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On neighbors

I read somewhere that good fences make good neighbors.   This may be true, and if it is then The Havens needs a really good fence.

We have been suffering a great stress this week.   It doesn’t look like it is going to resolve itself any time soon, either, unfortunately.   The neighbor who is causing the stress is well known in the community for being less than nice (feel free to substitute any harsher and more profane term here).

So, we have owned this property for 18 years.   Shortly after we purchased it and moved in, so shortly that we hadn’t even completely unpacked yet, our neighbor approached us with an offer to buy one half of our property.   At the time, the half in question was an acre of grass bordered on one side by the street, on two sides by strips of trees and shrubs that were wild (to say the least) and on the fourth side by our house and its accompanying lawns.   When asked, the party admitted that what he wanted our open land for was  so he would have more space to park the mobile and manufactured homes he sold.

Below is a shot taken right after we moved in of the relevant property line.

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We had been in residence long enough to observe the state of the next door business, which was strewn with detritus.   Part of the observation was engendered by my obsessive compulsive trash removal habit.   What I mean to say is, that within a couple of days of moving in, I had done my usual clean up and was appalled by the amount of shit that had blown onto our property from the one next door.   You see, when you transport a manufactured home it is usually broken into halves, and in order to protect the interiors, giant sheets of plastic are attached to cover the open side during transport.   Needless to say, these sheets of plastic must be removed in order to display the home properly, and the workers who did this generally threw them over against the “fence” between our properties, where they deteriorated in the UV from the sun and then availed themselves of the local zephyrs and gales to migrate all over the neighborhood.

In addition, styrofoam cups providing beverages to potential buyers, lunch wrappers from the workers, pieces of styrofoam and insulation from the renovation of repossessed homes, plastic wrappers off bundles of shingles, and all manner of crap was strewn from hither to yon on the property.   Imagining all that 150 feet closer to our home did not attract us, and despite the neighbor’s promises to build a privacy fence we declined his offer.   We have never been forgiven for that.

I have been picking up trash ever since.

To be honest, there is another part of this story.   The tree line between our properties is viewed by both sides in complete opposition.   I like it, despite the unruliness of it.   There is a row of trees, mostly elms, right along the “fence.”

Okay, a digression.   Why do I keep putting quotation marks around the word “fence”?   Well, at one time in its life, the object so referred to may have actually been a fine structure of woven stock wire and with a barbed wire top wire attached to wooden posts.   But that was at least thirty years ago, possibly longer, and while the remnants still exist they can hardly be called a fence, since “fence” usually implies an ability to contain livestock within.   In this case, it only serves as a vague indication of where the property line may be.

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Obviously, the fence is fully involved in the trees, or vice versa.  Anyway, the trees have been a thorn in our neighbor’s side for a long time.   He claims that they are damaging his mobile homes, although I have seen no evidence of this.   Over a decade ago, he approached us and told us that we needed to get rid of the trees “over there” because they taking space in his lot that he needed for parking inventory.   Also he mentioned what an eyesore the wild tangle of trumpet vine was.  At that time, there were numerous trees flourishing far outside the fence line, and I invited him to remove his own trees before he demanded I take mine down, pointing out that that would give him more space on his lot.   I indicated that what was an eyesore to him was a garbage trap, a visual barrier for me, and a sanctuary for the cardinals, hummingbirds, and finches.

He hired a crew and they spent a pleasant week removing the elms that had sprouted on his back line.  They neglected to treat the stumps, however.   He backed his trailers up as close to the fence as he could get them and I thought how nice it was to have what amounted to a big tall privacy fence back there.   Most asssuredly, though, the line of merchandise slowly migrated away from the fence line because due to the compaction of the soil in his lot there is a decided slope up to our property and it makes leveling  the mobile homes difficult.   Immediately, the trees he had cut off sprouted in circles around the trunks and instead of a few stately elms, he had thickets of scraggly elms.

