Monday, January 5, 2009

The Great Dumpster Filling of 2008

Not to be confused with The Dumpster Filling of 2007, which was also known as The Great Frozen Turkey Bowling Escapade.

Oh, and then there was The First Dumpster Filling when we cleaned out the cellar, which is also called The Day I Knew Jen Would Be a Friend for Life. Also referred to as What in God's Name Used to Be in This Jar?

Yep, we've done this before. You'd think we were pros by now. We had a little bit of a slow start this time around, mainly because we didn't have any one area to focus on. So, the first day or two, we really had our doubts as to whether or not we were going to fill the dumpster or get our money's worth out of it. Silly, silly, us.

That first day, we were putzing around the garage. We found...
  • Christmas lights that had been used outside for various things. About 6 or 7 strands worth. And all but 1 of them worked. Actually, the one that didn't work was only half broken, but I didn't feel like trying to figure out which was the bad bulb in it.

  • These crazy thick book / binder type things that held manuals and parts catalogs for when my grandfather had his lawnmower repair shop. He passed away in 1984, and no one ever threw away the books. These things were each seriously almost as big as a cinder block. Some went into the dumpster, and some of the smaller ones got burnt in our giant bonfire.

Yep, we had a bonfire. There was a lot of brush on the property from some recent emergency tree pruning. That, combined with a few things from the garage and the barn made for a nice fire.

After taking that first day or so to ease ourselves into the dumpster process, we knew we had to get serious. So, we ventured into the lower attic. Yes, the house has two attics. The lower attic is easier to get into, so it was used more heavily, but it was also at one point inhabited by bats. Bats make poop. Poop is yucky. So, we had to wear masks to avoid breathing poop and booties to avoid tracking poop and funk through the house. We also put down a tarp to try to contain some of the yuck as we were carrying stuff out to the dumpster. However, despite all the yuckies, there were some pretty interesting things to be found up there...

  • Salt and pepper shakers. Lots of them. A pair of turtles. A pair of frogs. A pair of strawberries. Several wooden pairs that were purchased as souvenirs in the 1000 Lakes region of New York. Not really sure why these were collected or what their story is. I kept the turtles, because I am a turtle fan and collector, but the rest will find themselves on display at the next yard sale. Here's an example of one of the pairs I found. I googled them to find this picture. They aren't exactly big collectibles - this pair is available for less than $5.
  • Christmas lights. Several strands, some used and some still in their boxes. Haven't checked them yet, but there's enough there to stretch from one end of town to the next. Really, these weren't a surprise, but they serve as a nice connection from the garage to the attic.

  • Lamps. As in plural. I think we sent at least 2 to the dumpster - they were fugly, and I doubt they worked. Mice and chords don't mix, ya know. There are a few that were saved, but will probably be set out at the next yard sale. These were mostly table-sized lamps. Still dated, and totally not my style.

  • Lamp shades. 'Cause what good is a lamp without a shade? We found more shades than lamps, and they were very dirty and very dated. Yep, they met the dumpster.

  • An antique curling iron. Modern enough that it did use electricity. Antique enough that you plugged it into a light socket instead of an outlet. Here's a picture of one, although what we found was not in such good condition. This was saved, mainly for curiosity's sake.


  • Fabric, some good and some not so good. By "not so good", I mean both uglier than sin and also in bad shape due to mice, bats and time. The good, which could someday be used for quilting or other projects, was kept. The bad went into the dumpster.

  • Various crafting supplies. The makings for those little diorama things that were made in upside down glass jars. Patterns for clothing, some used and some not. A couple of containers of sewing supplies - as if I didn't have enough of that sort of thing already! Of all the crafting supplies, some went into the dumpster and some was saved.

  • Pictures of my mother's mother and her family members. Most of them are unfortunately unlabeled, but I did find a series of letters from before my grandmother got married. She had apparently written letters to family members (aunts and cousins) back in Germany. However, the family members did not speak English, and my grandmother did not speak German. So, the family in Germany found the one boy in the village who spoke English - a student at the university. They asked him to translate the letter and write back. I have the first letter he wrote back, along with a separate letter he sent with it to my grandmother. I then have several other letters he wrote to her and photos that he included, some of the family but a few of him. It was really neat - he was so thrilled to have a friend in America (a female friend, nonetheless!), he asked for money since he was a poor student, and he had friend who wanted a friend in America to write to him. The whole thing sounds very cliche and very .... Hollywood .... but it's true!

  • An assortment of various empty gift boxes and other bags and boxes. These are being saved for the next bonfire.

However, after all of these interesting and "interesting" finds, the real mother load was all of the handcrafted things that we found. Embroidered pillow cases, dresser scarves, handkerchiefs. Crocheted and tatted doilies. Quilt pieces. Tablecloths. Aprons. An appliqued baby quilt that was never finished. All of these things, just from the attic alone, filled a gigantic plastic tote. We're talking the 100 quart model from Sterilite - the monster that I can barely hold onto from end to end because it's that long. The tote was full, and that doesn't count the pieces that were in such bad shape they couldn't be saved or the similar pieces that we had already found in the master bed room. I don't know why they were never used. Probably because they were "too nice" to be used. In any event, the plan is to clean them up and then save them in the cedar chest until we are up there and can use them on a regular basis. No point in shutting up all that beautiful handiwork. It needs to be displayed and used.

We also spent some time cleaning in the barn, which is also referred to as the honey house since my dad processed honey out there. We focused a lot on the side where he kept his boat, since Shawn had managed to clear a path to the back side of the boat. When we got into this spot, we found the things that no clean-up is complete without...

  • Fireworks. Actually, more like quarter sticks.

  • Bullets and shotgun shells.

  • Fishing lures.

  • Pesticide and herbicide, much to Shawn's dismay.

We also found a set of dishes that had been my parents' every day dishes at one point, as well as other interesting glass items - canisters, vases, etc.

When all was said and done, by New Year's Eve we had the dumpster nearly full to the gills and we were able to sit down and relax. There were a few holes here and there, but we had definitely maximized the opportunity. At some point in time, we'll need another dumpster, but we've made a tremendous dent in the clutter. We're now at the point where the attic can be used to store some of the stuff that is in the main living part of the house while we finish painting it. That is definitely a good thing.

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