Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Iron Run and Bonus Run

Recently we went on (yet) another iron run; this time with some stuff pulled from the attic of the garage, which we've barely gotten to otherwise, probably because though it's quite full (it really does have goat paths) it's contained and hidden and sort of isn't bothering anyone, unlike the stuff in the yard, which is a definite demoralizing eyesore. And part of what is in there is the old cottage bedroom set that I moved in there when I converted one of the attic bedrooms into my studio room; but that's fine—that's what attics are for, after all. But behind that is of course plenty of hoard.

The weird thing about my father's hoarding is that oftentimes when we peel away the layers we'll find big empty spaces. That sounds kind of contrary to what usually goes on with hoarding, where every cubic inch is filled with stuff. But I think in my father's case, what he'd do is pile something big and flat against things, maybe 'temporarily', then pile more stuff up against that, leaving empty spaces behind the big flat thing, since it has to lean a bit. He did this especially in the upstairs garage, which has some vertical joists; also there isn't really a floor in the eaves, since he never got around to that. So only a few things got put up in eaves proper, since they were difficult to get to; everything else was put in the middle and the eaves are this (mostly) big empty space. It is odd, I know, that a hoarder wouldn't just fill it all up; but hoarders aren't exactly organized, or logical.

So Tara was up in there and pulled some stuff out, including some random pipes that were so long we weren't sure how they got in there in the first place (they went out through the window, at any rate) and this old box spring, which unlike modern box springs which are all box and no springs was all springs and no box. You can see it in the trailer, here:


I believe Tara cut the thing in half with her trusty Sawzall. I guess it didn't fit in the trailer otherwise. That, or she needed to work some anger out, who knows.

Speaking of the garage attic, one day not too long ago I noticed that Smudge the feral mommy-cat hadn't showed up at the chow bowl for a couple of days. That wouldn't be that unusual for say Spot, who has been known to wander off for months at a time, but Smudge (who is the mother of Danny, Ratty, and Momo) is the most gregarious of the three, such that I have actually been able to pet her while she's eating (she also purrs like a freight train, which quality she has passed down to her three sons). So I was a little worried.

After a couple of days of not seeing her I was definitely getting a bit anxious, so I walked around the yard calling her—our street, though rural, also has fairly heavy traffic, as it's the only road accessing an island and so every car that goes up the street also comes down the street eventually, and I've buried plenty of stray cats who've been hit. Also we have coyotes. But poking around I saw no sign of her.

Then I thought of the garage. Sometimes when Tara comes by she'll open the door and leave it open; also my mother goes in there once in a while. And Smudge is, like I said, gregarious and unafraid (for a feral cat). She is also, of course, a cat, and we've all heard about their curiosity.

So I poked my head in the garage and called her. Not that they come when called, being feral, but if she was in there I wanted her to know I was there. And not that I was expecting her to come to me, period; in fact I was pretty sure if I was standing in the door she'd go hide. But I stood there and listened, anyway.

And there it was, a little meow, coming from what sounded like right above me. So I went upstairs.

Just in time to see a fluffy tail dart across the goat path and hide in a pile of furniture. Okay.

So I went to get some food to try to lure her out; but first I figured I'd feed her mother and sister, who were right there in the breezeway. And as I noisily poured the chow into their dish down the stairs came Smudge, who meowed delightedly at her family, then dove face first into the chow. I guess she was pretty hungry.

Anyway, mystery solved, with a nice happy ending. Silly cat.

So, the other half of this recent iron run was mostly a tangle of wires from somewhere in the shop, I think, though who knows; it could have come from the garage attic, as there were car parts there too. It was a decent pile though, see:


So all it all it was our usual iron run, the fifty-eighth of its kind, which, yikes. Except now we (well, I) run into a problem—somewhere along the line the receipts got lost. They usually end up in the glove compartment of the bus for the trip home, and then I grab them so that I can update the total here; but they've gone missing. And given how many of these things we've done, and how they honestly are all sort of blurring together, I don't really have a clear idea what I did with it. I could have put it in my pocket, but if I did I never took it out and checking my pockets I haven't found it (not even in a crumpled-up wad that's been through the wash). So I don't know. It was a pretty average run on the smallish side, so I'm going to guess and call it five hundred pounds of iron.

However: in looking for the recent receipts on a whim I looked in Larry the Volvo Station Waggon's glove compartment, just in case well I don't know in case what as I can't see I would have been in that car immediately following an iron run, but hey I looked. And I did find some receipts--from 2009. That's before the blog was started, but what went that day five years ago certainly counts towards the total, so I'll add it in here too. I also know that I haven't added it in the past as all those receipts are in here in the desk drawer. So, waaaaaay back on the sixth of July, 2009, we got rid of 980 pounds of iron, and a decent amount of precious stuff, too, including (if I'm reading the thing correctly) 126 pounds of sheet aluminum. Don't ask me exactly what that was, because there is no way I will remember. There were also apparently more than 200 pounds of electric motors that went that day, so that's good. Maybe someday when this is all cleaned up I'll add up just how much of each 'precious' metal went. I know we've gotten rid of plenty of other electric motors, for example. Did we once have a quarter of a ton of the things?

So then, adding all of that up, we are at our (accounted for) fifty-ninth trip to the scrapyard, and we've gotten rid of 45,480 pounds, or 22.74 tons of scrap iron.

Yep. And there's still more.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Progress

And another post, because looking through old posts trying to find a good 'before' I could use I came across that old satellite photo of the yard, and thought it would be fun to see if there was a more recent one.

Here's the old one, taken in I think May 2010, if I'm remembering correctly; it was just before we started the blog, I know.


And here's what Google Maps is currently showing for this address:


The picture quality is definitely not as nice as the older picture (and those craggy tree-shadows are a bit confusing); still, you can get a decent idea. I would guess it was taken about the first week of May, going by the fact that the willow tree has leafed out and when I checked the neighbor's yard his flowering pears were in bloom. I'd almost say it was taken a couple days ago, except that the arbor vitaes are still there. It is hard to make out what's over there by the Shop, but it's probably the other Bugs before they were moved. So I'd guess this picture is almost exactly a year old. You can see that except for that jumble of something over by the shop it looks pretty much like a completely normal yard, devoid of hoarded cars and other junk.

And that is very, very wonderful.

Shop Progress

Remember that goal we made, the one where we wanted to get it all cleaned up over by the shop by the end of 2013? Well, it didn't exactly happen by that deadline; however, we are still plugging away at it.

A couple of weeks ago now (yes, I'm still catching up; this should be the last of it, though I've been itching to write a post just about Ratty, because Ratty has fans) Tara decided we should attack that area, or part of that area anyway. So we went after the spot where not too long ago there had been several old Volkswagens in a little fenced-off space. I guess you could say that it was the last fragment of my father's car hoard, in that area anyway. There are still other cars, but they've mostly been moved around or rearranged, even if they haven't left the property yet. Also there are a few indoors, in, say, the downstairs garage. But this bit here had some kind of weight to it in my mind; maybe just because it was old Volkswagens, or because it was visible, or because it represents the last of the outdoor junkyard car-hoard.

The two Bugs that had been there earlier, true, had not actually left the property, instead being squirreled away in the (upstairs) garage while Tara considers if they're worth restoring. Hint: they're not, though Tara may hold out some hope. She did take a good long look at them the other day, and while I'm not exactly sure what she concluded, there was a lot of head-shaking involved.