Things have continued in this way for 18 years.   Every time the wind blows, I have to pick up trash that migrates from him to me.   Undoubtedly, he stands on his lot and cusses at our unruly elms and our cussedness.   Every once in a while he has a crew cut back the sprouts, which immediately reincarnate.   Once or twice when I complained bitterly to him over the phone about the trash, he actually had his people clean his lot up.    The trash always returns within a few weeks.

Every few years he demands that we cut our trees down.   We don’t.   The law allows us to have trees as long as they are healthy and not in danger of falling over on the neighbor’s home or property.   It does NOT say we have to trim off branches that overhang the neighbors.   It says we have to allow the neighbor to cut the encroaching branches off the trees if they don’t like them.   We have allowed this.   The law states that an adjacent property owner trimming their neighbor’s trees must do so in a way that does not endanger the health of the tree.  If they do kill a tree, then that neighbor could sue for damages.

Frankly, approached in a more civil way, we very well might have considered removing some or even all of the trees.   There really are quite a few back there.  But we don’t respond well to arrogant bluster, accusations, and threats.   These things tend to make us dig our heels in, especially when the blusterer is maintaining a visual eyesore of piles of siding, plastic, lath strips full of nails, and other crap.

So, things came to a head about two weeks ago.   The weather had warmed up, I was walking about enjoying the breath of warmth that was hinting that spring might be arriving, checking on the crocus situation and picking up the usual selection of trash that had blown onto the property during the weeks since I had last done that chore.   Imagine my fury when I arrived down at the southeast corner and discovered that the mobile home renovators had been painting.  How did I know this?   Because when they finished their job, they had some paint left over.   So they threw the container, the paint, and the used roller over the fence into the shrubbery there.    The idle thought crossed my mind that I should take a picture of the mess in situ, but I did not.   I picked up the paint container and the roller and marched up to the office of the business.

While the proprietor was not there, he did have minions working on a tiling job.  Actually, it was a minion and his girlfriend/wife.   They asked me if they could help me and I explained the situation.   So, then I got into a conversation with the woman, who basically trashed the people working at the “end of the lot” who had been doing the renovations.   Apparently, there is some competition for that and the people up in the office had been underbid by the team that had thrown the paint.   The gal commiserated with me about the trash; we got into a side bar discussion regarding the people across the street from the business who have a pink trash can that they leave at the curb with the top open which is a source of trash on the street.    That can had blown over in a gale a couple of weeks previously, and I had driven by it with the thought of cleaning it up.  When I got back home someone had already done it.   Turns out it was the gal I was talking to.    I congratulated her and thanked her for doing that.   Her man invited me to admire the tiling job he was doing, which I dutifully did and told him it looked good.   Then I said I ought to go off on my merry way, and said I’d like to leave a note for the proprietor regarding the paint situation.

At that point, the gal suggested that she could get him on the phone and I could talk to him directly.     That was my second mistake.  (The first being not taking the picture of the paint dump).   I’ve had conversations with this person before, and I should have known how this one was going to go.    First of all, I explained my concern.   The response was predictable.   No apology.   The response was “Are you still dumping kitty litter over the fence?”

Gentle readers, you know my attitude towards trash, do you not?   If you don’t, you should read this, and this.  For the record, I have never dumped kitty litter over any fence.   Anywhere.   I did pour it into my driveway in Alaska, and since the litter was clay and the driveway was clay it was hard to see it existed.  I have been using scoopable cat litter for as long as I can remember, and it is a heck of a lot more convenient to dispose of it in the garbage can that is by my door than haul it 200 feet out to a property line to dump it over the fence, which I wouldn’t do anyway, no matter how shitty I think the neighbors habits are.

At any rate, his conversational gambit raised my ire level considerably.   After I had simmered down slightly, he asked me what I would think if he built a privacy fence.   I told him I thought that was a fine idea.   So his response was that I should cut down my trees, they were damaging his homes, blah de blah.   I rudely interrupted him and told him that he needed to keep to the subject, which was his garbage on my property.   Then I hung up on him.   I left the paint container and the roller on his desk, and went on home.

