Never Forget

Sixteen years ago today, I woke to the sound of my phone ringing early in the morning.  I was exhausted and groggy from a late night flight coming home from an emotional trip.  My daughter was on the line when I answered, in an unusually hysterical sounding voice she blurted out “Mom, are you home, are you alright?” My response was confused but clear, “Yes, I’m home, what’s wrong?” She asked where I was knowing that I spent most nights with my then boyfriend. Then said, turn on the TV.

I had just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. I was on one the last flights out on September 10th 2001. In fact our flight was so late, we had to get special permission to land beyond the standard curfew for the small regional airport.

The devastation that I saw when I turned on the TV was frightening. The effects of that morning will stay with our collective conscience for generations to come.  And while we all remember watching the twin towers being hit, we must remember there were four planes in total. A third plane which crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth heading for Washington D.C. but bravely diverted by passengers into a field in Pennsylvania.

All four planes began their journey bound for California in the Northeast United States. Three of them American Airlines flights and one United Airlines flight. I was on a United Airlines flight. And I was headed home to Los Angeles.

The gravity of what happened that morning will never be lost on me.  But even more personal for me is the knowledge that I could have very easily been on one of those flights. Having left Washington D.C. shortly before the terrorists boarded the planes they used to destroy so many lives reminds just how lucky I am.

Please take a moment to think about those who were lost as well as the many brave souls who responded to these disasters and helped in myriad ways. With all the turmoil going on in the world right now, let’s be thankful for what we have and take care of each other.

Using a free grocery store item in your garden.

Just recently we have found these very nifty bands on our veggies. They do much less damage to the lettuce than a metal and paper twist-tie . When we took off the band we saw that it had the qualities of velcro and it was very sturdy!

We thought to try it in the garden to help stake the tomatoes and it works well! If you are like us and have to wait until your own vegetables grow and still need the fresh veggie section at the market, look out for these. Ask your non gardening friends to save them for you. Save money! Use them to wrangle flowers and perennials in a border. The green blends in nicely. These would also come in handy to hold your pant legs out of danger from the spokes on your bike…you can even leave a couple on the bike. We hope they will be reusable next year.

Hope you liked this money saving tip. How could you use these lettuce bands in your household?

You’re Gonna Meet New Friends on Old Cape Cod

Now that we are both retired, we were invited by friends to go along with them to enjoy a stay at their friends’ house on a pond at the Cape. I met one of them at an annual Lemon Tea Party and enjoyed many conversations with her. We almost always click with any friends that our one time neighbors have and this visit was no exception. All three couples loved yard sale-ing (yard sailing is their alternative humorous nautical term) Estate Sales, cooking from scratch together and then dining at leisure, with more conversation, music and laughs. I hope we will be able to get back there when the weather is warmer so I can try paddle boarding on their beautiful pond. Make new friends and keep the old – one is silver and the other gold.

A cool morning and a trip to a very nice cape cod beach near the house. The ropes behind us are to protect the plovers’ nests in the dune area during the nesting season.

It’s A Small World…

Anyone remember the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game that was popular in the ’90’s? It was based on the theory that there are no more than six relationships between any two living things in the world and was invented at the time “Footloose” was the rage. Supposedly everyone in Hollywood was no more than six steps removed from Kevin. I’m not sure that premise is true but I now know the original theory which was developed in 1929 does hold true for inanimate objects.

You can read the details of how this wonderful folk art bird made its way from New England to southern Arizona on our latest blog post: Six Degrees Of Separation.  



Estate Sale season is here!

For most of the country, spring is in the air and the weather is warming up. For any vintage shopper that means it’s estate sale season.  For those of us who live in more temperate states, estate sale season never ends. But, it certainly picks up steam this time of year. Even though us Southern Californians are blessed with great weather most of the year, we still see more sales come Spring and Summer.  People tend to move more when its warmer and the kids are out of school. Spring cleaning is still a very real annual event for many families as well. 

With all of this going on I have been busy with some interesting sales this season. Everything from sketchy warehouses to homes worth several millions and anything in between.  It’s been a ton of work, but so much fun as well.  In the last few months, I have sold everything from rusted yard tools to priceless paintings.  We had one sale where a pair of lovely ladies came all three days and spent hours trying on clothing. They bought piles of goodies each day too, and we had a blast acting like a bunch of teenage girls at the mall.

Remember when shopping estate sales, look everywhere, ask questions, and keep an open mind.  We sell everything from cars and tractors to diamonds and gold. You never know what you will find.

And so begins our next adventure together

I wanted to see the sun rise over the ocean on my birthday which also marked the start of my retirement. I have anticipated this for a few years and took the countdown seriously. Luckily, the weather was beautiful. As soon as my other half retires in a few weeks (fingers crossed) we will have more time for friends, for enjoying each other’s company, our garden and home and to explore this great country of ours.This trip made me very happy and always true to our frugal lifestyle, it didn’t break the budget!