But anyway. Things (by which I mean junk cars) have been moving out of that area for a while now; we didn't really get a proper 'before' when the cars were moved into the garage, so this one from almost two years ago now will have to do:


So since that picture was taken, the light blue and dark red Bugs have been moved into the garage, and the orangey-red Bug has been cut into pieces. The only thing left of that is the chassis, which Tara for some reason thinks has decent floor pans or something; well, we'll skip my opinion of that because I'm sure you can all guess. Also since that picture was taken, that crappy picket fence has gone, and the arbor vitaes which were only planted there as a screen to hide the junk behind them have been cut down. The stumps will need to be dug out at some point, of course. So when we started the other day this is what was still there:


The tarp-covered thing is what's left of the chassis; the rest are some non-metal bits and bobs that are notoriously tricky to get rid of in this town as they aren't recyclable materials and so have to be thrown away in town bags, which means cutting things up into little pieces which is frankly a needless pain in the ass; but what you can't see is that that area has not been raked.

You'd think that wouldn't be a big deal, would you? Ah yes, but you have to understand--my father didn't just save old cars. He saved all kinds of crap. And he didn't keep things separate. He piled all the stuff together in a jumble.

And sure enough, when we started raking up the old leaves and the layers of dirt created by years and years of those old decayed leaves there was metal a-plenty, several bins full; in one place I think he must have had (yet another) gallon can of large bolts because I just kept finding them. But we persisted (despite the occasional poison ivy root) and I think we got it all. Here's the after, though it's a little deceptive because we just moved the chassis out of the way and didn't actually remove it from the property:


Here's another before, from a different angle; you can see the arbor vitaes have been cut:


And another after, from a slightly wider view:


So that's very nice, and probably the first time that patch of ground has seen daylight in decades.

But there was other progress.

The other day driving home from the supermarket I saw a cardboard sign nailed to a telephone pole that said CLEAN FILL WANTED with a telephone number. When I got home I called, and though the guy said he was really looking for dirt, he said he'd consider taking away some of that concrete rubble I've been trying to get rid of since forever. And sure enough the next day he swung by and got some.

He was out there for the better part of an hour, chucking bits of concrete into the back of his pickup truck while I did some gardening, but I swear it didn't look like all that much went. Here are some befores and afters of the pile around that poor lilac bush by the shed. Before:


And after; he only got a couple from this side, apparently.


He took a lot more from this side, though the 'after' still doesn't look all that different:


And after:


I do know and appreciate that every bit is progress, but holy crap he took a (large) pickup truck load and it barely looks like any went away at all.

He also spent some time over by that half a cord of concrete blocks over by the shop that nobody wants, but he only grabbed a couple bricks it looked like:


See? Doesn't look like much went there either.


The guy had said he'd take the blocks, too, not just the rubble, and said he'd be back sometime later; but a few days went by and I didn't see him or hear from him. I figured he wasn't really all that interested after all.

But then Tara noticed this:


I don't know when he came back. I'd been keeping sort of half an eye out for the guy but must have missed him. But there they were, or rather, there they weren't, and wow am I glad to be rid of those damned things. And even if that guy--bless him--doesn't end up coming back for the rest, I now understand there are people who'll happily take them away for me.

So, little by little it is coming along.

Also, with all that stuff we (literally) dug up, it'll be time for a metal run soon, probably later this week.

Yes, there is still more. But of course!

Another Town and One More Show

It was that time of year again and so off we went to that local Volkswagen show, the one at the race track a few towns over. It's mostly for the newer Volkswagens, but it's so close that it's kind of silly not to go. So once again we got up unnaturally early and drove the Bus over there. No, I will never understand (or really ever quite trust) morning people. It's just not right.

The weather was its usual extreme: in past years it's either been unseasonably hot and bright, or unseasonably frigid and windy. It went with frigid this year, which was really very kind of it; the swap meet part (where we were) is held at the top edge of the racetrack (the track being set into a bit of a hill, like the amphitheater at Pompeii, come to think of it) and the wind just loves to come screaming across it at top speed. But we managed to set up in such a way that the Bus was blocking most of it. Well, in theory, anyway. I suppose it did, kind of; but given the ground clearance on it really it just funneled all the wind underneath it, which meant that it was all focused on our lower legs and feet. And when your feet are cold, the rest of you probably is too, even if you're wearing your winter coat and a scarf, which of course I was, because I'm no fool. I know that April in New England is really still a winter month, daffodils or no.

So we pretty much froze, which was unpleasant but not unexpected; though at least it didn't rain.

But bizarrely enough, freezing weather or no (and there were an awful lot of frankly insane people in of all things, flip-flops) the place was packed. When we looked down at the track, where the show cars were parked, it was completely full, which it certainly had not been the past couple of years. It was even more remarkable because this year it was (unavoidably) scheduled for the same day as another big VW thing in Connecticut, which you would have thought would draw off the crowds.

There were also a lot more old Volkswagens there down in the showfield, and so a lot more old Volkswagen enthusiasts walking around, which was good for us as they of course do need parts. Which meant we were pretty busy. Here's the spread. It's the usual.


We (well, Tara) also talked to quite a few guys looking for other parts; in fact one of them came by the house the next day and bought some more stuff, which is all right in my book. There were also a few guys who stopped by and asked if this was Walter's stuff, which of course it was; two of them were guys who had known my father from way back. I knew who they were, or at least their names; it had probably been thirty years since I'd seen them and would not have recognized them. They asked about my father, naturally, and were not surprised to find he'd died last year. There were other people there who'd known him too, or had bought parts (or cars) from him at one point, or who used to come over every week and learn about Volkswagens from him. It was very strange, the way they talked about it; like he was this Volkswagen guru dispensing precious wisdom, while they sat rapt at his knee as a disciple. It struck me as really very odd. Maybe because it sounded so fatherly. Which is not something I, personally, ever experienced him to be, this person who was my father.

All in all I'd call it a success, though we didn't make as much as we usually do at the other, more specifically old Volkswagen-themed meets; still, it's worth it, and gave me enough pocket change to get some perennials on the way home. Which I planted in the gardens I have dug in this yard that used to be covered with junk cars. I'll call that a victory, one of a distinctly alchemical nature. It is also, I suppose, a kind of revenge. I will take it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How Many More Times

And I am still catching up.

A couple weeks ago now, on the last day of winter, we did (yet) another iron run; and even though it wasn't all that long ago I swear maybe my brain has just used up all the available space for these things because I don't really remember what went down now. There were no Bus-related disasters, at least, which is good, and which you'd think might make it memorable as it's just so unusual; basically though we just got there and unloaded the stuff and were good to go.

This one mainly consisted of a hunk of old car, an old lawnmower that Tara had had for a while but which was originally one of our father's (I guess she gave up trying to fix the thing) and these two old fireplace-pipe-thingies from the 70s, probably dating back to the oil crisis, which would have affected the home heating oil situation (not that my father particularly believed in heating the home). They were supposed to be some kind of passive way to heat the room better with a fireplace; the thing sat in the fireplace and the fire was built inside it. In theory, cool air went in the bottom, was heated, and then came out the top, creating some kind of air current because heat rises. Yeah. In theory. Tara had taken one to try in her own fireplace, and even went so far as to hook up a fan to the thing at the bottom; but no, in practice they are pretty much useless. Oh the 70s. Can't say I miss 'em.

Here's a picture of the load from two views; you can see the two tubing-fireplace-thingies. In addition to being useless, they were damned ugly. Which does accord with the general ambiance of the seventies,* so there's that.



We also managed to scare up a few more generators, as shown here:


Which sounds kind of whoop-de-do, I know, but they fetch a decently high price given their size. I guess they're mostly copper inside.

So then, once again this load was on the light-but-bulky side and so only came to 660 pounds; but that brings our totals now up to 44,000 pounds or an even 22 tons of iron removed since whenever we started keeping track like six years ago now. And remember, there was quite a bit more before that; we used to just haul stuff to the dump and I distinctly remember cleaning up a huge pile of I-beams and pipes at one point. It was our 57th trip to the scrapyard, and just yesterday we were out there digging up more as we cleaned out a spot by the shop. But that's yet another post to catch up on, so you'll have to wait for that.

