Operation Dump Redemption

I was beginning to think this neighborhood had lost its weirdness but I was wrong.  It’s only a matter of time around here. 

I’m sure everyone has their own interesting people in their neighborhoods but for some reason our neighborhood seems to be in the category of just plain weird.

I used to think I was the only one constantly entertained by the weirdness but luckily, my friend/neighbor Anne is equally obsessed and also willing/coming up with  ideas to deal with the various issues that go on.

The house she lives in used to be owned by a woman who for some reason seemed to enjoy having creepy men around.  I had called the police more than once because of domestic violence.  Ole Jimmy finally got caught and went to jail. That’s a whole other story.  My god there are a lot of stories about my neighbors.  She ended up leaving in the middle of the night a few years ago due to foreclosure I think.  Needless to say I was not sad to hear the news.  Anyway, Anne and her boyfriend bought the house a couple of years ago and completely de-funked/remodeled the place and it looks awesome!

Moving on to the more interesting neighbors.  Because this neighborhood is pretty old a lot of the houses still have businesses in the bottom half. One being the dry cleaners who is owned by an asian couple in their 90’s (lets call them the Tiny Dumpers).  They are two of the smallest people I have ever seen in my life.   And next to them is their daughter and her husband Julio, who have a sewing machine repair shop in the bottom of their house. 

I have had my fair share of issues with Julio including but not limited to:

Having half their deck on our property, throwing garbage over the fence into our yard (apparently it’s a family thing),  various loud altercations with his wife, conservative talk radio shows blaring for days on end (by days I mean 24/7. There was a point last summer where the radio was coming on every morning at 5 am and Anne had gone over there and ripped the radio out of the outside wall). And the latest treat was a rooster. Just a rooster. It’s gone now and I can only assume the worst.

The Tiny Dumpers have a reputation for creeping around early in the morning and dumping their garbage in other people’s trash cans. I normally don’t care or even notice but they officially went too far this week.  One would think they have gotten pretty good at dispersing the trash to various cans and making sure it couldn’t be traced back to them since they have been doing it for so long.  Maybe they were in a hurry this time.  And this is what happens when you rush a job:

Notice the hoses

Thursday morning I got a call from Anne saying someone had dumped a bunch of trash in our YARD DEBRIS dumpster.  We were both surprised it had taken that long for it to happen.  I told her it was probably the Tiny Dumpers.  Then she texted me and said she was going to go thru the trash to see if she could figure out who’s it was (a woman after my own heart). It only took about 30 seconds for her to call and tell me it was for sure them.

There were a number of clues that lead her to her conclusion.

1. Hoses tied up with black string that matched some other things they had tied up in their yard (as seen above).

In our dumpster

Styrofoam in their yard-note the black ties.

2. A Styrofoam top that had a matching bottom in their yard. 

 3. Canned goods with Chinese writing on it.  Sorry no picture.

4. A bag of leaves cut from the same tree that is in their yard.

We obviously had enough evidence to make a conviction.  So we decided it would only be right to bring the trash back to them. Of course Anne had already organized the garbage (again, love her) and piled it up in my recycling bin by the time I got over there.

I printed out a few things for the Tiny Dumpers reading enjoyment about the fines for illegal dumping and the number for our garbage service so he could set up an account.  (I apologize in advance for the formatting in the upcoming photos).

An informative brochure


Oregon laws for illegal dumping


Some constructive criticism


A few glasses of wine later we were ready to make the dump.

As you can see we placed it nicely in front of the gate. We also taped the information on his door. 

Very organized

We came back to my house to watch and see if they would come out. We heard some rattling and clanking and realized it was the Tiny Dumpers getting things organized for the midnight dump. We then heard their son-in-law Julio come home next door and he was screaming and yelling about something but we couldn’t tell what it was about but we knew he saw the trash. There was no way he could have missed it.

We didn’t have an ideal view of the scene so we decided to walk around the block to see if they had found their trash. They had. All the lights were on, gate was open, trash was taken back into their yard. As of today we have not heard from any of them.  I don’t know why I would think they would say anything.  Can they really get mad at us? Now THAT would be funny. 

