Good Junque

| 10/9/2008 5:35:42 PM

The corbelI’ve acquired a concrete corbel. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with it; right now it sits in one of the gardens and it just might end up staying there, filling up a hole where nothing is growing at the moment. I didn’t purchase the corbel; someone else had set it out for the trash.

Yes, I admit it, I’m a trash collector. I pick up junk that no one wants, and sets out on the side of the road for the garbage trucks. “Junque" is the word I prefer – ok, so it’s pronounced the same as “junk,” but it looks better ... more chic; less trashy maybe. And admitting I collect it is actually not much of an admission because everyone knows it. Even my boss, who used to laugh and scoff at the idea of picking up stuff by the side of the road, will come back from a job site with something in hand; a door from a barn, a piece of statuary or pottery the client didn't want anymore – all sorts of stuff. Sometimes the junque he brings me is even too junky for me and it ends up in the dumpster, and sometimes he'll tell me there's junk in the dumpster, and I should go take a look. He’s the one that brought me the corbel ... along with a couple of pots for his wife, and an only slightly rickety, but otherwise in good condition Adirondack chair for another co-worker.

My friend calls this junque "Ju-ju," and it is usually prefaced with the adjective "good" when she speaks of it. She has alerted me to it's presence by phone announcement, like some Blue-Light Special coming over the intercom at K-Mart, "Good ju-ju on the corner of Cherry and Superior - you better get there quick," which means she's already picked through it. There are certain things I always look for, and can not resist: any type of container that I can use as a planter, old wooden furniture, and solid wood paneled doors – a bonus if the fancy old iron hinges and doorknobs are still attached. My door collection is a running joke with my husband, Keith. He says the doors are cluttering up his garage, and wonders what I am going to do with them all? I don’t know; someday I’ll find a use for them ... maybe. Until then they’re not taking up that much space.

I rarely visit yard sales or flea markets; it’s just not the same thrill as finding something that’s already been discarded, and then dragging it home. As my daughter, Shelby once said, "Mom, yard sales are just Ju-Ju with a price tag." Junque is free; free is good.

Hard-good materials are often the greatest expense in garden projects. Brick, stone, and concrete are pricey. Add a few pieces of garden ornament, and the bill gets even larger. High costs can be avoided by using recycled materials: old bricks, broken concrete, even pieces of curbing. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of discarded old bricks edge my gardens. Wooden furniture, pottery, an old farming implement, (my ninety year old neighbor says it's a potato planter), eventually made it out of the garage or basement and into the yard – much to my garage-space impaired husband’s relief.

I’ve used some of these collected pieces of trash as a solution to a problem area of the yard. What’s the quickest way off a side-door stoop? When you’re a kid, it’s not down the steps; it’s jumping off the side – right into a small patch of asparagus, chives, and parsley. This little add-on to the main vegetable garden not only created a nice landing zone for the girls jumping off the stoop in order to cut across the backyard, the ninety degree angle from one garden to the next was difficult to mow.

Cindy Murphy
10/19/2008 6:37:56 PM

Jennifer - HA! I can just imagine you climbing into the dumpster at your Mom's request. Dumpster diving is something I've never actually done; I do have my limits and usually limit myself to what is on the side of the road....although I did once ask Keith to do the diving for me to "rescue" a bookcase in the dumpster behind the Historical Society. He did so readily...he's a closet ju-ju hunter, I swear, and just rolls his eyes at me to tease me. One day I will get him to admit he loves the thrill of the find. And your find, Lori - not one, but TWO compost bins! How cool is that! I bet your husband didn't even bat...or roll an eye when you yelled for him to turn the truck around.

10/16/2008 10:51:18 AM

Cindy, You've created some beautiful spots with your "junque"! I absolutely love the term "junque juju"! Do you mind if I use it?:) My husband and I came across some free stuff sitting by the road. It was our best free find to date. There were TWO free compost bins that someone no longer wanted! As we went driving past, my husband and I looked at each other simultaneously, and I yelled "TURN AROUND"! We talked to the guy that was giving them away. It turns out he had a cabin here in the area, but because he and his wife didn't get up much, there was no need for the compost bins and he just wanted to get rid of them. We thanked him and loaded them on the back of the truck. It feels like Christmas when you make a find like that!

10/15/2008 1:09:56 AM

Does this mean I have to stop calling my mom a pack rat? I feel your husbands frustration. My mom has our garage (and half my aunts garage)filled to the brim with "junque" she has accumulated and dragged home. She even went so far as to ask me to come to her work one day so that I could climb in the giant industrial dumpster parked out front to "rescue" what used to be some kind of room divider and a bunch of mdf planks. The frame is now a tomato cage. I do have to admit that occasionlally her cra....uh junque does come in handy.

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