Monday, November 30, 2009

Mercury

We are a recycling family and we try to act responsibly about what we trash. In fact, I have often felt that garbage bags should be tagged and the City should do random checks and fine people who trash recyclable items (untagged bags will not be picked up). And then I trashed the thought, it’s not as if I’m always recycling conscious. One of the things I do not recycle is Murphy’s food cans. It would be great if he were vegetarian too, but he enjoys meat and I know it’s horrible that I’m indulging one animal with the meat of another. But as I have mentioned before, I find it hard to be rigid about anything. Anyway, I do get Murphy canned food but I just cannot bring myself to wash those cans and have all the residual meat in our drains So they go straight into the trash can.

We are extra careful about broken bulbs and especially the newer compact fluorescent ones. Last evening, my husband had left a used up bulb on the kitchen counter for me to dispose off safely. I was preparing breakfast this morning and I knocked the bulb over. Crash, there was a muffled silvery sound when the bulb hit the floor. I immediately went about cleaning the broken bits with a paper towel forgetting that these bulbs have mercury. The amount is very small, of course, but it was a very unwise thing to do. I ought to stepped out of the kitchen, aired the place and used gloves to later clean up. And another no-no was that after the initial hand-cleaning, I vacuumed the place. And ours is a bagless vacuum cleaner, duh!

Update
Gosh, I just remembered....as kids we’d play with mercury on our aluminum school boxes!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Yucca Plant

Instead of repotting the 7ft tall Yucca – there were four of them -- that I rescued from the neighbor’s garbage bin, I decided to plant them in our backyard. Our backyard is small, really, really small. Originally, we had wanted a small house with a huge backyard, but we got talked into buying this property. Who needs a huge backyard in hot and humid Houston and with so many vampire mosquitoes? Yes, indeed. And we have always regretted not having an expanse of greenery to look at through our huge windows. Anyway, in this small backyard are various lines: gas, power, phone, cable. Anytime we need to dig, we have to call the various companies to have them flag the areas. Since we recently had the place flagged – when we replaced a portion of our fence – I didn’t bother getting the yard flagged again. On picking the perfect spot for the Yucca, my son got busy digging, I went into the house. Moments later, he rushed into the kitchen where I was. ‘Mom there was a small explosion and flames shot out of the ground’, he said. I called the city and they sent a fire truck and the police to secure the area. It was a Sunday morning, and the sirens got all our neighbors out of their beds. Pretty embarrassing. As it happened, my son had struck the main power line to our house. It was buried a few feet away from the fence and hence perhaps not flagged. Anyways, the tip of the shovel had completely melted. The entire shovel is metal with a rubber wrapping around the handle. My son had had one hand on the rubber part and the other on the metal arm, but had let go of the shovel the moment of the explosion and did not suffer any injuries. The emergency crew repaired the broken line. It’s a temporary fix that could last for several years or just a few months. The best thing would be to have an electrician put in a new power line. And the cost? A few thousand dollars. The Yucca is now sitting in a bucket of water, as we were instructed to do, to help it grow some roots before we plant it in the earth.

In another home, there is a family preparing to lower a coffin into the ground. These are the times when I am blanketed by a feeling of helplessness, and then I look at the sky, the trees and throw Murphy a tennis ball to fetch. He lifts his big head up and looks at me reproachfully and asks, Do you really want me to do such stupid things? No, I shake my head and tickle his ears.

Friday, November 6, 2009