Saturday, 24 November 2012

Nought To Sixty And Mental Cornering

I am sitting in the middle of the floor surrounded by boxes and bags, covered in dust and with an odd Popeye twitch blink.
Two remarkable things about this tableau are:
1) I can actually sit in the floor. Not a lot of floor but STILL. FLOOR. I CAN SEE CARPET. 

And 2) I am not swearing or in a miserable heap, sobbing into a binbag. 

For November, with my defective brainmeats, that is nigh on a miracle. So am celebrating/binning/grinning madly. Especially since a few weeks ago I was ready to crawl into a nest of the rubbish bags and stay there till at least the end of March. Then with a medication boost I was a strung out Nic Cage with an attention disorder. Sort of “A little tired, a little wired, oh, SQUIRREL!” Definitely shades of Gone In (Less Than) Sixty Seconds. I make a terrible Nic Cage though. At least I hope I do. My ordinary state is quiet, still and inclined to nap, much like an elderly cat. When Nic Cage was on board my inner elderly cat was in a state of clawy panic and hanging on desperately. 

Naturally, with this titanic battle waging between my ears, I couldn't concentrate and ran out of dehoarding motivation fairly quickly. The elderly cat would merely wonder if it could sleep on an item and if not, lose interest and Nic Cage ran about yelling about bunnies and forgetting what the question was. 
It was an exciting time in the Dragon Hoard and no mistake. I raged about the Hoard to no purpose at all, or lay on my face eating biscuits. Major Dragon couldn’t work out whether to yell at me for my lack of work in the Hoard, give me cake or cautiously ask about what was going on. She generally settled for picking one each evening depending on what mood she was in. Since Major Dragon hates this time of year too, we are an operatic party of fortissimo voices and clattering kitchen rage at the best of times. The neighbours have probably stuffed entire pillows in their ears. 


Um. Where was I? Well, I would like to explain how everything worked out in some sort of sensible way how I wound up on the floor binning but I am not very sure. I have memories of having Nic Cage moments at stupid hours of the morning and I think I gave up and tried to find something to do. Next thing I know it is… some time later and I have filled the wheelie bin. And I am a good chunk calmer. I don’t know what is in the bin but the medication ensures I don’t really care. Excellent.
And Major Dragon? You won’t believe it but while Nic ran amok, she decided to show me up by doing some clearing. And she found some bags marked to go to the charity shop. Now the CoH readers know the drill. Open the bags, check for valuables, opt to keep most of said “valuables”, sorting them into a fresh stack of boxes and bags, well, halfway before getting tired and/or bored, and leave them scattered in the nearest goat path so you feel like a Olympic hurdler when trying to get to the bathroom. And then they look on in blank bafflement at their offspring while they hammer their heads off the nearest wall again because stuff just won’t leave. I was gritting my teeth preparing for the inevitable head/surface contact as MD told me cheerily about her discovery…

“Sorry, you did what?”

“I said, I did like the books tell you to and left the bags sealed to take to the charity shop since they were marked with the yellow stickers” 

*blink blink* 

She really did that. Not even Nic Cage was ready for that one. 

Okay, they haven’t gone to the charity shop yet, but she still hasn’t touched them. Not one quick “just in case” double check so far. I can’t quite believe it. 
I am not sure what demented movie actor has got a hold of the steering wheel in Major Dragon’s head but long may they keep driving.

(PS. Hopefully that is the formatting of the post fixed.  It went a bit Nic Cage too I think. Tell me if it is still all weird and gappy and justified)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Big Rivers And Books

Ahoy there!  

I am taking a small break from paddling upstream way of life that is dehoarding.  To catch up with how you all are, how I am, what the date is, is that a new haircut? It looks lovely.

So how is the mighty Dragon Hoard? 

Still hoardy, with Dragons popped on top like slightly irate cherries.

But you could have guess that one I think.  The interesting challenge of a blog is how many different ways I can say “same shit, different day” before we all fall face first into our keyboards snoring.  (I sometimes wonder if eventually I will reach a madly hysterical point in blogging when I just open a post with “Dear Readers, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” and just batter my keyboard with a cardboard box before pressing send. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… oh wait. No. *smacks self in face*)

I may be a tiny bit sleep deprived.  I am having the weirdest dreams about cleaning. One night there was a full scale nightmare about trying to scrub the cooker which had stuff falling over it. The following one was about cleaning the bathroom.  Once I had found the bathroom.  Then there was the one about filling the wheelie bin and trying to get it down to the street to be emptied.

It appears that whatever I am thinking about just before I sleep, whatever I am doing during the day, my brain seems determined to do a rerun of it.  I am a long way from the days where my brain played entire Words With Friends games in my sleep, my brain is set on sleep action.( Actual coherent words.  It is more than I ever manage when conscious, I will be honest.)  It is getting to the stage where I wish my body joined in with the brain on the sleep cleaning.  It would be amazing to wake up to that!  In the meantime I am gently trying to bore myself to sleep by staring at comfortable looking couches and beds on Pinterest. The hope is that my brain fixes on these and I could have a nice peaceful dream about sprawling out on a comfortable piece of furniture.  Knowing my luck I will dream about dreaming of sleep, fall down a rabbit hole and utterly confuse myself but even that would be better than my nightly housekeeping horrors.