*With the exception of Jimmy Page, of course, who was damned pretty at the time.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Tetanus Burger 2013 Year-In-Review

So I guess it's also (long past) time for the 2013 Tetanus Burger Year-in-Review. We didn't get as much done this year as we have in years past; but then again the yard is actually beginning to look decently clean these days, so it feels rather less urgent. Also, there have been other life-type things happening, and that is after all where one's focus ought to properly be, rather than on cleaning up someone else's goddamned mess.

So here's the usual montage of junk run photos; note again that the 'precious' inside-the-Bus shots weren't separate trips.


There is still, of course, plenty more inside various outbuildings (especially the Shop), which we still have to get to, so we'll be here a while yet. But I think this year was the year it actually started looking mostly 'normal' out in the yard. Some of the buildings do need a bit of work (my father wasn't big on finishing things, you know), so there will be that too.

Only one car left the property this year, that Saab I just wrote about. Here's the picture to refresh your memory:


Altogether it came to a little more than a ton and a half of junk iron scrapped (1.62 tons or 3240 pounds), which isn't bad.

Plenty of other things happened too, of course, mainly being that my father, the man who hoarded up the place, died at age 90. I still haven't shed a single tear, or even felt sad, and I don't expect to. He was really not a very good person, though oddly enough if you were (say) one of the Townies sitting down next to him at the coffee shop you'd probably have thought him a perfectly nice person. And in an odd way, he sort of was: I'd even almost call him 'mild' or 'gentle' in some ways. It's hard to explain. I think it comes down to intent on his part. He had no idea that what he was doing was anything other than the right and normal thing to do, and he had absolutely zero insight into his own mind. I really mean that. Absolutely none. It was just what he did, or what he was. The most I think someone who was acquainted with him might think was that he was a bit odd and was one of those old men who could talk your ear off, but who was otherwise harmless.

Well, that's the people who didn't know him, of course. Underneath the first impressions was a man who pretty much never matured past early childhood. I don't mean that facetiously, either; I mean that his view of the world and the things in it, and how he related (or didn't relate) to them was stuck at the understanding of a toddler. He could not understand that other people were not him. He simply was not capable of that kind of insight. Nor was he capable of understanding that the way he believed the world worked was not actually how it did. And that meant that in practice he was a stubborn, miserly (and miserable) bastard who didn't see his family as properly human and who considered his whims more important than the needs of his children. He didn't care that there was no hot water, so when we complained we were just whining. He wasn't cold when the house was set at 55˚ in winter, so that was that. He was the only one who had any rights; when we complained we were trying to take away those rights. Or maybe even that's giving him too much credit. I think to him we really were just these sort of noises in the background. We weren't real. I don't know if anything was real to him. If your view of the world is literally delusional then how do you define reality?

Anyway, I'll not mourn him. Though that's not out of spite (not that I wouldn't be entitled to that). It's just that there was nothing there to mourn.

Actually, I was far more broken up over the deaths of my two older cats. No, not any of the ones who were kittens and featured here on the blog a couple years ago; these were the two who didn't get talked about much here. The first one who died, Sir Isaac Mewton, had a tumor, one he was diagnosed with a couple days after my father's death. I never found out exactly what it was (the local ultrasound guy was on vacation at the time) but both vets I talked to, when talking about the possibilities, just shook their heads sadly, and told me even surgery probably wasn't going to help. So I opted to just let him go without interfering. He got all the treats, and he went outside every day (something he'd been obsessed with for years), and I still don't know if I made the right decision. He died at the end of August, at twelve and a half years old. He was a good, good kitty, Isaac was. Let's see if I can find a picture:


That picture was taken during a bout of pancreatitis a few years back; you can see the shavey spot on his flank where they did the ultrasound that time.

Then my Maude died; she was fifteen but still getting around fine, though she was a little creaky and maybe a bit deaf. One night I realized I hadn't seen her all day, which is not that unusual (she'll hole up on a bed and sleep all day), and so I went looking for her. By the time I was starting to wonder if I should worry I found her, stone cold dead, under the futon upstairs. I had no warning at all; I assume it was something like a heart attack in her sleep. Here's a picture of her, my Maude:


Anyway. I suppose all that (and honestly, I am still in mourning over them) is one reason the cleaning had a bit of a lull. And yes, I'm going to totally change the subject to happier things, now.

So. I figured given all the hullabaloo about the kittens a couple years back, you reader-sorts might like to know how those guys are doing. The younger ones are all fine and happy and still tearing around the house like frisky kittens. I snapped this picture the other night of almost all of them:


In the foreground is the ever-handsome Ratty, of course; behind him on the blanket is Aleister Meowley, and then laid out in a row on the floor front to back are Rory, Maurice and Danny Lyon. There is one more cat here, little Mademoiselle Z├ęphirine Chattonne-Gris, though Tara says she doesn't believe she actually exists. She's shy, Zeffie, and maybe not as well socialized as the others, though she will come out for me and purr and such. But she does exist, and here's the proof:


She's Rory's littermate, and Aleister's little sister. Like I said, they are all doing quite well, and I am continually surprised and honored by how good-natured they are (even shy Zeffie). They've got some good genes, this family, and they purr loudly and nearly constantly.

The mommy-cats, Spot, Splotch, and Smudge are still hanging around and begging at the door; I give them a cup of chow a day in exchange for depriving them of their uteri. That was the deal I made, and it's a good one; it keeps them around back and hopefully out of the road.

There is another cat who hangs out, a tom I named Mr. Bibb for his little white front; funny thing is once the mommy-cats (whom I call The Grrls) got fixed, the other toms all drifted away, the lure of sex being apparently stronger than the lure of food, which honestly I would not have thought. Mr. Bibb himself drifted away for a while, but then suddenly reappeared not that long ago; but when he came back he was a bit scuffed up and had lost all but four inches of his tail. I can still see the bit of bone sticking out the end. I don't know what happened, though I'd guess a coyote. So he's been hanging out lately, and I have of course renamed him Bob, because I couldn't help it.

I wonder, though. I've seen him back up to things and make the motion to spray; but I never smell anything, and trust me, tom-cat spray is a scent you can't miss. I could have sworn looking at him he was entire, as they say, but I don't know. And when I was petting him the other day I noticed that the tip of his left ear looked a bit flattened, as if it had been cut off; it was a bit rough too, so I couldn't say for sure he didn't just lose it in a fight. But maybe someone else in the neighborhood has been trapping and neutering the local strays.

Anyway, though. The cats are good, and the yard is cleaner.

A Christmas Miracle

Back in December we were also graced with a visit from old friend Rusty Jones; it had been a while since we'd seen him and frankly I was beginning to wonder, like Virginia, if he did indeed exist; but my doubts were baseless, and he proved it by taking another car away. Good old Rusty.

This one though was one of Tara's; it was an old Saab which had been sitting in the driveway for some time before being moved into the garage. Now, while that's not really fooling anyone (least of all me), it did neaten things up a bit outside. In fact, for the first time in never ever there was only one car in the driveway, and when I was out in Larry the Volvo waggon, there were then no cars there. It isn't even really a very big driveway, but my father used to fit nine cars in there back in the day, and he might even have got a couple more cross-ways out by the street (and that doesn't count the cars parked on the side of the road). It's rather strange to think that nowadays people can tell if someone's home or not, just like they can with everyone else.

This Saab had had the transmission blow years ago; I hear they are prone to that, oldish Saabs. And I'm not sure how much I should say about how she got it to her house, but let's just say Triple-A doesn't need to know when exactly that transmission blew. She didn't get any pictures of the tow (I suppose that would have been incriminating evidence) but these two should suffice as proof.

