The Dump

As we wait at the gate, an angel stands off to our right – welcoming us. She is flanked by two frogs. A light beckons us forward past a tin man and a cowboy as we enter. We are stopped and asked one question before being told which direction to go.

This isn’t St. Peter, these aren’t the pearly gates, and this is not an account of an acid trip. We’re at the dump. Thankfully, we aren’t banned from this place – yet.

The frogs are ceramic and came from the home of the cashier. The angel appears to be cement. She’s missing her hands but who needs those when you have wings? The other two figures are fashioned out of tin cans. Everything but the frogs came from the trash.

Together, they are an unlikely accent to the nondescript building with the drive-on scale in front. Here, incoming customers weigh their vehicles with their trash before discarding it then pay for the difference on their way out.

We make the pilgrimage when our truck’s bed reaches overflowing and if it’s winter – when we can get her down the driveway. Neither of us like to drive Bridgette through the snow but my husband takes garbage duty seriously.

Like a commercial farmer, he’ll scour The Farmer’s Almanac, monitor the weather reports and eyeball the shrinking drifts until he’s satisfied with the amount of bare ground peeking through. Then it’s time.

I woke up this morning to the announcement that this is garbage day. I put my boots on while my husband stomps the trash flat then help him secure the load with a spider net. During the drive, I make sure the wind doesn’t cause us a yard sale going 55mph.

Once at the dump and after having been told where to go, I spot while my husband backs the truck up to the pit.

truck bed dump

The pit is a long, rectangular cement trench where people discard their broken tables, bulging garbage bags, plastic plants, shoes, clothes, small appliances, and paintings. If you can walk out of the front doors of Walmart with it – you can find it here.

While the old farmer’s dump we discovered on our hillside was comprised of made-to-last objects mixed with later-era disposable items, the artifacts lying in this enclosure are all throwaway. Human behavior, however, remains constant. We once saw the remains of a huge rear projection TV with the words “This is for your boyfriend!” spray painted across the shattered face.

tire heap at dump

While my husband hefts the bags into the chasm, I see bald eagles hovering over a hill of old tires. Their presence here seems incongruent with the air of brokenness and waste.

There are drop-off spots for used oil and scrap metal. Recycling is downtown. I wonder to myself, where does all of this stuff go, then we’re done and back in the truck.

Feeling like new, we roll up to the cashier’s window, now going out rather than in. We pay as the Tin Man and The Cowboy smile blankly at us and we pull out.

angel and frogs

As we round a corner, I look into the rear-view mirror and swear I see the angel wave goodbye. Then I remember that she doesn’t have any hands.

Modern Day Horse Care

Embracing auto repairs.

It’s a hot July afternoon and my husband and I have just dropped our truck Bridgette off for another “makeover” at our local mechanic.

As we walk up the street past a State Patrol vehicle waiting for maintenance, a stream of expletives erupts from the rear wall of the shop. We turn and look back at the edifice, then at each other appreciatively.

Not every mechanic has this kind of passion.

As we speculate about the nature of the injury, another volley punches a hole through the distant sounds of traffic coming from the main thoroughfare. We glance around and are thankful we’re back a couple of blocks.

This must be a doozy. Strangely, we find the barrage reassuring.

While a lot of people buy a new vehicle when faced with larger car repairs, we fix what we already have rather than buy a whole new can of worms from the lot down the street.

We figure about a third of our beloved 1986 Ford F-250 (Bridgette), and the Durango (The Mountain Goat), is still original. At least we know what’s under their hoods and who did the work.

Bridgette’s “curb” appeal is increasing with her years but it comes at a price. Think of Aunt Alice needing a hip replacement. You wouldn’t spare a dime although her personality hasn’t aged as well. The comparison assures me I’m going to hell as I feel I may have offended the truck.

We’ll be expecting “the call” after Bridgette is inspected but thinking of automobiles as indispensable modern day horses eases the impact. The usual presence of law enforcement vehicles outside the shop also helps; they appear to have a government contract for maintenance.

We climb into the Durango and head out, knowing Bridgette is in good hands. Besides, we think; if it’s good enough for the State Patrol, it’s good enough for her.

