Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Tetanus Burger 2010 Year-In-Review

Well that's probably a bit of a pretentious title, especially given that we only started the blog in June; still, it seemed a good idea to make a post of what-all we've got done in 2010, with pictures and everything, so that we (and you) can see right there in front of us, on 'paper' as it were, all we did. We are, I am, I think, not used to even being able to make progress; so setting it down as undeniable reality is a very useful and encouraging thing.

We'll start with the cars, with Rusty's countdown. The original idea behind all this clean-up was specifically to get the yard clean, as that is the visible part (well, visible to people who don't live here, anyway). I had originally (ha!) set the deadline for the end of the year, but, really, I kinda knew that wasn't going to happen, as we would have had to get rid of one car a week (and that's not even considering the rest of the stuff in the yard). At any rate, though, such high ideals very much did get the whole project kick-started.

So there were twenty-six cars in the yard, garage, and various outbuildings when we started all this; there are now twenty-one. Here they are put together in a lovely end-of-year montage. You'll have to imagine the suitably poignant, yet nevertheless inspiring music, perhaps 'We Are The Champions' by Queen. Although, 'Junk' by Paul McCartney is really more like it:

That's right, Saabs (and the lone Volkswagen): Rusty say GOODBYE!

And here are the pictures that really bring it on home how much progress we've made, and how much space we've cleared, gathered up in a before and after set. It's not all of it, either, as I didn't get photos of everything. Even so, it's an impressive array. Music to play in your head for this set: 'Take Out The Trash,' by They Might Be Giants.

And then there were all the iron and 'precious' metal runs. Here are all the butt-end of Larry pictures, (with and without bumper) with the occasional new Beetle and old Bus included, gathered up into one. Theme music for this montage: 'Iron Man', by Black Sabbath. Of course.

That's a lot of iron hauled. Let's see just how much, shall we?

I've found sixteen receipts for iron and precious metals, though I could only find fourteen pictures; probably I've missed one, or the iron/precious metals were doubled up in one load here and there. So in 2010, in the 'precious' metals category, we got rid of:

255 pounds of motors
178 pounds of sheet aluminum
142 pounds of batteries
124 pounds of brass
114 pounds of copper wire
42 pounds of irony aluminum
22 pounds of stainless steel
21 pounds of magnesium
19 pounds of lead
15 pounds of copper
4 pounds of iron on brass
And a catalytic converter in a pear tree

Well, okay, more like buried by leaves under a catalpa tree. Still, close enough.

And the total for the iron part of it all:

12,260 pounds, or 6.13 tons since about June of this year. Let's call that something like a ton a month removed. That's pretty freakin' impressive.

And even more impressive: $1724.32 just for the iron. When we include all the cars hauled away and what we made at that Volkswagen event in October it comes to a total of $3321 (and thirty-two cents).

Wow. It can be done.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Well look what I made. This, my friends, is called reclaiming.

They're from a Martha Stewart recipe, these gingersnaps. I figured if there's anyone out there who knows about making a home comfortable, and comforting, it's going to be her. I mean, ignoring the part about how she's probably been patiently constructing an evil empire and has plans to take over the world someday (though she'll probably have to fight Oprah for it) old Martha does know how to cook. They've got fresh ginger in them, rather a lot; they even have a little bit of freshly ground black pepper, for just the right amount of bite. The molasses in them turns them practically into candy, and they've got a really good crunch. And I'm no slouch myself when it comes to baking. They are neither overcooked nor undercooked; they are just right, as Baby Bear would say. So these are really quite excellent gingersnaps, I'm sure.

And this was going to be all about reclaiming something, and taking a bad old memory and triumphantly turning it inside out and making it mine; except, except.

I took one bite and just went blech. Because it turns out I just don't like gingersnaps.

Ah well. I guess that's good to know.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Crappy Holidays

This is a post I've been meaning to write for a while now, about my father and what his miserly bastard ways meant for the holidays. Any of you from dysfunctional families will I'm quite sure recognize just how not fun the holidays can be. Especially given the prevailing attitude of how the holidays are expected to be about family and closeness and happy puppy rainbow harmony et cetera ad nauseum and all that, and isn't it all lovely and ho ho ho light a candle blah blah. Which also of course means that if yours isn't, meaning, if your family is, well, kind of fucked-up, you're also pretty much expected to shut up and swallow it so you're not harshing anyone else's happy family holiday buzz.

