Sometimes you just need to get away…

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post..  I apologize for not responding individually, but I will get to it one of these days!  I am feeling a bit better mentally, but unfortunately I’ve been sick for almost 3 weeks with some sort of bronchial infection.  So I figured it was best to avoid my parents house since I was already coughing up a lung.  I was literally passed out by 9am anyways!

I am actually writing this in an airport right now as I am headed to Australia for a much needed break.  I booked this trip about 2 months ago and it really couldn’t come at a better time!  This also means that I probably won’t have much progress in my mothers house for the next month or so.  

I must say, she has been quite helpful lately.  She even vacuumed my floor and cleaned my counters and tables while I was getting ready.  Oh and she also took the yogurt and other food out of the garbage to take home.  As well as some of my recycling.  I just hope I don’t find it in her house.  I decided to keep my mouth shut since she was driving me to the airport!! 

Okay, my flight is about to leave.  Thank you again for all of your support!  I really appreciate it 🙂

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Week 18 – Bonding Over Vegetables

 

 

So I’ve found a bonding point with my mother; vegetables.  Who would have known, right? She planted 9 cucumber plants earlier in the summer and they have been sprouting everywhere!  Unfortunately she isn’t very diligent about picking them immediately, so we’ve had some pretty large cucumbers which are harder to pickle.  Yes, we have so many; I decided to start pickling them.  Why would one person plants 9 cucumber plants you ask?  Well last year she only planted about 2 and she claimed she only got one or two cucumbers out of them, so she didn’t want to be disappointed again this year.  The weather was perfect for growing them this summer, so they took off.  I normally take a walk to the garden with my mother when I first get to the house.  I feel like this breaks the ice a bit and makes my mother ease up a bit more.  That means less tension between us, which is always good!!

I was pleasantly surprised as I walked in my house because my mother actually had two bags of newspapers packed and ready to go.  She also had another bag of papers ready for me.  Unfortunately, this was a bag she took away from me when I was there last week.  She claimed that she “had to go through them”.  I’m not sure what she took out of the bag, but I’m guessing half of the contents are now on one of the piles downstairs.  When walking into the attic room, it’s always hard to actually get into the room because there are a few boxes of papers located behind the door.  I can only open it half way, which makes it harder taking things out since I can barely fit myself through the door.  When I had first looked into some of the boxes behind the door, there seemed to be a lot of bills and old bank statements.  These are too much work to go through and my mom is really touchy with throwing these sorts of things away.  Therefore I had put them aside for another day.

Well, today is that day!  I decided to go through one of the larger boxes which was sitting on the side.  I really had no clue what I might find but was happy that most of it ended up being junk mail.  Why would someone save junk mail you ask?  I have no clue, but the mail was still in their envelopes and she wrote on each envelope to identify what they were.  These were mostly for museum memberships, auto insurance, and other random offers.  Obviously the whole box was easy to throw away since everything was from about 20 yrs ago.  Of course my mother freaked out when she saw that I was throwing them away.  She tried to make some excuse about needing them.  I smiled at her, nodded, and continued to throw the envelopes away.

After going through the junk mail, I decided to tackle one more box before I left.  I ended up finding my school papers from 5th grade.  Yup, 5th grade, that was almost 20 years ago.  Most people would probably love to find some of their old papers from school.  I could see this, but trust me, it gets old quickly.  I have to say it was actually fun going through some of my old papers.  Then there are more papers and more papers.  It’s nice to see one or two book reports, but it gets old quick after you go thorough every paper you ever submitted from the entire school year.  It was time for them to go!  I was never a good student anyways.  Therefore there is no need to re-live my sub-par work more than once!!

In addition to the papers, I was able to pick up an old car vacuum.  My mother though it might still work.  There is always an excuse for hoarders, so I had her take it out to the cars and test it.  Thank goodness it didn’t work because she wouldn’t have used it anyways.  There was also an old children’s shopping cart of mine that had been sitting in the hallway since I started this process.  The plastic is so old it’s pretty much fallen to pieces.  My mother had put it aside for my dad to fix, but that obviously never happened.  I finally looked at it today and convinced her it was time to go.  She was happy because we have pictures of me using it when I was younger and that seemed suitable enough.  Was that my mother using a bit of common sense?  Shocking!!

*The additional toys and items were from my mother’s classroom when she was a kindergarten teacher.

This week:

1 box papers
2 bags newspapers from mom
1 bag papers
1 telephone
1 car vacuum
1 children’s shopping cart
3 metal cookie tins
8 cardboard boxes
2 bags dolls
1 bag garbage
8 batteries
1 little tikes house
1 little tikes pirate ship
1 tea kettle
1 box clothes

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 12 – Pickled and back to the grind

Pickles and relish and pickles, oh my!!

