First post of the new year

I am late posting today because we planned to go out earlyish to do a Costco run. My husband went back to bed at about 6 (he wakes up in the middle of the night and then sleeps again in the morning), though, and when I got up he was fairly unresponsive. So, I sat down and wrote up a book review of the book I finished reading last night for my other blog (review coming in a few months), and after a while, my husband got up. So, we went later than usual.

Oddly enough, the Costco here is packed at all times. We have found that they open it early, so if we get there before 10, we can go right in and it’s not as crowded. (That was our plan, but it didn’t work out.) I can’t really figure out why it is so full compared to the ones in Austin. My sister said because it is the only one serving a large area, but Vancouver isn’t nearly as big a town as Austin, even if you count the population of the small towns and countryside around it, and Austin had two Costcos serving more than a million people. So, population much more dense. The Vancouver store isn’t serving Portland, either, because they have two in Portland. My guess is that more people use Costco around here than in Austin, because the number of people with very large families is high (see my article concerning the Old Apostolic Lutherans in the area).  In our grocery store, for example, most of the meat is packaged for large families to accommodate them. So, I guess the OAL families are buying in bulk at Costco, too. I can think of lots of people I knew in Austin who said they didn’t shop at Costco because they didn’t have a large enough family.

That leads me to the big New Year’s Day sale they have around here. Last year when I saw it the first time, it really cracked me up. Every New Year’s Day, Fred Meyer, which is the local grocery store, has a sock sale. Yes, socks. It is packed. You don’t want to go anywhere near the Fred Meyer in Battle Ground on the day of the sock sale. I’m guessing that no one in the area buys socks any other day of the year. There are huge traffic jams on the two highways that run next to the store. This year, they completely rerouted the traffic going into and out of the store, and they finished it in time for the sale. I’m sure they had that goal in mind.

I really don’t have much news today. I am thinking about when to take down the Christmas tree. I’ve reflected that I no longer have to get it down on New Year’s weekend, which always seemed too early to me (although I know of people who take theirs down the day after Christmas), but was the weekend while I was working when I had enough time and was still able to make the deadline for when the city would pick up the tree. Of course, out here, we can get a permit to dispose of our tree, but last year we just cut it in half and threw it into the woods to decompose. It provides the birds a place to hide. So, maybe I’ll start this week, but it’s a relief not to have to be in a hurry. On the other hand, I remember that when  I was a kid, our family left our tree up sometimes until almost the end of January, and the whole time its needles were falling off onto the floor. Don’t want to wait that long.

On New Year’s Day we didn’t do anything except have a nice dinner, this year artichokes and lamb chops encrusted with garlic, herbs de Provence, and pepper. Long gone are the times when we had something to do on New Year’s Eve (although of course we did last year, because my brother came down from Seattle). As usual, we didn’t even make it up until midnight. On New Year’s Day, though, our neighbor stopped by with a tin of Christmas cookies. She is the neighbor I talked to about going walking sometime. We had left it that she would call me when her infected toe improved, but apparently she forgot that, because when we talked about it the other day, she said she thought she’d offended me because she hadn’t heard from me. (Actually, I asked her one day if she wanted to go to the Japanese greenhouse, so I guess she forgot that.) I thought I’d offended her because I didn’t hear from her. So, we were at cross purposes, and we’ll try again. Right now, she says she is a little depressed, so I’m waiting again to hear from her. But this time I will call her in about a week to see if she feels better. In any case, I’ve been much better about my own walking, most days managing a walk down to the end of the road and back. Just a mile, but it’s all the farther we can walk around here without getting killed trying to walk on the main road. If the neighbor and I go, we will drive to a nearby park and walk there.

I also helped my husband move a bunch of firewood from our driveway into a shed roof thing we have on our property. The problem with that is that I have wanted that thing removed ever since we moved here so that I can put raised beds there for gardening. It’s the only place near the house that gets full sun. So, if my niece and her husband ever make it over here to help us take it down, it’s going to be loaded with firewood and other things. (This is what happens when you live with a hoarder. He fills everything up.)

We thought my brother and his family were coming down sometime last week, but when I called him, they weren’t planning to come. They said we’d see them in the spring. They only live about three hours away in Seattle (well, it’s usually more like four or five hours, the traffic being so bad), so we should go visit them sometime. I don’t think my husband wants to drive in the traffic. Maybe my Portland friend would be interested in taking a day trip sometime.