I hope they feel really guilty for doing it. I know I would be mortified if that happened to me.  But I would also think it was hilarious to know I had been caught. I’m sure the last thing on their mind was thinking someone would actually go through their garbage they illegally dumped. Little did they know there were 2 ladies around the corner who have a small obsession with garbage. And the neighborhood.


Put it in the Alley

I just returned from a little trip to Chicago to visit my brother and his wife. It was the first time I have gone anywhere without Owen so I was naturally terrified but excited at the same time. I realized once I got there that it is possible to have an adult life while still being a mother. I think this was the first time that I realized that things do change and babies grow up and they don’t always need their mother. It was a good lesson for me as well as for Owen. We both survived without major emotional injury. Grizwald, however, seems to think every time I go near the front door I am leaving him again

I had a fabulous time and we did lots of eating and drinking and futzing around.  One thing that kept coming up over and over was this “thing” people in Chicago do.   I assume it has been going on for a long time because the system is quite efficient.  It all revolves around the alleys.  Apparently when you don’t want something anymore you just “put it in the alley” (I have this in quotes because every single person I talked to about it said this exact line). It’s essentially your own personal donating station. Almost every street has an alley of some sort so wherever you live you have access to this. You can put whatever you want in the alley and a truck with a few guys in it (they seem to control most of the stuff) or anyone who gets to it first will come take it. 

This “put it in the alley” thing came up a bunch when I was there with multiple people. It was like every day conversation between Chicagoans.  For example,  “I don’t know if I want this plant stand anymore.  I think I’ll just put it in the alley”. Stuff like that.

Alexis (my brothers wife) told me that a few years ago she had put this yellow dresser in the alley at their old apartment and just a few months ago she saw this exact dresser it in another alley waiting for its next home.

Anyone can find stuff in the alley, it’s not just the truck dudes. People go looking for stuff all the time. Alexi’s parents took me through their entire house to show me all the things that had gotten from the alley.  It was actually quite a lot of stuff.  I think that from the time I got to her parents to the time I left “the alley” was brought up at least 5 times.  Just normal conversation. 

I became obsessed with it. I wanted to walk the alleys of Chicago and find some gem that I could take home with me. I was secretly hoping I would find some amazing piece of furniture that I would have gladly paid the shipping on just for the story alone.   I expressed my fascination with this phenomenon while at dinner at Alexis’ parents house. Her mother told me I wouldn’t find much since pick ups were Fridays (this was Sunday) and usually at the end of the month. I said I wanted to go anyway just for the experience.    I love that she knew this information as if it was part of their bi-annual garbage schedule you get in the mail.  That’s how crazy it is. 

Alexis’s sister Emilie took me for my virgin alley crawl.  I was so excited I didn’t even complain (at first) about the 95 degree weather we would be walking in. We walked through probably 7 or 8 alleys. I wanted to get a feel for the kind of stuff people put in the alley. Literally anything and everything seemed to be out there just waiting for its next home.  And the cool part was that it wasn’t stuff that was broken or run down or heavily used.  Most of it was in pretty good shape.  During our walk we ran into a few of the “pick up” trucks that seemed to be either following us or trying to get ahead of us. We were actually beeped at by one truck as if to say “get the hell out of here you amateurs”. At least that’s what I thought. Maybe they were honking at Emilie who was wearing a very short dress  and 6 inch wedges.

Her mom was right about not finding a lot of stuff but I did come away with this lovely bird drawing and a VHS tape of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (I used to love them and went to their concert for my 16th birthday). We also found a box for a brand new breast pump and thought it would be funny to give it to Alexis since she is having a baby. We brought it back and everyone was oohing and aaahing over the sweet find. Too bad it was just the box because this alley system is so awesome that even a breast pump next to a garbage can would be a good find and probably used without hesitation.