So a fuller status report without the dream cleaning?  Autumn has well and truly fallen over the Hoard.  So my awake hours have been filled with preparations to at least ensure the Hoard is wind and watertight. Well less Hoard care and more preparations for the survival of the inhabitants.  The UK is generally a land of milder, very wet and miserable winter weather with occasional attacks of genuinely wintery snows, winds and temperatures that stab you in the lungs when you venture out of doors. So I decided to get ready for either, or indeed both. The garden has been cleaned out, cut back, swept up and hoard items pushed out the house to molder out of the sight of a beady eyed Major Dragon were snuck into the bin. The gutters have been cleared of what looked like an entire hydroponics garden. The garage has been arranged to minimise the damage of its leaking roof.  A rubbish pick up has been arranged for garden rubbish.  The outside tap has been shut off. Next up is digging out the goat paths to the radiators to discover if they are still working and attempt to clean up/bleed/etc to let the house be heated somewhere slighty above igloo level. Since I don’t hold out much hope of that, I have washed all my bedding so I can make a hibernation nest.  I am not good with winter.  I spend most of it sitting next to a radiator in about 20 layers complaining bitterly.  Is that Dragony?  Must be I guess.  I need to be kept in a steadily heated, slightly moist environment.  My quest for this is near religious. (lots of failing with wailing and rending of clothes)

Let me show you a clueless Dragon’s holy books.

 2012-10-06 11.45.17 HDR

2012-09-29 12.24.48 HDR

Yes I pursue the science of home comforts in a religious way.  I think a lot of children of hoarders might do the same.  But that might be another post.

The first book has been a constant companion for years.  Getting workmen in is…difficult.  I do my best to make it happen but I will attempt a lot of simple things to ensure we don’t have to do without anything crucial.  This is one of the bonuses to learning hoard survival.  You learn more than that, you learn quite a bit of just basic survival.  Come any apocalypses and we may find we have a jump start on disaster management.  And generally CoH’s agree that we develop some interesting skills from living with hoard and hoarder.  I am only just starting to become aware of that.   That is another thing that might grow into another post of its own once I have finished thinking about it if anyone is curious.

The second book was a buy from Amazon on a whim.  It was a penny plus postage so I thought it was worth the gamble.  The first book tells me a lot about how to survive various domestic disasters but the real danger of living in a hoard is well, forgetting how to actually live.  Disaster management, hoard survival are all very useful but that is the temporary emergency shoring up and not a long term solution.  Sometimes you are buried in stuff for so long you really can’t remember what it was like to live in any other way. 

You could say I am digging this time to find the me that was here before the hoard. It would be nice to find Major Dragon too but one step at a time I guess.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Put The Flags Out

For I have returned!  From somewhere.
Well you see there was this parrot…and it…with the…and…with the …dog…but…fell…and then he ATE the…danced…then Kate said…lost her tiara and then…GOOOOOOOOLD!
But I promised I wouldn’t tell.
It has been the summer of highs and lows. And that was just the weather here on our little party island. There have been quite a few instances of just shutting the door on the Secret Dragon Hoard and getting out and enjoying the UK before 2012 is over. We have no wealth to speak of but our Diamond Queen and a hefty whack of gold, silver and bronze.  The Jubilympics have been pretty good really.  My cynicism vanished somewhere down a goatpath  in the Hoard and I haven’t been all that keen to dig and recover it. It is probably sitting, irritably chewing on dustbunnies, waiting for me to fetch it from the depths.
So in a round up of the last 3 months here at the Secret Dragon Hoard, let us take a look at the scoreboard! Points win me empty spaces! 
Secret Dragon vs The Hoard
Hoard is still a landfill with doors and a roof, I have not managed to wish it away in my sleep, alas. (despite some serious mental effort.)
Secret Dragon 0 Hoard 1
The knives are still sleeping. (I am actually scared to touch them in case they get cross again.)
Secret Dragon 0 Hoard 2
One operational tv still.  Which is in Major Dragon’s bedroom.  It struggles bravely on but when it hiccups from overwork, the roars can be heard across the land.  But I am refusing to give in and sort out the dead ones downstairs till Major Dragon removes the box fortress she has created around them.  I think this might be tv war.  All I know is that all the smaller tv’s have somehow flocked together in MD’s lair including the one I technically own and I had managed to previously keep out of her clutches. Curses!
Secret Dragon 1 Hoard (including MD) 3
MD managed to sneak away my tv while I was away visiting friends (it was amazing! There were carpets! I miss carpets. And skirting boards.)  I think it might have been a shot back at me after I, with the aid of Reformed Dragon and her long suffering boyfriend (I feel certain the mere mention of Avon would trigger some serious flashbacks for him,) spirited the computer table out the house when MD was out at work. She HAD agreed to it leaving, if you remember, in the last post.  But naturally whenever I attempted it, had a myriad of utterly crucial reasons why she still needed to keep it. Up to and including want to use it as a dressing table, work bench and paperwork area. Considering I am currently squeezed on the less than 1ft x 1ft space on the couch not inhabited by boxes of papers, with my laptop resting on them, you can picture just how well the last suggestion went. 
Sod it, even with the tv loss I am totally taking the point for this one.
Secret Dragon 2 Hoard 3
Deep clean of the littlest room. Bathroom attacked with Barkeepers Friend.  And bleach.
Mysterious stains in bath finally removed (they have driven me bats for YEARS and nothing would shift them.)
Toilet seat accidentally wrecked with a slightly over generous hand with the bleach. Oops.  So I added some stains back in the bathroom after I took the others away. 
Might have to call that one a draw.
Secret Dragon 3 Hoard 4
You may have temporarily bested me Hoard but I have plans and a to do list and I am not afraid to use them with a stern face and squooshy antibacterial spray. *determined face*
Before I stride off into the sunset, dragging a rubbish bag and cloths like a raggedy cleaning peacock, I shall share a non table moment from Major Dragon this summer. She turned to me with a baffled expression, “I know I bought all this stuff” *arm wave at 3 irons, two steamers, kettle and hand blender all still in boxes in front of her chair* “I don’t remember doing it but I have seen the credit card statements.  My brain must have hiccupped or something” 
Since then I don’t think she has bought an electrical item.
Major Dragon 1 Hoard 0

