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Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is city editor of the Napa Valley Register.

Cheryl recently began reviewing options for wall-to-wall carpeting for our living room makeover.

This wasn’t going to be easy. The right choice needed to be in sync with three walls painted Classic Gray which to my eye wasn’t gray at all, a wall of ruddy redwood and a motley bunch of layered stones around the fireplace.

Also, the carpet had to have good-looking nap and evoke snuggly feelings in winter.

Cheryl paraded dozens of samples in front of me. Some toned down the redwood, others heated it up. Many samples were so like one another that my powers of discrimination failed me.

Only if cornered would I render an opinion. That’s my favorite, I would half-blindly say.

Which settled nothing. The next day Cheryl would throw down six more samples for me to judge. And so it went.

Overwhelmed by a never-ending game of this-versus-that, I preferred to retreat to one of the simpler tasks: Painting the baseboard.

Not everyone can pick a carpet. Anyone can paint a baseboard.

To do it right, I’d have to pry up the tacked-down edges of the grungy 40-year-old nylon carpet that was getting the heave. Which is why when a salesman said he could rip out the old carpet and padding and haul it off for $300, I said, What a deal!

Cheryl disagreed. Let’s do it ourselves and save the $300, she said.

I considered this an awful idea. There was the yuck factor, but even worse, if we had to feed the shreddings into our small-capacity garbage toter, we’d have a remnant heap outside our garage all summer.

My attitude changed as I began to paint the baseboard and discovered that the carpet edge came up incredibly easy. Indeed, an entire room’s worth of rug could be yanked out in a jif.

I went on a ripping frenzy. By afternoon’s end, a smelly, unsavory heap of rust-colored nylon and disintegrating rubber padding was piled up by the garage.

Now what?

Going online, I discovered the recycling center near the airport would take it for a measly $18. And no need to contact “U call, I haul.” We’d stuff Cheryl’s Prius instead.

Cheryl hated this idea. The dirtiness, the smell. Let’s stuff your car, she said.

Yours is bigger, I said. I’ll put down the rear seats. I’ll line the interior with tarps. I’ll even vacuum afterward.

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I felt happy to not only be recycling our throwaways, but saving $282. All that was required was a little drive south of town.

The recycling center is a place like no other. You are greeted by mountains of compost-in-the-making, a hill of broken-up concrete, stacks and stacks of baled cardboard and metals, while giant machinery roars everywhere.

It feels post-apocalyptic, as if our advanced, consumer-based society had just melted down and here are the scrappings.

Cheryl, who was driving, pulled onto the scale for a weighing. An unseen voice behind a mirrored window gave murky instructions to drive “around the building.”

What’d he say? she asked.

What followed was either a highly exciting adventure (me) or a stenchy drive through hell (she).

Amid roaring dozers and trucks, we crept along until we thought we’d gone too far, so I got out and waved down an equipment operator who said we hadn’t gone far enough.

I continued on on foot, pointing out shattered glass, puddles of foul liquid and random junk for Cheryl to avoid with her car. All around me, diesel equipment was zigging and zagging.

Only after looping the recycling center did we find the carpet dump, and dump I did.

Eager to flee this place, Cheryl retraced her path through the debris zone, windows up, to avoid breathing more of the pungent air.

On the way home I was elated. Carpet gone!

She was bummed. The whole thing had been so unpleasant.

That night we noticed a bad odor in the garage. We concluded that a rodent must have died.

The next day Cheryl did some more exploring. This was no dead animal, she said. The stench came from her car. Specifically, the tires and undercarriage.

Recycling center splash!

The smell only lasted a day or two. The $282 savings is forever.

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Kevin can be reached at 707-256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, 1615 Soscol Ave., Napa, 94559, or kcourtney@napanews.com.

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City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.