Category Archives: thrift store

In Which We Collect Just a Little More


Perhaps you remember mrpeenee’s unparalleled collection of aluminum plates, platters and other serving pieces. The fact it is unparalleled mostly because no one else is interested in what is essentially decorative debris is neither here nor there, and I do wish you would stop bringing it up.

The collection. Some of it, anyway.

.Thirty years ago, I got tired of not being able to afford any of the cool stuff in my thrift store prowlings and so I started collecting these. Mostly because they were cheap, but also because no thrift store, no matter how crappy, would fail to have at least one or two pieces.

My limit initially was that nothing could cost more than three bucks. After a while I raised that to $5, but even that allowed me to bring home so many of them eventually R man threatened to put them all out on the curb and me with them. That was probably 15 years ago and honestly, even I realized I had plenty enough. But when I moved to this apartment and mounted them all up on the wall, I wound up with a couple of odd bald spots that could use filling. And so I turned to Google to track down a few more bits.

Almost the very first result was some junk store trying to unload 13 pieces of the very finest examples of aluminum junk. That was more than I had in mind, BUT three of them were exactly the right size and two others were such interesting specimens I couldn’t pass them up so I bought the whole lot.

So here they are. The really interesting ones are the small basket with a handle and made of pierced metal and the other is a tiny silent butler.

Silent butlers. Sssh.

Silent butlers were an invention to help hostesses deal with mess on tabletops. You would rake up all the crumbs littering the cloth and dump them into your silent butler and then close the lid to keep all the garbage from flying back out. You could also empty ashtrays that way.

Also, coasters, cause aluminum coasters are so very practical. Most aluminum pieces feature very realistic botanical art, in this case, each coaster is a tiny CABBAGE. I am in love.

So there. I really am through collecting them now. Really. What few oddball spots there were are now filled and I have no more excuses for any more aluminumania. My decision has nothing to do with them being no longer easy to find or certainly easy to afford. Should the aluminum hostessware industrial complex call, tell them I’m out of the game.

Guys I’d like to collect:

What, does he charge by the pound?

News from Austin.


I’m hiding out at Diane VonAustinberg’s for a few days as part of my 2013 World Peace and Enchilada Tour, which will also include a flying visit to my family in Houston and a longer one to New Orleans as a reward for putting up with the flying monkeys that comprise my beloved relatives.

Diane is,of course, the consumate hostess, aside from trying to kill me on her treadmill by luring me up on it backwards, like some crazed OK Go video.*  We had delicious Mexican food tonight and look forward to tearing it up in various thrift shops tomorrow.  The thrill of other people’s discarded crap!

*DVonA says:  I did nothing to lure Mr. P onto the treadmill (“I’m really getting quite good at this” he says, just before slipping off the end. “Except now I’m sort of dizzy.”).  I have done nothing but give him excellent directions to my house, which he ignored and which resulted in him taking an hour-long tour of the Texas hill country. Now, back to Mr. P.

Lies, all lies.  Although I am sort of dizzy.  Maybe I should go lay down.  Also, when I demanded candy to assist in the creative process, Diane denied having any and offered dried apples instead.  How am I supposed to sling wit and wisdom with dried up apples?

Possibly more travel bulletins as they occur.

China Doll

I forgot to mention in my News You Can Use from Vermont bit below that Super Agent Fred (proving his absolute superness) boosted a small set of china from the house for me. Let me hasten to add there was more than plenty of other dishware to cover the loss, and perhaps “boosted” is too harsh a term to use. Let us think of it as “taking an advance on his inheritance.”

They’re the sixties space age pattern on the right, just the thing to set the heart of an aged queen survivor of that era, such as I, to racing.
Of course, I needed absolutely no more china, groovy or otherwise. R Man loved to give me dishes for Christmas and birthday presents and I have been working the thrift store kitchen section for thrity years, so we gots plenty. Not that that has ever stopped me.

The good stuff. Lots o’ good stuff.

The everyday stuff. Cause every day, my posse drops by and I need ten soup plates. Oh wait, that’s right. I never need ten soup plates. And I have no posse.

The overflow. Some of it, anyway.

