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The Heart must expand in order to hold the losses that are ahead of it. -- Marvin Bell, "Gemwood"

April 16, 2011

Down in the Dump(s)

This is the phrase that rockets across my consciousness as I sort through the supposed detritus of my life. Today’s task is deceptively simple. I get to clean out the shed and the outhouse, put said garbage in Sputnik, our pickup truck, and take said garbage to the community landfill.

Garbage in. Today I’m somewhat depressed. The best I can do is take on this one mundane chore. Making simple yes and no decisions is easy, and enables me to feel as though I’m doing something important. A friend would call what I’m doing “lightening the load.”
Garbage in. I stuff the filled-to-overflowing kitchen garbage bags into the back of the pickup. Car parts are harder to deal with because decision making is involved. I’m not sure if Pete intended to save the old trailer brake parts. And what about this here exhaust pipe? I chance it, and jettison all rusting metal parts. There are also six or so five-gallon buckets—some have holes and some are missing handles. Pete’s right. They have no future. Into the truck they go.

Garbage in. The more non-thinking aspects of garbage runs enable me to let my mind wander. And this is precisely what I’m letting it do now. On Saturday we had the Icelandic Horse Club elections. My term as president was up, which was why I decided to run again. Here’s a very short version of a very long story. Another club member was nominated. Janette Willis, who nominated her, said that she didn’t believe that I could both travel and continue to do club business. Votes were tallied. I lost. Word had it that the other candidate was contacted in advance of the election, and asked if she’d like the job. I was not consulted as to my take on the matter.

Garbage in. The truck bed holds nearly all shed and outhouse garbage. I gather up the annoying little odds and ends, such as bottle caps, insulation bitties, and baling twine strings, and slip them into the one remaining bag, which I place on the passenger seat. I put the fencing materials, automotive oil, and the plastic toboggan back in the shed. Then I put the croquet set, wrapped toilet paper rolls, and snow shovel back in the outhouse.

Garbage in. I’ve attempted to make sense of what exactly happened prior to and during the AIHA meeting. I want people to know exactly what lead to my defeat. But this won’t change the outcome. The new president is a knowledgeable horseperson who will do a very good job. And perhaps her living in a distant town will enable her to steer clear of club politics.

Garbage in. I take in the passing scenery on the way to the dump, which is about 15 miles from home. It’s early spring, overcast, and the sky is an ominous gray-blue in color. These past few days, the temperature has again dropped, which is why the snow has ceased melting. The ground is an ugly, raw shade of brown, and litter is everywhere. The road’s edge has become a no man’s land for moose vertebrae, car parts, shredded tires, political campaign signs, and minor league litter. I’m itching to get out there and start bagging it up.

Garbage in. It’s often hard to pinpoint the exact source of conflict. This is because we as human beings tend to plow them under, as dozers do land fill. But this, personal detritous, remains. I was, after the meeting, left to wonder. What is the underlying issue? Why was Janette so insistent that the other club member be president? The answer has it roots in Greek thought. I just happened to be on the wrong side of the philosophical fence. The Willises and their followers have embraced Platonic thought. And I, who have no followers, have embraced Sophistic thought.

Garbage in. I pull into the dump weigh station entry area, and am given the eyeball by a clerk sitting behind an open glass window.. He doesn’t have a hand per say, rather a metal prosthesis that resembles that of Captain Hook. I’m a little worried about how I’ll be received because I’ve heard that this guy can be grumpy.

Garbage in. Plato asserts that with all things, there’s Godly ideal. His theory complements the verifiable Icelandic horse breed standards. The quantifiable entities include straight legs, a short back, a thick mane, a shoulder angle that parallels that of the pasturn, a well-rounded croup, and a thick mane and tail. The ideal Icelandic must also have four or five clearly-defined gaits, one of which is the tolt. The Sophists surmise that there’s more than a Godly ideal at stake. Their musings complement the not-so-verifiable Icelandic horse breed standards. The qualitative entities include a good disposition, a willing attitude, the ability to handle trail-related duress, and a big heart.

Garbage in. I’m momentarily confused about where to go. The dumpsters are marked 1, 2, 3. Mr. Claw beckons me to head on over to dumpster #1. I don’t immediately see it, and consider turning back and getting more specific information. Then it comes into sight. Reaching one’s intended destination is always a relief.

Garbage in. Bernie Willis recently told Pete and I that Mr. Siggi, is not up to breed standards and inferred that we ought not take him on a trip. This, despite the fact that Mr. Siggi’s quantifiable traits have, over the past few years, deemed him to be an ideal trail companion

Garbage Out. I back the truck the proper distance from the dumpster, open the truckbed, pull forth a black plastic yard bag, and with a flip of the hand, toss it over the edge. Smack, tinkle, crack, go old beer bottles. I then toss another. Poof, goes an old bag of clothes. Others pull in, and I take in both the cloying smell of car exhaust and the acrid smell of near rotting garbage. Still, I take my time, for doing this task makes me feel a sense of optimism that complements the fact that yes, it's finally spring.

Garbage Out. I studied horse conformation both at Cobleskill College and on my own. And in fact, I was once on a horse judging team that participated in the national championship in Columbus, Ohio. So I’m well aware that there’s a direct correlation between conformation and performance, and that for this very reason, Mr. Siggi might not be able to do the entire trip. This very thought has guided Pete and my thinking. We’ll travel at his pace. And we, in a manner of speaking, will take the low road by exploring easier terrain related options if the going appears to be too challenging for our boy.

Garbage out. Roofing material remains. This past winter, the tarpaper roof blew off the shed. We gathered it up and put it in a pile after the snow melted. The pieces now slide out of truckbed easily. I toss them as one would a Frisbee, and watch them hit the dumpster sidewalls with a resounding thud. The man next is unloading a mattress. He looks over at me and remarks that I look like I’m having a good time, to which I reply, “No, I’m having a great time.!”

Garbage out. It was good for me to have been a president of the Alaska Icelandic Horse Club because this enabled me to make some important people and horse-related connections. I’m by nature a somewhat solitary individual, so my stint as an elected representative forced me to interact with others in a multitude of positive ways. I got experience writing newsletter articles, running teleconferences, and organizing clinics. These were things that I didn’t think I could do, previous to doing them.

Garbage out. I pull up to the weigh station and hand the clerk my coupon, which entitles me to one free trip to the dump. He says in a gruff voice that I need to pay an additional five dollars. I deduce that I‘m over the recommended weight limit, and for this reason need to pay the extra charge. I look around for my wallet don’t see it. I tell him that I don’t happen to have five dollars, on me,
“That’s okay,” he says.
“I can come back.”
“Don’t worry about it.”

Garbage out.
I thank the clerk and put Sputnik into gear. As I pull out into the road, I feel what can only be described as a rush of gratitude, the outward signs being a rise in body temperature, light headedness, and a quickening of my pulse. And again, the sun is shining, or at least I perceive this to be the case. All is again right with the world. The supposedly mean dump clerk had, in waiving the fee, given me permission to move on. The beauty of moving on is that we can put a positive spin on supposedly negative events, all with the goal of getting at certain truths. Here’s my ending. My woodshed and outhouse are debris free. I also own Mr. Siggi, a horse who has a good disposition and a very big heart.