From Treasure to Trash to Treasure

After our smelly yet productive garage sale last week (read about that here), I was very proud of myself for loading all the leftover treasures into the back of my car for Goodwill and the used book store. We also filled our garbage cans with the enormously heavy metal boxes and things too piddly to give away. I only brought two things back into the house – small glass candle holders. Success!

It felt good to lighten our load and pare down. I barely even thought about the acrylic Tupperware dishes in the back of my car. Dishes which I loved but never used. Dishes that just might have a purpose which I hadn’t thought of yet. Unbreakable yet pretty dishes that my grandkids could use by the pool…

No! Be strong, Bonnie!

Anyway, the day after I posted my blog, I received a text from my daughter-in-law, Julie. I think she and Dad had a kindred spirit regarding how you never know when you’ll need something or could re-purpose it. You know where I’m going here.

Yes, that’s proof that Julie reads my blog. That makes three for three in the daughter-in-law department. I have the best daughters-in-law!

Also, by now you’ve likely guessed that she had a request – “Any chance your trashcan still holds the musty film reels? I have some ideas on how to re-purpose them (as long as they can be aired out).”

Snatched from the jaws of the garbage crusher.

I have a rapport with the trash collectors and want to keep them happy, so Bob and I divided up the heavy metal boxes between different garbage cans and only put two of them to the curb for the first pick-up day. I didn’t want anybody throwing their back out. So that meant that there was still one smelly box in our garbage.

I’m sure my dad was smiling down at me as I dug through the can to retrieve it for Julie. You win again, Dad! One more thing that didn’t quite make it to the curb!


One Man’s Treasure is Enough to Knock Me Over

The year was 1953 and my dad didn’t go to Alaska.

As you may remember, in September 2017, we quickly moved my mom and dad into our home. The decision was made on a Monday and the move took place on Friday, just two days before Hurricane Irma hit.

In our haste, we couldn’t go through everything. There wasn’t time or energy for that. My dad micromanaged the move, so that meant lots of stuff that we wanted to throw away was kept, including every slide, movie and photograph he ever took. These couldn’t be left in their home because of the threat of Irma. We’d have to go through them later.

Later came this past weekend. We joined in with the neighborhood garage sale in order to get rid of a large glass patio table and chairs. It was the perfect time. They do the advertising and we put our stuff out. I figured I might as well go through the rest of the house to clear out some things that have gone unused since we moved 3.5 years ago.

That didn’t take long and it felt good to lighten the load, but then Mom asked if I wanted to go through her closet.

Dun, dun, dun!!!

My parents have two very different philosophies of stuff. Mom is a pitcher and Dad is a keeper. Many a time he would go to the curb to retrieve something that Mom deemed useless. Mom is always ready to thin out the stuff. She’s a great example for me, but going through all that stuff…

I hadn’t really looked in there since Dad died and we sold their home. There were pictures and slides and movies. Oh my! I gathered my courage and went in. On the floor were three metal boxes. I don’t even remember seeing them before! I tried to lift one and nearly threw my back out. I scooted it and peered inside, and oh boy did it smell bad. This was a job for Bob.

Bob is great in so many ways, not the least of them being his sense of smell is not as keen as mine. But he did notice a musky odor, so he knew my super-sniffer must have been going nuts.

There were three of these things. This is the small one – it held nine movie reels. I thoughtlessly threw away the other two before taking pictures. They each held a dozen reels and probably would have been of value to a collector with a poor sense of smell.

The first label I came across said Alaska 1953. As I looked over the collection, I was surprised that Dad had not forced us kids, I mean offered for us to watch these. He was infamous for showing us stuff we didn’t want to see whenever it was time for home-movie night. Home-movie night was not limited to movies. In those days, slides were all the rage. We wanted to see pictures of ourselves when we were little and cute, and he wanted to see Hawaii, something I came to appreciate in my adult life.

Dad had hundreds of carousels of slides, but those from business trips to Hawaii were always on the top of the stack. Landscape after landscape after landscape – mostly in living black and white.

But I digress. I asked my mom, “Did Dad go to Alaska in 1953?”

“Oh, no,” she replied. “All of those movies belonged to your great Uncle Hayward. I don’t think we ever looked at them.”

Uncle Hayward died in 1978 at the age of 79, which leads me to believe those movies traveled from Arizona where they lived, to Maryland and then probably to Florida where they have been stored in their fancy, smelly humidors for over forty years. That’s right – the cans which I pitched were labeled as humidors. I don’t think they were meant to hold up for over six decades though – at least that’s what I gathered from the smell of deteriorating film and musty metal, which was akin to the smell of aged Tupperware with leftover cabbage in it.

All in all, it was a successful weekend. We sold our table so we didn’t have to figure out how to haul it away. We got rid of a lot of things from Mom’s closet and found a few gems, too. Like this pair of movie projectors, which you see Bob examining here. One is for the movies which we threw away. I think someone could make a lamp out of it and it probably has some value, which will be determined.

Notice the projector in the foreground. You do find some interesting things among your parents’ possessions.

