The thing about living in a sparsely populated county full of hard-working folks is that every church in the county runs a thrift store but many more people want to get rid of stuff than want to buy stuff.
And a lot of folks want to get rid of big, battered, broken, torn, stained stuff; stuff that should go to the dump. But it costs to use the dump. And folks here don’t have extra income or time.
Over a year ago the local Salvation Army drop off center closed up shop. It wasn’t a store, just a place to take stuff. But they wouldn’t take big, battered, broken, torn, stained, stuff that should be taken to the dump. (But it costs to use the dump.) So folks would quietly dump that broken, stained stuff in the dead of night by the closed gates of the Salvation Army drop off center.
The Salvation Army got tired of losing money paying the fees to trash it all. So they closed up the drop off center and that was the end of the only donation center with out-of-county connections to sell the stuff.
Within a week of the Salvation Army drop off center closing, every thrift shop in the county was overflowing but with no new customers. They wouldn’t take another stick or stitch.
Anyway. To cap off clearing the Giant Bookshelf, my husband and I also cleared closets of all that stuff we didn’t like or didn’t need anymore. Two, thirty-gallon trash bags full of professional quality clothing from two young folks’ long-ago careers. I tried twice to give it to the biggest of the area thrift shops. But even now, a year after the Salvation Army closed, they simply wouldn’t take my contributions.
What to do….
Twice a week I work over on the big city side of the valley. Yup. I found a sweet big thrift store that draws clientele from three urban centers. Our two bags of stuff disappeared…
Would you just LOOK at this room! I’m standing in the rear corner looking diagonally toward the door and would you just LOOK at that acreage of clear, freshly vacuumed carpet! After eight days of shoving stuff into boxes, shoving boxes out of sight into storage, and running the trash to the dump, this room finally spells (to misquote an old ad) POSSIBILITIES.
On the left side of the photo is the giant media shelf I cleared down to the bare shelves for the first time in…. Ever. It was so stuffed and covered with jumbles buried behind other jumbles when my then-new husband moved me into our California home that I couldn’t actually see it.
Here it was a week ago, after I’d finally gotten almost everything out from in front of it and about half the stuff off it. A lot of what you can see are piles of old calendars, ancient old school books, old worksheet duplicates and an entire shelf of crumbling piano music. My husband’s deceased first wife was a school teacher and an accomplished pianist.
At this stage the shelf is a temporary staging area for, on the bottom right, the unsorted piano music; on the lowest two left, the useless school texts; on the wide shelf, the books my husband wanted to keep; and on the top, about seven bottles of fuel for a propane camp stove, two bottles of candle lamp oil and a box of household wax all of which had been buried for decades…
Then we took all the textbooks to the dump. I moved my husband’s keepsake books to other shelving. The fuels got properly stores and I boxed up and hid the music in storage.
At this point I declared, “I cleared it! I claim it.”
Do you think I’ve got enough onto the shelves to stake my initial claim?
This morning, before the heat of the day set in, we marked the end of my eight day intersession effort to clear out our lower level and the beginning of my husband’s ongoing effort to straighten up the garage, by making our second and final dump run of 2017. Tomorrow I’ll be back in the classroom.
From my eight days of work to clear out the lower level, I amassed…
Seven canvas totes full of thirty years out-of-date middle school science, social studies, and math texts — libraries and resale shops won’t take out of print textbooks —
and five trash bags filled with equally ancient newspaper clippings, magazines and a ream or two of related classroom worksheet duplicates.
From my husband’s garage-clearing efforts, he culled…
Two busted drying racks
Uncounted ratty plastic buckets and containers
A pile of filthy mats, rugs, pads
And a sizable array of rusty, broken yard tools.
And that’s it for our 2017 allotment of “get into the dump free” vouchers.
We drove friends and a few dozen books for a birthday celebration trip to Modesto, CA.
As we have done before, we offered the books for credit at Yesterday’s Books and were rewarded by several of them being taken in exchange for a $48 store voucher.
So each of us got to pick out a new book we wanted.
For our household the net gains were: twenty books gone from the house, welcomed birthday presents for our friends, fun for all and $15 remaining on our credit account.
And something new happened this time. Five of the books returned to us bore a note, “Try again.”
Yesterday’s Books knows it can sell them but has too many copies on hand just now. Ahhhhh yes. We’ll shoulder the warehousing. We’ll bring them back the next time we’re out Modesto way.
The featured picture is of the left over books I donated to the public library this afternoon.
Attention please. I’ve cleared the bed. I’ve emptied the giant bookshelf. The carpet is visible from east to west.
Friends came over today and fell in love with half the stuff in my Rummage Sale pile. It went home with them.
The boxes full of my husband’s jumbled trash and memories are hidden in storage….
The theory and sometimes the practice is that my husband can approach one box at a time without overwhelm.
If he doesn’t have to look at all the chaos at once, he says he will pull one box from storage every week or so to sort it and throw out most of the contents.
Here is the first box he’s pulled. And he’s sorting that new stash of National Geographic magazines to collate with the old one.
Meanwhile I have living space to spread out my bigger projects.
It started like this:
For a couple of hours I pulled out this much recyclable paper… And forty more National Geographic magazines…
(Two boxes of sewing supplies, a half a dozen containers of various machine fluids, some usable office supplies, More Paperclips, picture calendars dating back thirty years…)
I unearthed coloring books, flags, matting boards, a set of Starbucks tea cups, “collectible” Christmas ornaments, a box of raisins, a flower pot, five U.S. and one Israeli classroom decoration flags, three sets of paper place mats… all (except the raisins) for the community rummage sale.
There are a couple dozen thirty year old elementary school texts which will have to be dumped, a dozen do-it-yourself craft books the library will take, and a stack of worn, yet beautiful old English lit books that were my husband’s mother’s. The Shakespeare anthology feels like a brick of gold; the words waft the fragrance of memory.
I conked out before I cleared to the lowest shelf.
Tomorrow is another day.
Today my husband loaded those broken down cardboard boxes into the back of the Jeep Patriot and I delivered them to the enormous dumpsters at the recycling center.
After I returned home, we filled the back of the Patriot with broken flower pots, a cracked fifty gallon plastic drum, a sack filled with broken down looseleaf binders and a smattering of styrofoam peanuts, old plastic tubs, a broken set of wind chimes, a broken lamp, a broken tea table and… the gigantic business sign from the remedial reading center, a valiant business effort my husband’s deceased first wife attempted years ago. We took it all to the dump.
I was exhausted and fell asleep almost as soon as we got home.
A young friend, forced into shoveling clutter at a tremendous rate in order to move house on short notice, texted us to touch base.
We sent virtual hugs.
Then I texted back:
“When Anger grows stronger than Fatigue, STOP.”
She promised she and her husband would do just that.
Tomorrow I will clear and sort stuff from that last shelf…