Overall I had a great experience with the alley picking.  If I lived there I think I would make a point of doing the alley crawls every weekend.  I love it.  I want to hear more stories from people who find things in the alley.

Stupid Death

I feel like I have had a lot of close friends lose a pet recently and it is so hard to see  the pain and sadness they are going through.  It’s hard enough to see an animal in pain or suffering and even harder to have to “play god” for them and to know when it’s time to say goodbye.

This last one has really hit me hard. Mostly because my friend is hurting so much and is so sad and there’s nothing I can do to help her.

Those of you who have experienced pet loss know how awful it feels to lose part of your family. The last pet I lost that was close to me was a long time ago and it still makes me sad to think about it.   I even cried for days when I had to put my husbands cat down that I hated with a passion. Maybe it was so hard because he really loved that cat and it was hard to see him so sad.  Or maybe I was sad that he was in a place where he could be a total dickhead and no one would care.   I don’t judge Nick  for loving a cat that peed on everything and probably spread kitty AIDS to the whole slew of neighborhood cats (which there are many). You can’t choose who you love right? Damn cat.

So I have been searching the fabulous Internet to try to find something that I can get to help ease my friends pain.  Most of the websites were pretty much the same but I did find one place that was quite interesting (Don’t worry, I haven’t done anything crazy).


Am I crazy to think that this happens?  Where do you put it?  Does it get dusty?  What do you do if you don’t want it anymore?  I’m all for remembering your pet but there are ways that are slightly, shall I say, LESS CREEPY than this. 

I know this subject is a little on the depressing side but I had to write something because that’s what I do now so bear with me. Oh, and if you hate animals then you should probably just stop reading my blog and also just go away in general because you are a  cold-hearted human.

With that said I would like to share a poem I found online.  I took out a small part about god because I didn’t think it applied to the specific people I am talking about and their beliefs. Can I do that?  Oh well.  I will post the website I found it on if the unknown author or anyone else has a problem with it.

This is for my friends (you know who you are) and anyone who has been through so much with their losses. I hope each day gets a little better for you and know that I am thinking about you. 

I’m Still Here

Friend, please don’t mourn for me

I’m still here, though you don’t see.

I’m right by your side each night and day

and within your heart I long to stay.

My body is gone but I’m always near. 

I’m everything you feel, see or hear. 

My spirit is free, but I’ll never depart

as long as you keep me alive in your heart.

I’ll never wander out of your sight-

I’m the brightest star on a summer’s night. 

I’ll never be beyond your reach-

I’m the warm moist sand when you’re at the beach.

I’m the colorful leaves when fall comes around

and the pure white snow that blankets the ground. 

I’m the beautiful flowers of which you are so fond.

The clear cool water in a quiet pond.

I’m the first bright blossom you’ll see in the spring,

the first warm raindrop that April will bring. 

I’m the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,

and you’ll see that the face in the moon shine is mine.

I’m the hot salty tears that flow when you weep,

and the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep. 

I’m the smile you see on a baby’s face. 

Just look for me friend, I’m every place!



The Force Field

Ever since I was very little I apparently have be able to have long in-depth conversations with complete strangers. My mom has told me that when I was three I would sit on a bench next to someone and start up a conversation.  I think this is where it all began. 

Yesterday I got a call from the wrong number and it was a lady looking for her friend George whose wife is dying from cancer. I was out to dinner and normally wouldn’t answer a call from an unknown number but Owen was having his first sleepover at Nana and Poppy’s and I was convinced it was the hospital calling to tell me he had an accident.  I had a whole scenario already played out in my head about this fictitious accident (the joys of motherhood).   In this scenario he was so upset that I left him that he threw himself down the stairs at their house and broke his leg. Obviously Nana and Poppy are very capable of taking care of him otherwise I wouldn’t have done the sleepover but I was convinced he would miss me and not be able to handle it.   Not the case whatsoever.  I think its safe to say that he was not phased at all about spending his first night without me.  I, on the other hand, did not do as well. 

