Forever Plastic Fish

It's considered good feng shui to have moving water in your home, like in a fountain or aquarium. It helps activate the chi in a dry room, and our house was full dry rooms. It's even better to have fish, but only if they are kept alive. If they die you're immediately suppose go out and buy bigger, more expensive ones. Otherwise the gods will think you're a cheap-ass and your luck will be even worse than if you never had fish.

My mother believed in these aspects of feng shui but didn't want the burdens of real fish. Similar to the Forever Orchid, she found the Forever Aquarium. It was a cylindrical tower lined with blue cellophane and plastic seaweed. At the bottom was a propeller that would create an internal current that would make the plastic fish swim.

The tank is gone but last night I found the plastic fish. The four fish (including a Nemo) and three seahorses have wiggling tail parts, so their swishing would be believable to the feng shui gods. 


Bibles Swiped From Chinese Churches

OMG it was totally unholy to take those bibles from church, mom. 

You can tell they're from church because they're all stamped with the church name on the inside cover. 

Earlier I told you about the Bible On Cassette Tape and how my mother used to keep a bible in every room of the house. I've tried to collect them in an effort to eventually return them to their rightful churches. I have a box of over ten, most of them in Chinese. 

Since Christmas is approaching, I thought it would be useful to include this map of old Jerusalem (you know, where the beaded tote bag came from). 

Christmas Portrait #2

I wish I could get my current jeans to get that perfect, worn-through-the-knee look. This is a low point in my adulthood when I am jealous of my wardrobe as a five-year-old.


Mystery Object #6: Circular Thinking

Circles that are pink, white and blue,
What in the world are you?

Leave your answer in the comments. The first correct response gets an Infinite Garage GRAB BAG! 


Chinese Grey Gardens

The backyard, unrestrained.  

Post-Garage Sale Clearance Day

Last night I had a nightmare that Salvation Army wouldn't come today. It was probably triggered by the cable guy not showing up last month. I felt like I was crazy because maybe I never called the cable company to set up DVR in the first place. Hmm. When you hang out by yourself too much, you start to doubt everything you do. You wonder they were all phantom conversations or lucid dreams.

But SA's Harley (in the baseball cap) and helper came to haul off the remains of the Infinite Garage Sale. They took twenty-five large boxes, a vacuum cleaner, and three ceramic lamps.

"What's a jade pillow for?" Harley asked. He told me he had been sleeping on magnets to increase circulation but have never heard of the jade pillow phenomenon. I said it was similar and something old Chinese people believe in.

Sheepishly I had to ask if this was a normal pick up or if I had more stuff than he'd ever seen. 

"Nope, I do this all the time. Most people have more stuff than you!"

This fact was hard to stomach but was also a relief.


Christmas Portrait #1

The best part about this photo is the fake holiday scene behind us. It looks a little like it's at a fisheye perspective, like we're in some Christmas funhouse.

This is probably the last professional family portrait we ever took. We weren't big on portraits. We weren't the kind of people to have photos on the walls, like the ones in the collage frames with multiple slots that show us through the ages. We weren't organized enough to put those together. Only in hindsight do I think they would have been great to see everyday. 


A Safe Place For Birds

Birds want a warm, safe place to make their nests. They want to be able to protect their young from the elements, predators, and us. When I was twelve and we had just moved into the newly built house, we started noticing the outdoor lights fill up with twigs, leaves, and feathers. Birds had nested inside the hanging light near the front door and the two smaller lights along the front wall. It dismayed my mother because they looked like a pain to clean. We’d have to dismantle the iron and glass panes individually.

In reality the nests didn’t really bother us. They didn’t stop lights from working. They were dirty but also sort of charming. We had a bird sanctuary in our front entrance! They only became a problem when birds started getting trapped inside.

My father and I watched a bird inside the light crash up against the glass pane. He kept trying again and again, as if he had lost his way to a trap door that he was sure was there. He had come in through the one opening at the bottom and in a panic had forgotten the way out. I wondered if this was not the same bird who had built the nest. That one made repeated trips in and out and would have known. This bird had gotten here by accident.

