Once again, I was amazed by the amount of money I can get for taking odd bits of metal in to my local (and very tidy and pleasant) metal recycler. I find that over the course of a year enough items accumulate to make it worthwhile to sort and take them in. Each year for the past 4 or 5 years, I have received more and more money every time. I hate to throw away items that can be recycled - and if someone is going to pay me for them, all the better. Many of them are items that cannot be put in with our municipal recycling anyway. Those worn-out aluminum frying pans? Worth way more than you'd imagine due to the value of the aluminum. A steel roasting pan with holes? It's not worth quite as much as aluminum, but add in some folding camp chair frames (after the fabric has worn out), some hinges from your old gate, and some galvanized steel downspout pieces and you have a good haul. Copper items are especially valuable and even insulated copper wire items like computer cables, cut-off power cords, and old seasonal light strings are worth enough that it would be silly to throw them away. All I do is designate one box and toss in whatever I find for recycling; I sort it out when it's time to take it in by separating the metals. Copper and brass are easy, and a magnet will help identify the steel.
I took in brass shower faucets/fittings, some badly dented aluminum water bottles, copper pipe scraps, a heavy copper wire cord from an old stove, a huge shopping bag of computer cables, and a box full of steel items and ended up with enough to pay for an afternoon of mini golf and ice cream with my kids. Everyone was happy!
Wednesday, August 27. 2014
Saturday, April 12. 2014
Looking around on Twitter this afternoon during a rare five minutes of spare time, I came across a message from an organizing-type group that suggested that you should make two new recipes every month. Ok, aside from the fact that the majority of us, me included, do not have the time or inclination to seek out ingredients and spend time making two brand new recipes each month, it made me think: why do we keep recipes we don't use? We clip them out, bookmark them, print them, get them from our friends - and then never make them. If you cook at all, you surely have a stack/list of recipes that are in a folder/drawer/digital location somewhere and you don't use most of them. How is having a stack of never-made recipes cluttering up your kitchen or bookshelf or computer any different than having a heap of clothes you don't wear filling up your closet?
Next time you go to your stash of recipes, take 30 seconds more and find one that you know you'll never make. Trust me, once they have been there a while, it is easy to see which ones you won't make: the ones that contain some exotic ingredient you could never find, take three days, or just sound gross. It doesn't matter how anti-oxidant-loaded or high-fibered it is if no one in your house will ever eat it. Toss that recipe in the recycling (paper or digital) and make more room for the recipes you love to make and eat. Repeat until you have a truly useful, delicious, suitable set of recipes. I'll talk about cookbooks in another post.
Wednesday, March 12. 2014
Back in February, 2012, I posted my list of rules for the 2000 Things List. I've recently had people asking me how I decide what things to count and how to count them so it's a good time to revisit this post. As a side note, I find reading my own writing to be a strange experience; the writing is both familiar and foreign at the same time and sometimes I am surprised by what I've said. The one thing that sticks out for me in this post was this phrase: I believe it the action that counts, not the counting. I feel that one of the myriad reasons my hoarding parents keep so much stuff is that they don't see the value in the habit of ongoing editing and pruning of their belongings. I use the List as a way to keep reinforcing the good non-hoarding habits I'm developing to overcome the bad habits I picked up from my parents.
The Rules of the List, originally posted February 2012
I've created a set of rules to help me decide if something should be included on my 2000 Things List. At first, my only rule was that the item had to have been in my house prior to the day I started the list. Then I realized I needed a bit more to it so that I could be pretty consistent in how I chose to include or exclude things. But so that you don't think that I am being overly uptight about this, you should know that this is the first time I've written down the rules. You can be as loose or tight with your own rules as you wish. I believe it the the action that counts, not the counting.
I must have had the item for some time in order to make it eligible. A book I just bought, regretted and then decided to donate right away doesn't count. A book I bought in 2000 does.
- Regular, ordinary recycling and garbage items don't count. Yesterday's paper, milk carton and soda can don't count. A newspaper kept for posterity - the kind where you can't even remember the reason why you saved it in the first place - counts.
- If the old item is immediately replaced with a new, same item (e.g. new kettle for a broken kettle), it doesn't count.
- Food and personal hygiene items don't count unless it is a product I would not ever purchase again.
- If it is not my stuff, I have to ask the owner (husband, kids) before giving it away.
- The size of the item is not important. A bread bag tag found under the stove is one item. The old dining room table I sold is one item.
- Stapled paper (e.g. ancient term papers) counts as one item, but loose sheets of paper are roughly counted individually. Like I said, it's the action that counts, not the counting.
- Items on the list must be dealt with right away - recycle it, give it away, post the ad, or garbage it now before you start to second-guess your decision.