Anyway, so I answered the call and the lady asked if I was George. I was planning on telling her I was glad it wasn’t the hospital but before I could she went into the whole story about her friend George’s wife and the cancer, crying. Nick was in the bathroom and missed the whole conversation but I posted on facebook  about how the weirdest stuff happens to me and an old friend of mine commented back and said that I have no force field and that she has seen me have these types of conversations with strangers.

So I started thinking about this. I honestly can’t think of a reason why I do this or why these situations  happen to me.  How does it even start? Am I giving off some sort of body language that says, “come over here and tell me your problems”? Or is my friend right about my lack of force field? Do I not have the invisible field around me keeping strangers away? Are you born with this force field or do you develop it over time? Why don’t I have one?  Maybe I missed this day in Psychology 101 about the force field. 

I don’t think I can stop it and I don’t see why I should or need to but why is  one person over another more susceptible to these situations? 

My mom also pointed out that I have a tendency to make friends with some relatively unstable people, have a short and turbulent friendship with them and then it ends for one reason or another.  This may be a force field problem as well.  A simple conversation with a stranger turns in to a weird friendship that will never last. 

I hate self reflecting.

Peace-The Saga Continues

Just for the record I would like to say that I WAS SO RIGHT about Peace! Thanks to my neighbor who went to their graduation party last weekend I received crucial information about him that I needed to continue with my stalking.

We were both invited to the party via notecard taped to our front doors. Mine said to please come to the party and if there are any problems or if they were too loud to call them. My neighbor’s was an apology for blaring their music out of the car at 3 am (she went out in her underwear and screamed at them last weekend) followed by an invite to the party.

I decided not to go because my dad was in town but mostly because I would have rather eaten my own leg off at the knee than have to be formally introduced to Peace.  I suppose if I would have had a few drinks I would have gone but I would have been really rude and sarcastic. I’m trying to cut back on that.

My neighbor said she felt like they were sincerely sorry about the 3 am business and she would make an appearance. She’s nicer than I am.

So she goes to the party. The next day she informs me that Peace (she was introduced to him but couldn’t remember his name because all she could think about was his more appropriate name, Peace) lives in the house with his sister THAT HIS DAD BOUGHT. He bought their cars, the house, the fucking dirt that is still out front, and all of the catered food for the party. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing or he’s a bad person for getting all that. I’ve had my fair share of things given to me by my parents but what really gets me is that I would never move in to a house my dad bought me and immediately piss off the neighbors. Even when I was 20. Most people have enough sense to know that when you are the new neighbor, you want to make a good impression. At least that’s what I would do.

The best part of the story is that when she was introduced to Peace  as “his neighbor” he slowly started backing away in a joking/maybe a little scared kind of way.  And what did my neighbor (who I thought was my friend) do? She says to him, “NO I’m not THAT neighbor across the street (pointing at my house), I live next to her!”. 

So something occurs to me as she’s telling me the story: this guy is afraid of me because I said a few words to his idiot friend  who parked in my driveway but he’s not scared of the crazy lady screaming on the front porch in her underwear at 3am? I don’t get it.

Ok ok, so they seem like nice people who don’t mean to cause problems but it all backfires when you are a TOTAL FUCKING IDIOT. Peace just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. I saw him walking home a few days ago in the pouring rain wearing only a bathing suit. He’s just making it so easy for me to continue to talk shit about him. I actually can’t come up with any explanation for that scenario which is annoying me. Where was he coming from? Was he swimming or is that just what he wears when it rains?

I’m sure I will continue to update on this fascinating subject. I told my neighbor that because she threw me under the bus at their party that I was going to do the same to her in this blog. How embarrassing for her that all my readers know she sleeps in her underwear.

I’m so immature.

Surprise Disguise Visit

My brother Patrick wrote his first novel The Cradle three years ago and it was a big deal for everyone in the family. We were all really excited about it and couldn’t wait for the release.