He flew into the glass for hours. It was maddening, watching this small creature get knocked down repeatedly. It made all three of us nervous. My mother made a ball out of rice and meat and placed it at the edge of the opening. It got his attention for a few seconds and then he went back to flying into the glass. He had no other focus. My father attempted to squeeze him out by sticking the end of a broomstick into the opening, hoping to scare him. That didn’t work either. We gave up but just stared at the bird stuck in a trap. We all hoped for the best and continued check on him throughout the day.

The next morning we found his stiff body on the ground. It had slid through the opening. It seemed horrible that once he stopped trying he was able to find his way out. A safe place had become a deathtrap. I was stunned and stared at his body for a few minutes. My mother quickly scurried me inside and told me to look away while she collected his body into a shoebox.

The same thing ended up happening to a few more birds that year. I’m relieved that I haven’t seen any birds inside the lights for years. It's time to clean out their nests and put mesh wiring over the opening.


Music Monday: A Man And His Best Friend

I know how it is to be in love with your pooch. I'm totally smitten with my furry friend. This mustached man takes it all the way, putting his Boxer on the cover of this record.

I heard about a metal band that features a dog as the lead singer but I don't think this is it.

From my grandpa's Taiwanese records.

Infinite Garage Sale Day

Between work, travel, and holiday guests, I haven't been tending to the garage as much as I'd like. But I've been tending to the house! I had the carpets cleaned, the plumbing fixed, and even I cleared two of the bedrooms. Over Thanksgiving I was able to finally guests over and not worry that they'd be visually assaulted by sweaters.

Having people over was the motivation I needed to clear house. But after they left I fell into a slump. What now? The house is more livable but I still had that hairy garage beast. I couldn't stand knowing that the garage hadn't changed. So I decided to have an Infinite Garage Sale.

A few awesome friends came over the help, otherwise I'd have died! Angela was the much needed stickler, texting me at 6:30 am to set up. From a previous sale, I knew that the serious buyers start hovering before seven so I jumped out of bed. I was right. One guy drove past my house several times. A few were parked near the driveway. Their enthusiasm was scary actually. Maybe not as scary as when I hit sample sales. Now I know why those shopgirls are so strict with me.

We put out two racks and eight large boxes of clothes in a hearty clothing department. We had a kitchenwares section near the lawn with the Forever Orchids and a sporting goods section with golf clubs, fishing supplies and folding bikes. It was like having a little department store in my driveway.

Here's Angela with the vintage Sony multiband radio in front of "housewares" and the manual typewriter I used to make zines on.

Sporting goods. 

Ladies and menswear. 

A lace prairie skirt by "Spoiled Girls!"

My dog looking depressed because we weren't paying attention to him.

I loved the garage sale shoppers. They were mostly older folks and Mexican families. The first one, an elderly Japanese lady in a striped Breton shirt stayed the longest, sifting through every box as we brought them out. She left with a green striped boatneck top and an olive sweater vest. I think she was me in the future because she picked out everything I would have liked. One women bought two of the same The Limited cardigans and told me one was for her and the other was for her ninety-three year old sister! Awesome! Another sweet grandma type returned my beige Lesportac bag when she found money inside. I was relying on the kindness of garage sale strangers. 

It was exhilarating to hawk stuff for cash but stressful. When I found myself haggling the difference between $64 and $60 dollars, my friends had to remind me that I needed to price things to move. The number one priority is making the sale! Maybe I was taking the low balling too personally.

I was so beat afterwards that I left the housewares out on the driveway all day and overnight. The next morning I went to brunch and wondered if anyone would take anything. When I came back I found $16 wedged in my front door and noticed a few of the vases missing. I probably would have only charged $1 a vase. I couldn't believe I could run a garage sale on the honor system and make more money that way.

I'm having a few charities pick up the remaining boxes which will free up half the space in the garage. I might soon be able to use one of the carports for an actual car, just like we used to. Infinite Garage sale success!

Here's my cousin's daughter on her first dogback riding lesson.


Fashion Friday: Before Infinity

Before the garage held decades worth of stuff it actually held cars. Here is my mom in the late 80s proudly showing off the garage.


