Friday, July 11, 2008

Wanna See Something Scary...?

Wanna see something scary?

No, not that. That's a gorgeous flower I found. Although it did remind me of something from Lost in Space, something that might, at any minute, shoot sleep-inducing mist in my direction.

No, not that. That's a baby praying mantis I found in my garden. Give this fellow a couple weeks--until he grows as big as my forearm--THEN he'll be scary.

No, not that either. That's the beagle unimpressed that I was trying to take a good picture of him by the rice fields on his daily walk.

You see, in my neighborhood we have no yards. We have rice fields and vegetable gardens between houses, strange narrow rivers that run up and down strange narrow streets, but no big yards. Because of this people have to put there stuff where they can. Things tend to get cramped and stacked. I've been walking the same 30-minute route for seven years and still I discover new sights every single day.

And yesterday I discovered this!

It's hard to see. I had to lean up and over a gray cinder block fence to take the picture.

It's a cage. And over the cage is thrown a kind of net. You know, so that whatever is placed inside has no hope of escaping. A clever dog must live here, I thought.

Wait. I soon noticed the small chair. Dogs don't sit in chairs.

And if you look closer...there is a table in front of the chair.

Don't be freaked out yet. I totally didn't get a good picture of it, but there was also a plastic cup on the table. WTF?

So much for the dog idea. We're talking opposable thumbs here!

Since the thought of a rowdy child is a little too morbid and sad to consider...I'm thinking monkey. A monkey who likes to sit outside in the garden and drink tea at his table and is prone to running off to bother the neighbors.


What if they have one of these?

Now, THAT would be cool. I'm going check regularly until I figure it out. I'll keep you posted.

*Edit* to add the mysterious flat rock with small ceramic critters and coconut picture. This is right beside the cage.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dangerous Garbage Duty

Once a month in my city they have garbage collection for what they call non-burnables or dangerous garbage. Every neighborhood's pick up is on a different day. We know which day because at the beginning of a year every single resident of the city gets a free calendar with the dates written on it. And everyone makes sure to circle it in red because until that day comes we have to save all cans, bottles, broken cups, burned out light bulbs, used batteries, and dull razor blades in various creative hiding places around the house. You don't want to miss a month.

Now the fun part is that every neighborhood has a rotating schedule of who goes out to help collect this garbage. There are usually about seven to ten households at a time who are called upon to volunteer. Our turn comes around once every five or six months. And today it was my turn.

I have to be out at the drop off spot by six thirty until eight. Which means my husband and son are on their own for breakfast and the invariable last dash...Where are my socks?! What did I do with last night's homework?!

He he he.

We line up the blue baskets and put the name plates on them--steel cans, aluminum cans, white bottles, brown bottles, green and blue bottles and a small basket for make up bottles. These are filled during the one and a half hour time slot and then picked up by the recycling truck a little after eight.

When they get full we drag them over and stack them up out of the way. You can also see the bags full of plastic bottles also awaiting recycle.

Usually I stand by the can and bottle place and think to myself. Wow, this guy sure drinks a lot of whisky or Hey, this lady really likes her vitamin drinks, good Lord!

But today I was near the strange and odd dangerous garbage. Here we get old sewing machines, light stands, antennas, the works.

Someone brought in an old clock that looked like it had exploded.

And one old woman kept coming and going bringing all sorts of wonderful trash. At one point she brought a single roller skate then returned home to lug over this anchor!

You're not allowed to throw away clothes or blankets on regular trash day. They have to be put out on the once-a-month special garbage day. Look how prettily everyone wraps up their old garments.

Mostly the job consists of directing people to the correct basket to dispose of their rubbish. But we also get to do really rockin' things like poking holes in spray cans, running enormous magnets over the aluminum stuff to pull out accidentally added steel, and stepping on cockroaches that flee old beer bottles and try to run up our legs.

I don't regret much in my life. But one thing I still regret to this day is years ago when I was on Dangerous Garbage Duty. An old woman brought these ancient porcelain dishes to throw away. They weren't broke or chipped or anything. They were gorgeous. Everyone asked to make sure she wanted to get rid of them, they were obviously worth a lot of money. She said anyone could take them if they wanted. My neighbors asked me if I wanted them. They said stuff like this was rare because while Shizuoka, the city next to us, was air bombed during the war, our city wasn't so stuff like this survived. That someone would willingly give it away was even more of a shock. I politely declined not wanting to be greedy. Now, though, I really wish I had said yes. This is kind of what they looked like. There were more, about a half dozen or so and they were much bigger.

Needless to say, no one has brought anything similar since. However, I once did get a really nice bicycle that a neighbor chucked. It was ten times better than the one I was riding so I just ran and got mine and drove hers home.

I have no shame.