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Hoard of The Flying Knives.

Progress is a terrifying thing.

Especially in a hoarded house since things get way worse before they get better. Clearing can be a bit like going bananas in a forest with a chainsaw. You do flatten the trees but the chances are high that the trees will be equally as successful at flattening YOU.

Flashback to the conversation that started it:
Major Dragon: ..."and it is only 50 pounds, so what do you think?"
Secret Dragon: "yeah, if you want" thoughtcloud above head: "what was 50 pounds? Oh hell, what did I just agree to?"
MD: "great! Then you can get rid of that horrible office chair"
SD reflex response: "and that knackered computer table"
MD: "yes"
I mean, you ALL know how she feels about tables.
Stupidly after the initial panic I just rolled with it. To discover that MD was replacing my beat up faux leather office chair (that I brought in as MY chair and refused to part with as there was no room for me on the couch) with a new swish one a workmate was getting rid of. At speed. At such speed it arrived on the doorstep before I had even figured out a space for it. We ended up half an hour before the chair landed trying to ensure the front door could even open wide enough to allow my new swish seat to enter. (yes, mine. She thinks we will share it but the couch is her dance space. My Swayze face of Steel says so)

The chair duly trundled in and squeeeeezed into the hall. And spent the evening there being sidled around. But alas. The trees were waiting after my chainsaw massacre style tidy. I carried my teapot past the chair and got caught. The chair bounced off me, the front door and then off me again knocking me into a large shelving unit.

And the trees fell.

Or rather a fish tank lid, complete with bulb and flying cables, a plastic poncho, a metal pot lid holder, a copy of Attitude magazine with a naked man on the front and what felt like 3 tons of polystyrene shot off the top of the shelves and launched themselves on to my head. And of course since I was jammed between chair and shelves there was to be no leaping to safety. Also rooting me to the spot was pure terror. On the shelf behind my shoulders was a box of old kitchen knives waiting to be disposed of, and I could feel something cold and metal against my neck...

So I stood there. While Major Dragon grumpily hauled herself to her feet for the slowest rescue ever grumbling the whole way. It was like being rescued by Pratchett's Foul Ole Ron. She opened the living room door and was distinctly underwhelmed to find me standing in the middle of a scene of carnage with a large fish tank lid and an equally as large knife balanced on my shoulders. And still clutching my teapot.

I suppose it says far too much about me that the first thing I did was hand the teapot over to be put down somewhere safe, doesn't it? SAVE THE TEAPOT, IT IS MY ONLY HOPE. I won't even pretend it was the almighty thump to the head.

And really, I am glad I did. I definitely needed restorative cup after phase two of the Get the Chair Into A Room Operation. While balancing the chair over our heads in a bid to fit its padded majesty through the not so large living room doorway we ended up next to the shelving unit again. And the knives were still angry at being disturbed from their peaceful slumber.

Let us just say, I don't think I will need to cut my toenails for a while.

I think I may spend the rest of the week telling myself that the mild concussion, limp and large leather chair means I can do a brilliant Bond Baddie impersonation.

PS. I feel I should apologise to the poor soul while searching google for the "hidden hoard of hotness" wound up here instead. I suspect these were really NOT the droids ladies you were looking for.

Monday, 7 May 2012

What’s New Pussycat?


A blogpost is possibly percolating about hoarders in the media, possibly focusing on the UK media since awareness of hoarding is only really getting started here in the mainstream but I would like to see a bit more of The Hoarder Next Door and have a good think first. ( CHAnGE are wanting to read and discuss that I know.) I have been taking notes and everything. I don’t know who I am any more. Whatever happened to watching mindless tv while dribbling slightly and eating chocolate?  I am worried Readers, very worried. Also, I am out of chocolate.  It just isn’t right. 

If you have an opinion, article etc. to share with me on that please do. I try to google about and find stuff but word of mouth is always more effective for these things. 

An update on the Hoard of The Dragons. Hold on to your hats and anything else you treasure. 


Oh yes. Even more shocking? Minimal argument. There was a bit of whimpering over cardboard boxes but it was easily dealt with.  I am not sure what happened there. I think I might blame clutter hating aliens. Welcome Visitors From Another Planet. I worship you muchly and make you an offering of binbags.

So where did this car full of cardboard boxes, paper, bedding, towels, pet food the cat yacks on the 10 inches of free carpet if she so much as looks at it and an old duvet* go? To the cat and dog home! 

