Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Progress

And another post, because looking through old posts trying to find a good 'before' I could use I came across that old satellite photo of the yard, and thought it would be fun to see if there was a more recent one.

Here's the old one, taken in I think May 2010, if I'm remembering correctly; it was just before we started the blog, I know.


And here's what Google Maps is currently showing for this address:


The picture quality is definitely not as nice as the older picture (and those craggy tree-shadows are a bit confusing); still, you can get a decent idea. I would guess it was taken about the first week of May, going by the fact that the willow tree has leafed out and when I checked the neighbor's yard his flowering pears were in bloom. I'd almost say it was taken a couple days ago, except that the arbor vitaes are still there. It is hard to make out what's over there by the Shop, but it's probably the other Bugs before they were moved. So I'd guess this picture is almost exactly a year old. You can see that except for that jumble of something over by the shop it looks pretty much like a completely normal yard, devoid of hoarded cars and other junk.

And that is very, very wonderful.

Shop Progress

Remember that goal we made, the one where we wanted to get it all cleaned up over by the shop by the end of 2013? Well, it didn't exactly happen by that deadline; however, we are still plugging away at it.

A couple of weeks ago now (yes, I'm still catching up; this should be the last of it, though I've been itching to write a post just about Ratty, because Ratty has fans) Tara decided we should attack that area, or part of that area anyway. So we went after the spot where not too long ago there had been several old Volkswagens in a little fenced-off space. I guess you could say that it was the last fragment of my father's car hoard, in that area anyway. There are still other cars, but they've mostly been moved around or rearranged, even if they haven't left the property yet. Also there are a few indoors, in, say, the downstairs garage. But this bit here had some kind of weight to it in my mind; maybe just because it was old Volkswagens, or because it was visible, or because it represents the last of the outdoor junkyard car-hoard.

The two Bugs that had been there earlier, true, had not actually left the property, instead being squirreled away in the (upstairs) garage while Tara considers if they're worth restoring. Hint: they're not, though Tara may hold out some hope. She did take a good long look at them the other day, and while I'm not exactly sure what she concluded, there was a lot of head-shaking involved.

But anyway. Things (by which I mean junk cars) have been moving out of that area for a while now; we didn't really get a proper 'before' when the cars were moved into the garage, so this one from almost two years ago now will have to do:


So since that picture was taken, the light blue and dark red Bugs have been moved into the garage, and the orangey-red Bug has been cut into pieces. The only thing left of that is the chassis, which Tara for some reason thinks has decent floor pans or something; well, we'll skip my opinion of that because I'm sure you can all guess. Also since that picture was taken, that crappy picket fence has gone, and the arbor vitaes which were only planted there as a screen to hide the junk behind them have been cut down. The stumps will need to be dug out at some point, of course. So when we started the other day this is what was still there:


The tarp-covered thing is what's left of the chassis; the rest are some non-metal bits and bobs that are notoriously tricky to get rid of in this town as they aren't recyclable materials and so have to be thrown away in town bags, which means cutting things up into little pieces which is frankly a needless pain in the ass; but what you can't see is that that area has not been raked.

You'd think that wouldn't be a big deal, would you? Ah yes, but you have to understand--my father didn't just save old cars. He saved all kinds of crap. And he didn't keep things separate. He piled all the stuff together in a jumble.

And sure enough, when we started raking up the old leaves and the layers of dirt created by years and years of those old decayed leaves there was metal a-plenty, several bins full; in one place I think he must have had (yet another) gallon can of large bolts because I just kept finding them. But we persisted (despite the occasional poison ivy root) and I think we got it all. Here's the after, though it's a little deceptive because we just moved the chassis out of the way and didn't actually remove it from the property:


Here's another before, from a different angle; you can see the arbor vitaes have been cut:


And another after, from a slightly wider view:


So that's very nice, and probably the first time that patch of ground has seen daylight in decades.

But there was other progress.

The other day driving home from the supermarket I saw a cardboard sign nailed to a telephone pole that said CLEAN FILL WANTED with a telephone number. When I got home I called, and though the guy said he was really looking for dirt, he said he'd consider taking away some of that concrete rubble I've been trying to get rid of since forever. And sure enough the next day he swung by and got some.

He was out there for the better part of an hour, chucking bits of concrete into the back of his pickup truck while I did some gardening, but I swear it didn't look like all that much went. Here are some befores and afters of the pile around that poor lilac bush by the shed. Before:


And after; he only got a couple from this side, apparently.