Yeah, well fuck that noise. Crap but I hate denial. Sunshine, truth, and openness are the way to healing, I have found over and over and over again. So.

My father was a miser; I believe I may have mentioned this a time or two. His OCPD need for control, as well as his OCPD focus on his own self meant that he had little concept that people other than himself (like his own children, say) had needs. And if he did occasionally have a little concept that they might in fact have needs (usually yelled into him by my mother), he could only assume that those needs were just like his own. This is a little tricky to navigate, you understand; because although I know that this inability was due to something he could not at all help, his personality disorder, I also know that it made things, well, hellish and impossible for the rest of us. So on the one hand there is: he couldn't help it. And on the other: it did incalculable damage to the people around him.

Perhaps I simply need to put it in a little bit of perspective. Perhaps, also, there is the sort of general opinion of hoarding as a harmless personality quirk. Hoarders are simply eccentric, right? Luckily I think that is finally changing, with the advent of TV shows like Hoarders, which, I reiterate, I have never seen, and it's just as well. I can't promise I wouldn't fire a bullet into the TV screen, Elvis-style.

But that perspective: I need to, I think, keep in mind that other personality disorders include Narcissistic Personality Disorder (though strict Freudian spelling says it ought to be 'Narcisstic', I mean, not that I'm a fan of Freud; the best description I've ever found for the man is simply 'dickhead,' as in, that was entirely what his brain was preoccupied with) and Antisocial Personality Disorder. And no one argues that these things can not be extremely harmful to the people around them, especially when one considers that Antisocial Personality Disordered people can include, say, serial killers.

Anyhow. So he was a miser. This affected plenty of things, of course, like keeping the house at a toasty 55 degrees in the winter, not wanting to spring for supplies for installing the water heater (which water heater someone actually gave him), the state of the yard, as he regularly brought stuff home from the dump (hey it was FREE!), and, and this is a big one, the food of the house.

Now, it doesn't help that my mother is, truly, the worst cook in the world; but even Mrs. Lovett would have been hard pressed to make a decent meal out of what my father thought adequate. It wasn't so much that he'd always buy the same cheap things, one green pepper, a pack of anemic-looking winter tomatoes, canned peas, a pack of chicken thighs, but that I swear they'd go food shopping and somehow come home with no food. I don't understand how this can be possible, even now.

I'm a freelance artist myself, which, alas, true to stereotype, is not exactly the most lucrative business in this society; and so I certainly know how to be frugal, and what it's like to not have the money to spend on much food in the first place. Still, though, I know how to shop for groceries, and to make the most of what I can afford. And so I've come to look rather askance at my parents' protests of But we can't afford it! from my childhood. I'm not sure I believe it, frankly. Like I've mentioned before, we were never on, say, food stamps or free lunches at school when I was a kid, and if we were that desperate that we couldn't afford heat, hot water, a decent amount of food, you know, the basics, don't you think we would have qualified? And so I suspect that simply no one could be bothered. That is damning, I know, and implicates my mother as well; but I don't see any other conclusion.

Of course I didn't know any of this at the time. But looking back on my childhood I see now that I really was an extremely thin kid; also, I recall that I had been treated for anemia several times over the years. This is undernourishment, no? Very probably.

So we didn't really have enough food. And so we certainly never had any fun food. We had ice cream once in a while, it's true; but that was because my father really loves the stuff and so in a way that was all about him. True, we did benefit from that a bit, which is good. But otherwise we only rarely had cookies, or fun stuff like that, and never candy, though my mother would always talk about how it was a bad thing to forbid children from having candy, because then when they grew up they would buy all the candy they never had and so get fat. Rank bullshit, that, by the way.

Somewhere in there, though, my father got in the habit of buying a weekly box of generic gingersnaps from the discount grocery store.

Okay. You have to understand a couple of things here. We didn't like gingersnaps, we kids; my father did. I believe part of his decision in buying them (beside the cheapness of the things) was that he figured no one would want them but him, and so he could have them all to himself. Well, he was mostly right. Truth be told, those gingersnaps were just awful. I can guess the recipe:

2 cups fine sawdust
1/2 cup molasses
Pinch ginger

Lay out a sheet of waxed paper on a cookie sheet.

