The Dump Run

This morning I made the dump run with the damaged items from the basement. The melted TV, the traumatized DVD player,  the smoky couch that was 15 years old before we did this to it.  The refrigerator that quit working, possibly because of the power surge.  Or because it had not been feeling well for over a year and it was just time to let go.

Dumps have changed a lot since I was a kid.  I remember the dump at Fairbanks.  One drove in the gate, past heaps of all sorts of refuse.  Fires were usually smouldering in several locations.  You picked a spot, backed up, and tossed everything out.  No fees.  Occasionally a watchman.  It was acceptable to wander about a bit and perhaps salvage a bicycle frame or a tire that didn’t look too bad. 

Today, my first stop at the dump was the Goodwill donation station.  The attendant took an item or two, but shook his head no to the couch.  He did take the melted TV, for recycling. 

Next stop was the weigh in and presentation of my ID.  I had called ahead so this would be one of my two free trips t the dump that I am allowed annually.  They gave me a pink card and directed me to follow the white line.  Which ended in a row of concrete pylons.  Hm.  Not what they intended, I was sure. So I went on for a bit and eventually found the compactor.  I backed up and Jack and I unloaded.  When it came time to dump the couch over, I knew a moment of extreme guilt.  We could have cleaned it, one more time.  It wasn’t really THAT bad.  I was (and am) sure that there were people in Tacoma that would have been very happy to adopt it.  But I didn’t know who they were, or where, so under the chain it slid.  Goodbye, brown couch.

Final stop was the small parking lot full of refrigerators.  Hydaulic Jack lifted mine out of the truck, walked across the parking lot and set it down with the others.  The amount of strength he has always shocks me.

And then we went through the payment line, and headed for home.

But I am still feeling a big guilty. 

I’ve known some tough financial times in my life.  It has led me to have a great reluctance to throw away anything that is useful.  Even when it is useless to me, I always feel like I should hold onto it until I can put it into the hands of someone who needs it.  In my time, I’ve been grateful for second hand dishes, for towels that did not match, and yes, for a saggy couch that was just fine with a terry cloth throw over it. 

I like the new generation of recycling that includes 2good2toss and Craigslist.  If I hadn’t been so sure that Goodwill would take the couch, I would have gone to one of those services. 

Well, farewell old couch!  You will be part of the landfill soon.  I wonder how long it will take before you are a useful part of the earth again.


25 Responses to The Dump Run

  1. Ooooh Robin, I really relate to this post.

    I have two halves of my personality that struggle against each other, like those cartoon angel/devil characters that sit on your shoulders.

    One is a little “organsied declutter-er” and the other is a greenish-tinged “keep it because it should not contribute to landfill” creature.

    They fight all the time. Recently I bought a book on rag rug making, just to have something to do with old t-shirts, which are too old/faded/damaged to pass on to anyone. I can’t seem to put them in the bin, but it seems ridiculous to keep them.

    I think the best way to avoid this dilemma as much as possible, is to limit what actually comes into you house in the first place. Easier said than done.

    Especially as I sew, and I have a serious fabric addiction………….

  2. Dear Robin Hobb,
    I have just recently finished reading the Farseer Trilogy and was blown off of my feet. It is the best trilogy I have ever read. I can relate so much to the story of FitzChivalry. I have dreams about him and the rest of the characters all the time. It is an amazing series and really would like to continue with the rest of your works. I will be taking a trip to my school library to get the first book in the Liveship Traders Trilogy. I would like to thank you for writing the best books I will ever read.
    Thank You,

  3. Oh and I just finished reading about your house fire and am very sorry for your loss.

  4. For those moments of guilt when disposing of items I gladly recommend the national Freecycle organization! They are community centric and specifically for the purpose of keeping items out of the landfills!

  5. Sounds like a good option to add to my list!

    2Good2Toss is very localized, too. As they let you sell items for up to $100, it’s a good option for people who want to see a little bit of cash out of whatever they are getting rid of. And it’s handy if you are looking for something for free or cheap, as you can put up that information too.

  6. Jarrod, thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed the books.

    Fitz wanders through my mind all the time, and even more so lately. It’s good to hear that he has lingered in yoru brain, too!