I’m back!!  After picking over 100 cucumbers from the garden and subsequently pickling 14 jars of pickles and 9 jars of relish, I think the cucumbers are almost gone.  I swear if I see another cucumber or pickle, I may scream.  Even though, I arrived at my parents house on Monday ready to go..  Unfortunately, my mother was ready for ME to go as soon as I walked in the door. Seeing I didn’t come by the house last week, I was hoping there would be at least two bags of newspapers waiting for me.  And as I have said before, there is always an excuse.  This week it was the fact that she had just arrived home from babysitting for my brother’s kids.  Yes, she does go twice a week and the kids are exhausting, but she definitely can find time to pack the newspapers throughout the week.  I said fine, but stated that she would owe me 4 bags the next week.  In addition, they would have to be filled with ALL newspaper (she likes to pad the bags with cardboard and other papers.)  My mother responded “FINE!!”  She had a defiant look on her face.  I responded “really??  really??  you are going to get me 4 bags of newspapers by next week?”  She responded “YES!  I will.”  Hmmm.. I don’t really trust my mom, but I know one thing she loves more than newspapers, money.  I told her that if she doesn’t get me the 4 bags of newspapers by next week, she would owe me $100.  Once again, she repeats “FINE!”  I still don’t believe her so I decide to make her pinky swear.  Mind you, this is the first time I have ever had to pinky swear my mother, but she was a kindergarten teacher, so she knows the power of a pinky swear.  Right??  We shall see how this works out..

After already getting down and dirty negotiating with my mother, I decided I didn’t want to get my hands dirty as well.  I avoided the garage and back patio and headed to the spare bedroom (aka. the attic.)  A few weeks ago I had mentioned to my mother that I sold a video set we got for free on ebay.  She also had a copy that I was hoping to sell.  I had seen it one of the previous times I was in the house, but it has now disappeared.  I’m a bit annoyed that my mother may have moved it, but there is more work to be done.  I ended up finding more items from my grandmother and great aunts houses.  I’m not even touching these boxes since I still have a pile of stuff in my own house to get rid of.  While standing in the attic, I am overwhelmed by piles teetering over me.  It’s hard to sort anything because I’m forced to put the items I’m sorting onto other piles.  I finally decide to clear off a dresser that has lots of random oddities piled on top from over the years.  Records, clothes, baby bottles, papers..  You name it!  I even found a book of real estate listings from the 1980’s that had my current apartment listed.

The Attic – View straight ahead

After clearing a small amount of space, I attempt to start organizing.  But it is very difficult as I am literally working with a 4×4 foot area directly behind the door.  I decided to work on getting as much garbage out as possible so I could have more room to work with next time I go in there.  As I am exiting the room, I am excited to find a few bags of coupons piled outside the door. These are easy to throw away but as I grab the plastic bags, I notice one of them is actually filled with old photos from my grandmother.  For someone who values the past so much, it’s ridiculous that my mother stores pictures and old coupons in the same manner.

The Attic – View to the right

In addition to my mother’s items, I have been coming across some of my dad’s boxes.  These are normally filled with the most random items ever.  Magazines, weird lists, pencils, pens, tools, shells, rocks, pieces of model cars, you name it.  You think I’m kidding, but these were all items found in one box!  It seems he was also very involved in the finances of his volleyball league as I found lots of checkbooks from almost 30 years ago!  I have to mention that while I was going through everything, my mother kept popping in to talk to me.  I’m guessing this was more to see what I was taking out of the house than the fact that she had pressing things she just HAD to tell me.  I made sure to run the bags she would be most interested in out of the house first and leave the other bags for her to survey.

The Attic – View to the left

Total for this week:
3 Bags coupons

1 bag paper

1 bag plastic

2 bags magazines

1 box egg cartons (containing about 20 egg cartons)

So how does a hoarder’s brain work?

I’ve attached an article I thought all of you might find interesting.  It details a study about hoarders and their brain functions when asked to keep or throw away their junk mail vs. the junk mail of other people.  I don’t think this study is particularly shocking seeing my mother’s reaction when I sort through her junk mail.  By her reaction I mean acting completely ridiculous as if I wanted to throw away all of her plates and insist she eat on the floor from now on.  No, I’m not even exaggerating, she really freaks out over junk mail.  They have never had cable TV and don’t plan on getting it, but opening, reading, and filing the cable TV junk mail is completely necessary.  I do feel this study is promising because it may help therapists in treating hoarding patients more effectively in the future.  I really want to bring Dr. Tolin over by their house to try a trial study NOW!!