Friday, June 6, 2014

The Purge Has Begun

Let me preface this post by stating, for the record, I love my inlaws. I really do. I could have done a LOT worse in the inlaw department. They are very kind, faithful people who are easy to get along with.

They are also hoarders.

Now, let me back up the story a bit to give you the full effect.

Around about the end of 2003 when I was preparing to propose to The Queen, The Queen Mum's Mum (who was in her 80s at the time) was living by herself in a modest apartment in California. She was also beginning to have some health problems which was impacting her ability to care for herself. We received calls from the people in her church who were concerned and weren't sure the family was aware.

We weren't.

Discussions were had, and a plot was hatched to kidnap Grandma. She had already been planning to come to Texas to visit the family for Thanksgiving. Little did she know, she would not be going back to California. I proposed to The Queen (making her The Queen To Be at the time) shortly after Thanksgiving, and The Queen To Be made it clear she wanted her Grandma at the wedding.

Okay. Can do.

A wedding was planned in under 4 weeks. I use the term "planned" in loosest sense of the word. Most of our planning consisted of telling our friends "Handle it."

They did. Did I mention we have awesome friends?

Meanwhile, back in California, the church folks were coordinating with my inlaws the packing and loading of Grandma's worldly possessions (all of them) for moving to Texas. Grandma had been "convinced" to stay with us in Texas after the wedding. And by "convinced", I mean my inlaws told her she was in no shape to go home and was staying and that was that. Other people in the family have other ideas about what happened. They would be misinformed. So, talking.

As you might expect, things that should have been disposed of in California were instead boxed up and loaded along with everything else. The vast majority of those items are still in the same boxes they were packed in to this day.

Now, at the time of the Royal Wedding, the then proto Daddy Hawk was living in a modest 1200 square foot house with a two car garage. One side of the garage held a 1973 Datsun 240Z project that never got off the ground. The other side held a motorcycle and other stuff bachelors accumulate. To this disorganized mess was added a significant portion of Grandma's possessions the remainder of which were stored elsewhere. These possessions made the move with The Queen and I when we purchased the Castle in July 2004.

This state of affairs continued until October 2004. That was when the inlaws including Grandma moved in with us. This was necessitated by the sale of The Queen's pre-marital bacherlotte pad (a nice one bedroom condo) which was taken over by the inlaws after the ink was dry on the marriage certificate.

Now, picture for a moment, the Castle in all its glory. 2230 square feet of living space and the EPIC 1600 square foot man cave/workshop not including the "chicken coop" which is another 300 to 400 square feet of storage (in the "there's a roof...sort of" kind of way). It was a spacious palace to The Queen and I with more room than our respective pre-marriage abodes combined.

Now, picture for a moment, not one, not two, not even three, but four (FOUR!!!...mine, The Queen's, The Inlaws' and Grandma's) households worth of stuff being crammed into every nook and cranny available.

My shop, where I had great plans of building things (especially an airplane), was full. Not just full mind you but "stuffed to the gills with somewhat passable paths through the stacks" full. To make matters worse (from my perspective at least), no thought was given by those responsible nor input sought from me as to how things should be stored.

As you might imagine, this has been a sore spot for me for a long time now.

As a result, I have largely stayed out of the shop since. The rats; however, have made themselves right at home. Which, inevitably, led to the vast majority of the items in the shops being destroyed in one manner or another.

So, the sale of the house has finally led to necessity becoming the mother of disposal. Acquiescence was obtained, and this was the initial result:

That's roughly 20 to 25 feet in length, 4 to 5 feet high at the tallest and 5 to 6 feet wide at the widest. Most of it is covered in rat excretions.

Apparently, that was NOT acceptable to the trash service. They allowed as how all debris has to be in bags not to exceed 50 pounds and all boxes have to be broken down for recycling. So, guess what I did last night for three hours. That became this:

The cardboard boxes are being held down by boxes full of recyclables lest we pollinate the neighborhood with cardboard descecrated by rodents. It was interesting, however, to see some of the things that were boxed up. The empty glass juice jars were a little odd. The potato peeler in the middle of a box of sweaters (that were long out of style when they were boxed) was definitely note worthy. Phone books. Old junk mail. Electronics that were obsolete when they were boxed up. Broken glass. The meat clever in the box with the spices was a nice touch.

We did find a box full of old baseball cards. Maybe there's a Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth rookie card in there, and I won't have to work anymore.

I will say this was very cathartic to dispose of all this despite the risk of vermin borne disease (yes, mask and gloves were used; and, yes, I took a long, hot shower after I was done). The scary part is that there is still stuff in the shop and the house to be dealt with.


  1. That's a lot. With Dad's recent kitchen fire and all the soot damage Servicemaster had to clean EVERY item in the house, pack up everything as all the walls in the entire house had to be repainted, but for two bedrooms who were in the back of the house with closed doors when it happened. Dad's pretty neat, but oh my, there was SO much. I was trying to coordinate by flying back and forth when I could and making tons of phone calls.

    I am so glad it's done and you too, will soon have that satisfaction. Bless you for taking such good care of your family.

    1. Brigid, thanks for the blessings. All I can say is that burning the whole mess to the ground was on the table as a reasonable option.

  2. Exactly why I am selling all my stuff now. My kids don't want it and it will just be destroyed by rodents and rot. Still have my folks and DH stuff stored, too. We are prisoners of STUFF!
    I have opened a shop on Etsy....ha ha.

    1. Tewshooz, I could not agree more. I have been following the Tiny House movement with great interest including its attendant rejection of STUFF! The Queen and I are trying to implement the rejection of stuff part since we are not in a position to get completely away from having a traditional home (yet). I will be advocating to young people in my circle of influence to consider carefully their options before getting an apartment or a home and filling it with junk though.

  3. Clearing out crap is very cathartic. We periodically hold The Great Garage Purge.

    1. Monkeywrangler, I could not agree more, and I think we will henceforth include a Great Garage Purge in our annual Spring Cleaning rituals. Also, I've seen your name in comments around various blogs over the years but never clicked any links. I was surprised to see that we are both in the same general area (sort of).


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