Mondays

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In an attempt to bring greater organization to my life I’ve decided to try writing blog posts exclusively on Mondays. I find time management and scheduling to be the most challenging aspect of being self-employed. By creating a more consistent schedule I hope to avoid burnout and lessen my work-a-holic tendencies. I also think it can make me a more efficient worker in general. I haven’t been writing posts much more than once a week these days regardless, but I think having the set day will be very helpful.

I’d love to do the blog more often. However, at this point each post takes about a day (or more!) to write, when taking into account all the necessary photography, photo editing, research, and words. That’s a lot of time, and it’s hard to justify doing that more than once a week given all the other work I have to do as well.

Either way, I think the blog makes sense as a once a week thing. Posts will likely be a little bigger, and feature the best stuff of the week. It also works well with my habit of mentioning my weekly sales and listings.

I went out to Mount Royal on Tuesday night and checked back at the spot that produced the 1976 Olympics posters the week before. This week provided a collection of Rollei color filters (which should make me a bit of cash), a tobacco pipe, a watch (which I have yet to test), and a working LED flashlight. There was also an ice tea container filled with “sable de fonderies” (foundry sand) which is near black. I wonder why this was kept. I think it would make a cool art material.

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Thursday brought me through Westmount and the Golden Square Mile. This pile sat next to a church on Sherbrooke.

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Sitting atop the pile was an old table top soccer game. It’s not worth that much, but it could be fun to play over the winter!

The bags contained mostly old busted china and glassware, perhaps some ill-fated donations. One piece stuck out, though – a cute little green dish that had a depression glass look to it. I suspected it to be uranium glass. This was confirmed when it glowed green upon exposure to my UV blacklight (which I found in Ville St Laurent last month). The dish isn’t worth much, given a notable chip around the top, but it’s still cool to find something like this.

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I came across this stuff next to a massive house in the Golden Square Mile. From inside the bags I salvaged a nice sterling silver ring, a couple of necklaces (one of which was from Guess, originally priced 36$), a working strand of Christmas lights, one of those salt rock lights (though missing the actual lamp), and about two bucks, mostly in penny form.

I also found four cellphones. Two are total junk, though totally recyclable. I might be able to get a bit of money from the Blackberry 9780 with a broken screen, and the seemingly perfectly functional Samsung Galaxy 5.

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The best finds of the day came from this spot in Westmount. Some very rich people were moving and didn’t seem to mind my friend and I looking through their discards.

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We saved a lot of stuff from the landfill, at least fifty pounds worth I figure. I often wonder how much stuff I’ve diverted from the dump – I bet a few tons at least!

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There was a whole bunch of food, much of which was unopened. This is just what I took home – my friend took a bit herself.

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There was also a great number of very useful items. Seeing these TI-83+ calculators brought me on a trip down memory lane. I remember when my sister needed one of these for high school math. I also remember learning how much I hated math while using one in Grade 11. Regardless, buying one, which I remember being around 150$ or so, was actually an expense that my family stressed a bit over (“Money was pretty tight at the time”, mom says). Fast forward around ten years later and I’m finding them in the garbage. They’re still worth money too – around 50$ on eBay – and remain extremely useful. If anyone in Montreal needs one I can offer a bit of a local discount, just send me an email if interested.

That wasn’t all, though. I also saved: a great headlamp (which seems to retail for about 50$); a bunch of working batteries; a collection of tape; unopened sunscreen and bug repellent; iCloth wipes for cleaning electronics; a working walkman and portable radio; a nice tri-fold wallet; a Chanel eyeglasses case; a working Mykronoz watch; an unopened disposable electronic cigarette; a bundle of wires, cables, and universal adapters; a cool flexible vase; a few decent pairs of mitts; an unopened “Sounds of Horror” CD (a perfectly timed find for this Halloween weekend); and a small collection of change. Some of these items are particularly useful for my business, such as the batteries, headlamp, tape, wipes, and adapters.

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Friday brought me on a run to Cote St Paul and Ville Emard. I like the route, partly due to the area’s rich working class history but also because the garbage and recycling pickups seem to be scheduled on the day. More bang for the buck! There seems to be an active garbage picking community there – I saw at least three different people on the hunt, mostly for copper wires or cans.

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At one point I found a ceramic Mary waiting for me in a flower pot. Around her neck were three different rosaries. She’s in pretty good condition, especially considering how fragile the material is. It’s a large piece, around a foot and a half tall.

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This pile was mostly junk, outside of a couple of cool vintage mugs made for the Electrolux vaccuum company. I think I might be able to get some money for the one with no chips, the other I added to the house collection.

