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.


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.


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.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


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.


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


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


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


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?

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Big Five Oh

Yes, that's right—it's the long-awaited iron run number fifty. Yes, that's five-zero, as in fifty times we have brought a load of iron from this yard to be scrapped.

I'm afraid this is going to be rather anti-climactic.

First of all, it wasn't we this time. We had talked about doing a run a couple days after the show; to that end Tara came by earlyish Wednesday. But I think she really only pulled out a couple more things; for the most part she just took the trailer full of stuff she had filled up for the show and drove it straight to the junkyard. Behold:

She didn't even bother getting me, as I wasn't ready and my putting on some shoes was too much hassle when she could just drive off. So she went without me. I didn't even know she'd done an iron run until she came back and handed me some cash. How's that for a milestone?

Gosh. I'm all broke up to miss that.

And yes, Numero Fifty or no, there's still plenty more, especially given that Tara now knows that old doors and hoods and such are not worth saving. That can just all go, which is good.

So it was a pretty light load, as doors and hoods and such are bulky but mostly hollow, as well as awkward, and only came to four hundred and twenty pounds worth. Still, that brings the total up to 41,400 pounds of iron taken out of here, or 20.7 tons. And again, there's still more. I have no idea how many iron runs it will actually take to clean this place out. I really don't. I sort of can't fathom it. Any guesses? Should we start taking bets?

That Local Show

Okay, here are a couple new posts because I've been remiss. First thing is that a couple Sundays ago now we went off to that (very) local Volkswagen show at the (really rather pitiful) racetrack a couple towns over; and even though the show itself is more about new tricked-out Volkswagens (or V-Dubs, as they are bafflingly called, because why?) and less about old air-cooled stuff, we still go, as it's just so gosh-darned local and it doesn't take forever to get there in the old Bus.

We got there stupidly early (well, stupidly early for us, about nine-ish in the morning), and the guy there guided us to our spot on the tarmac, which was a little tricky to navigate given the trailer; but with a little help Tara managed, and we settled in to set up.

Now last year April saw fit to go all April on us, what with her customary showers; this year though it was nice and sunny.

Or at least it certainly looked like a nice sunny day. But then there was this thing called wind.

So we spent most of the morning criminally underdressed huddling in the lee side of the bus wrapped in the old crappy comforters Tara had brought for padding when she packed the Bus. It was not fun for a while there, let me tell you, but we lived. (We generally do.)

By the afternoon it had warmed up a bit as the sun got around to the lee side, which was much nicer, though I stayed inside the Bus as best I could, since I know what happens when Mr. Sun meets my High Goth Vampiric skin tone. I went home sunburnt anyway, which was annoying, because it hurts and it ruins my Goth cred, though I suppose the suffering involved might bump it back up. Maybe it was a wash?

Anyway, here's the spread:

Pictures by Tara.  And incidentally, taking photos so that the horizon is on the diagonal isn't artsy, Sister; it just gives me vertigo and means more work in Photoshop for me.  So stop it.

The trailer was full of larger bulkier stuff; as it was so local it was worth dragging the thing there. Tara set up some of the pieces in a three-dimensional trompe-l'oeil fashion, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't fooling anyone:

Though I suppose that set-up might have more structural integrity than a real old Bug these days.

We had set up right across from the racetrack concession stand; and for some reason the overly-cheerful dude working it opted to blast the local country music station. Yes, we have one of those in Massachusetts. Just the one, thank the Gods; but really, people, Massachusetts. This is supposed to be a safe haven from that kind of crap.

So I persuaded Tara to put a CD in. Yes, the Bus has a CD player. No, I don't really know why, as given the noise the Bus makes just puttering along it's nearly impossible to hear anything while driving; but as we were parked with the engine off it was worth a shot. She first put in some Rush, good GOD; but after a bit of whining re: What the FUCK are these atrocious lyrics Holy Mother of the Canadian Gods she was prevailed upon to put in some genuine Massachusetts music, namely Mink Car by They Might Be Giants, which liner artwork, by the bye, features an exploded model car remarkably like that Bug just above. So we listened to that for a bit, so as to not be done in by the nasty country music. It did help, I thought.

Anyway. God DAMN but I hate country music.

