped 10 times you get $10 off your next purchase.”

“Whoah!  You’re telling me if I spent $4 more I’d have gotten two stamps on there?”

Smile.  “Yes.”

“Okay.  Let me wander around in here a little longer.”

I found four copies of the Texas Historical Review from the 1990s for 50 cents each.  Then I found a pair of good sneakers that fit marked $3.  I carried them back to the register.  “Okay.  $2 for the Historical Reviews and $3 for the shoes.  Give me another stamp on that card.”

She starts adding, mutters, “Men shoes are half price today.  You’re 50 cents short.  26 cents even if we count the sales tax.”

Deep breath.  “I want to donate 26 cents to the library.  Stamp the card.”

Speedometer cable was making noise on the Toyota when it went Communist.  Maybe if the cable breaks I can attach that anemometer to the top of the truck and use the wind speed for a speedometer if I ever get the 4Runner running on pavement again.

Old Jules

Steve Goodman– Vegematic

Helicopters and Orange Jump Suits

A couple of years ago I came across a profoundly orange jumpsuit in a thrift-store clearance sale, which I picked off at a righteous price.  It’s the sort worn by students of jailhouse academies in a lot of places, so the potential was great, both as work clothing and other possibilities that came to mind and brought a smile to my face as I paid for it.

Some times of the year I get considerable low-flying air traffic over the cabin, frequently helicopters.  Scares the chickens and often has me out there craning my neck wondering what they’re up to.  Sometimes they zigzag over the area, circle, generally just burn up fuel without it being obvious whether they’re taking pictures of my workings, satisfying curiosity, or something more sinister.

But that orange jump suit’s added a whole new side to things.  Nowadays when the helicopters start flying over I stay inside until they go out of sight, slipping on the jump suit.  Then, when I hear them coming back in this direction I head over to the other side of the meadow, staying just out of the trees until they’ve had a glimpse of me.

I fake panic, run into the trees and hide, peeking out at them, pretending to try to conceal myself better while they waste more fuel trying to see what I’m doing.

It’s quite a hoot, all in all, but I count myself lucky they don’t fly around doing that much mid-summer.  I appreciate the exercise it gives me, 68 year old guy running around hiding from a helicopter, but I’m not sure my ticker would stand up to the wear and tear when it’s 100 degrees F outside.

I’ve always wondered whether the local law enforcement have gotten any calls asking whether there’s an escaped convict running around loose in the area.

Anyway, I figure it gives them a thrill, puts some adventure in their otherwise uneventful lives.  Something to talk about over the radio besides all that ‘Roger that!’ stuff.

An elderly man without a lot of means has to do whatever he can to try to help other people along this lifetime, or he’s likely to be thought a waste and freeloader if he’s drawing a SS retirement pension.

Old Jules

The Kingston Trio – Everglades


Tuesday, September 6 edit:

If you need a few more laughs I suggest the enlightened, well-thought-out viewpoint from the helicopter:

It’s All Fun and Games Until Somebody Gets Shot

Ah, the fun to be had with an orange jumpsuit.
 Evidently they aren’t telling pilots nowadays they’re required to maintain an altitude of 500 feet above ground level, that they’re not allowed to shoot anything on private land out of an aircraft on a whim,  suspicion, or gut feel, and that killing people because they’re wearing  a particular color jump suit is homicide even if it’s done from an aircraft.
They used to tell us that kind of stuff.  Must be the education system’s slipped another notch into the shallow end of the gene pool.  Old Jules

White Trash Repairs – The Dumpster Telescope

The Salvation Army Thrift Store, July 2009

Tube, flange and swivel – Salvation Army Thrift store – July 2009. No eyepieces, broken tripod.  Looked too much like junk to find a willing buyer.

It’s been a longish while since I owned a good telescope, an 8″ tube with a tracker drive to allow watching deep space objects or the moon without having to constantly chase the targets.  Since that time I’ve confined my star gazing to a pair of binoculars on a camera tripod unless some acquaintance owned a good one and invited me in for an evening.

But in July, 2009, I found an Orbitor 8500 Chinese tube in the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Kerrville with a sad, badly-used look to it and an unrealistic price tag.  I examined it carefully, then wandered around the store pretending to look at other merchandise while watching other customers when they got near it.  My thought was that if I saw someone getting too interested and likely to snag it I’d beat them to the counter and plunk down the unrealistic money with a pre-emptive strike.

After a while I moseyed back and talked to a couple of guys who were scowling at it.  I shook my head about it, talking about it not having a drive, speculating how much it would cost getting eyepieces, what a shame it was the tripod was junk.  We agreed a person would be a fool to take it home at any price.  Likely that mirror, I pointed out, was as much a piece of junk as the rest of it.