Plus, best of all. I threw out all the slides of Hawaii and found some cute ones of me and my siblings. If I can ever figure how to digitize them, I’ll be sure to share them!



Life is One Big Learning Experience

Bob's Bag of Corks

Bob’s Bag of Corks

My recent household reorganization (see last post) led me to have a garage sale.  I learned a few things in the process:

Stuff that nobody wanted from my last garage sale has not grown in popularity.

Bob must have a secret plan for our Ziploc bag of corks.  Otherwise, why won’t he let me sell them?

I still hate doing garage sales.  They are exhausting, but I’m thankful we did one.

I also unearthed things that would be better sold on eBay.  I sat down with my laptop to begin the process and quickly became overwhelmed with the details of setting up an account.  I concluded that it is a royal pain in the neck and beyond my capabilities.  You have to give the unknown eBay folks information regarding your bank account that you wouldn’t give a priest, and I was uncomfortable with that.  Of course, I am fairly uncomfortable doing anything above word processing when it comes to the computer; so I made an appointment with my favorite IT guy (my husband).

We devoted an entire Saturday morning to figuring out the nuances of eBay.  First we had to set up a PayPal account, which troubled me.  That doesn’t even sound real; it sounded like a doll I played with as a child.  Her name was Patty Play Pal.  I became distracted.  I soon found one on eBay that I could “buy now” for only $108.  I resisted.  Then I discovered Patty had a baby sister named Bonnie.  I wondered if my mom knew of this doll with my name and if so why she didn’t buy it for me.  Trigger the childhood trauma.

Eventually, we (Bob) got our account set up.  By lunchtime I proudly posted my first sale item.  This was quite the victory for me as it involved uploading a picture, but I did it all by myself and was on my way.  Bob was very proud.  Once we were set up, I found the eBay app for iPad very friendly to use.  It has enabled me to post several things for sale easily using the camera within it.  I even sold my first item and shipped it out yesterday.  (Technically it was my dad’s item, but it counts.  Dad is excited about my new skill.)

It’s fun to see how many views and watchers I have on my sale items.  As those numbers increase, so does my hope of unloading, I mean selling, something.  That is until today, when all of a sudden all my views went negative.  I can’t figure that out.  How do you un-view something?  I wish I knew, because there are a lot of things in life I would like to un-view.  For instance, yesterday I changed my granddaughter’s diaper and it wasn’t pretty.  I did learn a lesson in the process – one you would think I would have learned by now.  Here it is:  Never change a poopy diaper on a patterned rug.  So, I guess viewing something that isn’t pretty has its advantages.  It’s easier than cleaning off your shoe.

Fading Photographs

In case you’ve wondered what I’ve been up to (instead of keeping up with my blog), here’s a partial answer. I have been inspired (once again) to reorganize my house. My inspiration this time came in the form of my son and his wife moving temporarily to Paris. He has been awarded a fellowship to study there for the next four months. They have pared down their belongings, which have been split between a 5 x 8 storage facility and our guest room. I happily cleaned out most of the closets in our house to shift things around and make room.

Shaq Attack

Shaq Attack

Of course, this unearthed many things and prompted me to have a garage sale, something I have repeatedly sworn I would never do again. But I often lie to myself and it will be worth the work if I make a few bucks from things that only take up room behind closed closet doors. For example, I have a Shaq action figure that belonged to one of my sons. I don’t know why I am attached to it, but I am. It might be harder for me to get rid of Shaq than it was for him to leave Orlando.  I made myself put a price tag on it, but it didn’t sell.  So, I’m stuck with it. The sad part is I’m glad, but I am mildly tormented by having it back in my closet.

And then there are the birth samplers. Nothing highlights the difference between sons and daughters like the dilemma of what to do with their birth samplers. In case you don’t know, a sampler is a piece of embroidery worked in various stitches, typically containing the alphabet or words and mottoes. Bob’s mom stitched birth samplers for all of our kids. These hung proudly in their nursery, depicting all the stats of the child’s birth.

By the time our kids were in middle school, the samplers were stuck in a closet. Now that I’m in clean-out mode again, I find myself in a quandary over them. My daughter was easy. She took hers and it now abides in one of her closets.

It wasn’t so easy with my three sons. I sent an email to them asking if they would like to have their sampler to cherish in their own closet.

Son #1, “That’s the kind of thing moms keep forever.”

Wife of Son #2, “My mom gave me mine. It’s in my closet. I’ll put his with it.”

Son #3, “You can throw mine away.”

Me, “It’s about your birth. Your grandmother made it. I can’t throw it away. I’m having trouble throwing out an action figure of Shaq. Do you really think I could pitch this in the garbage?”

Son #3, “It won’t change anything. We’ll still be here. It’s not like Back to the Future where Marty’s photo of his family faded.”

Me, “I know. It just feels that way.”

So I guess Son #1 is right. It is the kind of thing moms keep forever. Some day my daughter will open my closet, find her brothers’ birth samplers, and throw them away. Thanks, Dena.