So we sat there in the wind, and then the sun, and watched the people, mostly young dudes in skinny jeans, which, despite the purported skinniness, still don't seem to be able to stay up (no wonder the Doctor wears suspenders). And I wondered about fashion, and we got in a discussion about what the Hel is this crap? What is the point of skinny jeans if they're still all baggy about the ass? It's like they're cut to hug the legs really well but towards they waist they're just this cone shape that's far too big, like two funnels sewn together. They must be aggravating as Hel to wear as they never stay up, and they're not much to look at either let me tell you, from this heterosexual girl's point of view. And you know I've had an apparel design course, and so I know they are cut that way on purpose, i.e., they are purposefully cut to not really fit anyone. It was just kind of gross. Seriously give me a nice pair of bell bottoms on a cute guy and we can talk. Which reminds me of the damned nineties. Sure, bell bottoms were in then, but only for girls. All the boys were still wearing those giant baggy jeans and man may I just register my disappointment for a moment here? What is wrong with this world?*

Okay. Better now. A little.

We had a couple people come up to us and ask us if we were interested in buying any old Volkswagen parts. They even told us they were trying to get rid of them and figured we of course would want them. We told them what for, without swearing even, and that oh ho no the reason we have so many is not because we are a business but because our father was a hoarder who kept a pretty much literally unbelievable amount of junk and we're really just trying to clean up the damned yard. I may have even thrown in the bit about how I hate old Volkswagens and how this is not something I am doing for the love of it O no precious. They didn't seem to get it. They usually don't, but that is not my problem.

Anyway. So the thing was over in the early afternoon or so (these car shows that start early—in the morning!—just baffle me) and we packed it all up and got ready to go.

But when Tara turned the key nothing happened. It wouldn't even turn over.

That's right. About an hour's worth of running the CD player was enough to kill the battery. (I feel quite comfortable blaming Rush. And by extension, Canada.)

Now, it's not nearly as embarrassing to have something like that happen in an old Bus as it would be in some kind of newer car. Everyone knows those things are cranky bastards sometimes, or, if not cranky, more or less on their last legs. So the people around us smiled indulgently and knowingly and ran off to find some jumper cables. It may also have been a bit of a damsel-in-distress thing. Tara certainly knows how to bat her eyelashes, shall we say. But they managed to get the thing running soon enough, and off we went on our merry way.

So. Given that it was a show for the new Volkswagens, we didn't sell as much as at the other shows, but that's all right as we were expecting that. It's just that given the location, we can't really turn it down. We did make enough to go out for Chinese afterwards (where we sat a booth over from an old high school gym teacher, whom we very studiously ignored as neither of us were interested in talking to the dude) and still have a bit left over.

But we learned something at this show. No one seemed interested in the fenders and doors. Someone may have bought a bumper if I remember correctly, but the big bulky stuff in the trailer for the most part? No takers. And we have plenty of that stuff still, stuff that Tara had been saving thinking it was in decent enough condition to sell. But as it turns out, most people restoring their old Volkswagens already have that stuff. Which brings me to the next post...

*Oh right, patriarchy. Yep.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Warning: Rant

So I was surfing about reading a bit about hoarders after posting that last article, and came across something. It's this idea:

That hoarders appear to love their stuff more than their children.

I see this one a lot these days; sure, it's good that hoarding is getting attention as a thing, finally. That extends to the various hoarding TV shows out there, which I have not actually myself seen, as I just know they will send my brain to a bad place. I still have the occasional dream, you know, where my father is back here, sitting in the living room (the same room I now have my home office in, i.e. where I work) with the TV on very loudly and I know that nothing, nothing will move him. They are horrible. It feels like being crammed back into this tiny little box, this tiny little box that was my life before my father had his stroke and went into a nursing home.

I don't like to think about what it was like then. I avoid the TV shows, like I said; I have also avoided reading Randy Frost's book on hoarding, though I am very tempted to get it and do a chapter-by-chapter deconstruction of it (or, rather, a chapter-by-chapter excoriation of the author and his conclusions. Dr. Frost is not very well-liked in children of hoarder circles). That I have gotten enough distance from living under my father's hoarding that I can barely remember what it was like sometimes is, I think, a very very good thing.

So as I said I'm glad that hoarding is finally getting attention first as a thing that exists in this world and secondly as something serious, some form of mental illness. That's all good.

But it's only a start. Because right now the common wisdom on hoarders is Oh no those poor people suffering from such a debilitating mental illness!!! Well, that, and a bit of voyeurism, too—plenty of people are still happy to laugh at hoarders because they're crazy, right?

Fair enough, I'm not a psychologist. The only formal 'training' I've had in the subject was a couple of classes in high school and college, which I'm pretty sure don't actually count, especially since the college course was on Freud. (Incidentally, the most succinct description of old Sigismund I've ever heard is 'dickhead', since that is all he ever thought about.)