Another house provided some great glass cookware, a cool old phone, a “Made in Japan” vase (with some wrapping protecting the top rim), some more tinned food, and a very nicely embroidered wall hanging featuring the serenity prayer, which I’ve always thought to be a nice statement.

In other news, I’ve spent a fair bit of time listing on eBay since my last post. All the teacups from last month are now live, and two sets have already sold. I’m going to get busy again with eBay listing this week.

Garbage sales from the last two weeks (October 20 – November 2)

-Lampe Berger and glass doorknob: to a reader for 15$. The Lampe Berger came from TMR, the glass doorknob from Park Ex.
-Heart-shaped trinket box: to a reader for 5$. Found a few weeks back in Park Ex.
-Pewter birds, metal cups / shot glasses: to a reader for 15$. Found in TMR.
-Karlsbader tea set: on Kijiji for 50$. This was a part of the massive collection of china I found last month in Ville St Laurent.
-Set of three Paragon tea cups, green: on eBay for 180$. A nice sale! Let’s hope they don’t break in transit, though I did pack them very well. Another part of that china collection.
-(A second) set of three Paragon tea cups, turquoise: on eBay for 170$. Yet another part of that collection.
-Vintage Australian flag: on eBay for 60$. The last of a small collection I found in TMR in late July.
-Bulova “Sea King” automatic watch movement: sold on eBay for 85$. This was a nice sale. I’ve had this for a long time, thinking it wasn’t worth that much. I decided to look it up again, and this time (perhaps due to my improving research skills) discovered it was a vintage Sea King model, which is apparently somewhat desirable. I listed it and it sold very quickly. Found way back last November while biking around on a cold, snowy morning in Rosemont.

Total: 580$, 5386.75$ since May 18th (when I started keeping better track). A pretty decent couple of weeks! Online sales definitely seem to be increasing, partly due to the Christmas season but also the cold keeping people inside and on their computers.

New listings

Bulova Sea King movement (SOLD!)
Set of three Paragon tea cups, green (SOLD!)
Another set of three Paragon tea cups, turquoise (SOLD!)
Aynsley teacup, saucer – blue, floral
Aynsley teacups, saucer – fruit
Aynsley teacup, saucer – fruit, royal blue
Aynsley teacup, saucer – red, floral
Paragon teacup, saucer – pale yellow, roses
Set of two Aynsley teacups, saucers – fruit, blue
Aynsley teacup and saucer – fruit, light blue
George Inn pewter dish
-Expo 67 season pass
-(Another) Expo 67 season pass
Vintage Short and Mason thermometer

Note: I offer local buyers a discount on my eBay prices, assuming they can come and pick it up. My eBay prices include free shipping, and local buyers don’t have to pay the amount I add for shipping. I also give a bit of a discount to account for my not having to pay eBay / Paypal fees, and the reduced time it takes me to pack and ship the item. Just send me an email if you’re interested in something I have currently listed and we can work out a deal. My listings can be seen here.

If you have a question, see anything that you’re interesting in buying, or to just want to say hello feel free to email me at thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I also enjoy reading your comments!

Accidental workaholic

A very rough draft
A very rough draft

“Have you considered getting a regular job?”

This was a question asked by my therapist during what will likely be my last session for a while. Getting a “normal” (a word she is sure never to use) job is tempting sometimes. A normal job would provide more financial stability, that’s for sure. However, the most attractive aspect of traditional work for me is the set schedule. You get up, go to work, do whatever it is you’re supposed to do, and then go home and think about something other than work (though this is getting harder in the age of smartphones). By working you give up a bit of freedom but you gain comfort, a fair trade-off in many cases if you ask me.

As a full-time, self-employed scavenger I have all kinds of freedom. I can take days off whenever I want and I don’t have to report to a boss. I enjoy most of the tasks related to my work and choose to do them completely from my own free will.

The only problem is that I’m really bad at turning “off.” My brain has always tended toward over-analyzing and self-doubt and it (especially recently) results in constant internal questioning. Should I go on a hunt in the morning or should I spend the day getting things on Ebay? Should I be on Ebay right now or should I try to relax? Should I be relaxing right now or should I be researching my finds? The constant internal dialogue is exhausting and often leads to a state of analysis paralysis where I achieve none of my desired goals. I think of myself as an accidental workaholic, one who satisfies the definition not through a compulsion to work but instead the sheer power of neuroticism.

