Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Untitled. Because once again I'm too tired to think of a title.

:::::raising hand:::::

I'm still here. 

Still making progress.

Still dehoarding. 

But I think I may have overdone things yesterday. I've had pain off and on in my elbows since I was on the antibiotic I took for the post-op infection in my incision a few weeks ago. But I'm having a lot of pain in my right elbow today. I'm pretty sure it's tendinitis, so I'm going to have to take it easier over the next several days.

I have so much I want to blog about, but I just haven't been able to find the time. It seems every time I find the time to blog I sit down to the keyboard only to fall asleep.

Mom is still here and still helping me out. I can't get over how much we've gotten accomplished since she's been here. I will forever be grateful for her help. And I will store all the wonderful memories we've made together in my heart to pull out in the future when I need a smile.

Yesterday, I got the inside of Hopper's closet repainted. The bottom third of it had to be replaced when the basement flooded right at 2 years ago, and although it had been fixed, it still needed painted. The flood also loosened several tiles in the closet, so I got those replaced yesterday as well. 

Hopper will be back in her bedroom this weekend. I should be able to finish it all up tomorrow. The sorting is done. I have a few empty boxes to take out to the trash and some clothes to put away. Other than that the floor needs scrubbed, the baseboards need to be installed, and we need to spray well for spiders. Hopper should be able to sleep in her room tomorrow night.

I'd like to update more, but the typing is getting to me. 

I'll be back soon for more than a weekly update.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Home Sweet Home

For years I have tried to get the laundry room organized. We bought this house 9.5 years ago, and I've never once succeeded. Don't get me wrong. I've come close, and I've made amazing progress at different times. 

Let me back up a minute...

The laundry room is more of a utility room. It not only contains the washer and dryer, but it houses the furnace, water softener, upright freezer and water heater as well. It's a huge room. It takes up 1/4 of the basement-about 250 sq ft. We have room to not only store the outdoor Christmas Nativity, but we also have room to store 20+ totes of Christmas and other holiday decorations. The room also contains one small chest of drawers with a hutch on top, a 9 drawer dresser to use as storage, and a double utility sink in the room that we put in a few years ago.

For the most part, the laundry room is unfinished. The previous owners put in some drywall and a couple of closets, but the drywall is only on one one wall. The other wall is concrete, and the ceiling and floor are unfinished. I did what I could by painting the room a light mint green, so it wasn't so dark and painting the furniture to match. Overall, it looks okay. But it's never been organized.

The last 3 days, Mom and I have dusted, scrubbed, sorted, purged and organized. I'm exhausted, but thrilled beyond belief. For the first time since I started Project Laundry Room 9.5 years ago, the laundry room is exactly how I wanted it all along. And while it only took 3 days with Mom's help, that's 9.5 years in hoarder years. 

I'll post pictures later, but suffice it to say, I'm delighted that so many more things have homes than did a week ago. Whether that home is the shelf above the washing machine and dryer, the small chest of drawers with the hutch on it, or the trash, I'm thrilled they've found their way home.  

Slowly, but surely, I'm finding my own way home.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Things are going well here. We're thrilled that weather is keeping Mom here and we get to enjoy her company a bit longer.

We've been plugging away here and there on the dehoarding when we can. We've gotten most of the Christmas decor put away, but we'll take the tree down tomorrow and get the decorations put away that I didn't get around to last year. They've just been sitting in baskets waiting all this time. They'll be dusty, to be sure, but I'll be thrilled to dust them and get them put away. It will be such a relief to finally have them done.

It's been so nice having Mom around to be able to bounce ideas off. I've had problems getting rid of a few things and talking with her has helped me make decisions. For example...

Several years ago, The Hubster was deployed, and he asked his mom to order flowers for me. So she did, and she signed the card instead of just letting the florist. When she signed the card, she wrote 'I "love" you' on it from my husband. It's bothered me all this time. Like she thought that the love from my husband needed to be in quotes, because the love he had for me wasn't real love. So all these years, I've hated the mug, but I've kept it in the cupboard, because it technically came from my husband. 

I don't know. Maybe the quotes for her are like underlining are for other people. Maybe she uses them for emphasis in a good way rather than to sew doubt. I don't think any of us have ever gotten a birthday card from her without the word, happy, being in quotes. It somehow has always felt like the wishes weren't actually sincere. If she hadn't been a proof-reader for several years, maybe it wouldn't bother me, but I can't help but let my mind obsess over it. And every single time I see that mug, it brings back that horrible obsession, and I don't have time in my life for negative reminders like that.

