Posted tagged ‘maggots’

“I made a sandwich out of things. I’m an American. We can eat anything as long as it’s between two pieces of bread.”

June 5, 2018

The dump was fairly empty today. I was horrified to see one bag of my trash had maggots. That one had been in the trunk since Thursday. Seeing those crawling maggots whizzed me back in time to my childhood. Our house had an outside garbage pail. It was in the ground with a metal flip top you opened with your foot. The pail usually had maggots. My mother had a triangular plastic garbage holder which she kept in the corner of the sink. She’d nab one of us to empty the garbage outside. I hated to touch it afraid I’d get garbage on my hand. Every week the garbage man came to empty it. I couldn’t think of a worse job. Even the truck smelled bad.

Today is lovely. It is cool, in the high 60’s, and so sunny the light glints off the leaves and shines through the branches. The breeze is cool but not chilling. A short sleeve is enough. I have one more errand I couldn’t do yesterday in the rain, those flowers. I saw my neighbor, also my landscaper, this morning and alerted him to the flowers which will need planting. He told me not to worry. I won’t.

When I was a kid, I was always busy in the summers. I was seldom home. I used to pack a lunch and take it with me. It was bologna if there was any left, but sometimes I had to use peanut butter and Fluff, but I never saw it as a second choice. Bologna was a neat sandwich. Fluff was not. Usually it seeped out the sides unto my fingers when I held my sandwich to eat it, and I often had a fluff mustache. It was sticky.

In Ghana, I used groundnut paste, peanut butter paste to us. It was thick and was a soup base for groundnut stew. I ate it as a snack on bread with jelly, but I had to thin the paste or it would tear the bread. I used groundnut oil to do that. My cupboard was never bare of groundnut paste.

I still love peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches. The only difference is I’m much neater now.

“There is a Senate and a Congress who carry on endless sessions discussing garbage disposal and outhouse inspection, the only two questions over which they have jurisdiction.”

January 29, 2016

The sun is just now breaking through the clouds to defy the prediction of rain showers. We’re going to the dump later so I’d appreciate it if Mother Nature held off on the rain. I have a trunkful.

When I was a kid, the town trash trucks came once a week. My dad would haul the heavy barrels out of the cellar to the curb. The truck always had at least two men hanging off the back. They’d jump off, grab barrels, empty them into the back of the truck then toss the barrels to the curb. The guys wore heavy gloves and grubby clothes. I liked to watch when they’d compressed the trash to make more room. Our next door neighbor was a trash man and once in a while he’d do our home route. We’d all wave and yell.

I never really thought much about the garbage can in the back yard by the steps. It was in-ground, and you had to depress a lever to open it. I hated emptying the garbage from the house. The bin smelled awful and there were always maggots. The garbage truck also came once a week. The garbage man walked to the backyard carrying one barrel slung over his back. He’d open the bin, pull out the garbage can and dump it into his barrel. I always thought being a garbage man had to be the grossest job, but I was wrong.

The grossest job is being a night soil man anywhere. His job is to go from outhouse to outhouse to empty the pails while people are sleeping. I just happen to have met one in Ghana. It was while I was visiting my friends who didn’t have running water. I was back and forth to their outhouse during the night as I was suffering from a volunteer’s common ailment which necessitated frequent visits to the outhouse. I can’t imagine the night soil man was as surprised as I was. When he pulled out the pail, I heard the noise and jumped up. He poked his head just a bit into the hole and greeted me. I greeted him back. He smiled and put the empty pail back inside. I sat down. It had been the most interesting encounter.

“My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it.”

August 25, 2014

This morning I was awake far earlier than usual, at 6:30. I went on the deck and filled the bird feeders then stayed there to read my papers and drink my coffee. I find early mornings have the most glorious smells and sounds. The air is crisp and clean and scented with flowers and newly mowed grass. Birds sing and I can hear the flapping of their wings as they fly in and out of the feeders. The coffee this morning was hot and strong. I had a second cup then I left to meet my friend for our Monday morning breakfast.

I don’t remember watching my mother clean the house. During the school year she did it while we were gone. During the summers we were never around the house to watch her. Only my two little sisters were and they were mostly in the backyard, not yet being old enough to wander. I’d leave for school, and when I got home, my bed was made. I’d put my clothes in the hamper and they’d reappear cleaned and folded. It was a bit like the elves and the shoemaker. The dish strainer usually had clean dishes sitting in it to dry. We were to rinse any glasses or dishes we used and leave them in the sink. My father went crazy if we didn’t rinse out our glasses. He’d yell if he found a dirty glass on the counter. He called it the height of laziness. I thought he was underestimating how lazy we could get, but I knew better than to mention it. No one ever owned up to the dirty glass. That would have been foolish.