First, there it is in my garage:


And then there it is in her garage:


So that's all right then.

Tara also back in December shuffled some other cars around, such that the last two old (complete-ish) Bugs got put in the garage, ostensibly because she wanted to take them home to restore; I of course have my doubts but then I'm a cynical old curmudgeon who hates the damned things. Which, again, didn't do anything for the total number of cars here but did make the yard look better.

Here's the dark red Bug, partway towards the garage:


I don't remember now why it got hung up in that spot for a bit, maybe the ground was too squishy to move it properly or something, but some time later, Christmas afternoon in fact, Tara moved it the rest of the way to the garage by towing it with the Bus. Except there was a problem.

I wasn't there, so I didn't see it. (Nor did I hear it). But in the process of dragging it up the hill by the studio into the driveway she parked the Bus on the hill, and then put it in gear, which is what you do when you don't want a standard transmission car to roll. You know, since the 'emergency brake', if it even exists in an old Volkswagen, is pretty much completely useless.

It's not even that big a hill, it really isn't. We're not talking Filbert Street here, just a bit of an incline. But instead of keeping the Bus stationary like it's supposed to, the thing up and rolled right down the hill. Yes, it had to turn the transmission to do it. I guess that wasn't a big deal, though I'd never heard of such a thing. And then, of course, it crashed right into the corner of the studio.

The studio was just fine; it takes more than some wandering Bus to damage that old overbuilt thing. But the Bus, well:


Tara was rather sheepishly upset by it, though honestly I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference. Perhaps the irony is that it was the one spot on it that did not already have a dent (or hole) in it. At any rate luckily the windshield was undamaged. That's something, I guess.

So with the Saab gone we are now at ten cars left, most of which are inside at this point. Just one more and we'll be into the single digits, which is an idea that has been frankly inconceivable for most of my life. I should very much like to see it; but even better will be the day when there is only one car here, the car that we are actually using.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

Well, okay, we've got a bit of catching-up to do. Blame the long New England winter (which I won't make the mistake of declaring over just yet) for inspiring a case of the mehs, or blame Life and the usual attendant Stuff, or one might, if one is really quite astute, perhaps blame ordinary laziness. I won't say which one, but I'll bet you can guess.

Now it's not like we haven't done stuff; we just haven't blogged about it. Fair enough, it does all sort of blur together, all these iron runs, and we may have lost a bit of the thread here. Also Tara closed on her own house recently, so she's been occupied with taking some (hopefully non-structural) attic walls down and painting the thing purple (I am, as you might guess, incredibly jealous of the color).

So: last we knew, our heroines had plans to get that area over by the shop cleared by the end of the year. Well, that didn't happen. Okay. We can come back to that.

We did, however, get another iron run in in early December. It really was the usual stuff, a trailerload of junk with some precious metals gathered up inside the Bus. I don't honestly remember the day, now, but that's probably because it was blessedly uneventful. For once.

So here is the usual trailer shot, with some old VW doors. And yes, there are still more doors kicking around, especially in the shed:


And the usual shot of the 'precious' load in the Bus, this time with lots of wires. I don't really know where it all came from, exactly. Sometimes I wonder where any of this stuff comes from. Okay, the obvious answer is my father but really I swear the way the stuff apparently multiplies it's enough to make me wonder if the ancients weren't on to something with their ideas about spontaneous generation:


So that was that day's worth of junk taken away. Given that the stuff in the trailer was mostly light but bulky doors and such, it only came to 420 pounds that day according to the receipt, though there were 39 pounds of insulated copper wires, so that was pretty good.

Which brings our totals up to 45,340 pounds, or 21.67 tons of iron removed from the property (that we have receipts for) and our 56th trip to the scrapyard. And I know I usually say There's more of course but in this case, yeah, there's another scrap run from a couple weeks ago, which I'll get to in another post, so that total I just gave is already obsolete. But it'll do for now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Braking Bad

So... like... oh more than a month ago now, my sister and I once again got up stupidly early (honestly, what is it with these non-vampires? Gah, morning people) and went off to a show.

It was the same show we went to last year at this time, and in fact was only the second annual swap meet by this air-cooled Volkswagen group.

You may remember that last year's trip to this show was, how shall we say, fraught with difficulties.

Alas, last year's trip seemed to have set some kind of energetic or auric precedent; I mean, if cars have auras and not just magnetic fields. Last year the Bus was running so badly by the end of the trip there that we weren't sure we would get there at all. It came down to adjusting something, the valves maybe, I don't remember. Knowledge of cars, especially old Volkswagens, pretty much gets instantly rejected by my unconscious mind. It was a valuable survival strategy at one point, and I'll not complain now. It leaves room for all those song lyrics it is (apparently) vitally important to remember.

The drive this year started off innocently enough. We mostly took secondary routes, of course, given that the Bus wouldn't go sixty if you dropped it off a cliff; and we left the trailer behind for good measure. We even doubled back to take this picture, after passing these two stores in horror. You know, if I were a wild bird (I'm not) those two next to each other would make me plenty nervous:


Kind of like how I've noticed over the years that funeral homes are invariably within a block or two of hot dog stands. Yeah, that's right. Keep an eye out, and you'll see it too. Sure, it's just coincidence. Sure. In the next town over they are even, unbelievably, brazenly, directly across the street from each other. One is called 'Rogers Funeral Home' and the other is 'Roger's Coney Island Hot Dogs.' And sure, if you asked I'm sure the funeral home would say it's named for the last name of the family who runs it while the hot dog people would say it's named after that great guy Roger Whatshisface who founded the joint but really, we are not that stupid.

Anyway. Horrifying conspiracies aside, we got all the way up into the next state just fine (albeit slowly), but as we were puttering along talking about how the town we were going through reminded us (well, me) of a certain college town in the western part of our state we came to a stoplight.

And the Bus didn't, really, quite stop.

I'll say one thing. I occasionally have nightmares about driving a car with very bad or even no brakes. I assume it is a metaphor for something being out of my control. Those dreams are always absolutely horrible. But faced with the reality of it it was not nearly so horrible. We (well Tara) just kind of did the best she could.

Luckily it was one of those we have the straightaway and they have the shopping plaza intersections (or at least I think it was; my mind is kind of fuzzy now) so there was little to no traffic coming at us (also it was still early) and Tara managed to roll the Bus into a pet store parking lot.

There was remarkably little swearing as I remember, though I may have blocked that out. Tara got out of the car and poked around a bit; she also had me stomp on the brake for her.

The diagnosis was not good. It was pretty much leaking brake fluid all over the parking lot.

Now Tara did explain this to me, but given that a) I did not inherit the mechanic's gene, and b) again, my unconscious immediately rejects car-type things, I don't remember exactly what bit of what was wrong. Something had broken off or come disconnected, and the word 'nipple' might have been in there, but I'm kind of fuzzy on it now. At any rate, though, it was not something that she could fix, really. It needed a whole new part, which she did not have with her.

Actually now that I think about it she was rather irate. The part that broke was one she had bought new and replaced fairly recently. Which is annoying, I'll grant her.

Well then. It was still fairly early on a Sunday morning, but we had passed an auto parts store a few miles back. So off we went back the way we'd come with a lot of downshifting and prayer, because there wasn't much other choice. It was way too far for Triple-A to tow it home, and even if they just took it to a garage who knows how to fix old Volkswagens these days?

It was hairy, no doubt about that. But it was also uphill, mostly, and being early on a Sunday the traffic was fairly light; and so we made it to the parking lot of the AutoZone or whatever it was without mishap. Once inside Tara explained the situation, but they couldn't really help.

Now. Just because they couldn't help didn't mean the guy there didn't know someone who could; and he told us to go across the street to the competitor's and talk to a guy named Jesse. He'd know, he said.

