Tag Archives: garbage

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.


I am assuming there is a certain “language” all toddlers have that only their parents can understand.  If I am wrong then please, do me and my son a favor and tell me.  Either way it doesn’t really matter but if any of you have been through the toddler stage with your child you might be familiar with this “language”.

Owen will try to say anything you ask him to and usually gets the syllables and the tone correct but it’s the actual pronunciation that is off.  So I have made a “Translation Key”  for Owen’s words just in case any of you get stranded on an island with him. 

Check out my awesome Microsoft Word skills here:

Translation Key

*note-these are the words that are most confusing, not the only words in his repertoire. 

I would like to mention that my lovely brother (http://www.patricksomerville.com/) taught him the word Jesus over Skype a few months back and it is one of the clearest words he says.  My brother, the author, with the immense vocabulary, taught him to say Jesus.  I can’t think of a word we use less of in this house.  Of course, I said it the other day about the number of sugar ants on my counter and he said it back to me.  It is possible that I taught him the word.  I also heard him repeat the word Dammit last week.   Time for a swear jar.


Our neighbors across the street put their house up for sale a few months ago. The main reason they said was because the train had gotten so loud they just couldn’t handle it anymore (it is really bad). They were really good neighbors. Nice people. The condo sold and my other neighbors and I were very interested to see who was moving in. We are all pretty friendly and all around the same age so I was hoping it would at least be someone who would “fit” the neighborhood profile.

The first week of move in I saw who our new potential friend would be. A twenty something “trustafarian” dude looking very hippy-ish yet had a nice Audi with an even nicer sound system (I’ll get to the later).

I commented to my neighbor that this guy “wasn’t going to go over well”.  She agreed.  I was polite when I saw him, waved and smiled all the while secretly judging him and waiting for him to do something to piss me off. I am not neighborhood watch by any means (I retired from that job after the crack heads with Kujo moved out next door), but there always seems to be weird stuff going on.  Or maybe it’s just me that weird stuff happens to. 

New neighbor guy (I’ll refer to him as Peace because I never bothered to get his name) was setting up some sort of operation in the garage that looked a little suspicious but I wasn’t sure what it was. I had an idea but was waiting to see if my assumptions were correct.  And while he was unpacking he was blaring music from his car. And by blaring I don’t mean it was kinda loud. I mean I heard it in my car, a block away, with the windows rolled up. Not just an underlying beat but clear rapping. I parked the car, got Owen out and look over and he sees me and gives me the peace sign. What? Really? By doing that does he mean “hey my music is awesome and you have to listen to it too” or “this is cool that I do this right?” Strike one for Peace.

We have a pretty steep and generally difficult driveway and it takes some good maneuvering to get both cars in and out of it. We literally have to use every inch of concrete that was given to us.  We also have a problem of people blocking the driveway on a fairly regular basis. So much so that I have the phone number for the parking police in my contacts. They are really good at their job. I love them. I love them especially because when some dickhead blocks my driveway, gets out of his car and looks, then walks across the street obviously making the decision to not care, and goes in to Peace’s house, I can be sure they will be there promptly.  I didn’t call right away. I took the animals for a walk first and told myself I would give him 20 minutes since people are always “stopping in quickly” over there. I know exactly what he is doing and it annoys the hell out of me that he is so obvious about it.  Strike two. 

So I get home from my walk and the car is still there. I call my pals at the parking bureau and wait. The meter maid shows up about 10 minutes later and starts writing a ticket and the guy comes running out to see what’s going on. So I open the window of course. I have to put Grizwald outside because I am in stealth mode now and that means no distractions. 

The guy is actually arguing with the meter maid about his parking job. Like real arguing. What could he possibly be saying to defend himself you ask? Well, he says, “Yada yada yada…If I would have known these guys were such sticklers I would have never parked there”!  That earned him a visit from me,  but not before he gets into his car, moves it into Peace’s driveway, blocks the sidewalk, and gets another ticket. I decided that would be a good time to go over talk to him about the stickler comment.  Before I even open my mouth Meter Maid looks at me and says “you know you should have just backed your car up to the end of the driveway and you could have blocked him completely in. Then I could have had his car towed”. I told him I would do that next time. I asked the guy if he really thought I was a stickler and he said “yeah man, I’m, like, barely in your driveway, but we’re cool right?”  I had Owen with me so I made the motherly decision not to beat the shit out of the guy for being such an idiot.  It’s probably best not let your child see you do something like that. 

Anyway, I can’t say Peace is necessarily a bad neighbor (but he does leave his garbage cans out all week and I know it’s because he doesn’t know what day it comes. Strike 3-refer to feelings about garbage in Garbage Day post) but he just rubs me the wrong  way. I can’t stand the peace sign crap.  Why can’t he just wave or say hi?  I feel like he is doing it to make me less of a “stickler”.  My new favorite word.