Changes pt.2

My garage, after a lot of purging and reorganizing in preparation for my friend’s van going in

Early in the summer, I heard about a new artist space opening up in Outremont. The idea excited me, because for a while I’d been thinking that my “garbage life” was far too isolating. More often than not, I pick alone, I sort alone (in this garage), I write alone, I research alone, and I sell alone.

My theory was that, by splitting a space with other people, artists in particular, I’d feel a little less alone, maybe make some new friends, benefit from some new connections, etc. And I did enjoy being there, for a bit. But eventually, reality set in: for all that craving for social interaction, for a feeling of community, and so on, I also really wanted to work less hard. With rent at 320$ a month, I realized I had to hustle 320$ a month harder (or close to 3840$ a year) to just to survive.

I’ve talked about burnout here a lot, maybe you’re sick of hearing about it. But I found a way to make trash picking into a lot of work. Finding the trash (10-15 hours a week) is usually kind of fun, when I’m not getting yelled at by idiots. But when I do get a big haul of stuff, I suddenly have a carload of stuff to deal with. So I have to empty the car / drop off all this junk at the storage, and organize it again. The more interesting stuff gets sequestered together (by the spot where I found it) for future blog photos, and the less interesting stuff goes straight to the yard sale bin, or a shelf if it’s something I want to research a bit more. When I actually get around to taking these blog photos, that’s pretty time consuming, and I don’t really get paid for it. And then there’s the stuff that’s worth nothing or close to it, that I devote energy to redistributing anyways because I hate waste, the actual garbage I have to take out (inevitably I take things I shouldn’t, especially when I throw whole bags in the car), and the bins and bins full of yard sale stuff that I have to keep from overflowing and making my space a disaster zone. And then, there’s the blog writing, photo editing, social media, and etc. Blogging + photography, in the past sometimes took around 15-20 hours a week alone back when I was really pumping them out, and doing these monster posts with crazy amounts of pictures.

I can empathize with poor Newman here, because the garbage never stops, and all the work above is a job in itself, in my opinion. But maybe you noticed that, despite all those tasks, I haven’t actually made any money yet. Yard sales are more fun than work, especially now that I pay a friend to help me (I can’t believe I used to do them all by myself), but they’re still work (often close to 10 hours) and a lot of my money is made on eBay. That’s where my more valuable finds go, but it can take minutes or hours to figure out what something is worth (not to mention the items where no matter how much I “do my own research,” I’m not qualified, or just don’t feel qualified enough to make a final evaluation). Listing itself can take 5-30 minutes depending on the complexity of the item (I’d say the average is like 10-12 minutes, between taking the pictures and writing the description, adding shipping costs, etc). Until it sells, you have to store it somewhere, and then when it does sell, you have to put it in a box and ship it out. Most of the time the transaction goes off without a hitch, but once in a while something goes wrong and you have to do something. And all the while, “the garbage never stops,” so there’s always some new thing to deal with / worry about.

Me looking haggard at the “new space,” surrounded by years-old crap, and some fresh finds as well

So anyways, short story long, I get this new coworking space. I bring a bunch of my junk from the old space, but then I realize there’s not really all that much that I actually wanted to bring. And a lot of the stuff I did bring, were finds from literally 2-3 years ago, that I hadn’t actually gotten around to doing anything with beyond many rounds of sorting (they were often “complicated finds,” or things that needed a lot of research and attention).

And why was I still hauling around such old finds? Probably because there was no way for one person to stay on top of this much stuff. Then I think of the 320$ a month price tag and freak out a little, because it means that not only am I going to have to keep hustling my ass off just to make rent, I’m actually going to have to hustle harder.

So, that didn’t work out (on top of those issues, the space was also on the 2nd floor which wasn’t really very convenient… I was really looking through rose-coloured glasses when I made the initial decision). Thankfully I hadn’t had to sign a lease, and had kept control of the garage (I tried renting some of that space to friends for winter vehicle storage, to save a bit of cash, but my landlord apparently doesn’t want me doing that for some cockamamie reason, so that’s off now too… a whole other story though not a very exciting one).