So we crossed the street (it was literally right across the street) and found our Jesse at I think Advanced Auto Parts but I could be getting the names switched. Jesse, it turned out, knew a thing or two about old VWs. He had, in fact, once upon a time had the exact same problem. He knew what sizes things were, and before we knew it he was holding two tiny little parts up in front of us. One was an adapter with a thread that fit into the end of the brake line perfectly, and the other was a plug that fit into that. It couldn't fix the bad brake, but it could at least prevent the thing from pumping all the brake fluid overboard.

Which reminds me: I need to send Jesse a fruit basket.

So back we went across the street and Tara both plugged up the brake line and topped off the brake fluid. Which meant we were only operating on three quarters of the brakes we should have had but it was still enough to get us where we needed to go.

Which was, in case you forgot, another old Volkswagen show. Here are some pictures Tara got once we got there, though she didn't get any of the spread. It was the usual. I imagine you can imagine it, by now.



All else aside, it was a lovely day; and I'll say one thing about morning people--given they start so freakishly early they also finish early, which means we got to drive back in the daylight, which was nice. Tara was of course extra cautious about things but we got home in one piece just fine. We even sold a decent amount, but given the past couple drives (it's a bit further than the other shows) we're thinking about skipping it next year. It does seem to be a bit... cursed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

And Another

Last Thursday it was time, again, for an iron run; this time Tara took down these big iron shelf brackets from their spot in the garage, which spot incidentally was covering some windows, because who needs those things. Ah, hoarder logic at its finest. They had been piled up with boards, mostly old junky scraps with nails in them, bits of two by four, that sort of thing. Nothing organized, nothing really useful. I'll bet you're real surprised at that. I sure was.

So with the brackets (which weighed like seventy pounds each) and some assorted other stuff Tara dug out of the usual somewhere, off we went on another iron run. Here's the trailer:


(Picture by Tara.)

There was some stuff in the Bus, too, but Tara didn't get a picture of that. I can't even remember what it was. It all blurs together after a while, honestly.

Can't say there's much really to report, as we made it there and back again without incident, which is always nice and not something I, personally, take for granted given the Bus; but it does add to our totals.

So, last Thursday's iron run makes it the fifty-fifth trip and brings the total up to 44,920 pounds of iron removed since we've been keeping track. That's 22.46 tons, in case you were wondering.

I'm long since past tired of all this.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I'm A Believer

And one more post. Tara is of the opinion that I should space these out and set them to post in some future time; eh wev.   I'm here and posting and you'll figure it out.  You're smart like that.

So today was another iron run with the newly re-wheeled trailer, the main part of it being that oddball 1700cc engine no one wanted. After getting a call from the dude who might have been interested in it to say he wasn't, Tara decided it had to get junked. So she fished around and pulled out some more parts from I think the shop and we were good to go. Here's the usual trailer picture. They all sort of blur together after a while, you know?


It was unusually hot today at the junkyard, though luckily it smelled all right; we pulled up as usual to the giant ever-changing pile of junk in the back, though there was a lot of heavy equipment zipping around and you never can be sure they are paying that much attention. But nobody hit us and we pulled in by the pile just as the heavy-duty forklift was lifting a pickup truck by what had been the windows of the cab.  Pretty sure at that point I could feel the Bus shaking in its brake shoes.  That place makes the Bus nervous and I can't say I blame it.

I wasn't so sure about the guy in the magnet but he did see us I think, and we unloaded the stuff, opting to slide the engine out instead of letting the guy with the magnet pick it up, since that sort of thing has had bad consequences in the past (like destroying the trailer hitch). We'd gotten there a bit late so it was a quick in and out and then off we were to the local burger joint, as has somehow become traditional.

So adding today's to our total it was another 700 pounds of iron, not a huge load but pretty good for something put together pretty quick; and that brings us now to 44,180 pounds of iron taken away, or 22.09 tons, and our fifty-fourth trip.

And today Tara, remarking on the stuff she'd pulled out, stuff she hadn't expected to find, actually said she couldn't believe that there was still more.

Believe it.

Show

So then, the show on Sunday.

Though I do go to these shows myself, it's not because I like old cars or anything, which you may have guessed by now. I'll just never understand why people like these antique Volkswagens: they have no heat, don't go over fifty, are cramped and claustrophobic inside, owe a good deal of their concept to, well, Hitler, and by now having been in New England for some years, are pretty much all falling apart.

I will also never understand the mentality of people who plan things for nine am. On a Sunday, when all decent people are sleeping in for gawd's sake.

But that was the time it started, and my fellow vampire sister and me managed to get there for the opening, even though that meant I got up at seven, which I'm really not used to. Well, okay, yeah, technically I did 'get up', in that I had been lying in bed; but seeing as how I got zero sleep, and I mean literally none at all, I can't say I 'woke up.' I was, personally, pretty much operating on fumes the entire day, and Tara was not doing much better from what she said.

Anyway though it was the show we've been going to for some years now for old air-cooled Volkswagens. This year the weather was quite nice, if a little on the crisp side. It's usually a good show, with plenty of people, but for some reason this year the place was packed. Show cars had to park in the field across the little street, and I've never seen that happen.

We brought the trailer, full of mostly light stuff, except for this one engine, this oddball 1700cc thing from I don't remember what, maybe one of those abominations known as a 411.  But last Tara knew it had run, and she wanted to see if anyone would be interested.

The Bus itself had of course been packed full of the usual milk crates and plastic bins of parts, which you can see all unloaded here:


And here's the sea of carburetors which some customer has helpfully spread out; it rather reminds me, in a boiled down 'artsy' symbolic form, of old pictures of the yard. Pretend those carburetors are actually full-sized engines randomly strewn about on the grass and you'll get the idea.


You know there are some people who call themselves artists who are all about old grungy textures, found objects, the loveliness of rust, and seeing the beauty in that which is decaying or discarded, and who consider things like flowers to be simpy and too 'nice' and not hard-hitting or edgy enough and so not really art. Yeah, well: fuck 'em.

So it was the usual thing of people swarming over and throwing money at Tara, as well as the usual thing of it not looking like much stuff went away when all was said and done. She got a bit of a bite on the oddball engine, but no one wanted to take it home with them, so it stayed in the trailer. I don't think this year we even threw away a box, and yet I know we sold plenty of stuff. Why won't it go away?

At the end of the day (like four, which, honestly, is about when my days usually get going) we packed it all up and headed off, stopping for dinner somewhere on I think Route One. Which was fine, and my sandwich had avocado on it, so yum and all; and then we headed home, mostly taking back roads because like I said above the thing doesn't really go over fifty, especially pulling a trailer.

I suppose I should mention something about this trailer. It's kind of a dinky little thing, not very strong or sturdy. It's the kind that you can theoretically fold up in the middle and store in your garage if you want to and I don't think it's rated for a lot of weight. In fact I imagine most people use this particular model of trailer for dropping off piles of leaves or maybe a bit of light brush at the local dump.

So then.  We were just commenting that the town we were driving through was a total pit (though not as bad as Brockton, ho golly no!) when we stopped at a light at the city center to find some guy tapping on Tara's window. We had a flat tire, he said. On the trailer.

If I were prone to migraines (I am not, and I am very grateful for that) I'm pretty sure one would have kicked in just then. You will note that by this time it was Sunday evening, with not much daylight left, just to make everything that much more complicated. We pulled over. Tara glanced at the tire, and with a remarkable lack of pissing and moaning (that came later) decided she was going to walk to the auto parts store we had 'just' passed, to get some Fix-a-Flat.

Of course it was rather further than she thought, since we had been driving, and that goes a bit faster than walking; but I suppose we got some exercise in, right? So we trudged all the way over there and get there, miraculously enough, while it was still open, and Tara buys some Fix-a-Flat.

