Week 15 – Watch out for hazardous materials!!

Hazardous Items – Ready to go!

This upcoming weekend the city we live in is having a hazardous waste removal drive.  I see this as my chance to clear all the hazardous things I can find from the house.  Entering the house, I make a beeline to the garage because I have to imagine there are so many hazardous things swimming around here.  As I walk in, it becomes clear that everything I need to get to is on the other side of the garage.  I start by clearing a walkway through the garbage so I won’t kill myself attempting to walk across all of the trash.  Having a clean path will make it easier to take things out as well.  I get rid of a bunch of newspapers and garbage that are in my way to start.  Then I come across a bunch of my father’s “organized boxes.”  These are normally filled with the most random things ever.  Magazines, papers, pencils, screws, tools, whatever you can imagine.  I have already found a few of these boxes so far and they are so annoying to organize because they are always a random hodgepodge.

I’m pretty sure my dad got this out of the dumpster in the first place. I definitely tried to get rid of this about 10 years ago. Now it’s GONE for good!

One box is filled with magazines so I put them in a bag to try to throw them out.  Of course my mother stops me and tells me they might be worth money.  I take the nice ones out and put the rest aside for now.  I will figure out if I’m really going to try to sell them at a later point.  Of course I get a call from my mother the following day stating that she went on ebay and saw some of the same types of magazines for sale for $12.  I double checked this and noticed that most of the magazines she was referring to didn’t actually have any bids and were never sold.  I went to the trunk to see what magazines I had left and realized that I ended up throwing out the bag of magazines by accident anyways.  Oops!  I don’t think anyone would want to buy these things since I had taken them from an area that was full of mice/squirrel feces.  Yuck!!

Old turpentine and paint stain cans

So, back to cleaning up!  After I got through that mess, I finally made my way to the other side of the garage where there were plenty of hazardous things for us to take out.  Yes, I am saying “us” because my mom actually helped me today.  She helped carry a lot of the garbage and hazardous items through the house!  I was shocked to find that the 15 or so paint and 6 turpentine cans were actually empty!!  My father used to paint doors on the side when he was involved in construction, so they were probably used for that.  That was about 20 years ago though!  I am happy to see they are empty because they will be much easier to dispose of!  We ended up pulling about 4 boxes of wood stain, paint, turpentine, and other random hazardous items out.

At one point my father was watching as I pulled out container after container of stuff and he commented “wow, that’s a lot of junk!  It used to be good, but now it’s a lot of junk!”  I looked at him annoyed and dumbfounded.  I responded “Yes, this is all of your junk!!!”  I shook my head and proceeded to go through more of his piles of crap.  We finally filled up my car and I left as quickly as possible.  I would have pictures, but I was a filthy mess and my mother was around the whole time so I couldn’t let her see me take any pictures!  I did snap a few pictures as I was waiting in the car for my mom on Saturday though.  Sorry for the poor quality!

Paint? We’ve got tons of it!!

Saturday (hazardous waste collection day) came around and I called my mother.  I said “hey mom, I’m coming to help bring stuff to the hazardous waste collection thing.”  She said she had already loaded up the car and was ready to go.  I told her I wanted to check out the house across the street for more stuff, so she told me not to take too long.  This is the same person who says she is coming over in 10 min and shows up 1 to 3 hrs later.  I head to my grandmother’s and grab a few things.  I also asked my mom if she got rid of the paint in the basement.  She acts like she doesn’t know what I’m talking about.  I go downstairs and find about 5 boxes of spray paint my father used for making die cast model cars.  I started packing paint away to take to the hazardous waste drive and my mom comes down.  She hurriedly states that some of the paint has never been used.  Mind you they have a sheen of dust over them, so they aren’t very desirable in their current state.  I ask her what she’s going to do with them and she says she is going to put them on freecycle.  Great, she got that excuse from me last week as I said we could get rid of some things from my grandmother’s house on there.  I throw as many cans in the box as possible (prob about 40 cans) and leave back another 40 or so as my mother is getting more and more annoyed.  At least I can say I tried.

2 Bags garbage

6 bags newspapers (2 mom)

8 bags paper

1 stuffed animal

15 empty paint cans

6 cans turpentine

4 boxes hazardous paint/stain/chemical cans


Week 13 – Oh hey, there’s a floor under all of this crap!!

