I spent quite a bit of Christmas out at the new land since it’s near family and I’m generally much further away. People probably got very tired of hearing me talk about it, but it’s been an experience. The people who lived in the house that burned down had a very different lifestyle than mine. And so I spent a few hours familiarizing myself with what would need to be done, what could be salvaged, what should be recycled.
Anyone reading this should know first of all that I currently live six hours from this property. I may be the only one in America right now who is a little excited about the possibility of being laid off, but it does appear that I may be told that funding has decreased and my position is no longer supported soon. This land has kept me from a lot of frustration, because if I do get laid off, I have something to look forward to and time to do it. I do worry some about what will happen if I lose the job, but the hopes for the land and house keep things in perspective, and gives me an outlet.
This weekend was one of the only weekends I will be able to be at the property for the next few months. The massive amount of salvage and recycling that should be done would keep me busy for a week or more. As I said earlier, the family who lived there had a much different lifestyle than me. When the house burned, they left… games and clothes on hangars in the closets, dishes (all plastics) in the dishwasher, food in the refridgerator and freezers, towels in the cabinets, bath soaps and shampoos in the bathroom, books in good condition on book shelves, unmarred videos in their cases… furniture that was salvageable, appliances… glass bottles and beverage cans are strewn outside, along with dirty diapers, mattresses, now rusty tools, more videos, and clothes… The intentional waste shocked me. It also troubled me. What could I do in a matter of hours to right some of that wrong?
After considering the situation overnight, the next morning I was ready to get to work. I started with the books, knowing they didn’t even smell of smoke and had no water damage. There were probably 30-40 pounds of books, at least. I loaded them into pillowcases that I’d stripped off the pillows still on the bed. They were donated to a local thrift store that isn’t likely to throw them away and donates their profits to a local charity. So was the complete crib set that was crated and sitting in the shed, nowhere near the fire. As I loaded them, a man drove by and stopped. He asked if he could have the appliances for scrap. I gladly said yes. He also offered to take a load of paint buckets and paints and any other scrap he could find, and offered to run up an estimate on tearing the house down, salvaging any boards and cedar siding he can-more for himself, but again a hearty YES.
And so on day one of my work on the property, I donated more weight than in my entire personal downsizing effort. As an added benefit, some of that came with new friends (friends with skill, tractors, brushhogs, and backhoes) and free labor. It was a very profitable day, and the new friends seemed to think so as well.
The second work day (the only other day I had to work on the property this weekend), Dad came with me. Dad isn’t fond of this two acres or of a small house. I’d hoped he and I would be able to work together on it, building memories along with a home, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to be the case. Still, while I loaded everything that looked salvageable out to the shed (except a metal bunk bed that the man will probably scrap and a dresser that was too heavy to lift over the damaged floor safely), Dad took down the wooden bifold shutters. He saved six to eight pairs, plenty to add character to a very small house. I also cleaned up some things in the yard and salvaged a good number of DVDs that had been left in the muddy yard in stacks. They were overgrown with grass, but the DVDs themselves still play. As we finished, a neighbor came over and asked if he could have some old logs for firewood. I was grateful to have them gone as well-one of those logs would have heated my house way too hot for way too long. They were large pieces I wouldn’t have wanted to dealt with, pieces that would need to be split into fireplace wood. He also offered to take any appliances the other man didn’t.
There’s still probably a few hundred pounds of stuff that could be recycled. I cringe at that, and have debated which would be less harmful to the environment, taking a 12 hour round trip road trip to drive it to the recycling center or allowing it to go to the dump. I suspect the dump would, in this case, have less environmental impact than that trip. (My parents are much closer, but can’t understand my enthusiasm for recycling and would see it as a wasted and costly trip.) I’ll at least wait to go back or send them up until I find out exactly how much my new acquaintance is willing to scrap. Maybe he’ll want the appliances and TVs, computer and microwave. I certainly hope so. In the meantime I’m excited about the amount of work that was done this weekend in such a short amount of time, and the amount that I could save of what was inside.