A Scavenger’s Life


I see value in things that others don’t see. It can be blessing and also a problem.

That paper bag? Take it to my favorite thrift store. The plastic bag the newspaper comes in? A poop bag on a dog walk.  A cracked dinner plate? A water-catch for a ceramic pot.

So when the local garbage company had a re-use day and then an extra trash day right after, I saw possibilities in my neighborhood.  On a dog walk, I spotted five wooden Adirondack chairs, weathered but still serviceable.  The re-use trucks had already been by that day and had left them for the landfill. My helper woman went and fetched them with her pick-up truck at my request.

On that same walk I saw three large ceramic pots, also left behind, probably because they still had dirt in them. They sat there for three more days before my helper woman went and got them for me.

I used to pick up these things myself. But it’s weird taking things off the curb in my own neighborhood. I don’t want everyone to know what a scavenger I am.

The way I look at it, I am re-purposing things that would otherwise get thrown in the landfill (the ceramic pots were rejected even by the garbage man). I am also saving myself from buying these things retail, which frees up money for big stuff like mortgage payments. I have bought into home ownership in a big way. All my money goes into home improvement. Why not? I am in no position to travel, plus been there, done that in my twenties. I can’t think of anywhere I am dying to see, except maybe the town where my two daughters reside. I miss them.

I know that I may want to travel someday, but right now I enjoy the two-hour drive to my little house by the ocean. It’s quiet. It’s clean. It has a big front yard and a decent back yard where the dogs can run and run and run.

The neighbors used to call and leave anonymous messages when I came down with the dogs. I am coming down more and more. They are catching on that when I am here, they will hear barking. I lock up the dogs at night so that they don’t brawl with the local raccoons. When I leave the house, I shut the gate to the front yard so that they can’t terrorize the dog walkers (the front fence looks like it is open between the wooden slats until you get right up on it and see the wire fence attached).

This is a good house to write in. I have no internet here, just 4 G from the cell phone for emails. I can’t get into Facebook or anything else because I can never remember my passwords. I read, watch silly movies, and take a break from the rat race of the Bay Area.

And since my kitchen is being remodeled at the Bay Area house, I gave away a whole bunch of  plates, dishes, pitchers, mugs and glasses. It’s good to clean out and let the fellow scavengers help themselves.

You know who you are, and I salute you.


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