Three-Thousand-Five Hundred Gallons Of More Work

Summertime in a smallish rural town (but big enough for a Walmart)…

You enter the store from the hot tarmac that is the parking lot and find yourself in the seasonal section. Being the beginning of summer, it’s a week or two too early for the Christmas display but the school supplies are already flying onto the shelves.

You scan each isle, hoping it’s not too late. Then you see it: the last pool – and it’s a biggun’. Fourteen feet across and exactly forty-eight inches deep. “Big enough”, you think.

Someone turns casually into the isle. You possessively lean against the box then turn around to put it into your shopping cart: now the pool is too big.

You’re here because last year’s record-breaking heat wave reduced your life to the bottom level on the hierarchy of needs: not melting. Since then, a body of water close by during the summer months is mandatory.

The folks at Walmart agree. The pools – boxed behind scenes of families splashing in impossibly blue water – sold well – with only one left.

It looks perfect for the job until checkout where the price, the call for assistance, then the visual of the rear of the car sagging as they load it hits you.

“What have I done?” you think. But it’s only the beginning.

Water is generally measured by the gallon but I catch myself calculating man-hours, equipment, blood, and sweat for each unit.

One gallon equals one hour of filtering, ten minutes of debugging, ten-seconds of chemical treatment, and two-minutes of vacuuming for every one minute of pleasurable use. Add some random number in for the unforeseen month it takes you to level the ground by hand before setting up.

It took us two tries and one draining to get the behemoth level enough to be stable. By that time, the spring water we were “plugged” into was no longer flowing down the hill so we had to pump day in and out for a week to get the damned thing full.

Then came the filter and after-market heating system a huge pool will require in order to be habitable.

Two months after purchasing the largest above-ground pool we’ve ever owned, it sits, largely unused, luring in any insect with wings, while I sit in my air conditioned RV typing a blog post.

Moth

Opened up my trailer door
Spot of light across the floor
Moth from ever far away
Saw it and flew straight my way
All this happened in a blink
Knew it's headed to my sink
It flew in as I went out
To my business went about
Half hour later I returned
Sure enough my fears confirmed
If there is a drop of water
Moth will find the way to slaughter
Basin full up to the brink
There it floated in the drink

Soap Making With Linda

A cautionary tale.

I am the queen of imperfection and soap making is no exception.

I’ve made homemade coconut oil soap before and the measurements and timing are really important. Mixing too.

I used my food processor and discovered how much you try to cram into it matters.

I don’t do this too often so I watched a video on the subject by a woman whom I’m now blaming for the disaster that ensued. Doesn’t matter that I didn’t follow the instructions.

I’m jealous because she built a log cabin by herself and she has her own Youtube channel.

She made the measuring easier by using an entire 54 oz. bottle of the oil, adjusting the measurements for the other ingredients accordingly. “Great”, I thought, as I dug fifty bowls and utensils out, my alcohol inks (for color), my essential rose oil, a scale, a thermometer – and my beloved food processor for mixing.

The normally solid coconut oil was already in liquid form from the heat so I wasted no time and poured the entire container into the mixer.

Then oil started seeping out of the machine.

I’d clearly overfilled it and it was leaking through the blade attachment. I thought fast and poured it into the container that was resting on the scale, zeroed out to measure the lye. In the process, oil slopped all over the place so I put the mixer container in the sink and grabbed the bowl that was on the scale to dump back into the original bottle.

Unfortunately, the oil had stuck the scale onto the bottom of the bowl, releasing it into the sink full of water at just the right moment.

I swiped it out, grabbed a rag, and began the cleanup.

Because our RV isn’t perfectly level (a sheer pin in one of the hydraulic jacks sheered off before we could finish the job and I’ve lived with the fact that in our bathroom anything that rolls, will head west when placed on the counter), the coconut oil also headed west.

It was on its way to the edge of the counter so I hit the most threatened areas first then turned my attention back to the motor unit of the food processor. I sopped up the pool in the tray on top, wiped off the suction cups on the bottom and put it aside while I finished cleaning the counters.

I scraped wave after wave of the skin conditioning, nutty smelling stuff into the sink and down the drain. I figure I lost about a third of the container.