Sunday, February 23. 2014
A while ago, I read a piece by one of my favorite bloggers, Thalia from Tetanus Burger. She wrote about the reasons why she and her sister have been cleaning up their Dad's hoard in a slow, controlled way and how this continual forward progress of the cleanup is so wildly different from the way they were raised. Thalia talked about how her Dad never got around to hooking up the water heater someone gave him, free, because of the insurmountable problems he conjured up that would make it so hard to install the heater that it just wasn't worth doing. A commenter on another blog, Hoarding Woes and You, brought up the theory that Thalia's father did this to show control over his possessions and his family. This isn't the first time that I've heard COH saying things like this. I've read several COH blogs and been on chat groups where others have mentioned how hard it was for their HP to accomplish anything, and not just for the obvious reasons. True, sometimes our hoarding parents/HPs couldn't physically get to the item that needed to be repaired or replaced, or the means to fix/replace the item were buried somewhere and also unreachable. But there were so many tasks, little and big, that our HPs couldn't start/finish for no other reason than themselves.
There are two examples that show how my parents make things hard for themselves; one is small and one is enormous.
The small one happened while we were visiting my parents one summer weekend. By this point, my (then) family of three could not - and would not - stay at my parents' house because of the crowding. (I should tackle that topic in another post, since it's a common question I get asked: why don't you stay with your parents/visit your parents more often?) We were staying at a hotel and just over at the house for a few hours. My Dad had been fussing around with the internal workings of the upstairs bathroom toilet tank. He reappeared a short while later with a grim look on this face. In the process of trying to fix the minor problem with the tank, he had managed to crack the porcelain. At least there was a second half bathroom that was available, because the broken fixture would have to be replaced. As I mentioned, this was in the summer. My Dad left the house shortly afterwards to go pick up a new one while the repairing mood was still with him. We had to leave before he returned, so we figured the replacement would happen and all would be well. We returned to spend Christmas with my parents and family, again at a hotel, and somehow did not end up at my parents' house at any point during that trip. The family gathered at my brother's house for Christmas dinner and gift opening, where my brother and sister-in-law gifted my parents a new toilet. Hmmm. Turns out that the purchase didn't happen in the summer, or the fall, and my brother hoped this gift would kickstart the process again. That was December, 2004. Last I heard, the new toilet, still in the box, had finally moved to my parents' house, but that's it. It is 2014. In my limited plumbing experience, it doesn't take nearly 10 years to switch fixtures. I believe that unless my brother agrees to do the work, it won't ever get replaced.
The second example is, as I said, enormous. Imagine the toilet-non-replacement fiasco and extend it to a whole house. IN the early 1980's, my whole family had to move out of our house for close to 6 months so that dangerous gas-emitting insulation could be removed from the walls. The house had to be completely gutted and rebuilt inside. We moved back in well before the work was completed because we had run out of places to live. We'd house-sat, crashed with relatives, and lived in a travel trailer. We were fed up and so were the relatives, so home we went. There were no floor coverings, few interior doors, no kitchen cabinets/sink, no door/wall/window trim, no paint on the new windows, few light fixtures and incomplete bathrooms. Over the years, two rooms out of the whole place have gotten carpet, but that's it. The doors have been nearly all installed, but with no trim around the new doors, they don't provide privacy (not to mention, it took even longer to install doorknobs). There's still no trim anywhere else. There was trim, but it had to be thrown out about 15 years later after it deteriorated in the leaky garage. I painted the windows myself in the early 1990's during my summer holidays but they haven't been done since. The bathrooms got done to the point that they were usable, but absolutely ugly. The kitchen - well, there's still not really a kitchen 30 years later. There's no cabinets, just metal shelving, a rigged up kitchen sink arrangement, and flooring that is made of scraps of vinyl left from the house gutting. A good hunk of the problem was the vast quantity of boxes that were moved back into the house when we returned. I am certain there are still unpacked boxes from that time. The boxes did legitimately make it hard to attach baseboard trim and complete the flooring. But in reality, everything was do-able if there had been a will to get it done. There never was and after all these years, I don't expect there ever will be. I'm in awe of those home reno shows where people are excited about gutting and redoing a house. It scares me witless, and that's not the word I'd like to use.
Monday, February 10. 2014
Paper is a big problem with hoarders, and children of hoarders don't get to see their parents deal with their paper and learn by osmosis. I can't believe the types of paper I used to keep, like university essay research notes, old wall calendars and every Christmas card I ever received. Scraps, full sheets, out of date - it didn't matter. I remember that in university I had a hard time recycling the notes I took on paper when I was doing research; even when I was done the paper, I still found it difficult to part with the notes. They represented a huge amount of effort and a hunk of my life I wouldn't get back. What if i needed them again? Or, horrors, what if I forgot what I wrote there?? I was totally my mother's daughter when it came to paper.
I've been conversing with other COH (Children of Hoarders) in a group and the topic came up of scanning paper so as not to have it lying around. My feeling on this is that scanning
only makes sense if you have a clear plan for what is important, a
system to sort/organize the files, and a timetable for reviewing what's there
so you can delete unneeded stuff. Otherwise, pretty soon your computer is going to be the digital equivalent of a messy office. If you are scanning things just to get them out of sight with no clear plan for why, where and how long, it's no better than dumping papers in boxes and sticking them in the closet. If you are a COH, you know how that worked out for our parents, and it is a slippery slope from there to keeping every newspaper flyer/circular that comes to the door, just in case. You know, just in case you want to know how much cereal was selling for in the early 1990's.