Thursday, July 18, 2013



  Sometimes I feel like Gollum/Smeagal from Lord of the Rings with his "precious." I have a terrible time throwing anything out and a conversation that I play in my mind goes something like this while going through a box of clothes that has stuff from the 60's-80's:
I need to throw this out!
NO! I can put this stuff on eBay and get some cash for it!
Really? Is it worth the time and effort to make twenty or thirty dollars?
It's WORTH something!
Don't be stupid, just bring it to the Salvation Army and someone who likes vintage stuff will be thrilled with their find.
Well, maybe, just let me go through it one more time - Oh NO! I remember wearing this at _insert any band/artist's name here_ the concert - such good times, how can I get rid of this!
Just get rid of it!
Hmm...maybe I should put it on Craigslist - that's local and I still can make some money.
Yeah, and how long are you going to let it be listed - I know you, it will sit there for months again! Why don't you put it on freecycle?
Maybe I can cut it up and use the material in a vintage look quilt....
Linda! You have more fabric than a whole quilt group can use in their lifetime! That's something else you need to plan to get rid of!

And so it goes. I am a hoarder - not hardcore like you see on the show hoarders, but if I let it go, I am afraid I could end up there. I have been trying to figure out why I do this. It wasn't so bad as a teen - my mother made sure of that. When things started taking over my room, she dumped all my drawers onto my bed so I would go through it and get my room in order. In those days it was mostly teen magazines, pix of The Beatles, The Rascals and other bands. I didn't have a ton of clothes or shoes, I was just kind of sloppy. My mom and dad were neat freaks, so I am sure it killed them to have a distracted collector in their home. When I got my own apartment, it was kept pretty clean- I didn't have too much extra cash and I was too busy working by day and acting by night. When I got married, all I took with me to Illinois fit in the back of an El Camino one of my hubby's friend's drove and the "precious" stuff was in the trunk of my Mustang, which we took on our honeymoon.

Our first place was a half of a house that had been used by Al Capone as a bank and a Cathouse. It had 2 bedrooms and a funny little room in the back (which is probably where the house was cut in two when the other half was moved down the road) off the bathroom that was tiny - maybe 7x4- that had a long closet on the one side. That became my place to put things we didn't know what to do with, seasonal clothing and excess whatever. You could walk into it and around it, it wasn't too bad. So the problem still hadn't reared it's ugly head.

Things were tight and jobs were scarce so we emigrated to Canada where there was work. It took the back part of a moving van to move, so when we settled into our little log cabin, things were cool. Then along came our first child and friend's who passed along things their kids had outgrown, or toys they weren't using, and little by little the second story of the barn on our property started accumulating bags of clothes and toys. We were so far from town that there wasn't garbage pickup - we had to drive 3 miles to what was called "the exchange" to dump our stuff into a large dumpster which was picked up weekly. It was called "the exchange" because, like us, there were a lot of young couples with little cash who didn't want to throw away something perfectly good when they were done with it - early recycling if you will - so, they would leave whatever they had next to the dumpster in hopes someone else could use it. It became almost a game for my husband - he hated to see waste, so he often dumpster dived to find wood and tools and other oddball stuff which he would bring home and would take residence in the bottom of the barn where he had his workshop. He had been laid off after 2 years, so money was once again tight as we lived on unemployment and found things even tighter as I learned I was pregnant a day or two before he lost his job. By the time we moved back to the US, we needed to have a garage sale to get rid of all the excess - all that stuff we had picked up or was given to use over the four years we lived there netted us $5,000! Maybe that was the start of my thinking I shouldn't say no when people offered me something, because for us, money was always tight. We lived paycheck to paycheck and never had a savings account, it's just the way life happened for us.

Things were in control and good the first little while we were back in the US, but then hubby once again lost his job when the place he worked closed its doors. It took another 5 months to find a job, so those offered bags started coming in once again. I was sewing the kids clothes at this point and doing a lot of crafting to try to sell for more money - we didn't have eBay, Etsey or ArtFire back then - heck, we didn't have computers at that point, so finding an outlet to sell from just didn't happen, and the projects went into a bag in the attic. After our son was born, I was working with three different sizes and both sexes, so there were a lot of boxes going into the attic for the girls. The boys stuff I did get rid of at yard sales. I started working with 4H and the other kids in our group came from families like ours, so crafting materials were dear and I saved whatever was left after finishing our projects - oh yeah, and the projects too, because my children made them - how could I throw them away - and what was I going to do with their artwork after the fridge became covered? Why, take it down and put it in a box in the attic - My kids are now 27-34 and those boxes moved with us in 98 to where we live now.

We finally were able to buy a home in 98 and got rid of a lot of stuff before the move, but I can safely say other than getting rid of children's clothes (tho I did save their homecoming and christening gowns as well as crocheted blankets and sweaters made by family members) those boxes of fabric, craft supplies and hubby's collection, made the trip with us. When I looked for some material to make a blanket for my grandson a few years ago, I found fabric I had bought to when a Fabric Bonanza went out of business in 1979 to make his mother some baby clothes, which I never used and moved with us from Illinois, to  Canada, to New York and now this move - they are still in the attic, along with cloth bought at another sewing center's close out back around 1990 - anyone for parachute pants or those colorful pull on pants from the 90's? I have the patterns...

