Occasionally, my partner will rescue various kinds of items abandoned on the sorting table at the post office. Or in the dental office. Or on the street. He brings the various odds and ends home, these found objects or trinkets, and imagines some future re-purposing, some further use, a key with the potential to unlock efficiency and thrift.
Last week it was a decorative dreamcatcher made in China. I smirked at its cellophane wrap, its implausible magic, before chucking it into the bin. And then a couple of days later I found the dreamcatcher lying out again. “Back into the bin with you.” I thought. Later, Jay noticed it tossed out like yesterday’s birdcage liner. “Why are you throwing out a perfectly good dreamcatcher?” He thought it deserved to be hung up somewhere in the house or given away.
“I can’t expend the energy required in deciding what to do with it,” I explained. “I already have enough stuff in the house to fill a semi-truck. Besides, it’s janky, appropriative, and would probably give off bad medicine.” Dreamcatchers. They don’t hold any allure for me, not when they’re commonly sold at truck stops next to MAGA hats and Slim Jims. One year Jay made some out of yarn and coat hangers and attached miniature Hula dancers and wishbones to them.
I don’t know if I convinced him. The dreamcatcher is still somewhere in the house, its glittery feathers, copper threads and turquoise pony beads waiting for someone to offer amnesty or give clemency.
Need a homemade bookmark? We have a pile of them. Looking for an animated bass that mounts to the wall and sings “Take Me to the River?” I got you covered. What about a plastic bonsai tree? I have one of those. I have dozens of gallon milk jugs. Rows of artichoke pits trying to flower in the windowsill, every kind of glass jar known to mankind, piles of yogurt containers, stacks of paper, a cupboard with nothing but old to-go coffee containers, and a tiny pair of men’s oxfords found at the local swimming pool. And don’t get me started on my stuff. Books, magazines, clothing, art supplies, ephemera for making collages, photo albums, linens, old typewriters galore.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure goes the adage. I have no rubric for measuring the stuff I stash into piles or drawers or boxes, since my tastes are entirely subjective, as are his. This is what I try and remind myself.
This week Jay put together five-shelved metal storage racks. Four of them. They are voluminous and beautiful. They’re to be tasked with getting our storage boxes off the floor, our this and thats, flotsam and jetson and will initiate a sense of ease and order. Now that the stuff is on view, I can easily ascertain what needs to be thrown away, what’s expendable, and what’s worth keeping.
In the meantime, there are zucchinis in our dining area that are the size of my thighs. Are we supposed to eat them or challenge them to a duel? Jay found them at the church he goes to. He always insists every time new garden produce’s been procured that I save some of the seeds.
I’ve designated an area in the kitchen to store seeds. We are not doomsday preppers, we’re not even gardeners, but some low-grade facsimile of them.
You could say that one man’s doomsday is another man’s nightmare. Good thing we have one of those dreamcatchers to filter out the nightmares. That is if it didn’t get thrown out.
Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book of essays Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s was a finalist for a Washington State Book Award. She enjoys composting and frisky walks through dewy meadows. Midge lives in Moscow.