The search for artist Ken Haag: a rabbit hole adventure

haag trays
souvenir Haag trays
Two souvenir trays with illustrations by Ken Haag.
ken Haag trays
Detail of trays showing Mr. Haag’s signature.

I have a penchant for vintage USA road trip souvenirs. These two 1960s round metal trays caught my eye at the local thrift, two retro lovelies nestled in with the ubiquitous Norman Rockwell and other collectible plates. And lovelies they are: Hawaii and Virginia trays in good condition with enthusiastically colorful art and something else I’d never seen on a travel souvenir, a signature. Ken Haag.

I am familiar with Hawaii and Virginia. But who is Ken Haag? And why did his signature rate inclusion on a travel souvenir? Assuming he must be someone of note, I was pretty sure Google would give me an answer in less than a second. I was wrong.

Google was full of images for things Ken Haag illustrated, mostly small decorative state and wildlife trays, but void of biographical information. This seemed so unlikely. How can a man who turns up an unending number of results for people selling things with his illustrations not have a Wikipedia page? Or any biographical information? You can find anything on the internet. Information about Ken Haag had to be out there…

It was at this point that my to do list got shoved to the side and I, with a quizzically wrinkled brow and stubborn determination, went diving down the  internet research rabbit hole. The hunt was on.

Initial searches like “Ken Haag artist” and “Ken Haag illustrator” turned up nothing. Except a Google book excerpt from Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series for giant gift tags printed by Peck Inc with illustrations by Ken Haag in the 1960s. Knowing he was an established artist working in the 1960s made me wonder if he might at this point be an older person. Or if he might have already passed away and there might possibly be an obituary. Nope. The only obit result was for a gentleman in Iowa who was clearly not the Ken Haag I was looking for. 

Peck Inc. was a possible lead. The Vintage Recycling blog had a post about a vintage 1950s salesman’s sample book of gift tags from Peck Inc., located in Minnesota.

Minnesota. Hmm. I searched “Ken Haag artist Minnesota” and got a second Google book except, this time from The St. Paul Saints: Baseball in the Twin City. The highlighted reference is for the Johnson High School Hall of Fame where inductee Ken Haag is described as a sports artist.

Searching “Ken Haag sports illustration” resulted in an Ebay listing for a 1992 Lou Gehrig baseball card, with that Ken Haag signature big as life on the bottom. 

At this point, I felt like I was surrounded by snips and snaps of info about Ken Haag but I still hadn’t found anything comprehensive. I knew it had to be out there. I just knew it. Translation: I’m too far into the rabbit hole to quit. Onward.

Next tidbits of info, a Worthpoint listing for a Vegas metal ashtray with this bit in the description: “Artist and illustrator Ken Haag was a Minnesota graphic artist, and his pieces are collectible for the way he combined evocative images of famous people and places.” And multiple Amazon listings for The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine from the 1960s with Ken Haag as an author. Minnesota again!

Ken Haag
Artist Ken Haag, 1960s photo from the Minnesota Historical Society.

And then, jackpot. A photograph in the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society of Ken Haag. Love his smile, love his jaunty tie. And really love the sign behind him, Haag Bureau of Artistry. Surely that will yield some…search…results…oh…none? Really? 

Here’s a guy who was a prolific artist. Who signed everything as big as life. And I can figure out NOTHING about him? I kept plugging away with different search combinations based on what I knew and finally things started going my way.

First, a link to St. Paul’s Eastside Heritage Park. On the “They Came from the Eastside,” a huge leap forward. 

Ken Haag (1932-1996) was a talented and prolific sports and wildlife artist, writer and newspaper and magazine illustrator. He was a frequent volunteer for Eastside projects. The preservation of Minnesota wildlife, especially birds and their habitats was an important focus of his adult life.

And then the breakthrough, a Facebook post by Minnesota’s Angling Past with a decent amount of biographical information. Including the fact that Mr. Haag passed away unexpectedly in 1996 at his Eastside home. And that Rep. Bruce Vento spoke warmly about Mr. Haag’s contributions to his community from the floor of the US House of Representatives a month after his death.  From the record of that speech with the appended obituary, I finally found out just who Ken Haag was. “Ken was a constant and joyful volunteer. He lent real meaning to the role of citizenship, working as an artist, but deeply involved in music, education, environment and housing activities. He was a modern day renaissance man.” So said Rep. Vento. 

His obituary listed his affiliations. He served in the Navy. He was a member of the St. Paul Swedish Mens Chorus. He was the president of the Minnesota Bird Club and the local elementary PTO. He was dedicated to education and the enviroment. He was the father of four daughters and a son. He was a husband and a grandfather. And, he was a talented creative illustrator.

So how does knowing this make me better able to sell Ken Haag’s souvenir trays. It doesn’t. But it does give me the satisfaction of finding out just who Ken Haag was. From now on, when his work passes my way, I will smile knowingly and say, “Ah yes, Ken Haag. He was quite a guy.”