I again picked up the motor unit and noticed a huge puddle of the viscous liquid on the counter I’d just cleaned. Upon holding the gadget above my head, I spied oil coming out of the motor compartment.

So long food processor.

You can actually dry some electrical components out but I’m not taking a chance with this one.

I put the fifty bowls, utensils, alcohol inks, the scale with the now-cloudy digital readout, the essential rose oil, and thermometer away but the food processor unit is now sitting in the hot sun, still oozing – destined for the garbage can.

The moral of my story? Life ain’t perfect but at least my hands are soft.

The Case Of The Disappearing Vegetables

Linda’s plate was full of food
To her Mom it all looked good
Little did her parent know
All those green beans had to go
What to do, there was no pooch
No furry friend who liked to mooch
Steak and salad with tomatoes
Great big pile of mashed potatoes
But the bane of that great feast
How to slay the veggie beast
Thinking fast she ate the rest
Put her magic to the test
Laid utensils side by side
Under which the beans she’d hide
Lined them up all in a row
Till not one of each did show
Said “I’m done”, picked up her plate
To the sink she made her break
But with Mother on patrol
Into sight one bean did role
Cross-hairs of a pointed finger
Turned around, she didn’t linger
Brought her plate back to the table
Linda ate her vegetables

From a poetry blog I have https://wordchef.press/

Coffee’s Comin’ Down The Tracks

Morning ritual wakes us up.
Pound of coffee in your cup.
Black as night and heavy too.
Man, this is your kind of brew.
Coffee is so thick and dank.
Roles in like a Sherman tank.
Busting rivets, twisting guts.
Loosening your bolts and nuts.
This pot it has a coal car.
A fireman and crew.
Hit that mountain running.
Son, you have no clue.
Clear the way to Uncle John.
Pave the streets and tell your Mom.
Ticker tape parade with bands.
Don’t forget to wash your hands.
When it’s done and all is quiet.
Feel like you’ve been on a diet.
Have another cup my friend.
I’ll stay with you to the end.

The inspiration for this poem.

How Many Extension Cords Does It Take To Fill Up A Pool?

This is not a math quiz.

It’s about a matter of necessity or what you have to do when you can’t turn on a spigot with access to an unlimited water supply (although we technically do – from the mountains). Resources are precious out here, regulated not by the water company but by Mother Nature.

Winter is done and somehow we’ve skipped by spring rather quickly and belly-flopped straight into a summertime heat advisory. Today was in the nineties with the prediction tomorrow being the same or higher.

Not being content to wallow in the livestock watering trough I’d bought in the stead of my failed pool venture of last year, I found myself digging through the dust-laden shelves in search of the plastic heap that was The Pool. Or rather, I asked my husband to find it.

The thing requires approximately two-hundred-thousand gallons of water to fill it which is problem when the springs have suddenly dried up or at least the rate of flow has dramatically decreased because of said heat-wave.

You have to have sense of determination around here at times.

We have two springs at the top of the hill. The original and The Squitzer as we call it after my husband broke some rock away when we were digging it and excitedly exclaimed “look at this – we have a squitzer”!

The water was literally squirting out of a crack in the bedrock under pressure. It was a nice sight. It fills up faster than the original but we haven’t had to use it over the winter months and I needed the water from both springs to fill the pool to capacity.

This meant I had to hunt for an extra thousand or so feet of extension cord to reach the top of the hill because The Squitzer required the pump. We can’t siphon it because it’s sunk deeper into the ground, unlike the other spring.

After about an hour of locating cord and lugging it up the hill, I had to dredge the damned spring. Once a year we clean out months of accumulated clay and debris from trees that’s fallen in and decayed.

This is a lot of work to fill up a pool but it’s freakin’ ninety-plus degrees; about two-hundred in front of our trailer. Even the cats have retreated into the “basement” of the fifth wheel to sleep through the worst of the heat of the day at this point.

After the dredging, I have to pump the dirty residual water out of the hole lest I create a mud pit rather than a pool. I want pristine water. Sparkling, shimmering, bug-free with no pine cones floating around. And warm, dammit.

I dragged the blue-vinyl mass into the brush and found a sunny spot and spread it out. I inflated the ring after I cleared the spot of branches and pine cones.