Mix all ingredients together, then drop by spoonfuls on the cookie sheet. Press flat with the bottom of a greased jar; then bake in a 200˚ oven for a couple of weeks to harden up. Store indefinitely.

They were break-your-teeth horrible.

They were also the only sweet thing in the goddamned house.

So my sister and I would eat them. Not out of any kind of joy, mind you, but because they were the only vaguely treatish thing there ever was, and we were desperate for something with some sugar in it. Because we were kids, you know?

And my father would complain, of course. He would say 'the mice' had been into his cookies; I assume at the time he thought he was being funny, but, you know, it's kind of nasty. First, that's saying that those are intended for him and him alone and we kids didn't deserve anything fun; also it compared us to vermin. So fuck you, dad, as usual.

But we ate them. It was all there was.

But back to the holidays. Guess what we got for Christmas that year?

That's right. One box each of those atrocious cheap gingersnaps from my dad, all wrapped up with a bow. I wanted to scream and rage and cry, and then kill him. But I didn't. Because there was no point. He obviously thought he was so clever. I'd say smug, almost, except I don't think he was really capable of that; that would require some inkling, some acknowledgment that what he was doing was really rotten, and he just couldn't see it. But I still hated him for it.

You know what we really would have liked? A package of fucking Ring Dings.

I know. How immeasurably sad.

A Visit From Rusty

Why would you look who popped in to say hi yesterday? It's good ole Rusty Jones, spreading holiday cheer. Rather like Santa Claus, I suppose, except instead of bringing things, Rusty takes things away; but given that Rusty takes away the old, the rusty, the junky, the rotting, that which needs to go, he serves much the same function of bringing joy. Ah, good old Rusty. I love him so, even though soup-strainer mustaches are not usually to my taste.

So yes, yesterday the junk guys came and removed another rusty old rusty hunk of rusty rust that may or may not have once been a car; once upon a time it had been a powder blue Saab 96, so I hear. It was so rusty that I believe a photograph of its mismatched red hood has provided the graphic for the masthead above. I suppose that means it will always live on in our hearts, right?

Uh yeah, wev, as the kids these days say.

Surprisingly enough the junk guy actually gave us $250 for it; Tara generously handed most of that over to me, the hope being I'm pretty sure that I would then go buy holiday presents, mostly for her. Hmmm. So there may have been another tiny bit of a motive in there. Still, it's all good.

I wasn't around for when they hauled the thing out of there; Tara did get photos on her phone, which she said she would email me, but it's apparently slipped her mind and I am impatient in wanting to crow about the progress around here. So I got an after shot at least from the window of my studio.

The before picture is one from the summertime, taken out the same window. Some things have been shuffled around a bit since, but it's about right:

And the after. You can see a lot more of the stuff now since the leaves are off the trees and aren't screening the actual state of things. Still, there has been progress over there. The pile of doors leaning on the corner of the shed has been moved out from behind the shed, to be taken away in another iron run in the bus on a hopefully warmish day.

Oooh! Now I get to update the sidebar, too! Very excellent. So that means we are now at five down, with twenty-one to go. A bit slower than I would have liked, perhaps, but progress is progress, and, with my father no longer here, there is at least no backsliding.

Even though it is a huge and painstaking job, it is only and always getting better.

Addendum: Ha! In an amusing little bit of unintentional reverse psychology, not long after I got this post up Tara of course emailed me the pictures she took (although, I don't know that she actually saw this post, so maybe it's merely coincidence). So here they are, and you can see the kind of 'mint' condition this vintage 'car' was in:

That second one is quite artsy, don't you think?

And here's the thing being taken away. Mr. Junk Guy looks a little dubious. I can't say I blame him, really.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Scraptastic!

Did another iron run today, though we hadn't sorted or cleared anything out beforehand. Tara, in fact, was rather doubtful that we'd even be able to get enough together without some deeper preliminary sorting. I wasn't, because I at least know that there is always more. And sure enough there was still plenty of stuff just laying around outside and in obvious places to make a respectable iron run out of. Here's the usual Larry shot (and, yes, we were very appreciative today that he has heat, and good heat at that):

When we got around to the back of the scrapyard and the huge pile of iron (just one, incidentally, of the many huge piles of junk they have there that turn over so fast that even going there on consecutive days the place is always different) the guy there, who evaluates and then I guess radios back up to the front what people unload, and with whom we've had some minimal conversations before, asked in disbelief Is this all from that one house still? And we had to answer, Why yes, yes it is.