This all takes energy away from other aspects of my life. Cooking, for example used to be something I enjoyed doing but now rarely get around to. It feels overwhelming to think about planning a meal, buying groceries, and then cooking that meal while other work waits. As a result I rely too much on eating out which isn’t good for my health. I also feel too busy to commit to classes, workshops or cultural events that might help me learn new skills or discover new ways of thinking.

I think the solution is to better schedule my life. I’ve spent a lot of time with my therapist and friends discussing various strategies, the most recent of which is the quite strict but also very freeing. It’s characterized by how it delineates “free time,” forcing me to take a break around lunch and be done with work entirely – no Ebay, no research, no hunting, no nothing! – at 5pm. I also have Saturday completely off.

Having this free time scheduled is both exciting and terrifying. What will I do with all this extra time? Is “turning off” something I’m even capable of? While these thoughts pop up I’m mostly optimistic that this schedule will help make life a little less chaotic.

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On Thursday I did a run through Westmount and Verdun. It was a grungy day where it felt like everything I looked at was oily, grimy or smelled like cigarettes. The pile above smelled like cigarettes. Everything was inside those really cheap black garbage bags that will rip at the slightest touch.

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There were some interesting old things and I proceeded in spite of the smell. These are two old publications by the Sedbergh School, a private senior school in Montebello (a cute town an hour from Montreal) that was open from 1939 to 2010. On the left is a promotional pamphlet from early 1939 trying to encourage people to visit and enrol their children.

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On the right is a “Sedburgh News” student publication from June 1950. It seems to have doubled for a yearbook as whoever owned this got his classmates to sign the back.

I thought it would be a good idea to do some research and see if any of these signatures belonged to anyone famous. This process turned out to be fairly easy – Wikipedia has a section of “notable alumni” in their Sedburgh School Wikipedia page. It turns out that two of these people are notable enough to have their own Wikipedia page. One is Pete Kirby (signature at top left) who won a gold medal in Bobsleigh at the 1964 Olympics before becoming a geologist. The other is Michael Pitfield, a long-time Clerk of the Privy Council (highest level civil servant) and Canadian Senator from 1982-2010.

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Deeper in the pile were two old photos from the late 1800s – early 1900s. I find it a bit odd that I would find these but no other photos.

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I also saved a few old tins. The one in the shape of a book contained a well-worn bible.

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I went with my friend Sarah on Friday to a spot in CDN that has been producing for months. While we were looking through the bags a woman came out and aggressively asked us what we were doing. She accused us of making a mess but it was in fact someone else – I think a can picker had tore a hole in a bag earlier in the day. Regardless, Sarah did some smooth talking, diffused the situation and fostered a working if tense relationship with the woman. She ended up offering us two garbage bags full of stuff on the condition that we took them as they were. In the end we saved about four bags from the landfill.

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For her efforts Sarah received a bunch of kitchen stuff, most notably a decent set of silverware and a working food processor. She was pumped.

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I left what neither of us wanted in a box on the curb but kept a lot of nicer, yard saleable trinkets. I could have had a decent yard sale with all the stuff we found – the items in the picture above are just a few of many.

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There was a plastic shopping bag full of vintage, if not particularly valuable costume jewellery. Jewellery is always a great seller.

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I also brought home a nice little rug. I’ve been looking for one for a while now, though it remains to be seen if it matches my current room. It’s hard to find good, bedbug free rugs so this is a nice get regardless. I think it’ll look great after a go-over with my friend’s carpet shampooer.

To the sales:

Last weeks sales (June 16 – June 22)
-Sterling silver pillbox: to a reader for 60$. I posted this just a few weeks ago and someone emailed me right away to buy it.
-Silver sports “medals” from pre-war Germany: Ebay for 90$. I found these alongside the Nazi German passport. I did some research and found that they were made from re-purposed silver coins. I’ve already made nearly 400$ from this spot alone – I sold that 1824 Jewish prayer book for 150$, the freak show signatures for 154$ and these medals for 90$.
-Tea cup and miniature Eiffel Tower: to a reader for 3$. They told me to keep the change on a 20. Thanks!
-Mr Fuji action figure: Ebay for 10$. I’ve had this since September and am glad to see it go.
Total: 180$, 990$ since May 18.

A decent week if unspectacular week for sales. I need to have a yard sale soon, hopefully this weekend.

I’ve come up empty so far this week but hopefully tomorrow’s run through TMR will provide some nice finds. As always I’ll let you know.

