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!