So we brought another nine hundred pounds even of iron to the scrapyard today; that brings the totals now to 24,840 pounds, or 12.42 tons of iron removed from the property since we've been keeping track. Yes, we hit twelve tons today.

And... well, you know what I was going to say, don't you?

Friday, December 10, 2010


Yes, we're alive, for those of you who were wondering. There's been a bit of a hiatus as far as the de-hoarding goes, for several reasons. One, all that Thanksgiving stuff (which translates into a lot of cooking for me, as my mother is The Worst Cook In The World, and, really, for the health and safety of all it's best that I do it), two, Tara's had a bunch of other commitments, and three, it got really freakin' cold here all of a sudden, and it's just no fun working in the unheated garage and shop in New England winter temperatures. I mean, not that it's technically even winter yet, but yikes; Tara said it went down to six degrees (Fahrenheit!) last night.

Which makes today's iron run nothing short of heroic (or unbelievably stupid, more like). The next batch of things, as in, the easiest to get to, since we're at a point where to continue in the garage and shop we have to shuffle some things around first, was a load of old Volkswagen doors that had been sitting out in back of the shed. But the thing about those is that though they're pretty bulky, they're also comparatively light. So putting them in Larry the Volvo station waggon wasn't going to get us very far very fast; what we needed was something larger and emptier to fill up. So, Tara's been futzing around with that old VW bus of hers, with an eye to not only fixing the grindy bearings in the back but also to see if she might get a smidgen of heat going in the thing.

Now, I know, believe you me, oh ho, I know, I just used 'old VW' and 'heat' in the same sentence. I know it because I've fucking lived it for years, as the only cars we had growing up were old Volkswagens, and, my father, of course, being not just OCPD and so never interested in fixing something more than half-assed jerry-rigged to begin with (that is, if he actually deemed it a 'necessity', and, trust me, his threshold for such was bizarre—having a working car, yes, he did consider that a necessity; having a working water heater in the house, not so much), was as far as I've ever heard, also a crappy mechanic to boot. So heat in a car was something completely unheard-of when I was a kid. I think I just sort of assumed it wasn't really possible to heat a car. Getting into a friend's mother's car, where it was actually warm inside, was a revelation. As was the fact that windshields actually have these things called defrosters, and that scraping ice off the inside of the windshield is not actually common, normal, practice.

And so of course I simply cannot in good conscience recommend an old VW to anyone. However, if that's what people love, I do try to reserve judgement, or at least not voice my disgust out loud to the freaks out there who completely irrationally and against all that is good and decent seem to like the things.

But, these people exist. And because they are irrational and I don't know, naïvely trusting or something (or because they live in southern California, dude, and heat that kinda-sorta works is plenty), they have come up with various, er, aftermarket techniques, ones that can supposedly actually get the interior of those things up to lukewarm. Though it remains to be seen if it can handle New England temperatures. (Tara's friend J, the one who rebuilds old VW engines, told us a story the last time he was here of driving back from Vermont in his bus one winter night. He said that about half-way home he started to consider lighting the passenger seat on fire. He was completely serious.)

So Tara's been messing around with the heat on the thing, putting in a couple of newish boxes, buying insulation to run around the pipe which goes from all the way in the back (where the engine is, kids), under the floor (i.e., pretty much outside) then to somewhere, I'm not quite sure where, to the frontish part of the thing. She even told me that she had some success.

So, we loaded up the thing with doors off other Volkswagens, to be crunched up and melted down for scrap. See:

There was also a giant cast-iron cement mixer in there, behind those doors, that even actually worked; but, too bad. There is simply not enough need to keep the thing. And no, potential need does not count.

We did feel kind of bad for the bus. It was being used for the gruesome task of hauling severed and rotting body parts from other, fellow, old Volkswagens. That's got to be traumatic.

But it had its revenge. While Tara proudly went on and on (for a while, anyway) about the lukewarm bit of air blowing out behind the seats towards the back of the thing (yes, that's how it works), we were coming to really feel another part of the equation: the permanent air-conditioning the thing has built in, of a type that is always on.

