Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Did I Do With That Useless Boob?

Have you heard the joke about the useless boob? It goes like this:

"God created woman, and she was good. She had two arms, two legs, and three breasts. God asked woman what she would like to have changed about herself. She asked for her middle breast to be removed. God removed her middle breast, and it was good. She stood there with her third breast in her hand and asked God what should be done with this useless boob?.....And God created Man."

For a few weeks now, I have actually been carrying around an unused boob in a carrying case in my vehicle. Maybe I should explain. On Wednesdays I go to my mom's house and lately we've been going through boxes in her basement to see what she had, what she needed, and what she should get rid of. One of the boxes was a box that contained one of her previous breast prostheses. 

In 2000, I asked my mom when she had her last mammogram. It had been a ridiculously long time. I immediately started scolding her for not going back, and she told me the last one she had really, really hurt, and she didn't want to do that again. I told her that even though she had gone through menopause, her body still had monthly cycles it went through similar to before menopause, and there would certainly be a time during the month when she had breast tenderness. She just needed to figure out when that was and make sure her mammogram was not during that time. She did schedule her mammogram, and they found a lump. They did a biopsy and scheduled surgery. She chose to have a single mastectomy, and would not have to have chemotherapy. She would have to take Tamoxifen for five years, so that's what she did. Part of me felt guilty for bullying her into getting a mammogram, but part of me was relieved for what they found and that they found it so early. 

Because she had a single mastectomy, she needed to be fitted with a special bra and prosthesis. Insurance would pay for a certain number of new bras and a new prosthesis each year, so she'd put the old one in the original box and tell my dad to put it in the basement. Last winter we found one, and contacted where she bought it and they said they take donations of the used prostheses for women who cannot afford them. We thought it was a wonderful idea so we donated that one over the winter. This spring we found another, so we knew we just needed to arrange a time to drop this one off, too. 

I put it in the back of my Ford Escape, and hoped to God I did not get in a car accident and have some poor sap have to fish all of my belongings from the accident scene and come across this "used boob." (I jest, but it really did cross my mind.) The place we donate it isn't exactly on my way to anywhere but shopping, and since I've been trying to purge my unwanted/unneeded items at my house as well as my mother's house, I have been avoiding going to my favorite shopping places. 

Finally last week I decided I wanted to hit a couple of the old shopping haunts and get rid of the extra boob taking a ride in my car. I walked in, handed the box to the woman behind the counter, stated my intentions and that was that. So simple. I find hope in knowing that Stacey's Bra and Lingerie shop does such a wonderful thing for women in need and someone who needs that prosthesis will get it. 

For those of you who know me, I've been into recycling since I was a teenager. Reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose! I'm kind of fanatical about it, actually. I realized how fanatical I was when my oldest daughter went to the Water Festival at DMACC in 5th grade. One of the activities was presented by Metro Waste Authority and a former school teacher, Mary Gillespie. It was a "Recycle Me" activity where the children had a pile of items to chose from and several choices of where to put it. There was a recycling bin, a donation box, a garbage can, a hazardous waste bin and something else (c'mon, it was 11 years ago!). Mary talked a little bit about each collection bin and what kinds of things to put in it, then she arranged their relay teams and away they went. While my daughter was watching, she leaned over and whispered to me, "Mom? Do these kids and their parents REALLY not know what to do with some of these things? Do they not know where to put them or where to take them? Do they put EVERYTHING in the garbage?" 

It hit me at that point that this all came as such second nature to me, and I apparently had ingrained this in my children's minds. When I was a stay-at-home mom for a few years, I thought nothing of buckling my kids in their car seats and filling the trunk up with the recycling to take to the drop off in Mitchellville (before our own curbside recycling!). They would hand me stacks of newspapers and other paper recycling and I'd put it in the bin, they'd had me paper bags full of aluminum to put in that bin, they'd hand me paper bags full of plastic that was acceptable for recycling at the time. Then the fun part! The items that had fallen out of the bags in the back of the car! They got to pick up those things and I'd have them choose where it was supposed to go, then lift them up to the door and they'd drop it in. Probably my youngest daughter doesn't even remember this, she was so young.

