The jewel

Spring is officially here and that’s a good thing for us trash pickers. Spring cleaning is a legitimate social phenomenon, and it’s often a lot nicer to travel around especially by bike.

On the other hand, it’s been raining more often than not and trash picking in the rain kind of sucks, especially when it’s a cold rain. The wetness makes garbage look and feel more disgusting than it actually is, and the rain also causes damage to paper items (with snow you can most often just shake it off). Regardless, I’m still very happy that winter is over.

Otherwise, I’ve continued to have issues with burnout and overwork. Perhaps the easy answer is to just work less. For a while I’ve been aiming for a roughly 40 hour workweek, but I would often go over that by working on weekends, doing extra tasks that I didn’t really count as work (such as organizing my junk, yard sales) and so on. Perhaps, knowing that there will always be extra tasks that are hard to plan for, I should just aim for a 30 hour workweek and let those extra tasks bring me up to around 40 hours. I don’t mind working hard, but I don’t want to live to work either.

I won’t be cutting down on my trash picking, as I figure it’s in my best interests to be out there regularly. I think I can safely slow down on eBay listing for now however – summer is generally a slow time for sales anyways, and I’ve realized that winter is the perfect time to get piles of listing done. Also, as I mentioned in my last post there are ways I can streamline some tasks (ie: photography) to make things less stressful. I need a little shed!

It’s funny though that I’ve become a minor workaholic. It’s a good thing in a way because it means that I’m passionate about my work. However, I also value self-care and I haven’t been doing as much of it as I should. I want to do more walking, jogging, reading, and etc.

Anyways, here’s some garbage for you. This place in Villeray has produced some interested old stuff of late.

I love finding old things in their original boxes. This stuff is a bit dusty but that’ll come off easily enough. I’ll add the box of Christmas bulbs to my collection that I’ll list come November. The iron is cool and might be worth eBaying.

I also saved some old Heinz baby food lids; two aluminium Carnation milk lids; two vintage Dairy Queen plastic spoons; a few silver plate spoons, including one marked as being from a 1957 officer reunion in Longue Pointe (in Montreal’s east end); some maybe still good enamel paint; …

… and a collection of vintage plastic swizzle sticks. All originate from restaurants in Montreal’s east end. The one on the right is from a “Sambo Curb Service” – the name sounds garbage related, but apparently it was a restaurant near Sherbrooke and Dickson. Here’s a (French) article about Sambo if you’re interested.

I ended up going to Park Ex one day. I haven’t had any luck there for a long time, and I don’t really have any reason to think that good luck is coming anytime soon. However, the trash there tends to get picked up relatively late, so sometimes I “end up” there after exploring more exciting neighbourhoods.

I came across this little coin bank in front of a recently sold house. I could hear something that sounded like coins inside, though it was a bit muffled. I brought it home, and since the bank wasn’t in very good condition anyways I decided to bust it open.

Inside was a plastic bag containing close to 7$ in American coins. Better than I expected, to be honest!

On the day of the Blue Jay’s first game of the season I happened across a pretty cool collection of Jays ephemera from the late 80s and early 90s. Pretty good timing eh? Unfortunately the Jays have been mostly painful to watch thus far (I’m still optimistic). Anyways, this stuff is cool nonetheless. The season ticket holder’s calendars are my favourites, they’re very retro and seem to be pretty hard to find.

I also liked the old newspaper sections. This stuff should eventually net me some decent money on eBay, but I’ll probably wait a while before listing it.

That spot also provided me a bunch of unopened SAP (some kind of programming) textbooks. I scanned them using a phone app I downloaded and found that they’re listed for around retail price on Amazon. That seems like a good thing as truly worthless textbooks are often priced at around a dollar. However, these ones are still relatively old (mostly published in 2010-2012) and their ranking on Amazon is pretty high (and that’s not a good thing). There’s a chance these are totally worthless regardless of the asking price, but I listed quickly just in case they weren’t. If they do end up selling they could make me hundreds of dollars.

I found even more of these textbooks the next garbage day. It was raining, so some of them got a little wet despite being wrapped in plastic. I listed them as well and we’ll see how it goes.

I happened upon some intriguing bags on the way home from the post office. Inside was a bunch of junk, and also a collection of slides that I later put into an old strawberry basket.

