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.


Sid said...

You're alive! I'm so glad to see you posting again.

Now I'll go read it.

Sid said...

Thalia, I love your language.

An d I was also going to recommend leaving the bus there, but I would've cabbed it home. Perhaps it's too remote where you are.

Hang in there girls!

Perfectly Awful said...

Loved it, loved it, LMAO - so happy to see you defrosted your fingers enough to type.

But it's a perfectly GOOD van! OMG, that brought back memories of the bug I had that sporadically stored rainwater in the liner. Every once in a while, making either a right or left hand turn (for some reason, I could never remember which) splosh! would come ice cold water down the back of the driver's (my!) neck.

I think that's how VW's say I love you - the engines run forever, but they always find a way to punish their owners for making them work so hard.

Thalia said...

Passive-aggressive little bastards, aren't they?

Rosa said...

Yay, you're back!

I was just thinking about the seasonality of housecleaning yesterday, when we suited up in our snowpants and boots and got the Christmas decorations out of the (unheated) attic, before shoveling about a foot and a half of snow - they're equally daunting tasks. The attic has brief accessibility windows in spring and fall and otherwise I don't venture up there.

Maybe you can finish all the heated parts of buildings this winter and take a break before the other parts get used again :)