By which I mean stuff like this:

Yes, that's Tara's leg sticking out through a hole in the side big enough to lose a small child through; there are also plenty of other holes in say the nose of the thing, right where your legs usually are. And the faster we went, the more the outside air came in. It was not just a draft; it was a proper breeze, wind, even; we very likely would have been warmer if we'd just rolled the windows down.


But we got there to the scrapyard, dammit, even though it took longer than usual as the thing just doesn't go all that fast, and unloaded it in back, all the while wondering (well I wondered, anyway) if we shouldn't just leave the bus too and hitchhike back; though I didn't say this out loud as Tara might be one of the above-mentioned freaks. Bless her heart, as they say in the south.

So that's another 720 pounds of iron, to make the total iron removed from this property (since we've been keeping track, anyway) 23,940 pounds, or 11.97 tons. And yes, there's still more, though, dammit next time we're taking the Volvo, because, even though that thing is astoundingly inadequate in the snow, at least the Swedes know how to do heat.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm So Tired

My mind is on the blink and I forgot to upload this yesterday, when we did a second tire run; I think we got rid of another fifteen. There are still a few left, here and there, though I'm not sure when they are scheduled to go. Here's the usual Larry-loaded-up picture:

We're getting there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost All Tired Out

Did a tire run today, which, unlike the iron runs, alas, is something that costs money rather than makes money. Still, Tara found a place that charges significantly less than the dump (recycling center), so we brought seventeen tires over today. Some of them were on good or unusual rims that Tara then kept; and while I do question the need to keep them, she also took them away to store in her own garage, so hey, whatever, do as you will.

Here's Larry, all loaded up:

You will notice his back bumper is back. Tara came over one day last week and bolted the thing back on; I saw she was out in the driveway, then by the time I put some shoes on she had gone, making it look like the bumper fairy had come. Poof!

When we got back tonight we went out and looked in the yard, and there actually don't look to be too many tires left. There are probably enough for another smallish run tomorrow but after that I think that's about it. I mean, I'm sure we'll come across the odd one here and there in the future, but we just may have gotten through the quantities of them outside, finally.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What A Load Of Scrap

And today's iron run pics. We got enough out of the cellar for a smallish batch of iron and a pretty good precious metals load. Here's Larry:

So the iron today was another 760 pounds; and the other metals made up another 80+ pounds (as usual, heavy on the brass and aluminum). So the total for iron removed from the property so far (since we've been counting) is now 23,220 pounds, or 11.61 tons, taken in 26 trips.

(Say it with me):

There's still more.

More From the Cellar

Tara and I spent a few hours yesterday going through drawers in the cellar, gathering stuff for yes, another iron and precious metals run, which we did today. I didn't get any befores and afters, since the fact that we were going through stuff that was out of sight anyway meant it doesn't really look any different in there, though we did get rid of the white cabinet-thing that had been by the furnace.

I don't even know how many toolboxes there are in there now. Something like six or seven? It's another example of how my father had so much stuff he then had to acquire whole other kinds of stuff to then put the first stuff in.

We are beginning to get to a point where we will be able to start sorting tools, and making up useful sets of them, then tossing the rest. Because, really, who the Hel needs that many screwdrivers or wrenches? And make no mistake, it's not like the ones in the cellar are all the tools on the property, oh ho no.

Why who's this? Where did he come from? What? Oh, you want to count the drawers full of wrenches. Well, um, okay, take it away little mister lavender vampire thing with a silly accent:

Vone, vone vonderful drawer of wrenches!

Two, two vonderful drawers of wrenches!

Three, three vonderful drawers! Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!!

Four, four vonderful drawers of vonderful wrenches!!

And POOF!! He's turned into a twitchy little bat-on-a-string and is gone out the window, to the flash of lightning.

What a strange little man.


As usual we found plenty of oddities my father had saved. This one, though, made me squeal a bit, I have to admit. Holy cow, it's actually the owner's manual for Mr. Sunshine the hippie-trippy shop vac:

It's hard to believe. Well, okay, it's not hard to believe my father saved it; what's hard to believe is that we actually found it. And by the bye, not one word of explanation in the manual for the design. Pity. Then there were these:

Ah, yes, the Expo '67, which Wikipedia tells me was in Montréal. One of my dad's favorite oft-repeated recollections was about the various World's Fairs he got to. I assume that is where he picked up these things, since, luckily, he couldn't bring home whole pavilions.