And now I’m back to square one, where I spend way too much time alone, operate out of a fortress of solitude where the rent has recently increased from 200$ a month to 250$, and wish I was part of something bigger. However, I did learn one thing from this experience – that I don’t want to devote so much of my life to work, at least not in the way I have been.

I think that’s enough words for now, next time maybe I’ll get into my ideas for how to proceed going forward, in a way that’s more fulfilling and less work intensive.

Below is a photo dump of some stuff I found pre-pandemic, but never got around to sharing here.

(On a side note, some of my economic anxiety also has to do with the fact that since a spectacular 2020, the garbage has sucked much more often than not. Finds have been a bit better lately, but I’m still not finding much in the way of gold, and neighbourhoods that were once cash cows have been mostly wastelands for some time now. So, these expenses that might not have stressed me out previously, are stressing me out now… but either way, the work/life balance was an issue I was going to have to deal with regardless).

Links

1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

Changes pt.1

Sorry about the lack of updates. I just haven’t been able to get into the writing mindset. I think I just reached peak burnout, and eventually I realized I had to switch things up if I wanted to really enjoy life. It’s been a busy few months figuring that out, but things are falling into place (I think) and I feel some creative energy returning.

Got lots of things to tell you about, but I’ll break them into a few different posts, because these short posts are much easier to write.

I guess we can start with the most recent, which is that I bought a “new” (to me) car. It’s a 2012 Kia Rondo, which I think is a nice size for my purposes. Big enough to fit a lot more stuff (and not have to do so much sorting on the spot), but not a boat like some of the bigger vans out there (like the Dodge Grand Caravan). For trash picking in this city, it’s nice to have space, but it’s also nice to have a maneuverable vehicle that’s easy to stop and park. It’s also big enough for camping if that’s something I want to do.

I’d been looking for a new vehicle for a while, but the used car market is a bit crazy right now. Personally I think prices have come down, but a lot of people are still trying (unsuccessfully) to sell their 10 year old beaters for 2x what they’re worth. I played the waiting game, and eventually found one that was reasonably priced. I paid 4450$, which I think was very fair. So far, I’m pretty happy – it’s very clean, feels well maintained, and is also a lot more comfortable and powerful than my old subcompact beater, which was a bit of a lemon as well.

Here’s some finds from a spot in St Michel earlier this summer. I miss this spot.

These guys were travel agents I think, and apparently never threw away an old paper. I found lots of boxes packed like this, with travel ephemera dating mostly from the 50s to 70s.

Here’s the contents of a big envelope marked “Ontario.” There were several envelopes filled with similar content from different provinces. I listed some on eBay, but the listings don’t seem too popular. Maybe it’s better sold at yard sales, or on Instagram.

I love a good map, and there were a lot of good ones here. This is PEI in the early 60s (iirc). I heart the colour scheme.

Some of the ephemera was a little older, like this Quebec booklet that was published in 1934. No need for me to take more photos of this, when the Quebec Archive has already scanned it!

I also like a good vintage box. This Kraft processed cheese box is pretty neat, I didn’t know they once had a factory in Outremont. From this document, it looks like they were operating from 20 Bates in the early 50s, and likely a bit before and after.

Not as vintage, but still fun is this Steinberg’s skim milk powder box. I doubt there’s too many of these kicking around! I’m guessing it’s from the late 70s or early 80s based on that font. People around here love Steinberg’s memorabilia, so it definitely has some value to a collector.

This is one of those spots that produced so much cool stuff that it was kind of overwhelming. Going forward, I’m going to have to be a bit more picky about what I take pictures of… but I’ll get into that more in my next post.

