19 May 2008

Trash/Treasure

Once upon a time, my parents were driving through their town and spotted a rolled up oriental on the curb. They jumped out and tossed in the station wagon, took it home and unrolled it. It turned out to be COMPLETELY stained saturated sullied by dog excrement. They rolled it back up and put it on their curb. It disappeared within a hour. For all we know, that rug is still making the rounds.

I spent the weekend at my mother's house. I dug up some more plants in the garden, because I can't help myself. And I puttered around in her miraculous sewing room. It's full of fabric, for quilting and clothes and upholstery, sorted by color, weight, fiber. There's a veritable rainbow of thread, and any size, type or color button you might want. There are snaps and grommets and hooks and eyes. There's ribbon galore, and drawers full of yarn. There are bits of that and pieces of this. And it's organized to a fare-thee-well.

Out of scraps of madras and calico, I made doll clothes - two dresses for the one who only had the frou-frou ermine and velvet dress she came in and a skirt and halter top for one of the Groovy Girls. And I pieced a swath of bias-cut plaid onto a pair of pants that had become too short for Miss M. And I thought about the luxury of stuff.

Because, in someone else's hands, those buttons wouldn't have been rescued from a worn out shirt, those torn madras shorts wouldn't have been saved to later adorn a doll. I marvel at that resourcefulness, and I know how deeply it's ingrained in me. I too collect bits of this and pieces of that - both tangible and ephemeral - and I love to recycle the detritus I pick up. Slices off a Christmas card become gift tags or package decorations. A length of cord from a drawstring Apple shopping bag turns into a button closure on a hand-made bag. A torn sheet is remade into a pillowcase. Odd short pieces of yarn are incorporated into a hat for a premature baby.

But that I had more time.

On the other hand, sometimes trash is just trash, like the oriental rug, and sometimes it's head-scratchingly amusing. My sister found a copy of How to Drive Your Woman Wild in Bed in my mother's underwear drawer. Huh? Trash or treasure?

It's a fine line.

23 comments:

Mental P Mama said...

Love it! Who got the book?

slouching mom said...

Ah, I wish I had more of the hoarding instinct common to your stock.

wheelsonthebus said...

Are you kidding? Treasure, of course. That book sounds like it could be very, very useful in the right hands.

womaninawindow said...

I wish I was this resourceful. I think it would be better for a) the world and b) our souls, if we could all just dig deep like this and use our minds to think up new roles for old stuff.

Vered said...

It's a fine line indeed. I tend to err on the side of trash, but your story is inspiring. I need to reuse more.

kathy a. said...

i love your mom's sewing room! wish i was so organized. wish i was still sewing, but i expect that will come back at some point -- since i have a lot of "good for something" pieces sitting around.

this is a little off-topic, but could your mom use a happy quilt? that's my name for a crazy quilt of memorable fabrics -- could be pieces from beloved clothing of family members, fabric she loves, things that remind her nearest and dearest of her. a happy quilt need not be the ideal artistic quilt -- it is meant for comfort and love only. xoxo

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Trash, treasure or TMI?!

Godless Sunday said...

TREASURE! That is priceless, for so many reasons. Oh, I love the description of your moms sewing room..........thank you

Eva said...

I found a 50s era vibrator in its original, hilarious packaging and some 1960s smutty novels in my grandparents' side table.

So, treasure?

I am so impressed with your ability to put that stuff to use.

Sober Briquette said...

My problem is that I'm collecting a lot still, but not creating as much and I tend to forget what I have lying around.

I try to ignore the stress that causes the type-A portion of my personality and remind myself that life is long and I'll get to it.

You know, or not.

the queen said...

1. My Mom's garden will be a field of holes by the time I sell the house.
2. Anais Nin was gone, but the antiquated "Muscle Relaxer" was still in the dresser.

painted maypole said...

i did not expect the end of this post. very funny.

I am a keeper of stuff, and very big on repurposing. It does mean that I end up with closets and drawers stuffed with stuff I just can't bring myself to get rid of, because I might find a use for it someday. And I often do think to myself "I'm so glad I kept this" but just as often I think "why can't a get rid of more stuff?"

a fine line, indeed

susan said...

I keep stuff, but am not so good at using it. The keeping and the transforming, now that's agreat skill.

alejna said...

I love it when things get repurposed. I tend to hoard, too, thinking that I might be able to make something new out of something else. (I also find myself wishing for more time.) But there is the problem of being overrun with junk. It's frightening how much stuff can fit in a basement.

As for the book, it's intriguing. But it does sound trashy...

Mayberry said...

Yes, did you and your sister fight over the book?!?

I love, love, love that my children are using the quilts that their great-aunt made for their father and uncle. And Aunt Joan still remembers where each piece of fabric came from (an old sheet, a shirt, etc.).

Kyddryn said...

I have recently begun collecting blue jeans from family and friends - I am braiding a rug (to see if I can) and I like the idea of re-purposing the sturdy denim. The fades, stains, and varying colors have thus far made it fun without being garish. This rug, if ever I finish it, will be interesting to say the least...and it'll have a story.

Your Mum is cool. Some day, when I'm all gorwn up (hah!), I hope my sewing room is that well organized.

Also, books? Even quirky ones? Are always a treasure!

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

Victoria said...

That book? Trashy treasure, my friend. =)

Furrow said...

You know, until you finally used the word "rug" at the end of that first paragraph, you were painting a very disturbing scene. Phew!

Robbin said...

I got my son's bassinet on the curbside. I was six months pregnant with Harry and driving up my street when I saw a perfectly good bassinet, with blue and white lining, sitting by the curb with the trash. I threw in the back of the car, took it home and bleached the crap out of every piece of fabric on it and put it back together.

It came out pristine and he slept in it for two months until Katrina finally took it out for good. No WAY was I trying to clean it up after that.

Aunt Becky said...

I enjoy being resourceful as well as enjoying throwing crapola away. It makes for a good balance, I like to think.

the mama bird diaries said...

I'm still laughing about that rug.

She She said...

I LOVE that your mother had this book in her underwear drawer! We think we know our loved ones, but they can be full of surprises.

Tag! (If you want to play...)

http://whosheshe.blogspot.com/2008/05/12-things-about-mememememe.html

Julia said...

I don't have nearly as much stuff, or nearly as well sorted in my sewing corner. But I too wish for more time. Like a week with nothing else to do but putter through that. Or an extra day in the week. Oh, well...