Which is kind of perfect for the items you don’t think are good enough for a charity shop but still feel guilty about throwing out.  The major difficulty for Major Dragon is the “but there is nothing wrong with it!” yell that catapults out of her mouth when something floats too close to a binbag. (She also has the “I paid good money for that!” yell but that might be another blogpost with extra swearing. If anyone has any good tips on how to handle that one I am all ears.) But at the same time she hates the item and has already replaced it anyway. At least twice.

I could have hugged the nice lady in the cat and dog home. They will take pretty much anything and use it. Even shredded paper she said (rather hopefully. I assume it is used as bedding for the smaller animals that they care for.)  I am filled with joy that all the “useful” cardboard boxes that Major Dragon insists on squirrelling will have somewhere to go that isn’t the Hoard.  Also it gives me a list of items to gather when a good natured friend offers aid and a car.  I still feel a bit guilty enlisting them on dump runs but a trip to the cat and dog home to give them things and aww at all the cute animals sounds much more palatable doesn’t it?  The only downside is I want to cuddle all the animals and take one or seven home. Not that they would actually fit in here so they are safe but I do turn into a utter idiot in there, only capable of making weird noises and waving my fingers at kittens with a dopey smile on my face.

So, clutter clearers, hoard cleaners and people with a bag of worn towels. Phone your local rescue centre and see if they can use what you have. Chances are it will be a big fat yes.

*in general pillows and duvets are a no no owing to difficulties cleaning them but as we turned up with one, they will use it regardless and likely bin. But pretty much everything else can be used. Our local centre is also looking for spare wool as a nice lady knits them patchwork blankets they then sell in their shop.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Teapot Tales

Last week I threw a teapot in the bin.

Hmm. That doesn’t really fully capture the import and emotion of this event.

Reader, I PUT A TEAPOT IN THE BIN. There. That is probably a little closer.

The thing you really fight with the most in a hoard is not the objects (well, they do put up a hell of a fight but that is another blogpost, a lot of other blogposts,) but rather the guilt. For the sake of household harmony you learn not to lob stuff in a bin without due care and attention. If you don't, well things can become a little fraught. Major Dragon still mentions items that I, whisper it, might have flung in landfill about ten years or so ago. I still haven't confessed to that. I just remember the freedom of standing at the edge of a cliff we had backed up the loaded car to, swinging my arm and just letting stuff fly away from my hands. (it should be noted this was before local councils got going with all the recycling schemes. I highly doubt that landfill area is still there. And if it is I bet they don't let people walk up to the edge of it and just drop stuff in any more.)

In many ways the brave new world of recycling is the worst thing that could happen to anyone trying to corral a hoarder. It adds to that guilt I mentioned earlier. A hoarder is often brought down by the decision making leading to item disposal. The discussion over every single item is now drawn out even further. Should it go in the bin? And once that is answered and the non hoarder has prevailed - the final question/argument has to be hammered out: WHICH bin should it go in? Should it go in the bin at all? What about the charity shops? The council recycling centre bins? The cat and dog home? I walk the fine line that runs between responsible recycling human being and freedom banshee that wishes she could shriek and just push everything off the edge of the landfill cliff.

I had been quietly hating the teapot for years. It, of course, was one of Major Dragon’s ”I’ll take it” items from a workmate (remember The Table? I sometimes wonder if they bring stuff in the office to save themselves a trip to the dump. I don't think there is anything given away in there that MD doesn't bring home.) The teapot was a huge, horrifyingly twee thing, with enough patterns and flowers to give you sugarshock. But I felt like I couldn’t get rid of it as MD had brought it home for me since a previous teapot had jumped to a shattering death from the kitchen counter. Actually two of them had. I reasoned that if I was going to become an accidental teapot smasher then I may as well keep one I hated, since obviously it would die in a few months. Ha. Years later I found myself glaring at it. ”I am going to throw that teapot away” I told MD. ”but you can’t!” she immediately replied. ”there is nothing wrong with it”

I started fixating on teapots. Adding them to my amazon basket, staring at them in the shops. I apologise to any shop assistants I probably frightened while lurking in home sections of the supermarket. I WAS ON A MISSION. I was going to find the most beautiful teapot ever and I was going to buy that sucker. Then Horror Teapot was going in the bin NO MATTER WHAT Major Dragon said. And I finally did it last week. I bought a beautiful little round teapot from The London Pottery Company. It keeps the heat and pours neatly and I am just in love (check me, so British it hurts. Sorry American readers, you must be baffled!)

The other day I poured a lovely cup out for MD with it while she looked on approvingly.

”Does this mean you are getting rid of the other one?” she said.

”I have always hated it”

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Idiot Box and Comfortable Carrots

I have nothing exciting to impart about the Great Hoard Clearing Attempt of 2012.  We are still staggering along.  Avon items for ebay are roughly priced after Reformed Dragon had another small shouting fit (there was a bit of a moment where Major Dragon tried to create a list of the things she wanted to keep out of the sale list. RD did not take this well and said quite a lot about that.  It featured quite a few swearwords.  RD is quite talented at sweary rants.)

The bins go out and come in again on the rubbish tides.  Sometimes there is even rubbish in them.

Generally I would rank the Dragons as doggypaddling along rather than drowning.  There are no great achievements but no utter disasters for the time being.

I think that might rank as a great achievement in itself. 

A lot of my  time has been spent finely tuning things to be just annoying enough to make Major Dragon want to deal with them.  This is a verbal alchemy that only a child knows, the right way to say things to mildly irritate a parent into action.  I could mend a lot of little things for her but all the books say tis better for a hoarder for make these decisions themselves.  I don’t know if it will work but I am a gobby bugger and might as well try it out.