So, let’s be fair.   I probably should not have hung up on him, but it most certainly wasn’t a good idea for me to keep talking to him either.   And I admit that in his eyes I have been a stubborn and uncooperative hag about the damned trees for almost twenty years.   I don’t suppose I have been the perfect neighbor either.

His response was to have a crew come out and cut off the sprout crop behind his trailers on his side of the fence.    He took a picture of the mess.   He went off to a lawyer and complained about it all, blaming the mess back there on limbs falling from our trees.  In my humble opinion, you should not base a legal complaint upon a falsehood, but I suppose I am splitting hairs here.   I received a threatening letter from said lawyer telling me that if I didn’t maintain the trees better our neighbor would sue, that the trees were on my side of the fence and therefore my responsibility.    Oh, and I should never set foot on the property, and I should cease harrassing his employees.  Apparently the fact I have a spouse and a co-owner is not on his radar, as Jim’s name was never mentioned in the letter.   It was addressed to me only.

The last time I checked, talking about picking up trash in the neighborhood and admiring a tiling job is not harrassment, but I could be wrong about that.

I have to give him full credit though.   I think his lawyer told him that if he was going to accuse me of maintaining a nuisance, that he’d better have his nose spick and span.   The mobile home lot has been cleaned within an inch of its life and it looks GREAT!    I only hope that it stays that way.  I’m not holding my breath.

So now we have to find a lawyer to help us communicate.   It’s such bullshit.    The irony is, that if this gentleman was placed in a police line up of five similar looking fellows, I could not identify him.   I believe I’ve actually met him face to face once.   Maybe.   He probably couldn’t identify me either.   And that is sad.

It has occurred to me in the past couple of days that being neighbors is sort of like being married.   Only you can’t get a divorce.

I guess I’ll go out and console myself with my iris reticulata and crocuses.

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“I Could Pee on This”  is a book of poems ostensibly written by cats.    The author, Francesco Marciuliano, is also known for being the author of the cartoon “Sally Forth”.

All I can say is, Marciuliano successfully channels cat-think in this charming little book.

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It is sized appropriately for a bedside table.   It would also reside neatly on the top of a toilet tank, where one could amuse oneself mightily by dipping into the offerings within the book.    Such as “Nectar of the Gods”, an ode to the superiority of faucet water to the water in a bowl on the floor.

Jim’s favorite is “The World Outside my House”

In the world outside my house

The mice jump in your mouth

And birds serve themselves in butter

Rather than fly south………

In the world outside my house

The sun is a laser light

Each cloud a snuggly blanket

And the doors are not shut tight

In the world outside my house

All the trees they dangle string

The flowers brush from head to tail

And the neutered cat is king

In the world outside my house

I can never go

But as an indoor cat I know these things

Because the dog does tell me so.

Impy knows this poem well.   He spends an inordinate amount of time staring out the window.   Surprisingly, I do not have a single image of him doing this.  But I now know that this poem trails through his little feline brain while he is engaged in that activity.

Just one more, this one is my favorite (today)

THIS IS MY CHAIR

This is my chair

This is my couch

That is my bed

That is my bench

There is my chaise

There is my settee

Those are my footstools

Those are my rugs

Everywhere is my place to sleep

Perhaps you should just get a hotel room

I do have an appropriate image for this poem.   Ruby is not a young dog any longer, and is starting to get arthritic.   In order for her to be more comfortable, I went out and purchased a dog bed for her.   Hah.   She doesn’t really like it, and only lies on it when bidden to, just in order to make me happy, it appears.

THIS IS MY BED

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“Maybe you should just go outside and sleep in your doghouse.”

It really is a very fun little book.   Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat will recognize every single attitude expressed within.

Thank you Peggy, for this positively entertaining little volume.

