estate sales, march 29.

I get a weekly email with details about all the local estate sales. I generally look through the pictures, and sometimes we end up going to a sale if the pictures are interesting and we didn't stay up too late the night before. Friday, one of the pictures featured a gray metal box with a NASA sticker on it, along with the words "METEOROID DETECTION EXPERIMENT, LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER." I was not necessarily interested in going to the sale, but I sent the picture to Josh, because he likes space stuff.

I should not have been surprised the next morning when Josh wanted to get up and go to the sale. That was entirely predictable and my own fault. So this was our day.

Most of the NASA goodies were gone, but there were tons of prints of space pictures. The guy whose stuff we were looking at had worked at NASA as an engineer and photographer for thirty years. Some of the pictures were printed on transparencies, maybe for some kind of educational presentation? Anyway, I bought two of them. A couple other people looked through them, remarked that they were neat, and then put them back down. They couldn't imagine what to do with them.

Uh, put them on the wall! I mean, they come with their own frames.

As long as there is a light-colored background behind the pictures, you can see them. If you only had dark walls in your house, you could use a light piece of paper. But I really like the wall color behind them, because it draws attention to the fact that part of the picture is see-through. The top picture of the rocket launch is marked "9/13/61 first orbit of capsule," which refers to the Mercury-Atlas 4. No idea about the bottom picture. Just some scientists doing sciencey things.

This is dumb, but I've been looking for a new kitchen rug. We have two, and they are getting increasingly ratty. I've been looking for new-to-me ones, but it turns out that small rugs are just kinda hard to find used, or maybe I haven't been looking in the right place. I was even thinking of - gasp! - buying one new, that's how bad my old ones were. But the secondhand gods smiled on me yesterday, and I find a nice big one for just a dollar.

I felt stupid taking a picture of the kitchen floor, so I made the dog sit on it first. Now it's a picture of a dog.  Doesn't she look especially cute on the new rug?

At another estate sale, which was just packed with stuff, there was a room with tables along three walls and a rack of clothing on the fourth. Dumped in the corner was a pile of books, where I found this art book.

It looked intriguing, so I squeezed myself between a lady perusing the clothes and a dude playing with an abacus on the table. Upon opening it up, the first thing I saw was a small poster print of this painting.

I know this painting! The artist is Gérôme. I came across his name in another book a few months ago and spent an evening googling his art. I think my favorite is this one, with the soldiers stomping on the tulips. The informational blurb in the art book about him is fairly insulting, calling him technically impeccable but basically a hack. If I were him, I'd be going "Pfft! And yet here I am in your silly little art book."

So I figured that having a nice frameable print of a painting that I liked was worth the $2 for the whole book, whatever else might be in it. It turns out that the book itself is pretty amazing. There are twenty-four prints of paintings, and the text goes through them and talks about why each one could be considered under the umbrella of Realism. The paintings vary a lot in style and subject, yet they are curated such that you can see what is "real" about each one. The writing is geared toward the layman, and hey! that's me. It's like taking a little class at the museum. I was so impressed that I came very close to buying the whole twelve volume set used off Amazon from a thrift store. Update: have now bought the whole set. Have extra volume 2 to spare.

I never received much in the way of art instruction. We had some art classes in grade school, but they were mostly about making art and not about studying existing art. I learned a bit by dating an artist, but my education was limited to the things he was interested in (which meant a lot of surrealism and African religious folk art). I've learned some by going to museums, but that was mostly self-guided. For a long time, I've found art to be very intimidating. I spent so much time worrying about what a picture was supposed to mean (and having no idea) that I was often unable to just enjoy it or take my own meaning from it. Art should not be scary. I'm hoping that these books will help my poor malnourished art brain.

Finally, about two and a half years ago, my sister-in-law asked me to be on the lookout for Club cookware for her. I'd never heard of it, and couldn't say that I'd even seen it before. Yesterday, I finally found some. I was about to just pass it by, figuring that since so much time had passed, my sister-in-law was probably not interested anymore. But this is the age of instant communication, so I texted her a picture of what they had and the price information. She did want it, so after all this time, I was finally able to fulfill her aluminum cookware dreams. Don't say you can't find good stuff used! It just takes a while sometimes.

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