12 January 2009
Ah, the power of the free. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Craig's List. I love the buying, I love the selling, I love the friendships I've made (oh yeah....really) and I love the best book ever about the sheer power of it - One Red Paperclip - who the heck can beat trading a red paperclip for a house? And now apparently he's looking to trade the house! I don't peruse CL for free stuff normally, however, because it's too time-consuming, and frankly, anything good goes within about a second. Even the for sale stuff goes with lightening speed. I've been looking to purchase a small desk for Ryan's room for a couple of months, and the 3 or 4 I've replied to were within hours of posting and I missed out on all of them. When we bought Ryan's drum set I had vowed to sit in front of the computer one Sunday morning and just keep hitting refresh on my "drum kit" search and guess what? The seller was shocked that I responded within 20 minutes of their post....and it takes CL at least 10 minutes to get it up there after you list it! But if you really really really want something, that's what you need to do.
However, when you're not in the market for something in particular, that's when free and happened-upon is the best ever. I have two very recent examples. First, Sierra and I were hiking back down from the ridge above our house along the streets, and lo and behold someone had set out bunches of free stuff. The usual suspects....old lamps, chairs, furniture, children's stuff.....and this true treasure - Mancala.
Look at the beautiful glass pieces. Sierra was beside herself with joy....she has wanted a Mancala game for a couple of years but it's one of those things that we just forget about at gift-giving times because it's not the big, showy thing. We brought it home, cleaned it up (although not much cleaning seemed to be required) and now she literally plays it at least three times a week....often by herself. In fact, we had a few guests over recently and one little girl's mom set out to find her - and happened on her all alone in Sierra's room happily playing by herself. There's something mystical about it somehow because I often find Sierra doing the same thing.
And the next free treasure? It's what the Mancala is sitting on. Stressed about cleaning my house up for same said guest get-together, I was really thinking about how to have our games in a really accessible place that didn't look too cluttery. A bookshelf would be good, but not a likely candidate for long-term because one day I vow to truly have a "put-together" living room, and this would not be included in that plan. As I was off to do some last minute errands that day, I drove to the end of the street and - AHA! - saw some furniture left out with the always-exciting FREE STUFF sign. I was on my way out so I called home and asked Scott to go to the end of the street and check it out. When I returned, both he AND both kids reported that none of it was any good. I said, "hmph, y'all don't know what you're talking about" and stomped to the bottom of the street (which can only happen if you live on hilly streets). Ryan decided to come with....probably to watch what it looks like when a crazy lady inspects free stuff....and the minute I saw this bookshelf I knew it was perfect. Again Ryan tried to talk me out of it...."it's paint is peeling"...."Sierra didn't like the color" (and by the way - where did I get this daughter who shuns most colorful stuff in favor of restrained, earthy tones - so not me)...."blah, blah, blah." "Yeah, yeah - help me carry it home." So up the hill we went carrying this thing and then I got to show Ryan the magic of a power sander. "Look!" "Watch this!" "Magic!" And there it was.....a bright, beautiful, appropriately-brightly-hued-to-highlight-a-fun-game-collection shelf. Bring it inside, place it with care, line the top with Ipus
homemade by me and Sierra, and now we're happy.
Is it stately? Well-appointed? Heck no. Does it represent me and my personality? Heck yeah. And it doesn't overwhelm the room too much, as evidenced by the above photo. And you know I had these pillows WAAAY before I got the bookshelf.....the whole beige-on-carribean-blue thing works kind of well, yes? I think Ryan's now a convert (power tools go a long way in making something cool to him). Sierra? Well, who cares - she can be in charge of her own room.