Natural Perspectives: Turning in clutter for charity causes

Vic and I are declaring October as "Clean House" month. Two important garage sales run by nonprofits are coming up and they could use things that you no longer want.

The Huntington Beach Community Garden group is holding a garage sale Saturday at the Rasmussen house at 9152 Kapaa Drive in Huntington Beach. If you have items to donate, send Joanne Rasmussen an email at to arrange a time to drop things off. The sale will run from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and is part of a big block sale organized by Connie Morris of Star Real Estate. Be sure to stop by on Saturday and buy something.

All proceeds from the sale at the Rasmussen house will go to the Huntington Beach Community Garden. The city and Edison are very close to signing a lease agreement, so the garden group is about ready to begin work. The group hopes to have plots available for gardeners to plant in January. But first they need money, honey.

The other charity garage sale will be for the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center. They are raising funds to continue their good work of caring for our injured local wildlife. Their big garage sale will be on Oct. 23 starting at 8 a.m. at the center at Pacific Coast Highway and Newland Street. They are accepting donations now, so start cleaning house.

Vic and I have been working for a couple of weeks to find things that we can donate to these sales. We are giving up books, picture frames, puzzles, games, furniture, decorative items, you name it. Vic and I both have a tendency to hang on to things, so we've accumulated a lot of stuff. But once we started cleaning, we couldn't stop.

I thought about selling an old desk that we acquired back in the early 1980s. This big boy is 5 feet across and 3 feet deep. Vic got it from the Amigos de Bolsa Chica, and they got it at a rummage sale at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach when the people at the Navy base were getting rid of old office furniture. The desk probably dates back to the 1950s. When we got it, the desk was dinged, chipped and painted brown.

My son Scott and I refinished the top of the desk. Once we got it stripped, we were surprised to find that it was solid walnut. At one time, this desk has been a gorgeous piece of furniture. Vic used it as his home office desk until we moved to our present house 22 years ago. The big desk went into our garage, where it has accumulated dust and boxes of old magazines.

When I cleaned off (and recycled) the boxes of old magazines that were sitting on top of the desk, I took a good look at all that smooth, flat surface. I remembered that I had planned on using the desk as a craft table someday. But I don't really do crafts.

However, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Judi Smith talked me into signing up for a watercolor class at the Huntington Beach Art Center. Artists need a place to create art. I had started sketching about a year ago, but without instruction, my sketching attempts weren't progressing and I quit. I thought that a watercolor class might at least get me back to sketching again. Sketching can be done just about anywhere, but watercolorists need a good flat space to spread out their paints, brushes and paper.

About 15 years ago, I interviewed plein air watercolor artist Timothy J. Clark for Orange Coast Magazine. As part of the interview, I watched him paint a scene at Sherman Library & Gardens. I was amazed at how he rearranged reality to suit his artist tastes. What he painted was based on what he saw, except he moved things around on the paper to make a better composition. I have wished ever since that I could do something like that.

Our watercolor teacher, Diana LoSchiavo, is an incredible artist and a great instructor. I am in awe when I watch her paint. Sometimes I'm discouraged by my lack of talent, but mostly I'm inspired to do better. And doing better means practicing. So the Huntington Beach Community Garden isn't going to get our old walnut desk for its garage sale. I've converted it to an artist's nook in the garage office. Well, that was the original intention anyway.

As Vic and I cleaned out more and more stuff, recycling box after box of old papers and magazines, the space opened up. I saw walls. And I saw a space to hang my framed photos. Back in 1975, I had a one-woman gallery show of my black and white photographs. I've never really had space to display my photos since then, but they've moved with me from place to place. Now they're hanging on the wall over my artist's desk, along with some of my newer work that I've done since joining the Photographic Society of Orange County.

The plein air art exhibit that just closed at the art center has inspired me to try painting outdoor scenes. If you saw the exhibit, you would have recognized scenes from Huntington Central Park, Shipley Nature Center, the Equestrian Center, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, downtown Huntington Beach, and Sunset Beach. But first I'll have to practice my craft in my new artist's retreat, which was inspired by a garage sale.

There is one other charity event this month that we'd like to mention. Sea & Sage Audubon Society is holding its annual pancake breakfast and book sale at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary at the end of Riparian View in Irvine from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Oct. 30. Vic will be one of the chefs. You can make reservations for the $10 breakfast by phoning (949) 261-7963.

VIC LEIPZIG and LOU MURRAY are Huntington Beach residents and environmentalists. They can be reached at

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