Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another One Bites the Rust

Now I do love me some Rusty Jones, our rust-busting more or less out-of-copyright mascot, even when, especially when, he operates in stealth, as he did today. I went out for an appointment and a round of errands with my mom, and when we got back, POOF!! another car was gone. Oh, Rusty. You can steal my rusty cars anytime. You've already stolen my heart.

This time it was yet another newish black Saab 900; it's tempting to imagine that we're stuck in some kind of chronic hysteresis (no, that's not a gynaecological problem), but, no, these have all been entirely separate newish black Saab 900s. Honest.

Anyway this third one was a little different, in that it was a convertible, with a lovely black cloth top. Well, all right, it might have been lovely once upon a time, perhaps a previous life in which it had egregiously misbehaved, so as to come back looking like this:

Let's get a close-up of that back quarter, shall we?

And that's after Tara scraped most of the lichens off it.

Anyway there it goes up on the ramp truck, hurrah!! and GOODBYE!!!

(Saab pictures by Tara, by the way.)

Now I didn't really get a before for this one, as inexplicably I never got a before of the little fenced-in area for the Saabs (the 'Saab Corral?' Yee-haw! or whatever that translates to in Swedish). But not too long ago there were six Saabs in there. We are down to one left inside it, though two of the Saabs that were in there have just been moved to easier-to-get-to locations in preparation for also leaving the property. Still, that's three that were in there that are now gone.

Here's the closest picture I could find for a before, from last month:

See that bit of headlight just peeking 'round the fence? That's this car. So, the after isn't all that impressive from that angle, but here it is anyway:

You can see that that red one, also a convertible, has been moved. That blue one, named Caroline after the color ('Caroline Blue,' apparently) is now the only one left in there. And hopefully then that means that stockade fence will also come down soon, and the whole thing can start to get mowed and added to the yard.

Here is a better shot of what it looks like in there now, though it's a beforeless after:

You can see the two empty spaces where it and the red one came from. (And my shadow as I take the picture. You see that lush-looking fairytale tree in the back, with the deep green leaves? That's all poison ivy, oh joy.)

So, that brings our dear old Rusty's total to nine cars down with seventeen to go. Though, looking at the cars the other day I think I may have actually miscounted by a couple when I first made the list. It is hard to tell; some of the 'cars' here are really more like half-cars, and what do they count as? So, dammit, I may eventually have to add to that total, which is a little discouraging, though nothing's really changed. Still, so far we have gotten nine junk cars out of here in something like a year, along of course with all the other clean-up and removal of scrap iron, rotten lumber, other junk, &c. So that's all good.


And now, because we've got 'em, kitten pictures!

This is Aleister Meowley again. My, look how he's grown!

And now here's the funny thing. Remember when I said that Splotch the cat was not the brightest bulb, and could apparently only count to one when she in fact had had three kittens? Well it turns out she can count better than I can, as she actually had four:

Clockwise from lower left they are: Austin, Healey, Morris Minor, and Spridget. I take no credit (nor blame) for the names; they were Tara's idea.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Au Cimetière des Voitures

For the last few days our righteous de-rusting mission has been on hold, as Tara and I spent the weekend (and a couple of days before the weekend) up at this car meet thing in New York. And no, we didn't go to sell anything; this was just for fun. Now, I will admit that I'm not generally all that keen on cars myself. Oh, they're good for getting around town in, or for hauling stuff or groceries or what-have-you, but I'm not particularly interested in them as objects on their own, especially if the damned things are of a 'vintage' type. I just have too many nasty memories of those old air-cooled Volkswagens, which besides never having any heat in them, or often, precious little floor in the back (I can recall watching the road go by through the holes) were perpetually unreliable.

Though, come to think of it, when I have talked to other people about old VWs, they almost always say something about how they just don't stop running; the engines are supposedly very good (if simple), and not actually prone to break down. And yet funny enough my father's cars, the cars of my father the professional Volkswagen mechanic, were always held to be very unreliable—we, well, my mother, really, weren't supposed to go too far in them because they might break down. Which makes me wonder what exactly was going on, you know? I can think of a few possibilities, from innocent to not-so. Was it that my father always had the cars that were truly on their last legs (wheels, I guess), since he was a mechanic and could coax the things along? Was it simply a case of the shoemaker's children going barefoot? Was it just more of my father's relentlessly negative thinking, that the worst possibility must always come true, so oh my God never, ever, risk anything? Or was having (or pretending to have) a perpetually unreliable series of cars just one more way of having control over the rest of us? I have always assumed old VWs were just piece-of-shit undependable cars, but if it comes down to the rest of the world's opinion vs. my father's, well, I know whose I'd consider reliable.

But despite all that I do find the kind of cars at this meet actually amusing, perhaps because they were not a part of my childhood. Or because they are French. That's right, we went to a Citroën car meet.

Tara has a 2CV. That's French for Deux Chevaux ('two horses,' yes, two horsepower, though supposedly that's some kind of tax designation and not actually indicative of their power. Sure sure), and the first time I saw one (on a visit to England, actually), I thought it was a VW bug that got squashed between two snowplows.

Here's a picture of one I found on the internet (Wikipedia, I believe):

It looks like something some French guy suffering from an excess of patriotism and a shortage of sleep Frankensteined together during the hard times of World War Two; he wasn't going to let minor things like, oh, a scarcity of metal stop him from telling Hitler casse-toi! you know? Mais bien sûr! the chicken coop does not really need a roof, non? For a hood it would be excellent! Eh bien, look at this box of buttons and switches! They do not all need to match! Voilà, these lawn chairs would make fine seats!