Infinite Snowman

A California snowman never melts.


I Heart Jerusalem Tote Bag

I found this gem hanging on the master bedroom door. I was about the chuck it, but then I realized it was a souvenir from a place I might never go. I am positive that no one in my family has been to the Promised Land.  


Fashion Friday: Hawaiian Dream

This picture came to me in a dream. My father is on the beach in a sport jacket and tie. He is dragging a long shadow behind him. The edges of the photos are blurred, the colors are bleeding away. The sun is too bright to make out the details of his face. He looks ageless. The lower half of his body is in shadows. 


Rainbow Knee Highs

Ten pairs of fashion knee highs in a rainbow gradient. Wear a little color under your career trousers. 

Thanks Laura for helping me uncover these. I hope you'll come back and revel in more pantyhose with me. 


Other Moms With Clothes

I believe there is a kind of clothes hoarding mania that strikes empty nester moms. Earlier this year I met Russ, who's mom had just passed. He too had inherited an insane collection of clothes. It was uncanny that we were in the same scenario-- thirty-something urban types stuck in the 'burbs until we could get rid of mom's stuff! We instantly became a support group of two.

Unlike Momma Lee who was obsessed with mall clothes, Russ's mom was a designer boutique shopper. He's set up Too Many Designers, So Little Time, a online shop of his mom's 3000+ items. It's organized by category (dresses, tops, etc) and designer (Marc Jacobs, Christian Lacroix, Chloe). Most of the stuff is NWT, eBay speak for New With Tags. And a portion of the proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphona Society.

I'm so excited and proud of Russ. And I want to drive over to Arizona to get first dibs. I could really use a vintage Chanel...

Leslie Roberts, I Have Your Wallet

This is one of my favorite finds. 

Leslie Roberts was a childhood friend of mine, but I have no clue as to why I have her wallet. I found it in an acid-washed denim purse. If she had left it at my house you'd think I would have returned it since I saw her everyday at school. Or, she would have asked for it back. We probably moved into different friend circles and then forgot about the wallet and each other.

It feels a little wrong to be looking through the wallet. I'm not used to possessing childhood photos of white people since everyone in my family is Chinese. It's like I've mugged a little white girl! No, I don't remember mugging Leslie.

A wallet has a personal logic to how it's organized. You look at it and immediately it reeks of someone else. The things inside don't mean anything to you. They're just clues. 

There's a school portrait of Leslie, pictures of siblings (?), and a Girl Scout ID card. 

My favorite are her parents' business cards. Next to their names Leslie wrote in "my mom" (also Leslie Roberts) and "this is my dad" (Frank Roberts). I can imagine a kid carrying these cards in the event that she or the wallet gets lost. Not that it helped this wallet get home.  


Love Is A Pac-Man Notebook

Love is Pac-Man, rainbows, and bunny rabbits according to my six year old self.  

This is love and I love you! I really do.

By Invitation Only

Use of the lounge is by invitation only. This map will show you how to get there. 

Light refreshments will be served while you're waiting for your flight departure. 

Passes to the Sakura Lounge, Japan Air Lines and the Discovery Lounge, Cathay Pacific, 1974. 


Music Monday: Dimpled Lady

The Dimpled Lady turns to her side with a shrinking smile. 

From my grandfather's record collection. For more music, look here


Fashion Friday: One Afternoon

First they went to the sea by scooter,

then to the restaurant for some laughs. 

Forever Orchid

The living room used to be littered with silk flowers. My mother would buy them from Michael's and arrange them in vases on every available flat surface. She liked the colors and that they looked alive.

But the fake flowers reminded me of being in a mortuary. The paint-on color and the stillness were unnatural. They didn't bloom, wilt and die. The worse thing about them was that they gathered dust, which doesn't seem to happen to real flowers. When she died I threw most of them out. But I missed a few hiding in the master bedroom closet. These were meant to last forever.

Judging from the blue chintz vase, the Forever Orchid was from a Chinese goods store. The Chinese believe plants are good feng shui, so it makes sense to sell forever lucky charms.

The are shrink wrapped and ready for your home.

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