He was scheduled to do one of his first readings at a little bookstore in Green Bay. I had been talking to my mom about feeling bad that I wasn’t going to be there when we both decided that it would be really nice if I surprised him at the reading. I also thought it would be hilarious if I came in a disguise.  My mother did not think that was a good idea. In fact her exact words were,  “Oh Sara don’t do that, it’s ridiculous.”.  She was right. It was a little ridiculous. Just going there to see him was a surprise so I didn’t really need to do it.

My mom also said “he will recognize you right away” and I said “maybe, but I bet you wouldn’t even recognize me”. This went on and on and I eventually told her I wasn’t going to do it (but had already bought all the disguise supplies and had it all planned out).

I also thought that I should do a little test with my mom to see if she actually would recognize me.  I knew she wouldn’t but I was willing to give her a chance. I had a layover in Minneapolis and thought this would be a good place to get everything on. I put on the wig, some extra make-up and my glasses that I hardly wear and came out of the bathroom thinking I was crazy. 

I didn’t really think about the security issues with my disguise but  I did, however, decide last minute that I needed to make the frames of my glasses a different color. Once I was on the plane I asked the flight attendant if he had a permanent marker I could borrow and he asked why and I told him what I was doing and he was not impressed. After telling me he wasn’t allowed to lend things to passengers he said, “are we going to have a problem here?”.  I of course said no and huddled into my seat secretly a little worried that I might get kicked off the plane.  THAT would have really made my mom mad. 

Once off the plane I got my camera out and tried to situate it around my neck so I could take a video but still walk and talk without having to stop taping.  I didn’t want my mom to know that I was taping her. 

The video I took is of me coming off the plane to meet my mom.  The quality is really bad but it proves that my mother did not recognize me at all.  She told me she thought I was someone famous but didn’t know who.  I was alright with that.  I think she recognized me but her brain couldn’t put the pieces together. 

We went straight to the reading and once my mom stopped scolding me for tricking her I think she was excited about seeing if Pat would have the same reaction.  I let my mom go in first and I followed shortly after her with my friend Molly.  The reading was very crowded so I was able to sneak around without anyone noticing.   My dad was in the back of the room setting up the video camera and recognized me immediately and didn’t seem to think anything strange was going on.  No reaction whatsoever.   Maybe he was just playing along?  You never know with him.

So we all get seated for the reading and Patrick starts off with a few words about the book and where the idea came from etc…  He then read an excerpt from the book and took questions from the audience.   There were a lot of people asking questions and I waited my turn trying not to draw attention to myself too early.  It had to be the right time and I wanted him to look directly at me and answer my question. 

 I asked him a number of questions about the book and he looked right at me and answered them all.  It was hard to tell what was going on in his head but I could tell he thought something wasn’t quite right.   The last question I asked was if he was adopted (the part of the story he read was about adoption).  It was that moment when my mother turned around to tsk  me about asking such a stupid question that he figured it out.  Of course he couldn’t do anything about it because he was still answering questions and signing books.   He told me afterwards that when he saw me in the crowd and was answering my questions  that he  thought his brain was exploding.   Similar to what my mom experienced I think.  Kind of interesting to watch people try to unravel something they see and not being able to put a finger on it. 

In the end it was a really fun trip and the book has been a great success and I am really happy that I was able pull off a Surprise disguise Visit.  It’s a little concerning that my own family didn’t recognize me but I guess I can forgive them.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OowrHuA5gDs

Oh You Liked Being Pregnant?

Most of you have either known someone or have, yourself, been pregnant. For those of you that haven’t they say that you either love it or hate it. Guess which category I fell into? I think I can safely say I have some pretty disturbing memories of my pregnancy. Of course I would never take back what it has given me as Owen is the greatest thing in my life but man, getting here really really sucked.

I didn’t have a “bad” pregnancy per se. I wasn’t terribly sick or mad but I was very fat and the hormones seemed to have made me even more sarcastic than usual. I wish i could somehow get all my Facebook posts from that time for Owen’s baby book because I remember them being pretty funny in an awful and disgusting way.  I had no filter with my thoughts.  They all came pouring out of me all the time (more so than usual). When I was by myself I enjoyed feeling the kicks and talking to the bump and imagining what he would look like and what kind of boy he would turn in to.  But around my friends and family I made it very clear how bad I felt and how I wished it could just be over with as soon as possible.