Case 1: The tv or the freeview box has broken in the living room.  We aren’t sure which.  This doesn’t particularly bother me.  I am not a mad tv watcher so it doesn’t grate.  However Major Dragon has a fairly large idiot box addiction.  BUT of course, she has stacked so much stuff in front of the tv that it isn’t easily reachable to test, fix, swap for another tv out the stash of them MD has acquired over the years.  And I am not doing it.  A rough count tells me we own 7 televisions.  I think. They are the ones I can see anyway. There may well others I have forgotten.  Well strictly speaking I own one of them.  But no tv reception in my room means MD kept appropriating for her occasional tidy up attempts so it drifts round the house like it is lost usually.  It is a small flatscreen tv so it worked for her “getting stuck in” moments.  Which apparently need to have the tv going as she works in case she gets bored. This applies to just about every domestic chore from cooking to ironing.  Don’t even ask me to explain.  It makes the red mist rise.  She will spend more time farting about setting up the tv and watching than clearing when she has one of these attacks.  I have put it beyond her reach for the time being so when MD is feeling ill used that is good for a complain and insistence since I don’t watch tv it should be her tv and she should be able to use it any time she wants. Ha, NO.

Anyway. That was the first shot in the campaign. No tv, no free floating tv she could set up hurriedly meant she would have to clear, yes?  Well she is still holding out for the time being since tv can happen on her laptop but happily it BSOD’d the other day (possibly from tv streaming exhaustion) so I live in hope that eventually an MD going tv cold turkey will eventually lead to some clearing effort.   I can wait it out longer than she can.  And am happy to gently point out if the stuff moves out the corner of the room I will sort out the television and do all the crawling about behind things and meddling with cables.  So there is the quest.  Perfectly achievable with minimum effort, (the couch really isn’t all that far away to drag stuff to so she can sit and sort.) and the reward carrot of a nice working tv.

Case 2: I am taking the television carrot reward idea and running with it.  Major Dragon’s bed is covered with boxes.  I think I mentioned that before. She sleeps in a small space on one side of it.  I started out by pointing out how uncomfortable that must be.  And bad for her health (dusty and she has asthma) but mostly uncomfortable.  She hates the bed anyway. Why not get one of those lovely beds with TELEVISION space in the foot of it.  I think they are hideous but perfect for Major Dragon. I have extolled the virtues of a comfortable, convenient bed, tv perfectly stationed to watch comfortably in it.  I have never used the word comfortable so much in my life. I am hoping eventually the word will result in a Palovian dog response.  “COMFORTABLE” *madly tidying parent*  I naturally had no hesitation in looking the beds up online and checking prices.  I have drawn beautiful verbal pictures of MD snuggled up in her bed in winter in a COMFORTABLE warm room watching tv.  The little wheels are turning in MD’s head so we will see if that will work.  I am sneaky wee git but not feeling much shame. 

All this effort did lead to a five star hoarder conversation though.

SD: So what is in those boxes in your bed anyway?

MD: um. Magazines.

SD: Seriously? That is a lot of magazines MD. You totally don’t need them you know.  I read that a magazine is 80% adverts to 20% content.

MD: It is only this years magazines! I am much better about them now. I read and then I stack for recycling or to show you something in them!

*SD looks at double bed covered with boxes* *looks at MD* *Lip trembles slightly trying to hold back laughter* *MD realises what she has just said and has similar lip tremble*

SD: MD… it is only March. And your magazines are monthly.  I don’t really think it is possible for that to just be this year’s magazines. 

Thankfully we laughed together on that one.

Actually I might mark that as the achievement for the month.   I still am not sure what is in those boxes on the bed though.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Magic In The Mess.

Well that was a bit of a holiday for you all from me wasn’t it?  But fear not!  I have returned!  Fully medicated!
How did February go?  Well, to be brutally honest, a lot of it was on my face in my bed with a biscuit or ten gripped in my hand.  That was a fun week or two for all the Hoard inhabitants. Thank you to all who applied gentle and not so gentle verbal levers to my prone form. 
The thing I really had to choke down on in the past few weeks along with the biscuit crumbs was the shame.  And not just mine either. There was a reeling moment of “What the hell I am doing?”  “WHY the hell I am doing this?”   The initial shame of the Hoard and remembering this isn’t how I want to live and that I didn’t always live like this (that part can get far more easily lost than you think) also morphed into worry about forcing someone to living how you want them to.  Even an extra worry about this blog.  It forces Major Dragon’s life into the public domain.  I suddenly understood why so many children of hoarders chose to let it go and just empty a house after the hoarder has left it.  If they are not there then that is half the problem solved in terms of a hoard and your own problems can take the lead.  (And boy do children of hoarders come blessed with a plethora of problems.  But that is a post for another day.)   I had lengthy talks with friends that helped me so much but when I mentioned this to MD she was actually quite upset at the thought of me discussing her with them.   My needs vs. hers are a very fine tightrope to walk.  It is quite a hard decision.  Every time I choose to talk I choose to put myself first.  I am certainly no saint but that isn’t just a difficult decision that has been made, it has to be made every time.  It still does feel a bit selfish even if, ultimately, MD benefits.  I have to keep reminding myself that it does help us both in the end. And watch this a few times. (hat tip to BrenĂ© Brown for inspiring the name of the post. Her blog is over here if you are curious)
Anyway, the Hoard Status report:  Still Hoardy.  A good few of the verbal lever appliers reminded me that baby steps still count.  So I shall count it as a success that it might not be any better than a few weeks ago but it isn’t any worse.  Actually in a hoarding situation that requires a lot more work than people assume.  When you are in a guddle there doesn’t seem much point bothering with picking up after yourself.  After all it doesn’t make much a difference to your surroundings.  My walking on the hoarding spot policy is, even if none of the Hoard is undone, that a full bin WILL go out weekly.  Even if does mean standing at 7 in the morning shouting at MD for her to give me her rubbish bag out her bedroom.  And actually in a bid to fill the last of the bin there is a quick shoot about to gather up stuff to pitch which eventually should begin to show a difference.  I have stationed rolls of binbags everywhere so there is never a search for them (well in theory,)  moved the wheelie bins to the house door passed through and by most often.  I don’t know if that makes a difference but I feel all organised and stuff. Line up brain, bins and hopefully the body will follow.
Next time on the Secret Dragon Hoard, Boxes and the Idiot Box. Unless I have a squirrel moment.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cat Herding And The Magic Ten Minutes

