House Cleaning 101, December 2012

You’ve got to be kidding.

Now, in the theme of non-hiking posts this is a strange one. Did you think with the title I’d be giving you cleaning tips around the house? Well not exactly, other than you shouldn’t put water in an iron, as it wrecks them. What works for me is spray starch and then cranking up the heat. This explains why I’ve been using the same iron since 1983. Water is a killer on electrical items. Oh yeah, 1983 is also a fairly notable year, as it was the last time I wore pyjamas.

Anyway, this is a rapid fire post which gives you a little insight into the fiasco world, as it’s not all oranges and coconuts here. The last entry detailed the infernal furnace of walking in Werribee Gorge, but there’s something else happening, which is way more disturbing than strolling on the surface of the sun.

Remember that my father died in October? I’ve written up a lovely obituary to him, but I’ll only publish it when I feel ready and there’s a chance it will be altered following the events of the past month.

We lived together for years and sometimes one doesn’t see the apples from the turnips and I really didn’t notice what dad owned until now. It’s just dawned on me, as I’m facing the dreaded task of ‘cleaning up the place’. A concerted attempt has been made over the past month and it’s a bit traumatic to work out what to keep and what to throw out. I can’t keep everything for the reason which has now become apparent.


How about that last line? Do the capital letters bring across a vision of some bloke yelling insanely, whilst waving his arms above his head before collapsing to the ground? Well, I hope so, as this is my problem.

There’s so much crap it hurts my brain. How much? Well, over all of the years I was with him, he must have being pulling the sheep over my eyes, as he’d stockpiled eleven (YES, 11) televisions. Mind you, I’m not talking little LCD or plasma numbers. I’m talking the big-arsed editions with a couple weighing in at over 80 kg each.

Okay, I found a nifty recycling place, which is a winner and although I had to make numerous trips to drop them off, at least I got to tone my biceps carrying those monsters to-and-fro from the car.

Well, they’re gone, but what about the 850 (YES, EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTY) video tapes? It took a bit of a concerted attack, but I’ve managed to shift them. Anything else with large numbers?

Does 600 cassette tapes (no shouting in commas this time as the joke will wear off. In fact there’s nothing in these commas worth reading, so you can move on now) sound like a lot? I think it is, as Ben and I have just discovered them buried in a cupboard. It was a surprise finding, as I don’t actually remember him ever listening to a cassette tape. Mind you, it was intriguing to see how they were labelled. I didn’t know dad was a big fan of the ‘Coon Show’? Huh?

Little known comedy series – The Coons

Hanging out with a bloke in his 80’s was always going to be interesting. He’d say some weird redneck stuff that may have been acceptable in 1945, but even then it was borderline. Believe it or not, he was a huge wrestling fan and would actually know the finishing moves of each wrestler. That’s okay, but do you know what his biggest beef was? It was always, “WHERE ARE THE MIDGETS?! WHY DON’T THE MIDGETS WRESTLE ANY MORE?!” I’d just shrug my shoulders and say, “I’m not sure. They might be on later…?”

Anyway, having that mindset involves keeping the blinkers on at all times and I remember once picking him up from hospital. I strolled in to see him sitting upright and extremely agitated. He pointed at the bloke in the bed next to him and said, “Get me out of here! Away from these foreigners!” I looked at the bloke he was pointing to and noted he was way more Caucasian than dad was.

He did like to get fired up and he’d even tackle his annual jam making with an unusual approach. Plum jam in a jar sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Not if you were my dad who refused to settle for that limp-wristed title and used jam as a place to display a bit of testosterone. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Plam.

I, Plam

I’m sure there’s a lot more to come, but let’s look at one of the major tasks I’m currently undertaking. Clothing. It appears he had enough clothes to open a shop. The thing is though, a lot of them I’d never seen him wear. Stacks of immaculate clothes and suits, but he’d spend the day wearing rags. What’s with that thinking?

He’d shuffle around in grey tracksuit pants which were transparent from overuse. I believe he may have bought them in 1934, or was it 1834? He then topped off the flimsy strides with a shiny blue jacket, which had a huge portion torn out of the back, as if he’d been stabbed at some stage (it wasn’t me).

I found a place to drop these clothes off, but they’ve been so many, I’ve had to do multiple trips. Anyway, Ben and I attacked the pile in the first picture of this post and stacked them outside before loading the car. Why didn’t we put them straight in? I’ll get to that later, but here’s a picture of the pile in progress and you’ll notice how there was almost a tragedy.

We didn’t notice our friend, Derek, the ultralight hiker was sunning himself outside on the grass. He’s so lean we didn’t even know he was in the firing line, as the clothes went flying. Luckily he doesn’t have lungs, otherwise he could have suffocated.

Near fatality

Are you wondering why I didn’t put them in the car straight away? Well, it’s because they were dripping with the secret elderly weapon. Mothballs. I’m still waiting for the day a moth devours my clothes, but I guess I haven’t aged enough yet? It seems the older you are, the more awareness you have about the danger posed by moths.

It’s the same as that sudden urge when you absolutely must have oversized underpants and saggy white singlets. I’m eagerly awaiting the day when it hits, “Oh my god! I need huge underpants! Huge white underpants!” I’m sure it’s just around the corner?

Not just any mothballs. These are ‘Power Mothballs’.

So, we loaded up the car until it was ready to burst and I don’t think we could’ve even fitted in another pair of socks. Oh yeah, what’s with the zillion socks? How many socks does one want or need in life? Once crammed in, there was the next problem. Can we actually get into the car?

Under great stress we forced ourselves in with the help of a shoe horn, but immediately our heads were spinning from the toxic mothball cloud. We now had our own mobile chemical warfare truck and I’m surprised we didn’t get targeted by a predator drone.