It went in the donation box. I know my husband won't mind a bit. He'll be glad to have a little more room in the cupboard.

Another thing I've dealt with is a little teapot that my cousin made and gave us for our wedding. It's not that she did a poor job on it that I don't want it. I mean, it does come close to matching my good china in color, in spite of the fact it doesn't come close in style, but we haven't used it once in the almost 25 years we've had it. Not once. And now, it just makes me sad, because it reminds me of the ugliness she and her mom and sister treated her brother with. I'm not going to go into it here, but it's just very ugly, and I don't want to be reminded of that sort of ugliness every time I look at it.

Bugster wants the teapot, and she is more than welcome to it. I'll let her get rid of it, if she doesn't want it anymore. I think she just wants it to potentially use next summer when she and Bubster have their formal wedding ceremony. I am sort of hoping she doesn't find it as appealing once she sees it again and decides to donate it. I'm sure someone will find it worthwhile and have good memories associated with it. 

In the meantime, I'll be enjoying the space it used to occupy.

I'll try this last one one last time. I've accidentally erased it 4 times now...

Several years ago, I had a friend who did what she could to cause strife between Bugster and me. I didn't find out about it until I'd gone to see my dad and be with Mom and my siblings two days before we lost him to lung cancer. The night before he died, this so-called friend told Bugster I was taking advantage of her by going to be with my dad when he died. Thankfully, instead of being successful in driving that wedge deeper, the situation brought Bugster and me closer together.

During our "friendship", this woman had her husband, a very talented artist, make us personalized Christmas ornaments for our tree. They were gorgeous. Our names were painted in white on red satin Christmas balls. They had beaded holly leaves made of green glass seed beads. They were absolutely gorgeous. But when I came across them this year, I realized that they only reminded me of her ugliness towards me and my family.

They went in the trash.

So even though I haven't had time to write about things every day since Mom has been here, I'm making huge strides. I'm learning that I don't need to hang onto things I don't like due to obligation, and it's not worth hanging onto things that are hideous to me due to circumstance. No matter how beautiful they may actually be. 

Life's too short to be emotionally drained by things.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Blessings big and small. At least we didn't wake up dead.

Lots has been going on here in The Closet, but I haven't taken the time to post about it. I've been busy. I will be back daily soon. In the meantime...

Remember that our water heater went out last summer? 

Well, here's the rest of the story...

When the plumber came in to install the water heater the next day he told us that he "shouldn't actually install it, because it wouldn't be up to code" but that he would, and we'd have water by the time he was done. He also told us that he could not solicit extra work at the time, because he was installing the water heater for the Big Box Store, and that he was on their dime at the time, so to give him a call in the next few days.

Well, I was having some complications from the surgery I had at the time, so we weren't able to keep the appointment we did make. So The Hubster tried repeatedly over the next several weeks to get a hold of them. He called and left messages, asked for them to return his calls, etc., but nobody returned his calls. Not once. He even let them know that the plumber had left his wrench at our house, but it still wasn't enough to get a call.

In September, we got a call from the regional code enforcement officer about the fact that we had an open permit on the water heater. He asked, if the vent work had been done yet, and we told him that it hadn't. That we couldn't seem to get a response from the company that installed it. We didn't hear from code enforcement again, either.

The last several months, this has all been hanging over our heads. So when I had my latest surgery, The Hubster really started thinking about it and how to get a response from the installers. We just knew that there was a permit pulled on our house, and that we would be responsible for getting it all up to code, but we weren't sure what it all would entail. And we had no idea where to start, since the installers didn't seem to know how to work a telephone.

With my recovery from surgery being in the forefront followed by holidays, it took awhile for him to get in touch with anyone. He called the Big Box Store right before Christmas and asked what to do, since we couldn't get any sort of response. Amazingly, the installers suddenly knew what the numbers on their phone was for and made an appointment to come and look at the water heater. 

So the Monday after Christmas, the kid who installed it came out to say that he would call the regional code inspector to take a look at it, and that "Who knows? Maybe they'll be lenient and pass it, so it won't cost you any extra money." 

Uh. Huh. :::insert eye roll here:::

The Big Box Store called to let us know that they called the inspector, and that they made an appointment for Friday. But Friday was New Year's Eve, so they called us back to let us know that the inspector would be out on Thursday instead. We just knew it wasn't going to be good news.

We were right.