He took a lot more from this side, though the 'after' still doesn't look all that different:


And after:


I do know and appreciate that every bit is progress, but holy crap he took a (large) pickup truck load and it barely looks like any went away at all.

He also spent some time over by that half a cord of concrete blocks over by the shop that nobody wants, but he only grabbed a couple bricks it looked like:


See? Doesn't look like much went there either.


The guy had said he'd take the blocks, too, not just the rubble, and said he'd be back sometime later; but a few days went by and I didn't see him or hear from him. I figured he wasn't really all that interested after all.

But then Tara noticed this:


I don't know when he came back. I'd been keeping sort of half an eye out for the guy but must have missed him. But there they were, or rather, there they weren't, and wow am I glad to be rid of those damned things. And even if that guy--bless him--doesn't end up coming back for the rest, I now understand there are people who'll happily take them away for me.

So, little by little it is coming along.

Also, with all that stuff we (literally) dug up, it'll be time for a metal run soon, probably later this week.

Yes, there is still more. But of course!

Another Town and One More Show

It was that time of year again and so off we went to that local Volkswagen show, the one at the race track a few towns over. It's mostly for the newer Volkswagens, but it's so close that it's kind of silly not to go. So once again we got up unnaturally early and drove the Bus over there. No, I will never understand (or really ever quite trust) morning people. It's just not right.

The weather was its usual extreme: in past years it's either been unseasonably hot and bright, or unseasonably frigid and windy. It went with frigid this year, which was really very kind of it; the swap meet part (where we were) is held at the top edge of the racetrack (the track being set into a bit of a hill, like the amphitheater at Pompeii, come to think of it) and the wind just loves to come screaming across it at top speed. But we managed to set up in such a way that the Bus was blocking most of it. Well, in theory, anyway. I suppose it did, kind of; but given the ground clearance on it really it just funneled all the wind underneath it, which meant that it was all focused on our lower legs and feet. And when your feet are cold, the rest of you probably is too, even if you're wearing your winter coat and a scarf, which of course I was, because I'm no fool. I know that April in New England is really still a winter month, daffodils or no.

So we pretty much froze, which was unpleasant but not unexpected; though at least it didn't rain.

But bizarrely enough, freezing weather or no (and there were an awful lot of frankly insane people in of all things, flip-flops) the place was packed. When we looked down at the track, where the show cars were parked, it was completely full, which it certainly had not been the past couple of years. It was even more remarkable because this year it was (unavoidably) scheduled for the same day as another big VW thing in Connecticut, which you would have thought would draw off the crowds.

There were also a lot more old Volkswagens there down in the showfield, and so a lot more old Volkswagen enthusiasts walking around, which was good for us as they of course do need parts. Which meant we were pretty busy. Here's the spread. It's the usual.


We (well, Tara) also talked to quite a few guys looking for other parts; in fact one of them came by the house the next day and bought some more stuff, which is all right in my book. There were also a few guys who stopped by and asked if this was Walter's stuff, which of course it was; two of them were guys who had known my father from way back. I knew who they were, or at least their names; it had probably been thirty years since I'd seen them and would not have recognized them. They asked about my father, naturally, and were not surprised to find he'd died last year. There were other people there who'd known him too, or had bought parts (or cars) from him at one point, or who used to come over every week and learn about Volkswagens from him. It was very strange, the way they talked about it; like he was this Volkswagen guru dispensing precious wisdom, while they sat rapt at his knee as a disciple. It struck me as really very odd. Maybe because it sounded so fatherly. Which is not something I, personally, ever experienced him to be, this person who was my father.

All in all I'd call it a success, though we didn't make as much as we usually do at the other, more specifically old Volkswagen-themed meets; still, it's worth it, and gave me enough pocket change to get some perennials on the way home. Which I planted in the gardens I have dug in this yard that used to be covered with junk cars. I'll call that a victory, one of a distinctly alchemical nature. It is also, I suppose, a kind of revenge. I will take it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How Many More Times

And I am still catching up.

A couple weeks ago now, on the last day of winter, we did (yet) another iron run; and even though it wasn't all that long ago I swear maybe my brain has just used up all the available space for these things because I don't really remember what went down now. There were no Bus-related disasters, at least, which is good, and which you'd think might make it memorable as it's just so unusual; basically though we just got there and unloaded the stuff and were good to go.