    Best wishes,


  7. I’ve begun to try to ‘think before I buy’. My weakness is books, even though I know I can get most of what I want from the library. I’ve tried to move toward an e-reader, but it just doesn’t give me the same feeling as a book in hand.

    But that can lead to ‘books on shelves’ and I have far too many of them now.


  8. I think that most of bookworms know that feeling when you just MUST buy a book. There are books that are worthy having. For me – for example – your books. Even if original English versions are so expensive in my country (ever since I`ve read “Shaman`s Crossing” I don`t rely on trashy Polish translation).

    And – like Jarrod – I really want to thank you for your books. I love reading and those novels are one of the best (if not the best) fantasy books I`ve ever read. I love this how your characters are so much alive.
    Thank you.

    Yesterday I finished “Dragon Keeper” – very nice, at some point better than trilogy “Liveship Traders” 😉

    And you are right. E-reader is just not the same. At first it doesn`t smell like newly bought book. Last year, at book fair, I had a little talk with a lady who was advertising those and when I pointed this disadvantage she said that producers would make them to smell like books if people wanted this…

  9. I forgot to say how mucch I have enjoyed the Rain Wilds Chronicles. I love stories about Dragons. I hope there will be more in the series.

  10. Dear Robin,
    if it can console you, I can say that is the same for every reader I met.
    I add DVDs and comics.
    It’s the addiction for stories, I think, and the need to avoid the panic of “And now? I only have fifty-three worlds to explore!”
    Than, I donate to my library the books I don’t think I’ll read again – a bit more space, and a bit less guilt.

    And no, the e-reader is a nice object, and a wonderful thing when one travels, but it doesn’t scent of paper and ink. 🙁

    [I’m so glad your books are safe, especially the Jack Vance with loose pages! ;)]

  11. I have also watched ‘dump runs’ change since I was a kid. Now I live in a city where there really is no such thing as a ‘dump run’. It blew my mind when people looked at me funny when I asked, ‘Where’s the dump in Portland?’ and they all gave me numbers and websites about where I could take this or that.

    It’s a good thing, though, since times most definitely have changed. Craigslist, Goodwill/Salvation Army, Ebay, lots of local 2nd hand shops, and Metro all make recycling almost anything pretty easy. I’m glad to say I hardly ever truly ‘toss’ anything.

    I’m in complete sympathy with you on the loss of your couch (not to mention the fire!!). I live very much hand-to-mouth right now myself, as I’m putting myself through school (for real, not aimlessly like when I was 19….). None of my towels match, my couch will be hard to part with someday, etc. etc. And all my books are *very* safe. 😀

  12. Robin,

    I recently discovered your writing while searching for books to pass the time between Jordan, Sanderson and Anthony novels. I am currently reading ship of magic I am very excited about this book but can not find the second in third book at my digital library or I recently found your books on while researching Kindle and almost bought the device just to have access to the rest of your books until I notice that the text to audo function was not allowed. Being visually impaired I am very dissappointed in this of course. Why would you and/or your publisher discriminate in this fashion? I am writing to ask you to reconsider so that myself and the other thousands of Visually impaired people can enjoy your books.

    I did find the book on MP$ cd and regular CD but being on a fixed income raising two children keeps my budget tight for those that can see can purchase your book on Kindle for $10 I would have to spend $44 to read it.

    Thank you for your time.
    V.I.F. (Visually Impaired Fan)

  13. Also sorry to learn of your fire. But though I have struggled for years with my book hoarding I must confess I’ve found the most effective cure for ME …. my iPhone. I adore having my current library on my hip available to me at the drop of any few moments into my day. I no longer chafe at long lines or late husbands … I just pull out my phone and find myself transported to the Rain Wilds. I dying for your third installment with Sintara, Heeby, and Mercor when I just finished Dragon Haven not 15 minutes ago.

    I’d race off to buy one of your other series but I’ve already devoured most of them.

    I don’t miss the crackled of book pages nor the nose bumps from falling volumes hitting me at 2am when I should have put the saga down at 11. I just wish you a speedy return to your writing desk so my ebook archives remain fat with dragons and fools.

  14. Yes, Charlotte, there will be a 3rd Rain Wilds book. I’m hard at work on it right now and hope to turn it in by December of this year.


