Monday, August 15, 2011


As I've mentioned, I need furniture.  One of the things I need is a dining table, because I find myself now in posession of an entire room set aside for the sole purpose of dining.  I've been looking for a while now, and I haven't been able to find anything all that inspiring.  Or just-- nothing that seems like it would look good with the paint color and light fixture I have, nothing that I could afford, etc.

What kind of table would look good in here?

Kelly, thankfully, took up the cause of my dining set, and  kept an eye out on Craigslist this weekend.  Lo and behold, like the database of amazing she is, she found something that I liked-- a mid-century table with 6 matching chairs-- for $150.  I set up the appointment for today, and went to Torrance to meet the seller.

Before today, I had kind of thought of Torrance as a city built on a garbage heap.  I am not sure now why I thought that, but today I learned that whatever Torrance is built on, it's quite lovely. 

Is garbage under that hill?  Maybe.
But it still looks inviting. 

The houses in Torrance are the 1950s, come to life.  Or rather, the Torrance houses seem to exist in a place where the 1950s (and 1960s) never faded. 

(from the internets)
(from the internets) 

(courtesey of the internets)

  It's like 1970 never happened.

A lot of neighborhoods in LA look a bit lost in time because the housing stock here has been around for a while.  But in Torrance-- at least, in the  neighborhood where I went today-- somehow, the charm of that time is more vividly brought to life.  I almost expected Ward, June, and the Beaver to greet me.  

Instead, I was met by Valerie, a woman in her 50s.  She had just come from church, and was wearing an ornate cross and sensible, black, square-heeled dress sandals.  Even in her sensible square heels, she was a good 4" shorter than me.  She greeted me enthusiastically as I walked up to the house.

"Hi Cristina!  Come on over to the garage, that's where everything is!"

As the garage door opened, Valerie chatted away, a mile a minute.  Literally.  Like, if words could take you places, her words would cover at least a mile every minute, and possibly more.  

---OH I hope you like it, I'm glad you could come, lucky for me church got out early today, see here are the chairs and this is the table, see it has three leaves-- three!- that you can put in to make the table bigger, oh, and do you need a loveseat?   or lamps?  Or easy chairs?

Lamps, sure!  I walk over to a lamp that is...two and a half feet tall.  I look back at her.   She has beige-colored eyes that squint at me, but in a warm way.  A warm beige squint.

---YES, that's one of the lamps, but let me show you the other one, my sister hates it, but I always liked it, so I hope you like it, but we need to get rid of this too, I mean I live in Oceanside and I can't be coming back up here every weekend, but here's just so much stuff, come on in to the living room!

I stifled a choke as I walked in to the house and inhaled.  It wasn't a bad smell, but it was that smell that houses have when their inhabitants are very elderly.  You know that smell?  So interesting, isn't it, that age has a smell to it.  

The lamp, at least 3 feet tall, was amazing.  With its shade on, it was as tall as me; without the shade, it came up to my chest.  I'd never seen anything like it.  I started touching it, asking what it was made of.

---WELL, I don't really know what it's made of, but I like it, and I'm so glad you like it, my sister always laughs at me for liking it!  Here, I'll get this ready for you-- if you buy the dining set, I'll throw in both lamps, because I really want them to go to a good home, I can't just drop them off at Goodwill!  I want the things to have a good home, is that crazy?

No, that's not crazy at all.  I've felt that way about things before, sure.

We headed back out to the garage.

---AND same thing with this table, I mean they just don't make stuff like this anymore, and we always would sit around this table, and I don't even remember when mom got it, but at least 40 years ago, and I can't just drop it off at Goodwill, I want to know it's going to a good home, so I thought I'd use Craigslist, but my kids said oh, mom, you have to be careful about giving people your phone number, but you seem so nice!  What do you do?

I...[ahem].  [anticipating dissatisfaction, maybe disgust] I...well, I work for the federal government.  

Valerie gasped and rolled her eyes.

[sheepish]  I know, it's not the most popular thing right now.

---WELL anyway, my kids were saying....

And off she went, off to the chatty races.  Explaining that her daughter had brought the cushions on the loveseat from Japan, where she had gone a few years ago to study abroad; showing me how to unscrew the chair legs so I could recover the dining seats; telling me about the time she and her mother recovered the dining seats; asking me whether I was married?  Did I have kids?  Oh, so it was just me?  How old was I?  Did I want a sewing machine too?  $60!  It was mom's.   There's just so much to do when...well, anyway.

Did your mother pass away recently?

---OH no, well recently, I don't know, four and a half years ago, and dad about...nine months ago.  

I'm so sorry.

---Well, LUCKILY, my sister and I had power of attorney for them, because otherwise, the rules are just so-- well YOU know, you WORK for the government!  My sister and I took care of everything, and power of attorney made it so much easier.  Mom and Dad had a financial planner that drafted that for them about 10 years ago, and I'm so thankful he did.

[fixes me with her warm beige squint]

---When YOUR parents start to get older, make sure you get power of attorney for them.  You seem like you'd be a nice daughter, I'm sure you wouldn't steal from them.

No, I wouldn't.

---And BESIDES, it's always for the girls to take care of the parents!  We have a brother, and his wife is great, but somehow, my sister and I did everything, we work well together, we have our own thing.

In the end, I agreed to take the dining set, and the 2 lamps.  I took the lamps with me, and we agreed that I'd go back next weekend to pick the dining set up.  As we parted ways, she hugged me and said she was so glad everything was going to a good home!  And that I use everything in good health, in good health, use everything in good health!

These are the lamps:

Valerie's lamps
the taller of the 2 lamps, right at my boob,
literally chest high.
also, does my hand look arthritic in this picture?

Hopefully I can give them a good home, and use them in good health.

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