In fact, I was back at it this very afternoon. Diane von Austinburg, Fred, some other friends and I are planning a big Thanksgiving in cabins down in Big Sur, the beautiful, rugged coast south of here. Diane and I have suffered through cooking in rental kitchens often enough we agreed it would be a good idea to stock up on various pots and pans, dishes and silverware in advance to take down with us and then just abandon there for future renters to bless us for.
We’ve all been there, I assume. Kitchens stocked with the filters from espresso machines, the implements to cut hardboiled eggs into perfect little slices, asparagus steamers, but no timers, or pots with lids, or decent knives. So I trotted off to the big thrift store on Valencia Street to begin the hunt.
And what a thrill it was to have a focus and not feel vaguely ridiculous about bringing home yet another bowl. My three rules are 1) nothing can cost more than $1.50, 2) it has to be a Useful Size (whatever that is,) and 3) it can’t be chipped. That’s the real sticking point. Even if something started out in pristine condition a very short time out in the war zone that is a thrift store rack leave all these poor dishes looking like they have lost a rough fight.
For years, I have resisted the siren lure of plain white china with gold rims knowing that the gilt never lasts long in dishwasher combat. This then is my big chance, cause what do I care if the gold wears off? All it has to do is last through a couple of dinners and then it’s “So long sucker.”
Of course in the middle of my “Just buying for a one way trip to Big Sur” I ran across a most charming little Staffordshire bowl and a Wedgewood salad plate, $1.50 each. What was I going to do, pass them up? I don’t think so. Turns out I am, after all, a big ole china queen.
I also snagged a small-ish box for the chargers and cables and other electronica ephemera that are running over the basket they currently reside in, but Saki has laid claim to it.

Cats: utilizing their inherent cuteness in service to some diabolical plot they are then too lazy to execute.

Back in the Saddle

OK, I’m just going to dive in and pretend like I haven’t been ignoring my blog for two weeks because no one is interested in to listening bloggers explain how they are just too darn busy to keep up. Life too much for you? What are you, a combination astronaut/brain surgeon? If you’re that important why do you have a blog? Obviously, I’m just a lazy pig.
My dear friend Rich from New Orleans (aka Magda) was in town the last week of July which was terribly amusing and good for me. We did pretty much nothing and it was fabulous to be reminded how solid friends we are, and why. We found the perfect little table for my front hall in a consignment store for $180 and when they wouldn’t come down to $150, I walked out. Magda patiently encouraged me to rethink the situation and the values inherent in it. Actually, what he said was “Queen. Are you going to pass up that table for thirty bucks? Shut up and get back in there.” I am immensely glad I did so and publicly thank Magda for his sensible advice.

I spent the entire day yesterday watching a Hoarders marathon on some cable channel’s whose motto should be “We Waste Your Time for You.” I’d never been able to stick out more than the first 60 seconds of these monuments to civilization because I always thought I was too delicate to watch more than that much of the filth festivals. Turns out I’m tougher than I thought; how comforting.
Hoarders is an excuseless revel in the fortunes of troubled individuals who cannot bring themselves to let go of a single piece of the flotsam and jetsam in their lives. These sad, sad creatures (or, as I like to think of them, “freakydirtycreepylosers”) exist in a bubble of denial. Look, if moving through your home requires you to climb over a moraine of empty gatorade bottles and old pizza boxes and if you cannot access your toilet for the vast collection of stuffed poodles you have dragged home from the thrift stores, do you really think all systems are go in your sweet little life? These shows are just the latest in a series of entertainment monuments (Design Star is another) that cause me to shriek at the television. This alarms Saki and makes me wonder if maybe the participants are any worse off than I am, carrying on a one-way conversation with household appliances.
I am also finishing up a 10 volume series of science fiction novels by Lois McMaster Bujold that center on a terribly amusing character named Miles Vorkosigan. If you like sci fi, you should give them a try. The conceit of a one character in this many settings allowed Bujold to study fantasy writing through the lens of different genres like hard-boiled detective noir, and regency romance, and whodunits. Thumbs up.
Also, houseboy booty:

Porn. Accidents. Porn Accidents.