We also heard from a friend in Houston. She said she wanted to see how we were doing in the cold. Well, I hated to tell her, but lately it’s been colder in Houston than it has been here. There is a high pressure system sitting on top of the Pacific Northwest, and it’s been there ever since winter started. It’s kept us warmer than usual, which was why we had our snow so late and it went away so fast. Just about the entire rest of the country is freezing its butt off (including in Michigan, where another friend had to drive home from Christmas at her daughter’s house through a blizzard), but here it’s in the 40’s and even the 50’s during the day. Maybe we’ll get some more real winter later. At least we had our Christmas snow!

No pictures for you today, but speaking of pictures, last night in art class I learned how to make a glaze. I showed you the painting I am working on, just the purple background around what is going to be a bird, a couple of weeks ago. Last night, we made this brownish gray glaze and painted over the background, darkening it and lightening it in places. The color is really beautiful. I guess next week I get to start working on my bird.

Packing day, almost a week later

Well, we made it here yesterday, but we have had quite a few adventures, so I decided to post one a day each post for a while. This is the post relating the events of Wednesday, October 12.

The first thing that happened was that the moving guys let me know that we had way too much junk for the pod and truck (with one pod already dispatched). He said we needed a 26-foot truck. So, I got on the phone and asked to trade our 16 footer and sent my husband and his brother to pick it up.

When they got back, I learned that because my brother-in law’s Canadian license restricts the size of vehicle he can drive, he felt, because of liability, he could not drive it. That left me and my husband to drive the truck the 2000+ miles ourselves.

The packing guys (Army Ant) were great, but after they left at 8 PM, there were still hours of work to do to pack things they missed and clean up trash. One of the horrible discoveries of the day was the state of my husband’s shed (hoarder, remember?). It was packed to the gills with things like every empty bag of dog food we ever bought. The packers said it would be another four hours to pack it. So, I had my husband get out what he wanted (his tools) and then I got on the phone and arranged for a junk moving company to remove it on Friday. We got to bed finally around midnight on our mattresses on the floor.

Two days of ups and downs

Well, such a time we have had. It started out Monday, which our realtor had told us was the last day our buyers could make changes to our contract. I had a friend over helping me pack (thanks so much to my dear friend), and I was on pins and needles all day obsessively checking my email.

When no word came in by 5 PM, I shot an email off to our realtor about it and my husband and I went out to Amy’s for ice cream to celebrate. Too soon, as it turned out, for when I came home, I had an email from my realtor that said “Tomorrow at 5. Sorry.” He tends to be succinct.

So, on Tuesday, we had a message at 9 AM saying that “an amendment will be coming shortly.” We waited all day until almost 4 PM only to find out that our buyers wanted us to come down on our price by $80K! They had five inspectors come out over the past 10 days, and the buyer’s agent said that the house was in horrible shape and that everyone who had looked at it had said to tear it down. But they can’t tear it down, because it sits right on the creek, which is no longer allowed by the city. If they want to tear it down, they have to move it back from the creek.

Why it wouldn't be convenient to try to multiple list
Why it wouldn’t be convenient to try to multiple list

Now, we have been living in it comfortably (or, we would have been comfortable if my husband wasn’t a hoarder) for more than 20 years. A few minor things need repair, but I couldn’t imagine it was in that bad of shape. But on the other hand, we had moved pretty far past being able to rapidly put it on the market. Our agent offered to come over and take pictures and get it up on multiple listings by today, and that would have been possible until two days ago, but the past few days we had amassed lots of boxes that haven’t gone out into the pod yet, and we had not had the cleaners come out this week because of the chaos.

My husband was all for accepting their offer, but he has wanted to take every offer they’ve made. I talked it over with our agent, and we decided to offer a $20K reduction. My husband panicked after we decided this and called the agent back to ask him to accept the offer, but luckily, he had already told them our price.

Luckily, because they came back almost immediately splitting the difference, which means that we still made more than their original offer. We accepted that, and we’re still closing on Friday, cash. The main reason I decided to accept it is we would have had to disclose anything the inspections found, which might make it hard to make a higher selling price. We had already decided to move anyway, but we would have moved out to Washington not knowing how long it would take to sell our house, which would have had us being very short until that money came in. Overall, I feel okay about how things worked out, if a little roughed up. And, of course, I would have liked to have the extra money.