This one mainly consisted of a hunk of old car, an old lawnmower that Tara had had for a while but which was originally one of our father's (I guess she gave up trying to fix the thing) and these two old fireplace-pipe-thingies from the 70s, probably dating back to the oil crisis, which would have affected the home heating oil situation (not that my father particularly believed in heating the home). They were supposed to be some kind of passive way to heat the room better with a fireplace; the thing sat in the fireplace and the fire was built inside it. In theory, cool air went in the bottom, was heated, and then came out the top, creating some kind of air current because heat rises. Yeah. In theory. Tara had taken one to try in her own fireplace, and even went so far as to hook up a fan to the thing at the bottom; but no, in practice they are pretty much useless. Oh the 70s. Can't say I miss 'em.

Here's a picture of the load from two views; you can see the two tubing-fireplace-thingies. In addition to being useless, they were damned ugly. Which does accord with the general ambiance of the seventies,* so there's that.



We also managed to scare up a few more generators, as shown here:


Which sounds kind of whoop-de-do, I know, but they fetch a decently high price given their size. I guess they're mostly copper inside.

So then, once again this load was on the light-but-bulky side and so only came to 660 pounds; but that brings our totals now up to 44,000 pounds or an even 22 tons of iron removed since whenever we started keeping track like six years ago now. And remember, there was quite a bit more before that; we used to just haul stuff to the dump and I distinctly remember cleaning up a huge pile of I-beams and pipes at one point. It was our 57th trip to the scrapyard, and just yesterday we were out there digging up more as we cleaned out a spot by the shop. But that's yet another post to catch up on, so you'll have to wait for that.

*With the exception of Jimmy Page, of course, who was damned pretty at the time.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Tetanus Burger 2013 Year-In-Review

So I guess it's also (long past) time for the 2013 Tetanus Burger Year-in-Review. We didn't get as much done this year as we have in years past; but then again the yard is actually beginning to look decently clean these days, so it feels rather less urgent. Also, there have been other life-type things happening, and that is after all where one's focus ought to properly be, rather than on cleaning up someone else's goddamned mess.

So here's the usual montage of junk run photos; note again that the 'precious' inside-the-Bus shots weren't separate trips.


There is still, of course, plenty more inside various outbuildings (especially the Shop), which we still have to get to, so we'll be here a while yet. But I think this year was the year it actually started looking mostly 'normal' out in the yard. Some of the buildings do need a bit of work (my father wasn't big on finishing things, you know), so there will be that too.

Only one car left the property this year, that Saab I just wrote about. Here's the picture to refresh your memory:


Altogether it came to a little more than a ton and a half of junk iron scrapped (1.62 tons or 3240 pounds), which isn't bad.

Plenty of other things happened too, of course, mainly being that my father, the man who hoarded up the place, died at age 90. I still haven't shed a single tear, or even felt sad, and I don't expect to. He was really not a very good person, though oddly enough if you were (say) one of the Townies sitting down next to him at the coffee shop you'd probably have thought him a perfectly nice person. And in an odd way, he sort of was: I'd even almost call him 'mild' or 'gentle' in some ways. It's hard to explain. I think it comes down to intent on his part. He had no idea that what he was doing was anything other than the right and normal thing to do, and he had absolutely zero insight into his own mind. I really mean that. Absolutely none. It was just what he did, or what he was. The most I think someone who was acquainted with him might think was that he was a bit odd and was one of those old men who could talk your ear off, but who was otherwise harmless.

Well, that's the people who didn't know him, of course. Underneath the first impressions was a man who pretty much never matured past early childhood. I don't mean that facetiously, either; I mean that his view of the world and the things in it, and how he related (or didn't relate) to them was stuck at the understanding of a toddler. He could not understand that other people were not him. He simply was not capable of that kind of insight. Nor was he capable of understanding that the way he believed the world worked was not actually how it did. And that meant that in practice he was a stubborn, miserly (and miserable) bastard who didn't see his family as properly human and who considered his whims more important than the needs of his children. He didn't care that there was no hot water, so when we complained we were just whining. He wasn't cold when the house was set at 55˚ in winter, so that was that. He was the only one who had any rights; when we complained we were trying to take away those rights. Or maybe even that's giving him too much credit. I think to him we really were just these sort of noises in the background. We weren't real. I don't know if anything was real to him. If your view of the world is literally delusional then how do you define reality?

