Sunday, October 25, 2009

Once Upon An eBay

Once upon a time a young girl was wed. She received many gifts, but none satisfied her heart as much as the beautiful calla lily vase, not even originally purposed for her. Alas, as careful as she was she didn't see the evil witch, and with a single wave of her pointed finger the powerful sorceress smashed the girl's lovely vase. Heartbroken, the young girl vowed to fix the vase, but it seemed hopeless until... eBay.

Perhaps you think the story above must be part of a child's fairy tale, but I promise it is nothing short of the truth! Read, and judge for yourself.

I was married in 1997. Among the many generous gifts given to me and my husband was a Lenox Woodland vase. I will apologize now if this happens to be the starring piece in your collection, but it looked like a head of Romaine lettuce to me. I was genuinely disappointed because I thought it very sophisticated to have my own Lenox vase. After all, Lenox is something you have when you are an adult! But this vase was... ugly. I reluctantly took it back to Macy's, thinking perhaps I could exchange it for more of my dishes, but when I walked into the store I saw the most beautiful vase sitting alone on a small table. The calla lily vase was on sale, marked down because it was discontinued. I couldn't believe my eyes! The charming sculpture was especially touching to me because the calla lily was our wedding's theme, playing a role in our invitations, cake server, and the champaign flutes we gave to each of our guests. It remains my favorite flower. Needless to say, I lost no time exchanging my small, porcelain head of lettuce for the last of my calla lily vases Macy's would ever carry.

I spent the next few years displaying my vase with pride. One day, after a display of flowers had faded, I sat the vase on my counter next to my sink. I needed to wash it, but before I could get to it Hannah, only a small child at the time, was hungry for bananas. Taking a banana from its bunch I began to tug, noting to myself the precarious position my elbow held with the vase. The bananas, not quite ripe, were refusing to give up their most prized member. Determined to outwit the yellow fruit I gave it one last strong yank, releasing it from its bunch while simultaneously watching in slow-motion horror as my elbow made contact with the vase. It fell neatly onto its side and immediately broke on the tile counter.

I literally cried.

I was sick with myself for being so prideful. Had I simply heeded that small voice of caution, and placed the vase safely away from my elbow it would not have broken. I gently carried the pieces to my table, determined to salvage what I could. Using a tube of glue, patience, and a few more tears I managed to piece the vase back together enough for display - though it certainly was no longer water tight. Later that night I thought about checking into replacing the vase altogether, but the vase's discontinued state made it impossible to find on any website.

Over the following years I kept the vase for show, saddened each time I received a bouquet and was unable to use it properly. I didn't realize that as the years passed the glue I used for the original repair was slowly drying out, losing its bond, until one fateful day, about 3 year ago, my eldest daughter inadvertently knocked it over and the vase re-broke along the original break lines. Once again my beautiful vase was lying in pieces. I had continued checking websites, replacement catalogs, and even eBay in an attempt to find my vase but never saw anything even remotely like it. I couldn't even find the official Lenox name for the design! But I thought I might be in better shape to repair the vase this time, as I had recently learned of a woman who did museum quality repair work on ceramics. She was an artist herself, and owned a small studio with her own kiln. The vase's shards fit perfectly together, creating nearly invisible seams. I just knew that in the hands of a professional my vase could finally come back to life!

Boy, was I wrong.

I was almost as disappointed with her repair as when the vase was originally broken. The workmanship was shoddy, and while the inside looked neater than when I had glued it the outside carried long jagged scars. I could no longer hide its brokenness. However, I remained unwilling to get rid of it. I loyally placed it back in the center of my shelf, and grew more determined to someday find a thoroughly acceptable solution.

Last week I unpacked the final box from moving over a year ago, and wrapped with lovingkindness inside was my calla lily vase. We don't have a single display cabinet in our new house, having lost several hundred square feet of living space in the move. So, I placed it in a seat of honor among my other breakables tucked carefully in an upper cabinet. In the process I reassessed the damage done by the restoration artist. It got me thinking, again, about my desire to see the vase fully restored but it also reminded me that nearly 10 years of searching had not even produced a specific title.

And then came today.

Relaxing on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the idea suddenly caught me to check out eBay. I occasionally like to see what auctions might be of interest. For instance Josiah, our ever wayward child, is slowly destroying all my wonderful Richard Scarry circa 1970 books. The new ones just aren't the same, having yielded to political correctness. After discovering a boxed set of my four favorites I was about to call it a day when I typed, as I have at least 3000 times before:

Lenox calla lily vase

The screen blanked as the results were being pulled. I knew what I would see once the page refreshed - 0 results with exact matches. There would also be the 72 results containing, "calla lily" in the description, which I would scroll through just to make sure someone hadn't inadvertently listed the vase without the manufacturer's name. It was always the same...

And then the screen blazed back with a single match showing. Immediately next to the title was a thumbnail picture of my vase. My vase! I froze, and simply stared at those beautiful pixels. Once my shock was overcome I could hardly get to the listing fast enough. I scanned the listing, noting the price (acceptable - even reasonable), condition (new in the box), shipping charges (appropriate), seller's rating (great), auction time (1 day left of a 14 day list), number of bids... number of bids? I stopped. There were no bids. The auction was listed as a, "Buy Now" or bid sale. I practically shouted to Christopher, sitting a mere 7 feet away from me, "Can you believe this?" I clicked, "Buy Now," hurriedly finished the transaction, and practically hyperventilated waiting for my confirmation email to arrive!

UPS better drive fast.


  1. So many reasons to love Ebay!!! I have been overjoyed many times when I have made purchases on Ebay. My latest conquest is an Earobics CD ROM for Hannah that I stole away in the last 30 seconds last night. Love it!!!

  2. Anonymous4:14 PM

    That's a great story Trish.....
    Can't wait to see the vase in it's full glory.

  3. YEAH! I love this story...I am happy for your happy ending!!!
    It reminds me of us...cautioned by the spirit we inadvertently get "broken" in this life...a choice here or there leaves us...less than new. But the Lord in His infinite wisdom can restore all things...even make us NEW (like your new in box vase)...through his infinite Atonement. Awesome Trisha, just awesome. I am sure that the Lord had a little something to do with you recovering this after long patience and suffering. I am sure He knew the joy this would bring you. ENJOY. Can't wait to see a picture with your first bouquet of flowers once it arrives :)

  4. HOORAY! I love Ebay! I can only hope that people see my auctions and react the same way- before I move across the planet!

  5. Christine, you are EXACTLY right! Thanks so much for sharing the deeper truth.

    Tara, look on the bright side - you are minus one rocking recliner. *wink*