Trashpicked treasures

First, a couple brief announcements …

The talented Dave Tavani produced and directed a super-cute, enticing book trailer for Simply From Scratch. Thank you so much, Dave. And thank you to the lovely Lola Culp-Osborne for lending her voice as Ingrid. Turn up your volume & enjoy!

If you’d like to read the first chapter of my book, visit the Book page of my website, and click “Excerpt.”

And now, onto this week’s theme: Trash.

I learned more about life while yardsaling with my friend Jen than I did in four years of high school. Accompanying Jen on her hunt for the perfect coffee table to decoupage was a lesson in perseverance, character (both a person’s and an object’s), quality, map-reading, map-folding, and usefulness.

In my opinion, Jen’s most impressive score of all time was a door handle for her used Jetta, which she found after roaming through rows of wrecked cars in a junkyard. As you might guess, she comes from a long line of fearless and thrifty Yankees.

South Jersey also boasts a fair share of brilliant yardsaling sharks, including my mother-in-law, who once staked claim on a set of pristine woolen Ethan Allen area carpets, and haggled the seller down to $30, right in his own driveway.

I don’t have that kind of tenacity. However, I am proud of one item that I trashpicked during summertime in college. I was driving home (coincidentally, from Jen’s house) when I spotted — on the curb next to a row of trashcans — an old wooden letterbox that had been antiqued. After inspecting it in my headlights, I tossed it onto the passenger seat and headed home. One man’s trash ….

I scraped the gunk off, sanded the wood, and stained it a warm oak color. Then I crafted little velvet pillows for the inside, and voila: the letterbox was transformed into storage for Matt’s chess pieces.

In Simply From Scratch, my narrator, Zell, treasures the very last items that her beloved, Nick, trashpicked before he died. But you’ll have to read the book to find out what those items are ….

~Alicia Bessette

10 Replies to “Trashpicked treasures”

  1. Wow, scraped, sanded and stained? You are more artsy-craftsy than I! I love me some curbside trash picking, but I need it to be in usable-as-is shape. I salute you!

  2. I have an icky (natch) curbside trash picking story. When one of my girls was a tot, she had tummy troubles – and the troubles went from her bottom to a cane-bottomed kitchen chair. Follow me? It’s impossible to clean a cane bottomed chair fully when it has been covered in you know what. The chair was from an old dining set – so I put it out into the trash. Sure enough, a car stopped and a woman took the chair. GROSS! I waited for weeks for her to return and tell me her own child had died from e. Coli poisoning. The letter box is beautiful. Good luck with the book!

  3. What a beautiful box. I wish I were crafty like you!

    When I was a newly-licensed teenager, during one of my first drives down the Jersey Shore, I passed by an ancient auto parts shop. It was raining, and the shop was closed, but in the back, near the trash, I noticed a wooden sign that read, “Tires Bald?” and underneath was a cartoon painting of the most adorable old bald man. His eyebrows were raised and he had the most irresistibly quizzical expression. The sign was straight out of the 1950s, and I couldn’t bear to see it thrown away. I looked over at my younger sister, who was riding in the passenger seat, and said, “we have to take home that sign.” She agreed. I pulled over.

    The sign was much heavier (and larger) than we thought, and it took two of us to put the car seats down and heave the sign into my jeep from the back trunk. We brought it home, high-fived, then had no idea what to do with it. The sign still remains in the garage of my parents’ house. My sister and I still pride ourselves on rescuing the old bald man.

  4. When I used to have TV, I loved that show where the two brothers would find something by the curb and take it back to their shop, change it into something else, and then return it to the house they got it from, ring the doorbell and run away. So much fun. Once they turned an old stove into a killer barbecue. The look on the people’s faces when they saw their garbage turned into something cool was so great!

  5. Love the trailer! I think I might have spotted you – yes? And the little girl’s voice is perfect. One week away… hope you’re getting excited!

  6. I don’t have any trashpicked treasures but I agree with Sarah. The girl’s voice is so natural, I like the trailer very much.
    The count down for your book is running fast now.
    Here in Germany a lot of people already talk about it. Even our city library bought one!
    It must be a very busy but exciting time for you now, try to enjoy it a lot!
    I found this quotation by Christopher Morley for you:
    There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.

  7. This is so apropo. I just returned from my parent’s (and mine) home of 50+ years. My dad passed away in May. My mom is losing ground to Alzheimers and my brothers and I have the task of packing up the contents and disposing of them. Both my parents collected. My mother was Queen of the yardsales and my dad paid full price! It’s a three floor home filled with things. Each thing has a memory for me. Even if the memory is that “thing” has sat on that table for the past 25 years. We’re disposing of memories. There are the special ones – a cookie jar, a pair of purple slag candle sticks, the angel food cake pan that mom always used to make our birthday cakes. Those I keep. Of course, even after the “things” are gone, the memories remain. Cleaning house is a necessity. It makes room for more – things . . . and memories.

  8. Ok, no idea how you remember such things!! Table was retired only this year. LOVE the box. That’s a true find with staying power!

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