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Dumpster Diving ~ One Store’s Trash is an Art Studio’s Treasure

blurry image of Joe reading a picture book to our toddlers
(Pardon us, we are a blurry family)

My husband and I both suffered a major set-back and disappointment this morning when his transfer request was denied at Divisional level… after his regional manager and HR had already approved the Frederick store’s invitation to hire him.
Corporate bureaucracy is a cruel laugh.

A couple of hours before we received the news, I had spent the morning writing a blog post, which in part optimistically spoke of his soon-to-be position.

Enjoying an hour of peace and quiet, as the toddlers’ late night antics had kept them asleep until 10:00AM….
I was finishing up my rough draft, and it was nearly complete, written in Notepad (my preferred writing program, as I dislike both MS Word and online dashboards).

Unfortunately, Notepad does NOT have an auto-save function.

Before saving my draft, I stepped away from the computer for just a moment to answer the door… Of course, the rest is history.

Literally. My original post had disappeared (accidentally erased by a stray hand/paw) and I soon learned that its subject matter was no longer relevant.
Ironic, indeed.

In the past couple of weeks, it’s been a challenge to adjust my new work schedule to my work schedule. Those precious after-dinner hours when Joe babysits the kids, allowing me time alone in my studio to paint and blog uninterrupted, are also… gone.

Moreover, the toddlers are staying awake later and later, trying to outlast Daddy until I get home, usually well after midnight.   Lydia naturally falls asleep at 9:00PM and wakes early each morning, thanks to her school schedule… but some nights, my near-twin terrors refuse to tow the line.

I will confess to this guilty late-night pleasure: I turn off all the lights in the house, and plop on the couch with a bowl of cooked oatmeal and hot chocolate ….to watch a BBC period drama on Netflix, most recently ~ Charles Dicken’s Bleak House; it’s guaranteed to put the kids to sleep within 20 minutes.

AS far as scraping crusty sauce off retail shelves and building stacks of pancake syrup, it might not be a creative exercise but does allow my mind plenty of time to wander and dream up delicious scenes.

And there are more tangible benefits to being surrounded by displays of Folger’s and FeBreeze….

You can occasionally take one home!!

cardboard display rescued from trash

This is a seasonal display for Febreeze products, comprised of strong cardboard, plastic, and metal support rods, which I rescued at the 11th hour from its gruesome fate: it was sentanced to be smashed to death inside a cardboard baler.

I happened upon it mere moments before the Paper & Chemicals associate tore it into pieces; she had already removed the FeBreeze signage, and was trying to rip off the plastic guardstrips when I caught her.

I nearly screamed at the poor girl – begging her not to touch it! – and immediately contacted the manager on duty to see whether or not he would allow me to take it home.

He thought I was crazy…. but we already knew that, right?

“Take it,” he said, “It’s yours, if you can fit it into your car. If you can’t, it’ll be thrown out in the morning.”

Was that a challenge? Could I really fit this over-sized display inside my little vehicle?

In hindsight, I probably could have disassembled it on the spot. At the time, however, I was worried about damaging its structural integrity, unsure whether it could be reassembled and used again.

The Chemicals associate offered to help me, for a small gas donation – we loaded the intact fixture into her minivan after our shifts ended, and she followed me home. Such an awesome girl, by the way!

[Editor’s Note: I have since taken it apart carefully, under Joe’s supervision, and put it back together again. He also promised to build me a new one, from real wood, using the cardboard pieces as templates…. just in case]

Shhhh! Don’t tell FeBreeze! ;)

discarded retail cardboard fixture converted into art display

It makes a marvelous display for framed prints, boxed cards, mini easels, OOAK sculptures, folded T-shirts, just about anything I’d want to feature prominently in an art festival.

Joe experimented with attaching pegboard backing to the top, for hanging ornaments and pendants.

And the kids are excited to discover it works equally well as an enormous dollhouse…
a veritable Pemberley of fine doll estates!

kids are playing house in my display

See?? There are some perks to working in retail… even as a spaghetti sauce scraper. :P

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