Monthly Archives: July 2011

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.