Most were tourist slides from the mid 60s to early 70s. I like finding photos from that era because they’re more likely to include some shots of Expo 67. Sure enough, I did find a small box of Expo 67 slides. The market for Expo stuff is good right now because 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the event. I’ll try to get these scanned at some point, and once I do I’ll share them here.

Sometimes I find cool stuff just because I know the neighbourhood so well. These tarot cards are a good example of that. I noticed a house a few weeks ago that had a bunch of recycling bags on the balcony. They looked like they were full of documents, nothing too exciting but enough to make me wonder if they were doing spring cleaning or otherwise clearing house. I forgot to go back that week and the week after, but while walking by the house last week I spotted some bags on the curb and figured I’d take a look. I probably wouldn’t have noticed had I not previously seen those bags on the balcony weeks ago.

Anyways, I counted the cards at home and noticed that two were missing. I went back to the spot and found one more card, but the other was nowhere to be seen. Regardless, it’s a pretty good find. The Secret Dakini Oracle is probably the trippiest tarot deck I’ve ever seen; it was published in 1977 and I’m willing to bet that the artist was on acid. It may have some value even with the missing card – similar complete decks sell for between 100-130$ on eBay.

Here’s some other neat stuff from that spot including a Rorschach test, a collection of large laminated photos (perhaps another type of Rorschach test), and another tarot deck (Le Tarot Relationnel by Jacques Salomé, a French social psychologist).

I went back to that Thursday evening collection in Rosemont. I came across this spot just as the garbage truck was coming up the street. I thought I was out of time, but then the truck stopped collecting and drove off, leaving one worker to bring the trash to the road. It was a lucky break, as I didn’t really have time to look through all the bags otherwise.

This little Apple keyboard made the trip worthwhile. This is the second such keyboard I’ve sold and I’m convinced that they go for a lot more if you mention the term “space saver” in the title. Most similar keyboards sell for between 20-50$ on eBay but I’ve have gotten a fair bit more for mine. This one sold for 75$ not long after being listed.

I also found copies of Adobe CS1 and CS2 here. The software is pretty old now, but people still buy it.

The place that provided the vintage Motorola Startac from my last post produced a Motorola MicroTac, the predecessor of the Startac this time around. It’s in near perfect condition. Unfortunately I don’t think the MicroTac’s predecessor, the DynaTac is coming any time soon. Some of those can be worth a lot of money.

I enjoyed finding this New facts about Marijuana booklet from the early 1970s. It’s safe to say that the authors weren’t big fans of the “stuff.”

Some of my coolest finds came from the Mile End. I stopped at an intriguing spot and the first bag I kicked had a nice ring to it. I opened it up and found a collection of jewelry and miscellaneous junk. I spent a while sorting the good stuff into a blue bucket I had in the car.

FYI, the medicine bottles were either filled with pennies or buttons.

I didn’t have time to take photos of the average stuff but here’s the cream of the crop. I saved four silver rings (most were junky, but still good for scrap), a single 10k gold earring (worth around 50$ in scrap), a ring (bottom left) that’s probably gold as well, a cool St Christopher pendant, a vintage Simmons pocket knife with a gold covered case, and a couple watches.

This watch might be the neatest item of the bunch. It’s a ladies transitional (ie: can be used as either a pocket or wrist) watch that was probably made sometime in the 1910s or 1920s. It’s gold-filled (ie: better than gold plate, but not solid gold) and is marked “Empress” & “A.W.C.Co” on the inside. The case was apparently made in Canada. It actually keeps good time, an impressive feat considering its age. I’m not sure of the exact value, but I bet I could get around 100$ for it.

Otherwise, I saved a cute mahogany (sewing?) table. It needs a bit of TLC, but should still make me maybe 20$ at a yard sale.

I found a kettle, but since there’s no whistle we decided not to use it. We know that someone will eventually forget it on the stove and burn the house down.

I also saw this old clawfoot tub on the curb. It was cut in half but still had some obvious upcycling potential. I went back later and it was gone, so I’m guessing someone else took it!

