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Sad river blues

GAYS MILLS - I’ve been feeling a bit guilty the last few weeks. I wound up having to clean up a house that I own to get it ready to rent out. Luckily, the new renters kindly agreed to repaint, install flooring, make plumbing and electrical repairs, and do some semi-major remodeling in exchange for rent. But before that could happen, some serious cleaning had to happen.

So I dug into the project. There was furniture, appliances, electronics, clothing, dishes, food, carpeting, toys, books, shelving, cabinets, and the usual detritus involved with moving to deal with. I paced myself, mostly due to the time and energy I had available. But there was also an element of guilt and, okay,  depression about the sheer volume of the things I was discarding. Man, we throw a lot of stuff away in this society.

We’re lucky here: we can either set our garbage out by the road every week or periodically take a trip to the township dump. We are encouraged to recycle glass, plastic, aluminum, paper, and cardboard. Many of us compost kitchen waste and burn scrap paper and scrap wood in a burn barrel or wood stove. We can do several things to affect the ‘waste stream,’ that sad river that we all generate. But this project represented a major cleanup in a fairly short period of time. It was a flood of the ‘waste river,’ to stretch the metaphor.

In retrospect, renting a dumpster would probably have been prudent. I set out as many bags and cans of garbage that I dared for several weeks at the rental. Luckily,a friend of mine offered to take a huge flatbed trailer load of potentially useable items to a charity in Westby. That load alone would have filled a dumpster. He also took six televisions and several other electronic devices from the house that he recycles for parts—a friend indeed.

I took metal objects to a man that recycles such things, clothes to a free clothes deposit, held a free yard sale of things out by the road, many of which disappeared. Carpet is tricky; that I had to haul to Boscobel and pay five cents a pound for its disposal. Another friend hauled off about 15 car tires for me.

Last week, I took yet another two televisions we discovered in the attic, along with a computer, monitor, two DVD players, and two printers from home to the county shop in Seneca to the annual Crawford County Chemical Clean Sweep, Electronic Recycling, and Household RX Drug Collection event. There was a line of cars and trucks at the county shop laden with assorted materials to be gotten rid of. The operation was smooth with many hands helping and a semi waiting to be loaded. I marveled at the sheer volume of material being delivered and appreciated the option and the effort of the responsible stewardship of handling the offal of modern life.

My thoughts wandered to the devastation wreaked upon Texas, Florida, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico in recent weeks. We’ve all seen the images of the huge array of damaged materials left in the wake of those storms.  It makes my cleanup problem seem so small compared to the square miles of devastation down south. I hope they get as much help as I did and can get back to normal very soon.