It is hard to believe that the last time I posted here was before Thanksgiving.  I have been on line, too.  But somehow I have been sucked into Facebook and have found myself putting up little blips here and there rather than making a blog post.   I wonder how many other bloggers have been seduced by social media?

Since I posted, it has snowed and thawed several times.   I did get some pretty nifty snow shots during all those events.

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We had a real cold snap before Thanksgiving, and the little pond froze with beautiful hoarfrost crystals.

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We also had a small ice storm, no big damage although we did have a couple of elm trees that dropped a lot of branches.   The day after the ice covered stuff it was a lovely day and things were already starting to melt.   I took Ruby for a walk and the ice was positively magical.   Everywhere I looked the woods sparkled in rainbow colors.   This phenomenon proved to be shockingly difficult to photograph, but I did get one image that almost conveys how amazing it was out there.

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During all this harsh weather, my neighborhood has been living up to its name.   All kinds of little birds, and big birds too, have been enjoying the shelter, food and water The Havens provides.  Actually, there are plenty of mammals also enjoying The Havens along with the avian population.

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We had a sumptuous Thanksgiving repast.

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At Christmas, Jesse and Lynette were able to get away from their Army duties and bring James to visit us.   They were here for far too short a time, and we loved every minute of it.

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I saved The Quilt for a Christmas presentation, even though the kids knew I had made it and had enjoyed hots of it during all stages of creation.   They did not know about the pillow cases or the matching throw pillow, though.   Honestly, I think it makes a pretty impressive bed.

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James approved, I believe.

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One of my dear friends gave me an amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift.   This week it started to open.

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Today it looks like this:

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So now you are somewhat up to date.

Last time I talked about the quilt here on the blog, it wasn’t quite done.   Well, it is totally pieced now, and at the quilter.   This stage has been promised to be done in the first half of December, which would still give me time to put the binding on it.   Right now, while I am waiting for the quilting to be finished, I am working on matching pillow cases.

At any rate, this is the portrait of the finished quilt.

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Here is a small detail picture that gives you a better idea of the fabrics.   The star fabric is quite magical, and doesn’t photograph worth beans.  The stars are printed on the fabric in a holographic ink, so they are iridescent when the angle of view changes.   Really cool.

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I mentioned being visited by Twylla Alexander, the woman who walked my labyrinth.    She has posted about that on her own blog, the link to her post is highlighted.   There is a picture of me in the labyrinth and a couple of shots of it in her post.   She was so kind.  She brought me a quite beautiful rock collected near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, plus a few shells from Auke Bay.

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The yesterday, one of my clients brought me a rock she picked up at the Crazy Horse memorial.   They have a pile of rubble from the blasting near the museum exit for people to help themselves.    This is truly an outstanding piece of granite.   I have included a close up so you can see how beautiful it really is.

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I truly have to be one of the most unique massage therapists in existence.   I absolutely love rocks, and all my clients know this.   This is not the first gift of a rock I have received from a client, nor will it be the last, I suspect.   They all know that I am happy to receive a rock as a Christmas present.   As a matter of fact, the following wonderful fossil is in a head sized rock that one of my dear clients gave me as a Christmas present last year, much to the amazement of her son.

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We are no stranger to granite around here.   On our recent trip to Washington and Alaska,  Jim and it had a road trip day to Whidbey Island (north of Seattle).  There we walked on the beach near Fort Casey and collected several pieces of beach polished rock there.   Lots of different kinds of granite around Puget Sound.

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This is not a new rock, I’ve had it several years.  But I always enjoy this little smiling caricature that lives in with my plants near the front door.

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I have to report that the three animals have consolidated themselves into a family.   Impy and Mallory have been discovered sleeping together on my leather arm chair.

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This is about the third shot, which is why neither of them is actually sleeping.  Incidentally, I believe that this arm chair is the epitome of “distressed” leather.   Its condition distresses me.   The patch behind Impy’s head is a spot where there was a small hole which was exceedingly exciting for a small kitten because it had white stuffing protruding from it.   Not only did she enlarge the hole, but she strewed stuffing all over the living room.   The patch is glued on, and almost matches…   Someday I will achieve new furniture.  Maybe.