Except when we get back, Tara looks at the thing properly and notices that the entire valve is missing from the tire, which is of course one of those especially annoying types with no tube. So no, Fix-a-Flat is not going to help that.

Now I have Triple A, but that's not much use when the trailer's the problem. The Bus was of course just fine and could have gotten us home, but Tara didn't want to just leave the trailer in some random place. So she came to the conclusion that her best bet was to try to drive, albeit very slowly.

Which meant we puttered along at about fifteen miles an hour for some miles. It wasn't a highway, no, but it was a main road and busy enough; and we weren't all that close to home just yet. Now I'm not sure I've mentioned this before, but I'd like to point out that the number on the sticker on the windshield has been stuck on 2 for quite some months.  And there's nothing like going stupidly slow to attract the attention of the local law enforcement. For my part though I was worried about something catching fire, because Tara had said the tire had been very hot, too hot to touch, when we first pulled over though I don't know why.

After a time I think even Tara realized this was not going to work; so we pulled over and she pulled out her phone, trying to find a store that might have a replacement tire.

Remember, this is Sunday night. While stores these days are open later than they used to be (which vampire-me does appreciate), still, it was Sunday night, in Massachusetts, a state (well, technically, a commonwealth) that until recently didn't even sell liquor on Sundays.

But she found one, and miraculously it was not too far off. Except when she asked the guy about the specific tire he kind of didn't get it, and said they were twenty inch wheels or something, which makes no sense. But it was our best bet, so we started to limp there anyway.

Which took I swear like a million years. But we got there eventually, and it was still open.

Once inside the employees directed us to the lawnmower tires; which yeah no. Tara was (you can imagine) somewhat annoyed* by this time, and wandered off somewhere else. I was, I'll admit, rather done with the whole thing so didn't immediately follow her. A bit later I went to look for her and couldn't find her; when I did turns out she'd had a minor breakdown in the rug department. Which I'm rather glad I missed, truth be told.

When she had calmed down a bit she finally located an employee who knew what he was talking about who led her to the actual trailer wheels; of course they had one bolt-hole too many, taking five bolts instead of four and so couldn't work at all, which Tara was not happy† about either.

In the end we left the trailer in their parking lot (after asking the manager) and took the Bus to the other large chain hardware-type store (I suppose in England you'd call it the DIY store); they were of course closed by then, it being a Sunday night in Massachusetts. So we went on home.

She had her work cut out for her the next day, and managed to find the correct replacement wheel at a different store entirely even though by then it was a holiday; and the trailer wheel was fixed and we in fact used it today for an iron run, of said engine, which it turns out no one was interested in after all.

That figures.

*You may mail me my Understatement of the Year award to the following address: Box 350, Boston, Mass 02134.  Thank you!

†See note above.

Purging

So. Some of the junk we took last week and today were bits that Tara had originally put aside in the hopes that someone would want to buy them. But she's decided, through experience at various Volkswagen shows, that no one wants those parts, and is getting rid of them.

It's like that. I know, since I have the ability to google the phrase 'tetanus burger', that people have occasionally wondered why we are doing this in such a piecemeal manner, bit by bit, instead of say just renting a dumpster (well, dumpsters, plural) and getting rid of it all at once. To be fair, we have in the past rented a dumpster, but that was before the blog. That got rid of building materials my father had saved, old rotten boards, a bunch of homosote (spell check recognizes that so I guess that's not an entirely archaic word), that sort of thing.

There are a lot of reasons, the main one being that people who aren't familiar with hoards simply cannot conceive of the sheer amount of stuff. It says 78 cars on the side there, and I think that's accurate (it is really actually hard to know for sure), but that's not counting all the other stuff, which was, really, probably the bulk of it. It was so much stuff, actually, that when I try to list what was out there in the yard I sort of can't. My brain just shuts down and goes blank. Piles of lumber, milk crate after milk crate of cedar shingles, iron pipes, car parts, piles and piles of car parts, from doors and hoods to engines and transmissions and I don't even know what else, seriously, it's all too much stuff to remember.

But another is cost; it is more affordable, even with the work involved which of course does count, to do it ourselves and get a bit of money for it than to rent something. Though we have rented other things, too, like the wood chipper we used to get rid of a very large pile of brush (because my father saved that sort of thing, too), which was one of the very first things we did to clean the place up, way back in maybe 2001, as well as the occasional Bobcat to level out piles of dirt (which my father also of course saved, because free dirt homg! No, it makes no sense at all. Trust me, I know.)

Another is time. Though we're both self-employed and so have fairly flexible schedules, still, we can't just up and take a chunk of time and devote it to cleaning things. Also, it's hard, emotionally and mentally, because it brings up all the old patterns, and anyone who's the child of a hoarder will understand that intuitively. The rest of you, well you're a bunch of lucky bastards, now aren't you?

It is also very hard to get out of the mindset that doing things is hard. For me personally (and I can't speak for Tara) it's a bit beyond learned helplessness, which I suppose I should define. Learned helplessness is when a child is taught that effort on their part nets no results; in time, they stop trying, because it's not worth it to bother. With me, though, and I imagine with plenty of other children of hoarders, trying to better things (i.e. cleaning) resulted in getting yelled at, i.e. punishment. So it's not just a sort of apathy about cleaning or bettering things (including, of course, because this is how things work in a child's mind, bettering oneself) but a real fear. I have mentioned before that it took me a long time to realize I was actually terrified of cleaning, though of course it wasn't anything I was conscious of. I've gotten past that (bringing it to consciousness of course helped immensely; if you can't see it you can't work on it), but there is still some of that Leave it alone it's dangerous! mentality, at least in my head.

Then there's the idea, very much drilled into us by my father, that things are hopeless anyway, and that 'progress' is invariably five steps forward and four steps back. Everything, according to my father, was just this huge impossible amount of work. Hooking up the water heater (which, again, someone gave him for free) meant he had to re-do all the pipes in the house. And re-doing the pipes meant replacing all the connectors, which he absolutely insisted had to be done using the old, prone to leaking flare fittings, instead of just soldering them together, because what if he wanted to get into the pipes? This is, incidentally, very characteristic of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, which my father almost certainly had, though he was (of course) never officially diagnosed. (Though from what I understand in the new DSM-V things got shuffled around and there is now 'Hoarding Disorder' that is more or less similar to old OCPD.) I think, with both my father and my mother (and though I don't talk about her much here, trust me, she has her own problems) that if something was going nicely it just couldn't be borne. There was a danger, to them, of things going smoothly, or comfortably, one that could only be averted by something going wrong, or being difficult or hard. Which means there was (and is, because my mother is still here) a good deal of self-sabotage. Which we kids learned, too.

(Just a note on my mother: I came home one day in high school to find she had cut all the towels in half. When I asked, she said they were 'too big'. And this in a household with no hot water, where bath time was this huge impossible literally dangerous big deal, as I was carrying pans of near-boiling water up a flight of stairs. My mother's particular dysfunction/madness has always been completely baffling to me. Bafflement, I've found, is a very difficult one to come to terms with. Outright obvious abuse is one thing, I think; it's probably easier to recognize as wrong. But confusion? You can't get a handle on it, even a little.)

So there's all that. Then there's the more properly hoarder attitude (which I do not have) that Things Must Be Saved. Now, Tara is not a hoarder, as I've been to her house plenty (most recently for a Breaking Bad marathon which did weird things to my head, oy) and it's perfectly neat; but when it comes to car parts, well, you know. She wants to go through everything, in case someone might buy it, or in case she can use it herself on one of her project cars. And, in the interest of family harmony, that's probably about all I should say about that, though there is plenty that doesn't make it onto the blog, mostly involving yelling.

