Monday, July 12, 2004

Trash Day is always hectic at my house. In NY, trash pick up happens at least twice a week, and there is no limit to how many receptacles you can put out. In CA we only pick up trash once a week. Once a week. And we are issued only 2 cans -- one for regular trash and one for recyclables. The regular trash can is meant for your family's entire week of trash, plus any gardening, grass trim, tree trim etc. I don't know about your family, but mine generates way more than our allowed quota. So we have to pay for an extra can. And God help us if we miss a week....

The trash pick up process here is completely different than NY as well. In NY there are garbage men -- teams of them -- who run along the length of the street and grab your trash cans and dump them into the back of the truck. When they are not running behind the truck, they are riding along, hanging off the back of the truck, waving to the neighbors. Here in CA, the trucks are automated. A big mechanical arm reaches out for your company-issued can and lifts it up a conveyor type belt to dump it into the truck. 2 different trucks come by on trash day. One for the regular trash, one for the recyclables. There is a real guy driving the truck -- I try to wave at him. He is always surprised when I do this and stops to find out why I'm waving him down. It is often way more effort than I intended.

The mechanized trash truck continues to be a cause for alarm according to my loyal Labrador. He spends the entire trash day protecting our home from the evil trash man. Apparently he is successful, although the cursed trucks come back every week. He usually sleeps off his valiant efforts the following day, likely dreaming of the future adventures of wonder-dog. Although we are grateful for his efforts, we often have to plan to leave the house on trash day, as we cannot hear ourselves think from all the barking. The day after trash day, on the other hand, is always quite peaceful.

I am thankful that the dog is so obsessive frankly, because he begins his anti-trash tirade as soon as he hears the remote rumbling of the evil engine at the front of the village, buying us at least 15 minutes to run outside and get the trash cans to the curb. We've rarely missed a week, thanks to him. He is our own personal trash alarm. In fact, he belongs to the entire block and will be missed (sort of) when we move.

We have a Little Old Trash Picker who comes every trash day to rifle through our recyclables. I don't mind -- in fact, I'd give her all our cans and bottles if I could be more organized about it -- but we all know that that won't happen any time soon. Association Man has a weekly cow over the Little Old Trash Picker. He insists she is stealing from the trash company which of course trickles down to us. "She's driving up the cost of trash collection" he whines. Putting non-recyclables in the recycling containers is another of his pet peeves. I often wondered if he looked inside the trash cans to be sure we are not in violation.

About a month ago, on a typical hectic trash day, I had the kids fed, lunches made, trash cans out, kids buckled in, ready for work -- almost managing to escape before the daily doggy tirade would begin. The barking had just begun and we were off. Shortly into the morning commute, I realized I had forgotten something pivotal to the day, and knew I'd had to return. I always hate that -- but especially on trash day. I delivered the kids to their destinations, drove into my village (slowly behind all the behemoth trash trucks), pulled around my corner just in time to see Association Man -- standing in front of my trash cans, using his cane to open the trash lid so he could peer inside. He was examining my trash!! He saw me and didn't even appear embarrassed at being caught doing this. He walked over to my drive waiting for me to pull in. I imagined he found some non-recyclable thing in my recycling can -- and I even considered driving by -- but instead I pulled in to my driveway and faced the music.

He whined to me about some other neighborhood issue, not even mentioning the trash. Apparently this is part of his trash day routine. Apparently he doesn't see this as an affront to my privacy. After all, CSI does this all the time. I stood flabbergasted. I think my mouth hung open in amazement. I inched toward my door, trying to plot my escape. Suddenly, Little Old Trash Picker appeared around the corner. Association Man called to her, pointing with his cane at my trash cans, "This one's got a great collection of Coors beer cans!" She smiled and honed in on the booty. I took advantage of the distraction and said goodbye.

I stood inside my house behind my closed door, unable to decide how exactly I felt about all this. I know I witnessed something big that day. Association Man, in an incredibly tweaked sort of way, actually did something nice for Little Old Trash Picker. The trash picker never offended me when she rifled through my trash. Never. Yet when Association Man was looking, I was deeply offended. Granted, he couldn't simply say that there were cans in my trash, he had to let anyone listening know exactly what kind of cans and how many we discarded in an average week. I can't help but think that he used Trash Picker as an excuse to look helpful and spy on us at the same time. But despite that, I suddenly felt a twinge of compassion for Association Man. I saw him -- twisted and small -- and I felt pity. Deeply. I was reminded of the small woman who gave all she had into the offering plate, and even though it was oh-so-small it touched the heart of God. Association Man's offering to Little Old Trash Picker was oh-so-big for him. I think he touched the heart of God. He certainly touched the heart of Kim.

The dog was barking through all of this, passionately defending once again, the sound of the trash can coming closer, a chaotic cacophony -- and suddenly all of my indignation came loose from me. Suddenly it didn't matter that he was all wrong -- that nosy, controlling, sniveling man -- all that mattered was that I dumped that baggage, that trash, in the non-recyclable can.

The truck was at my house when I stepped outside and waved to the driver. He actually smiled and waved back. As he drove on to the next home, I felt lighter. Happier. Like my dog, I felt as though I could now sleep well. The enemy had left my door.

Thank You, Lord, for the little miracles. You are so good to me.

Friday, July 09, 2004

My apologies for the long silence. So much has happened in this short time that it will take days to catch you all up. I'll give you the highlights:

-My son graduated from Middle School and is now officially a High School Student.

-My daughter graduated from Elementary School and is now officially a Middle Schooler.

-My parents visited us from NY, mostly to attend the above named graduations. While here, they bought a second home (for "snow-birding").

-My son began his High School Sports career about a week after school ended. He is currently busy with basketball and football practice.

-My daughter began her summer sports schedule. She completed 3 weeks of basketball camp and will begin 3 weeks of volleyball shortly.

-We went to Iowa to celebrate my husband's grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. We just returned on Tuesday.

-The week before we left for Iowa we bought a house. Really. We close escrow on Friday. (next Friday).

I have to go pick up my son from football practice now. I'm sorry to list and run. I certainly hope this post finds you all healthy and happy. I can't wait to catch up...