Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

Every Wednesday morning Rick gets up early, opens the garage door and rolls out the trash and recycling cans. Both are always positioned right by the door and ready to go because Rick spends every Tuesday night prepping for garbage pick-up day.

Rick has been a master garbage disposer since I met him a dozen years ago. He crushes, flattens, squeezes, stuffs, organizes and separates with passion and purpose. At first I thought his garbage-related behavior was compulsive, but then I realized that his method made a lot of sense.

He has taught me to take the extra few seconds to flatten the cardboard paper towel core to make room for more trash or to take my empty plastic shampoo bottle to the recycling bin rather than the waste basket. I've improved considerably, but Rick still doesn't trust me with the night-before preparation for trash pick-up for fear that I will mess it up, I guess.

There was a bit of a learning curve when we changed over to the new

cans a couple of months ago, but it didn't take Rick long to adjust. For

him it was just a matter of testing until he found the appropriate size

can for our household's garbage and then changing from bin box to the

big blue can for all our recyclables.

When I pull out of the driveway on Wednesday to go to work, our two

cans stand like soldiers next to our mailbox. But driving away I can't

help but notice that only about half the homes on our street have cans

in front. On my way to the office I observe that other streets in my

neighborhood look the same-some homes have cans and others don't.

At least two houses on my block that don't display trash cans are

rental homes. I guess what they do with their garbage is their own

business, but I can't help but wonder where their trash is.

According to Dave Mason, the code enforcement officer for Del Norte

County, all landlords in the city and county (excluding Bureau of Indian

Affairs land) are required to provide garbage removal service for their

rentals. The landlord can remove the garbage, can have an employee

remove it or can contract with Recology Del Norte. This code was adopted

by the Solid Waste Management Authority in 2008.

If that's the case-if the landlord pays for the service-then why

wouldn't the folks who rent put out their trash for free-to-them

pick-up? As for homeowners who don't have garbage pick-up, I have to

assume they are taking their trash to the landfill themselves.

I wrote a column about my discovery of a rat chomping away at seeds

on one of my bird feeders a couple of months ago. This "rat infestation"

as I called it, led me to abandon the hungry birds in my back yard and

stop putting out food that might attract rodents.

Where is the trash that isn't in the curbside cans waiting to be

picked up every week? In a pickup on the way to the landfill? In sheds,

garages or carports? Piled in back or side yards?

I'm not jumping to conclusions about where the rat came from-or all

the raccoons, for that matter. I am simply curious.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at

mthomas@triplicate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.