Monday, February 22, 2010

The Full Value

" get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with." Mark Twain

I have the nicest friends in the entire world. One group of friends was given the name "The Homies" by an overly smart teenage boy years ago. We used to work together at Annapolis Area Christian School and found we had even more in common than teaching and a love for kids and our faith and snow days. Yet we have different strengths and have helped each other in important and everyday ways.

The Homies love to do things together. If there's an occaision, we all love to help the hostess make it wonderful. We discovered this one year while putting on a reception for a concert one of us was conducting. The concert was breathtaking, and we had great fun planning, cooking and making the reception happen. 

I have lots of inspiring and funny stories to tell about The Homies because they've been there for me in my most joyful and my saddest moments. They've listened, counseled and stood beside me. I admire and cherish each one.
cooking together
Most recently two of The Homies, Wendy and Janice, hosted a swap party. Wendy taught art at AACS and Janice taught Spanish; now they own a business WendyLynn and Co  that represents illustrators to the children's book publishing market. Invitations instructed us to bring three clean, useful items we no longer wanted. These would be traded for three items we could use. Coffee, tea and delicious food would be served. No clothing was to be traded.
Wendy and Janice with the clothes pins
I took a lamp that I bought in Grand Rapids, MI at Meijers (which is the Michigan version of Walmart) only bigger and with lots of Dutch delicacies like Wilhemina Mints and ham buns. It was dirt cheap and came in a set with a floor lamp which has since broken and which I am still using. (It slants toward the guest bed). The table lamp came with a red shade that I didn't notice (or like) because it was in the box. I couldn't return it to Michigan, so I put it in my family room and never turned it on.

I had a large box of rust colored scented candles, not yet burned.  I took them.

I also took an old French Press one of my children left here when they moved out. I had been using it, but I was given a beautiful, new one for Christmas so didn't need the other.
the red box and the quilt
When I arrived at Wendy's house, which serves also as the lovely Meadowgardens Bed and Breakfast, I was welcomed with a strong and delicious hot cup of tea, a cranberry muffin and a warm, hospitable atmosphere. Conversation was flowing and during this, I was instructed to take a tag, which was cut in the shape of a heart and use it to identify my items with a description of its use and why I was giving it away.
items to swap
Already lots of women were there (some Homies, some from other circles of friendship), and they had placed their items on tables Wendy had set out in her lovely, warm home. We all mingled and talked, enjoyed our hot drinks, shared stories of how we had survived the recent blizzards and looked at the things people had brought.

Many of the women had added a bow or grouped a few like things together. There was an entire set of dishes there, lots of pitchers, placemats, napkins, a hand made quilt, vases, a fax machine, an indoor mood water fountain, glass ware and another French press.

Janice gave each woman three clothes pins. We were to write our name on each and clip one to each of the three items we wanted. If there was more than one woman who wanted an item, the clothespins would be put in a dish and the winner chosen by a blind draw. Those who didn't win were allowed to quickly run and attach their pins to another item.

I saw a vintage cake carrier I liked, but changed my mind. Instead I put my clips on a big red wooden box with dividers that I thought Icould use in my sewing room, on a blue stoneware pitcher, and on a bundle of yellow kitchen towels.

Everyone wanted the cake carrier, the red box and the stoneware pitcher.  I figured I'd get the yellow towels and while the trading was going on, I met up with the mom of a dear, former student.  We had so much news to catch up on, that I didn't pay attention.

I understand these sort of parties are popular with my daughter's crowd also. They call them "Naked Lady" parties because  they are primarily for trading clothing. My daughter recently attended one and came back with a pair of mustard yellow heels that she would never have bought, but that she wears all the time!

My son recently went to another kind of swap party. Its formal name is Bulk Item Pick Up. On a scheduled night, residents set out things they don't want. These items are to be picked up the next day. Saavy, frugal people drive through the streets looking for things they might use.  My son found a snow shovel to replace the one stolen recently from his brother-in-law. He found a light bulb for his dark refrigerator and a few other wierd things.
drawing out the winning clothes pins

In case you haven't heard about it, things are also traded these days via a website called The Freecycle Network at Here you can find things and give away things you don't need. Some churches in our area host something called a Free Family Flea Market where you can just stop by and take what's there.

Thanks to Janice and Wendy for a warm, friendly, practical way to spend a snowy February morning. The swap party was just another reason why I have the dearest, most fun friends in the world.

It turns out, I won the pitcher!

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