On to our next challenges!


Out of the closet

This weekend’s project was to clear out our bedroom closet. The state this closet was in was as much my fault as my husband’s. We have far too many things in it. But it also got out of hand because of my husband’s propensity for organization run amock. We don’t have any linen closets, so when I was single, I had my sheets up on the top closet shelf and the toilet paper in the bathroom cabinet. But after my husband was in the house for a while, the bathroom cabinets got out of control, and my husband installed shoe racks on the closet shelves. One of these, on the left side, was handy because it had shoes in it. But the one on the right side just made it impossible to put the sheets up there or anything else.

The top closet shelf became the repository for things like toilet paper and tissue, which my husband buys in bulk (buying in bulk being one of our problems). Then Wayne put the rack of shelves at the back of the closet, and they became stuffed with sheets and towels. Eventually, we ran out of room to put anything else in the closet, so there started to be so many things on the floor that I kept tripping every time I went in.

I know this doesn't look that neat, but you should have seen it before.
I know this doesn’t look that neat, but you should have seen it before.

So, I started out on Saturday by removing everything from the top shelves and the floor of the closet. It took most of the day to go through that and pack things, put them in a bag for Goodwill, or throw them out. Later in the day, I packed most of our towels and sheets, only leaving a few sets of sheets and towels to use while we sell the house.

On Sunday, I started on the clothes. I thought this would be easy, but it took two hours just to go through my husband’s clothes. Most of the time, he wasn’t helping me, but when he finally came in and started helping, it was a mixed blessing. We were able to go faster, but he didn’t throw away as many of his torn jeans as I would have. It has always been his custom to keep any jeans that fit him as “knock-around” jeans, even if they’re full of holes. This is a nice concept, but when he is doing something really dirty, he just wears whatever jeans he already has on. He never remembers to put on his “knock-around” jeans. Fortuitiously, I was able to toss out a whole shelf full of jeans before he came into the room. He probably had 20 pairs of “knock-around” jeans and about as many pairs that didn’t fit him anymore.

My back had been bothering me from lugging around heavy boxes, so I didn’t get too far into my clothes. Finally, I decided to quickly go through my clothes to sort out the ones for Goodwill and come back and pack a lot of them later. I am pretty good at keeping my clothes culled, so that part went quickly. We are trying to pack most of our clothes and only keep enough to get us through until we sell the house. I have to keep out more because of work, though.

That’s what we did, and we ended up with six large contractor bags full of clothes to give to Goodwill and two bags full of garbage. We also packed three large boxes of linens and clothing and I suppose will have part of another one when I get done packing my clothes. I wanted the clothes on the racks to look pretty sparse, but we’re not there yet.

I admit to being guilty to my own act of hoarding. Even though it doesn’t quite fit me anymore, I couldn’t bring myself to donate an iridescent blue/green three-piece suit trimmed with black and sequins. It is beautiful and just my slightly odd style. Aside from having to lose a few pounds to wear it, I will seldom have an opportunity to wear a dressy suit ever again. Still.

Later that afternoon, we took the car out and made another trip to Goodwill and another trip to our library bookstore to give donations. When we got back, I took a nap.

What led up to this

I have been trying to motivate my husband to start cleaning out his stuff since January (except that in almost 20 years of marriage, I’ve never figured out how to motivate my husband). My original schedule was to finish the clean-up by April with the assumption that we would be hiring a contractor to fix up the house, at least to repair the things that were obviously in bad shape, and we wouldn’t know how long we would have to wait for one or how long the work would take. But May came and little work had been done except some sorting I did myself on the weekends. My husband is retired, but I am still working 40 hours a week. I pretty much felt like a purple googly eyed squid.

This is me, only I don't have tentacles.
This is me, only I don’t have tentacles.

Then my husband went outside one evening to feed the raccoons (yes, that was what he went to do) and fell down. He tore the tendon right off his kneecap and was basically disabled for two or three months. He wasn’t in pain most of the time after the initial injury, but after his surgery he was the world’s worst patient. (Why don’t them call them “impatients”?) I had to do both of our chores and take care of his dog, who is large and unruly, plus respond to my husband’s almost constant requests. During the first month, I never once stated an intention of doing something (nothing fun, mind you) that he didn’t tell me to do something else. “I’m going to do the dishes now.” “First, give the dog some water.”