But I think, finally, Tara is seeing that there are plenty of things people don't actually want, even if they are restoring an old Volkswagen; things that are, actually, better or more reliable new. Despite most of the new replacement parts being cheap crap, and even though a lot of the old stuff is far more solid, sometimes old just isn't trustworthy. So she's realizing that there are some things no one wants, and no one can use. Yeah, in a lot of ways that resembles churning, or that old hoarder tactic of going through a pile of papers several times and letting a couple more go in each pass, and trust me I know. Oh, oh, I know.

Iron Run of the Mill

So we've got a bit of catching up to do; two iron runs and a show, with another show scheduled for this coming weekend.

Last week's iron run was the usual, with the trailer full of #1 iron and the precious bits in the Bus proper, pulled out of both the shed and the shop. Tara had been saving some of the parts here (whatever those dumbbell-looking things with the wiggly bits on the end are) thinking that someone who was into restoring old VWs might buy them, but as we do more and more shows she's coming to realize no one really wants certain things, and so is letting them go. Me, of course, I've been saying all along it's just crap but does she listen to me?

Anyway here's the trailer:


Somewhere in there was this garage door mechanism thing (at least I think that's what it was), which would have been vaguely approaching interesting in a sort of steampunk/torture chamber sort of way, except of course it wasn't brass, which would have made it much flashier:


So it went, with all the other junk. Tara didn't get a picture of the precious stuff inside the Bus, but I'm sure you can imagine what it looked like by now. It was the usual starters and old wiring and everyone's favorite, 'irony aluminum', whatever that is.

It was pretty much your run of the mill iron run, there and back again and not very exciting, which is, you know, kind of nice. Because the show we did on Sunday, why oh yes that had some 'interesting times' as that old (supposed) Chinese curse goes, but you'll have to wait till Tara emails me the pictures she took to hear that story. Oh, those were some fun times.

So while you wait for that (with bated breath I'm sure), here are the totals from last Wednesday's iron run. It was an even thousand pounds of #1 in the trailer, and about twenty pounds of precious bits. Which brings the total up to 43,480 pounds of iron removed from the property since we've been keeping track (and, again, there was plenty more before that we don't have receipts for), which is 21.74 tons, and our fifty-third trip. And as evidenced by the fact that we also did an iron run this afternoon, well yeah, there is still more.

Yup.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why

In other unrelated bank business, the other day I went to set up an appointment to deal with my (now dead) father's accounts, which someone needs to be able to get to to pay off things like the remaining nursing home bill. As I was describing the situation (pretty simple and not anything that will need to go through probate, knock on wood) the manager guy I was talking to asked if my father had life insurance.

I said no, I didn't think so.

He made a face.

I asked Why? since I thought maybe that would complicate things (though I don't see how it should, given it's nothing to do with the bank-related part of his assets). No, he said, but it pained him to see someone die without life insurance, then explained that he used to work in insurance.

I was puzzled by this.

Walking out I realized it never even occurred to me that my father would have taken out a life insurance policy. After all, what is life insurance? It's something you pay money for that will only benefit your family. You know, people that aren't you. Or in my father's case, not him. Why on Earth would he ever spend money on something like that?

A Quickie

So while I was in the tub today (because we all know that is how phones work) Tara calls. My mother, bless her heart, actually got the message correct, so when I could I called her back; she wanted to do an iron run today, having poked around in the garage and dug out some stuff, mostly more starters. Well, I had to run to the bank to straighten something out, and then I had to take the cat to the vet (the cat being Rory, who has an infected ear but nothing major), so I didn't think there was going to be time.

But the bank turned out not taking that long, and so when she came by we decided to try after all.

There were a couple old Volkswagen transmissions in this load, as well as a pile of starters and an old aluminum wheel which fetched a bit more than I would have thought; and off we hied, again, and I mean again again again, to the scrapyard. Here's the trailer with the transmissions:


And the starters/alternators in the Bus:


It was a bit of a squeeze, time-wise, but we made it. Tara even went around back to drop off the #1 iron whilst I dealt with the starters at the precious metal building/warehouse/shed. So I regret to say I don't know if today was a smelly day back there in that part of the scrap yard. I really hope it wasn't.

Looking around the garage now I can see that Tara pulled some things out, but it doesn't really look like much has gone. Though the garage had been gotten up to cleaner than it had been, i.e. its former hoarded state, still there's a lot of stuff tucked under and on top of things, stuff that we didn't know what to do with at the time, probably. But now we know, or know a bit better.

So, the totals: the iron part came to 540 pounds; there was a good 224 pounds of automobile starters and another 60 of alternators, with another thirty or so of aluminum and irony aluminum, including that wheel. So that brings our total to 42,480 pounds of iron removed that we've got records for, or 21.24 tons. And it was our fifty-second trip to that place. And like I said, I couldn't really tell that much had been taken out of the garage. So we'll be going back, won't we.

Yup.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Playlist!

So I was screwing around a bit tonight and ended up adding a playlist to this blog, since Tara and I have been joking about it for a while. All the songs are related to the task at hand, namely cleaning up this hoarded property; they in fact do tend to get stuck in my head as we are tending to said task. Now one may, if one is very astute, be able to figure out who my favorite band is at present, though to be fair they do often seem to have quite uncannily appropriate lyrics.

Anyway it's set so that you have to turn it on, since auto-play playlists are the Devil's work; for right now it's a bar at the bottom of the page. I was hoping to find one that would just go on the sidebar, but this one was the most straightforward. I will probably futz with it some more and hopefully find one that goes where I want that I can figure out.

Suggestions are welcome, though if the song's past about 1998 or so I probably won't have heard of it. Just so's you know.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yet Another Iron Run

So off we hied yesterday on yet another iron run; we'd meant to do it Friday, but it poured, and Monday we clean forgot (I guess that was a hell of a weekend, well, at least for Tara). So Tuesday we gathered up the usual various bits, and drove off to the junk man's.

We had some 'precious' metals with us this time, including about ten old Volkswagen starters, which are ridiculously heavy for things that small; I know we sorted some out once upon a time, but Tara seems to keep finding more of them here and there. There was also included in this haul Larry the Volvo station waggon's old radiator, the one my mother managed to smash in that accident she was in a while back (she's fine, but Larry needed a bit of work). So Tara loaded up the trailer with the big bits (as usual) and put the little things like the starters inside (also as usual):



This time when we got there, we not only separated out the precious stuff but did the iron itself twice, as the junkyard powers that be give different prices for light iron vs. heavy iron, not that I frankly understand what the difference is as it's all iron and all gets melted down in the end. And funny enough when it's been a mix in the past they always seem to pick the light iron price for all of it, which is of course the lower one. Funny that. Now I'm not saying they're cheats at that junkyard (though I was not very impressed with their reaction when they broke Tara's trailer, which was basically to shrug and tell us we were shit outta luck), but I will say the older guy there has the look of one of the goblin bankers at Gringott's: beady eyes full of a miserly suspicion, spectacles worn low on the nose, and a permanent scowl.

Driving around back the whole place has of course changed drastically; this time there was a giant pile of cubes that had once been cars I think, stacked up like bricks. It took a bit to figure out which pile was which, but we managed.

Over by the light iron pile the Mark Twain guy in The Claw (he has since cut his mullet, but kept the mustache) was loading what looked like old air conditioners into a smaller bucket loader. As he placed them there I noticed a cloud of something misty coming out of them, something I'm guessing was freon. So much for that ozone layer.

Tara also spied this:


Yes, that looks like it met a very not-safe end.

