Sunday, February 26, 2012

Frustrated Scavenger

Those of you who know me, know that I revel in turning someone else's trash into my treasure. Sometimes to the detriment of our garage, it's true.  I have been known to pull over and rescue bits of furniture from the side of the road when they have clearly blown off someone else's load. I have been known to put other people's things in our truck at the dump. I have been known to knock on people's doors to ask their plans for something that has been in their driveway long enough to make it seem like maybe it just needs another home. Mine. At home, in Oregon, three of my favorite pieces of furniture are scavenged- two of them from the side of the road. A little paint, a little effort and Wha-La!

In some ways, Vietnam is a scavenger's paradise. As mentioned in previous posts, everything unwanted goes to the side of the road. Glorious metal bits, perfectly good wood, chairs and pots, broken pottery just waiting for mosaic, bricks, doors, perfectly good baskets, pieces of glass. It's a veritable Rebuilding Center on every street corner. Even in our neighborhood. Even in our apartment building. I am still lamenting the bamboo blinds that our neighbors threw out a few months back. Surely they would have fit some of our windows....

Let me just mention that this is not necessarily a habit that my husband is particularly fond of. Secretly, I think he takes at least a little perverse pleasure in the beauties I create once they are done. That's what I like to think (and I am sticking with it). At the dump, however, he is not so crazy about providing the necessary distraction so that I can grab that "perfectly good fencing" that someone is throwing on the metal recycling pile. On five acres, I could kind of "hide" my finds. A shed here for doors and windows, a garden "ornament" there. My shop for bits and pieces of furniture or interesting wood bits.

In an apartment, it's a little more challenging. We already have a lot of landlord furniture that we don't really want or need. The extra dining room table, complete with 8 chairs, the table acting as a desk of sorts in Asher's room and the chairs scattered around higgledy-piggledy. The hideously ugly TV bench that even I cannot find any redeeming qualities in, now (mostly) covered with the Spanish flag and acting as the battleground for Asher's Playmobile fleet. The monstrous TV that requires two (very) able-bodied people to lift and so, continues to dominate our living room despite our backs being turned to it. Art that just (REALLY) isn't us. Fabric only goes so far. Vietnamese apartment bedrooms rarely come with closets. And, everything in the apartment has been properly inventoried, signed off on, and must be returned in some semblance of the same order in which we received it. We understand that - we have things at home that we left in our house and that we want back some day.

We, actually, are quite a sensation amongst teachers at our school because we do have a storage closet in our apartment. I have created a bench of sorts out of a couple of our extra dining room chairs to hold our luggage in the closet. Most people stack their luggage in a corner, giving rather an air of "I could leave at any time" feeling to the place. We also have three balconies. With the right accoutrements, these spaces could be put to better use. Maybe, could even hide a few finds.

Gotta go - surely there is some shelving out there somewhere.....

If I can just let go of the guilt of taking it away from someone else who might be able to fix it up and sell it for money to feed their family.