Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rambling, with light rain

I can hear it...the light rain. Its a soft gentle patter. My coffee is hot and the shop is quiet, which I like before the hustle of the work day.

When one sits in the dark with the glow of only one small light and shuffles through the newspaper as a cup of coffee steams on the desk and the only noise is but of the few vehicles that pass outside it gives one time to think. Which, in and of itself isn't all good.

Well into my paper, this morning, I found myself half asleep. Seductive, rain and warmth. It eases you into a state of well being which frees the mind into deeper wells of uncertainty. Then, anger, if you allow it.

I refused and begin to plan my menu for Thanksgiving. Then it occurred to me my meal preparations should be altered from the norm and limited for only two. It'll make for a lonely table. Still I'll tend to my stock and plan my purchase of a fresh turkey and take as much care with the meal as usual.


An apology is in order as I've been remiss in my updates the last few days. Over the weekend Sweet Wife grabbed me by the ear for daily road trips. She decided I was in need of additional restoration projects and since it's almost impossible to find camping equipment in this city (city boys don't like the outdoors) she said we should search the country.

She wore me out. 

Picture this - A flea market stall crammed full of junk, odd glassware and broken children's toys and old cardboard boxes filled to the brim with garage sale leftovers and rusty broken tools and dust and dirt coated clothing, six bins of yesteryear golf irons, and on every item a price tag worthy of Macy's.

Near the rear of the stall I find a high shelf. Scattered within the kitchen bowls and broken wall clocks are six dirty but still usable gas pressure lanterns, all worthy of restoration.

I reach and take one lantern. Its red and the globe isn't cracked. I like it as its a single mantle. No price tag. To my left are two old men seated on milk crates. I glance over and asked, "How much?"

The old man shifts and strains his neck upwards so I bend a little and show him the lamp. He grunts and said, "I don't know let me find the owner. He's in the other stall."

Sweet Wife is deep into exploration. I wait and watch as the shoppers move along the main hallway. There are pretty country girls dressed for winter even if the day is slightly warm. Asians with pull carts filled with vegetables and I can smell the sweet aroma of baked cookies and kettle corn. I like flea markets.

After a few minutes the owner of the merchandise appears and before I have a chance to say a word he yells, "Hey, that's expensive and you can buy it if you have the cash."

I instantly dislike this man.

Me, "How much?"

"It depends on the date. I price 'em by their age."  I take the lantern and look at the base. Its marked '3-66.' March 1966.

Again, "How much?"

He reaches and takes the lamp from my hands, holds it high and says, "Forty-nine dollars." I offer fifteen. The owner, a balding pot bellied gentleman of perhaps fifty-five does a Fred Sandford intimation. An act worthy of Broadway.

I wait.

Then, "Do you know how rare this lantern is? Its worth at least forty-nine dollars."

"Fifteen dollars. If you'd like, make a price on all six and I'll take them off your hands."

The two older men behind me mumble. Sweet Wife has now moved into position next to me and has placed an arm on mine. She tiptoes and whispers, "Stay calm."  

I thought, 'I am calm.' The owner, "Hey, I'm a Coleman expert. Been repairing them for thirty years."

I smile and say, "I've been using them for fifty."

Quick as a wink he came back, "One hundred and fifty dollars for all six, and I've a few more in my other stall. Even got a heater. My price on the heater is forty-nine dollars too. He likes the number forty-nine.

He leaves and returns with a Coleman 502 one burner camp stove. "See here, a heater." I don't correct him and made my offer on his entire stock of pressure lanterns and his 'heater.'

Sweet Wife has gradually worked me, by gentle tugs, towards the exit. His prices are high retail, high.

We walked. After a while she said, "I'm sorry, Honey. I know you liked them." I smiled and said it's fine. The man really doesn't want to sell his wares. He has an emotional connection to his stock. I bet he collects them and they're his show pieces."

Her, "True, that and he was an arrogant butthole."

My wife, she's bright lady.


Later, at the same flea market I followed my nose to a mid-aisle stall where I find a table covered in plastic bags of cookies and banana bread and loaves of buttery delight. A nice slim man with an Indian accent stands and gives out samples.

He has peanut butter and oatmeal raisin and so many others I lost count. All freshly baked early that morning. He explains to me he's a chef - aren't we all. The Chef hands me a business card and explains he teaches the culinary arts at a local college but bakes at home to supplement his income.

Best damn cookies I've eaten in many many years. He offers me a plastic grocery bag and I begin to fill it. I'm like a kid in a candy store. Sweet Wife begins to worry and ever so often, "Honey, that's enough."

The Chef and I discuss his methods, the lack of state laws which give him the freedom to sell his baked goods at the market. He said business was good even though he only markets his cookies and cakes weekends. We discuss the underground economy and the market. We both agreed. Nice man.

Behind my back Sweet Wife had removed several dozen of my treasures. She allowed me the peanut butter and oatmeal....and one loaf.

I ate well on the drive home.

(Please excuse my lack of edit. I'm just too busy.)