We all wandered away, and I picked up a couple of books off the 25 cent shelf.  After those two guys left I went back and made a show of frowning at it a while longer before I went over to the counter to talk it over with the lady I’d done a goodly amount of haggling with in the past who knew what to expect from me.

Somebody’s going to be back arguing with you if you sell them that telescope and they take it home and try to use it.”  I fiddled around in my pocket for change to pay for the books.

What’s wrong with it?”

If they don’t know what they’re paying for they’ll get it home and end up with something they can’t use.  It’s a cheap Chinese-made thing to start out with, but the tripod’s broken, for starters.  Someone didn’t take care of it.  Probably a kid got it for Christmas and lost interest by New Year, pushed it into the corner until he broke it.” 

I plunked down my money for the books.  “Do you suppose the guys in back let the eyepieces get separated from it?  Nobody can use it without eyepieces and they’re expensive.  Might not even be able to get the right diameter ones easily.  If you could find the eyepieces someone might buy it at some price.”

Eventually I agreed to haul it off for five bucks if she’d promise to try to find the eyepieces and hold them for me if they turned up.  She doubted seriously they’d be found, but I had in mind to buy salvage lenses off the web and turn down something to put them into out of wood on Gale’s lathe.

But there was still the problem of the drive and the tripod.  I spent the next couple of years picking up junk telescopes and parts at garage sales and other thrift stores.

Collecting parts from other stores:

Primarily I was after a tracker drive and eyepieces but I ended up with a lot else.

Then, this summer I found this for $5:

Batteries are dead, telescope is trash, wrong size cove for tube. Tripod’s great. One good eyepiece. Great price. Humane Society Thrift Store July 2011.  In a thrift store environment dead batteries most equal disfunctional. They might be right. These are still dead.
 But all that can hopefully be managed.  Meanwhile, back in the Salvation Army Thrift store this summer I was down at the end of the glass counters and noticed a dusty baggie with eyepieces in it.  When the lady who sold me the telescope in 2009 finished ringing up a customer I got her attention.
That bag full of lenses in that end counter,” I pointed.  “How much are you asking for them?”
She came for a look.  “Oh, I can’t sell those.  They told me to hold them in case the guy who bought the telescope comes back for them.” 
Then she looked at me, down at the lenses and back at me her face dawning realization.  “YOU’RE the one who bought the telescope!”
Yeah, I am.”
 It’s still got some work ahead.  I have to do some figuring how to get a cove that fits the tube attached to the drive, if the drive can be made to work.  But something will turn up one way or another.  The Coincidence Coordinators will make certain of that.

I have a permanent position selected out in the meadow for the observatory once I’ve got something with a tracking drive put together and have hauled enough rocks and tin for walls and dome.

If I’m around long enough and if this place remains available for me to live here, I’m going to have an observatory.

Meanwhile I use StarCalc 5.73 [free download] to keep track of what’s going on in the sky, along with the Multi-Year Interactive Computer Almanac software from the US Naval Observatory for fine tuning calculations.

Old Jules

Pendulum Star

Pendulum star
Swings to and fro
While maggot-earth
Digests his legions
Tick tock
Tick tock

Minute-hand moon
Sucks tick tock tides
Through Paleozoic hours
Quaternary days
Pleistocene weeks
Tick tock
Tick tock

Scurry flourish
Scratch peel
And rot
Tick tock
Tick tock

Pendulum star
Swings to and fro.
Minute-hand moon
Sucks tick tock tides
Maggot-earth digests
Tick tock
Tick tock

Copyright 2003, NineLives  Press

Choose Something Like a Star– Randall Thompson
words by Robert Frost

Clean Underwear and Hard Times

I think my mom would have made a deal with the devil for one of these in 1947.  She didn’t get one, nor anything else of the sort until around 1957, but I don’t recall her washing clothes in a washtub after the early 1950s.  From around 1954 until she got a home washing machine she went to the Laundromats with most of the other ladies.  I’m guessing this one was probably manufactured in the late 1940s.

I’d watched in one of the thrift stores in town for some while, them asking $55, then marking it down to $35, nobody interested enough to plug it in and find out if it worked.  But after it had been there long enough to cause me to figure they were getting tired of seeing it I plugged it in.


No vibration, nothing moving, just a clicking of the spring loaded timer and the sound of an electric motor trying to push the immoveable object.  I unplugged it more quickly than I plugged it in, carried it up to the cashier and told him it didn’t work, told him what it was doing and what was going to happen if someone plugged it in and left it trying to run.

“We can’t fix it.  We don’t have a repair department.”

“Yeah, maybe nobody can.  They haven’t manufactured parts for it in 50 years.  But maybe someone can.”

“Do you want to try?”

“Maybe.  How much do I have to risk betting I can?”

He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The only tool required to get it running was my foldup Leatherman, oil, and a rag. It’s out there washing seven pairs of my jockey shorts at the moment.  I don’t envy it.

Been a long while since I’ve been so blessed.