Nothing is getting done and this time it is me. If I don't do things then Major Dragon won't do things and we end up having a good bellow at each other instead of a good binning. Not of each other I hasten to add. Though I suspect lately we have both been sorely tempted.

The winter months and the dark and cold of them are fairly splatting me miserably on the floor. Or as close as I can get to it in the current situation. I have misplaced my Prozac prescription while in a haze of tired blahs because I am a idiot (probably hiding it from myself) and seem to have lost a myriad of other things. All my time seems to be spent wandering about wondering where the hell I have put whatever this time. And truly, they could be anywhere in here. I caught myself peering hopefully in the fridge earlier in case I had put anything other than food in there.

I have not slept tonight. I had planned on a day out tomorrow of various domestic things like food shopping etc. but now wondering if I can get out of it. MD has a free day but has done her usual GRAND PLAN which seems to have layered on to the day a list of things that would ordinarily take us 3 days to achieve. I don't know if this is a hoarding thing or just something especially MD in its pure lunacy. She has no concept of task length and time. It has taken years to convince her that the Hoard can't be sorted out fully in a week. She still treasures hopes. In her head she is 27, with a youthful turn of speed that can achieve all. In minutes. Then she assumes that well if she isn't? Then I am half her age and it should be no problem for me. She remembers the 20-something who springcleaned the house madly in about a week annually while MD was away on holiday (oh the days of free rubbish uplifts. And the youthful lack of respect that let me flip things in the bin with nary a guilty qualm.) It doesn't seem to totally register that that was ten years, good health and over half a hoard ago. The only thing I can do at any speed these days is drink a cup of tea. Actually, thinking on it, this would be another way MD halts herself from Hoard cleaning. All jobs should only take ten minutes. She starts something, gets miserable that it is taking too long, gets disheartened, gets thirsty, gets hungry, stops for a rest and ooh look what is on the tv and doesn't get started again. And neither do I since her chair is bang in the middle of the house bang in a hamster run and usually in my way. Also then she becomes a back seat cleaner and generally risks having a carrier bag stuffed in her mouth as I grow more and more irritated with comments from the gallery.

Anyway. The Grand Day Out. Kicking myself since I KNOW this happens and if my brain had been a bit more present I could have been all glowing girl scout prepared. So trying to herd a few cats, er, task preparations that I can airily drop in MD's lap for her to do while on my way back to bed. Well I say bed but in a mad Puritan moment, in a bid to try and make me do something before my mood went down, I struck my bed and have been sleeping on the floor. Sometimes this works. The general discomfort usually gets me up and vaguely productive. And indeed it did initially. Enough that I have managed to pull my own room apart into equally as disastrous area as the rest of the house. Oops. So the current net result of this strategy is a sore hip, extra tired grumpiness and a distinct feeling of failure. Balls.

I think I am going to give up on the stick and try a bit of carrot for a while. As long as the carrot is chocolate.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Mighty Mental Oaks

