I began this week with the goal of making myself get out of my comfort zone and learn a bit more about my new surroundings. If this is to be my home for the next several years, as I hope it will be, then I felt an obligation to myself to begin a serious exploration of the local environs.
I began at home. Since arriving at the farm on March 4th, I had rummaged through (and cleaned out) all of the outbuildings - save one. I had only peeked into the barn loft a couple of times, and had never brought myself to the point where I had actually climbed into the storage space above the barn.
When my grandson, Sebastian, visited from Oregon a few weeks ago, he had been fascinated with the notion that there was an upstairs to the barn - and he wanted to explore it. I couldn't allow that, however, because I knew if was overflowing with stored junk, much of which could be dangerous - boards with nails sticking out, large pieces of barbed wire, glass jars, rusted buckets and pieces of metal, etc.
On Monday I climbed into the loft and began sorting through crap that has accumulated there over decades. I pitched out six old tires (expecting to find a snake in each and every one), lots of metal - buckets, downspouts, a disassembled, rusted child's swing set, and other large pieces of refuse. Once everything was on the ground I sorted it into metal, non-metal, tires, and environmentally-challenging items such as a bucket of roofing asphalt,motor oil, and paint.
(Sebastian, when you are back here again, we will have a party in the loft!)
I telephoned my trash company which I knew would not take most of those items. They referred me to the "transfer station" for the bigger part of my collection, and to the recycling center for the metal. On Tuesday, not having a truck, I loaded my car with trash and set out to find the "transfer station," which proved to be uncomfortably close (within two miles) to my house. The transfer station is the town dump - of a sort. People bring their trash there - anything - and dump it for a fee. Usually it arrives in a truck, and and a charge is made based on volume. There is also a "per tire" fee for used tires. Because I had less than a truck load, the fellow just charged me for the tires. The transfer station also accepted my asphalt, oil, and paint products.
Trash at the transfer station is thrown into a large warehouse type of building that smells to high hell. From there a fellow with a tractor and bucket pushes it around and (I suspect, though I didn't observe this phase) loads it all into two large semi-truck trailers on the property that are then used to "transfer" it - though to where I have no idea!
After returning home and scouring off the stink, I decided to wait and discover the recycling center later in the week.
Wednesday evening I did something that I have wanted to do ever since moving to West Plains. I showed up at the local Senior Center and joined in its weekly pinochle night. There were ten people present, counting myself, which made for two tables of players with one extra team rotating in after each hand. I had played a LOT of pinochle forty years ago as a college student and as a young army officer, but none since. It all came back quickly - and I made several new friends. I hope to remain a part of that local activity - and I appreciate being so warmly welcomed by the group.
Thursday I had appointment with a new medical provider - a cardiologist here in West Plains. While waiting to see him, I visited with the lady who was updating my records and learned that there was a cardiac rehab unit (a small, well-monitored exercise facility) right in the clinic. She gave me a tour of the facility and arranged to get me medically referred to the program. I have to take some preliminary tests (including and EKG) next week, and should begin exercising the week after. I feel very fortunate to have made this discovery. It will be a good opportunity to get healthier and to meet a few new people.
Friday I loaded all of the metal into my poor old car and set out for the recycling center - which also proved to be embarrassingly close to my house - again less than two miles. The recycling center surrounds a literal mountain of rusted metal. I located the office and figured out the process for unloading my treasure. I had two carloads by volume, but not much by actual weight, so I just donated it to the center.
My only other discovery this week was a pair of beautiful sassafras trees that are in my backyard but had been completely hidden by a climbing vine that the previous owners had intentionally planted. A young man who occasionally does yard work for me called on Tuesday to see if I had any work for him. We put a ladder up next to the pile of vines and he got to work. It was almost like an archaeology project as the vines were pulled away and the two tall and skinny sassafras trees emerged. The vines had done some damage by making deep grooves in the tree trunks, but the trees look as though they will be able to survive and thrive.
This is beginning to feel like home!