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Foster: 'eBaying'

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Accumulation, the bane of modern existence. Conspicuous consumption, downright immoral. I am over 60 and not a hoarder by any means, except for clothes and shoes, and dishes, my daughter.

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In August, I had a rummage sale. A great deal of "stuff" sold but I still kick myself, not for selling the things I sold, but for buying them in the first place. Vintage Royal Copley planters, two alike, I purchased for a song at a rummage sale in Omaha, Neb., many, many years ago. They have never held a plant of mine.

Japanese occupation cups, saucers, salt-and-pepper shakers I won at an auction. A metal file folder not ever screwed into the wall as it should have been. A vintage dresser sold for $10 less than I paid some eight years ago, worth more than $200 now but not in Dickinson. More pottery. Knickknacks. Christmas, Halloween decorations still in boxes. Fabric, fabric and more fabric I've had for years and years, but with which I haven't pinned a pattern to cloth since 1994 when writing my dissertation.

Writing a dissertation that deconstructed dialogue in women's plays should have nothing to do with pattern and fabric purchases I bought at the same time like a demented fiend. Pins, needles, even a serger, although an inexpensive demonstrator from a Singer store in Harlan, Iowa, where my mother and I sauntered in to pick out a black-covered button for my leather coat. The serger sold at the rummage sale. The coat I donated to Arcade two years ago.

That last semester between teaching four classes, writing and polishing 200 pages of my dissertation and applying for jobs, I made myself an assortment of 19 dresses, skirts, blouses and even a jacket. None of them are in my closet. All have been given away or sold a long time ago. The dresses I mailed to my sister. After the rummage sale, along with my car's trunk and backseat stuffed with boxes of items not sold, I donated a huge box of patterns to the Arcade -- unopened dress, outfit patterns, skirt patterns too small for me, some blouse patterns I truly love.

Sewing calmed me down that spring semester of 1994 and relieved the stress of writing the dissertation while teaching. I should have lifted weights at a gym.

I sewed both of my wedding dresses: the first one, white satin; the second, grey -- different patterns, different lengths; the first had a veil. Each tossed after each divorce.

I made friends' prom dresses. Emerald, black, cranberry -- luscious -- and my own. I've patched and hemmed more jeans than I care to remember, sewed costumes in college, polyester pants for my brother, dresses for my mother, clothes for my kids when they were little -- knits all the rage then.

I machine quilted four bedspreads and a table cover. My oldest son, now 45, recently discarded the one I quilted for his college dorm. He had the thread-bear rag of grey and red in back of a work truck.

The first dress I ever constructed, other than the one in home economics class, I goofed up considerably. A date with a new high school boyfriend, him picking me up that night in a '57 Chevy and marathon sewing session that resulted in an errant slip with a pinking sheers in the front panel of the skirt.

"Too much of a hurry," my aunt said. She showed me how to fix the tear so I could wear it to the Donna Reed Movie Theater in Denison, Iowa.

I have shoes I've never worn and never will, because of their 3-inch-plus height, for I totter not like Jennifer Simpson on her high heels -- I have to hold onto something in order not to fall. Most of them I bought on eBay. I've sold three of the 10 pair I don't wear. There's a pair of Chinese laundry white with a 3-inch heel brand new if you want them. This morning I listed a pink cable-knit sweater, a cranberry velveteen one, yellow snow boots -- all with tags, all purchased from eBay.

On eBay is a Korean hot pot I bought at a rummage sale for $10, now worth more than $100 but mine listed hasn't sold for $75. I've sold a dress I bought for $39 for $39. Breaking even is my style.

I've binged on Chico's necklaces on eBay and even bought a couple of rings. One of the necklaces my daughter says is ugggly. I am going to relist it and others.

Over the years, I've only returned one item to a buyer, a vintage Chico's necklace, a choker with a huge reddish pink stone in the center that unwrapped looks like a tongue with crystals in a line to the tip as if pierced.

Immediately I sent it back. I emailed the seller and wrote, "I couldn't wear it," and she emailed back, "Why?" When I told her, she wrote, "not a problem, you really made me laugh -- never thought of that but now that I look at it, it could be lol -- could have been a perfect Halloween piece (haha) who wouldn't want to wear a tongue around their neck lol."

I would never have worn that thing around my neck on Halloween or any other day, but I should have given it to a friend of mine whose Halloween baubles really rock, as she says.

The older I get, the less I want and the more I discard. I think of all the dividends my money could have earned instead of buying. So far since June I've sold more than $600 worth of items on eBay -- not bad, and some for what I paid -- and I have only put a dent into all that I want to sell.

I think the purchases of inexpensive rummage sale items and cheap jewelry from eBay have a lot to do with growing up poor and soaking my toes in poverty while raising three kids on my own. I couldn't afford big stuff, so I bought little stuff.

I should have put that money in mutual funds and stock, but not in Enron, which I had and lost a bunch. Now my retired friends are traveling to this country and that, from California to the New York island eating steak and lobster, Indian food in fine places, visiting museums, seeing vistas from mountain tops and seashores, while scenes of Paris and Holland entice me on the Travel Channel.

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