  15. Hi Miguel,

    Whether to enable or disable the text-to-speech function is not up to the writer. The publisher has purchased the rights to publish the books in e-form, so that is a publishing decision.

    However, as a visually impaired reader, you have a much greater resource to call on. Many many books that are not available as either e-books or audio books can be accessed through the Library of Congress service for blind or visually impaired readers. This includes people who are dyslexic or have any other reading disability. All it takes is a note from your doctor. I am absolutely delighted with this service! For example, YEARS before any of my books were available as audio books, volunteer readers had created audio transcriptions of my books for visually impaired readers.
    I first became aware of this service through a friend who was losing his sight to diabetes. At that time, with a note from his doctor and a bit of help from his local library, he was given a free device for listening to the audio books. He could put in his requests (for magazines as well as books) and the recordings were delivered right to his door. The player he was given could be adjusted for speed, too, so he could listen to books read quickly or more slowly.

    I really encourage you to take advantage of this service. It will make a whole host of books and magazines available to you, at little to no charge.

    Here is a link: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)

    Best wishes,


  16. Dear Robin,

    I have just finished Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven, literally devoured the books in a week’s time (and with 2 small children and husband to look after no small feat). Loved them to bits and can’t wait for Book 3.
    If I may add on to the other comments, Fitz lingers in my mind too; he is one of the most deep and developed characters I have ever read (and I have read about many). His pain was my pain and the rawness of his emotions really touched a cord in me. Thank you for creating him. I wish him well.
    Best wishes, a most devoted fan, Angela from the Netherlands.

  17. I have never emailed/blogged to an author. If I feel that I have something to say, I write it and then mail it with a return stamped envelope. Sorry for breaking my streak, however….
    I have read your Robin Hobb novels since the first came out and waited for each. Greatly enjoyed. Your novels and George R.R. Martins Thrones series drew me back into fantasy. Thank you, I missed it.
    Fire and Water! Scary elements. I grew up in So. Cal (now living in Spokane) and had fires around us every summer. Then living in Bellevue, experienced flooding. Most of my stuff could be walked away from but it is those treasures that become damaged by water or fire (fire hoses can do as much damage saving the house as the fire does to personal possessions) that break the heart, so I am glad to read that the FD put out with minimal water. And, most eager to begin your latest series (I ran across this page getting ready to order the books online), so happy your work hasn’t been damaged/lost. Best wishes, Mike

  18. Quick follow up. I have been IT/Computer Support for over 18 years and cannot imagine using an e-reader device. I have already lost license to music on i tunes when an email disappeared, and books with their pages are just plain my friends 🙂

  19. Hi Robin,

    You are a wonderfully gifted writer who is able to create these immense and complicated worlds, but at the same time capture human nature’s need to belong and find happiness in this life.

    I have always read many authors from the fantasy genre but ever since I have been reading your novels I can’t read any other writer! You are just that good.

    I really admire the depth and complexity of your characters and hope to one day be more like the Vestrit women Althea and her mother.

    Your novels have been a real gift for me and have enriched my life.

    I can’t wait for the next Rain Wilds Chronicles. Don’t ever stop writing so I don’t have to stop reading!

    A big fan,


  20. Say, what the heck. You are famous – you could have auctioned that sucker off. Or, better yet, if you have acreage that is remote you can take it and all the things you can’t part with (due to guilt) there and do something crazy like range practice. Some times when I feel these guilt things I say to myself, with twinge of ‘let’s get it over’ if God were in my place this would be handled perfectly!

  21. Tara, thanks so much for the encouraging comments! I’m really enjoying writing about the Rain Wilds again. Thanks for the support.


  22. Mike, I was really lucky and I know it! I like to patronize local artists whenever I can, so most of the art on my walls are originals. I would have been heartbroken to lose them, as they are literally irreplaceable.

    We were just so lucky. And now we have learned a hard lesson and will be triply careful. And we are going to do fire extinguisher practice with the whole family. Outside! Of course.


  23. Dear Angela,
    Thanks so much for your comments. I miss Fitz too and he has been on my mind a great deal lately as I work in the Rain Wilds.

    I’m very much enjoying writing these books so it’s wonderful to know readers are enjoying them too.