In the name of music, no junk goes unturned

janet's world

March 15, 2009|By Janet Gilbert | Janet Gilbert,Special to The Baltimore Sun

This past weekend, I helped redistribute tons of stuff from dark, dank basements and garages all over Maryland to new dark, dank basements and garages all across the state.

The exciting endeavor was by virtue of my participation on a committee organizing a huge indoor yard sale, which benefits our high school's music foundation and its choral, band and orchestral programs.

If you've ever cleaned out your own garage or basement, you know it's a job that requires patience and discernment, which both wane as the day wears on. At 10 a.m., you're thinking you ought to hold on to those nesting swan-motif planters. By late afternoon, they're ugly ducklings on their way to the dump. Unless, of course, you're part of the Marrriotts Ridge High School Music Foundation yard sale team.

For months now, committee members have been squirreling away their crystal frogs, Wolverine action figures and Luray Caverns shot glasses for the sale. We've been looking with fresh eyes at our lava lamps, dancing Santas, sombreros and potato ricers. And we've decided we could manage just fine without them. Why, one of these items alone could fetch upward of 50 cents for the foundation.

Unbelievably, other folks couldn't wait to get their hands on our stuff. Come Saturday morning of the flea market, it was like opening day at Tuesday Morning, only with polite shoppers. Throngs of bargain-hunters pressed at the doors, waiting to get in and make a grab for the snow cone maker, the mauve recliner or the carved owl lamp.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me just say one must mentally prepare for a yard sale of this scale. Because it's more than a multi-step process; it's a thousand-step process.

The stepping began Friday afternoon, as volunteers emptied the storage pods into the school, and others hunted down tables and set them up in the cafeteria. Still others tore into the boxes and bags like manic elves. In any given donation, you'd find a cornucopia of clothing, candy dishes and crocheted coverlets, each of which had to be walked over to the proper corner of the cafeteria.

Next, we all sauntered around some more, pricing items, sometimes holding things up for laughs. There was an unrecognizable metal pincers-grasper device that we decided should go into housewares, tagged as the "Portable Home Disciplinarian." Several of the volunteering dads livened things up by walking around and surprising other volunteers with a forceful blast of wind from a large green air gun someone had donated.

We worked and walked vigorously. By the time I got home that evening, I was thinking about how nice it would be if I had one of those automatic chairlifts for my staircase. I made a mental note to be on the lookout for one at the sale bright and early the next morning.

We opened our doors promptly at 8 a.m. and attended to our posts as cashiers, security or, the most dreaded job of all, customer service. These unlucky volunteers took the additional steps of carting customers' purchases out to their cars.

When the flea market wrapped up in the afternoon, it was time to load the leftovers onto the Goodwill truck in the school parking lot. By this time, I felt like Zola Budd's lesser-known elderly grandmother who raced across South Africa in orthopedic shoes, hauling cardboard boxes.

Ironically, my husband and I had to rush to Frederick that afternoon to hear our son sing in the Maryland All-State Junior Chorus concert. But as I sat in the audience, listening to beautiful voices raised in a moving rendition of "Inscription of Hope," my thoughts drifted to the work of high school music foundations across the state.

And I felt very proud, my eyes filling up, my legs throbbing perfectly in time to the music.

To contact Janet or hear podcasts, visit http://www.janetgilbert.net.

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