The Hired Help: Attention to Detail

If you have followed along here at Hoarding Woes, of late, you know that the blog took a turn away from Elder Care, Dementia, Death and Hoarding toward Hoarding Cleanup and finally Hoarding House Renovations. It has been quite a journey thus far with highs and lows. Today we enjoyed a high. The kitchen cabinets, which had to be replaced (a low point on several levels) have been replaced and they look absolutely wonderful. The pictures don’t do them justice. The smell, the patterns, the details are wonderful and in keeping with our vision for the kitchen.


The “Project Manager” is quite pleased with the new cabinets.





IMG_2692Also, the week the house painters have been outside prepping the house for painting. Attention to detail has been a mixed bag. The exterior siding etc. had been easy to prep albeit they had to patch thousands of holes from the removal of the vinyl siding. The lesser degree of attention to detail had been around the window casings. Little if any scraping/sanding on what is blatantly obvious peeling paint. It has been raised several times yet today they were spraying primer over areas that still needed diligent scraping/sanding prep work. The Project Manager was, how shall I say it, well pissed off is the simplest, gentlest way to express it.

 So one joyous moment and a counter balancing lesser moment. I have come to see that with some sub’s you cannot turn your back on them. They are in a hurry, rarely supervise their crews, want down payments and talk bullshit when in your presence. Not ready for Renovation Woes, but know our dependence upon ourselves for so much is challenged by entrusting others to come through. The cabinet folks really did. The counter top guy was in this morning and verified his measurements and plans for next week.


But one small spot along the vulnerable sun side of the house that needs more attention to detail yet was already primed for painting. Dozens of such spots were found today and that old paint beneath the primer can be flicked off with a finger nail…..or scraper.

Hoarding Woes: Neglecting You & Your Routines

It occurred to me this weekend, as I cleaned up in our yard, that I had really let things go to a point that I obviously had been neglecting what use to be my pride and joy…my yard, my gardening. I mean I knew it was happening, but for the last several years the priority, the energy had gone in other directions and not our yard, or our house.

It is not just time allocations. It is the will, the energy to do something for yourself. Before you know it, things are accumulating, out of control inside and out and you begin to sense just how the hoarder slides into that slippery slope of ‘I will do it later’ or ‘I’m just too tired right now, maybe tomorrow.” Of course, one interruption after another intrudes and takes precedence and before you know it….there isn’t enough time allowable to catch up on what you have to do.

This weekend, as I dug, and pried, and raked and cut away over growth, I assessed what could I have done differently. I am not sure I could have done much more than I did. My/our personal life was on hold for quite a few years. It just was what it was and the main thing is seeing daylight again. Believing in rebirth, like Springtime and the chance to rebuild yet again.

Not to be coy…………..

But just a tease as things evolve over the next week or so…………







Cabinets delivered today and installed Monday. Counter top guy in Tuesday and install by him Tuesday after. Painting this weekend. Floors finished in next two weeks. Outside of house prepped today to repair a gazillion nail holes from removed vinyl siding, etc.  Momentum again. Such a sputtering process at times.

Kitchen Floor: A Hint of Flare…Pizzazz?

Floor HintThe kitchen is going to pop with a Mid-Century Modern theme. The floor was laid, in part, yesterday. The cabinets come in this Thursday.  This color them for the kitchen floor will carry on down the stairs to the basement. A new back door was installed  in order to bring in more light to the darkish stairs. New light fixtures will be installed above to provide more light too and to further emphasize the MCM theme. Wall colors will be lightened. Very exciting and cheerful.

back door

Follow Your Own Advice………….

new-direction-I have come to the conclusion that we have been through so much these past several years that the frustrations of roadblocks and avalanches, such as they have been thus far, don’t register long on the momentum meter for either my wife or me. Yes we grouse, swear a bit but then almost reflexively we plot a move as a whole and then break down the action steps to get there. It is actually surprising how it helps erase doubts, anger and confusion. The emotions surface but the reaction lessons the impact. No procrastinations, no insecurities, no sitting still right now.

Let me emphasize the reality for us anyway. Before, the hoarding cleanups we had the Team. It gave us strength and certainty to continue. Now we have a different Team and it too gives us certainty. To face any of these tasks alone will be paralyzing for all but the most self contained, unemotional person. We were, for example, going to do the Estate Sale by ourselves, alone without the Team. We became stalled out and paralyzed. We realized we need help. Do the same. Some how get help you can trust and lead or comfortably (trust) follow. Once we developed a new Team for the Estate Sale it flowed so much easier. Sometimes you have to, must call for help. If you are all alone and know you will be then I pray for your sanity and health if facing a major hoard.

So with our recent episodes of poor craftsman performance and the resultant negative fall out, we are ever stronger as a Team and have positive momentum even if our timeline has been pushed out a month and will ruin the original plans. Years ago we would have been spiraling inward and feeling defeated. Now we stand strong and easier absorb the hard knocks and jolts to plans. “Build upon your successes” was always a mantra I hammered into my kids during hard times. Serves us well now too.


