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03 February 2010 @ 03:47 pm
What's in your "appliance graveyard?"  
Two weeks ago, I decided to clean out our dining room hutch. I never realized how cluttered it was. We bought it new when we moved here in 2000, and at some point it became a collection of "junk items" until it filled up, and then became "forgotten." I actually found phone books in there. When's the last time I saw a PHONE B-- oh, right, 2001, says it right here.

Anyway, it led to our biannual "toss out the appliances we don't need" argument which is not so much as fight as a palaver and interlocution discussing how we were raised. My wife's heritage is among the impoverished West Virginians who state, "save everything you never know when you may need it," whereas I take the more modern approach of thrift in regards to clutter. Her ancestors ate coal dipped in pancake batter while mine wore black and played the bongos to poetry in coffee houses.

Legendary debates have involved an "Onion Blossom Maker," a set of interlocking Tupperware storage containers that were both missing lids and not microwave safe, a 1970s toaster oven that had once been in a fire, and an apple peeler that had a broken suction cup clamp. This time, it was over an ice cream maker that had never been used, an uncleaned juicer from an unknown coworker who didn't know if she had all the parts, a broken bread maker, and a George Foreman Chicken Rotisserie Oven that came free with a George Foreman grill. All items have never been used by our family, except the bread maker, which fell off the counter in 2003 and the case broke so bad, the lid won't stay closed.

Often, I avoid the debate altogether and throw away things without consulting her. My success rate of "her not knowing or ever bringing it up" versus "her finding out and needing it" is an amazing 9 to 1. Odds in my favor by a landslide. Sadly, however, I must have suffered a minor stroke and told her I was throwing away the ice cream maker while the blood didn't get to that part of my brain in time.

Thus it begins:

It starts of with a protest. The usual protest states a shocking suggestion directly opposite to the end goal of us not having it sit at the bottom of our hutch. Usually in the oversimplified form of, "Wait, don't throw that out." Despite the futility of the next statement, I feel my social upbringing has made a scientific reflex of the commonest delaying tactic I have used since I was 5; I asked "why?" Then I hear the predictable response, "someday we may need it/have it fixed/need the parts for something else." For about the first 15 years of our marriage, I actually considered this a good response. I blame it on poor diet and the wrong blood pressure medication. Now I have a retort. "When would that be?" Despite the fact it's a interrogative sentence, I don't say it to get an answer. I say it to point out that her "someday" in fact means nothing more than an open-ended future with no actual realistic planning in mind. She predictably answers that she doesn't know, and a counterpoint of how much we paid for it back when a nickel will buy you a steak and kidney pie, a cup of coffee, a slice of cheesecake and a newsreel (with enough change left over to ride the trolley from Battery Park to the Polo Grounds). I volley back the argument of the cost of storage space, which is a weak argument, because we have never actually charged anyone for storage space, even though my sister and her new husband left stuff in our guest room for over a year. I shore this up with a comment of collecting dust which, leaving it to the mind of the reader the *horrors* of such a collection in my home. There is a response of "so what?" meaning now I have to find stronger evidence that leaving this object untouched in our hutch is, in fact, harmless, and will not hatch baby spiders that will drink the water from the corners of our eyes when we sleep.

"We never use it," I repeat. This is actually what most debate professors call, "stating the obvious," since I had already established that premise as part of the initial hypothesis. My argument has stepped far back from the battleground, and I am regrouping my efforts. I decide to divert the cause to the point of the rotisserie oven and bread machine. In a one-two punch, I state that we paid nothing for the oven, and the bread machine is useless. I further mention that the juicer has never been cleaned, we probably don't have all the parts, and lord knows how long we have had it. My wife counter attacks in a surprise advance, pointing out that it is not a juicer but a FOOD PROCESSOR and undermines my "never used" defense with a comment had she known where it was, she would have used it!

I collapse. Grasping at the failing argument, I admit defeat. My last memories of the argument are faded echos of how she once MEANT to use the ice cream maker, but it didn't end up happening. Her remaining attacks decimate any worthy cause I would have, and now all appliances are at the bottom of the pantry, collecting dust that will surely form a sentient cloud and kill us all and then she will be sorry.

So... what's in your appliance graveyard? Why is it still there?
patches023 on February 3rd, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
My basement (a good size rec room and office) and the garage are instrument grave yards. We must have the parts for 30 guitars down there, two keyboard instruments (piano and organ I have never heard them), other tools and stuff. As long as this stuff is out of the upstairs he can do what he wants with the downstairs.
DrAndy: DevilMonkeybeta58 on February 3rd, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
Hello Kitty vibrator - the diesel engine model.
feyandstrange on February 3rd, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
Consider whether or not it is worthwhile. Appliance parts these days are not usually going to help unless they're from exactly the same model of object. And how much does it cost to replace? Check that versus the price of storage in your area. It's usually a lot cheaper to buy a new toaster than it is to store a busted one.

This applies x10 if you can buy a working used one at a thrift store. Nobody needs an emergency toaster during hours when the thrift store is open. (Just stick bread in the oven already.) Ditto ice cream makers and onion fryers. You do not, ever, *need* most of these things.

Tape the box of junk shut and write the date on it. If nobody opens the box for one year, it can be thrown out. (Check the box first just in case, but it can go.) This is great for "I might use it" and old clothes.

