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.

Great news

Goodbye soon to our beautiful view of the creek.
Goodbye soon to our beautiful view of the creek.

We have sold our house. Of course, it’s early days yet, so things could still go wrong, but on Tuesday we got an offer and we counter-offered, and on Saturday we agreed on a price. Our neighbor is buying the house, cash, and so we can go ahead and start putting our plans in place. We can now set my retirement date.

Of course, my knee injury has slowed down our packing impetus, because my husband doesn’t seem to do any work unless I do it, too, and most of the last week I spent with my feet up and an ice pack on my knee. So, now we have to get to work, whether I’m up to it or not.

As a bonus, we also got an offer on our Fort Davis property on the very same day. This property could have been on the market for years, but we have already settled on a price. Looks like we’ll be moving within five weeks!

A setback

Best laid plans of mice! I had a great idea to do a big push towards opening our house for sale the day after Labor Day. To that end, I asked for a couple of days off work, and I sat down with my husband and we made a list of all we had to do to get ready. Then we prioritized the list into 1’s through 5’s, so that we could work on anything in the 1’s, say, until they were finished and then go to the 2’s. Of course, the first thing my husband did was pull out a bunch of stuff that wasn’t even on the list. But I kept my mouth shut and finished two of the (admittedly easy) 1’s.

This is a picture of my poor knee, twice as large as usual.
This is a picture of my poor knee, twice as large as usual.

That was on Saturday. We stopped working around 4 and took a trip to Costco. When we got back, I took some sheets out of the dryer and started with them over to the bedroom to fold them. That was my fatal error. I forgot I had put a box just at the turn from the kitchen into the living room that was waiting for my husband to move to the pod. I took a header over the box, literally flew through the air, and landed on my knee. When I turned and looked back, the box was at least 10 feet behind me.

So much for my plans. I have done nothing but sit around with my foot up and go to doctor’s appointments. I don’t think anything is broken, but I can’t really do much work until the swelling goes down. And for a different reason, I am not allowed to take NSAIDS, which means that all I am using are topical treatments, ice, heat, Aspercream. Sigh.

On the good news side, we have already gotten an offer on the house. On the bad news side, it’s way too low. We are countering today.

Back into the closet

Well, maybe you guessed it from this heading. If you’re following my blog, you’ll know that I (sometimes we) spent the entire weekend cleaning out the bedroom closet. Today we had cleaners over, because we’re getting ready to show the house early to our neighbor’s realtor, since our neighbor wants to buy our house (but so far hasn’t offered us anything for it). I got home expecting to see a sparkling, neat house, as my husband had called me several times during the day to ask me about the disposition of some items.

All this shelf had on it last time I looked was a package of toilet paper and my flute.
All this shelf had on it last time I looked was a package of toilet paper and my flute. Which also means, I don’t know where my flute is.

The girls weren’t finished. Yes, our house was so dirty, despite being professionally cleaned two weeks ago (by a different company) that the girls spent five hours at our house yesterday and still weren’t done. That was embarrassing but understandable, because since we started clearing the house out, I have stopped trying to clean, too.

But later I went into our closet and maybe you can guess what I saw. Yes, indeed, the closet that I spent two days cleaning out was full of boxes. He did it again.

This shelf didn't have anything on it at all.
This shelf didn’t have anything on it at all.

I tried to keep my mouth shut, but finally I pointed out that I had repeatedly asked him not to fill up places that we had already cleared out, because the end effect was that we weren’t making any progress, and even if we were, we would feel like we weren’t. We ended up having a big fight (unusual for us), during which he accused me of saying the same things all the time and I told him that was because I thought if I said them enough times, he might listen. (That sounds horrible, I know, but he also has a memory problem, so it’s hard to know when I have to repeat myself.) Then he pretty much admitted to me that if I asked him to do something, he was not going to do it. (I had already suspected this was going on.) Since he also refuses most of the time to have a calm talk about what our next steps should be and he isn’t going to do what I ask him to do, I have to admit to being totally stymied. Do I just let him work at whatever, even though it may not make sense at the time and may create more mess? (For example, right now I am working on removing clutter, but he has decided to start removing furniture from the house, sometimes creating more clutter.) He has taken months to motivate to work at all, so I feel like if I say nothing, he will just relapse into inactivity.

Tonight I will ask him how he wants to proceed. I have tried this tactic before, and I can pretty much guarantee that he won’t have an answer for me, but at least I’m still trying.

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.

upstairs
Before

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.”

After
After

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.