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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

Nothing Like a Good Garage Sale

July 28, 2008

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Had my feet in a tub of hot water for a good part of it, soaking the Charlies out of my arches. Nothing in the world like putting on a garage sale to wear your body down to pretty near nothing. And to make matters more interesting, it was way the heck over at my mother's in Owatonna, so throw in a good stretch of driving and some road construction and Lumberjack Days over in Stillwater and you've got yourself one long day.

When I arrived at 7 a.m. I dug in right away, labeling my mother's stuff while she arranged it on card tables and picnic tables she'd borrowed from neighbors and covered with white plastic sheets. Since garage sale crowds usually get going early, she took in money, too, and stuck the little price stickers on a piece of card board. There was a big wide column labeled "Mom" and a crappy little corner with "Sweetie" written on it. I'd only had time to gather up a box or two of things to contribute to the sale, including a few books the kids have assured me they've outgrown (among them The Sex Book for Ages 9-12), a vase no one likes (the chicken motif was voted down a long time ago), and some scuba equipment Mr. Sundberg has asked that I include in the sale. I did bake six mini-loaves of carrot cake to sell, too, but ate three of them while driving through the road construction on the way and thought showing up with only three loaves to sell would be odd so when I got there I gave them to my mother. "Brought you a snack," I said.

"Sweetie," she asked, "would you mind labeling these for me? Your father will never use them." It was a box of golf balls I'd given him a few years back when he was in his golf phase. There was a croquet set, and a box of Christmas ornaments, and a good number of mirrors and picture frames and knick knacky trinkets and statues. And there was a rather large box of new white aprons, unmarked, which I labeled, "Your Choice, Fifty Cents Each." "Oh, Sweetie," my mother said. "Those aprons came from Ireland. I can't just give them away." "Look, Mom," I said, "Isn't the idea here to sell things? These aprons are not family heirlooms. They're cheap-o ba deep-o and whose gonna pay more than fifty cents?" Well, then there was this silence and she went into the house and the screen door slammed behind her. I obviously hurt her feelings so I had to go in after her and fix all that but I couldn't because there was a big ol' rush of customers and wouldn't you know one of 'em bought the entire box of aprons and didn't want to mess around with counting so she just gave me a twenty. For which transaction my mother happened to come back in time, and of which my mother spoke not a word.

When things settled down, I asked if she would like some lemonade. "Well, I guess that would be fine," she replied. "I'm sorry I upset you," I told her. "I'm not upset," she said. "Not anymore." I went inside and poured a glass of lemonade, and sliced up a little loaf of carrot cake on a little plate and took it out to the garage and handed it to her. "That chicken vase of yours just sold," she said. "That was one godawful vase." She took a few bites of carrot cake, examined it from a few angles, and nodded. She seemed pleased. Then she looked way off in the distance. "Do you realize you are the only person who really listens to me?" she asked. "Never really thought about that until that whole apron thing, when you weren't listening to me. Hit me like a brick. Without you to listen, not sure where I'd be."

Nothing like a good garage sale every now and then. Good to let go of things.

This is a recipe handed down from way back when cream cheese was a new thing. It's become a staple at family gatherings. Double it just to be sure.

Party Dip

8 oz. cream cheese

1 T grated onion

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

A bit of ketchup to pinken it up

Serve with potato chips. Mmm.

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