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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Diaz-Gilbert

Books, Chairs, Drawers,Tables, and More: Rescued Treasures on the Run Collected & Upcycled

Repainted rescued tables in our shady garden.

I have hit the jackpot a few times while on my training runs. One time I found a ten-dollar bill on the side of the road. Another time a twenty-dollar bill was hidden between dry autumn leaves on the trail. A couple years ago, I put my head down for a second and there by the curb of the asphalt street was president Ulysses Grant and a $50 bill. So yes, it pays to run!

And while that's a good chunk of change, the money I've found on the run is not nearly as priceless as the treasures, or shall I say trash treasures, I have found on the run. From books, to chairs, to tables, to drawers, and more, I have rescued them all, upcycled them, and given them new life.


It all started years ago with books, tons of books, all in great condition lining people's curbside trash. Like Thomas Jefferson I, too, cannot live without books. While out on a run, I've carried home books, and run home to hop in the car to drive back and load the trunk. By now, I've rescued over 400 books from 96 hardcover Reader's Digest condensed books in mint condition, children's books, to a brand new 23-volume set of The Zohar missing three volumes, and other books. Yes, I am a bibliophile. I love books. Our humble abode Is home to over 1400 books.


You can never have enough chairs. There's something inviting about chairs. We sit on them. We pile things on them. We use them to stand on so we can screw in an overhead light bulb or get a book from the tallest bookcase. We use them as conversation pieces. I've rescued twelve chairs on the run.

Some of the chairs I've rescued on the run.


Do you know anyone who collects discarded drawers? My thrill for collecting drawers began four years ago. While on a run, I saw two folding chairs, two new wooden crates, and a solid wood drawer. The chairs excited me, as did the wooden crates. But what would I do with the drawer. Why I would use it to plant potatoes. A month ago, I saw a couple of white drawers three houses up from our street on the curb on trash night. I grabbed them, drilled holes on the bottoms for drainage, and planted more potatoes.

A repainted rescued chair sits between the potato plants thriving in upcylced drawers.


A home in our neighborhood was sold and the seller left some trash on the curb. I was logging some miles for the virtual 2020 Great Florida Traverse All the Way 901 miler one summer day. My husband Jon joined me on his ElliptGo SUB. I noticed a set of three solid wood tables - two end tables and a coffee table. We ran and rode home, hopped in the car, and hauled away the heavy wood and iron leg tables in my Chevy Cruze. We made two trips. I sanded them and painted them with all-weather paint, and placed them in our shady garden.

Before and After.

And More Treasures on the Run

Last summer while on a training run, I called Jon on my cell. "There are a few posts and other pieces of good wood in someone's trash. They'll be perfect to build an enclosure for our vegetable garden." I told him the street they were waiting to be rescued from. When I got home from my run, they were in our backyard. A couple of days later, Jon brought home a good amount of brand new two by fours, planks, and more posts he found discarded at a worksite. "Take them," said the contractor, "We don't need them."

Due to the pandemic, demand for wood, and supply chain issues, the price of wood was high. But my knack for rescuing other people's trash to put to good use saved us a lot of money. We only needed to purchase the welded fence and three garden fence posts.

Our enclosed vegetable garden in June 2021.

We built an enclosure in two days. Jon made wood containers with the two by fours, drilled holes on the bottoms for drainage, and I painted them with the leftover paint I used to paint the tables.

So far this year, I've rescued two more chairs. They are solid wood but the rattan seats need a little repair. Until then, a nice seat cushion will do. I also rescued a new find -- an old bookcase with a perforated panel perfect for planting more potatoes, or any vegetable.

Rescue Treasure Trash and Create Outside Sanctuaries and Happy Places

I treasure the books and keep them indoors. I keep two of my rescued chairs in the kitchen, and one of them by the fireplace. Everything else remains and thrives outside.

One of our rescued feral cats, Mother, enjoyed lounging in the shady tree garden under the maple tree, where I placed the repainted tables in the summer of '20. This year I relocated the tables and placed them under our canopy/tent, our outdoor living space between the circle flower garden and the vegetable garden. Mother and her daughter Oreo relax on the lounge chairs. The white metal bench chair is one of two that I rescued ten years ago.

One person's trash is another person's treasure. Whether you run, walk, or drive by, rescue treasure trash. Get creative with new uses for old things. Upcylce. And have fun doing it.


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