As I was driving through the snow-filled scenery last week, I caught a glimpse of something amazing. Was that truly what I thought it was? Could it possibly be?
I turned my head to make sure. Yes, it was a sign for an upcoming garage sale.
Wishful thinking? No. Spring was finally arriving.
Maybe it’s just the new Daylight Saving Time thing that’s got me encouraged. I love that it’s still light out at seven p.m.
It’s becoming obvious winter is going away, but a bit too slowly. One day, I actually caught a bit of green on the lawn outside my kitchen window, before we were hit with a late-season snowstorm.
The poor birds, back from wherever they go for the winter, seemed as confused as I was. Still, they’re hanging on, knowing warm weather and worms will soon be here.
Yes, things are promising. Note the following sure signs of spring:
- The Easter Bunny has arrived at the mall.
- Regis and Kelly are on spring hiatus.
- You can buy Peeps (in a wonderful assortment of colors!) at the supermarket.
- It's almost tax day.
- I saw a bug in my bathroom.
- Some of my neighbors have come out of hibernation.
- "Dancing with the Stars" has started again.
A garage sale in Baldwin Lake Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25, is bound to draw the curious. They may not necessarily be looking for a bargain, but they’ll be looking for clues to a bizarre story that unfolded there in the summer of 2002.
The garage sale of sorts is at property on Pigeon Road off Baldwin Lake Road. The garage sits on property belonging to the Natural Heritage Foundation now under the guise of Wild Haven Ranch. The garage is where Christian Lindblad and his girlfriend, Tina Stebbins, lived. It’s where he shot her and held her hostage for several days while Christian and his parents tended to her life-threatening wounds with soap, water and gauze.
No house sits on the property, just a two-story garage that has been taken over by critters. When the paramedics took Stebbins to the hospital and the sheriff’s department arrested the Lindblads in July 2002, the garage was closed and left to the elements. Some office equipment has been shoved inside, and it appears that items have been shoved and stacked haphazardly to make room for the office equipment. But little else has been touched.
In the upstairs make-shift apartment once occupied by Stebbins, Lindblad and their children, food remains in the tiny kitchen cupboards, clothes hang in a makeshift closet and in the kids’ room, blankets and toys are scattered as if the children hopped out of bed that morning and would return at sundown. It might have been home at one time. Now the cubicle is a refuge for mouse droppings, dust, dirt and junk.
Outside isn’t much different. Abandoned cars, campers, toys and a swing set, scrap metal, fencing, pipes and old ski lift towers litter the property. A bunker that’s waiting to be opened is barely visible under a collapsed shed and junk piled around it. What was once a beautiful piece of property with an extraordinary view has lost its luster.
Molded plastic varieties displace rusty sets of yore
Like many parents in her suburban Long Island neighborhood, Patty Tilkin is a veteran buyer of backyard toys. She’s shopped for climbers and slides, seesaws and wagons, child-sized castles and plastic log cabins.
“We’ve had a million things,” she says, “even one of those little railroad tracks with the train that’s battery-powered.”
And yet Tilkin has spent surprisingly little money transforming her yard into a play space for her 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. With so many affordable, durable products now on the market, the challenge for parents isn’t tracking down the right toy. It’s deciding which among many to buy.
The molded plastic pieces made by companies such as Little Tikes and The Step2 Co. are easy to assemble and require little or no maintenance. Forget the cumbersome metal swing sets of your childhood, the ones that came with six dozen nuts and bolts for your father to assemble and that were rusty within a year.
Today’s plastic climbers snap together easily and begin at about $100. Slides and teeter-totters run as little as $39.99. And for parents who consider brightly colored outdoor toys an eyesore, these products are available in shades such as tan and dark green, too.
As a result, sales of outdoor toys are growing, says Dotti Foltz, director of marketing communications for Step2. “Parents, if they have the luxury of having a backyard, really like the idea of making it a kid-friendly area,” she says.
Tight finances, empty nests and quality-of-life changes are reasons that 10 percent of baby boomers will buy some form of real estate this year, the National Association of Realtors reports.
For many, that translates into downsizing their lives so they move into new digs with less clutter.
The difficult task may be approached with dread or even depression. But some who have downsized describe it differently:
"Extremely liberating," says Sally Heiser, 63. Heiser moved from a four-bedroom house to a mobile home in 1998.
Moving from the home that her parents built in 1936 was not as heart wrenching as Heiser expected.
"To this day I haven't shed a tear," she says.
Heiser, of Mesa, Ariz., believes it's because she focused on what she was moving to — a relationship with grandkids living in the same state — instead of what she was moving from.