Copyright 2002 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

                                                Just A Junkie

     First, a big "thank you!" to all those folks who told me that they like this column when they saw me out garage
sale-ing on Saturday.  It's always nice to know that someone out there actually reads it; during the entire time I've
been writing it, I've received only three e-mails and one letter!  But JP does mention to me that people mention it to

     Garage Sale Day has come and gone, and I scored a bunch of good stuff; out of your life, into mine!  
Traditionally, Unlimited Trash Pick-up has followed GSD, and, although I saw no mention of it in the paper, quite a
few folks around town must have thought that UTP would be this week, as usual.  So I had a chance to cruise
around town on Sunday evening, scoping out the trash piles.

     It's a toss-up which I like better, GSD or UTP; each has its merits.  During the garage sales, everything is laid
out where I can see it, and prices are usually reasonable.  During unlimited trash, an otherwise unpromising pile of
old lumber and broken lawn furniture might hide a gem or two, and I must rely on my "radar" to decide which piles I
should stop and inspect.  On the bright side, whatever I find is free!

     "Free" is, of course, my favorite price for anything.  Stuff I wouldn't pay a quarter for at a sale, I might toss in the
car for free, if I think I might have a use for it some day.  Plastic bowls for the dog to drink from outdoors, that I can
just pitch when they get mossy, and old patio chair cushions that are too grubby for people but fine to toss down so
that said hound doesn't have to lie on the cold concrete are just a couple examples of things I'd want, but not want
to pay for.

     Every year, it puzzles me that folks throw away usable items instead of donating them to a thrift store; I suppose
it's easier to haul them to the curb at one's leisure than to schedule time and expend the energy to drop them off at
St.Vinnie's.  Some people do make the extra effort, though; in the weeks after GSD, I often spot stuff at the thrift
that I passed up at the garage sales.  Sometimes the price is better, too, and I get a second chance to score some
more stuff.

     My dear sweet hubby, the "townie," is a tad shy about my forays into others' trash, but dumpster diving runs in
my family; I still have toys and chairs and cookware that my grandfather brought home from the dump during the
'40s and '50s.  People pitch amazing stuff; before I knew what they were worth, just because I liked the style, I
found a Heywood-Wakefield "dogbone" side chair, and a 1950s wire-framed Platner chair that would cost over
$200 if I tried to buy it at an antique store.

     Sunday evening, I found: a bookshelf, more shelving, an antique door, six or seven bowling balls, an aluminum
lawn cair and matching glider chair, a shade canopy with a broken strut (but then a canopy frame that might fit it), a
cooler with wheels, a cat carrier, a bunch of bricks, a looooong wire freezer basket (to support window boxes,
along the deck), an antique gray-swirl graniteware baking pan, a galvanized gooseneck oil can, a pair of crutches
(I'm working on an entire garden fence built of crutches), two Jetsons-styled swivel barstools, two cast-iron frying
pans, and a wicker corner-hamper that I'll use as a cat-cave.  Plus, miscellaneous plastic planters and stuff that we'll
use outside until they fall apart.

     I'm tidy about all of this; I don't scatter stuff around, and I always leave a pile of trash at least as neat as when I
found it, if not neater.  I hate it when people put stuff in plastic bags, unless it's just clothes, because I usually don't
look in bags, and I'm probably missing some Lite Brites and other cool stuff that way.  If I do take the time to peek
into a bag, I always tie them back up afterwards.  People usually don't bother me; once, while I was digging through
a heap in Bowling Green (after the students move out is always prime pickings), some folks gave me a funny look,
but I just hollered, "it's okay! I'm an artist!" and they went away.

     I need more bowling balls, always, for various art projects.  More crutches would be good, too, for the fence.  I
have an idea for a fence built of dead box fans, but the trouble is that I never find any that don't work when I plug
them in; it seems that people throw fans out instead of cleaning them, and I've become expert at cleaning fans.  Of
junk promotional CDs, I'll take all I can get; I'm still experimenting with them, and they have a high attrition rate.  I
need broken aluminum baseball bats so I can cut them off above the crack and use them as tubular bells (basebell
bats!)  And old basketballs, when cut open and filled with dirt, make great hanging planters.

     I'll admit it: I'm addicted to junk.  I just can't resist those endless possibilities, the allure of the satisfactory rush I
get when I find a cool use for a cast-off item, or the thrill I get from scoring good stuff.  Like most addictions, mine
keeps getting harder to satisfy; one bowling ball became a fountain, then four bowling balls became the feet for an
old trunk, then twenty bowling balls became the border for a raised flower bed, but I want more, more, MORE!  
The more I have of any particular item, the more I can experiment with its possibilities.  I have a jones for junk, and
I don't care.  So don't be scared if you spot me rummaging through your trash pile like some overgrown raccoon;
I'm just a junkie, and I'm harmless.