Anyway, I'll not mourn him. Though that's not out of spite (not that I wouldn't be entitled to that). It's just that there was nothing there to mourn.

Actually, I was far more broken up over the deaths of my two older cats. No, not any of the ones who were kittens and featured here on the blog a couple years ago; these were the two who didn't get talked about much here. The first one who died, Sir Isaac Mewton, had a tumor, one he was diagnosed with a couple days after my father's death. I never found out exactly what it was (the local ultrasound guy was on vacation at the time) but both vets I talked to, when talking about the possibilities, just shook their heads sadly, and told me even surgery probably wasn't going to help. So I opted to just let him go without interfering. He got all the treats, and he went outside every day (something he'd been obsessed with for years), and I still don't know if I made the right decision. He died at the end of August, at twelve and a half years old. He was a good, good kitty, Isaac was. Let's see if I can find a picture:


That picture was taken during a bout of pancreatitis a few years back; you can see the shavey spot on his flank where they did the ultrasound that time.

Then my Maude died; she was fifteen but still getting around fine, though she was a little creaky and maybe a bit deaf. One night I realized I hadn't seen her all day, which is not that unusual (she'll hole up on a bed and sleep all day), and so I went looking for her. By the time I was starting to wonder if I should worry I found her, stone cold dead, under the futon upstairs. I had no warning at all; I assume it was something like a heart attack in her sleep. Here's a picture of her, my Maude:


Anyway. I suppose all that (and honestly, I am still in mourning over them) is one reason the cleaning had a bit of a lull. And yes, I'm going to totally change the subject to happier things, now.

So. I figured given all the hullabaloo about the kittens a couple years back, you reader-sorts might like to know how those guys are doing. The younger ones are all fine and happy and still tearing around the house like frisky kittens. I snapped this picture the other night of almost all of them:


In the foreground is the ever-handsome Ratty, of course; behind him on the blanket is Aleister Meowley, and then laid out in a row on the floor front to back are Rory, Maurice and Danny Lyon. There is one more cat here, little Mademoiselle Z├ęphirine Chattonne-Gris, though Tara says she doesn't believe she actually exists. She's shy, Zeffie, and maybe not as well socialized as the others, though she will come out for me and purr and such. But she does exist, and here's the proof:


She's Rory's littermate, and Aleister's little sister. Like I said, they are all doing quite well, and I am continually surprised and honored by how good-natured they are (even shy Zeffie). They've got some good genes, this family, and they purr loudly and nearly constantly.

The mommy-cats, Spot, Splotch, and Smudge are still hanging around and begging at the door; I give them a cup of chow a day in exchange for depriving them of their uteri. That was the deal I made, and it's a good one; it keeps them around back and hopefully out of the road.

There is another cat who hangs out, a tom I named Mr. Bibb for his little white front; funny thing is once the mommy-cats (whom I call The Grrls) got fixed, the other toms all drifted away, the lure of sex being apparently stronger than the lure of food, which honestly I would not have thought. Mr. Bibb himself drifted away for a while, but then suddenly reappeared not that long ago; but when he came back he was a bit scuffed up and had lost all but four inches of his tail. I can still see the bit of bone sticking out the end. I don't know what happened, though I'd guess a coyote. So he's been hanging out lately, and I have of course renamed him Bob, because I couldn't help it.

I wonder, though. I've seen him back up to things and make the motion to spray; but I never smell anything, and trust me, tom-cat spray is a scent you can't miss. I could have sworn looking at him he was entire, as they say, but I don't know. And when I was petting him the other day I noticed that the tip of his left ear looked a bit flattened, as if it had been cut off; it was a bit rough too, so I couldn't say for sure he didn't just lose it in a fight. But maybe someone else in the neighborhood has been trapping and neutering the local strays.

Anyway, though. The cats are good, and the yard is cleaner.

A Christmas Miracle

Back in December we were also graced with a visit from old friend Rusty Jones; it had been a while since we'd seen him and frankly I was beginning to wonder, like Virginia, if he did indeed exist; but my doubts were baseless, and he proved it by taking another car away. Good old Rusty.

This one though was one of Tara's; it was an old Saab which had been sitting in the driveway for some time before being moved into the garage. Now, while that's not really fooling anyone (least of all me), it did neaten things up a bit outside. In fact, for the first time in never ever there was only one car in the driveway, and when I was out in Larry the Volvo waggon, there were then no cars there. It isn't even really a very big driveway, but my father used to fit nine cars in there back in the day, and he might even have got a couple more cross-ways out by the street (and that doesn't count the cars parked on the side of the road). It's rather strange to think that nowadays people can tell if someone's home or not, just like they can with everyone else.

