Hoarding’s Love Languages……..

In 1995, Gary Chapman wrote a little gem called The Five Love Languages for couples to analyze, in counseling, what they need in a relationship and what their partner needs to feel loved as well.

Love Languages

So an update…as I have written before, we have been through quite the journey cleaning up two massive hoards. In the end, we sat mentally numb and physically damaged. We decided to move from our home into my Aunt (ours) hoarding home after the renovations. A renovation/cleanup of our home we had been in for 18 years commenced. There was a lot of hard work and downsizing. We moved into the new home with all our stuff and our kid’s (adults that left a lot behind) stuff.

We had retained too much of my Mom’s stuff and too much of my Aunt’s stuff in the new house (garage/basement bedroom and party room). We moved in and it was quickly apparent we needed to truly lean down even further. We didn’t/we couldn’t just yet…a family member said “we want to have our wedding in your backyard in June. Well there really wasn’t a backyard so the next few months were spent creating one and preparing the house for a one day event…everything went into the already full garage.

The wedding came and went, then a large Birthday party on 6/28. I knew the garage was haunting me…the downstairs bedroom/party room haunts my wife…

The above pic was the day of the birthday party. You can see the carport area with the BBQ. It was relatively clean at this point. The next day, was G Day…the garage had to be attacked or I would be haunted by it through the Summer. Plus I could not find any tools.

The next day dawned and I raised the garage door…I had scrupulously hidden the remote door opener to not suffer embarrassment or the need to explain too much stuff.


Above, the garage door was raised. I pulled out the top, teetering layers and still had a barricade with no trail into the garage…it was that evil axiom of ‘no vacuum goes unfilled’ when cleaning up a mess. I had to fill the carport area with stuff from the garage and so it began. Of course, I didn’t move the darn BBQ.

29 better

By late afternoon, I had pushed toward the back (above). A path had been cleared, but truly so much stuff had been pulled out into the carport to create that space.

July 2 Garage

Four days later, the space looked little different. In true hoarding/unfocused cleanup fashion, I had worked out in the garage everyday. The inside temp ran 95 to 102 degrees inside. I moved stuff here and there to make room, but didn’t sort what I moved. I seemed to trip and stumble over the same stuff over and over. Piles cascaded down. Repeatedly, I swore aloud, while thinking this was so ridiculous given what we had been through for the last 5 years.

garage 7-5

This morning, July 5th, the garage is looking better on the right side. However, the previously opened space on the left side (below) has temporarily filled with mostly larger camping items.

garage 7-5 other side

So, to the point, with the above as a lead in….I have been standing out in the oven of a garage for one week and handled hundreds of items. Most of this stuff has been handled multiple times before. Yet, I still have it. I have found myself making repeat decisions on retaining items on criteria we have mentioned before. But, today, I want to list them again in the order of my decision making because a pattern has evolved that speaks to my potential Hoarding Love language”

1) Sentimental Attachment (all keepsakes)

2) Tools (Hand, power, yard) and all duplicates, old and new

3) Containers (all duffles, bags, sacks, cigar boxes, satchels, plastic bins

4) All things fishing, camping..a gazillion duplicates

5) Pieces of something (nuts, bolts, keys, parts to stuff unknown)

Yes, the common ‘I might need it someday’…’I paid good money for that’ have come into play, but overwhelmingly the most frustrating controlling factor has been the sentimental attachment to objects I haven’t laid eyes on in years. In many cases I could not recall how I acquired the item(s)!

So the best I have come up with is I segregated the sentimental stuff to one part of the garage on one set of shelving and made a mental note to seriously sort through this stuff and once and for all get rid of it. Nope, I can’t see myself walking out to the oven of a garage and doing it after posting this. A mental wall currently forbids it. Hmm? Well, at least I see it and am embarrassed to share it here. It’s not as if I have not got full gabage cans full, right now, with stuff I have discarded over the last week. But, not enough to tell you the truth.

The carport pad is still stacked with basically three types of items: fly tying materials (a dozen bins & boxes), hand tools and probable garbage. Beyond that and down the driveway, aways, are things I am giving away.

So this is an update. This garage will never be one of those squeaky clean garages you can dine off the floor types. But, I figure I am 1/3rd done with the interior. Then, I have a shop behind the garage that is full of large, bulky stuff that will fill a vacuum at some point. Fortunately, I have not filled up the patio, yard or surrounding walkways.

It’s going to happen….I have fishing dates to attend to and no weddings or birthdays to fret about.


Slow & Steady

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” Rodney Dangerfield

Oh my…it comes home to roost. Several years of turning outward to address two hoarding houses; two kids still storing their stuff here; carting parts of the hoards to our house for safekeeping; our own stuff and most importantly we are so damn mentally tired. No there isn’t much help right now. It is just us day after day slogging along and it is hot and we are just plain done. And our neglect shows in our own home..the yard. Just the attention to detail that kept our place so nice is lacking now as we move and then have to prep the house for market. 

Yet  it had to get done. We are hiring a mover for the big stuff…we are scrupulously culling out stuff we will not take with us…we are having yet another sale to get rid of stuff. But, right now it is getting down to the remnants, that last crap  in the way, every which way you look. The stuff needs to get organized for sale.

In the meantime, I make the half hour drive to the project house to unload and then sort and then place in rooms. All this takes time. Also, all the efforts in the yard cannot go for not in this heat so the yard needs tending to. No boo hoo here. Just an update that momentum is evident if we can objectively stand back and look. Once this is over, we may sit down and not move for a month.

Busy Day…Fanciful Designs…Momentum

cottage 2 collagecottage kit collagecottage collage 3Today was a busy day at the project house. Last night, my son and I cut up scrap aluminum and filled a trailer. That was the remnants of the old patio cover we tore down and the ‘shed’ cover just off the patio. This helped open up some of the back yard, but another drop box…yes yet another drop box…will be needed for the mounting yard debris and landscape adjustments.

Back to today: carpenters in to work on the new patio cover. A ceiling was being installed. It was wired yesterday for lighting. The cedar T & G has nice knots in the design. Inside, the finish worker did a wonderful finish to the stairway railings and openings for reeded glass. The original sub-walls that were left after the wall’s exteriors were removed, were very crooked. So the finish carpenter did a great job working with those skews and built a beautiful set of railings. The backsplash was applied. A very fanciful design that challenges our traditional tile concepts. It is fun and adds to the wow factor of the kitchen. The HVAC guys will have to configure the air conditioning tomorrow…perfect timing given the temps will push 90 F tomorrow.

One of the nice dividends of all this renovation has been today’s skilled craftsmen/and women, recognize the unique quality and character of the original work. They offer unsolicited compliments. That is a nice tribute to the original craftsmen and to my uncle, who did large parts of the finish work.

Hoarding Response & the Ouija Board

ouija bdThe last sale was mid-October. After the sale, the Team broke down the sale and tucked away the remaining items that were not donated to various support groups.

With the best of intentions, we intended to maintain momentum and only take breaks for the holidays. But, it is evident, we are tired and although we never contemplate passing off the conclusion to the hired planners, we are in need of a revitalization. We are flat. We turned away just long enough to come to a grinding halt. Now we must regroup and soon. 

We are blessed with a Team that is still ‘eager’ to help. In fact they frequently ask when we are getting back at it. Why are they more eager than us?

There are so many ‘why’s in the whole hoarding cleanup process. And, the why of how come we seem a step behind others, I believe, is we bore the brunt of several years of intense caregiving for two family members and the subsequent deaths. Both passages involved countless what if’s and why’s for my Mom and my Aunt.

Both left us massive hoards and both deaths deeply sapped up. We had the in home hospice for my Mom, which ended in our living room…in a hospital bed. No sooner had we buried my Mom and stared at her hoarding mess, than my Auntie became our charge.

And, in short order, she took tumbles and fumbles and bone breaks and dementia set in. We suffered through all this but suppressed the grief and necessary adjustments as we dove into one situation after another and focused with so much energy.

A pause came along this Fall and it was like the air went out of the big balloons. Not slowly but more rapidly. So, today as I stood contemplating the back yard where so much garbage, stuff and recycling had moved through I was faced with the realization that it is time to recharge. So, here we go again. Well. actually I haven’t passed on this news to the rest of the Team, so I believe we are getting ready to forge ahead. Wish us luck. The Ouija Board didn’t offer up any clean indications.

back yd containers scattered

In Back of the Sales….The Stacks & That Sinking Feeling

Right now there are three repositories of stuff (maybe more, I will explain). The house, which has barely been touched…the Shed (a 10′ x 15′ covered area) and the TP (a covered canopy 10′ x 20′).

I have handled the Shed and my brother-in-law the TP. The TP has suffered mightily. The load shifted after we crammed the TP in March. You recall we emptied out the mega storage locker and erected the TP to handle most of the contents. The boxes settled and shifted and tilted thereby raising the sides and allowing rainwater to run in under the boxes and make matters worse. Like a sinking city, the contents have not only drastically leaned to the side, but settled into a oozy, cardboard-contents mess of broken glass, muck and wetness. Not as bad as it once was in back for sure. But still not an nice environment to work in. 

The Shed is better off. The bottom boxes to have moisture and mold/mildew from the wet bricks but the load has not shifted as badly. These three areas provide the new ‘merchandise’ moving up front. When we are bent over and digging through all this stuff and attempting to remove worthy items…this is when intruders that bypassed barriers pop up. It is annoying, distracting and they are obviously snooping for whatever purpose.

I mentioned another source for stuff. Our home, other Team member’s homes. Although not a hoarding scene, there is a lot of stuff that we could move out right now. It is a perfect opportunity to clean out stuff. It lends some contrast to all the mid century stuff too. We shall see how diligent I am in cleaning out my own nest. I did move out some old fishing rods and they sold right away.