The inspector was on the verge of panic. He said it was a very dangerous situation. He showed us how there was hot air coming back through the vent above the water heater when the furnace and water heater happened to be on at the same time. In fact, the heat had melted the red and blue plastic washers that showed which was the hot water pipe and which was the cold water intake pipe. He said that every single time that happened that carbon monoxide was coming into our basement. 

That it could kill us all.

He told us to open the laundry room window and leave it open to let fresh air in until the vent could be replaced and to get someone out there as soon as possible to get the vent work done. He did feel much better knowing we did have a working carbon monoxide detector in the basement, but he was definitely concerned for our safety. We both really appreciate that. 

We called as soon as he left the house, but the plumbers we wanted to fix the situation (we went with a company we've had work on other things in our house over the years...we were not going to go with the original ones who could have killed us!) weren't able to make an appointment for us until this week. They came out Tuesday and gave us some more bad news. It would cost almost $1200 to fix everything and bring it up to code. 


The Hubster and I ran out to try to get a home equity line of credit, so we could pay for the venting, but we decided against it. It would cost several hundred dollars just to find out, if we'd qualify for the loan, and we didn't have several hundred dollars. So we opened a new credit card to cover the expenses. 


We went with plumbers we've used in the past. They did a fantastic job, and they were worth the money we had to pay. It was an awful lot of money, but at least we knew our family would be safe, and there's no amount of money in the world that was worth risking their health. The inspector came back yesterday and let us know everything was up to code. The inspector even seem relieved to know it was done, and we'd be safe. 

After the inspector left yesterday, I called the Big Box Store and gave them an update on all that happened. He asked, if everything had been solved to our satisfaction. I told him that it had indeed, but that none of it was to the credit of the original company that had been sub-subcontracted by the Big Box Store. That we had to hire someone else, etc. He asked me to please call BBS's Customer Care Line and lodge a formal complaint there. I was more than willing.

Once I'd told the representative at the Care Line what had happened, he thanked me for the information. He then asked how they could make it right. I had absolutely no idea. More than anything, I just didn't want this to happen to another family, and for someone to end up hospitalized or to wake up dead from carbon monoxide due to the incompetence of the installers. He said he would be forwarding my complaint to the store manager, the district manager and the regional manager and again thanked me for my call.

First thing this morning, the phone rang. It was the installer (the sub-subcontractor). We let the machine get it. The machine no sooner finished recording the message when the phone rang again.
It was the Big Box Store's subcontractor asking us to give them a call to talk about the complaint. We decided to wait until later to call either back, and let the machine get that call, too.

Thirty minutes later, the owner of the plumbing shop showed up at our door. He was very rude to my mom and just as ugly with my husband. Mom said he tried brushing her aside to come in the house right when my husband showed up behind her. It was definitely to try to intimidate them. 

He was gone by the time I got upstairs, but I was so irritated. I decided to make the phone call to the subcontractor right then and there. I didn't want my family to be harassed any further. I mean, really. What sort of business that has a complaint lodged against them shows up at the person's home, if the phone call is ignored? That just blows me away.

Anyway, I called the subcontractor. She asked for me to tell her everything that happened since August. She only knew that there had been a complaint lodged, but she hadn't been given the details. I was more than happy to let her know what happened, but I started out by telling her that we did not want the plumber showing up at our door again. Period. She assured me he would not come by again.

I told her everything that had happened. How we were very concerned over the fact that we could have all died due to the negligence of the plumber. That we were appalled that the plumber installed the water heater knowing it wouldn't pass inspection, and that they needed to only deal with plumbing companies that have the guts to refuse to install anything that won't pass inspection. 

After taking all the information in the complaint down, she asked, if she could call me back within the hour. I said I'd be home. She needed to talk to the managers of the company, (It's a national company that subcontracts plumbing installations for the Big Box Store), but that the managers were in a meeting. 

The phone rang 10 minutes later. 

She asked how much the vent work had cost us. I told her it was almost $1200. She asked, if I had a receipt. I said yes. She asked, if I had access to a fax machine, or if I could scan the and email it to her immediately. They wanted to make things right, and the national subcontractor company was going to pay for the cost of the vent repairs. They are apparently also going to be sending us a $50 gift certificate to use at the Big Box Store. 

Before we hung up, she asked me, if there was anything else they could do to make things right with us. I told her that the only thing I could think of was to make sure that the plumbers who installed the water heater would never hurt or kill any family by repeating the situation.  

I pray there's no other family out there who had these plumbers and have carbon monoxide filling up their home due to their negligence, and I praise God that He protected us through this whole ordeal. Praising Him also that He took care of the burden of a $1200 bill that we didn't have the money to pay. 

We are indeed blessed.