One of my side-lines is as a Value Village annex. All my friends know that I have a yard sale once a year. For years and years I slowly sold all the junk I had carted up to Seattle from my parent’s house in Olympia. As that stock declined I added things from the on-going purging that goes on in my house. Then my friends started asking me if I wanted their books or their dishes that don’t match their re-modeled kitchens for my sale. Hell, yes.
I, for better or worse, have a great deal of storage space.
My neighbor Gwen is one of my best suppliers. She usually suggests that I might “be able to use” things like a spare flat screen TV, a dust-buster, an I-pad, a china tea set, wool blanket, quilted bed spread and several pieces of furniture that she had herself made. It should be noted that Gwen only deals in quality. And now much of that Quality belongs to me.
It was partly the convenience of not having to make the trip to Goodwill that my voice teacher started doing the same thing.
“Can you do something with this box of electronics and maybe figure out how to recycle the light bulbs,” she asked me.
In this particular box of electronics was a Kindle that only needed to be charged. I revved it up and started playing with it. I’ve wanted a Kindle. I took it to Walla Walla last summer where Putzer the Attorney showed me how to use it. There were quite a number of books on it; I deleted the ones I didn’t want. I hauled books out of its archives and deleted.
After about ten deletions I had the terrible thought that maybe the Kindle had fallen into the box of electronics by mistake. When I got back to Seattle I asked Tommie if she had meant to get rid of the Kindle.
“Oh, let me ask Matthew,” she said. “He’s misplaced or lost a Kindle somewhere.”
Oh, no. I had tampered with the private Kindle of a Buddhist priest.
But after all that, it was not the Kindle he had lost. He had already de-registered this one and I could have it.
It has sat in a drawer ever since.
Last month I got a delivery from my friend Kay who brought over a truck load of sewing and craft things: fabric, patterns, notions, lace, blingy-things, stuff to make lavender, rosebud, and flax pillows. I had it spread out all over the living room and the cats were enjoying it as much as I when I called to tell her it was like Christmas. I sorted through everything and grouped like items in little draw-string bags—there was even a supply of those.
I called Gwen to ask her if she wanted to come and have a look. We opened everything up together and had a good long rummage.
“She’s got everything so well organized,” Gwen said.
Gwen who knows something about just about everything pointed out the dupioni silk and the hand versus machine made lace. She took a few goodies home with her.
I called Joan, my friend with the theological chops who sews and likes to do crafty stuff. Her daughter Ileana is learning belly dancing and I thought there might be something in all the bling she could use for her costumes.
Joan and I were looking at sequins and beads when a container of glitter leaked.
“Glitter,” Joan said. “It’s the herpes of the craft world—it gets into everything and there’s no getting rid of it!”
We were laughing over that when I handed some patterns to Joan. She let out a shriek and the cats vamoosed.
“Look at these!” she said. “These are just what I need. These are for belly dancing costumes!”
The penny dropped. Kay and her daughter had belly-danced back in the day; some of the gold coins and beads and various pieces of fabric in this haul must have been for their costumes.
“This is like a miracle!” Joan said. “I need all this stuff for Ileana’s costumes!”
There’s more. As soon as Joan left I called Kay to tell her how excited we had been over the belly dancing paraphernalia. Two days later, Kay brought three complete belly dancing costumes for me to give to Ileana. They were gorgeous, lush, exotic, alluring, amazing! Ileana was over the moon.
For all the lamenting I hear about Americans and their stuff, there is something fascinating about other peoples’ stuff and about the stories their boxes of cast-offs tell. I get a kick out of being the disseminator of Stuff. Once in while something happens—like the belly dancing costumes—which is perfect in its symmetry of goodness, generosity, and recycling.