Ask for a receipt at Goodwill when you donate, and see how much you can write off - set that money aside for a new appliance if you really want one.

Living in very small apartments and/or moving regularly has thought me to be pretty ruthless about everything except books and craft supplies, and I'm fairly good at both of those, just not ruthless.

We don't, IIRC, have an appliance graveyard at all. We have an upper limit on how many non-working computers are allowed to live here. (Right now I think there's only one parts machine, and it's been stuck here because technically the carcass belonged to someone else.) Our combo toaster/egg maker is busted on the egg side but still makes toast; I may switch to a smaller model of toaster soon.

I admit there is an onion-Cthulhu slicer under the kitchen counter, but it has been used at least twice, and is under consideration for deletion. I have parts from two different fondue sets, but I use both fairly often. We like our cheese. However, if the clothing and many other objects in the house have an annual "clean me out and donate the worn and unused stuff to charity" chore on my to-do list, the kitchen should as well. (Especially since it's probably time to trade some rusted cookie sheets for non-rusted ones.)
feyandstrange on February 3rd, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah and: on storage space pricing, either call a local storage company for a price quote, or think about it in terms of rent.
Bridgitbridgit on February 4th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC)
In general for us if it breaks it gets tossed if its an appliance because I rule the kitchen. :) If I don't use it, I get rid of it... The only thing that has trouble making it out the door is computer parts. Although now DPTwisted is limited to 2 tote boxes with lids, if it doesn't fit in the boxes he had to decide if he's going to chuck out stuff so it will fit or chuck what he's trying to fit in there. :) Living where you have limited amounts of storage space keeps you from hording...
gorgeousgarygorgeousgary on February 4th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
Hmm, let's see...in my office there is a dead NEC PowerMate 286 and a dead Panasonic DVD/VCR combo that need to be recycled, and a virtually-dead Gateway P166 I need to copy my mom's old files off.

In the bottom of our coat closet is a coffeemaker which is functional but has never been used.

In the closet under our basement stairs there is an entire set of dishes, utensils, pots and pans that used to be my father's. Specifically, they were his "meat" set from when he still kept kosher.

Aurienne: wonderwoman Thinkingaurienne on February 4th, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)
A book you both may want to read is Organizing from the Inside Out, but Julie Morgenstern. You were approacing some of the key issues when you talked about your different childhood states. The "unused" stuff is still fulfilling a psychological need, and there may be other ways to fulfill the need. Or maybe acknowledging the need alone can be helpful.

Another book of hers I like is SHED, but it's not about getting rid of things or following someone else's organization tips (the box-it-for-one-year trick doesn't work if your life follows different cycles), but about first isolating what you DO treasure, so you don't over-purge (which following a blanket prescription may lead to) and lose the good stuff, which is often a fear people who hold onto things may have. So by finding the old issues of Popular Science that have something that DOES catch my eye means I can freely donate the others, without worrying I missed my chance for.... whatever.

And even if space doesn't cost $$, it may be hindering YOUR psychological needs for some neutral/clear space to serve as blank pages or mental resting spots. As Douglas Adams would say (Salmon of Doubt "Would a dragon be happy here? Can he turn around, rest his tail, sit in interesting postures?" (paraphrased from one of the essays, a debate with himself about ... well, lots of things, really.)

(I'm slowly working through those books myself. It's like I give myself therapy - have a dialog/rant in notepad as I read a few pages. Then a few days later a bag/box/shelf gets sorted or organized.)

We'll take the ice-cream maker -- there are some flavors I've wanted to experiment with! And if you need it back for a specific event/project, let us know. Thus it will have a good home, but not be totally inaccessible.
Jasenjastengel on February 4th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
currently: an old 12 port switch (only 10, with 100 on the outside) (in the donate box) a HP laserjet 5L Color laser... only paralell and my current computers don't have para ports... (also in donate) a turntable and a vcr.... otherwise I have purged just about all the appliances... wait there is an old boombox in the basement that is about to go to the dump... I have done a lot of purging with the divorce... I am tired of carying all the stuff on my back...

anyone want or need a 12 port switch, a color laser printer, a turntable, a vcr or an old beat down boombox?

wombat1138: Simpsonizedwombat1138 on February 5th, 2010 07:10 am (UTC)
Unhelpfully for this topic, I just managed to get my electric hot-water kettle working again-- the automatic shutoff had died, apparently because it's governed by somekinda vapor-pressure sensor when the water comes to a full boil; inside the spout, there's a small removable frame that used to be covered with fine nylon(?) mesh, but the mesh eventually shredded through and fell apart.

(The heating element was still working, but I didn't want to use it without the automatic shutoff-- one of my main reasons for using the electric kettle is an incident a few years ago when the wombat-consort heated up a pot of water on the stove for making pasta and then forgot about it for literally *hours*-- luckily nothing caught on fire, but by the time I noticed the pot and turned the stove off, not only was the water completely gone, but the inside of the glass lid was covered with residue from the nonstick coating burning off. When the pot was cool enough to pick up and turn over, its bottom had settled into an exact impression of the spiral stove coil.)

A few quickie attempts to replace the mesh with bits of paper towel didn't work, but luckily I managed to find a small piece of fine silk gauze at a local fabric store. With the silk gauze tucked into place (I should probably attach it more securely by sewing it down), the shutoff now works perfectly again yay me :)