As I was leaving the chiropractor’s this morning, I wondered what all that noise behind me was. Turned out it was the motorcycle I backed into and knocked over. Rats. The owner was standing nearby and rushed over. He very kindly pretended not to notice that I had screamed like a little girl when it happened. I gave him my insurance and tried not to be too obvious about all the stuttering and drooling and stuff just because he was my idea of a very hot, silver fox, motorcycle daddy. Lawyer.

Even better, a quick googe reveals he is the in-house counsel for one of the higher priced local smut purveyors, Titan media.

San Francisco, where everyday misfortunes turn into the plot lines of gay porn.
Also cheering me up today, I found a charming little blue and white saucer at the thrift store.

Love saucers.
My favorite hydrangea is blooming.

And speaking of porn, my new favorite company Bound Gods

turns out to be part of the empire and thus films inside the old San Francisco Armoury, aka Fort Porn.

Super Agent Fred reminds us you can take tours . I am so there. I only hope they give out samples.

Adventures in Old Crap, and a Little Family History

Something’s simply never change. I was running errands on Castro Street, minding my own beeswax, when I was sucked into the vortex of a huge garage sale. Two queens who had been antique dealers were cleaning out their backrooms . Fabulosity ensued. I apologize publicly now for cheating on Diane von Austinburg by running around to a tag sale without her.
I was poking around looking for a lampshade when I ran across a bread plate and then, later, a small salad plate both in a pattern that matched some cups and saucers I had inherited from my great aunt, Lucille.
Lucille, I should mention, was a firecracker. Her father was a butcher and worked for the railroad and was generally a small step above actual poverty. Lucille (my family always called her Ciel) had had enough of that by the time she grew up so she got herself a rich husband, got the hell out of south Texas, never looked back and proceeded to fill up her house with Nice Things. She is a hero to me.
Anyway, I was standing there admiring the china (which is Royal Albert china. A very fine line that i always get confused and call Prince Albert,

which I shudder to bring up knowing all the low class piercing jokes that opens itself to) when one of the guys running the sale volunteered that they had a bunch more. The next thing I knew I had sprung $80 for 14 luncheon plates, 4 dinner plates, 5 cups and saucers, the salad plate and the bread plate. He actually only asked $75, but I didn’t have change.
Do I need any more china? No I do not need any more china. R Man enjoyed giving me very nice china and porcelain as a presents and I have a sizable closet filled with it. And now I have some more. The pattern is called Canton.
And then, because I was on a roll, I snagged two very pretty silk damask curtain panels.

Have I mentioned our house is very Brady Bunch plain ass modern and is NOT THE PLACE for silk damask and mahogany Georgian furniture, but that’s what I keep dragging in. Still, I talked the guy down to 15 bucks for the pair, they’re beautiful heavy fabric, lined with silk and in good shape, except a little musty, but I’m airing them out on the patio, so I expect that to pass. Saki seemed very interested in them when I brought them in, and I noticed a tore up place on the lining right at cat level, so I assume they have had a Kitteh-centric existence. Again, OK by me.

And We Have a Winner

Our panel of judges (Diane von Austinburg, my cat Saki, and some guy from Psychic Friends Network who talks to me when I’m not wearing my aluminum foil hat) has selected the winner of the mrpeenee Sweepstakes

But before we announce the lucky winner, let me just thank everyone who played; you were all just as delightfully potty-mined as I had hoped. It’s so good to have some things you can depend on.
Also, our congratulations go out to Designing Wally as Miss Congeniality

for his poetic entry:
it is a pocket sconce.
fabricated lovingly by a charming pubescent boy who adores his mother and flowers..
made in his junior high school art class, he received an A+, and got big wet kisses on both cheeks from his art teacher…

And the winner is:

Congrats old darling. Send me your mailing address and we’ll have whatever the hell that thing really is winging its way to you. Soonish.

mrpeenee Sweepstakes


Diane von Austinburg, god love her, blew back into town last week to support us through the trials of Thanksgiving. Believe me when I tell you we were giving plenty thanks for her, not the least was for her delicious butternut squash bread pudding.

Of course we hit the very best thrift stores.

Alas, we scored ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, except a pair of charming little saucers, one of which I promptly broke.
We did unearth this bizarre oddity.