Lucky Cup

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This house in CDN has been my only real source of garbage the past couple of weeks. It’s definitely one of the most productive places I’ve ever come across, providing me excellent and interesting things for nearly two months now. At some point the reservoir will be exhausted but for now I’ll enjoy the ride as it lasts.

Here’s some things I collected here over the past two trash days.

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This is an old “Susy Goose” Barbie doll closet. Inside are little clothes hangers, drawers (which contain miscellaneous clothes items – including a pair of diving fins), and a foil mirror. It’s in pretty good overall condition and should make me around 20-25 bucks.

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A couple pieces had broken off this Murano glass ashtray but I managed to glue them back on. It looks pretty good after the repair but the imperfections reduce its value. This near perfect example sold on Ebay for around 55$ (28$ plus 27 for shipping). I’ll try to get 10$ for mine at a yard sale.

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I like this old metal box. It would easily sell at a yard sale but I’ll probably keep it myself.

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Another little metal container, this time with a chrome finish.

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These disposable coffee cups were part of a 1980s “Lucky Cup” promotion by Maxwell House. I couldn’t find any reference to them outside of the website of a marketing firm that takes credit for the idea. According to them “this was the first time a sweepstakes had been placed on a hot drink cup.” There’s nothing like them on Ebay, I wonder if a collector would give me 25 bucks for them? It’s a shot in the dark but you never know!

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I found another one of those unique record pressings. On the label is written a name and that it was recorded on February 7th, 1948 at a “Music Bar.” There are some scratches that might make it hard to play but I hope to get it digitized sometime this summer.

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On the right is a NHL schedule published by Esso for the 1964-1965 season. That was way back when there were only six NHL teams – bit took me a while to figure out why there were so few games! It’s in excellent condition, someone wrote the scores next to some of the games on the inside but a collector might enjoy that. There’s a guy on Ebay trying to sell one just like it for 110$ and there’s another one up for 65$. I think I’ll put mine up for 60 in hopes that I can sell it relatively quickly. I also don’t think 110$ is a realistic price.

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These are old S&H green stamps, part of a popular rewards program that existed in the US from the 30s to 80s. They’re not really valuable but are a cool addition to a yard sale. I’m sure a lot of people remember them.

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A brand new red leather wallet. I think I’ll use it after my current wallet gets worn out.

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A cool, if not particularly fancy (Made in Hong Kong) pair of vintage sunglasses.

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There was a bunch of jewellery here on Tuesday. Some pieces were broken or only good for parts but others were quite nice.

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These costume jewellery earrings will make me some money at a yard sale. The pair at top left were made by Monet, a fairly popular brand. The beads of the necklace seems to be made of glass.

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This bracelet needs some love (one missing link, no clasp, some green tarnish on the metal) but is still very beautiful. I’ll try to find some parts to match it.

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There were a bunch of pins and other baubles. The two at bottom are sterling silver while the ring at top left looks to be silver as well. The ring’s “arms” don’t extend as far as usual, it doesn’t seem like it’s broken but it’s a challenge getting it to stay on my finger.

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There was also a collection of Hebrew pins. Some are related to the Maccabiah Games, an event held in Israel that Wikipedia describes as the “Jewish Olympics.” Others have the Olympic symbol on them. I’m going to try putting these on Ebay as a lot.

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This piece marked 750 (18k gold) is a brooch with a missing pin. I think the rocks at the top could be little diamonds. It’s valuable even just as scrap but I wonder if I could make it into a pendant.

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These beads have a beautiful lustre and a sort of marbled tone. I think they’re pearls because none of them are perfectly round and they also passed the “friction test”. I supposed they could be polished stone or marbled glass as well, what do you think?

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I thought this modernist style ring (marked 900 silver) was pretty cool. One of the arms is a little cracked but it works fine for now, though I’d want to repair that somehow before selling it. I’d also be happy keeping it myself!

Last weeks sales (May 26 – June 1)

Gold-filled watch in need of repair – 15$ (to a reader), found in Plateau April 15th
-2 “Banzai” Metallica Cassettes (early Canadian printings) – 38$ (Ebay), found in Rosemont as part of larger collection but not featured. The collection was in front of the same place as these great bike locks and the bike seats from last week
-Yard Sale – Many different things added up to 135$
Total: 188$, 338$ since I began keeping better track (May 18).

Another passable if unspectacular week. I hope to have another yard sale this weekend, if so I should post some bigger numbers soon. I also plan on scheduling my work a bit better so I get more things listed online.

I plan on going back to this spot (and NDG, CDN, Westmount) tomorrow (if not later tonight). I’ll let you know if I find anything more!