The thing that set me off from the beginning was having to quit all of my “vices” immediately (smoking, alcohol, caffeine, Advil, ADD medication, etc..). I thought I was going to drop dead those first few days after I found out.  I stupidly quit everything all at once and proceeded to get a terrible migraine that I couldn’t take anything for. 

The other thing that really pissed me off is that I managed to gain 85 pounds in about 9 months. It was pretty amazing actually.  I have weighed about the same my entire life give or take a few pounds so it was a bit shocking to see the scale every month at the doctor go up 10 pounds.   I eventually stopped taking my shoes and purse off and just told the nurse those extra 3 pounds didn’t even matter anymore.

I lost 35 pounds in my 2 day stay at the hospital after Owen was born. I remember trying to get my winter boots on when we left for the hospital and not being able to zip up the front of them and leaving the hospital with them loosely hanging off my feet.   Owen was just under 8 pounds when he was born. All the extra stuff that comes with him about 7 pounds. That leaves me with 20 pounds. Twenty pounds of water.  DISGUSTING. During the weeks following the birth I lost another 20 pounds of water weight. I had sweat coming out of the pores in my feet. Nobody tells you about the massive sweating. They also don’t tell you about the amniotic fluid oozing out of your pores either.  I guess my body needed the extra 55 pounds of water?  Can someone please tell me why?

Another exciting thing about pregnancy is your feet swelling to unusual size. I wore these brown Crocs for the better part of 9 months and I remember physically sliding around in them from the mass amounts of sweat coming from my feet.  Eventually there was no room to slide so my feet sat in puddles of sweat. 

I was determined to walk everyday, sweaty feet and all,  as they say it helps with  labor(that’s a big fat lie).  I walked Grizwald  every day but towards the end I was walking so slow that Grizwald was literally trotting in place next to me. The walk that took me 45 minutes while pregnant now takes me three. 

My doctor works at a teaching hospital so there are always students and residents with her. I can’t remember exactly when I met “Geppner” (if you say it like Newman from Seinfeld it helps to imagine him) but it was towards the end of the pregnancy. He was observing one of my check ups and he seemed nice enough. Probably younger than me but not quite Doogie Howser.  One of my last appointments was just with him. It was that day that I realized how much I loved my regular doctor. I was due a few weeks from when I saw “Geppner” and he decided it would be a good time to tell me I had gained too much weight. Then he said he wanted to make sure i was eating right and getting enough exercise. I had to refrain myself from saying the following:

1.  Dude, I weigh 500 pounds
2. Isn’t this something that should have been brought up before I was about to pop?
3. I would like to see you try to carry this thing around.
4. Are you even old enough to be a doctor?
5. You really need to be careful what you say to a very pregnant lady because we are very unpredictable. 

I was so mad. Unreasonably mad. Of course I was unreasonable about everything at that point. I was a crazy person.

Three days after my due date and still no signs of real labor (besides the lovely mucus plug, I won’t get into it) I went in to see my doctor and she told me the baby was “sunny side up” (meaning he was head down but facing forward instead of backward) which is why I hadn’t gone into labor. I had been having contractions for a month and even had a false alarm trip to the hospital. She told me she was going to just turn him around really quick. I asked her how she was going to do that and she held up her hand and waved it in front of me.  Still confused I naively said “Ok, whhhatever”.   Yes, her hand. She used her hand to turn him. Without getting too graphic I’ll just tell you that she physically  grabbed his head and turned it.  With her hand.   I swear she is some sort of medicine woman/goddess.  I went in to labor an hour later.

What comes next is something that deserves its own special post. There are so many crazy things that happened in the course of 24 hours that it needs to be carefully thought out and planned before I write it.  Let’s just say that Geppner played a key role in the events that took place that day.  Geppner.