But that doesn't mean I don't have valuable experience with hoarders, or, more specifically, decades of experiences with one hoarder in particular, my father. And from what I have heard hanging around on a children of hoarders support group, my father was bizarrely enough both very extreme and very typical. And yes, there are support groups for children of hoarders. Because it's abuse.

And that is what the current narrative on hoarding is lacking. That for the family the behavior of the hoarder is abusive. Children living within a hoard are being abused. By definition. Look up the definition of hoarding, and then the definition of child neglect. They overlap quite neatly, really. One factor in qualifying as a hoarder is that basic needs cannot be met because of the accumulated stuff—i.e. the fridge is broken or full of rotting food and can't be used, the kitchen can't be used for preparing and/or eating food, the bathtub is full of books, &c., and then that's before we even get to the common hoarder behaviors of letting the plumbing break and then never fixing it. That wouldn't seem to strictly speaking be part of the hoarder thing—after all it's not about saving things per se—but it is frighteningly common behavior for hoarders to never fix things once they break. And all that, the broken plumbing, the bathtub that isn't accessible, the fridge that can't be used, is also one definition of child neglect. So let me repeat: if someone meets the definition of a hoarder, and there are children in that hoarded environment, those children are de facto being abused. Period.

And of course it's barely, really, about the hoarding itself. The need to save things is just the outward symptom. Underneath it are almost always issues of control. Well, that, and a sort of narcissism that means that since the hoarder doesn't see things as a problem no one else possibly could. And that's part of what's wrong with that 'common wisdom' narrative; that hoarders are suffering from the hoarding.

As far as I can tell, they almost never are.

I do think from what I have seen that there are a variety of causes that lead a person to be a hoarder. Sometimes, yes, something happens and a person just spirals into something and they no longer care about their environment. But that's a little different, I think. I'm not sure I'd quite call that hoarding, though the end result may look the same. But for the most part, from what I've seen with both my own father and the countless accounts of other hoarding parents on that support group, hoarders are like sociopaths. It's simply, in most cases, a fundamental brokenness in the brain. It can't be fixed. I'm not even sure it can be mitigated, any more than pedophilia can be. Yes, that's harsh. It is also, as far as I have ever been able to see, true.

And as far as I can tell, hoarders like the hoarding, and they like the hoard. To them it's a good thing, a worthy thing, a righteous thing even, like in my father's case. It makes them feel good.

It's like an addiction in a lot of ways, though I don't personally see it as an actual addiction. It's destructive behavior that brings them some kind of comfort or control. And there's a narcissism there, a selfishness there, that means they don't see or don't care that their behavior harms others.

So that brings me back to that first statement, that common wisdom one:

Hoarders appear to love their things more than their children.

It is said, I think, with good intentions; however I call bullshit on it. And bullshit of a particularly nasty kind. Because not only is it flat-out not true, it snidely puts the onus on the children to be more understanding while pretending to offer said children sympathy.

I mean it sounds nice, right? It sounds sympathetic—Oh you poor children to grow up with a parent who seems to care about the stuff more than you. That must have been so hard.

But it's right there in that word appear. Because the implication is that But of course your hoarder parent loved you. True, it doesn't look it. But if you, the child, could get over your [of course unreasonable] anger and really look at your parent with compassion you would of course see that your parent did love you. Of course they did. That's what parents do.

I really, really, hate this crap.

Without even going into the crap assumptions that all parents are good which given the statistics on child abuse is kind of an obvious no it still doesn't work. Love isn't complicated. It can complicate situations, sure, but the idea itself isn't complicated. I've found that if you have to do any kind of linguistic or emotional gymnastics to define something as love then it isn't.

But anyway love isn't measured in words; it is measured in actions. If a hoarder can't get rid of the junk for the sake of his or her family, then yes, that hoarder loves the junk more than the family. If someone cannot change their behavior when they know said behavior is harming their family, then yes, they love the behavior more than the family. And it's not like hoarders don't know their families are suffering. Trust me, families and children complain. A lot. Hoarders are not ignorant of the effect their hoarding has. In fact I'd say in a lot of cases that's the whole point. Because it really does come down to control. And for a lot of hoarders out there, making their families miserable is the very best type of control they could ever have.

Won't You Take Me To Junkytown

So there we were once again, with yet another load of rusty hunks of rusty rust to go to the scrapyard. Or there Tara was, anyway, out by the shed loading up the trailer. She was out there earlier than I had expected, and had it all loaded up by the time I got things in gear. So when I got out there we were all set to go, more or less, which I've got to say was handy for me.

Not really for Tara, though. You see, it was raining last Friday. When I had asked her earlier if she still wanted to do a run that day she'd said it wasn't bad enough to cancel things, as it was only spitting out there.

