I love looking at the Google search phrases (listed in my stats) that bring people to my blog. They range from the poignant to the silly, from the creepy to the poetic. They make me laugh and cry and cringe and…scratch my head, puzzling about how certain phrases brought someone to my blog. And sometimes, they give me ideas for posts.
Like a recent one: best thing I ever found in a dumpster. Now that might not sound like the kind of phrase that would send you down memory lane, but my memory lane is strewn with some pretty peculiar stuff. :-)
I smile to myself sometimes when I read “green” blogs—that is blogs whose focus is talking about the ways in which the writers live what they call a “sustainable” life. Like going to thrift stores or growing a garden or just making do with what you already have. All good stuff, of course, but really it’s always been just a normal way of life for our family and most of those I grew up with. Remember that country song years back—“I Was Country Before Country Was Cool?” Well, I was “green” before “green” was cool. But we called it being thrifty. Both my parents and my Aunt Ellen (who I was very close to) had gone through the Depression and not only talked about it, but still practiced a lot of the frugal habits that brought them through hard times. And, naturally, I picked up a lot of them, except for washing and reusing aluminum foil. I had to draw the line at that because of, well, those little wrinkles in used foil. For me, there is just a little too much potential for nasty microbial activity in those little crinkles.
Anyway, when Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I first met, we quickly discovered we had a lot in common. For one thing, between the two of us, we had just about every record Doc Watson ever made. For another, we had a terrible weakness for ice cream. Still do, though we might need to get over that if the price goes up anymore. But one of the most surprising things we had in common was the fact that we both liked to dumpster dive. Well, I say “dive”, but to tell the truth, I was always a little squeamish about actually getting down inside the dumpster. I tended to just peer in and mostly skim the cream off the top, so to speak. Tom, on the other hand, was a brave and fearless diver and was not afraid to plumb the murky dumpster depths.
Of course, all this was back in the days before they put fences around dumpsters and positioned guards at the sites. Nowadays, when we stop to drop off trash and casually glance around to see if there’s anything good, the guard eyes us suspiciously, as though he knows our sordid past. So, our dumpster diving days are over, though we do still keep our eyes peeled for curbside treasures.
But, oh what a time we had. There was one particularly choice dumpster site north of Chapel Hill. For the most part, there was camaraderie (if an underlying competitiveness) amongst the divers. If there was something we couldn’t use, we’d offer it to others and we’d help them carry any particularly large largesse. Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I had some wonderful times there during our courtship. I was, for sure, the ultimate cheap date.
Which brings me back to the Google search phrase that brought someone to my blog: best thing I ever found in a dumpster. Now it wasn’t easy to narrow down my choices, but here are three of my favorites. At the top, is a framed fireback Tom found leaned against a dumpster in Raleigh. We think perhaps someone was moving and discarded it in desperation. I hope they’d be pleased to know that it went to someone who loves it. In the middle is a dresser that someone left on their curb to be disposed of. I like the clean, simple lines of it and the sturdiness of the solid birch it’s made of. Pictured at the bottom is a pot we found on our second dumpster date. There were other pots there, but sadly, they were broken when someone threw them into the dumpster. It was hard to see art so recklessly discarded. But I’m happy that, at least, we could save one piece.
We used to call our trips to the dumpster “shopping at the green store,” not because we were recycling, but because the dumpsters were painted green. We miss shopping at the “green store” but we are so grateful for all the many treasures we found there and that we’ve done our part to reduce, reuse, and recycle. And if they were alive, I think Mama, Aunt Ellen, and Grandma would be pleased to know that so many people are doing the same these days—that, in fact, it is trendy to do so. They probably would laugh to imagine reading books to learn how to live a simple life and would surely be quite amused to think of themselves as being on the vanguard of the simple living movement. Who would have thought they’d be such trendsetters?
(Edited to add: Just wanted to clarify that my statement above about “green” blogs was not meant in any way to disparage “green” or simple-living blogs. On the contrary—I admire them very much and have learned a lot from them. And I know for sure that Mama, Grandma, and Aunt Ellen would feel the same. They’d love knowing that so many have adopted their penny-pinching ways! Beth)