Stuff I Find

The Boy and The Girl have taken to walking to school in the morning. Originally, The Dad and I had approved only The Boy for this privilege/responsibility, but one day last week, The Girl wanted to walk and The Tot Who’s Not wanted to drive, so I let my little rule-follower accompany her big brother on the walk to school. I suspect this enthusiasm for walking (and early morning brotherly-sisterly affection) will drop when the temperatures do, but for now, I’m enjoying The Boy’s and The Girl’s newfound independence.

It also gives me some one-on-one time with The Tot Who’s Not. While I wasn’t at all teary-eyed on The Tot’s first (or fifth) day of K drop-off, I’m still feeling a bit lost without a little partner in crime. I find myself flirting with babies on the train, or sympathizing with other mothers at the grocery store. I’m starting to understand why generations of women begin pestering their daughters to have children as soon as they get married. I have to wait another 20+ years for grand babies? (Please let me wait at least another 15 years for grand babies…) I suppose I could nanny, but given my views of childbearing, I doubt anyone would hire me.
So I find myself ready to enjoy snippets of time with my youngest child — such as in the car on the way to school. Yesterday, we stopped to salvage a dresser from the curbside trash. The Tot Who’s Not has watched me do this often enough; he waited patiently while I found space for 5 drawers and the case piece itself. Once we were back on our way, I thanked him for his patience. He told me he has a lot of patience.

After he was safely with his class, I went home to unload the car and inspect my find. While some may be horrified by my trash-picking ways, they are probably not on the low-budget side of Apartment Therapy’s readers. I get a kind of acquisitive or satisfied high when I find something usable or pretty in the alley. I didn’t realize this before now, but it’s apparently a trend to do this. I’m not brave enough to look inside cans or dumpsters. I’m pretty sure that Chicago residents, like those of other large cities such as NYC , Philly, or their environs, leave large pieces outside the cans for this reason. I know it’s the reason that I left my broken-down Mac Volo stroller outside after a recent garage clean-out.
Like these writers, I get a thrill in finding something useable and unique in the alleyways around my neighborhood. Over the years, I’ve managed to amass two wooden chairs, one sewing table, an IKEA dresser, a teak side table, a giant wooden built-in cabinet, a chair and a half, two storagalooza bins, a white toy bin, a wooden rung ladder, cabinet doors, two IKEA wooden storage units, a wooden nightstand, a 1905 oak interior door, and a wooden file bin. Some things I’ve since given away via freecycle. Others have become projects in The Boy’s and The Girl’s nascent interest in woodcraft. The rest have been repaired, painted, refinished, or recovered in some fashion and put to use in our tiny Chicago Foursquare. Or, in the case of this week’s finds, are in my garage awaiting their transformation. There are many things that I do better than this, but this is not a bad way to feed my creative soul or familial predisposition to putter. I do have a couple of rules for how I find and treat my alleyway treasures:
– do not pick up upholstery, carpets, or other soft items
– do not sand painted or stained wood
– air out all items in the garage for a bit
– inspect everything in the alley and when home to determine what/how to fix
– clean everything with hot water and/or vinegar and/or oxyclean before it comes inside
– list it on freecycle if I don’t love it and/or use it within a year
Look for a “stuff I found” tag soon.
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