Anyway, after various trips to and fro in various parts of the scrapyard, we got it all unloaded, though the smell over by the heavy iron (which was right by that Borg-looking scary pile of once-transmissions) was really very nasty; I don't know what it was but I swear it's as if iron, oil, and that sort of greasy dirt you find in garages could actually rot, like they were organic. I know that's not possible, but there is a stench to it that can only be described as somehow both putrid meat and metallic. I found myself really hoping that kind of stink isn't the kind that sticks to your clothing. As far as I can tell, it didn't, but I don't know what would happen if you were say that Mark Twain guy out working in it all day. If I were him I'd be spending a fortune on Febreeze.

All told the iron came to 540 pounds, with a whole bunch of 'precious' stuff as well; that brings us up to 41,940 pounds of iron removed from the property since we've been keeping track (with of course a whole bunch more before that), or 20.97 tons. And it was our fifty-first trip to the scrapyard, which just makes me sigh in a rather tired way. Because even though we're closing in on getting the yard clean, there's still more junk stashed away in the various outbuildings. I know there must be more starters out there in the shop. So yeah, there is still more.

Which we will find, and get rid of.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Goal

Okay, so: goal time.

The yard is actually pretty close to being completely clean now. That isn't to say that the outbuildings aren't still pretty heavily hoarded, so we'll be working on those for a while longer yet, but the yard itself is I think within reach of being totally cleaned up by the time winter sets in.

So what's left?

As far as cars go, there is a whole Bug over by the shop, next to a half Bug that Tara has already started demolishing. There is also a Bug in the garage which Tara intends to take to her place but has sort of dropped the ball on. There is a silver Saab that Tara wants to fix up that could maybe be switched out for the Bug in the garage, though really that ought to just go to her place too. Then there are a couple of half-pieces of cars, as well as that white Citroën that is half-in and half-out of the downstairs garage. The rest of the cars still on the property are indoors, either in the shop or in the downstairs garage, like a Karmann-Ghia that lives in the shop that could be sold (once we can get to it) and a couple of MGs (I think) in the downstairs garage, one of which a certain mommy-cat had her kittens in.

And no, this is not about how much we can stuff indoors and hide away; the goal is still to get those spaces clean, too, so that's not going to happen.

As far as pure junk goes, there are a couple of piles still of miscellaneous things outside. Mostly they are brittle pointy plastic things that can't be recycled and are too bulky to throw in regular trash bags and so present a bit of a problem. Tara mentioned maybe renting a dumpster, so that might work, and maybe they'll even take the concrete blocks, which would be really nice, because those are a real pain in the ass to get rid of around here as nobody wants them.

Then there are the miscellaneous bits of wood, like more fence posts and some broken-down bits of hideous picket fence that can go (or get burned); there are a couple of downed trees, too, but that's more general non-hoard tidying that ought to happen, you know, the type of 'mess' normal people have to deal with.

And finally then we'd finish some things off, like putting some garage doors on the downstairs garage and finishing off the back of the shop which just needs a trimboard or two and a coat of the new paint color. The shed, too, can get painted, though I'm not going to worry about doors on that right now; let's just get the stuff inside and tidy for now.

I think this is all quite doable. I was surprised, in fact, walking around today, by just how close we already are to having the yard entirely clean. A few years ago I would never have imagined it. And again, that's not what's inside the buildings; that will still need to be sorted and tossed. But having the yard clean would be a real accomplishment.

Ironically This Post Is Not Directly About Iron

So there was a small pile of my father's stuff we took back from the nursing home; and there, right on the top, was this (I've blurred out both his name and the name of our town):


That's right, the man who turned his acre and a half yard into a junkyard full of rusting cars, rotting lumber, leaking engines, fifty-five gallon drums of parts cleaner, buckets of broken glass, containers of waste oil and dirty gasoline and miscellaneous toxic substances (such as that ancient bottle of muriatic acid Tara and I had to deal with) was on the local Conservation Commission for more than twenty years. And when he retired from that, the town gave him a fucking plaque.

I have two questions. One, what were the town officials thinking when they gave this to him? They had to note the mind-blowing irony of the situation, right? And two, if they genuinely didn't, what the fuck were they smoking? I mean I know this is a small town, but reality is still reality, isn't it? They were otherwise after him to clean up the yard, so it's not like they didn't know. I mean, not like anyone driving past the house wouldn't know.

For my father's part I'm sure he saw no irony in it at all. I'm also quite sure that the reason he was on the Conservation Commission in the first place was not actually out of concern for the environment, but because he was a busybody who wanted to know what other people in town were doing on their property, as the Conservation Commission oversees things like permits and the regulations around wetlands and the like.

He was also on the Soil Board, for that matter, which is very much concerned with the quality of the soil, you know, like whether it might be contaminated with dirty oil, or brake fluid, or gasoline, or transmission fluid, or parts cleaner...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dead

So. He's dead, my father. He died the last day of June. He was ninety years old, and had been in a nursing home since 2006, after a stroke put him there.

I was not surprised. He'd been fading for a long time, and he was very old. Even before the stroke he'd had some dementia.

In the end it was an infection. Friday he was moved from the nursing home to the hospital, and by Sunday morning he was dead.

I am not sad. There is nothing for me to mourn. While I may still be in the process of mourning the father I never had, and while songs in particular about good fathers have been known to make me cry (Nanobots I'm looking at you) there's nothing there for the person my father was. He was simply too much of an asshole to me, to us, for me to mourn.

A year or two ago my therapist at the time asked me to come up with a good memory of my father. I think she thought I was being too negative about all this (she has since been fired, because you don't pull that attitude with a victim of abuse, sorry). I racked my brains and genuinely couldn't find one. I could remember him being nice to the cats, or pleasant to other people, but none of it directly involved me.

Not too long ago, a few months maybe, I did remember one. When we had that big blizzard in 1978, when I was in second grade, my father built us a sled trail. It went down a hill, up another smaller one, around a banked corner and ended by the stone wall in back. I don't remember asking him to do it. It is a good memory. I don't know now why he did it. We benefited from it, sure, but I have a really hard time believing he wasn't doing it primarily for himself, in some kind of vicarious way.

At any rate, that one memory is not enough.

I am relieved, which is not surprising; even if he had been loved by me, the death of someone so old who had been more or less a vegetable his last few years would have been a relief, because I'd know they were finally free of it. But he wasn't loved by me. I am not ashamed to admit it, though it makes me a little sad that it is true. Because everyone should have a father they love. Everyone should have a decent father. Everyone, every child is entitled to one.

A day or two after his death I realized that the sudden feeling of lightness, the feeling of my shoulders being down where they should be, was a feeling of freedom.

I think it was honestly the first time in my life I'd ever truly felt that way.

I think that says it all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Treasure

So Tara was over today, after getting Larry back on the road (our eighty-six year old mother had had a minor car accident in him; she was fine, he wasn't), and as we were hanging around in the back yard chatting about gardening she saw a bit of metal sitting on the ground.

That's nothing extraordinary around these parts, of course. I'd seen it myself, and thought Oh I should pick that up but I always had my hands full or something at the time. It wasn't very big, anyway, just a random pipe connector thing, the kind that looks like a piece of elbow macaroni.

But Tara's twitchier (or less lazy) than I am, and so she went to pick it up.

Turns out it was attached to a length of pipe; and next to it, buried in the ground, was a hunk of metal.

And another. And another. And another.

By the time she was finished rooting around this is what we had:


That was all buried, mind you. On the surface it had looked perfectly clean, with the grass growing over it normally, but for that one elbow connector thing.

Yeah. This is why we laughed when some dood not too long ago offered to cut some firewood for us in exchange for taking a metal detector to the yard. First of all that's a weird request because he was assuming he'd keep anything valuable (it's an old house, so who knows), but second, really? That thing would be going off constantly and be worse than useless.

Well, I guess that's the beginning of the next scrap run, isn't it?