I got a notice in my mail that I had a registered letter from the town of Purcellvile1
. Oddly, it was dated May 7, though it was the end of April. It was also marked Final Notice, which was odd, as the post office usually gives three notices and I hadn't gotten any.
I went and picked it up on May 4. It turned out to be two notices, one that I had to remove all "trash and rubbish" from my ENTIRE lot (their emphasis) by May 3. The other was that the grass had to be mowed. As fizzygeek and I had mowed the lawn the previous weekend, I didn't worry about that one. But "trash and rubbish" is a dangerously vague concept. Would my neon signs be considered trash? How about the 3m satellite dish? In any case, I wouldn't be able to comply by the stated date, as I hadn't received the notice by then. The town's habit of using registered/certified mail for their nastygrams gave me some useful legal ammunition here2.
I decided not to worry about it until the weekend. I was aware that there was some genuine trash and rubbish about the place, as neighbors had used my yard as a dump for an old folding chair and a tarp, among other things. I also figured my old oil tank probably qualified. It occurred to me that since other people were dumping their junk in my yard, I could simply heave everything over into adjoining yards, but I would be the obvious culprit, especially to whatever louses bothered to report me instead of just asking me to clean up the yard.
When I got there on Saturday, I discovered that the lawn had been re-mowed. Apparently my mowing hadn't been sufficient. I figure the town will bill me for this, on the strength that if you get cited, you have to mow your entire property, not just the grass. I could contest this, both on the grounds that I hadn't been given sufficient notice, and that the hired mowers didn't mow the entire property either (making it a judgement call instead of a hard rule, the sort of thing a high-powered lawyer would have a field day with). But since I'm trying to sell the property, the better part of valor here is not to make waves, so I'm just going to suck it up and pay it.
The first thing I tackled was the trash others had left in the yard. The tarp was no problem. The folding chair was a large tubular metal affair that wouldn't fit in even my large wheeled trash can. I brought over a pipe cutter, figuring I'd quickly dice it into bite-sized pieces. However, it wasn't the flimsy thing I expected. It was heavy, and took some time and effort to cut the tubing, even with the nice pipe cutter. A Sawzall would have been a more appropriate tool. So I just cut it into two flat sections, and leaned the bigger one on the trash can.
The big heavy neon signs, I simply rolled into the shed and leaned them on the walls.
Then for the satellite dish. I'd picked up an air wrench and an impact wrench from Sears4 and the small air compressor was still at the house. I tore into the dish with those, a set of box-end wrenches, and a ratchet set. It was coming apart nicely when fizzygeek showed up to help, and the two of us made short work of the rest of it. I had offered it on both freecycle and the local ham radio mailing list, but there were no takers, so the pile of curved tubing and assorted gimcrackery is likely destined to become some sort of bizarre art project now.
The last piece was the oil tank. We had tried to move it before, but it's too big and heavy for us to muscle around without a lot of time, sweat, and effort. So we tried the Forearm Forklift4. Unfortunately, the tank is heavy enough that we aren't big enough to counterweight it effectively. I had earlier suggested just dragging it with the tractor, but
fizzygeek hadn't liked the idea. But faced with the reality of the hulking object and a looming deadline, she decided it was worth a try. So I tied a rope to the full and vent tubes, and looped it around the seat springs on the tractor. I fired up the tractor, and eased it forward. It moved the tank a few inches and bogged down. So I put air in the tires and tried again. This time, it worked nicely. I slowly hauled the tank over to the shed, and then we were able to walk it in. A tight fit, and the legs stick out the door, but I don't care.
After that, we went home and showered preparatory to going out, which will be the subject of another post.
1 Oops, I misspelled Purse of Evil
2 The town believes that the Post Office will certify that they delivered a letter to me on the date I signed for it. This is not the case — the Post Office will certify that they delivered an envelope, nothing more. However, this lets me substantiate that I didn't receive anything before that, so it supports my case, not theirs. Heh.
3 Buying these entailed two long trips to Sears and multiple delays, misunderstandings, purchases, returns, and assorted grumbling. I wouldn't have bothered, but I ended up with a decent pair of air tools for $40.
4 Forearm Forklift: a set of woven straps with armholes that lets you use your muscles efficiently to lift large objects. We used these previously to move the big plasma screen.