Most people would consider the massive piles threatening to collapse and smother me every week as my biggest challenge through all of this.  After spending 3 months conquering pile after pile, I have to say that my mother is most definitely my biggest challenge.  She shocks and amazes me with her ridiculous behavior week after week.  I have to say we are working along better now than we have in the past, but old habits die hard.  She constantly drives me crazy and it’s even more annoying that I feel like HER mother.  For example, last week my mother had no newspapers for me.  Did she have an off week?  Maybe, I get it, some weeks you don’t want to do anything.  But if I don’t constantly harass my mother, she would do even less than she does now.  Even though, I am there every week working my butt off every week.  Do I get a thank you?  Ha, yeah right.  So it got to the point that I had to threaten her to get me four bags this week.  I walk into the house and I’m shocked to find three bags filled in the front hall with my mother diligently working to fill the fourth bag.  In addition, the bags were all filled to the brim with newspapers.  This is a big change because the bags are normally half filled or padded with other sorts of papers.  I don’t understand why my mom can’t find this motivation herself.  I am working so hard every week and I feel like she either is wasting my time by going through everything that I have already done, or she is being lazy and making me do all the work.  Obviously the psychology of hoarding makes it all more complicated than this, but it’s frustrating.

How I feel by the end of the day..

I decided to keep working on the attic this week.  The problem is that even though I got some garbage out last week, there is literally no room to move.  I started going through some boxes near the door so maybe I can actually open it next week instead of thrusting my weight onto the door and forcing myself into the room.  Some of the boxes were filled with old bills and others with old papers from when my mom was a teacher.  I decide to leave most of these things aside for now because it will take forever to sort through them.  As I start going through some of the plastic bags piled up near the door, I find lots of bags of garbage I had thrown out years ago while I was living in the house.  I used to get so upset because my mother would go through EVERYTHING I threw away.  It was a huge invasion of privacy then and it’s even more upsetting that all of it was stuffed away in a back room for years.  I’m just happy I can throw this garbage away once and for all!

At one point my mother tries to open the door but it barely opens because it is now blocked by items I’m trying to sort.  She freaks out and literally tries to break down the door with me sitting behind it.  I guess she thinks I’m trying to hide something.  I tell her to give me a minute as I clear a space so the door can open again.  Among some of the items I had found were coupons from 1989 and 1994 as well as old newspapers.  I’m guessing these were stowed away during a last minute Christmas cleanup.  I open another box as my mother is standing on the other side of me and I’m shocked to find that it is also filled with garbage!  My mother literally grabs one of the bags of garbage from the box and runs away with it.  I am hoping she is going through it downstairs to help me, but I never find the bag.  I am beyond frustrated at this!!  I decided to hide the bags she would want the most and put the other bags in the hallway for her to go through.  As I’m getting more bags ready to bring to my car I realize my mom has disappeared downstairs into the living room.  I walk in to find her sorting through a huge garbage bag filled with plastic items for recycling.  She is literally taking everything out and stacking it next to her.  I get upset and start grabbing things back from her and start putting them back in the bag.  She becomes affixed on an instruction booklet that she claims is for the clock in her bedroom.  Mind you she doesn’t even use her bedroom.  I make a point that she was able to live without the booklet for 10 plus years while it was hidden in the attic.  She wouldn’t have known it even existed if I didn’t take it out.  I tell her she still has a lot to get rid of and ask if the booklet is REALLY worth keeping.  In the end, she lets it go.  My father came into the room after hearing the commotion and helped urge her to stop going through everything as well.  Even after all the commotion with my mother, I feel like I made a dent today and I’m excited because I can see more of the floor in the attic!

As I have mentioned in the past, my parents own a few other properties in addition to their house.  This week I also made a visit to my family’s rental property.  This was bought about 20 years ago because my grandma was getting older and was living alone in the middle of nowhere.  My parents helped her sell that house and bought a two family house so my grandma could live closer to us.  She passed away 6 years ago and the lower rental unit has been sitting vacant ever since.  My mother still hasn’t cleaned out all of my grandmother’s old things and has also filled the house with items from my great aunt.  The house needs some big repairs after being left neglected for more than a few years.  I am here today because I had stopped by the day before to see how the house is doing and noticed a window broken on the garage door.  In addition the back door to our vacant rental unit was ajar.  This made me completely nervous and I was so happy my boyfriend was there to go through the house with me.  I don’t know how long the door has been open for or who has been going through the house, but I don’t think anything is missing.

The fact that people are going through this house makes it more imminent to get the house repaired and rented immediately.  I had a friend meet me there today to give me an estimate for new siding for the garage and new windows for the house (which have rotting sills and need to be replaced.)  The yard needs a lot of work and grandmother’s apartment needs a new kitchen.  Of course my mother wants to put next to no money into the place though they have the potential to make most of the money back within a year or two.  I am so frustrated with this situation and with my mother in general at this point.  I need to be careful or I am going to get burnt out very quickly.

