Sometimes It Pays To Dig In The Trash

Just yesterday I saw a copy of Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson lying on the street in East Harlem. I’d have picked it up if it weren’t wet from the rain. That’s a damn good book. I gave a copy to my wife as a gift one time. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth it, and it’s a short read so you don’t have to spend a lot of time with it, just a lot of time thinking about what it says!

So, what’s today’s book find? Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests; Is America Breaking Apart?; and Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination. The last one will probably be the most interesting of the three, to me anyway. It covers interesting topics like “From Ashes to Cyborgs: The Era of Reconstruction (1945 – 1960)” and “”Gotta Catch ‘Em All”: The Pokemonization of America”. Is America breaking apart? is a discussion about American society and how it adapts to overcome social problems. That should be an interesting read.

Anyhow, that’s $67.75 worth of books (before taxes) that was just sitting on the street, heading for the city landfill if no one claimed them, and those are just the ones that we picked up. Thinking about it, I should’ve taken them all and put the rest on eBay. Not everything that’s sitting on the curb is really garbage, especially when it’s a book.

Of course, a book is about the only thing I’ll take from the curb. I’m not about to wear clothes from off the curb. That’s just gross. Now, let’s just hope these books didn’t have any bed bugs in them. If you haven’t heard, there’s a huge infestation of bed bugs in New York City right now, everywhere from private homes to public schools to 5 star hotels.

Disclaimer: Clicking the links in this post will take you to Amazon.com shopping pages. The links are affiliated, meaning I get a cut if you buy them from Amazon.

My Own Personal Pit of Destruction

A few days ago I posted an update talking about hauling useless crap out of my in-law’s house and burning it.  Just to go into some details, that useless crap includes things like broken hangers, rotting wood, shredded electrical wire (that’s likely to burn the house down if used), random plastic caps and knobs and broken light switches, molded paper, completed crossword books, old newspapers, 3 year old grocery receipts, random pages of magazines, broken umbrellas, molded clothing that’s literally rotting, and other unpleasant ‘treasures’.

The trash pick-up here is only once a week, but with the amount of crap I’m hauling out, in addition to regular daily household wastes, I had to get creative.  That’s why burning it is the best option.  It also prevents animals and scraggly children from tearing open the bags to see what’s inside and leaving a pile of trash in front of your house that has to be bagged up again.

The lot next door is unoccupied, so it’s front ‘lawn’ makes a great place to build a fire.  Here’s the fire pit as it stands now:

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It’s a bit messy.  I have to get out there with a rake and a shovel to dispose of the remains but I haven’t had time to yet.

It feels great to get rid of all of that crap.  The house is gradually getting cleaner and livable.  It’s a big place and it’s a waste if it stays the way it is, not to mention it’s unhealthy for everyone that lives here, so I’m staying motivated to get the job done.

Tomorrow I think I’ll finally finish cleaning out the back of the house.  We bought a washing machine 11 days ago but haven’t been able to install it because there was too much scrap wood and metal in the way.  It’s a good thing too, because I’m almost out of clean underwear.

Playing With Fire

Today was one of those big bursts of cleaning activity that I mentioned in the last post.  We just looked around and decided that we couldn’t stand it anymore, changed into work clothes and then got cracking on taking out the trash and cleaning up the dining room, kitchen, the side and back of the house.

I did the side and back of the house because it required quite a bit of lifting of heavy stuff.  There was a huge amount of half rotten wood laying around, most of which looked like broken bits of carpentry and cabinetry.  I did find one piece of wood that looked like a gnarled tree branch stripped of bark.  I have no idea what that was doing back there.  I also found a basket full of torn and shredded clothing that I took out.  Everything else was scrap metal, paper boxes, Styrofoam lids, broken broom handles, bottles half full of God only knows what sort of liquids and little plastic bits from broken toys.

So, what to do with all this crap?  Well, in this rural neighborhood burning shit is completely legal, so I unleashed my inner pyromaniac and built a massive bonfire out of all of this rubbish, with the exception of the scrap metal which I intend to sell and reinvest into renovations.  I heaped on the regular household trash as well as random sticks and yard debris that was in the area.  I even through a half-rotten wooden bench into the pile.

I lit it off with burning newspaper and the end result was a big ball of flame that reached at least 8 feet into the air and kept me about 5 feet away from the fire until it burned down quite a bit.  Who knew plastic burned so well?  The wood burned down into a nice bed of coals that left me with a great place to toss other rubbish as we found it for the remainder of the afternoon.

It turned into quite a spectacle and after about an hour, half of the neighbors on the street were out to watch, including kids who decided to add whatever they could find to the blaze.  It was inspirational.  Other people decided it was a good time to burn their yard waste as well.

Unfortunately, the idea of taking pictures slipped my mind during the excitement, so I’ll just have to post a picture of the aftermath tomorrow.

I did get a picture of a giant toad I found though.  It was hiding under some half-rotten wood on the side of the house.  Kinda scared the crap out of me too.  I didn’t know what I was looking at for the first few seconds.  The toad is about the size of my outstretched hand and would sit comfortably on your average dinner plate.  The second photo has my thumb in it for a bit of comparison, but I kept my hand a good distance away.  I didn’t know if it would try to bite me or spray poison or something.  There are a lot of weird animals out here.  I had already dodged two giant brown cane spiders while clearing the back of the house previous to this find.

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I also took a picture of the huge box full of scrap metal I collected.  That’s not all of it.

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The box in the above picture is the same box from yesterday’s post, just so you have some basis for judging it’s size.

By the end of the day I was covered in dirt, ash and grime, but I was feeling pretty good about the progress we made.  I wasn’t quite as happy about the black boogers I was blowing out of my nose though.