Sometimes Mallory decides to “own” Ruby’s toys, much to Ruby’s dismay.    She almost seems to be saying, “Why did we have to get this cat, tell me again?”  in this photo.

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I’d say that fall is pretty much over here in the Ozarks, as we have had several below freezing mornings here.   Most of the leaves are on the ground, and most of the ones here at The Havens have been gathered up and put into the mulching container.   I spent a productive day a few days ago running the compost grinder, grinding up the years accumulation of bark and twigs and garden clippings.   I have a pile of ground plant material that is more than a cubic yard that I need to move into the mulch container along with the leaves.   But that will not happen before my back gets over the grinding operation….

Meanwhile, I had a couple of really nice seasonal shots that I haven’t posted yet.   This was how the maple by the pond looked a couple of weeks ago.

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When I walked down to the Big Piney River, I got a wonderful shot of the bluff with the trees turning.   I didn’t feel it was appropriate to include in the Trash Report, for some reason.

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I guess this is as good a place as any to close this post.

Fall color

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Been a while since I was moved to make a scan.   Found some nifty things out in the woods while I was walking Ruby today.

Enjoy.

A little while ago Jim and I made the trek out to the East Coast for two purposes.  One was to return a large cast iron cauldron that we had ordered which arrived cracked.   We took it back to the foundry to have it replaced with one that was not cracked.  The guy who packed it at the foundry just couldn’t imagine how it could have been cracked…   Personally, I suspect that it left the foundry that way and they were hoping that we wouldn’t notice until it was too late for us to make them do anything about it.   But UPS could have dropped it during shipping, which would not be surprising since it was in a box that was labelled “HEAVY” but even a person who was expecting “heavy” might have been surprised by the 87 lbs…

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It isn’t the largest cauldron ever, either.   It is only a 12 gallon sized, and they come all the way up to 60 gallons and more, some large enough to scald a whole pig.   I don’t know how you carry around a 60 gallon cast iron cauldron, actually.

The other reason for the trip was to visit the grandchild, who really represents a huge fork in our road.  He is developing in a most satisfactory way, thanks to the excellent parenting he is receiving.   I surely do wish we lived closer to that beautiful little family, but Skype helps.  One of the things that made the odyssey totally worth it?  Getting to see this:

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Another vision that really “made” the trip was this sign:

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This road has a serious identity crisis.  Not only does it not know what it’s number is, it doesn’t really know what direction it is going either.   Or possibly, it is all things to all people and going every direction at once.

Sometimes, I feel like that road sign could be the icon for my life.   Like most people, I struggle with the questions “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?”   “What is my purpose?”  “What is really important in my life?”   “Where is my place in the world?”

I do know my purpose, what I was put here on Earth to do, and that is to touch people and help them find the path to healing.   My work as a massage therapist has been doing that for well over 20 years now, and it has brought me peace and prosperity.   It has led me to connections with people that are deep and meaningful.  Recently I attended a class in California featuring Neuro-Muscular Reprogramming.   That re-connected me to Jocelyn Olivier and the Alive and Well School of Massage, the place where my training began.  Watch this space, you will hear more about NMR, which is a profound healing technique that I am anxious to master.  I see clearly that it is a fork in my massage road I am going to walk down, far down, and ultimately it will add longevity and depth to my massage career.

So that is one thing I am.   I am also a gardener…

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I like to create things, notably I am working on a quilt right now.  It is a bargello design called “Supernova.”   (This is a pattern I found in a book by Eileen Wright, which I have been thoroughly enjoying.)  I’m 75% done with the piecing.