Now I needed power. Not a problem thanks to good ‘0l Mr. Sun and our solar power system.  I made my fiftieth trip up to the top of the hill carefully checking the connections of the two-thousand feet of extension cord, placed the pump in the now pristine waters of The Squizter and plugged it in.

Believe it or not – it worked.

I ran two miles back down the hill for the six-hundredth time to the pool in the wilderness and found, to my delight, that water was coursing out of the hose into the pool.

To the best of my calculations it will have taken about two-hundred thousand feet of extension cord, five-hundred thousand gallons of spring water and one week to fill the pool up.

Then I can recreate.

Someone Paved Our Driveway – Sort Of

It’s that time of the year again – when the snow melts and the ground doesn’t. As a result, billions of gallons of runoff heads in our direction in the space of about three weeks.

The layer of permafrost won’t let the water soak in except for the topmost couple of inches; just enough to make a nice mud pie.

Our driveway, which doubles as a seasonal creek and has never been user friendly,  becomes a bog. It should have been regraded and graveled a couple of years ago but that would have required the neighbors to agree on something.

We have three times the traffic this year and every time someone drives through the goop, it gets deeper and threatens to suction the car in place – never to move again – and it’s one lane.

The prospect of becoming a ginormous speed bump the neighbors have to negotiate on their way home is enough to keep us far, far away from The Thing – The Road.

The destruction extends all the way to the main road. The postal service left a nasty-gram in everyone’s mailboxes telling us to fix the road or no mail would be delivered.  Luckily someone  dumped a load of rocks in front of the boxes, thus restoring our service.

The trek is so intimidating we stay home unless we’re out of oxygen or something. Don’t try to text during the ride or you may end up ruining a relationship with someone you never knew and becoming best friends with someone from Lisbon, Portugal in the space of a quarter mile.

By the time you reach the street, there’s a chance you’ll be seasick and may have incurred some sort of blunt force trauma after glancing off of some inner furnishing of the vehicle. The violent lateral lurches are capable of putting a head through a passenger door window.

The other day we needed cat food (oxygen), so we piled into the four-wheel  and braced ourselves. As we crept to the top of the worst part of the easement – a steeply graded slope – we looked down and noticed someone had laid pavement at the bottom.

More accurately, someone had lobbed chunks of broken asphalt all over the road. They lay at all angles and sizes where they were chucked. Some slabs were two feet in diameter with smaller shards mixed in.

This project had our uppermost neighbor’s “hold my beer” signature all over it. Huge ruts from his truck now cut into and through portions of the road – which he missed with the asphalt.

What we were looking at reminded me of a school project. Imagine a four-year old with some glue and macaroni only big.

I told my husband to stop while I jumped out and I redistributed the minefield.

I  jumped back in and we skirted the construction zone as far to the right as we could without rolling down the slope away from the road.

Now we had to make it past Cowhead Guy’s house (explanation here).

Never a dull day.

The Garage Sale

A poem

This is based on a true story.

The Garage Sale

Here’s a cautionary tale
A five year old, some change, a sale
The neighbors had way too much stuff
Seems she didn’t have enough
Mom and Dad were sleeping in
The day was young for Deon Lynn
Asked her dozing Mom and Dad
Could she borrow just a tad
Took the money went and shopped
Got some more and didn’t stop
Back and forth between two homes
Deon with her cash did roam
Bought up all the brickabrack
In a corner made a stack
She was proud of her good taste
With great care her stash she placed
When her parents did arise
They were in for a surprise
In the corner of the room
Deon’s stash shown in the gloom
Fruit arrangements painted bright
So gaudy they emitted light
Everything no one desired
Our child happily acquired
Destination curb no more
Now it sits behind our door
The crowning glory of the lot
Was a velvet painted clock
Next to this amazing piece
Plastic bird that had no fleece
Centerpieces blinding flowers
There they sat they now were ours
Deon beamed she was so proud
Everything she bought was loud
We thought fast we had to act
How to deal with this with tact
Course we told her it looked great
It was time to decorate
To her playhouse it all went
Where its time with us was spent
Her taste improved as she got older
Beauty lies with the beholder