My friend, Reo Menning, works for Metro Waste Authority. At lunch with her last month I told her that my goal in life was to give her as few items as possible for the landfill, but to overflow the items sent to her for recycling or composting. She thought it was a wonderful goal of mine. I started telling her about some of my most recent recycling/upcycling projects. 

One of them was to take an old set of encyclopedias (wait...are there such a thing as NEW sets of encyclopedias anymore?) and turn them into a secret hiding place. You cut out a section of the inside of the book and glue the pages together so there is a secret compartment in the book. It can set on the bookshelf and just looks like an encyclopedia. I'm making Christmas gifts for two special people in my life from two of these, so I can't explain what I'm putting in mine in case either of them read this. But my inspiration came from a Colt pistol in a case that looks like a book that belonged to my grandfather. 

Another project is with old denim jeans. I cut them up and used almost every piece possible for something. The back pockets went to a 4-H member who is going to do a presentation on "locker pockets," or refrigerator pockets. You decorate the pocket with paint markers, and put a sticky magnet on the back so it will stick on the refrigerator (or in your school locker). Put a note pad and pen or pencil inside, and there you have the "locker pocket." The seams I gave to this member and her sister to roll up (while putting non-water soluble glue along it as your roll it so it sticks together) and make coasters. You could glue several sizes of coasters together to make a trivet, or pot holder. The length of the jeans have been cut up into 5 inch and 7 inch squares to make a quilt or two. 

Yesterday as I was cleaning my closet and dresser, I came across several "unmentionables" that I don't wear any longer but still have several years of life in them. I Googled what to do with them, and came across Really. It's an organization that takes gently used bras, lingerie, swim suits and slips and either gets them to women who need them or gets them to someone who uses them as a craft project that is auctioned off for breast cancer research. I saw the most adorable long-chained tiny purse made from two cups of a beautiful lacy bra. Really! 

How do you donate to them? They say the best way is to use one of the flat rate priority mail boxes. You know, the "if it fits, it ships" boxes? If the tags are cut out, you're to put it in a baggie and label it, but just put as much inside as will fit and ship it off. Visit their website for the mailing address. 

My last example of my oddly-obsessive recycling habits involves what I found in the back of a dresser drawer. It was a baby food jar filled with my daughters' baby teeth. The tooth fairy would place the tooth in the jar after exchanging it for a very special coin (a Kennedy half dollar, a silver dollar, a Susan B. Anthony dollar or a Sacajawea dollar). Yeah, the tooth fairy is a cheapskate out here in Clay Township. There were rare exceptions when the tooth fairy would leave something different, but mostly it was special coins that they might not see in normal circulation. Life was always about an educational opportunity at the Timmins household. 

But back to the baby food jar full of teeth. Ew, you might say. Here's what I say: When I die, could someone please come in and permanently delete my Google search history? Because I am sure the things I Google make me look pretty damn creepy. "What do you do with gently used lingerie?" "What do you do with your children's baby teeth?" Really? What kind of nut-job does those kinds of searches? 

Me. That's who. Me. 

So for those of you who have made it this far and are not on the phone with either Homeland Security or the psych ward to report me, here is what I found out about baby teeth. 

Mix them up in your potting soil as you plant your flowers this Mother's Day. The calcium is good for the soil and you're extending the life story of those wee ones who were so excited when they lost a tooth and were going to get a visit from the tooth fairy. Think about when those baby teeth were in your child's mouth and your child smiled at you. Think about when your child lost that tooth and gave you a gappy smile! Think about the toothless smile you saw the next morning when your child proudly showed what the tooth fairy left them. Then if you're like me, you'll be watering your Mother's day flowers with the happy tears you're shedding as you remember the happy days gone by. Salt is good for the soil, too, in small doses. 

You don't need to be as fanatical as I am about recycling, although there are plenty of things being thrown away, so maybe you could try to be a *little* like me, couldn't you? Baby steps, that's all I ask. Think twice before you put something in the garbage. "Should this go in recycling?" "Can someone else use this?" If you don't know what to do with it, Google is your friend. Google will direct you to websites and organizations that do wonderful things. Google will give you ideas that you hadn't thought about before. 


That boob isn't so useless after all, is it?

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