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Impulse Buys

August 25, 2013


Andy had his cookie jars, Angelina has her knives, Michael had his exotic pets and this guy is bananas for bananas … is there any human act more subjective than collecting? I can’t tell you how many estate sales I’ve been at where, confronted with a table covered with dozens of somethings, I’ve thought, “Why in the world that?!” Not that I should be one to talk, having collected everything from thrift store paintings to vintage potato chip tins. This should not lead you to believe that I’m a hoarder, however; I can get rid of anything at any time. In fact, I just divested myself of the ‘tater chips tins last week … and I’ve been trying to get rid of the paintings, too. It’s just that no one will take them (convo me if interested)!  But along with those items I’ve also been an avid collector of the too big and too heavy, the rusty and the concrete … both of which are the subject of this post. Behold my latest acquisitions, from the top: A pair of vintage concrete incinerators, a painted concrete thunderbird bird bath and a verging-on-folk-art barbecue/smoker. In the past my penchant for the massive and leaden wasn’t the issue it is for me now, physically. But this limitation hasn’t stopped me from falling for an attractive silhouette, an odd OOAK face, a ponderously weighty bottom … I just know I’ll need it delivered, then placed by backs younger and healthier than my own. Let’s look at the goods …


VINTAGE CONCRETE INCINERATORS: Picked by friend Stephen Penn, who kindly offered them to me (at a really super price), this pair of old-style trash burners now stand like squat geometric samurai at the Rancho’s back gate.


When Stephen showed me these incinerators at his salvage yard I was concerned about how they might be delivered without incident … wouldn’t they be horribly heavy and unwieldy? I was delighted when he said they were made up of simple shapes that fit together against each other, their weight helping them to stand upright: This meant moving, then re-assembling them, wouldn’t be a problem. Happily, Stephen delivered and put them back together again (on poured concrete bases Paul created). I am in love with these trash burners with their rusted front doors and interesting patina and paint job. Stephen capped each with a wire basket and metal pipe lid, which looks great but may change. I woke up out of a dead sleep the other night, thinking: LANTERNS! I should cap them with industrial lanterns … I have to call him and see what he’s got down at the yard.

° ° ° ° °


THUNDERBIRD BIRD BATH: This piece was not something I was looking for. It just happened to be adjacent to one I had tracked down on craigslist. Lurking, half-obscured by stuff, I caught sight of that attractive beak and had to see the rest. The owner dug it out and I pronounced it sold! The two-faced T-bird base was great  (in a stylized, ’50s-southwestern kinda way), but what really sold me was inside the basin: The simple face of a woman. With wavy hair, a plaintive expression and wearing a pearl choker, she insisted I take her home. With the condition problems at the basin’s rim I probably paid too much … but I’d gotten such a good deal on the original object of my trip I didn’t mind.

° ° ° ° °


RUSTED STEEL BBQ/SMOKER: This was another piece that just happened to be in the same space as something else I’d found on craigslist. But having seen it I instantly declared it mine. The homemade look of it, the faceted vertical shape, the cactus cut-outs on the sides … it gave me the feeling of a space capsule that had just made its way through the earth’s atmosphere and landed in somebody’s backyard with the mission of ‘cuing up some carne asada! And again, I got an amazingly good price. It was delivered, then sat for a while. Considering where it should be placed since it would be a focal point, I finally decided on my repurposed fence board deck. To play off the piece’s facets I drew an X-shape onto the deck and added more colors randomly; my brother-in-law reinforced the wooden structure from beneath. Once completed, he centered a concrete form on the deck and topped it with the BBQ. Will I ever use it for cooking? Doubtful. But I can see building a fire inside and using it on some chilly fall night as a fireplace … the idea of those cactus glowing orange is pretty irresistible.

° ° ° ° °

Collecting is something I clearly cannot stop, physical limitations notwithstanding … not only can I not handle moving anything weighty, but long car trips are out of the question too. Thank God for shopping online, read craigslist, and local vendors who are willing to deliver, set-up and move items per my suggestion. Oh, and here’s the address for Stephen Penn’s amazing yard and warehouse here in Riverside. You’ll want to check in often with him as he’s constantly bringing in the new and amazing, especially when it comes to garden and industrial items.

STEPHEN PENN, RIVERSIDE: J&T Military Surplus, 6009 Jurupa Ave., Riverside CA, 92504.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2013 5:29 am

    Glad to see you’re back at it an your outdoor spaces are as magical as ever…

    • Reuben Muñoz permalink*
      August 25, 2013 5:35 am

      Thanks, Loree … Doing anything in the garden takes so much longer and involves so many more people now … but I’m adjusting to this new normal … slowly. 😉

  2. August 25, 2013 6:03 am

    Very cool BBQ / Smoker. Should be a warmer on chilly nights, which is what I’d use it for! Always enjoy your posts!

    • Reuben Muñoz permalink*
      August 25, 2013 6:10 am

      Thanks, Sam —- A bun warmer it is! 😉

  3. Faye Carter permalink
    August 25, 2013 7:45 pm

    Love all of your finds, especially the thunderbird bird bath! Thanks for Stephen Penn’s info, going to check it out.

    • Reuben Muñoz permalink*
      August 25, 2013 7:54 pm

      Thanks, Faye! I think you’ll find some amazing things …

  4. Jenn permalink
    August 25, 2013 11:57 pm

    As ever, your art is a huge inspiration. I picked up a small wooden picnic table during the last large trash day… I met the owner who said it was over 20 years old. It’s warped and kinda sad but I think it’s cedar. I’m going to lift your idea of painted board to celebrate it’s quirky planks… I think that will work! Thanks!

    In fact I’m generating all kinds of crazy ideas for paint ( and paint glaze) that I can play with… whoo hoo!

    • Reuben Muñoz permalink*
      August 26, 2013 12:02 am

      Awesome, Jenn! … Nothing makes me happier than hearing I’ve inspired someone to create something … email me a picture of your completed project. I’d love to see it … 😉

  5. August 26, 2013 3:59 am

    funky finds….always fun

    • Reuben Muñoz permalink*
      August 26, 2013 4:09 am

      You can’t have funky without fun! But then you know that, Sharon 😉

  6. August 28, 2013 1:33 pm

    Bill fell in love with the incinerators, which surprised me because he hasn’t always been on board with the things I/we love. I think you’re rubbing off on him:) Tell Paul that he did a great job with the platforms! The futuristic smoker/chiminea is super cool too… you could really warm everyone up in an evening under the stars (in the fall of course) with the size of that thing. And then the birdbath… oh my gosh… I know exactly how you must have felt when you found this! The first time I saw it, it made my heart go pitter patter and it hasn’t stopped since then. I’m always amazed at how you find your items… I want to just follow you around sometime and watch and learn:)

    • Reuben Muñoz permalink*
      August 28, 2013 1:46 pm

      Wow, Bill loving the incinerators is major! I think we are rubbing off on him … thanks for such a great comment, WF, but you’ve got the knack, too. I’ve coveted some of your finds while visiting at your garden. 😉

  7. September 27, 2013 6:07 pm

    I’ll bet even your SOCK drawers are eclectic!

    • Reuben Muñoz permalink*
      September 27, 2013 10:23 pm

      First of all: Drawer!? 😉


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