The clothes were dropped off, but what about the shoes? I’m not even going to show you the piles of shoes we’re finding. I remember as a kid he’d give me shoes to wear, but they were always about six sizes too small. I’d say, “These don’t fit!” and he’d reply, “Yes they will. Just force them on and they’ll stretch”. He must have been a big fan of foot binding, as I remember wearing a pair of shoes that were so small, I’d walk as if I had a severe disability. I’m sure those shoes were to blame for a series of my toes, which rather than any semblance of being straight are shaped like bananas. The bottom line to this story is I’ve a particular hatred for his shoe pile and they were all going to the clothing bin.

Clothes au go go

What else? Don’t forget cardboard, as I’ve realised that when you age, you must have cardboard boxes by the dozens. Literally, I’ve made at least ten trips to my nearby recycling place and I’ll have more to come. Car full of clothes? How about substituting that for a bit of cardboard…?

Fill her up, Jacko!

You know what? This post is quite cathartic, but I should finish it up, otherwise I’ll keep rambling on forever. I will definitely close this with another essential part of the elderly arsenal. Oh yeah, it’s the stockpiling of toilet paper. Maybe he was secretly prepping for the apocalypse? If so, he was going to face the end of civilisation with enough toilet paper to kick off the brand new world. This is only part of the stockpiling which I’ve just found in the garage (in cardboard boxes). I kid you not, but there’s another pile just as high as this in the house.

Four Horseman of the Double Ply

Now, to definitely finish. Remember my rant earlier about the eleven televisions? Make that twelve as I just found another one yesterday.

Kriesler KO

12 thoughts on “House Cleaning 101, December 2012”

  1. You know, I think this is a lovely obituary.

    My parents also hoarded toilet paper. Each kid's bedroom, as they moved out, would get colonised by toilet paper. When their place got flooded in the QLD floods, my first thought (after, you know, I hope they're okay) was, Ba ha ha ha! The toilet paper! But at least now they have learnt their lesson – my father will not let my mother hoard again.

    I watched a lot of wrestling as a child, and your father was right. Why have the midgets stopped wrestling? When will the midgets be back? These are deep philosophical ponderings.

    You could make a fortune with those cassette tapes in hipsterville (aka Brunswick).

    – Oanh

  2. Greg I must thank you for the community warning,
    I have just run around the house using your post as a check list and I was relieved that I had none of the tell-tale warning signs of old age, in fact I couldn’t even find a moth ball.
    Although I did find a few cassette tapes from various 70’s & 80’s bands.

  3. Hi Roger, yes the last few months have been a little weird. I think I'm ready for the New Year now. I'm over the current one!

    I can certainly imagine you'd have an efficient recycling scheme over there. I've managed to recycle most things here other than the video tapes! Not sure where they can go other than landfill? Everything else has ended up in recycling. I even found a place in Footscray that recycles polystyrene, which is in boxes as packing protection. I had lots of that and I'm glad it didn't go to landfill!

  4. Hi there, yes, I guess I can count myself lucky that I have a supply for the next five years?! I wish he'd stockpiled money. That would be way handier!

  5. Hi Oanh, I'm not sure this is great obituary?! I have got a better one than this. This post was needed for myself in order to clear my head!

    I'm not sure what the fascination is with hoarding toilet rolls? Dad would say, "It's on sale. I'm buying some". I'd say, "It's not a bargain if you don't need it". He'd look at me as if I was from another planet and say, "But it's cheap!!" Then he'd buy it. Mind you he was in a nursing home for two years, so you can imagine how much was in this place two years ago!! Maybe I needed a flood as well?!

    Yes, I think they're called little people now! Dad was never going for that stuff. He'd make me cringe with some of the things he'd go on about! I've got plenty of other stories. Maybe another time!

    No, I don't think the hipsters want the greatest hits of Demis Roussos!!

  6. I think the little people are no longer exploited in wrestling?! It went out with the 'dwarf throwing' tournaments. I remember them in the 80's in Qld. Throwing people with velcro suits onto a wall! It's unbelievable to think about that now! It was all pretty shameful stuff…

  7. Hi Wazza, you may not have the items I've mentioned in this post, but what about your underpants? Are you decked out in the tent sized white ones?! That of course is a sure sign that you've raised the white flag in surrender! I'm reaching the age now where I don't care if I go out in public with an elastic waistband in my pants for comfort! It's all downhill now!

    Oh yeah, I know what you mean about the cassettes. I've got quite a few which were bought instead of records. I remember they were really dear and it was extremely traumatic if the cassette player chewed the tape!

  8. You are very, very lucky you have some recycling facilities at your disposal!

    Yeah, the toilet paper thing: I suppose it's a symptom of frugality and stretching a dollar. People see that the six-pack of Purex is discounted by 30 cents, so they buy five packs and tell themselves they're canny shoppers! Not sure about the TVs, though. Did your dad think they'd come in handy as a source of spare parts? Funny about TVs, isn't it? They used to just about symbolise luxury, now you can hardly give them away, unless they're flat-screen and the size of a billboard.

    Good luck with the rest of the excavations!

  9. Hey Goat, I forgot that the recycling facilities in your neck of the woods is the waterways!

    The thing dad never seemed to get was that toilet paper was discounted every week! So, I'm not sure what sort of bargain he was after? No, the TV thing was nuts. When digital came in the old style TVs were on their way out so they got cheaper. He thought he was getting a bargain! The trouble is again is that it's not a bargain when you don't need it! You're right though, remember those TVs which were furniture pieces? The huge wooden surround and everyone would look at it in awe?! We used to have one of them and we felt like we'd really made it in the world! Without any other electronic toy I guess the TV was it!

    I've shifted a lot of stuff! Now, I need to wind down on that and hopefully get some walking done instead!

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