I certainly don’t think of myself as a hoarder, but I do have a lot of stuff. It is occupying space in more than a few rooms in this house. There is yarn, wool, fabric, sewing machines, books, magazines, spinning wheels, puzzles, knitting needles and computer equipment in the studio. There are books and knitting in the bedroom. There are bookcases and storage containers in the hall. There are books and more computer stuff in the office; there are full bookcases, spinning wheels and a weaving loom in the entry way. There are books and a small amount of wool in the living room (and two spinning wheels? not sure and have to check).

I am not wedded to most of this stuff. I have “plans” for a large amount of it – but much of it I would happily give to someone who was going to make use of it. I don’t save things that I might not use. I throw out things that don’t work and can’t be fixed.  I don’t have all the shoes, clothing or sweaters that I have ever bought or made. I have lots of thermos coffee mugs (still looking for the perfect one) but have been known to pass on/toss out those that I don’t want any more, don’t work well or are missing their lids.

I have been steadily weeding out books, yarn and fiber; finding homes for many of the items with someone who will love them more than I.

All of this leads me to our three storage rooms in the basement: another part of the interlocking mess that is our home. The furthest back room has been home to suitcases and a dozen cardboard boxes since we moved into the house. Going through them today – there is a set of three suitcases with clothes in them that arrived in 2006. Said items were originally left with me in Kuwait in 2003 for safe keeping while a fellow officer went to the HQ in the Green Zone. She hadn’t picked them up by the time I left in 2004. When my successor was leaving Kuwait in 2006, they were mailed to me (clinic was closing and relocating) because I was in Europe and MPS was free.

For a number of years I attempted to return the things. Finding the officer once, she laughed her head off that I still had them because she had effectively forgotten about them. Never did get any disposition instructions. Six years? I don’t think that there is any point in hanging on to them any longer. Tomorrow they are going to PHV and going on the free shelves. This is sturdy, middle of common sense pants and shirts (of the kind most often worn by civilians on deployment) and someone will get use out of them. The suitcases will also land there, again someone have something better than Walmart.

And then there are the VCR tapes, boxes of them. I am not referring to commercially produced tapes, rather all the shows taped from the TV in the early 1980s. Primarily German kids stuff, there are a few movies and educational programs as well. No one volunteered to burn them onto DvDs, so they will also make a one-way trip to the recycle center (except for those that one friend said she might find takers for).

Did I mention every backpack, suitcase and messenger bag that we have ever bought was hiding back in that room? Well almost every one. There are a couple upstairs right now and it looks like the brown set we had when first married are no longer around. Some of the packs and cases have rips, tears and scuffs gouged half-way through the bottom. This is before we discuss mold, stains and old lunches that have petrified. I now have the box of “things to disgusting to donate or pass along.”  Don’t you think that single, worn through shoes and torn curtains fall into the same category?

Now, none of this stuff is mine. So I am not a hoarder…. Right?


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9 Responses to Hoarding

  1. Alison says:

    Nah, just middle aged. Stuff accumulates around the middles.

  2. Cat says:

    Of course you are not a hoarder Holly! Good grief…that is mere clutter. We all have clutter! Clutter is useful stuff. You might need it one day!
    Pity you live so far away. We could swap some clutter!

  3. Lynne says:

    Have asked myself the same question over the years . I saved many things, not sure why, but knowing that someday I would be looking for something just like that. And sometimes that even happened. More often it didn’t but I did get very creative with a lot of the items. One of my favorites was a large bag of hypodermic needle casings that I saved after my DH needed infusion therapy for a staph infection years ago. Stuff with puff balls , add eyes and a chenille stem for antlers and you have a box of adorable ornaments to give to the local children’s charity.

    Then a few months ago, I noticed city officials at a house down the block. She was always known for being a hoarder, the overflow ending up in the carport and outdoor entranceway. She kept to herself and seemed healthy, being seen gardening or getting her mail from time to time. After that, it seemed like the police were there every few days until just a few weeks ago, when three police cars were there and later that day, signs were put around the outside of the house saying “STAY VACANT”, our city’s way of saying that nobody should enter said property. Apparently, after family was unable to reach her, the police were forced to gain entrance, had to crawl on their bellies from room to room, finding the owner barely alive in the back room. Her dog was not as lucky. She is recovering in a local hospital and thankfully, her family will be taking her with them when she recovers.

    It definitely helped me decide I was NOT a hoarder, just a crafty person with a lot of stuff. Regardless, I’ve been on a cleaning spree since then, deciding, like you, that many other people were in need of the things I was saving for a rainy day in way-too-sunny Tucson.

  4. Cheryl says:

    Child Protective Services can use suitcases and backpacks. Children often have to throw their things in a trash bag when they are removed from their homes.

  5. Holly says:

    Good point – overseas we are in a slightly different situation. Army Community Services has such supplies here on their shelves (and things aren’t needed all that often as just about everyone with the military has something or other for suitcases since they all flew over here).

    Since the recycle has a free store, I know that one or other of the junior folks/families will wind up picking them up. Meets my criteria for having the items go somewhere they are needed.

  6. Linda says:

    Here’s the link to a really sweet story about dealing with clutter and things from the past from the NYTimes. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/garden/24qna.html?_r=1
    it is very timely that a friend of mine posted the link on the same day you wrote about your stuff.

  7. Pat says:

    Alright, you wrote my essay. 🙂 Very nice, thank you!

  8. Bob says:

    Thought you might find this interesting.

    Click on the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLBE5QAYXp8

  9. Ann says:

    One of the funniest bits I heard on NPR recently was about a mom who got everything ready for the return to school for her two kids, except for their reusable lunch bags. Very long and funny story short, they were still in the kids backpacks (since the end of school) and still had food inside. One was crushed at the bottom or a HS girl’s books, and one was on top and rotted. After finding them, she decided to play dumb and let the kids “find” them and deal with the contents. Needless to say, the story was much funnier and I remember sitting in traffic and laughing myself silly!
    I seem to hoard papers on my kitchen counter. I wish I could just give up the paper version of the daily newspaper (after all, it’s online) and I do throw out bags of papers at least once or twice per month. No, technically, I don’t think either one of us is a hoarder. One help with my book situation is that I’m a slow reader, so there’s no way I can accumulate books at the rate you do, but then I wish I could read as fast as you do!

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