Leave my garbage alone

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In my years trash picking I’ve had pretty generally good experiences with the people whose garbage I picked through. Some have asked me politely to leave while others have simply noted that there was nothing interesting to find (whether I trusted that or not is another story entirely). At the same time many people have been very kind and generous, going out of their way to give me information about the stuff they put on the curb or to encourage me to take things home.

Today, however, I met someone who was quite displeased with the notion of me going through her trash. In fact, she was furious.

I was looking through the bags in the picture above. I was a bit more than half-way done when a woman opened her front door and started screaming at me. She told me to put her trash back, that I had no business going through her garbage, that I was a bad person and that I should get a job like everyone else. It was a quite the diatribe I tell you what!

I put a few of the things I had found back in the bags as she requested (including some old records) but kept what I already had put in my backpack. I wanted to keep what I had found and wasn’t really convinced by her logic. She never really explained why she was so angry, though it doesn’t seem she has much respect for the scavengers of the world. All in all I think I composed myself pretty well under fire.

Ah well, so it goes. I expect most of the people I meet going forward will be much more pleasant. However, I’m not going to post pictures of the things I found here – it’s not worth the potential hassle. Either way it’s getting close to the end of the month so I’ll definitely have some more finds for you soon!

The Fencibles

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I made my way to Rosemont this morning and managed to avoid the rain. I didn’t see much interesting trash but sometimes all it takes is one spot to get a decent haul. That’s what happened today when I stumbled upon this pile of stuff that looked as if it had been stored away for a while.

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I pulled these boxes out of the angular-looking bag in the front. There was an old crystal radio kit that looks to be intact and an old train set. The train set box was a bit wet from the rain but the rest was well protected by the bag.

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The train set is pretty sweet. There are eight cars (all in great shape!) and a bunch of rails and switches. I’m going to see exactly how many pieces I have later; hopefully it’s a full set.

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Inside the envelope was a board game designed by the tourism department of the Quebec government. It looks to be from the 60s or 70s and was made to promote Quebec’s historical landmarks.

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In another bag were these old pins under framed glass. The majority of pins are from curling clubs ranging from Montreal to Nova Scotia to as far as Detroit. There are two pins from the 1948 and 1949 Quebec International Bonspiel (curling tournament) and I figure most of the other pins are from around that era. Four of the pins – from the Shawinigan, Trois-Rivieres, Arvida and St-Stephen Curling Clubs – are marked as sterling silver.

In the middle is a badge marked “Glengarry Fencibles” which I think is a WWII battle honour. Below that is a St-Benedict medal.

I took these out from under the glass. Whoever put them there took off the pins and stuck a little sticky tab is their place to keep them stuck on the red velvet background. That probably decreases their monetary value somewhat but these are still really beautiful old badges in really great shape. The group picture really doesn’t do them justice.

One pin is a bit of a mystery. It’s on the top left of the first picture and it’s to the lower left of the Glengarry badge in the second. If anyone knows anything about this (or any of the other pins) let me know!

Minimalism

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My bike derailleur is on the fritz and I didn’t get around to fixing it on Wednesday so yesterdays trash run was in fact a walk. I conveniently found this walking stick early on in my stroll.

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On Gauthier and Gaspe I came across this picture (on wood) of Patrick Roy from his time with the Montreal Canadiens.

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I found this mishmash of stuff in a bag within one of the bins above. There was a bass tuner (I still have to test it but I’m optimistic that it’ll work), a little clock (working), a flashlight, several catholic medallions (in the ziplock bags), some museum moisture charts, an unused small canvas and a few other things. I took the charts and bass tuner and left the rest by a bixi station for others to find.

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I found these decorations in the alley adjacent to Parc. There were some really cute framed embroideries, a couple of Hellenic plates and two old souvenir plates of Montreal and Quebec City. I’ll probably keep a couple of the little embroidered birds, which are totally up my aesthetic alley.

On the way home I stopped by at Monastiraki for a talk by my friend Robert Wringham (the founder of the “New Escapologist” magazine) about the benefits of minimalism. The talk reminded me of my least favorite parts of this “job”: the accumulation of trash and how it clutters up my life and my brain. I try to save what I can and hold onto what I think might be valuable or good to give away. It kind of comes with the business that I end up with too much stuff.

What sucks about that is the constant inner turmoil about how best to make money from something and the fear that I’ll sell something valuable for a fraction of what it’s worth. This sort of circular thought pattern leads me to doing nothing at all a lot of the time and makes it hard to relax, which isn’t particularly fun or fulfilling and also takes away from my actual enjoyment of some of the beautiful things I find.

I don’t think I’m especially attached to money and possessions but I definitely still feel that sort of greed that drives you to get “your share;” that feeling that wants the most from the least amount of work possible. However, in the end I have enough to get by and enough to buy microbrewed beers instead of PBR and that’s fine by me. Attempting to get the maximum amount of profit for things will just drive me crazy, especially when I have so many little things to be contemplated.

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This is the sectioned off part of my room right now. You don’t even see what’s in the big red suitcase (full of knick knacks and costume jewelry) or the other suitcases for that matter. You also don’t see the “normal” part of my room, which is littered with the nicer, Etsy-able jewelry and other miscellanea.

I’m going to focus on hitting the garbage “reset” button because I’m sick of thinking about how much I could theoretically get for an unopened bottle of 1964 chianti. That’s not to say that I’ll get rid of the stuff I think I can get good money for, but I plan on cutting the cord on a lot of this stuff, leaving it out on the street for others to pick through or selling it for cheap at a yard sale.

I think ditching the excess will help clear my mind and make it easier to stay on top of the trash I may bring home in the future. Right now it’s just sort of overwhelming. I want to live by that William Morris quote: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

In other news I made a couple of sales in the last few days. I sold the old Silver Cross pram for 80$, some sports caps and stickers for 10, and an old Avon catalogue on Etsy for 4. I also sold a couple of things last night to the owner of Monastiraki for 4$ and bartered a watch for a selection of organic green tea. With this 98$ I’m up to 138$ for the month. Not too shabby considering I haven’t even got around to listing some of my more valuable stuff on Ebay / Etsy. Hopefully my upcoming yard sale (I may even do one today if my room-mate is interested in hanging / helping out) brings in some more profits as well.

I’ll likely be walking again for trash in the eastern Plateau unless someone lends me their bike. I hope to get to the bike co-op tomorrow to fix my ride.