A good housecleaning turns into an online shopping trip!

This is the time of year to clean out stuff. I know, they say “Spring Cleaning.” Well, if you get a move on it right now, you just may accomplish something by Spring.

I do have a hard time throwing stuff away, but I don’t want to be classified as “hoarder” so I try to rustle around the closets and drawers once or twice a year, and then take a good step back and just plain look at my house to see if there’s any substantial “kipple” piling up.

Science fiction king Phillip K. Dick coined the word “kipple” as “rubbish” that simply piles up, seemingly without any human effort. That makes sense to me because my husband and I have made a life of buying old houses and fixing them up. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I have retrieved over the years – toys being first and foremost, and then household objects, dishes, flatware, nick-nacks –  once a huge cut-glass vase without a scratch or a chip on it, I still use it for rooting plant cuttings.

The toys are the most interesting – my son dug up a “Tootsie Toy” once, still in pretty good condition, looked like one of these:

Before “Match Box”, these were little exact replicas of cars, the older ones made out of steel, with doors that open, etc. He was so tickled with the little truck he dug up he traded them on E-bay for a year or so, and still has a couple of very nice ones on his book shelf.

I have all kinds of plastic figurines.

I found this little mermaid in a lump of dirt, I washed her off with a toothbrush, and she sits on a jar of bits collected at Glass Beach.

I found this little mermaid in a lump of dirt, I washed her off with a toothbrush, and she sits on a jar of shells and bits collected at Glass Beach.

A little plastic totem pole - I love this stuff, it's on every windowsill in my house.

A little plastic totem pole – actually a pretty good replica of real totems you’ll find in the Northwestern US.

This guy is so tiny I could hardly get a picture - another treasure from the garden. He challenges me every morning from my kitchen window sill.

This guy is so tiny I could hardly get a picture – another treasure from the garden. He challenges me every morning from my kitchen window sill.

One of my favorite things is the big green glass ashtray dug out of our front yard without a chip in it.

I am always amazed how pretty ashtrays can be - something for putting dead cigarettes in.

I am always amazed how pretty ashtrays can be – something for putting dead cigarettes in.

Here's how I found it, buried upside down in my front yard, only a few inches of the bottom visible - I knew I had "a find".

Here’s how I found it, buried upside down in my front yard, only a few inches of the bottom visible – I knew I had “a find”.  Took some scrubbing, I’ll say.

 

This heavy bowl sits on my husband’s dresser and every night when he takes off his work jeans he empties the pockets into this ashtray –   bits of paper receipts, gum wrappers, those plastic brush picks we buy from Lucky Vitamin, screws, bolts, nuts – and coins from transactions at Collier’s, Home Depot, Corlin Paint, Ace Hardware – sorry if I left anybody out.

Here it is, loaded full of "kipple" from my husband's pockets.

Here it is, loaded full of “kipple” from my husband’s pockets.  Of course some of this stuff was found, my husband is a scavenger just like me, and yeah he actually uses stuff he finds on the ground.

About once a week I pour through this mess and pick out the throwaway stuff, leaving the useful stuff and coins. When the ashtray is flowing over onto the dresser, we sort all the change into a leather bank bag and take it to Safeway to run through the coin counting machine.

I once read the story of the man who invented the Coinstar machine – apparently, he had owned and operated laundry mats for years, a tinkerer. He was distressed to find small change – mostly nickels and pennies – in the waste baskets at his mats. He knew a lot of coins were going to the landfill, and he didn’t like that. He decided to make a good coin counting machine that could take the public brunt.

I remember trying to take coins to my bank – the machine they used was huge, noisy and hard to operate, they didn’t like doing it, and charged a pretty good hunk for it. My kids and I went back to counting and rolling, but the bank didn’t even like taking those – I had to carefully print my name, address and account number on each roll or they wouldn’t take them! They would only take coins rolled in standard coin sleeves – no wrapping them in an old envelope! So, we used to have hundreds of dollars in useless change laying around – a little family, that was a few weeks of groceries. And, change stinks – did you ever notice how bad coins smell?

What a thrill when we found our first Coinstar machine, inside the door at Raleys, now at most grocery stores. I think the charge is 8 cents on the dollar – be my guest! You just pour your old change, along with your slugs and buttons, right into this little tray, and the machine patiently sorts it all out, counts it, and prints you up a nice little receipt.  And you get your buttons back!

This slip of paper is good for $79 worth of online shopping.

This slip of paper is good for about $79 worth of online shopping.  That’s another $6 in sales tax that won’t be spent in tax happy Chico California.

You can turn your slip in for cash at the register. I used to apply it toward my groceries and household goods, which is a smart reason for grocery stores to have these machines.  Recently we noticed they have added a great feature – you can have your money in the form of an Amazon.com gift certificate. There’s a code, you key that in, and voila! Which in French means, no taxes were spent in Chico! 

I used this certificate to buy some last minute Christmas presents – already delivered, one of them for free.

I know, I started out to clean out and get rid of stuff – I’ll take you on a dump trip next time, and after that the thrift store.

 

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