Diane has urged me to throw it into a competition here. The best guess what it might be wins. The prize: I will personally go back to Thrift Town and if it’s still there (chances seem good,) I’ll snap it up and send it to the winner.
Hoo Hoo.
Second place will win houseboy Vantius Olivier.

To save time I have already declared myself as second place winner. Thank you.

Good Times, Shining on Me


My two favorite people in the world

This has been a fantabulous week. R Man had been suffering for a while from dementia, with all his conversation consisting of bizarre bulletins from his hallucinations. It was disturbing and heartbreaking and frustrating all rolled up together; no matter how long it lasted I couldn’t get used to it. I kept thinking there was some code I was missing, if I could just break it, I could make sense of what he was saying and I would have him back again. Turns out pronouncements about us being late for the party schedule in Berlin are not code, they’re just crazy.

And then Wednesday morning, he woke up perfectly sane and lucid. No transition, just boom, back to the uncrazy. I felt like a rock that had been grinding me down had fallen off.
But wait! There’s more! That same day our beloved Diane from Austin blew in town for a visit. Last winter, before the cancer and the chemo and the craziness, we had planned a trip up to Oregon to go to a Shakespeare festival. Oops. But Diane didn’t bat an eye about skipping the whole thing and swears hanging around us to share in the thrill of four hours in the chemotherapy unit is just what she was looking forward to.
Thursday morning, I woke to the terrifying sound of the garbage truck rumbling down the street and the knowledge that I hadn’t taken the trash out the night before. As I came crashing down the stairs shrieking, cursing, and trying to put my pants on all at the same time, Diane calmly assured me she had already taken it out. Could there be a greater friend, a more heroic hero?
Usually her visits include long trips to the thrift stores, but this time, we just haven’t had the time and I haven’t had the energy. Still, we did squeeze in one, while R Man was getting his chemo. It has to be the lamest junk stores in captivity, but the thrill of sneering at their lackluster goods never pales.

Fashion prediction: Cheap gingham will be really big this fall. Watch for it.

The world’s most insincere valentine. Would you put out for someone who this was the best they could come up with? I think not.

Ooh, ooh, also, we were killing time during R Man’s acupuncture treatment and stumbled on the Grand Opening of a brand new Goodwill store in the Castro, staffed entirely by trannies. Extremely personable tranies. That is the genius of Diane, not only can she always find the good stuff , she can actually summon a fabulous thrift store into existence. I would ask her about being a good witch or a bad witch, but I’m sort of scared and besides I can’t get Glinda’s creaky little voice down.

Junk Score

I was hoofing off to the sci fi bookstore on Valencia yesterday and my path wandered by Community Thrift, my favorite junk store in captivity. Naturally, I had to pop in for just a quick scan, even though I wasn’t expecting anything. Noodling through the furniture (which lately has been reduced to nothing more than Ikea’s trash heap,) I ran across a charming, small mahogany china cabinet.
Until the 1960s, dining rooms had traditionally been fitted out with furniture inspired by early 19th century Georgian designers. The American version was referred to as Duncan Phyfe. Even though I have a passion for mid-century modern and sleek Asian design, when it comes to dining furniture, I have the same tastes as my sainted grandmother. So when I saw this little baby, I was charmed.
I was even more charmed when I pulled open a discreetly hidden drawer in the bottom and found it stuffed full of silver. Of course, I shoved the drawer shut, rushed up to counter and bought the cabinet. At home, an hour’s worth of scouring it with furniture cleaner turned it into the perfect addition to our salon. It’s probably built in the 1940s, sturdy and in good shape, except for one corner I need to re-finish.

the cabinet, in situ

The silver turned out to be a real mixed bag.

The haul

Some of it appears to have been boosted from a mid-level hotel and then some of it (mostly odd little spoons and forks for a variety of very specific tasks) is really good stuff. Also, there’s a set that amazingly is the same as R Man’s mother’s. Obviously it was meant to be.
Also, I cleaned it with a technique I’d heard about for years, but had never tried. Line the sink with aluminum foil, pour in really hot water, add salt and baking soda and drop the silver in. Boom, some chemical reaction makes all the tarnish vanish. It works, honest. Come to mrpeenee for al your household tips. And beefcake.

The Beefcake