Except for my brother we never had any chores growing up. His was to empty the kitchen basket into the outside barrel. Trash was traditionally a male chore. Once in a while my mother would ask me to empty the garbage. She had a triangular plastic garbage holder in the corner of her sink. I’d take it outside touching as little of it as possible, use my foot to open the metal cover of the in-ground garbage bin then I’d dump the garbage and bang the container on the corner of the bin to make sure it was empty. The garbage always had maggots. I’d watch them for a while. Garbage grossed me out but maggots never did. I never thought that strange. Maggots were interesting while garbage just plain smelled bad.

“On Sunday mornings, as the dawn burned into day, swarms of gulls descended on the uncollected trash, hovering and dropping in the cold clear light.”

April 22, 2014

The morning was sunny but has since begun to get cloudy. Gracie was on the deck earlier when I heard her critter alert bark. I went out and she was trying to get at something hiding behind the deck box. I looked and nothing was there. The mighty watch dog had missed the critter leaving from the other end.

Yesterday was a wonderfully quiet day. I went back and forth between watching baseball and the marathon then read all afternoon. I brushed my teeth and combed my hair, but I didn’t get dressed, and I didn’t make my bed. Today, however, my dance card has a few entries, mostly errands, but I’m also having lunch with a friend, Thai food, one of my favorites. I’m even going to change my bed. I feel like a whirlwind of activity.

When I was a kid, I never had set chores. My brother had to empty the basket into the barrel, and he always complained about being put upon. Sometimes, though, I had to empty the inside garbage outside. My mother had a plastic triangular garbage holder with holes in the bottom. Its shape fit perfectly in the corner of the sink. When it was full, one of us took it outside to the garbage pail. The pail was in the ground and you used a pedal to open the lid. I remember all the maggots crawling on the garbage, but I was too young to be horrified by maggots. I was mostly fascinated. The garbage man came once a week and would haul out the pail and empty it into the big barrel he carried. I thought that was the grossest of all jobs until I met the night soil man in Ghana who emptied the outhouse pails. Now that was and still is to me the grossest job of all.

Almost none of the workers who came to the house had names. They were always men and each was defined by his job. We had the garbage man, the trash man, the mailman, the milk man, the newspaper man, the junkman and the scissors-knife sharpener man who rode his bicycle on the street and rang a bell to announce his arrival. The only name we knew was Johnny, the ice cream man. We never thought it strange that we didn’t know the names of the men who came so often to our house.

Now I know the names of the people who come to my house. There are far fewer than when I was a kid. Bob is my mailman, Lori is my newspaper deliverer and Sebastian is my landscaper. The milk now comes from the store and my knives and scissors need sharpening. I am the trash and garbage man who goes once a week to the dump. I haven’t seen a maggot in years.

“When I go home my mother still makes me take out the garbage.”

July 1, 2010

The sky is hurt your eyes blue. The sunlight is sharp, the breeze cool. It was in the 50’s last night, and right now it’s only in the high 60’s. It is the most delightful of days. Gracie and I have a dump run scheduled for later, but that’s about it for errands. I’ll make my bed in a bit and shower tonight, but I have no other plans. My book is interesting, and the deck is the best place to while away an afternoon.

When I was in Colorado, I noticed that most people under thirty have had a phone surgically attached to one hand or the other. During the baseball games, I saw heads down and thumbs moving, including a few in my family. They noticed the game only after the action, when the crowd cheered. My niece and her friend were sitting side by side at the restaurant carrying on a private conversation, texting each other. I’m afraid evolutionary changes have already begun, and phones will, over time, become appendages: two legs, two arms and a phone. I’ve checked both my hands. Neither yet has a phone growth, but I’ll keep an eye on them just in case.

Snakes on a Plane has a sequel in the works: Maggots on a Plane. A US Air flight had to return to the Atlanta airport when maggots started dropping on passengers from the overhead compartment. The pilot announced they were returning to the gate because of a minor emergency on board. Flight attendants told everyone to sit down and be calm. Right away I remember the garbage container in my backyard. It was in the ground right near the back steps. It had a foot lever to open the heavy, iron top. I remember the top was green. My mother would send me to empty the triangular, plastic garbage holder, the one with the holes in the bottom, she kept in the corner of the sink. I hated that chore. I’d use my foot to open the garbage bucket, and there were always these gross maggots crawling around. I’d dump the garbage and close that lid as fast as lightning all the while trying not to breathe. Once a week the garbage men came. They carried a barrel slung on their backs into which they’d dump the garbage and all its passengers. The men moved from yard to yard while their truck slowly followed. I used to watch. I couldn’t imagine a worse job.

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