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Nov 21, 2017

I am becoming a minimalist. It's a slow process, but it is definitely happening. For many years I haven't practiced giving or throwing things away, neither has my husband. It is so easy to put things that we no longer need in cupboards and closets, and then to conveniently forget about them. So, the result has been an accumulation of stuff. But, the season has changed, the tide has turned (1), and I'm in motion to do what I should do. There are many charity shops here where you can donate unwanted but good quality clothing and household goods(2). I often shop at some of these places because you can find great bargains. Some things, however, must be thrown away or recycled. That was the case with five, large, steel canisters that I had stored in our garage. Some of them had been there for years. They had been helium containers, for blowing up balloons. They were too big to recycle locally, and it is not permitted to put them in the garbage. I did an internet search(3) to find out where I could recycle them, hoping that it wouldn't be too far away. I came up with(4) Wenatchee Valley Salvage and Reclamation which is across the river and up towards the airport. Perfect. The drive took about twenty minutes; I only got lost a couple of times. I realized as I drove, that I'm unfamiliar with this industrial area that has been slowly expanding over the past ten years. 

The entryway to the reclamation yard was a wide gravel road, overlooked by a large sign that was half hidden by dry bushes. There were rusty vehicles parked on the side which towered over my car. The road was long and windy, and it wasn't obvious at all where I had to go. As I turned a corner, the land opened up into a large, grassless area that had enormous piles of twisted metal, sections of buses and trucks, and parts of vehicles that I didn't even recognize. I finally noticed a small office. I pulled up to the window and read a notice that said, "Enter at your own risk". I laughed at first, thinking that it was a joke about entering the office. I soon realized that it wasn't a joke at all; the notice was about entering the yard itself. I looked around and realized how dangerous this place was. It was an alien garbage dump of sharp, heavy metal that at any moment could tumble onto your car. "Oh gosh!" I thought to myself, "I'd better get out of here as soon as possible." The lady in the office directed me to a cathedral-like shed where I could take my canisters. I pulled in and a man came over to help. All around were huge dumpsters, each filled with scraps made of a certain kind of metal. The place was dark and oily, and the man was too. He seemed angry, like his temper was boiling. So, I opened the car door to help get the canisters out, even though they were very heavy. He just snatched them from me and hurled them through the air without even looking where they were going.  All of them flew into a huge dumpster of similar items, and landed with a loud, metallic crash! I was impressed by the man's efficiency, but uneasy at his apparent mood. I thanked him and left quickly. On the way out, I realized that if I worked in a dark, dangerous, oily place, I would probably also be angry. I opened the window and took a deep breath of fresh air. "Canisters gone," I thought. "There are five less things to get rid of on my list. And hopefully, I don't have to risk coming back here again!"

1. 'The tide has turned' is a figurative way of saying that things have changed, or life in general. When the tide changes, the direction of the ocean flow reverses. There are variations of this phrase, a common one being '(at) the turn of the tide'.

a. Intelligent systems can turn the tide of human poverty.

b. The announcement of reforms turned the tide of the crowd's anger to satisfaction.

2. 'Household goods' is the same as saying 'items'. Goods are purchasable products as opposed to services. When we talk about 'household goods' we could mean appliances, furniture, decorations, or anything else that is permanent.

a. Paper and pencils are not goods because we use them up completely. Whereas tables or lamps would be considered 'goods.'

b. The train was carrying goods to the central market.

3. 'To do an internet search' is the phrase we use to look something up on the internet.

a. My daughter did an internet search on tectonic plates for a science paper.

b. If you need to hire a good plumber, do an internet search; you'll get a whole list of plumbers.

4. 'To come up with' is a very useful phrase in English which shows our almost obsessive use of the preposition 'up'. The phrase means to find, discover, or figure out.

a. He came up with a plan to save a few hundred dollars each year until he could afford a plane ticket.

b. Our plan is to learn five verbs a day for three months.