Thursday, October 29, 2009

Garbage Wars

Five years ago, we found a property at the end of a county road in what is probably the most lightly populated county in Georgia. A row of summer cabins and full time homes line the road as it ends at Lake Eufaula. We rented one of these summer places while we built two homes. As part of our rental agreement we paid an adjacent county for garbage service as most of the homes on the road were on the north end of the neighboring county. Our property and about 6 or 7 others were across the county line into our county.

When our houses were finished, we went to the adjacent county to establish garbage service for our two new homes. The surly clerk told us that they were no longer providing service to our county because "those people don't pay their bills, and we are going to pick up all the cans and stop service." Since the garbage truck needs to come all the way to our property to turn around in the cul-de-sac next to our new house, we pleaded with her to let us pay for 6 months in advance, explained that we had already been paying for service at a different house that also was in our county and if she could check her records, she would see that the property we had rented was totally current with its garbage bill. However, there was no reasoning with her and she refused to even consider providing the service to us.

In the meantime, our county began to charge us for garbage service! We went to the county office and asked for our can and when that county clerk checked her records, she said that they didn't provide garbage service to our road and that we should contact the other county. We explained that we had already done that, and that we wished to at the least have the monthly charge removed from our water bill. She complied with our request and we were on our own.

We bought big garbage cans and used our utility trailer to take them to our county's dump for about 3 months. Suddenly, the dump rules changed and they no longer accepted household garbage. While we aren't big garbage patrons (we found a place 50 miles away where we could recycle aluminum and glass, we always had limbs and branches to burn, so we could burn our burnables, and we always compost the compostibles) but still, we could fill a small can in a month or so.

Meanwhile, the big garbage truck from the adjacent county continued to turn around in front of our house every Monday, and to pick up garbage from the houses with cans in front, even the ones in our county. One day when we were out on a drive, we found a county garbage can in the ditch alongside the road with no driveway to attach to it, so we picked it up.

For the next two years, we put out our illegal garbage can (did I mention that the garbage cans down here are the 90 gallon variety?) about once a month or less, and always put an envelope on the can with a $10 bill taped to the top. The garbagemen, who were probably grossly underpaid, got a little bit more for their efforts, we had a way to get rid of our trash, our conscience was clear as we paid for our garbage service, and the middleman in the county office was eliminated.

Unfortunately, nothing good ever lasts forever....last year, our county decided to send a huge garbage truck down the 3 miles of dirt road to collect garbage from about 6 houses. We now pay $12 a month (even for the 6 months we aren't here) to have garbage service. So TWO garbage trucks are adding wear and tear to the pathetic dirt road, TWO garbage trucks drive six miles round trip to service about 25 homes total, and we have the noise and odors of garbage trucks TWO days every week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunrise in the morning

We woke up to a glow coming in the window, so I got up to investigate. This is what I found....truly worthy of getting up early!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Peanut Harvest in Georgia

It is October in Georgia, and time to bring out all the specialized equipment to harvest the peanut fields.

Amazing to watch the green field turn to brown rows as the peanut plants are uprooted and turned over by a tiller with 2 foot long prongs that lift the plants neatly and plop them over into neat cornrows to dry in the hot Georgia sun.

The next tractor accessory is a sifter/lifter/baler that sorts the peanuts from the branches and leaves, shoots the peanuts into a huge bin, and turns the leaves and stems into big bales of peanut hay.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our exciting Day with the Motorcycle

We woke up at 5:30 this morning....still trying to adjust to the 6 hour time difference. So since Alabama is an hour later than here, I spent the morning uploading photos and blogs about our Swiss trip. The sun came up to a clear blue sky, and the temperature when we woke up was already 77 degrees. Forgetting past trips in the heat, we thought it would be a perfect day for a motorcycle ride, and we left in our shirt sleeves around 10:30 a.m.

Our plan was to stop to see our friends, Peggy and Jesse....first Peggy in Ozark at the art gallery where she works, and then at Jesse's barber shop in Dothan. We did okay while we kept moving even though the temperture was hovering around 90 degrees. When we stopped at the gallery, we discovered that J&P were gone for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary.

So since it was so hot, we headed back the way we came. We were about 5 miles out of Ozark when we noticed that the kickstand was scraping when we did the tiniest corner, so we stopped to look at the tires. We found that the back tire was nearly completely flat. We stopped on a bridge to look, and the next three cars that came by stopped to help us. We thought we would be fine as we had a can of fix a flat on board. However, we soon realized that the tire was totally shot! The next truck that stopped had a man with a phone book, and he knew the name of the motorcycle dealer in Ozark (where we got tires for the bike two years ago). He called them, and before we could even get heat stroke, they were there with a trailer and a blissfully cool pickup with a crew cab. They found a tire in stock and fixed our tire for us, and wouldn't even hear of us paying for the tow! While we waited, they insisted we take the store truck and go get lunch. Honestly, it makes me humble to see how nice everyone is down here!

