Thursday, March 22, 2007

Someday I'm going to need that

My husband liked to go to estate sales and garage sales and thrift stores. Since I've been married, this has been my habit as well. Not a week goes by that we don't at least go to a Half-Price Books store, and usually we manage to shop at a Goodwill or Thriftown. Even when we go out of town we usually stop at a Goodwill.

Always I see some odd thing that is either a really good deal on something common, or an okay deal on something uncommon. And I think that I should buy whatever it is, just in case. I don't need the thing now, but if I don't buy it now, I'll need something just like it in a month or so. But in a month or so the things will be gone, so if I really want it I have to buy it right now.

So I accumulated a lot of stuff. Some of it I didn't need after all. Some of it I did need, but when I needed it I couldn't find the one I got the good deal on, so I ended up buying another one. Some of it might have been useful, but it was damaged in a flood or when we moved or something. Some of it I forgot why I bought it and never did anything with it.

I try not to buy stuff like that anymore. I try to only buy things that are a really good deal that I know for sure I will use, or things that are really unique that I can't just go and buy later when it is more convenient. This year I bought a Dickel bottle (Saurian brandy from Star Trek). I can't really regret buying something like that. I don't think that they've made the things in the last thirty years.

But other things I am trying to cut back on. Like books. I can't seem to stop buying books. But I am at least not buying so many. I have bought books that I have never read and have not even opened since the day I bought them, which goes as far back as 2001 at least.

But still there are dumb things that I remember seeing for a good deal that I did not buy. And sometimes I regret it a few days later. But the really odd thing is that I will sometimes remember something being on sale that I didn't want at the time, and years later I still remember the sale, and years later still I finally have a use for the thing and think if only I had bought the thing back then I wouldn't have to spend more money on it now.

So lately I am regretting not buying something at a garage sale. The garage sale was at least three years ago, probably more like seven years ago. I had no use for the thing until just a month or so ago. Such a dumb thing. But for some reason the thing stuck in my head all of this time.

I was at a garage sale, and I saw a stack of about a dozen five gallon buckets. Everything in the world seems to come in five gallon buckets. Paint, laundry soap, bird seed, and pickles come in five gallon buckets. I already had a few of these buckets. Currently, I have five of them. About a year and a half ago, we painted my brother's apartment, and the year before that we painted ours, and I don't even think that we kept those two buckets. How many five gallons buckets does a person need anyway?

But I remember noticing this stack of buckets at the garage sale, and the man wanted 25 cents a piece for them. And I didn't need them for anything at the time, and I just couldn't imagine needing them for anything later. I don't even like five gallon buckets most of the time when I need a bucket. They are really big, and if you fill them with anything that makes them too heavy for me to carry, and they don't have a spout. I'd much rather have a smaller bucket with a spout from the dollar store.

Last summer I sort of regretted not having the five gallon buckets. I found a gardening book that suggested growing tomato plants and pepper plants in them, and the containers could easily be moved to areas with more sunlight in the spring and fall, and into more shade in the middle of summer. Maybe I could even move a few of them indoors for the winter. It seemed like a great idea. Of course that wouldn't have been a very attractive container, and I would have had to make something to hide the buckets behind so the neighbors wouldn't have a fit, so I didn't really regret it too much.

But now I am in ceramics class, and I find that more of the five gallon buckets would be helpful. We were actually required to have one in my other ceramics class, but we only used it for storage that time. (We kept our leftover clay in a bucket under a table, since the lockers were only big enough to store our tools.) But now I've found out that so many people use five gallon buckets in ceramics that it is just assumed that you have several, and there are tools designed to specifically go with five gallon buckets.

Someone has thought of the idea of putting a screen at the bottom of a flat bowl which exactly fits just inside the top of a five gallon bucket. It is a great idea. It makes things just a bit less messy. The bowl is about four inches deep and is big enough for maybe half a gallon of slip (clay and water mixed together). If you don't have a five gallon bucket and whatever you are using has an opening too large, you can't use this as a filter without getting someone else to hold the thing over your bucket. If you use something with an opening too small, the bowl could still be set on top of the bucket, but you'd have to be very careful with it or it would fall off and spill everywhere.

So now that I've learned that I can make terra cotta clay with the mud from my backyard if I use two or three of these screens, I think I could use some more five gallon buckets. I think about sixteen of them would make a good production line. And that makes me want to go to garage sales looking for cheap five gallon buckets, which is would just be the dumbest waste of time. If a lot of garage sales had stacks of five gallon buckets for a quarter, the one that I saw before wouldn't have made an impression. There's no way I'm going to go out this weekend and find that same thing for sale like that again.

I wish I did not remember dumb stuff like that.


dmarks said...

I didn't bother with a real blog entry today. And then I see this one. With a few changes, I could have written the first 6 or so paragraphs myself.

And the buckets. Do you have a freecycle there? It's pretty easy to ask for these things. A year or two ago, we had so many buckets they were literally* coming out of our ears, and we gave them away.

* Well not actually literally....

The Diva's Thoughts said...

I do the same thing. I'll buy something then later realize I don't even need it! lol

dmarks said...

Are we OK?

laughingattheslut said...

I thought so. Aren't we?

dmarks said...

Cool beans. I'm going to have some coffee now.

laughingattheslut said...

You're only just now going to have coffee?


dmarks said...

Already had the regular stuff in the morning. However, right now a $2.38 cool Starbucks frappuccino from a convenience store sounds nice. If they let you buy it even if you can't spell frapuccinno.

Rachel said...

Instead of going to garage sales, go to fast food restaurants. They usually have tons of 5 gallon buckets because pickles and other food items come in them.
Many times they will give them to you for free.
Or you can always snag them. They are back by the bread pallets and trash bins.

laughingattheslut said...

I am all for dumpster-diving. Especially when it does not actually involve getting in the dumpster.

David in DC said...

The best use of 5-gallon buckets I ever saw was at a skating rink.

The rink secured the buckets' shape by fastening a two-by-four across the buckets' open mouths and then turned them mouth down on the ice.

They were just the right size for wee little 4 and 5-year-old "skaters" to lean forward on when they "skated". It looked adorable and it looked like they were having fun.

Rachel's right about the pickle thing. Most of these sturdy plastic buckets appeared to be living a second life after living their first lives holding pickles or soy sauce.