In situations like this, you feel bad, partly because you think you’re making it all about yourself, but at times, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I figured I couldn’t even think about getting ready to move, and for a month I tried not to.

But of course I want to move so badly!

I finally had to convince myself to think about only one thing at a time. That’s pretty much impossible, but I tried.

I have a good friend whom I’ve known for about 30 years, and when he heard what had happened, he came out for five days in June from Denver just to help me get the upstairs of the house cleared out. He brought most of the things downstairs and I sorted through boxes and broke them down for recycling and put them in trash bags or set them aside for donating or repacked them. My husband was mobile by then, and he helped a bit, but my friend remarked to me “It’s almost like he doesn’t want to move.” I know my husband can’t wait to leave Austin, but I clarified that point with him and he said he wanted to live in Washington but he didn’t want to move. Sigh. Does he think I don’t feel the same way?

While my friend was here, he and I made two trips to the recycling center, two trips to Goodwill, and two trips to Half Price Books to sell books.

We got one entire room cleared out, but when my friend started on the other one, my husband stopped him. He said, “I can do that in a week.” By then he was walking, but he certainly wasn’t up to traipsing up and down the stairs all day. And anyway . . . Well, note that it was another month after my friend left before I hired THE GUYS to come do that work that my husband said he could do in a week. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve realized finally that my husband just can’t cope with this.

But thank goodness for my friend! I will be forever grateful to him. Still feeling those little flutters sometimes at night, but everything is a lot better. And that about gets us up to date with the first entry on this blog.


Some major progress

I wrote the first post at midnight about two weeks ago, when I was feeling low. Since then, we have made some definite progress.


If you read my first post, you know that I called in reinforcements to try to clear out two rooms upstairs that my husband had completely filled with junk over the years, so much so that I refused to go upstairs. For more than a month, I had been going up there trying to work on it, going through a few boxes, then getting discouraged and going away again. We had made huge progress when a friend of mine came in from Denver just to help us clear out. We got one whole room cleared out while he was here, but when I went back upstairs a few days later, my husband had moved a bunch of things in there from the other side, so it didn’t feel as if we had made progress. This before picture is just one corner of one of the rooms, and it doesn’t show the four big steel shelving units filled with boxes.

Well, I left my husband in charge of the reinforcements and returned from work at the end of the day expecting one of my problems to be solved, only to find very little difference. Sure, some heavy electronics had been hauled downstairs for us to recycle, but the overall effect of looking at the room was that it was no different.

I called THE GUYS back, and after a few days, we rescheduled. I took the day off and did the supervising myself. They sent out two great guys who organized our storage container first and then started disposing of things as we directed, in the trash, in the storage container, in the Goodwill pile, or in the closet. Every once in a while during the work day, I got discouraged, but the guys were upbeat and kept saying, “Sure, we can get this done.”


And folks, here is a shot of the same corner from a similar angle. You can see that the bookcase and dresser are still there, but what a difference. Of course, we had to clean up after the guys left, because there was paper all over the place. Now we have to shampoo the carpet, and we still need to do some major tidying. But I feel so much better! Note that off to the right of the picture is a pile of boxes my husband put there that wasn’t there yesterday. Sigh.


I can’t stand it anymore

This is the post excerpt.

I have thought about writing this blog for the past few weeks but was worried what my husband would think. But right now I don’t think I care.

After trying to sort through (mostly his) junk and get our house cleaned up just enough to talk to a realtor, I finally hired some guys to come out to the house and haul everything out of the top floor. We have an open plan upstairs, which used to be my guest room and office. I haven’t set foot up there for seven years because my husband had made it such a mess. This is what it looked like when I finally decided to call in reinforcements. The only thing in that picture that is mine is the gray bookshelf (not the books) and the dresser with the mirror on it so mistreated in the back.

upstairsMind you, this is after we’ve been working on it for a solid month.

So, today THE GUYS were supposed to come out while I was at work. All my husband had to do was tell them which things were to go into our shipping container, which things back up in the closet (things that can’t be out in the heat), and which things go to Goodwill.

I wasn’t making him throw away anything he wanted to keep. If he wanted it, they were supposed to pack it up and put it in the shipping container.

When I got home that evening, expecting to see a huge pile of stuff in front waiting to be picked up, there were four things there. I walked into the house to be faced with piles and piles of things in the living room. And guess what the upstairs rooms looked like. Almost exactly what they looked like before.

I have no idea what to do next.