Saturday, January 19, 2013

Junk Warrior Without Her Weapons

You've heard the sage advice that even a young boy or girl in scouts learns: Be prepared. 

I should pay attention to the sages and the scouts. While out garage sale-ing, where I hauled in $9 worth of fabulousness plus a 75 cent glazed donut, I spotted a junk pile in front of a house for sale.

Cue the brakes.

After jumping out and picking through this pile for a bit, I realized I should get a photo. I had already removed some of the rope trim on these cabinets at this point. It came off pretty easily with my bare hands.

The first thing I had noticed when I got out of the car that I knew I had to have was this:

Not the pencil sharpener housing, I found that as I continued digging. The first thing I saw was this vacuum hose with the springs sticking out and the big ole metal housing. Snagged it! I sensed a need to hurry and grab it before anyone else came by and spotted it. As if. Ha! Still, that's how the mind of a picker thinks, especially after missing a very old Bingo game by about 30 seconds at an earlier garage sale. I was still licking my wounds over that and feeling that "hurry, hurry" manic feeling inside as if someone might also get to the next treasure before me.

I know some of you junk lovers are picturing lamps or wreaths made out of the springs or some sort of photo holder. If you have any other ideas, let me know. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but I knew I couldn't let that go. Won't see anything like that again for a while. At least I don't think so. One never knows though, does one?

Then I was eyeing those metal casters on the huge wood cabinets. I wanted 'em something fierce. Now, granted, I can pick a trash heap with glee, and I rummage through piles all the time. However, I do try to be quick because there is always that erie sense that people are watching. That I'm making a spectacle of myself. Not just to the people driving by, but the ones across the street and next door who have a front row seat from their living room window of my every awkward move. I try not to do anything to land myself on some news story about "the crazy lady who got swallowed by a pile of junk" and I try to keep an eye out to make sure danger isn't lurking about while I have my head stuffed inside a huge cabinet door as I try to reach some unknown metal thingy way back there. I also keep an eye out for snakes and nails and other pitfalls as well as avoid flashing anyone an errant plumber's crack. 

It's hard to pay attention to your surroundings when you're climbing over stained carpet, lifting up boards with rusty nails, throwing someone's old papers and the junk from their drawers in your back seat along with the roach poop that falls out, picking concrete frogs from the trash can, and deciding if you want to bother undoing all the wood knobs on the cabinets.

I did manage to look around now and again. Numerous people drove by slowly for the sheer entertainment value of watching a woman, post 50 years, with no pride, picking shamelessly. This house was on the corner of a busy street too, so plenty of traffic went by. I saw one woman my age drive by and give me a big smile as if to say "you go girl!", but then again, she might have been overcome with the giggles at what I fool I appeared to be. Funniest thing she'd seen all week most likely.

But never did I mind. This was turning out to be a gold mine. So after grabbing all the surprising things that were lying here and there amongst the wood and stuff that I never would have seen from a drive-by, I thought I should run home for a screwdriver because I had to get those casters. Then I remembered that I put one in the glove compartment for just such an occasion. A junk warrior should never be without their weapons. Unfortunately all I could find was a philips head, and these casters were attached with both flat and philips screws. Dang! So I just went ahead and pulled a few more things out of those cabinet drawers. There was a long brass hinge and a huge drill bit of some kind in one of them. I noticed that what the casters were attached to was just a strip of wood nailed to the base of the cabinet. Ah, ha! I could pry the wood off. So improvising with the junk I found in the drawer, I pried and pounded and pulled and got one cabinet's worth off, and boy was I proud and happy with my junk warrior mentality. Fighting my way through and getting the goods.

This silver tray was a very inexpensive garage sale find. The brass hinge and the big drill bit or whatever it is are the tools I conscripted from the drawer as my junk weapons. The knobs are just a couple of all that I got off of the wood cabinets.

About that time, a woman who appeared to be on something came meandering up, and was slowly moving very close to my car where the doors were open, purse and camera were on the seat and where keys were in the ignition. I took that as my cue to call it a pick and exit the vicinity.

I got home and before I unloaded here's what my back seat looked like:

The lanterns were a $3 garage sale purchase. They came with the black hook that goes into the dirt and can hang one of the lanterns. They are rusty and beautiful! I could not believe I got both of them and the hook for $3.

The box with the rope and the two long strands of white twinkle lights were last week's garage sale purchase for $1.50. From today's trash pile I had snagged a bunch of framed awards from the 60's and 80's and some old letters with cool stamps. I threw the broken glass away. I should have gotten a picture of the seals on those first. They were all dated from back in the 50's and 60's. I got some other roached out paper items and a little booklet too.

Another shot after I pulled the stuff from the car. See my metal casters still on the wood? Score. Metal, glorious metal. And how about them concrete frogs! I never knew I could love frogs, but I am enamored by these.