Yes, well. She was still out there long enough that she got good and wet, especially her sneakers.

Now rain in April is hardly a surprise; however rain in April in New England generally means it's not exactly warm out there. And we all know about the 'heat' in an old VW bus.

So Tara was freezing the entire time, and the lukecool air spilling out onto her wet sneakers via both the proper heating vents and the naturally occurring holes in the shell of the Bus itself really didn't help.

But she carried on with that stiff upper lip that betrays our (once upon a time) British heritage.

By which I mean she complained the entire time.

But we managed to get there and unload the thing; she'd even dug up some more old generators to include as 'precious' metals. Here they are, stacked up inside the Bus:

Aren't they just gorgeous?

And then there was of course the trailer, loaded with more doors from old VWs. As we do more shows, we (well Tara, because she's the one that keeps track of this stuff in her head—me, I can't seem to keep it straight, because as we all know I just don't care) are finding that there are just some things that people will never buy. Things that might have looked okay that we now know are useless to save because they'll just sit there forever. And unlike our hoarder father, we understand that something sitting there forever is the opposite of useful. So out they went, to get crushed and then melted down and made into something practical like cat food cans or wrought iron garden ornaments or new nails or something. I will (happily) admit I do like to imagine the old VW pieces screaming in horror and pain as they are crushed, and then imagining that as they are then melted down they can feel their sense of individuality and Self slipping away in a great burning agony. Kind of like Gollum in the lava flow at Orodruin at the end of all things, but with a lot more screaming. Have I mentioned that I really hate old Volkswagens?

Oh, right, here's the trailer picture too:

It was a little tricky backing the Bus and trailer into a spot by their giant pile of hunks of iron that didn't involve setting us down smack in the middle of a rusty irony oily puddle, but Tara managed. The stuff was also small enough this time that we didn't need the 'help' of the (trailer-destroying) giant magnet thingy, which was lucky.

So we finished up there, and went off to the usual burger joint stop, though both the 'hot' water and the air dryer thingy in the ladies' room there were barely warm, something I noted was not going to help Tara, who was still freezing. We did stop later for a hot coffee at local empire Dunkin' Donuts, then, because we were bored or something, decided to stop at the job lot store.

This store, oh this store. Someday—someday!—the correct letters will burn out on the sign and it will read OCEAN STATE J LO. It can happen, I know it can. Tara has already seen CVS/ harmacy, which is gold I tell you. So I have faith.

For my part I poked around looking at the vampiric nail polish; but Tara, clever girl, went and bought herself 1) a towel, 2) some new socks which were dry, and 3) a funky pair of waterproof galoshes. And then she ripped off her wet socks and shoes and put on the new ones on the bench right in the front of the store. Which it's true did take the edge off her complaining. A little.

So all told it was rather a light load, given that a lot of it was old doors; so the iron part of it only came to 480 pounds, despite the trailer being quite full. There were also the bits and bobs of the 'precious' stuff including everyone's favorite irony aluminum; with that and the fact that Tara had also sold three windshields before we went (which is why she was out there earlyish to begin with) we got a bit of fun money.

And that brings the total of iron removed from the property since I've been keeping track (remember, there was lots more before that, only we weren't scrapping it properly so we don't have any receipts) to 40,980 pounds, or 20.49 tons. It was our forty-ninth trip to the scrapyard, which means the next trip will be number fifty. And if that doesn't scare you, nothing will.

Because it will happen. Easily. There is, after all, still more.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Girls Why Not Take Out The Trash

It's always fun to hear a horrible noise coming from outside, and then realize that it is coming from your own yard. Which is just what happened the other day; and going into my studio room on the other side of the house I could see that it was Tara out there with her trusty Sawzall, chopping up another old rusty hunk of rusty rust.

This one was especially gratifying for me because it was one of the few old Bugs that are left here.

Now, you may be wondering something, something, incidentally, that I myself wonder. Why not just call the rusty hunk removers and have them haul it away? Why go through all the trouble of cutting the thing up?

Tara would say it's because she has plans to restore one of the Bugs. I think this is pure foolishness, myself, but so long as she's not doing it here in my yard I suppose I don't care. And this Bug, for some reason, has decent floor pans (well, 'decent' by old rusty Bug standards). That is what she said and I am not making it up.

And while this, I will admit, does rather annoy me as I'd just as soon see all the damned things pushed off a cliff into a river of lava (à la the One Ring; really, it's the only way to be sure), still, if she's doing the work she can go to town on it. So long as the thing goes away.