May be grown from confessional acorns.
Either way I feel like I ran into a tree. (I didn’t. Though I have headbutted the new jumbo ironing board that still lurks in a box in the hall still more than once.  Not on purpose. Mostly.)
It has been a stop and talk time at Casa De Dragon Hoard. Well actually it has been a stop and talk time OUTSIDE the Hoard.
Major Dragon spent some time with her siblings recently.  I hadn’t really thought anything of it till my aunt started discussing MD’s hoarding with me a few days later.  As an actual problem.  I was so startled I am sure I was standing there like a concussed owl.  Turned out MD had actually told her sister she may have a bit of a problem. 
To put this confession into a OMG YOU DID WHAT scale for you - I thought MD actually admitting to anyone that she had a hoarding problem (without me standing behind her poking her with a large stick) less likely than the current British Government suddenly standing up and shrieking “BUGGER AUSTERITY CUTS!” then hanging out of the windows of Westminster lobbing 50 pound notes at the people below. To actually admit she has a problem and talk about it independently is right off that scale.  Never mind going all the way to 11, you can safely add zeros to that number.  Even more amazing considering that before Christmas location arguments I was told to stop mentioning MD’s hoarding problem in front of her.  She sulkily told me I was crowing about it since I kept mentioning it.  I thought she was working up to the 5 steps back I have been expecting since the step forward when she first grudgingly admitted she had a problem.  I may have Channel Four’s Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder programme to thank for that.  Right about at the point I could have expected a major wobbly about how I am bullying her and it is her house and my god she has done that so often I could actually type out the full rant, she saw this on tv and it put, as my granny used to say, her gas at a peep. Well, for now anyway. There will always be another Table Saga to clip my clutter cleaning wings. The day there isn’t I will have to coaxed out from under the Jumbo Ironing Board with cake and reassures that the sky isn’t about to fall.
I probably won’t believe you but I do like cake.
So where does that leave the Hoard this week?  Standing on fertile ground it seems.  And not just where that stuff got dropped on the carpet.  Aunt clearly had done her research.  She offered to pick up stuff for the dump any time particularly when MD is out at work and can’t sneak it back in the house.  Just bag it and pop it on the doorstop, give her a ring and it is away.  I am caught between guilt at making her do an hour round trip if I take her up on her offer and kissing her shoes.  The offers of aid lately are a bit stunning.  There is wild, crazy talk of a skip party in the spring but that is wild and crazy talk for another post. (not actually in a skip but the skip would be there and we theoretically would be flinging stuff in it. That isn’t Major Dragon. Maybe... Bad Secret Dragon, that is no way to solve your problems. Tut.  You know this is why I started a blog, I was totally starting to talk to myself.  And the cardboard boxes. Can I blame the mental walking into trees?) 
Starting to wonder if I should be handing out badges to them. “I fought a Clutter Dragon! (and it didn’t win)” with singed edges. Or “I have the moves like Jagger a glacier” Mine will read “Have acorn, still searching for sanity”
It is a start though. Hi 2012, are we finally ready?

Note to self: find new word for "problem" or you will be typing it forever on this blog.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Any Old Irons?

Ah the iron. That weighty clothes smoothing object. Which I do not use. I really don't. I was a proper scruffy student and then in the following years I had jobs with children and all the mess that would suggest. That led to buying simple, soft fabric clothes that are as wash and wear (and tumbledry) as you can get. The job is gone yet the clothes remain. And also the inner scruffy student that says "ach body heat will makes the creases drop out"

I tell you all this to underline my lack of ironing interest. It does make life easier. Particularly in a hoarded house. Clothes don't do well in a hoarded house. They get lost, crumpled, caught on things and are a pain to drag in any amount through hamster runs to wash and dry. I am willing to do that for me. And for Major Dragon. It is one of the last bastions of personhood? Pride? Against a hoard. One that Major Dragon might lose if she were on her own. Well, I don't think she would lose entirely since she holds down a job and is seen in public so there is a point where she will decide she needs clean clothes. But there was a time in the last 5 or so years where I decided I was taking over the laundry since she would keep putting it off then would have to go to work in a dirty blouse and a cloud of febreeze on a Monday morning. There are many things I let slide in the Secret Hoard for the sake of my sanity. Major Dragon leaving the house without a fresh blouse and clean underwear is not one of them. Even if I do spend a whole week yelling up the stairs for her to gather the dirty laundry.

I do not iron though. There she is on her own. A lack of ironing is also easier in a hoarded house. You may have had a "damn, where will I put up the ironing board" moment. But only hoarders and possibly people living in London bedsits wonder where they can put up an ironing board and be able to stand next to it. Without zebra striping their midriff.

This, interestingly enough, is where Major Dragon will not give way. She has to have ironed clothes. (she has recently destroyed a crinkle fabric blouse by continually insisting on ironing it despite my protests) I am not actually sure how many irons she owns. I can see two from where I am sitting. I am willing to bet there is at least another two in here. Even after I gave one away without MD noticing and I managed to throw away a broken one she had initially refused to part with on account of hating the new one. She didn't use the old one but getting rid of it would have ranked the new inferior iron as acceptable. I think she didn't want it to get delusions of adequacy. The new one was only a temporary measure anyway since the new very expensive iron (the one from the side quest over here. Remember?) still hasn't been found. We thought we had found it once. But it turned out to be a steam cleaner that she didn't remember buying. And we don't know if she bought it thinking it was the iron or they sent the wrong thing because she never opened the box as she didn't want it "spoiled". Or if the steamer is an entirely separate item and there is still a mystery iron living as a soldier of fortune travelling the Hoard and fighting for domestic appliance rights.

Then the ironing board broke. And left in the Great Rubbish Pick Up of 2011.

Just before the festive holidays and an overdose of shopping channels for a happy Major Dragon.

Yes, she bought a new huge and expensive iron. And a jumbo ironing board. Which doesn't fit in the space left by the previous not jumbo one. So are still in their boxes and left languishing behind the front door catching the elbows and hips of anyone passing by, desperately begging for human attention. While Major Dragon irons with Unacceptable Iron on her bed (the third of it not covered by boxes).