Here they are closer. They appear to be pledging their undying love. How about those two thermoses? One of them was broken inside and is missing the part that screws on. I had to search for all the parts in the pile and couldn't find that. The thermoses weren't put together. I started to dump out the glass from the inside of the red one when I got home, but it was so pretty as it fell into the trash can, I thought maybe I could make glitter out of it. Really, Liz? Is this necessary? I guess so. So I stopped dumping it out (It wasn't coming out easily). I'm gonna see what I can do with that broken glass.

Behind the thermoses is some of the paper stuff I found. I snagged the blue book on the top because I thought it might be a ledger or a photo album. Turns out it's a scrap book and when I opened it and saw the first pages, I wanted to cry. Why was this in a trash heap? Why did some family member not keep and treasure this? I'll show you that next time. It was a young woman's memory book and was full of news clippings and some other things I'll share later. What a treasure. There were also tons of Knights of Columbus awards her husband had gotten.

These were from the first sale I stopped at. Five fluffy new white towels for $1 each. I needed these. What a find!

Now, you may think my longwinded tale of the junk pile is through, but you would be oh, so wrong. If you have read my blog before, you may remember my penchant for returning to the scene of a junkfest more than once. Upon my return home, I could not get out of my head that I had left the pile before it had been adequately picked. There was still that other cabinet with 4 more metal casters. How could I leave them there? Those babies are valuable to me and expensive to purchase. I wanted them. I also wanted to see if there was any more paper stuff in there with more cool memories of the woman who's belongings I had found. I hadn't delved completely into the pile. There were plastic bags I hadn't opened and there was a fake Christmas tree in a box. There could be more goodies hidden in the depths.

So yes, I went back. But the whole time I was driving, I vowed that this would not be a Thrice Picked Pile as has occurred before (HERE). I reminded myself there was no need for such imprudence. I should get the job done in two trips this time and get home (because Heaven knows all this junk has to be cleaned too - ugh!). So I pulled up and no one was there. Whew! I had visions of someone else having come to finish the job. So I jumped out with the weapons of junk warfare at the ready. I had brought along a hammer, a flat head screwdriver and a big metal file for prying. (I hadn't been able to find my mini crowbar quickly.)

Picker's Confidentiality

Unfortunately, the other cabinet was poorly placed, and I could not reach one of the sets of casters without climbing a possibly unsafe part of the pile. The other set was attached underneath the weight of the whole thing and it was heavy. Dang. Just then a woman came up who had been walking down the street and asked it I wanted some help. First she told me that this house was for sale because the 94 year old woman who lived there had died. She also told me that she, herself, was 59, but stronger than she looked and that she could help me if I needed to move things or look for things. I was a little leary. I really don't like people I don't know in my picking space. You never about people. But she seemed harmless and she told me many things while we rummaged, most of which I will not divulge (her gynecological history among other things). Some things should remain confidential, even if they were unsolicited from an impromptu picking partner, and a trifle awkward.

She helped me flip the huge cabinet and while I pried the wood, she talked of her medical history and her life. Yes, it seemed to be taking long enough for her to fit in a lot of details about herself. I nodded and hmm'd my way through all that and managed to change the subject eventually as I got the casters off successfully. Then she offered to help me get the drawers open so we could reach way down and search through them. I found a bunch of little metal keys (and I just missed a bunch of single edged razor blades with my fingertips - be careful out there!) and a faucet and some sprinkler parts, screws, clamps, a metal Scotch - Electrical Tape canister, etc.

I left some small things I didn't want. Then I found a plastic bag with three gold butterflies (pictured above and below) inside. They look like metal but are plastic. They aren't my style, but I could see they'd be cute for the right thing, and painted or whatever, so I threw them in the car as well.

I had passed up these coated metal shelf thingies the first time, but decided I could throw them away at home if I didn't want them. I have fears of those things. That coating gets sticky and seems to make good roach food. These were a bit tacky, so if it doesn't clean up, I may ditch them or paint them. They would be very useful though.

I also got a pair of scissors and a paint brush and some black strapping stuff and some packing tape. Barbara and I (that was my impromptu junk partner's name - she told me as we parted ways) undid as many of the wood knobs as would come off, and then I took one of the drawers as well.

I've actually gotten rid of some drawers recently because of space considerations, but this one looked to be short enough to actually work as wheeled under-the-bed storage. Those huge cabinets from the pile each had one really long thin drawer that was cool too, but I just didn't know what I'd do with those and they'd be a pain to store, so I left them. I'm supposing that if I come up with something, I could always go back after church tomorrow and defy my promise not to pick the pile three times. It's not likely anyone else will be eyeing them up. Just a hunch.

The rain started to fall and that was my cue to part ways with Barbara. I have since cleaned most of my finds and put much of it away, but the paper stuff is all over the place and a mess. Sigh.

A good day's pickin' is a long day's work in the end. Hope you all found some good stuff on your thrifty adventures today.

Just remember that if you aspire to be a junk warrior, always have your weapons of junk warfare with you... and a listening ear might come in handy too.