Seriously, every time I get in it I am amazed that as passenger it is not actually my job to turn the windshield wiper knob by hand. They are beyond basic, they are beyond ridiculous, they are beyond anything any reasonable or sane culture would come up with.

I did say they were French.

So, in this case I will—begrudgingly, mind you—admit to a bit of fondness for the things. They're just so damned weird.

So at any rate we went up and had some fun, among all the other Citroën-loving weirdos, though it must be admitted I followed Tara all the way there (and back) in her new Beetle, as the 2CV was being a little testy shall we say (as usual), though it did make it. So though I missed the fun of riding in the thing I did get to actually listen to music, which is a lost cause in a 2CV as you'll never hear it over the engine. Ha! Like they have radios.

So after a day of recovery back it was to the old day in day out; and there Tara was today with the Bus, which she had handily filled with (yet) another load of scrap, mostly some more car doors and this old lawnmower, with some aluminum thrown in. Ah, old lawnmowers. I don't myself recall how many we used to have, but Tara would probably know. I do know they were one of my father's very favorite things to hoard. I mean, as if my father was capable of picking a favorite. That was the problem, now wasn't it.

Alors, the pictures. First, the side view:

And from the back (pictures by Tara):

Surprisingly enough this load came to more than we would have thought: 1260 pounds of iron, plus another seventy-one pounds of combined aluminum and stainless steel. Which brings our total of iron removed from the property since we've been keeping track to 29,820 pounds, or 14.91 tons, and marks our thirty-fourth trip to the scrapyard.

Et oui, il y a toujours plus.

And yes! The translation for 'junkyard' (well, at least according to the usual online translation places) means cemetery of cars. Now that's a satisfying phrase!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Light Stuff

Well, Tara finally stepped off all those planes (one of them went directly over the house on its way to landing at the airport several dozen miles away; she was like, Hey that's my house down there! Get me a parachute, quick!) and it's back to the old nose to the grindstone here at the Best Little Hoardhouse in Massachusetts. So today we packed up the bus once again with a load of 'light' stuff and a side of precious metals, then hauled ourselves off to the scrapyard. Witness:

And the side view:

The guy in the smelter (I'm not sure if he was the guy who had missed us last time; apparently I didn't miss him nearly as much) got talking to Tara about Volkswagen bits and shared a story about a friend of his whose bus was in a fire. In the front of it, which is very unusual, as the back is where the engine is, and, seriously, one of the first things bus enthusiasts will tell you if you are foolish enough to consider buying/restoring/driving one of the damned things is that you should always carry a fire extinguisher. Because apparently the engines like to set themselves on fire. And, by the way, oh no Tara knows nothing whatsoever about that, and, no, a few years ago when she was futzing around with the brown bus (since 'dearly' departed) she did not suddenly come tearing in the house in a panic screaming something about OMG did we have a fire extinguisher?

Anyway, this guy's friend apparently pissed someone off who then poured gasoline on the front of the friend's newly restored (of course) bus and then threw a match at it. So it may need a dashboard, seats, &c, all of which we probably do have. Then again, he may not actually have pissed someone off. I mean it's not much of a stretch for me to believe that there are people out there who just hate the things and want to see them all crushed into little cubes, hacked up with chainsaws, rolled off cliffs, burnt on pyres, wiped off the face of the planet forever and ever and ever oh my god yes. Why that's not much of a stretch at all, I'd say.

At any rate.

So we got it all weighed, and then went around to the back, dodging heavy equipment that was being driven around way too fast if you ask me damned kids these days till we got to the pile of 'light' iron. The same guy who's been there a bunch of times before was there, and asked (again) if it was all from the same yard. Yes, we told him (again). We don't know his name, but we've decided he looks like Mark Twain, with the very light blond hair and mustache. Well, not that Mark Twain had a mullet, per se. Still, it'd be a great Hallowe'en costume for the guy and would totally work.

All told, we made a decent amount of dough today, as the precious category this time included one and a half catalytic converters. (Yes, one and a half, as one was missing a 'biscuit' or something.) The 'light' iron load was actually more than we thought it would be, coming to 560 pounds, which puts our total for scrap iron removed from the property (since we've been keeping track, remember; before we were hauling it to the scrap yard we were just taking load after load straight to the dump) to 28,560 pounds, or 14.28 tons, and our thirty-third trip there.

The crazy thing about this load was that Tara pulled quite a bit of the stuff out of nowhere; seriously, like bits and pieces that were hanging between the rafters of the downstairs garage. Yes, the ceiling. If there's one thing hoarders can put their clever clever minds to it's figuring out how to store stuff. So it doesn't look like much has changed at all. So yeah, there's still more.

Oh and for those of you who are interested in a cat update, Splotch the Crazy One has since taken her kittens somewhere else. I don't know where, but I trust they are all right. I've been playing with and socializing the other little guy, and he's as normal a house-kitten as can be, and not afraid of me at all. We've decided we will properly adopt him (the other two cats are both over ten years old, and I like to overlap cats, so it's actually getting about time I had a new one). I'm going to take the introductions very slowly and carefully, as I'm not too sure about how Sir Isaac Mewton will react. He can get a little odd about things.

So here's the little guy:

He's got a name, by the way: Aleister Meowley. I can already tell we'll be calling him The Beast around here.