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.