Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Antiques Fairy Stopped By Yesterday, and . . .

, as is her habit, granted me a surprise. She's my imaginary friend - yes, adults can have imaginary friends! - and once in a while pays me a visit. She's been known to leave me wonderful gifts, sometimes even a special event. Usually they are quite positive and uplifting, but then sometimes, she's in a funk and leaves me with something I wish she hadn't thought of.

Yesterday was one of those "wish-she-hadn't-thought-of" days.

Old Blue, my work van of long-standing, was in the shop for regular maintenance. When I went to pick her up, my favorite mechanic came out with his "bad news" face to talk with me, and clearly the Antiques Fairy had paid him a visit too.

Old Blue has been with me for ten years, and has been my faithful road companion. But my mechanic told me that Old Blue needed almost-emergency surgery - her transmission was failing, and she might not make the upcoming 1000 mile trip I thought I was planning in a few days. Transmission failure was imminent, and could happen at any moment.

So for now, Old Blue is resting in my driveway, patiently awaiting for her new transmission to arrive. Her transplant is scheduled for Tuesday, and my trip to Maine is postponed for a week.

It's not the worst news - after all, she is fixable, and I'm not ready to give up on her yet. And Old Blue is a tough old gal - she's a diesel, one-ton heavy-duty van, and has handled worse than this. Last year she received a heart transplant - a new engine - and after a bit of fine-tuning, was back to her old self. (The Antiques Fairy does seem to be paying a bit too much attention to Old Blue this past year.)

But Old Blue is ready to spring back, and I'm not inclined to replace her. Sure, there's lots of vans out there that could probably do the job, but Old Blue has been my refuge-on-the-road, a little traveling apartment of good music, good food (you'd be amazed what one can carry in a cooler!), and lots of laughter for me as I travel with family and friends across the country.

Last year I learned how truly solid she is. Old Blue has a custom, queen-sized bed which I occasionally use when on over-night trips. Sometimes, when I'm exhibiting at outdoor shows, I'll even spend a few nights in Old Blue. A year ago, I was participating in some of the Texas Antiques Week shows, and stayed in Old Blue for a few days. One night, dreadful storms blew across the area during the middle of the night. The winds approached 60 miles per hour, and during the night show tents blew down, huge furniture fell over, and heavy rains assaulted all the exhibitors' merchandise, leaving the show areas a chaotic - and expensive - mess. Many of us lost a lot of money in those blowing hours of downpour.

But Old Blue held her ground, and in those torrential storms never budged an inch. I stayed safely inside Old Blue and watched the weather reports on my little television, cell phone at hand in case something really bad happened.
Old Blue hardly swayed with the high winds, while outside my van I could see in the darkness several nearby tents blowing down. I could hear glass crashing and breaking, and the heavy thud of furniture tipping over into the mud.

Old Blue held tight. I have to admit I was quite amazed to be so safe and secure, and felt that I was actually as well-protected as if I had been in a hotel. Guess I am a bit partial to Old Blue - she's been a great travel companion all these years . . .

As for the Antiques Fairy, well, I suppose she can't be all good-tidings-and-joy. (What fun would that be?) She has a bit of the devil in her, so I do recognize her need for the downside of life. But, she regularly brings me fabulous antiques acquisitions unexpectedly - beautiful antiques at wondrously fair prices. Many times my customers benefit because of this high-spirited Antiques Fairy; she has led me to things special and reasonably priced, and has given me great joy in my antiques hunts.

My philosophy is to pass on the antiques goodies to my customers who know me to be fair and honest. They appreciate quality antiques, and if I share the good fortunes the Antiques Fairy brings, it will only come back to me somehow, someway at a later time. You know - that "what goes around, comes around" theory . . .

So - in her own way - this time around the Antiques Fairy is doing the right thing. She's giving Old Blue a rest and recuperation break, and is probably preventing me from a serious breakdown on the road during my upcoming trip. It's a surprise I wasn't counting on, but I'm a flexible person, and can swing with those unexpected things that come along when life just happens. My trip is temporarily postponed, but Old Blue will be feeling much better, ready to go to work again.

Besides - now I have a few extra days to stock up on some new music, and some even-better road snacks (antique-ing is hard work - for an antiques dealer, good food and good music are road-requirements!!). It won't be much longer, and I'll be in my beloved Maine, on the hunt again and roaming the backroads with a much happier Old Blue.

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