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On the lone prairie, getting the look just right

C'est Le Vie

 


Previously, this column wandered along a trail on the lone prairie, searching for the new decorating sensation, the Prairie Look, including a drive by the wheat fields bordering highway 2 between Grand Coulee and Airway Heights. No prairie schooners were sighted, except for the old buckboard wagon situated on the main street of Wilbur.

Somehow that wagon with the geese riding high on the seat didn’t cut the mustard for getting the Prairie Look on. However, there was a modern-day prairie schooner sighting in Coulee Dam this past Saturday afternoon; a 1970s pickup with a matching canopy in a faded red color passed me by. What caught my eye was its front bumper, a half-round log, complete with bark, replacing the vehicle’s metal bumper. Now, was that a make-shift prairie schooner or what?

We might get in the Prairie Look mood if we dressed the part for a day or two. Let’s see now, to get the prairie garb look, we can buy or borrow leather, lace-up boots; cotton floor-length dresses, wearing another skirt or two underneath instead of petticoats; and a big hat of some sort — or we could forget the girlie clothes and borrow a man’s long-sleeved shirt and big, bib overalls to complete the look. Best to skip dressing up unless it’s Halloween!

We’re way beyond wearing those uncomfortable getups, but if you take a gander at a few decorating mags or watch TV shows, you’ll see that vintage clothing, from shoes to hats, are always in style, especially hand-made children’s clothes, plus rag dolls and quilts.

So, let’s go for the Prairie Look, using what we can find around our own homes, first, and shopping on-the-cheap for vintage or faux-vintage items at yard and estate sales, and also, by looking for finds in thrift shops that abound in the towns and cities not too far from the Coulee. Ready to roll?

Get started, outside first, with a simple board wall unit for hanging plants or rusty things: find a couple of old boards, almost any flat board will do because you can saw it to size, clean it up and paint is with white or a neutral prairie color, then wipe most of the paint off to give it that old patina, and hammer a few, preferably rusty, nails in the front, for hangers. Add your decorations, lean it up against a stationary wall (your house or an out building) and admire your handiwork. By-the-by, if you are artistic you could paint on an 1800s phrase, saying, or song title, near the top and/or bottom, or stencil on a design.

Here’s a great outdoors decoration, seen on the side of a home off highway 155 in the town of Elmer City: a huge circular design (visible from the road) made of rusty barbed wire, twisted perfectly into a round orb or cyclone.

If you didn’t hit the Coulee Yard Sale Circuit last weekend, you missed out on a downriver (Elmer City) yearly event, as good as it gets. Buyers were on site early, an hour before the advertised 8 a.m. start, with a shopper’s gleam in their eyes and a chunk of change to spend. Evelyn and Karen pulled out all the stops, with all kinds of stuff for the home front, a great selection of ladies’ jewelry, and homegrown plants. By 10 a.m. three waves had been there, snapping up the bargains and going home with their happy faces on. FYI: Waves are shopper stampedes in yard sale lingo.

Don’t lose that Prairie Look thought. More on that later. Let’s end on this: Saturday, June 14, is Flag Day so if you’ve got one, hang it out. Here’s my flag story. A few years ago, at yet another yard sale, I found a brand new flag, folded up and still in its original box, imprinted with Made in America, 1970. The flyer included in the box said the flag had flown over the White House, so it was one of the flags, hundreds in a work day, that was run up a pole at the capital for the purpose of selling to the public. I paid a few bucks for that flag. It’s still my number one yard sale find.

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