I gotta admit, Soviet Union sounds so exciting. From the 100 Peoples Invite You to the Soviet Union brochure:

Do you want to see the famous Baikal, the world's deepest freshwater lake? Or to hunt bears in the thickets of the Siberian taiga?

Would I!?! Well, actually, that'd be a nyet.

We also found this hunk of iron:

A whole mall for Witches? Awesome. Except you just know Llewelyn will have it's own (crappy) bookstore in there. Still, if I can get all my bibbity bits 'n' bobs in a one-stop shopping trip, count me in!

I'll bet this thing had a story. I can just imagine the movie scene:

Captain Horatio Commonsense: No, Lewis! No one's ever gone that deep and survived!

First Lieutenant John "Hero" Lewis: Pressure be damned! I can't let Jackson die down there!


Now for this, Tara had her suspicions; and, sure enough, with the addition of just a single drop of water:

Holy cow. Is that why this iron stuff is never ending? That explains a lot.

Really, you would think we'd gotten close to the bottom of the iron supply in the cellar by now. But I suspect we've still got one, maybe two more batches, especially when we start consolidating the tools, and get to the shelves/cabinets over the bench. Plus there's a whole tool box in the other part of the cellar we haven't thoroughly gone through yet. I'm sure there's stuff in there, too. And oh yeah, then there's the stuff hanging from the ceiling.

Who am I kidding? It's probably at least double that.

Ah well.

What is THAT?

It's time for another installment of What is THAT, the series where we post a picture that neither Tara nor I, with our decent levels of expertise can for the life of us identify, and open it up to guesses (serious or spurious) in the comments section. Here's today's contestant:

Hailing from a drawerful of junk in the cellar, our contestant is part of a very large family, all identical, all of whom also lived in that drawer. Our contestant is entirely made out of metal of some sort. Measurements: four or five inches in height, pretty much flat, and about three-sixteenths of an inch thick.

Any ideas? Keep in mind it may very well be upside-down.

I'm afraid we have no prizes, not even a case of Turtle Wax (Dad never bothered about the appearance of any car, so, that's one thing he actually didn't hoard). Sorry.

Friday, November 5, 2010


We got so much stuff done Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that I am frankly still playing catch-up with reporting on it here at Tetanus Burger. So, in addition to getting the south end of the cellar cleaned up on Monday, on Tuesday after the iron and metal run we went back in and starting going after the bench along the west wall too. We got a good start to sorting all the stuff there, and actually got down in large part to the bare counter top, which, holy moly, I was then actually able to wash. Like with soap. Though looking at the pictures I can see that we've still got more to do, especially in those shelves/cabinets which are missing the doors.

The before and after:

It's odd, though. When I look in the pictures I can see how much more there is still to do; but when I'm down in the cellar, down in the reality of it, it looks so much better than it was. I'd think it would be the other way around for some reason.

At any rate, even if there is still more to do (and there is, boy howdy, there is), getting that bench cleared is important for another reason: it actually makes the place functional. We now have a clear, well-lit space to sort things, like, say, tools, which are being put aside for later sorting. For example, we're throwing away the obviously broken or hopelessly rusty and useless tools of course. But there are still useful ones, too. So for now we are setting them aside (well except for all those damned hand saws; those were just an abomination unto the eyes of the Gods) so that later we can look at the forty or fifty screwdrivers and pick out a set or two, because I can see having, say, a decent set in the house, and another in the garage/woodshop.

So: functionality is also a very worthy goal.

On Wednesday we did another iron run, but we were kind of tired of it all and so were planning on taking a break from it; but stuff came up. Namely, the furnace decided to not work Monday night, as in, when I turned the thermostat up—nothing. Now I figured it probably wasn't anything major, since the fool thing is only four years old; but the next day my mother actually took the initiative and called the furnace guy, who walked her through resetting it, after which it has been working just fine. I don't know if kicking up all that dust in the cellar had anything to do with it, like, say, clogging something up, or if it's all just a coincidence. Anyhow, the furnace guy is supposed to come over to 'service' the thing to make sure it's okay.

But he also wanted to get to the tank.

The tank is in the downstairs breezeway. Remember this?

There is an oil tank in that space, believe it or not, though it is completely hidden in the picture by the stuff in front of it. So all that had to move, even though we, really, were kind of done with the cleaning stuff thing for that day.