Fashions at the Market in Lugano

Please tell me these shoes aren't going to be all we can get feet are totally accustomed to tennis shoes now and I don't think I could get back into a pointy toed shoe if my life depended on it and if I did manage to get them on, I would probably fall and break my neck.

Notice the price tags on the watches....:)


We parked at the train station and took the trolley to the main shopping area of Lugano.

The rock shop was amazing, as you can see from the size of the crystal next to Anouk.

In and around Locarno

We couldn't talk anyone else into the was pretty cold, but it IS October. Both Thomas and I swam multiple laps and Anouk swam a couple too.

The flowers along the lake were beautiful. Some semi-tropical plants here....much like Georgia with big Magnolia trees and banana plants.

A Picnic in the Mountains of Switzerland

By the fourth day we were in Europe, Ron was starting to say things like "I just want a hot dog" or "I just want a hamburger" so Laura and Thomas left no stone unturned to find him his hotdog. We first went to the grocery store and bought buns and bratwurst and Italian sausage, mustard, condiments, a lighter, and some fruit. Then as we went higher and higher in the Villemaggio, we found a perfect stream that we could drive the car right up to. We gathered driftwood and made a fire and then roasted the wurst on the fire. It was a really lovely time and at the end of a really harrowing road. Ron did amazingly well in a stick shift car that he has rarely driven on steep mountain roads with heavy traffic lots of the time. Here are some pictures of our picnic.

The top pictures are a sampling of the road going to the top. There were quaint stone villages all the way up the mountain.


My little grandniece, Anouk, accompanied us on our travels around Switzerland and was just so much fun even though she didn't speak a word of English and seemed reluctant to even repeat the words we gave her by pointing to things and saying what they were. She was able to play tic tac toe with me in the car, and I drew her a couple of mazes that she breezed her way through.

When we got into the Italian part of Switzerland, no one spoke any German, and the manager of the hotel where Thomas made reservations communicated with us in English. Thomas had called ahead to reserve two with a king size bed, and the other with a king and an extra twin. When we were checking in, the manager asked Laura how old Anouk was, and Laura said, "Seven."

We all swung around when we heard "EIGHT" from Anouk. We all started laughing hysterically, as eight is the official age when you pay more for a child in the room. None of us had a hard time understanding when Laura said to Anouk in German "So now you understand English, huh?" The manager got such a kick out of the whole thing that she immediately said, "I charge you the problem." and we all started snickering every time we thought about it. Actually, Anouk just had a birthday and Laura is a grandparent, not a parent, and I know I am confused about ages of the grandchildren, but trying to explain all that would have made it worse, so we all just had a good laugh!

Later when Anouk started saying "waterfall" when we spotted one on the mountain, Laura said "So now you have THREE words, waterfall, seven and eight" Laura reminds me a lot of myself!


All the way up the valley we passed stone quarrying operations. We saw whole villages made entirely of stone, including the roofs of the houses.

The road followed the beautiful river as it climbed higher and higher.

Lake Locarno

From the quaint streets, to the huge lake, to the nice hotel, this was a very nice place to spend a couple of days.

Alpen village

This is typical of the scenery along the way. Picturesque villages perched on the sides of the hills, open green meadows, and breathtaking mountain views!

Eating at an Inn in the Alps

Thomas remembered this inn/restaurant from his travels with his grandfather as a child. We had a really authentic Italian meal and it only took us about an hour and a half. If we had eaten all the courses available instead of just the main course, it could have been an all day project. Very yummy!

Looking for Crystals at the top of the pass

World famous crystals are found in the area of Nufenen Pass. Anouk was sure she could find a crystal, but even without finding a total crystal, we all found plenty of beautiful rocks. It was hard to get Anouk to leave this area without a big bagful of rocks. Actually, all of us enjoyed looking for rocks!

The road heading is hard to really see the steepness in a flat photo, but believe me it was very steep and full of switchbacks and cantilevered corners!

Nufenen Pass

The interesting thing is that there are inns and restaurants all the way over the Nufenen Pass. At 1980 meters, the Hotel Grimsel is higher than any of the passes in Washington State. There is a huge dam and lake at the very top, with several glaciers and spectacular views.

Over the Alps

We made our first stop on our car trip over the alps at Aaresluct (probably misspelled). We had already passed some spectacular scenery, but Laura assured us it would get better, and it did!

The road was full both directions...winding and twisting through the canyons, with the ever present motorcycles darting around all the cars and busses at the slightest chance.

Swiss Storks

When the stork was an endangered specie, a stork breeding and nesting area was established near Laura and Thomas' home in Bellach. When we visited, there were only 39 storks still there as most has already started their migration to Africa. It appeared that many local homeowners were less than enthusiastic about the new hardy stork population, as storks were nesting on nearly every roof, with streams of stork poop down the roof and sides of buildings.