A meaningful quote…

“I’m beginning to realise that I’m either overly sentimental, or am a hoarder who struggles to part with things. In all honesty, I’m probably both.” Fennel Hudson, Fennel’s Journal, No. 2

Found this quote while searching for a quote re memories, sentimental, vintage for my other blog, SwittersB & Exploring. The quote resonated re sentiments and hoarding.

Right now, we (my wife and I) are doing the following: continuing to cull through the excessive stuff we kept that belonged to my Mom and my Aunt. Mentally we are in a good place to get this done. Also, we are dealing with my in laws that are struggling to downsize in late life. There we are up against sentimentality and also the worth of every object, whether broken, junk or not touched in years. The latter project is more challenging as you can imagine. But, for us, there is not the urgency yet. Not our stuff….yet. And, we have other siblings to help and step up to wade through the years of accumulation. Not hoarders but just a lot of stuff that has built up and no energy to sort through due to health reasons and aging.

Sentimentality and memories are powerful stuff don’t you agree?


Deja vu….

Been awhile since I last posted here at Hoarding Woes & You. I hope some of you new visitors have found the back posts of interest in helping you deal with the stresses of hoarding, at whatever level you are dealing with the problem.

Out family is yet again, facing some of the same variables that we dealt with these past several years: elder care, dementia, denial, moderate accumulations of stuff, family dynamics, future health care decisions, cleanups and wondering how the family will deal with the evolving stages.

This time, a probable benefit will be a larger family unit to assist in cleanups, decision-making and elder care.

The same sensibilities are evolving: attempting to not steamroll the elders with impatience, confusing advise or many voices at once. Pride and fears are evident in the elders and it important the family members remind each other to go slow, to listen as much as speak, to share the load of care and to give the elders some sense of ownership and empowerment as life unfolds. So far, this effort at awareness has had its bumps and hurt feelings.

Also, some have worked to the point of exhaustion or illness. Yet, most have jobs, other obligations of family and their own respective health issues. It is a blessing that this time around we, as an extended family unit, have more human potential to maintain a happy, healthy course of action.

I have been ill of late (nothing too serious), but it highlights more than rising off one’s sick bed to help at all costs…no, one is contagious and cannot be around already sick elders and all that could go with infecting the sick elder as well as the caregivers.

Again, we are faced with a wait and see mode regarding any cleanups because the elders are really not of a mind to have their belongings moved let alone sold or donated. So, to keep the peace, we are organizing a bit, suggesting cleanups and yard maintenance, but not pushing true removal/thinning of items. This next effort pales in comparison to our two previous hoarding cleanup, but will still require decisions on downsizing, moving, sales, keepsakes, etc.

Even here, there is a hesitancy to complete DNR paperwork or at least have a discussion. With one member being in moderate dementia the time may have passed to have a meaningful discussion re healthcare expectation and end of life decisions.

So, even having been down this road several times before, we find ourselves looking at some of the same problems again. 

Back In Time: Moving back before the hoarding………

hole in wall

When the holes are drilled and the plaster dust coats the floors and much of everything else…when wires dangle from holes in the ceiling…when drills, saws, and hammers simultaneously make their noise then you know change is in the wind.


party room lights

Lighting, safe wiring and decayed wood are addressed. Many questions along the way and there is an appreciation by all the tradesmen for what was and what is being maintained too. Mid-Century Modern is emerging…well will emerge in some portions and other areas will be a blend of contemporary and the past.

Colors, textures, patterns all from an era long ago…what would my Aunt like, what would my Mom like, hell what do we like. Somehow there is a blend that is not unpleasant so far. Mostly it is just trying to fix what was there and long smothered.

-Vintage Basement Kit
Perhaps you recall the quaint setting….
Damaged window casings unfortunately require the replacement of the windows.

The process has helped in a couple of ways. It has helped distance us from the past re hoarding and elder care for now. It has also taken us back in time before the hoarding to what was re life style, design and intent. It helps us see the two ladies in a more forgiving way and stands in sharp contrast to whom they became later once the hoarding bug bit. We are lucky we can do this, we understand many hoarders didn’t have such fortunate underpinnings before the fall.


Hoarding Woes>>>>The House Glows

I thought we would provide an update on two levels: where our (my wife and I) minds are at now post hoarding cleanup and what is going on with the hoarding house. I may provide some photos now and then because some of you had an interest in not just the hoarding journey but also in the house itself and the mid-century modern/vintage state. 

This was the kitchen while my Aunt still lived in the house. She let us reduce by a third the quantity of stuff in the kitchen and blaze a foot path through the kitchen. The dining room in the distance was greatly reduced in quantity. Originally the stuff was piled well above the shelf you see on the far wall of the dining room. Note…reducing the size of stuff did not mean anything was removed from the house…nope…just relocated in stacks elsewhere.

-Kitchen beforeOne area that needs some upgrades and alterations is the kitchen. Countertops, lighting, tile work and floor covering will be changed along with some adjustments to walls to open up the lighting/view of the room.

Wall to landingPhone cub before
Stairs to Landing

Wall Kitchen Stairs

Phone Cube

counter stripped

stove area

sinks countertops

stairs no wall

As you can see there has already been some significant changes in progress. Additional wiring, plumbing, heating/cooling, windows, siding changes are in the works. The yard will wait for a while. I will try to provide some progress reports here every once in awhile re the renovations to the Hoarding House.

