Friday, July 19, 2013

A Hick Christmas In July

Hick was giddy with anticipation Monday afternoon. He was like a kid promised an all-expense-paid trip to a candy store. If, by candy store, you mean a dark basement filled with forty years of junk. Yep. One woman's junk is my man's treasure. Mom has been cleaning out her basement, and promised Hick first grab.

It all started because Mom was having new insulation put in her basement ceiling. She uses a handy man recommended by somebody at church. The fact that he once replaced a silver stopper in her white downstairs bathroom sink with a blue one did not deter her from seeking his services again. This time, he brought his son. His fifty-year-old son, if that tells you anything about the speed at which this job was being completed. Mom is like my sister the former-mayor's wife when it comes to people being in her house. Sis always went to visit Mom on the day her cleaning woman was scheduled. Now she has a cleaning man, and she still makes herself scarce. Mom moved to various rooms as her work crew hobbled through the house.

"I'm in the living room right now, on the kitchen phone, because they're eating lunch down in the family room. No. I didn't make it. They brought their own. They took all those boards that were up in the ceiling and laid them out behind the house. If Hick wants them, he can have them. There's some metal pipes, too. And a heavy box that I can't lift full of metal things. And some old bottles. It looks like rain, so I might go out and cover the boards with an old tablecloth. That won't hurt it. I got it at Dollar Tree."

I told Mom I would run by with The Pony to help her cover the boards. She had thought of cutting off some plastic from a big roll in the basement, but since the workers were wearing masks, and she didn't have one, she was afraid.

I called Hick on his lunch break. He was practically doing cartwheels, the best I could tell over the phone. "Tell her I'll come out after work. It won't hurt those boards to get a little bit wet." Of course enough is never as good as a feast for Hick. "What about the old insulation? What's she going to do with that?"

"As far as I know, her workers are taking it to the landfill."

"Tell her to keep it. I can put it in the BARn."

"Are you sure about that? It might be asbestos."

"Naw. It would be fiberglass. Never mind. They can haul it off."

The Pony and I arrived to see the workers' truck parked in the driveway, with three pieces of metal about twelve feet long leaning up against the side away from the porch. Mom came out to greet The Pony. "Do you know these guys have some metal leaned up on the truck?"

"No...I don't see any. But I told them they could have a couple of pieces."

"That's three. Not a couple. You might want to watch what they carry out. I don't want them to take advantage of you."

"Oh, it's just old metal."

The Pony did his covering job. Mom lurked around out of sight until her crew left. Hick went to grab his treasures in his truck with no brakes before Genius drove it and found out it had no brakes. He got some 12-foot 2 x 4s, some conduit, and some copper rods. Everybody's happy except me (shocker!) because I think those guys are going to help themselves to what Mom thinks is junk.

Hick went by today and picked up a box of old bottles. Mom has more for him after she looks through some milk bottles that she is sure she has cardboard caps for. Hick has his eyes on the heavy box with an old light guard and some ancient extension cords visible near the top. He figures it is scrap metal that he can send with Genius to the junk dealer.

Hick is a master recycler.


  1. Send him to the city and he can go dumpster diving. People toss the darndest things.

  2. When I was a kid I loved going down to my grandparent's basement and looking at all the treasures.

  3. Stuff can take over and fill every cubby-hole in our lives. When I was left with the chore of emptying out my parents' house I swore I'd never leave a mess like that for my kids. Yet, somehow, the clutter collects.

  4. Tell him I have a cabinet full of stuff in my classroom that I keep meaning to clean out--every year.

    I wonder what kind of treasures are in there?

  5. Linda,
    Maybe he could make Genius chop a load of wood so he can make money while he's there for a Goodwill store tour. The dumpster diving would be a well-planned expedition, with step-stools and rope ladders and grabber sticks and telescoping magnets to snag the very best treasures from the dumpsters. A Hickspedition.

    Dang! I've got tales of my own grandparents' basements that I will foist upon my readership in the future.

    Hick does not see it as clutter, but as valuable gewgaws to be bartered when those American Pickers show up on his BARn doorstep.

    I, too, have a cabinet full of treasures. TWO of them. I only use about two shelve's worth. If yours is like mine, I'm guessing that you have old teacher editions of textbooks, superfluous construction paper in colors no child prefers, old workbooks that you may use one of these days, spare shoes, bars of soap with initials carved into them and partly eroded by running water, a plastic tablecloth, 12 Hot Wheels cars, wooden rulers and plastic rulers, three non-working stopwatches, chartreuse Solo cups, 11 rolls of pennies, four sets of dominoes in metal tins, a can of tennis balls, videotapes of various scientific principles, paperback dictionaries, colored pencils, markers, yellow pencils, tape, glue sticks, scissors, posters that won't adhere to walls, a box of dried-out baby wipes, incomplete table-settings of plastic silverware in assorted colors, deodorant, whiteboard cleaner, and a hair pick. Oh, wait! Those are the things I want to keep.

  6. Hick is a man with a focus on a sustainable future.

  7. Mrs.
    Indeed. Shortly after we were married, I even slammed on my brakes in the middle of the road to jump out and grab an 8-foot piece of J-channel. That's a thin strip of vinyl siding that goes around doors and windows to fit the ends of the regular siding into. Hick pretended to be proud, then said, "It's been run over too many times. It's junk."