Briton and I have decided that the basement of our building is a sort of New York muggle equivalent of The Room of Requirement. If you need it, it will provide it, given time, of course. We've heard lots of stories about people here who have furnished entire apartments with stuff found of the street and I can see that. If you wanted (and were willing, eewww) you could easily have a Princess and the Pea sized stack of mattresses after two weeks of cruising our neighborhood on garbage day. And many, many dressers. But the same also applies to our basement, with the added bonus of interesting little things showing up for the taking.
I'm not sure if it's because we are in student housing or if this is normal for a New York apartment building, but people seem to be moving in and out all the time around here. And when they go, they haul things down to the basement for the rest of us to scavenge. You have to be quick and decisive, however. Three times now I've come upstairs to ask Will what he thinks about me bringing up a "_____" (small dresser, strange mirror tray that was begging to be rehabbed, interesting looking chair) only to return to find them whisked away by someone else in the building. We could easily have saved a bundle buying our white IKEA bookshelves if we'd been patient (and known about the magic basement) because I've seen at least five float through on my laundry trips.
So far I've rescued a trifle bowl (something I've always wanted) a very funky old pencil sharpener that is just the thing for the empty spot on my shelves and, most recently, on an "I'm Bored Mom" kind of afternoon, an entire Erector Set from Korea.
I actually questioned bringing this one up. The set was perfectly organized in a cool fishing tackle type of box but the direction book, which is thick and extensive and in two volumes, is totally in Korean. In fact, the only reason I know (or guess) that it's in Korean is from the website listed in teeny tiny print on the back. So I wasn't really sure Briton would be able to use it. But, I figured, at least we could use the cool box for lego sorting, should the Korean instructions be a little too hard to figure out.
I had forgotten, however, that my son is a little mini engineer, because instructions in a language he probably didn't even know existed seem to be no problem for him at all. In fact, he's so into it that yesterday I had to bribe him to go to the park and play. Yeah. I think that if the New York ed department people give me any lip about homeschooling (it's very strict here, you have to fill out all these forms and prove your child is learning at a comparable rate, which, I should probably get going on, come to think of it) I'm going to tell them that after only a month of homeschooling my son was easily following intricate building instructions in a second language. No need to mention that none of that is my doing, right? Still, next time we need to assemble something from IKEA with those weird, totally unhelpful instructions, I know who's doing the work.
I'm still waiting for the magical basement to provide me with an armoire. I really need one for all my craft and teaching stuff, the shelves we have (also found in the basement) are starting to sag in a terrifying way, like a dam about to burst. Maybe I should be making offerings to it. Maybe the gods of the magic basement are waiting for some cookies or a plate of brownies before they will grant me anymore wishes. Or maybe I should just go to a used furniture store and get myself an armoire before our office/dining room is covered in glue sticks and rolls of newsprint from a massive shelf explosion.