Oops! I meant cast-OFFs.
In fact, it gives me a lot of pleasure to rescue still-usable items from an eternity in the landfill. It allows me to feel that I am doing my part for the planet, to own things I might not otherwise be able to afford, and to enjoy that exquisite thrill that comes from getting something for nothing.
You need to develop an eye for finding just the right garbage, however, and I have studied under the master — my partner, Peter. Peter was born with a highly discerning eye (I think it's the left one) — and a huge dollop of good luck. He has found countless treasures in the trashpiles of our neighborhood: a navy blue cashmere sweater and a pair of men's dress shoes, both by Ralph Lauren, in like-new condition, and IN MY SIZE; three enormous bolts of black knit fabrics, including one of pure silk; a working Brother sewing machine; Italian designer lamps retailing for hundreds of dollars. . .I could go on and on.
I haven't begun to match Peter's prolificacy, but I have found some darn good sh*t myself: a designer carpet we had in our entryway for a couple of years; a really cool beat-up-just-enough motorcycle jacket IN MY SIZE; about 4,000 clay pots — really beautiful ones, in unusual shapes and in every size from seedling to tree; and not a few books. (If you're wondering about the state of hygiene of our home, rest assured that we have become a little more finicky about what we cart home since the recent bedbug epidemic.)
Living in a huge apartment building with hundreds of units suits our gleaning lifestyle perfectly. Every time we exit the building, we pass through the dumpster area, where other residents have often deposited perfectly good stuff they no longer want for themselves. Here's a (tiny) sampling of some former trash, all discarded by inhabitants of our building, that is now enhancing our home:
|A Design-Within-Reach bentwood coatrack that is beautiful enough to be mistaken for sculpture|
|A huge wood-framed mirror that I use every day in my teaching|
|A flourishing jade tree that started with 6 leaves when I rescued it a couple years ago|
|A boldly distinctive lamp that reminds me of the paintings of Mondrian|
Wow! The Greatest Garlic Slicer — presumably ever — and in its original box! A time-saving tool by Rowoco, that well-known purveyor of fine Chinese-crafted kitchenware. After an initial jolt of thrill, my enthusiasm cooled faster than the Chihuahuas' body temperature when I took them out out the back door without their coats. (I had incorrectly assumed that we were going to be treated to another uncharacteristically balmy spring-like February day like Friday.)
Once I got back into the apartment, my finder's high dissipated and my rational brain back in charge, I realized that the Rowoco G.G.S. was not a time-saver, but a space-waster. I was not going to be able to give this loser a new home after all. (Sorry, Mother Earth!)
I also realized that I already owned the greatest garlic slicer ever: