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.

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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.


Hoarding Transitions…

For those of you that have followed along here at Hoarding Woes & You, you have seen the transitions of the house and the immediate surroundings (the driveway, the patio, the carport/garage). I thought I would share a sequence of images of the back yard that transformed from my Aunt’s well maintained, heavily flowered venue to a mess and to what we have created this past few months….

Tillie backyard 1987
My Aunt’s backyard in 1987…representative of the entire back yard…but by now she had started filling the patio and had created the tarped sidewalls.
patio walls
The patio, a lovely spot at one time, was encased in layers of canvas/tarps and then the 20′ x 20′ x 10′ area was completely filled.
BY tarps 2011
The once well maintained backyard was filled with pallets and box upon box of stuff…covered with layer upon layer of blue tarps.


BY tarps 2

BY corner
The cleanup commenced and layers of rotting stuff and dead animals were pulled away.
The backyard was cleared leaving a muddy mess….but this vacuum was filled yet again with debris from cleaning nearby areas…this happened repeatedly…

 by pile

The photos could go on and on over the last few years cleanup, renovations, and now the new back yard…I will just show the end result
BY 5-2015

by 5-2015 c

BY 5-2015 a

Not quite as laden with flowers, but still closer back to the original. The birdbath remains…somewhere there is a photo of me standing there some 55 years ago…but let’s not go there!!! Sorry for the size of some of the photos…Hope those of you that followed along from the beginning or somewhere in between enjoy this sequence. All of the roses were my folks and my Aunt’s. It feels so good to bring a semblance of beauty back to the yard and the house.

A first Christmas in the ‘hoarding house’….

the project house, the ‘cottage’, the ‘hoarding house’, ‘Tillie’s’ (my beautiful Aunt’s name house). Our first Christmas in the house is miraculous. We are full of joy and bountiful thanks.

first xmas tree cottage

Joy abounds. Thanks beyond our wildest dreams comes forth. Small ‘but’ we are damaged and maybe forever beyond renewal. We are so banged up we cannot make an assessment that connects with the past abilities to assess and rebuild. We got blown way off course to a new world. The past markers do not seem to connect to the present reality.

first xmas cottage

We aged, we were physically damaged on top of existing ailments, and most importantly we suppressed our mental anguish while trying to complete the two hoarding house cleanups and now come out on the other end disconnected and grasping to create a new new. Life is busy. Pain and suffering have created immediacy and focus on ‘now’. We seem unable to go back to find the past and bring it forward to ‘heal’. 


I don’t write any of this to be dramatic or seeking even a response. It flows forth as it is. A trauma from hoarding woes. Not different from anyone suffering much more catastrophic damage and having to move on in a new realm.


We mounted an effort to respond to the hoards. We were situated in life with strengths and weaknesses. We moved forward to attack the hoards. But, we (our lives) were simultaneously besieged with additional assaults and challenges aside from the hoards. It all mounted together to wear us down into the present. We won the war…all the damn battles…but we are crippled.

xmas red characters

And, there is life. We survive with scars, limps, pains, traumas, mental defects as victors..as survivors of what others created and we took on. Regrets?

Not sure…so numb and discombubliated as we are now. I/we cannot understand it all. Life in all its raw reality moves on. The clock ticks. Life passes by. It seems wasteful, pointless to go back now to dissect the why’s of hoarding and the damn damage it did to two beautiful women! Damn it!!! Damn!!!

Christmas was throughout their lives the most important time of year for my Mom and Aunt. They left home, in their teens, between Thanksgiving (no thanks) and Christmas. They each moved alone cross country to escape terrible abuse. They rejoined at Christmas time. Joy! Salvation! They both attached a HUGE significance to surviving their journeys and arriving together during Christmas just before WWII.

My admiration for strong women knows no bounds! I tear up thinking how damn strong they were, how sad they were.

Patio Floor Evolution

I have shown these images, in part, before. But it is so enjoyable to view these changes every day. It is pleasing to the eye as the patio/yard evolves. To have cut into those tiles seemed sinful at the time, but so has been tearing out the kitchen tiles, taking off some of the vintage awnings, removing the original beams of the patio cover, plastering over the lilacs on the bathroom ceiling. Changes that have resulted in beautiful changes. I am also mindful that my Aunt had made other changes over the years in design and style. Couple that with the fire she had some years ago and sentimentality/traditions can give way to the realities of change.

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A Profound Blessing

The hoarding house…..project house/renovation house is progressing nicely. Now with a little bit of exterior touch up to be completed, the project is for purposes complete. A long (mentally/financially) process from December to July. Now the improvements are more decor/furniture/rugs and little of that. Dare I say it is done? 

Here are a few images (I won’t beset you with too many) of the kitchen area showing the old (that we wanted to maintain but was damaged and needed to be replaced) and the new.

kitchen hoard clean~

kitchen old empty


kitchen stove


kithcen corner sink


railing reeded glass


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Ok, maybe I did put in quite a few pics. There is a small portion of reeded glass that is ordered for a couple kitchen cabinet doors. That is on the way and soon will be installed. Beyond that the kitchen is done! 

Now on to reupholstering a collection of my Aunt’s chairs, a few rugs, and a careful consideration of what to bring into this home. A blessing…a profound blessing! 

Flying the Kite…Catching the Wind

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

Oh that tedious portion of ‘organizing’ and moving. The easy, consolidated parts first. Then the remnants, the oddball pieces, the residual stuff. What emerges in all this, thus far, is several massive hoarding cleanups has resulted in a minimalist mentality. With not a blink of the eye or second thoughts much is being left for the moving sale. It can’t, it won’t be going along. With all we have been through we are remorseless, harsh when it comes to keeping anything that might be used, could be used, etc. 

flying kite-yard art-kite-photography-SwittersB