My husband was injured the day we moved into our home, so we were pretty much penniless until workman's comp and social security disability kicked in. He was hurt so badly, he never worked again.
Guess what I did?? Accepted bags of clothes for my kids, games, material (like I really needed more) and other oddball things I was sure I could find a use for. I just can't stand seeing anything useful thrown away. My daughter has the same predilections I have and couldn't bear to get rid of anything she "owned". So, when she married, fully 1/4 of the attic went with her and it looked pretty good up there - but I still had two at home and their stuff went into the attic for decisions to be made when they married. Meanwhile, I had discovered scrap-booking and quilting and of course that meant buying the tools needed for both and more cloth because the cloth I had wasn't the kind you used in quilting. Quilting fabric has become something funny/weird for me - just looking at cloth, touching it and imagining what I could make with it is like balm for my spirit - picked it up when it was low. So I started looking for material at yard sales and hit the big time when I came across boxes and boxes at one sale of an elderly lady who was a quilter and had passed away. Not much of it sold, and the daughter let me take it all home the next day, because, unlike me, she could let things go. Guess where it went? Yup, the attic, where it currently resides. I have used some of it, but I have a lot of trouble with organizing my days and somehow, I rarely get to what I want to do each day.

My son got married, but was in a small apartment, so his things remained. He has since bought a house, but until he gets a staircase to his basement, they reside here. And we have added a crib for our place, playpen and all the paraphernalia you need when a baby is small - thankfully, number two is incubating, so it will leave again for a while. Luckily, other than these larger items, my daughter in law gets rid of things regularly, so there are no clothes here. My daughter moved out long ago, but was always in apartments and lived several states away, so her things remained as well. Now she is married and whenever we go to visit her, we bring some of her stuff out with us. It's funny what kids collect when they are young thinking they will either need or use in their future. My daughter kept all of her babysitter club books - about 100 of them. They are still in the attic but will be leaving soon as she asked me to get rid of them. The Little House on the Prairie books will remain till we see if she has a daughter...they were her favorites growing up. Our son still has all his Winnie the Pooh books, but they are now being read to his daughter.

So, our attic is full - and maybe for you to accept the enormity of this., let me explain it is a full third floor to our house and about 50x30. So, we have the leftovers that will eventually go to the kids, my fabric and craft collections, hubby's books, and stuff from his mom and grandfather, and magazines, some family things we can't bear to get rid of, Christmas decorations, and the aforementioned baby items -

I also have two closets like this
which hold vintage mink coats I got for free figuring I could re-purpose them.  I have given some away, the others, well, if I don't start making something with them soon, they are going on freecycle, maybe someone else is better organized than I.
I have been working diligently to get my craft room in order - I bought lots of plastic shoe boxes which I have filled and labeled appropriately 
This however, is the rest of the craft room which i have not been able to work in for weeks due to above 90 degree temps upstairs. It looks like this right now
Hopefully, when the weather breaks next week I can get back up there and finish the job so I can start sewing again. What's left to organize is not overwhelming like it was when I started.

So, there you have it, my worst quality out there for you to see. But, maybe you are struggling with this too - I know I am not the only one out there because I have friends in worse shape - interestingly enough, they are all creative types. I think I have finally figured out why I do this, and that's huge because I believe it will pave the way for me to unload. My one daughter says when we die, she is just getting a dumpster and tossing things out of the attic. I don't want that to happen: a. because I don't want to have to make her do this and b. there are some special things up there I want to pass along like my Hallmark ornaments. Anyway, I digress, I do believe what is at the heart of this is money woes for a long time. We are doing well money wise for the first time in our lives. Other than our mortgage we are finally debt free. So, there is no reason to keep little bits and pieces for crafting. If I want to make something, these days, for the most part, I can buy the supplies I need. I am hoping this will help the Gollum voice in my head and let me be free from this. Are you are closet hoarder? I hope it helps to know you are not alone, good middle class people struggle with this, and not everyone's hoard looks like "hoarders" on TV. I believe I can break this hold even tho it will take a bit of time, and I have been getting rid of a few boxes every week - I finally decided freecycle was the best way - it makes me feel better because I am not throwing something useable away. If no one sends me a post that they want it, then it goes in the garbage, because if even a freecycler doesn't want it, then no one wants it!

Happy throwing away/recycling etc to you all! It's too bad there isn't a Hoarders Anonymous - but I expect it would be much like Overeater's Anonymous where all anyone ever talks about is food! God bless!


  1. Looks like a labour of love. . . my craftroom is under construction and has been for the past two years. I get busy starting to organize and then I find something I lost and dig out the project it was intended for and one thing leads to another and I think the word is distraction - LOL!

  2. I think we all have at least a little bit of hoarder in us. Watching that show (definitely the extreme) I found one technique that I thought was genius. The clothing articles that have the memories attached, in fact anything that is purely sentimental, take a photo and have it printed. You still have the memory, but it takes up a lot less room!!!!