I'll be sharing this with:

Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Be Inspired @ Common Ground

Open House Party @ No Minimalist Here
Treasure Hunt Thursday @ FMFPTY
Savvy Southern Style

Knick of Time Tuesday @ Knick of Time

Nifty Thrifty Tuesday @ Coastal Charm

Mop it Up Monday @ I Should be Mopping The Floor

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special



  2. Ha Ha Ha! This post had me laughing out loud - again! The part about your impromptu picking partner - Funny girl! And I can't help but notice, it seems like your birthday week picking blessings are still turned on high speed. I'd pay hard-earned cash for those cabinets, and some of the junk, too. How will you get the wire of the hose? Burn it off?
    Waiting with bated breath to see what you do with this stuff!

  3. Great picking! How about we rent a camper, you swing by and pick me up, and we do some great picking! Then, we create fabulous things and sell them in our fabulous shop! Oh snarky....I think this has already been done....but we can copy can't we! I NEVER would have thought to take the vacuum are so creative!

  4. If you ever stop blogging at least write a book, Liz. Your misadventures are hilarious. I never have to worry about roaches or roach poop way up north when junking so that's a positive. I lived in Texas and Maryland when my husband was in the army though so I have met some roaches before.

  5. all I am saying is: you need to invest in a pick up truck :) wow, you had some free fun! wich is always good...

  6. Were the furniture peices not worth saving?? I would have called for back up and picked up those big ladies!! (the dressers)

  7. Were the furniture peices not worth saving?? I would have called for back up and picked up those big ladies!! (the dressers)

  8. Sounds like you and Babs had quite the visit!! Nice to have help. I don't imagine the frogs did much. Perhaps they'll be like gargoyles for lizards and keep those guys at bay. No worries of finding roaches here... or pickin's right now. Everything is under a fresh white blanket. Looking forward to seeing the scrapbook. :)

  9. That whole double pick sounded more like two glazed donuts worth.


  10. This was too funny!! Scary thing is how much I have in common with you! lol

  11. I would have stopped to help...but would have kept my gynecological history to myself! LOL What a day. Definitely earned more than one donut, Liz!

  12. LIZ!!!!!!!!! OMG, I am SOOOO envious of your haul. I would have done the same thing. Sad to hear about the lady passing but it's wonderful to know that some of her "treasures" were going to a good home and gonna be put to good use. I'm like you. the fun is in the "finding" and the hunt. SCORE my friend !!!!
    Hugs ~

  13. OMG- we would make good picking partners! No one ever wants to go with me to the bowels of the earth. They're too afraid! Glad you came by for a visit- it's always fun to meet new friends outside my usual little circle. :-) Sue

  14. Do you see my mouth hanging open? SCORE!! You go girl!! You had me laughing because I've been known to dig through piles myself and always do it in a hurry before I'm recognized. I used to carry a junking kit with me, but left it behind somewhere.

  15. Ha ha ha!! I've heard many a medical history during my junking treks and I replied in a similar fashion....oh my, that's too bad, glad you're feeling better, etc. Do you think maybe an alias would be prudent whilst digging in junk piles with complete strangers?

    If you can't remove the casters from the wood, I think you could sell them on Ebay as skateboards that can fit in your back pocket. :@

  16. Awesome! I think I would have grabbed all that stuff too - and those casters are absolutely great!

  17. Great Curbside Pickin'! I Love Bulk Garbage Day... my Granddaughter rides shotgun cause she has eyes like a Rat and once 'scored' me a $20,000 to $30,000 Palace Style Persian Rug under a pile of debris! I owe her money for the Ice-Cream Man for Life now! *Winks* I would have schlepped the entire cabinet with the casters into the back of my Truck, great restoration project since anything with casters like that is Antique and worth Upcycling some kind of way! I'd be right there in the trenches with you, no shame to my game!

    Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

  18. Been there, done that and isn't it so much fun! I know people must think we are CRAZY...
    Happy Monday!!!

  19. Thanks for stopping by this Morning and enjoying some Green Acres. Yes, Manic Shoppers are a Riot, but when someone behaves as though they might be willing to kill for a chachke, gotta wonder about the Sanity of that?! *LOL*

    Dawn... The Bohemian

  20. Great pickin' for my little table, I got it at the auction for $14....I usually don't pay that much but it kept calling out my name and I could imagine it painted like this! Hope you stop by again!

  21. I would love to go "a picking" with you!! What fun you are!!

    Have an awesome day!!

  22. Bravo....what an awesome day you had. You got yourself some great treasures my friend.

  23. LOL!! Great post, Liz. My heart was beating a little faster imagining I was scouring the pile with you...always worried about someone seeing me. ;)

  24. I'm with ya sista, sometimes I just can't leave it behind!! Your work space looks well stocked for creative redo's! New follow. Follow back

  25. Hello!
    I found you from the Mop it up Mondays link up. I would love to have you come share your post with my readers over at Sassy Little Lady’s Show and Tell Saturday. Hope to see you there!



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