concrete blocks rained down from the sky

ClareBroommaker's picture

Oh, I do exaggerate, don't I? It did not rain concrete blocks. Not exactly.

My husband and I went to our orchard-to-be where we have a stack of hay bales under a tarp. It had been windy and rainy, so I was hoping the tarp had not been blown away and the hay wet. I knew we needed more rocks, blocks, or bricks to hold down the tarp.

At the same time, I was thinking we needed something to raise up a platform on which to store our squash in the basement. Maybe some concrete blocks....

When we arrived at the orchard-to-be, we found someone had dumped concrete blocks! What? What fantastic luck. This kind of thing has happened a surprising number of times. I think I've mentioned here the time when I needed poultry wire, and a new roll of it just presented itself on a city parkway street. And maybe I mentioned how when I needed to set up a bird scare system involving tall poles rising over trees, what should appear but some long steel pipes and tall dried bamboo trunks impeding the drive through two different alleys? They worked perfectly for my scheme and were easy to work with.

Oh, materials don't always come so easily, but it sure is a little explosion of joy when it does happen.

Do these things happen to you??

Most often I find the most amazingly useful things at this freight salvage place I shop at at truly amazing prices. However, every once in a while, the universe gifts me with needful things.

Yes, I've gotten things I needed or wanted this way too. A lot of it depends on keeping your eyes and your options open. It also helps if your local municipality still uses regular-sized trash cans and not those mammoth containers that can hold several bodies at a time. Big stuff doesn't fit as well into a standard aluminum trash can so you're more likely to find it sitting by the road.

I trash-pick all kinds of stuff, from wall art to garden fencing.

Essentially, it comes in two varieties:

Obtainium is raw material to be used or repurposed for something else.

Mongo is ready to use as is, such as that large, framed Ansel Adams print.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Okay, now a ladder was "delivered". Again, it was at the place where we will be planting fruit trees. We went over to make sure everything was okay. Someone had left an aluminum extension ladder there. It is missing the cord to hoist it, but looked okay otherwise.

And guess what? We just started trying to figure out how to get to the second floor windows at our house to work on the broken awnings. We were just talking this morning with a manufacturer about options for a custom made frame.

I had assumed this little lot is the kind of place where people might dump things, but I thought it would be stuff like ruined dry wall, paint chips, used oil, and old tires. I prefer that it is a dumping spot for misfit toys-- uh, I mean useful items arriving just in time.

Your ladder is mongo. Add the cord and you're good to go.

Ask and you shall receive. The problem is sometimes it takes forever to receive when you need it now.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Mongo was a new word to me when you first wrote it. But it may be the origin of the name used by this fellow, "Prince Mongo", on whose street my brother once lived. My link is to images which may give some clue as to why he called himself Prince Mongo.

I learned the words 'mongo' and 'obtainium' from books about trash.

In particular, 'Mongo: Adventures in Trash' by Ted Botha

Another book, I can't remember the title, about the New York City sanitation department (the author went along the crews!) also used 'mongo'.

The difference between the two is if the object is ready to use as is.

A trampoline that is usable is mongo.
A trampoline in pieces that provides parts for garden fencing is obtainium.

Prince Mongo is using what the street gods give to him!

ClareBroommaker's picture

This afternoon we were cleaning wild clematis and euonymus off the fence. A man with few teeth, wild hair, an eye obliterated by cataracts, and some really dirty looking clothes rode onto the lot. He offered us an electric trimmer, "for free," he said. I explained that we didn't have a way to plug it in. We chatted some as we worked. He told me he lived on this same street, so I've met another neighbor. When the guy turned to leave, I noticed that he had no seat on his bike. When I made mention of it, he said that he had given his bike seat to someone else who needed a bike seat, because at the time he wasn't using his bike much. I believed him and was really touched. A widow's mite, eh?

ClareBroommaker's picture

Fact 1) About a week ago I picked a few springs of orange mint to add to a salad. I put it in a jar of water to stay crisp until I made the salad. But when I made the salad, I forgot to put the mint in. By a week later, there were nice healthy roots on the mint in the jar. I thought vaguely about potting it up and giving it to some vague "someone," but did not carry through.

Fact 2) My neighbors are moving, kicked out of their rental by a landlord who wants to sell the house at these current high market rates. Chatting with my husband who has been helping them tidy up, they said that they'd been using our mint that grows through the fence. They wondered if there was a way to take some to grow at their new apartment.

The Rain) I gave them the rooted cuttings and since the cuttings were soil-less, I could easily show how the plants will root if they do the same. It seems they had probably been harvesting the pineapple mint, and if they particularly liked that, they would need to root some. In my opinion, my best mint is some whose origins are in Kabul, Afghanistan. It is probably a spearmint. It, too, grows through the fence, so if they want some of that, they can root it just as easily.

Anyway, I am amazed that I had rooted mint ready to give to someone who needed it, just when they needed it. Further, it was in condition to demonstrate how easy it will be to propagate more. Today is the neighbors' last day next door, so this was just in the nick of time.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

It had not occurred to me that there would be varieties within the spearmint species. No reason to think there would not, I just had never given it any thought. The only mint I grow is a spearmint which I mint-napped many years ago from a location where it was growing abundantly. I eventually removed it from the garden due to it's exuberant spreading and parked some in a very shady place where it could just barely hang on. Just this year I have reintroduced it to the garden after an absence of 5 years or so. Past experience suggests I'll let it grow for 2-3 years before removing again.

lathechuck's picture

Shortly after pricing it at the big box store, a roll of it (slightly rusty) showed up at the curb on trash day, a block or so from my home. It came home with me, and has made some very useful tomato and pepper cages. I've known about tomato cages forever, but tried a sweet pepper cage for the first time last year, and it was a great success. However, it wasn't always easy to get the ripe peppers out of the cage. I had to pass them, hand-to-hand, up to the top, because they were too big to go through the 2x4" spaces.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Excellent. I use concrete reinforcing wire (maybe it is 6 X 6 openings; not sure) on my tomatoes and then other peoples' cast off store bought tomato cage on my peppers. But then, we don't have to protect against marauding deer!

A couple years I did not have enough cages for the peppers, so I turned a tomato cage on its side and let peppers grow up through it. This worked well for me, but my husband complained because he cannot bend, twist, squat, and balance as well as I, so he found it hard to harvest from the side-ways turned cage. Bamboo sticks and string have made some decent pepper cages, too.

My first tomato cages were the mongo that Theresa speaks of. Someone up the alley put them out for trash pick up. I literally dragged them home, one at a time, trailing to the side of my bike. I think I got eight of them. Boy, was I happy! Those are shorter than they used to be because over the years the ends that I poke into the soil have rusted off.