This is becoming the plot of a bizarre French film in my mind. With unrequited love and demented suffering. Don't let me get started on the Tale of Tin Openers. It would probably go all Lars Von Trier and I am not sure any of us would recover.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Start As You Really Don’t Mean To Go On

2012 is getting off to a slow start. A very slow start. I think a glacier just overtook us. Also glaciers do a better job of picking up shit and moving it. Gah.
Major Dragon was on festive holiday. This means she spent a lot of time at home in front of the tv.  Fatal for a shopping channel addict let me tell you, FATAL.  (don’t even ask. Well do, I will likely tell that tale in the next post)
We did end 2011 well.  There were plans and the MAJOR RUBBISH UPLIFT.  I lifted my eyes to the skies and could have sworn I heard clutter cleaning angels singing.  I am a bit capslocky in my emotion here. For we got rid of the Table.
The story of the Table. (you knew there was going to be one) Major Dragon came home one day with it.  A workmate was throwing it out and naturally MD couldn’t turn it down. A metal picnic table. Rusting and manky. I shrieked in horror but no, MD had a plan. (you knew there was going to be one of those too) She was going to put this table up in our narrow hoarded kitchen and put things on it while she sorted them. This naturally didn’t go well. In a hoarded house any surface is a storage space. Cans went out of date in the actual kitchen storage behind the table.  You cooked at the hob leaning in over the table from the centre of the kitchen.  We had a table argument every year FOR YEARS. I would clear it off and fold it down and go away for a few days or something and whoops, the table would magically pop up again in all its rusty glory, smugly greeting me as I returned to the kitchen and gritted my teeth at the sight of it covered in yet more hoarded stuff.   2011 was where I hit my kitchen limit. I started to clear it out. Not at speed. I just quietly started putting things in the bin. An extra binbag a week in the autumn. Finally a couple of months later I was starting to see a kitchen again. The bin started to get too full too fast.  And I got ill again as I always seem to in winter.  The darkness and the chaos start to get to me then little bugs grow into more and more horrific things as I get depressed and then run down.  I think I might actually be solar powered.  My battery strength definitely lessens in the winter months.  The kitchen started to sink back into the mire. 
The trouble with undoing hoarding is things are resting on things which are resting on things which are stacked on top of something else.  You start moving, well you better move fast.  It isn’t tidying.  It is fighting.  You are fighting a room for supremacy. You are fighting goddamn gravity.  You stop without preparation and you will have a landslide.  When you clear you clear using every part of your body.  Sometimes the only thing between you and concussion is a swift elbow.  You can of course just let stuff collapse to the floor and sort from there but really that is the final phase if you can possibly manage it.  Working on your hands and knees is depressing.  It hurts. Particularly when doing an entire room. Sure you can sit on the floor but that is for considered sorting.  And to be honest, I find I slow when I sit on the floor.  I get cranky with pins and needles from crossed legs, I start sneezing from dust.  And if the exhaustion overtakes me, I have discovered I will nap on anything while down there.   Even filled binbags.   So to ensure dignity and actual clearing I stay away from the floor till strictly necessary.  Which isn’t difficult considering what we have in here. 
So there I was, my ninja clearing becoming slower and slower.  Before it ground to a complete halt I rang Reformed Dragon in desperation.  A week later, she arrived. With a steely eyed Break and Bin expression on.  10+ bin bags later she advanced on the table. Out the back door it went while I cheered and danced.  And there it stayed for a couple of weeks, stacked against the bags of rubbish that wouldn’t fit in the bin.  All was peaceful. MD had managed to part with some sentimental things, like a jumbo sized rice steamer that had belonged to her mother and was nearly as old as I am, with surprisingly little heartburning.  I should have realised we may have won the table battle that day but we had not won the war.  I had to go away for a weekend.  I left MD filled with zeal about how she was going to continue the kitchen clear. 
I forgot her original plan.  And also the fact she gets overwhelmed easily without someone holding her to the sticking point.  I thought at the very worst she just wouldn’t have done anything.
I was wrong.
And here is where we all remember that hoarding is a mental illness. 
Well I did after I did this.
And texted the table pic to RD so she could have a good swear at it. “PUT IT BACK OUT! JUST PUT IT BACK OUT!”  she yelled.  With a lot more bad language.  
By now I was completely done reasoning with MD.  Nothing on that kitchen was going on that table. I didn’t care if she found a new lifeform in the back of the fridge, it was not going on that damn table, it would catch something.  I lifted it straight out the back door again when MD was out.  When she asked where it had gone I told her it was weighting down the rubbish bags we still hadn’t gotten rid of in the winter’s strong winds.  Then bless the skies for they snowed on it and finished off buckling it nicely.   When the winds died down I organised the mighty rubbish angels of the council to come and take away our bagged former kitchen hoard.  (they still sing to me)  We dragged the rubbish bags on the table to the street for the uplift and MD only tried a small argument about the table.  I regarded it as a tiny verbal hoarding hiccup of an argument.
Oh.  Well no it wasn’t.
Unfortunately for me a Hoarder never forgets.  MD can’t remember what she had for dinner yesterday, what I said to her five minutes ago, where she left her favourite pair of trousers that were just in her hand…but she will never forget that table.  And when she is allowed into the kitchen unsupervised she remembers.  A month later and she is still bringing up the table when she is out of sorts and remembering her kitchen plan.  She hasn’t done anything in the kitchen because she can’t. Because I ruined the plan.  If the table was in the kitchen then it would happen.  Interestingly she forgets the table was there for four years or so waiting for this plan. Pointing out there are other tables in the house is also not a winner since Surface = Storage Space if you remember.  And apparently they would be ruined by a sojourn in the kitchen. (I have no idea.) Hiccups always come back, don’t they? Sigh.
So what have I learned from the Great Table Saga of 2011?
Well only that, when my tutor at university asked us if tables change our perception of reality…? I should have maybe taken him a tiny bit more seriously.