Links

1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

Odds & ends

Sorry for the lack of posts, it’s been a pretty blah month on the mental health front. I guess February sucks for a lot of people in general, but this year is particularly bad as a few good friends have moved away and I’m more alone than I’ve ever been. Plus, it’s a lot harder to meet new people when you’re 34 going on 35, it’s the middle of winter, you struggle with depression & anxiety, and there’s nothing going on in a never-ending pandemic. The garbage has largely sucked too, and I’m meeting an unusual amount of angry people with good garbage that apparently really needs to go to the dump and not somewhere useful for some reason (I’ll get more into that in my next post). I’ve found a few good things, but it’s hard not to wonder about “career path” in these trying times, though I’m sure things will turn around eventually. I’m very much looking forward to spring, but that’s still a ways off.

On the plus side, I finally started using Chit Chats Express for most of my eBay shipping. I heard about it years ago, but for a while their only location was out in Ville St Laurent, and driving out there would offset any savings. Now they have a drop-off location on St-Denis, which is much more convenient. I’d say that I save 5-10$ on most packages, and sometime more than that. Other times it’s more or less the same, and only once was the Chit Chat’s rate a bit higher (for shipping a big Ham radio to Washington State). It also offers tracking on low-value packages that I normally wouldn’t track, due to the extra cost (for example, a 25$ poster to the States costs 6-7$ with tracking, when Canada post would be 12-13$ with no tracking or 18-19$ with – I don’t usually have a problem shipping low-value items without tracking, but it’s still nice to have for both me and the customer).

Anyways, I would recommend them anyone who ships things on a regular basis. I’ve saved probably 150-200$ just in the couple months I’ve been using it, and they have lots of locations across Canada now it seems. Please use my referral code if you do, that way you’ll get 5$ free and I’ll make a few bucks when you start shipping (I believe it’s 10 cents per package in the first month of you using the service).

In other good news I figured out how to get the old WordPress editor back (apparently just needed a “widget”), so now I can quit whining about that. Also, I decided to bring back the Paypal “donate” widget (which stopped working for some reason) because that’s what most bloggers do. Most say “buy me a beer,” but you can also help with blog expenses. It costs about 450$ a year to pay for the WordPress stuff (extra storage space for pics, no ads), and I wouldn’t need as big of a garage if I didn’t blog. Plus the time it takes to make these photo arrangements. Of course I’ve kind of sucked at this blogging thing for a while now, but hopefully one day my brain will cooperate again.

Anyways, this apartment building produced a nice haul in early January. Not much since… but I still check on it.

 

With apartment building trash you’re bound to find a lot of crap, so I only stop if the garbage pile is interesting. That vintage card table set and mirror was enough to get me to stop the car, and then I discovered that the bags were full of kitchen & dining wares. This short video shows you the sound a bag full of kitchenwares makes. The sound and look of the bags helps me differentiate the good stuff from the bad, the latter of which comprises the vast majority of what we call “garbage.”

All in all I picked out about two big bags worth of stuff, as well as the card table and mirror. There was some breakage, which is common when people throw ceramics and glasswares into bags and then drag them to the curb, but plenty of quality stuff survived.

There was lots of silverplate, but some was pretty worn out and best scrapped (the plated brass and copper is worth decent money at the yard). That serving dish at the top right had its original glass insert, which is pretty uncommon (at least with trash silverplate). That odd looking thing at the bottom right is a vintage “cake comb.”

I found a few things in protective Birks drawstring bags. The nicest piece is probably that cake server on the bottom. Based on my research, it’s a solid silver piece made by Hippolyte Thomas in France sometime in the 1850s. You can see (and zoom in on) the hallmarks below. I don’t find stuff that old particularly often, so that’s fun. It’s probably worth around 150-200$.

A couple of other favs include this early mid-century Pillivuyt porcelain pot, which managed to escape its trip to the curb without any damage. I sold it via the @garbagefindssells Instagram (managed by someone else, but I post occasionally) for 40$, which I think was a good deal.

Also nice was this old decanter with a silver top. Below are the hallmarks, which show that it was made in Birmingham, England in 1911, probably by John Grinsell & Sons. Haven’t figured out a price yet but I’m thinking it’s worth around 100$.

Anyways that’s all for now. Hopefully I can get another post up soon. It’s not for a lack of stuff, just a lack of brain power.