As for our mental state: As for my wife and I, I think I can speak in generalities that represent what in an evolving state of mind. We are excited for the physical changes to the hoarding house. I believe we both see those changes as a means to helping renew our life and minds. We know that in and of itself the renovation is not the sole means to healing.

I say healing…yes healing of the mind, the heart, the soul even. Speaking for myself here, I am in ways numb, tired, perhaps damaged. From the hoarding house cleanup? Only in part, a smaller part. Life itself and other events in my life have taken their toll on my mind. So the hoarding house cleanup and the preceding hospice events (Mom/Auntie) definitely took their toll as they do for everyone. For the most part, I believe we have a sense of blessings, honor and privilege to have journeyed through those life ending phases with those two women.

The cleanup of the two hoarding homes is not anything I ever want to endure again. I have an inner harshness now when a hoarding show comes on TV that I was not as aware of before. Yes, we were gentle and patient (for the most part) with the hoarding sisters. But, if push came to shove, I am not so certain now how I might react with these two hoarding cleanups under our belt. One does pay a price for undertaking such cleanups on the scale that we encountered. The smells, filth, volume of stuff, waste, health concerns, physical damage, mental damage are not to be taken lightly. There are tens of thousands of decisions to be made. There is a constant assessment of worth, value, sentiment, history, family involved. There is a constant mental assessment of the hoarder and yourself that takes place ad nauseam.

Interesting, fascinating from afar. In the trenches, it is not in my makeup to ever want to face projects like this again. I know my wife agrees. I speak of hoarding cleanup. Care giving, love and support for the elder, the painful demise, the passings….there are more before us and we will be there and provide the love and strength we have gained from our previous experiences.

We will attempt to provide more pics along the way to show the progress of the renovation and interior/exterior make overs.

front door metal

front door siding

The heavy, ornate metal work on the doors and windows have come off (the vinyl siding too). Immediately the sense of being locked into your home is gone. The fortification removal is refreshing. Perhaps some day if a siege ensues I may wish I had those bars, but for now the removals are a good thing for us. Frees up the mind….not a bad thing right now in every little way we can do it.

Let the Space Be With You…………….

Recently, I showed the upholstery repair on the burned couch and mentioned our intentions to sell the couch and love seat. I posted the pieces on Craigslist and noticed that within minutes we were hundreds of posts after us. I really didn’t have much hope for a quick response. 

About 48 hours later we got one response and that was all that was needed. A very nice couple responded today to buy the pieces for our asking price. What was nice about the sale, was the couple in their sixties were buy the pieces for their mother, in her 80’s. It seemed like a really perfect fit. What was even nicer was the underlying story.

The lady has been married for 60 years and subjected to verbal abuse for years. She was severely restrained from outside influences to include radio or TV restrictions. Recently, the husband started physically abusing his wife. The end result was the kids stepping in, protecting the mom and removing her from that environment (with her consent). Now she has legal representation, the support of her children and is trying to discover her own voice. Something else to worry about elders…domestic violence.

The thought of the elder lady receiving these nice pieces of furniture was very gratifying for both of us. We know they will be very appreciated.

spaceMore space gained in the living room. There is more to be gained (just out of sight), but this was very uplifting to gain this space. The comment was heard ‘I can really see this is doable’. The selling off of these items crossed a psychological barrier on several fronts. It was liberating and felt very satisfying…a win/win for sure.

A Respit, But Not that Much

The last few days have been for resting up the brain, the psyche. We all feel a bit scattered and frankly at a loss. Spirits are ok, just an unsettled feeling like after a loss. The attorney sent out the final estate settlement papers to all the beneficiaries. They have 30 days to contest the decisions of my Aunt. I will then, if they don’t contest, do my duty and dispense the estate. That will be a relief.

Today, my wife visited interested parties with truly beautiful vintage pieces of costume jewelry. She nicely presented the pieces on black velvet in cases and embarked on a new, smaller effort to establish relationships and build interest in a different market of buyers. This was good because it helped her keep some momentum going after months of moving toward garage sale target dates. The Winter will be given over to this new, hopefully more relaxed method and additional exploration into on line sales (thank you Vanessa for the guidance too).

A few days off to rebuild and hopefully ease through the holidays with some degree of progress. Next week we will order a large drop box (how many is that now…20 something for sure) to cleanup the back yard and a pesky shop area that will require masks and goggles. Once that is done we will strategize on the securing the outside sites for the Winter rains/wind/snow. We will hunker down inside for online sales, private showings, organizing for a Spring Estate Sale (at least that is the plan right now). Last year at this time we were battling the ebb and flow of dementia with my Auntie. Christmas Eve , you might recall, she broke her hip. Surgery followed. Hospice’s vigil. February 5th she was gone. We need to move through these negative benchmarks to heal I think. At least I do. 

Cavalcade of Stuff…the Beginning

More for my benefit, to see the transformation, to see where we are, where we’ve been. It is to remind ourselves we have come far.

The Hoarding Woes Titan…the powerhouse of stuff acquisition…Auntie. A little disheveled beneath the wig, but outside where she most loved to be.
Auntie working near the front of the driveway pile a mere minutes before she went around the corner, fell and broke her knee thereby setting off a downward spiral of events that led to her death.

….In no particular order, just a bunch of pictures (photography of sorts) from mid 2011….