This Saab had had the transmission blow years ago; I hear they are prone to that, oldish Saabs. And I'm not sure how much I should say about how she got it to her house, but let's just say Triple-A doesn't need to know when exactly that transmission blew. She didn't get any pictures of the tow (I suppose that would have been incriminating evidence) but these two should suffice as proof.

First, there it is in my garage:


And then there it is in her garage:


So that's all right then.

Tara also back in December shuffled some other cars around, such that the last two old (complete-ish) Bugs got put in the garage, ostensibly because she wanted to take them home to restore; I of course have my doubts but then I'm a cynical old curmudgeon who hates the damned things. Which, again, didn't do anything for the total number of cars here but did make the yard look better.

Here's the dark red Bug, partway towards the garage:


I don't remember now why it got hung up in that spot for a bit, maybe the ground was too squishy to move it properly or something, but some time later, Christmas afternoon in fact, Tara moved it the rest of the way to the garage by towing it with the Bus. Except there was a problem.

I wasn't there, so I didn't see it. (Nor did I hear it). But in the process of dragging it up the hill by the studio into the driveway she parked the Bus on the hill, and then put it in gear, which is what you do when you don't want a standard transmission car to roll. You know, since the 'emergency brake', if it even exists in an old Volkswagen, is pretty much completely useless.

It's not even that big a hill, it really isn't. We're not talking Filbert Street here, just a bit of an incline. But instead of keeping the Bus stationary like it's supposed to, the thing up and rolled right down the hill. Yes, it had to turn the transmission to do it. I guess that wasn't a big deal, though I'd never heard of such a thing. And then, of course, it crashed right into the corner of the studio.

The studio was just fine; it takes more than some wandering Bus to damage that old overbuilt thing. But the Bus, well:


Tara was rather sheepishly upset by it, though honestly I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference. Perhaps the irony is that it was the one spot on it that did not already have a dent (or hole) in it. At any rate luckily the windshield was undamaged. That's something, I guess.

So with the Saab gone we are now at ten cars left, most of which are inside at this point. Just one more and we'll be into the single digits, which is an idea that has been frankly inconceivable for most of my life. I should very much like to see it; but even better will be the day when there is only one car here, the car that we are actually using.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

Well, okay, we've got a bit of catching-up to do. Blame the long New England winter (which I won't make the mistake of declaring over just yet) for inspiring a case of the mehs, or blame Life and the usual attendant Stuff, or one might, if one is really quite astute, perhaps blame ordinary laziness. I won't say which one, but I'll bet you can guess.

Now it's not like we haven't done stuff; we just haven't blogged about it. Fair enough, it does all sort of blur together, all these iron runs, and we may have lost a bit of the thread here. Also Tara closed on her own house recently, so she's been occupied with taking some (hopefully non-structural) attic walls down and painting the thing purple (I am, as you might guess, incredibly jealous of the color).

So: last we knew, our heroines had plans to get that area over by the shop cleared by the end of the year. Well, that didn't happen. Okay. We can come back to that.

We did, however, get another iron run in in early December. It really was the usual stuff, a trailerload of junk with some precious metals gathered up inside the Bus. I don't honestly remember the day, now, but that's probably because it was blessedly uneventful. For once.

So here is the usual trailer shot, with some old VW doors. And yes, there are still more doors kicking around, especially in the shed:


And the usual shot of the 'precious' load in the Bus, this time with lots of wires. I don't really know where it all came from, exactly. Sometimes I wonder where any of this stuff comes from. Okay, the obvious answer is my father but really I swear the way the stuff apparently multiplies it's enough to make me wonder if the ancients weren't on to something with their ideas about spontaneous generation:


So that was that day's worth of junk taken away. Given that the stuff in the trailer was mostly light but bulky doors and such, it only came to 420 pounds that day according to the receipt, though there were 39 pounds of insulated copper wires, so that was pretty good.

Which brings our totals up to 45,340 pounds, or 21.67 tons of iron removed from the property (that we have receipts for) and our 56th trip to the scrapyard. And I know I usually say There's more of course but in this case, yeah, there's another scrap run from a couple weeks ago, which I'll get to in another post, so that total I just gave is already obsolete. But it'll do for now.