But there wasn't anything for it. The thing, though, was that what appears to be a table over there on the right is actually an old Bolens tractor, which actually still works and may prove useful for pushing dirt around, since one of the other things my father hoarded was piles of rocks and even, get this, piles of sand the town had cleaned off the roads. So there is a bit of landscaping and smoothing that it might come in handy for, though we are not, at present, at that stage of things. Anyway, the thing that looks like a table is the old Bolens with stuff piled on top of it, and with a hunk of plywood thrown over it so that more junk could be put on that. Here's a better look at it:

Can you see the top edge of the oil tank lurking there behind all the junk? Not really? Don't worry if you can't.

But of course first the Bolens had to have a place to go. So, while there was as always quite a bit of the usual sorting of various grades of trash, there was also some additional shuffling that had to be done. For example, to move the Bolens the old Honda motorcycle had to find a new home, since it was in the way; but to do that meant Tara had to first clean out a corner full of junk, which she did quite nicely, and which involved some of the ever-cathartic smashy-smashing of crappy old cabinets. Here's the corner before and after, with the motorcycle moved into it:

And the corner the Bolens was going into had to be rearranged a bit, too (though I didn't get a picture of that).

So we sorted and rearranged (and in the process filled up some more bins with iron for another iron run), and eventually got down to the Bolens itself.

Now the problem with that was that one of the tires was blown out. Not just flat, but wouldn't hold air. And the thing was damned heavy, let me tell you. But we got it moved (again, when Tara decides something is going to happen or an immovable object will move, seriously, the Universe hups-to, yes ma'am) and finally got it over where it needed to go. Here's the before again, with the after following:

Oy. That was a lot of work. So, when we were kind of toying with the idea of doing another iron run today (Friday), we both just kind of looked at each other and said, Nah.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


So we continued today and yesterday in our quest for the philosopher's stone, by once again turning base metal into gold, or rather, iron, brass, aluminum and copper into money, into cash. So in the last two days we did three more runs to the scrapyard, two for iron (in Larry) and one of another load of the precious stuff, bundled up into Tara's (new) Beetle. Lookie:

Ask Tara about how heavy that freakin' chain was.

So, to add to our totals over there on the left: for iron, in the two loads we took another 1920 pounds of iron, making it now 22,460 pounds, or 11.23 tons. For the precious metals, which I am not counting towards the total of iron, but which certainly count for the total amount of junk leaving the property, we took away 610 pounds or so (guessing for the catalytic converter, as it was marked down as one unit and not by weight), and another 265 pounds yesterday, though yesterday's precious metal run netted almost as much cash as the earlier one, since there was so much brass in it (87 pounds). So that's another 870 pounds of stuff gone.

There's still more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

There Is No Why

Buoyed by the success of last week's 'precious' metals run, Tara and I went after the south end of the cellar yesterday with gusto, since she rightly suspected that there was more than a little plumbing-related junk in there (which in this old house translates to the ever-lucrative brass and copper).

We'll jump straight in with a panorama of the before:

As you can see, that's a lot of crap. The giant greenish piece of machinery over there on the left, which looks suspiciously like it dates from the industrial revolution (wonder how many seven year old worker-children lost a limb in those non-OSHA-compliant exposed belts) is a metal lathe which actually works, though it tends to trip the circuit breaker. It will go away someday. Well, when we can figure out how to move it, that is.

So we went through it all as usual, separating the junk that is worth something from the junk that is worth nothing; and, as usual, one never can predict quite what my father saved. I know, 'everything' does come to mind as a fair prediction; but, well, that includes rather a lot.

My father was definitely a quantity over quality kind of guy. He used to rant in all seriousness about Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Now, he loved ice cream, a lot, and would in fact (repeatedly) tell us about the time when he was a kid and a couple five-gallon buckets of ice cream fell off the delivery truck, to be found by some friends of his; but the incredulous punchline of that story was that the kids gave it back. He would always shake his head at that one, for he simply could not understand someone returning free ice cream. Anyway, he would rant about it, because Ben and Jerry's was (in those days) just over two dollars for a pint, and why would you pay that when a whole half-gallon of the store brand was only a buck fifty?

Not too long ago the nursing home called, asking (as they do every now and then) if we wanted to change the orders for resuscitating my father should something go wrong. I understand this question just fine, and I understand as well that he is eighty-seven and very brain-damaged. But I also know that he would want to hang on until the very bitter end. So all this time it has been, yes, resuscitate him; it's what he would want. But the nurse (or social worker) tried to convince me otherwise. I agree, it makes sense, I told her, and it's what I would want for myself; but it's not what he would want. Then she said, Well it comes down to a quality verses quantity thing.