So. Tara chopped away at the thing bit by rusty bit. Here's the before, in all its rusty hunk glory [sic]:

I know. I'm not seeing anything worth anything there, either. Tara says it's because I've gone too far the other way into crazy anti-hoarder OMG I must purge!!!! territory; I kind of don't think so. In fact I suspect I'm still far too reluctant to throw things away. After all I'm letting her get away with the But I want to saaaave it schtick right now, aren't I?

And here's what she left of it:

To be fair, there is another Bug out there that has been waiting to be hauled away, but the tow people can't ever seem to get back to Tara about it, so it hasn't moved. I don't think the local ramp truck companies have blacklisted us, or at least I really hope not; these may not look like much with all the rust, but given that they are older cars there is still a higher proportion of metal in them, since a lot of cars these days have a good deal of plastic on them. I don't know what's up with that, but I'd like to get that other one out of my yard sometime soon. Especially given that it's the old light blue Bug, one I used to drive, and so I have an especial hatred of the thing. Oh and now I've got this song in my head:

Yeah. That's about right, alas.

So Tara loaded all the bits and pieces up into the revamped and hopefully sturdily repaired trailer; and off we went to the scrapyard.

Here's the trailer:

That's pretty satisfying to see, especially as even in bits and pieces it's quite recognizable as an old Bug.

As all the pieces were on the light but bulky side no Claw was used and the trailer survived the trip; on the down side though it wasn't a very heavy load at all. In fact it only came to 400 pounds, I think the lightest one so far. Still, that brings up the total, which is now 40,500 pounds of iron removed from the property, or 20.25 tons. And it was our forty-eighth trip to the scrapyard. Two more and we'll hit fifty, which is pretty much literally crazy. And there will be more beyond that, I'm sure.

You know I was worried that figuring it this way would be double-dipping, as the bits of the cars are being counted towards the total iron removed while the car itself will count for Rusty's total when it leaves; but they really are different units. True, I haven't usually been adding the weight of the iron of the cars to the iron removed total, but this is an imperfect science, I suppose. The main thing is that this stuff goes.

And that's a success all-around, I think.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Tetanus Burger 2012 Year-In-Review

Hey kids, it's that time again! Time for our annual round-up of what-all went away in the year freshly passed.

This year it's true we didn't get as much done as in years past; I think there are several reasons for that. One, it's just hard work and we're tired of it; two, we do actually have lives outside of cleaning up after our hoarder father; and three, I suspect that we've been doing jobs more or less in order of easy to difficult, meaning the things that are left are getting to be the problematic thorny sorts of things, or the ones that have been put off because X has to happen before Y can before Z, for example you can't really clean out something deep inside until you clean out the outside leading to it, that sort of thing. I mean maybe. On the whole it's all pretty problematic. Don't think, however, it's because we're running out of stuff to junk. Oh ho no.

Oh, also Larry, our redoubtable Volvo station waggon and our hitherto primary means of haulin', was out of commission for a time and a solution (i.e. a trailer) had to be figured out. That didn't help, I'm sure. Still, we did a fair amount of iron runs. Witness the below:

Given the trailer some of those were double loads, with both the trailer and the Bus filled up. All told it came to 5560 pounds of iron removed, or 2.78 tons, which is a little more than half last year's total.

As for cars leaving as per our Rusty's countdown, we only managed to get three out of here. We did, however, pass the half-way mark given the number that was here at the beginning of this blog and are down to eleven left, some of which are indoors and so not visible.

Good riddance, and Rusty say GOODBYE!

We also did several VW shows, which helped both get rid of stuff and put some cash in our pockets; I suppose I should mention that Tara has been quietly selling stuff on the side through ads on some VW fora, especially seats, which is good as they are kind of a pain to get rid of. (Basically they can go to the scrapyard with the iron, but you have to get them down to the metal; otherwise no one will take them.) So that's good too.

I wonder how long it will take to be done with this. It is such an odd idea, to someone who's lived here all my life (more or less); in some ways I simply cannot imagine this yard being clean. And while the goal is specific--to get the yard clean--I'm not sure I know what that means, or at least I don't know exactly the scope of the project, not really. We have just been cleaning whatever is there in front of us. There isn't really a set plan. Which can be fine; I mean obviously it's working. But I don't know what the real goal is, or how to really go about doing it, like with steps or markers for how far we've come and how far we have to go. I've been managing it a little, like with Rusty's countdown on the side, but that kind of goal-making is something that I think I was simply never taught, if not actively discouraged from learning. Because to a hoarder a clean yard or a clean house is an unthinkable horror. And part of keeping things as they are is to make sure the other people don't, or can't think of it either.

Hoarders are some nasty pieces of work.