Thursday, December 11, 2008

With friends like these

When we got home after spending a few days in New York with my family for Thanksgiving, we discovered a disaster on the sidewalk in front of our house.

Since the sun rises directly behind, any ice on our brick sidewalk rarely gets enough sunlight to melt on its own, which is completely infuriating because the homeowners on the other side of the street barely need to own a shovel. We need a shovel, a pickax AND a blowtorch.

Apparently while we were gone, an ice age hit. There were uneven sheets more than two inches thick in places -- not something completely out of the ordinary on the east coast even in November. But the strange part was the unidentifiable black substance covering it.

It appeared as if something had been scattered deliberately on top of the ice from one end of our property to the other, perhaps as a traction device. Unfortunately, when the weather warmed a few degrees, the mixture formed a black, muddy disaster.

I knew Jerry was going to flip.

"THIS IS VANDALISM! VANDALISM! WHO THE F.... alright. Alright. I'll just get out the hose."

As we carried in our bags, we tracked the mess inside, further enraging him.

In my heart, I knew what had happened. Our well-meaning neighbor who is an active environmentalist knew we were out of town and probably tried a questionable "natural" substance instead of salt which, in his words, is "toxic."

Last winter he convinced us to buy a bag of natural salt alternative, which turned out to be tiny pebbles that scratched the crap out of the fresh coats of paint we had placed on our front and back porches.

Rocks. He told us to try rocks.

I'll stick with rock salt, thank you.

Memories of that flashed through my mind. This is the same man who heats his house with corn in the winter. And wants to install solar panels on his roof. And has a gargantuan receptacle in his backyard next to his shed to catch rainwater for plants.

Absolutely admirable, yes, but I knew the black stuff was probably his handiwork.

Meanwhile, Jerry was downstairs in the basement lacing together a string of profanity that would rival any rap album.

"WHO WOULD DO THIS?!" he said, exasperated when the black stuff didn't budge after a lengthy dousing of water with the hose.



"I'm sure he had good intentions, Jer," I said. "I'm sure he was trying to be helpful."


"I'm guessing it's soot from his corn incinerator thing."


After calling him to borrow his push broom, we confirmed it. Because Jerry was tied up with the hose, I walked over instead.

"You should've seen it," Dave said. "The ice was incredible."

"Thanks for trying to take care of it," I said.

We've since laughed it off and asked that next time he just throw down the actual corn. Because even now, weeks later, we still have a grey film covering our sidewalk with black crust wedged in between the bricks in places.

Apparently going green isn't always the way to go.


SwissBarb said...

I'd say going green is definitely always the way to go... but finding the RIGHT alternative is the hard part!

sarahhhh said...

ashes? are you kidding me!

i am trying to think of something you can do to avoid tracking in that crap. uhh... maybe if you buy some cheap astro turf and laid it across the ice? -- while you slip and fall and how the heck would u shovel snow off that? not a good idea.

uh... my mom uses a cleaning solution called Simple Green. I think you can get it at like walgreens n crap. She prays it on our tile grout on the kitchen floor and that stuff kicks ass! maybe if you diluted it and sprayed it across the ice it'd clean it up a bit and help the walls of your house? plus... it's a green idea. haha.

man, good luck!

sarahhh said...

...oh and speaking of corn. read this if you have a cat!!

i have a cat who i have seriously been contemplating on toilet training. (like, i laughed about it before... but this was gonna become a reality soon haha) i love my cat with all my heart, but her damn litter is driving me insane. it's expensive, it smells like chemicals and piss, it's bad for the world, and it works like crap. i have tried all the wood green silicone natural crap out there instead of clay litter... it's all garbage!

so the other day at the grocery store i was about to grab a huge body sized bag of litter when i said there's gotta be a better way. right then like a parting of the heavens i saw a litter bag called The World's Best Cat Litter!! All Natural. I read the bag, which was tiny compared to the body bag i was gonna buy before, and the bag swore to me it's the best litter in the world. it looks just like cat litter, except it's yellow because it's made out of corn. it stays hard and doesn't mush up. my cat has been using it for a week and it's AMAZING! when i go to scoop it's totally just the crap or piss... and so it can safely be flushed (as per the box instructions). there are NO SMELLS. NO DUST. It's awesome and it was like only $6-7 bucks.

Go Corn! ...

Sorry Kelly. I know this your blog, but I know people read this and I just wanted to spread my happy knowledge to other litter hating happy go green people like myself!

Lioncloud said...

Just take your shoes off at the door.

Ray said...

Hehe! Bless your friend Dave's heart. I think in this case sometimes trying to go, "TOO GREEN" makes people crazy. Hope your sidewalk returns back to normal soon. Then again the blowtorch didn't work so I don't know...LOL! =P

chelsea said...

Its the thought that counts. Maybe you score some granola from him =]

Kristin said...

why is salt bad for the environment? o.O


the plainsman said...

To borrow the title from your last post, but now apply it to your green minded but ingnorant neighbor..."holy hell he's outta control!" Spreading sooty ash around is not going to be good for the environment or the people in it, despite his best intentions. And he should have asked before about "helping" with an action that dramatic. The best stuff fror traction is bagged sand box or bagged builders sand, safer around pets than rock salt and invisible when the snow melts. For melting especially around steps, there is a urea based melt that is pet safe and does not damage concrete as well. It also might keep away groundhogs...LOL! But no matter what is in use, shoes off immediately when entering any house works well; that's always a good idea when little ones are so close to the floor, too, for other (ahem) reasons.