That’s all for now! I’m going to get to work on that video for Indiegogo soon. Thinking about it stresses me out to be honest, but I have to remember that it doesn’t have to be anything super special. I’m not trying to win an Oscar here.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to

Email: I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

20 thoughts on “The jewel”

  1. Your weather is as bad as ours … but as you say, at least it’s not winter.

    Hope you get your work/life balance balanced. Don’t need the burnout, that’s for sure.

    Wow … great variety of stuff. Are you going to keep any of the Blue Jays ephemera for yourself? Are those old Motorola phones still usable, or are they just paperweights? That little ladies transitional watch is sweet.

    1. I doubt I’ll keep any of the Jays stuff. I like it, but I try not to hold onto too much. No idea about the Motorola, I bet someone could make it work though.

  2. have you looked on free kijij for your area for free shed and free covered patio storage items to use for your work/set up? I see a LOT of these where I’m at.

    1. I haven’t seen any. Not many for sale either which is a bit surprising. I saw a decent garden storage shed thing for 40$ but the seller never messaged me back.

  3. I have one of those cute sewing cabinets, given to me many years ago by an elderly friend.
    Looks like you found some good stuff!

  4. Breakfast at Tiffanys with Audrey Hepburn has a pink vintage clawfoot tub that has been repurposed into a loveseat. It was so iconic here are instructions online for bathtub loveseats. Probably a good garage sale bet if you put a few conversion photos in the tub.

    1. Huh, I don’t think you can get by only saving money and not making any ha ha, but point taken. I think it’s a good idea to be frugal, I do it myself to some degree but not nearly to the extent that those people do. Most of my frivolous spending is as a result of eating out. I’m trying to cook more often, but it’ll probably always be a vice, at least as long as I’m putting in lots of garbage hours.

      1. thing is, a person needs a “treat” or an “outing” or “something to look forward to”,
        and personally, I find that eating out is as good as any…

        it certainly is much cheaper than a holiday trip or a new car, etc..

        I myself am frugal, but I do eat out now and then.

        I can also see, for many, and maybe especially for a student of “people watching”, that eating out is a valuable social interaction and a valuable tool for “observing” people.

        I didn’t actually read all about that young fellow (did you?), but I wonder….
        A great many folks who tout how much they “save” do so at the expense of someone they rely on (Parents, etc)….To my mind, that is sort of not the same…

        1. That’s true, some eating out is fine enough but one’s diet shouldn’t rely on it.

          I didn’t look into his exact deal. I suspect he’s a minimal of sorts who advocates for less spending and more enjoying. I’m fine with that, though some people take it farther that I would personally go (ie: having an itemized list of the things they own). I do think that in general people could benefit from consuming less, or at least doing so more mindfully.

          1. all true…myself, I don’t eat out that often..

            even if one does eat out quite a bit (as maybe you do), I think a good way to promote one’s health/diet, is just make sure you eat lots of healthy raw foods, veg etc, in as much variety as possible. Of course, the sometimes eating out can also include extra healthy foods (grin).

            my greatest “gripe” / angst about eating out (which I do but only occassionaly)

            the cost
            the state of “hygiene” which is used in food prep/food storage/and so on. Within past few yrs I have gotten to know a number of folks who have worked in eating establishment kitchens (including some very pricey ones), and the things I have heard …YIKES. As a result, I lean towards something deep fried (as in deep fried / battered fish etc), figuring the sizzling oil mitigates contaminations…sigh.

            1. Yeah my main concern is the price as well. It’s hard to justify spending more than, say 10$ on a meal (and that’s a cheap meal these days) and doing so with any regularity. I don’t worry so much about hygiene, but I do keep it in the back of my mind. If I feel like I might be getting something old, or something that has been sitting around for a while I’ll probably pass on getting food there.

  5. Loved the Blue Jays stuff…yup, it’s been pretty painful this season this far, but I still carry hope. The season is young.

      1. Amen! Couldn’t stay up to watch. Apparently it ended close to 4 AM EST. I try to stay up to speed with every game though.

        1. Me too. I definitely didn’t stay up for that one. I’ll try to catch a bit of today’s game though. These days I wish they were all in the afternoon, so I could watch them while I do computer work.

  6. Yes, that’s definitely a sewing cabinet. I have my grandmothers, so that makes it about 80 years old. In the drawers there are likely slots on each side. There were rods at one time that spools of thread went on to keep organized.
    I love reading your blog!

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