Steve Henderson
The plastic containers of today, which we now consider junk, are the archaeological finds of tomorrow — like these ancient pottery pieces of Peru. This artwork, "Chimu," is by Steve Henderson.

Sometimes this frugality thing goes too far.

So says Son and Heir, who is singularly unimpressed by the toys I magically create for Toddler Grandchild out of nothing (“junk” he calls it), but maybe he’s just irritable because it’s his job to take the trash out each week.

My latest conceptions — a tambourine, a drum and an interactive puzzle (which to the uninitiated looks like six used thread spools rattling around in an empty CD holder) — kept the sprite entertained for, well, a good 45 seconds, which isn’t bad considering that the average $20 purchase at the big-box store lasts 10 seconds longer than that.

When you remove the thread spools from the CD case and if you aren’t too particular about authenticity, you now have great little people for the doll house. On another day, they’re aliens.

My fascination with plastic products stretches back decades, when my childhood bath-time companion was an empty dish detergent bottle that, except for the spout at the top which was disappointingly too small for a head, looked like a lady in a white dress. When she wore out, ripped or caved in beyond repair, another was always ready to take her place, and sometimes, when there were two at a time, I had a jolly tea for three.

While on the one hand, this stuff is garbage, think about it for a minute: If you were alive in 1365 and carted your macaroni and cheese around in ceramic pots and someone handed you an old, bright yellow margarine tub with a lid, wouldn’t you get excited? It’s lightweight, doesn’t break and seals in freshness. What’s not to like?

My preponderant weakness is for the metal canisters that hold flavored coffee —small, cute, modular. Every time I see an empty one of these I think, “There’s surely got to be something that we could do with these things.”

I must frequently speak the sentiment aloud because my husband, the Norwegian Artist, while he can’t effectively cross the street to evade me, does avoid eye contact when I pick up empty boxes and eye them.

“No,” he has lately taken to saying, circumventing the issue before it becomes one. “I can’t use them in the studio, paint tubes won’t stack in them, brushes would fall out, I don’t use crayons and I can’t see any possible reason why I want or need them.”

Once in frustration he counterattacked, “Why don’t you see if you can use them in the sewing room?”

Not a bad idea that, only I couldn’t find anything to fit in them other than used thread spools, and I’ve already got that one covered.

So with a sigh I throw them away.

The other day someone gave us a flavored-coffee box of monumental proportions. While it’s not metal, it does have a lid, and it sure looks like something you’d put things in after the coffee powder is gone.

Do you remember the Winnie the Pooh story about Eeyore’s birthday present, in which the sad little donkey spends a pleasurable afternoon dropping a broken balloon into an old honey pot and pulling it out again?

Everybody thinks that Eeyore is cute. Pathetic, but cute.

But I’ve got it, and the Norwegian doesn’t have to panic because the box is the perfect size to hold a stack of empty 6-ounce yogurt cups, which everyone knows make great drinking glasses.

Carolyn Henderson is a freelance author and writer of the lifestyle column, Middle Aged Plague ( Carolyn is also the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art (