I can’t believe I’m actually going to write a blog post about trash cans but yes, I am. In books about writing, it seems the advice I read about over and over for writer’s block is just to, well, WRITE! So here we go.
When my oldest son went off to college, I purchased a white plastic swing-lid trash can from Dollar General for his freshman dorm room. Yeah, I know, I’m a big spender. But that white plastic trash can served its purpose and survived his college years. The Dollar Store dish drainer rack I also purchased for him however, wasn’t so lucky but that’s a whole other story for another time that involves a weird roommate.
After that son graduated from college, he decided to continue on with his education, and get his Master’s Degree. He studied hard, held down two jobs, and got that Master’s degree that he paid for all on his own (well, maybe with a little help from the company he works for who paid for half, which was nice). He moved into an apartment for two years and then two years ago in October, he bought his first house. So to do that and stay debt free AND then buy a home at age 27 AND furnish that home is pretty remarkable in my eyes. He’s wise and level-headed and he researches and thinks things out when it comes to his purchases. I’m proud of him.
And so he’s slowly getting his home furnished. He’s made a few big purchases like a larger TV, a TV stand, a lawn mower, weed trimmer and leaf blower just to name a few. The new Samsung washing machine in his newly purchased home was recalled before he even moved in or could use it (seems the darn things were exploding and we couldn’t have that) so he researched washing machines and bought himself a new one. He purchased a nice bedroom suit when he moved into the apartment so he had that. When he got that first apartment, his dad and I helped him out and bought him a kitchen table and chairs and gave him a couple of end tables, a bookshelf, and desk that we had here and some other odd and end items. His grandparents gave him a couple of chairs and a lamp, some pots and pans, drinking glasses, and small kitchen appliances like a toaster, food processor, and blender. His aunt and uncle gave him a wall mirror and a wall clock and a coat rack. I think he’s learning that there’s a lot to purchase when you first buy a home. Little things and big things.
As a new homeowner, I think he’s learning that it takes a lot of money to furnish a new home and it can’t all be done at once. I told him what my mother-in-law told me when my husband and I married and bought our first home. Her advice to me was to take my time furnishing our new home and not to feel like I needed to run out and buy everything at once—to just take one room at a time and enjoy fixing it up. We took her advice. I think it was a year before we even had a couch in our living room and even longer before we finally purchased a dining room suit.
But back to the trash can story. My husband and I noticed when we visited our son shortly after he moved into his new house one weekend that he was still using the white dollar store swing lid trash can that he had used in his college dorm rooms and the apartment he lived in for two years before buying his house.
And in case you didn’t know, swing lid trash cans don’t hold odors in too well. My husband and I were getting ready to buy ourselves a new stainless steel trash can for our kitchen, so at one of our visits, I offered to buy our son a nice stainless steel trash can for his new home. A few days later, my son went to Target and picked out a stainless steel trash can. He was very happy with it.
When it came time for my husband and I to go shopping for our new trash can, it suddenly dawned on me that I was really attached to our old wooden trash can and parting with it was going to make me sad. It was very sentimental to me. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on God’s green earth that could ever feel attached and sentimental over a darn trash can. I guess I need to explain the story behind the trash can for this to make any sense to you.
When my husband and I first married, we used to browse at a local antique mall. We met the nicest elderly couple there— I only knew them as Mr. and Mrs. Best, who ran one of the booths. Mr. Best was an exceptional wood craftsman. He was a World War II veteran and he was blind in one eye. I don’t think there was anything that man couldn’t make. All you had to do was tell him what you wanted and he would custom build it for you. So he made us a wooden trash can with handles and a nice lid. I loved that trash can.
This is the only photo I could find from a few years back that has the trashcan showing. I guess I don’t go around photographing the trashcan much. Sorry for the bad photo, but you can at least see how cute my kitties are and see that yes, the trashcan needed to be replaced. It was showing a lot of wear.
When I got my wooden trash can from Mr. Best, my mother liked it so much that I actually had Mr. Best make her one too. I’ve never seen a woman so thrilled to get a trash can for Mother’s Day but that’s what she told me she wanted. I made her swear that she wouldn’t go around blabbing to her friends that her youngest daughter gave her a trash can of all things for Mother’s Day.
When I was pregnant with our first child, Mr. Best made me a changing table which converted to a desk. I told him what I wanted and he designed and made it. I still have it. I love that when not being used as a changing table that you can fold it up. This isn’t the best photo, but it’s the best one I could find.
This is what it looks like folded up.
When my oldest son was about a year old, I asked Mr. Best to make a toy box for us. I wanted a big one and when I gave him the dimensions, he asked if I was sure I wanted a toy box that big. He said it would be more like a cedar chest! I told him that was well and fine because we had a lot of toys. I think the man thought I was a little loony wanting a toy box that big as he kept repeatedly asking me if I was sure that was the size I wanted. When Mr. Best finished building the toy box he took it to the antique mall where my husband and I were to pick it up. To Mr. Best’s surprise, he started getting all kinds of offers from other parents who wanted it for their children’s toys. Mr. Best called us and told us we better hurry on over to pick up our toy box as people were offering to pay double what he was charging us and the offers were rising. He put special slow-shut hinges on it so it wouldn’t slam on little fingers. Our boys got a lot of use out of that toy box. Somewhere I have a photo of both my boys actually sitting inside the toy box among all their toys, but alas, after going through a zillion photo albums I just couldn’t find that particular photo. You can get a general idea of the size of the toy box from these photos.
Mr. Best has been gone many years now so all the things he made for us are very special to me and something about parting with my old wooden trash can made me sad. Is that silly? But I did finally replace it with this new stainless steel trash can.
I’ll confess I could not totally part with my Mr. Best original trash can. It’s down in the basement in my husband’s workshop. I read a book on controlling clutter once and learned that I’m a sentimental junkie. I save clutter for sentimental reasons. It’s why I have a very hard time throwing my kids’ school work and drawings away. I feel like I’m throwing a part of them away or I’m throwing their brains away.
I will tell you that I am not a fan of stainless steel. Sorry if I’m insulting any stainless steel lovers out there but I just think it looks too industrial and I could care less that it’s the “in” thing right now. I just don’t like it. I balked at having to get a stainless steel range and only got stainless steel because there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from and the salesman at hhgregg looked at me like I had three heads when I told him I wanted another almond colored stove. He rolled his eyes and informed me almond was so yesterday. So I went with stainless steel and listened to his tales of how it would not show fingerprints (yeah right) and how easy the ceramic flat-topped stoves are to clean (he’s obviously never cleaned or polished one)! I feel like I spend WAY too much time cleaning and polishing that stove. And wiping fingerprint and kitty prints off of it. I vowed to never get a stainless steel refrigerator. I guess I’m just not with it because everyone tells me, “but that’s what’s in style!” The new trash can has a formaldehyde odor and has since we bought it. We’ve determined it’s the liner (we noticed the smell when we first brought it home before we ever used it). I washed it out real well and even soaked it in bleach and then sat it out in bright sunshine for a couple of days. None of that helped. It stinks and reminds me of my cadaver dog in anatomy class in veterinary school but I guess I’m stuck with it.
Well, if you’ve stuck with this until the end, you deserve a medal or something. Thank you for reading a totally random post about trash cans, changing tables, toy boxes and cadaver/formaldehyde smelling trash cans.
How about you? Are you a sentimental junkie?