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I am also a labyrinth tender:

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That “identity” has led me to connections as well.   My labyrinth is listed on the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, which brings strangers into my life from far away and turns them into friends.  Just a couple of days ago I was visited and interviewed by a woman who is visiting and writing about labyrinths in all 50 states.   I may or may not show up in her book.   After all, she may meet a better candidate than I am for her writing about this state.   Anyway, she had lived in Alaska for ten years and brought me a beautiful rock from the Mendenhall Glacier area of Juneau.   We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

There are no forks in a labyrinth, there is simply one path.   You begin at the beginning, follow the path through its twists and turns, and eventually you reach the center.

Sort of like life, actually.

 

 

Trash Report

Last weekend I went down to a local wilderness area with some friends where we hung out, camped a few days, ate great food and in the evenings sat around the campfire and played music together.   They had horses, and one of them was kind enough to let me go out on a trail ride on one of his mounts.

It was really very nice, riding along through the woods on his gentle horse, Festus by name.   I learned very quickly that it was important to watch what was coming ahead, as you are much higher up and low branches can be a real danger.   We moseyed along, and got back to camp after a while.    It seemed to me that the horses really were in no big hurry.   I thought I could probably walk as fast as them, perhaps.

I also thought that my dog would love this hike without horses, and I determined to take her down the road to the Big Piney River the next morning, while all the horses were being packed up to go back to their respective barns and pastures.   We would have the trail to ourselves and no horses and mules would be annoyed by her.

That is exactly what I did.   And I was right, I made the round trip faster than the horses.   Of course, I did get sort of out of breath and build up a sweat on the climb up out of the river bottom, which I did not do when I was on the horse.   But sacrifices must be made.

One of the things I noticed as I was walking was the amount of trash that was strewn about on the mile and a half path to the river.  Unfortunately, I did not have a container with me, so with great reluctance I left it all there.   It bothered me all week.

Today I made the 50 mile trek back to the Paddy Creek wilderness area, armed with trash bags and my camera.   I really wanted to capture some of the fall color that was coming along.   I walked past a tree that had about 15 vultures roosting in it.   They were still waiting for their wings to dry after the cold night.

I did indeed pick up all the trash from the river back to the trailhead.   Here it is, displayed in my back yard before I added it to my recycling.

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Isn’t it lovely?    Here’s a closeup of the items in the left corner.

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I found these in some fire pits.   People, your aluminum beer cans and glass tall boys are not going to burn in a campfire.  Why throw them in there?  It is just so darned ignorant.

So, I made an inventory of what I picked up.  There were quite a lot of wet paper towels, a couple of styrofoam glasses, a chewing tobacco container, and a container that had bait in it originally.    There was a package that had contained sunflower seeds, several pop tart wrappers, a kit kat bar wrapper and the plastic bag some jerky came in.   There was an unopened package of Wet Ones; thanks, I used that to clean my hands before I came on home.

One of the oddest things I found was a stack of four quart oil containers.   A brand I had never heard of:  rotellat.   Who goes out into a wilderness area to change the oil in their vehicle?

There were six various plastic water bottles, a gatorade bottle, 4  juice containers.   Yes, Mr. or Ms. Dr. Pepper drinker, I did wade into the wild currant bush to retrieve the empty you tossed in there, just as I gingerly entered the multiflora rose for the Smirnoff Ice bottle (Strawberry acai flavor, by the way).  There was a plastic coke bottle, a red bull can, 1 Michelob bottle,  1 Miller high life bottle,  1 Miller lite bottle,  and 5 Bud lite tall boys.

The aluminum was a lot more proliferous.    There was one Coors lite, 2 Pabst Blue Ribbons, 2 Natural lite, 3 Keystone lite, 6 Busch lite, 6 old regular Budweiser cans and the winner was 19 Bud Lite cans.  One of the Bud Lite cans was on the other side of a tight barbed wire fence.   I waffled for a while, but I eventually got down in the mud and leaves and ticks to roll under the fence and retrieve it.

I found it interesting that there was not ONE single high end beer represented in all the trash.    And not only that, but almost every single can or bottle out there that was a beer container had contained light beer.

What does this say about the litterers of the woods?   I don’t know, but apparently they don’t drink very good beer.

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