And I laughed and laughed, albeit a little bitterly. Poor thing just had no clue.

So here's (a rather lesser example of) that quantity thing in action. I mean, why have just one good handsaw when you can have thirteen of them rusting away in the damp cellar?

Then there is of course his obsession with storage thingies. After all, stuff is best when put inside other stuff (it's like stuff squared). So, in the cellar alone there are five of these little I-don't-know-what-you-call-them sets of drawers for little screws and washers and rivets.

There are, by the way, many more of these drawer-thingie-sets out in the shop. Including one that is legendary for falling over frontwards and spilling its contents on top of all the open boxes and drawers and trays of junk on one of the desks in the shop (which were then not cleaned up. Since there was no point). I believe it is remembered as the Great Screw-and-Washer Disaster of Aught-Three, though Tara would know better.

The things my father saved are frequently baffling. Many a time Tara pulled something out and gave it this look; and I could see her very creative and ingenious brain (she is an artist also) trying to come up with some kind of, any kind of reason or use for whatever it was. Then she'd turn to me and plaintively ask, 'But why?' I could only shake my head and say, Yoda-like, There is no why.

Like the bag of jar caps Tara found in one of the cabinets. They weren't vintage when my father put them away for safekeeping, but they sure are now:

Or like this absolutely priceless (well, actually more like a hundred and ten dollars a ton) table saw blade, which my father marked as below, and then saved.

Or this jar of something that is very much not Marshmallow Fluff. Marshmallow Filth, perhaps:

(I believe it is actually engine grease.)

Then there is the thingamabob which Tara is convinced looks like an earless Jarjar Binks (speaking of Yoda—which, incidentally, the spell-checker recognizes as a valid English word!):

Can't really argue with that, can you.

We also came across no less than three small hand-sickles and it was my turn to be baffled. Was my father planning on harvesting his own wheat? What on Earth else do you use them for? I mean, besides the inevitable commie pinko stuff:

And there's this vintage rusty bandage can now stuffed full of broken bits of rusty rust. It's from back when the official default 'flesh' color was Caucasian pinkish-tan, since as we all know everyone in those days was white, right? Or everyone who mattered, anyway.

And then there was this, a little pendant cameo of a handsome lad from the mid-70s, going by the luxuriousness of his mustache and the width of that tie. Neither I nor Tara nor our mother recognized him; and the thing with my dad is, it could equally be a treasured picture of a relative or friend, or something completely random he saved because he saved things.

We decided the unknown 70s man is in fact a friend of Rusty Jones's. A good friend, if you know what I mean (nudge nudge, wink wink). We named him Randy (of course). We've decided he can be our back-up mascot, should we need one.

So after a bit of sorting and tossing (and a far amount of WTF?ing) we were ready to get rid of some of the cabinets. The cellar floods a bit here and there, and so the wooden cabinets were rotten on the bottoms while the metals cabinets were rusted on the bottoms; and anyway if you get rid of the stuff you need to store, you no longer need the things to store the stuff in, now do you. So we got rid of the thing with all the cubbies (you can see it in the top panorama, in the right center), as well as this thing you probably can't quite see in the panorama, as it's hidden behind the grey bandsaw. It was pretty messed-up as it was, but Tara gave it her patented smashy-smashy treatment (using, incidentally, the Commie Hammer of the Proletariat, which is entirely made out of metal and so very very excellent for smashy-smashing):

(The set of flat drawers on the right is a separate thing; it was spared. For now.)

And we hauled out the smashed wood, and then swept, and then vacuumed with Mr. Sunshine; and eventually we got it all cleaned up. And I mean really quite remarkably cleaned up. As in, this morning when I woke I thought, wait, was that a dream?

Let's run that before panorama again, so you can properly compare:

And the miraculous glorious after:

Ah, let's let that soak in.

Even the cat was impressed (and we all know how difficult it is to impress a cat). This is Sir Isaac Mewton rolling around in the freshly exposed corner, off his rocker drunk with the heady reality of a clean cellar:

Or at least that end of it. That's probably about a third of it altogether. Still, that's some serious progress!