This week

4 bags of newspapers from mom (2 from last week)

2 bags old coupons

1 bag old newspapers

1 large bag papers

1 large bag plastic

1 bag garbage

1 dustbuster

Misc. tins

Week 4 – Trying to keep control..

So it’s week 4 and feel like I need to disclose the fact that we have two houses in addition to my parents house and my house.  Let me also start by saying that hoarders should never have more than one house.  To make it clear, the first “other house” is referred to as across the street for the obvious reason that it’s across the street from my parents house.  This is the house my father grew up in.  It was originally built as a two room war era house, but my grandfather added a living room, additional bedroom, and an attic onto the original structure.  Since then, my parents, paternal grandmother, brother, and myself all lived there at one point or another.  I had intentions to remodel it and move in after college, but part of the house is on a dirt foundation and it needed a lot of work.  I decided that I would rather buy my own place instead.  The house has been vacant since then and the final goal will be to clean the house out and have it knocked down.

Since I hadn’t been across the street in a while, I decided to stop over and assess the situation.  Looking around the downstairs area, there are cobwebs everywhere and bottles, cans, and other recycling left from my brother some 7 or 8 years earlier.  Then I step upstairs into the attic, this is a particular problem area because the 60 year old insulation is falling and has covered everything in a gross brown dust.  I quickly grabbed some pictures, jewelry, and documents, but realized most were from my grandmother’s second husband whom I never met (all of my grandfathers passed away before I was born.)  I took a small box of my grandmother’s things and called it a loss.  There was more work to do at my parents’ house.

So onto our favorite topic.  Newspapers!!  Earlier this week I received a call from my mother telling me that she was going to recycling and that she was bringing the two bags of newspapers she packed up along with her.  I pause and ask hesitantly “not three?”  Now she gets snippy with me, my mother replies “No!  Not three!  I am telling you the truth!  I was only able to get two bags” (as if there just weren’t enough newspapers to ever pack up three bags.)  I try to emphasize the fact that the whole point is for me to come and get them.  She asks if I just wanted her to leave them at the house and I reply yes.

So I head to my parents house and realize that my mother has taken the newspapers to recycling herself “since she was going anyways”.  I don’t know if I believe her or not, so I’m not counting them this week.  I ask about the third bag and she gets snippy again.  I get a response along the lines of “don’t push it.”  I attempt to take a bag of something else.  Clothes maybe?  Surely there aren’t enough of those either.  Only all of the clothes that we have ever worn since we were babies!  Once again she says “don’t push it.”  I go upstairs and start piling up some boxes I went through the week before to take out.  They are mostly pots and pans from my grandmother and great aunt who both passed away a few years ago.  My mother is watching me the whole time and is trying to go through everything I put down.  I tell her I will take everything and lay it out at my place so she can see it.  She points out one contraption she thinks is “antique.”  Ugh!  I finally get everything out and grab two bags of milk cartons to make up for not taking any newspapers. Supposedly she keeps milk cartons so she can store food for the compost before bringing it outside.  She also said she would like to keep a few to make some houses with the grandchildren.  No way whatsoever!!  I practically grab the bags and run. Finally I get home and lay everything from the boxes out on a blanket on my living room floor.  I count about 27 pots and pans.  Most are old and aluminum.  They will probably be going to goodwill.

My first haul from my mothers’ house. Lots and lots of pots and pans.

I decide to sort everything between good and bad piles.  Mixed in are some old kitchen tools and tins that would look pretty cool together on some shelves, so I put those aside.  I doubt they are antiques, but they have some character to them.  Otherwise, I am excited to find some really nice iron clad skillets.  I will definitely be using those!

I have my mother come over the next day to sort through everything with me.   This is important so I can gain her trust and let her know I’m not getting rid of anything valuable. I am also including her in the decision-making process.  I tell her that I’m unsure of what goodwill may do with some of the older pots (some aren’t in the greatest of shape.)  I was going to bring them to recycling, but she insisted that they could be worth some money so she would like to bring them to the metal guy.  Great.  She ends up taking about 10 of the pots.  I put aside some of the nicer pots and bring the rest to good will.

*as a side note, I got a call from my sister in-law about a week later asking why there was a box of pots in my mom’s trunk.  Obviously they haven’t made it to the metal guy yet.  Sigh.

This week:  No newspapers 😦

3 boxes of assorted pots and pans

2 bags of milk cartons.

Total – 6 bags of newspapers