Designs, Bids, Decisions

Kitchen design

Momentum maintained. Meetings with cabinet makers. Imparting our vision. Getting a strong indication if they grasped/respected our tastes. Everyone was very professional. Aghast at the Artist’s renditions. Able to accommodate our vision. One in particular spoke convincingly to the original theme and the ability to replicate and improve. Decisions made today. Still behind the timeline and now other choices and plans are changed/some ruined/some delayed.

We want to salvage some of the materials from the original cabinets to use perhaps in other cabinets say in the shop or garage or basement. Not sure yet how.

Whirlwind…Dreams Sucked Up & Away (Rebuilding)



Reverting back in time to the mental whirlwind, which is even more confusing given the sunny Springtime sky right now (at least today, given the False Springs around these parts). Without too much detail, the kitchen will have to be stripped of all cabinets, so bad is the “finished” product of the Artist. The Artist is making threats. The patchwork repairs can’t be undone. It all must come out, the sentimentality and loyalty to the look, the memory destroyed. Sigh, big sigh. 

Now the unplanned for costs, the decisions again, the moving, struggling forward while stuck to the past (life), the actual anger being restrained to stay focused and in sync with those needing our decisions in a timely manner….

A fresh canvas, a new beginning? Yes. I think the rub is anxiety that has surfaced over what if the next one messes up the job. Unlike many parts of a house’s renovation, a kitchen is truly interconnected, at least this one. There have been few mistakes, so good has been the workmanship of the craftsman. The Artist is a ringer…when asked if he thought the work there was good enough for his home, he remarked he would “never live in a dump like this”. Thus was his lack of respect for the project, the location, our dreams. 

-Kitchen before

How the kitchen originally looked….

Regrouping, again. 

A Sense of Style….but, from where?

The Hoarding House, beneath all the stuff, had a flavor of decor that was Mid-Century Modern and a bit of I don’t know how to label it…more frilly, crystal, lacy (my Mom’s style). For the most part the older pictures depict post war, early 50′s California styles and lines. Furniture and lamps and fabrics that clearly had a Mid-Century flair. 

den 50's

The above image is from the Den. A professional photographer was called in to photography the decor. We still have much of the furniture, accessories and one of the floor lamps.

So, what is happening through the renovation of the Project House is a decided bent toward Mid-Century restoration. It actually surprises my wife and I. We, at one time, poked a bit at the Brady Bunch, Jetsons, Cocktail Hour style. But something has happened along the way. Much like an adult awakens to the fact they may have assumed many of the traits of their parents, we seem to have become smitten with the MCM style. Not for the whole house at every place, but overwhelmingly the lights, the furniture, the flooring, the overall tone leans that way. 


This had become most evident with the aforementioned kitchen cabinets. Original plywood construction and a light stained color. Although we scraped the tile work those cabinets had to stay. The General Contractor suggested scraping them given their construction was so intact and solid that it would be a chore to modify them for the appliances. No we had to have them. Why? Because of the MCM appeal?


Well partly yes. And partly a sentimentality has crept in. They were the originals, they were part of the original vision or dream by Auntie and her husband. And, they were in pretty darn good shape having been buried and unused (even if full of MCM dinneware) for decades. No the sentimentality was a overiding factor. As my wife and I discussed having to tear them (the cabinets) out because the Artist had done so much damage to them, we actually recognized our emotional commitment to the space and its original designs.


Maybe this is what is sometimes at the core of the appreciation of a style. A throwback to something that pleases and only at a surface level do we know why. Well Mid-Century Modern styling is appealing because we have seen it and appreciated it in the Palm Springs area yes. Also, it is a throwback to an era we like.

But, perhaps mostly, it may well be a loyalty commitment to a lady and her husband that designed it all and had a sense of style they brought up from wartime California to Oregon and incorporated into a new home, in a new development in Portland. 


Checking out furniture designs. “OMG! Don’t you dare use that picture!!!”

Early Prepping & Maybe Some Daylight

photography-hoarding-prepper-food stash-swittersbYou may recall an earlier post in which Magpie Ethel (Laurie) and my wife found a mega stash of canning jars and plastic flowers beneath the house in a crawl space. But, we recently found some more stash under the house that I just have an inkling was a sign of early prepping and less hoarding.

Beneath the house were boxes of canned vegetables, many jars of cooking oil, large tins of fire retardant, and other sundries from the mid 1960′s.  Given how much other stuff my Auntie had stuffed away in every nook and cranny, it ran the spectrum. This stuff was decidedly different. Maybe I am off but it just had that look of hidden goods that a prepper of today might stash away.

Now re the Cabinets and the Artist fiasco. I did a little research for craftsmen that work on the same style of cabinets we have in the Project House. I found one, well credentialed and high end. We reached out and he was busy until the distant future. Plus he didn’t want to do a renovation, rather preferring to create from the ground up. But, he made a recommendation and that cabinet maker was there early this morning to review the project, the damages and the possibilities. He seemed to have an excellent grasp of the materials, the style, the errors and the fixes. Now we wait for his proposal and if we accept it the time lapse isn’t too bad. It was a good day.

photography-hoarding woes-renovation-swittersbphotography-hoarding woes-renovation2-swittersb

Holes, big holes are being patched by the plaster guys. Everything was protected by plastic sheeting and much was accomplished.

Paint samples in interior walls. A sense of momentum once again.