a bench with a view

a bench with a view

Thursday, February 5, 2015

and finally it was empty

If you were to tell me the day I moved into the house we lived in for four years back in January 2011 that one day I would see the house empty, I would have laughed and not believed a single word you said.  But it happened and I saw it on December 30, 2014, the day we moved out of it to come here to our new place in Arizona.

What a crazy "ride" it was though to come to that point where it was empty and not full of clutter.  You guys all know the story of us moving into it, a house of hubby's parents where they had lived since 1978.  It was cluttered and filled to the brim, so much so we just had a pathway from room to room when we first moved in.

We had decluttered a lot and I shared my woes about it at various places on my blog and how hard it was for me to live amongst so much clutter.  After a time we sort of ran out of steam and stopped going through things and stopped getting rid of things. The house was pretty much 80% done, the garage and storage shed more cluttered, but I really didn't care about them because I never went into the storage shed and the times I did laundry in the garage, I just had tunnel vision and did the laundry, didn't look at anything else.  I learned to live with clutter, though it was never a welcomed friend.  God worked in my heart a lot over those years and I came to appreciate the house and be grateful that I had a roof over my head, especially when I would do work with the homeless and I knew they would be thrilled to have a roof over their head if they could.

Fast forward to November/December 2014 when hubby gets the offer of the job in Arizona and we plan to eventually rent out the house we were living in for those four years. The house had been paid off for years so all we had to do the time we lived there was pay taxes and home owners insurance.

But now we had to clear the house, garage, and storage shed completely in preparation for the next plans for it.  It was easy for me to do the house, to ask hubby if he wanted to move this or that (china, furniture, glassware, etc.)  A lot he didn't and I was happy about that.  But I couldn't do anything with the garage because most of it was hubby's dad's tools and whatnot and I didn't know a screwdriver from a drill (exaggerating a bit here, but tools are not my expertise). The garage and storage shed were hubby's domain so to speak and it was up to him to clear those out.

We simply ran out of time to get it all done in addition to everything else that we had to do around that time.  Two days before the packers were supposed to be there the garage was still in a shambles and the storage shed had not been even touched. We finally grouped together what hubby wanted from the garage so the packers could pack that when they came. He had determined he wanted nothing from the shed for various reasons (he was concerned mainly about what creatures could be out there, spiders and whatnot).

So how did the house, garage, and storage shed come to be empty two days later?

I called a service that basically comes and hauls away what you do not want.  I found someone on Craigslist (I am very careful with dealings with Craigslist) who said they clean up garages and from hoarders.  I'm thinking "okay, you ain't seen anything like this," although I'm sure they must have in their years of experience.  I told the man what we had, the time constraints we were dealing with, and he said he would be by at 11 o'clock Monday morning, the day the packers were there, but we had already established what the packers would take and what was not going.

The man came as promised, looked at what we wanted to get rid of in the garage and the storage shed and quoted us a price to haul it all away, which was a reasonable price in my opinion. Honestly, at that point I just wanted it gone and I would have been willing to pay just about anything, but in reality it was less than $500, but not much less than $500. 

We agreed, we paid him. He and his friend starting working, getting the biggest trash bags I've ever seen and just started filling the bags up and throwing them in the trailer they brought along.  It took them two loads but they had everything cleared out in a span of four hours. 

As we saw them work, we saw some items that could have been worth some money, but the deal is once you agree to them cleaning it out and you pay them, the stuff becomes theirs, so we couldn't say "wait......" I'm sure he made a pretty penny on some of the items and I'm sure he knew that looking around at things when he first gave us the figure of what it would cost for him to haul it away.  He did give us some things, a ring he found, which wasn't worth anything from what we could tell, and cancelled checks from back in 1976 that I'm not sure how they ended up in the storage shed as they belonged to my brother in law's first wife before they were even married. How my in laws ended up with them, I'm not sure and we'll never know.

In the end, the house, garage, and storage shed were empty.  Oh we left a couple of things. Hoses we wouldn't need.  A rake, a shovel, that's about it.

But empty.  Four long years.  Probably close to 30,000 pounds of things disposed of, sold, or given away over that time.

That is clutter.  That borders a bit on hoarding.  I'm not going to fault hubby's parents for their desire to have things.  I'm not sure why they couldn't part with things over the years.

This has taught me how to not let such a thing happen in our lives and not to have anyone we love go through what we had to do to declutter stuff that did not belong to us.  Of course we won't have over 30,000 pounds of things to have someone declutter because we just moved a little over 5000 pounds of stuff and I can't see us ever getting to the point of buying, buying, buying stuff.  I tend to want to live as simply as I can.

So my advice after this experience.  Of course it is declutter and be aware that statistically one is not going to live forever this side of eternity.  So wisely plan what will happen to your stuff once you aren't there.  Come up with a plan and share that plan with those that matter.  We have such a plan in place for son with our stuff. 

I let the stuff we had to deal with consume me at times and affect the way I dealt in my relationship with hubby.  That was my fault in doing so and I take that responsibility in it.  I just had wished others took responsibility in their actions and had planned better for their final years.  But all I can do is learn from this.

And I think this pretty much wraps up my writings about clutter, decluttering, etc.  We basically started with a new slate here after we moved so I have no one to blame but myself if I allow clutter to take over.  There may be a post there or there, perhaps in the A/Z challenge, but I think I've said pretty much everything I can on the subject; thanks for sticking with me over these four years as I commisserated about our adventures, and what an adventure it was!

My final words on the subject, for me it truly is freeing to have less stuff. 

43 comments:

Paula Kaye said...

This is why I am trying to declutter my life right now. I don't want my family to have to sort through the stuff. Or to figure out what is worth keeping and what isn't. I am even thinking of selling some of the collectible things and using the money for a vacation. Not more stuff! I'm glad you are done with your decluttering

Sue Elvis said...

Betty,

What a huge job it must have been emptying your house. I imagine you were so glad when the job was completed.

We are also decluttering. We have lived in this house for 6 years and things are starting to pile up. Every time I am tempted to bring something new into our home, I remind myself that not only will more things restrict our freedom, they might also cost us money to get rid of when we no longer want them. Years ago we could dump all our unwanted stuff at the tip for nothing. Now everything has to be weighed and paid for before the resource recovery centre will accept it.

Enjoy your lighter life in your new (non-cluttered) home!

TARYTERRE said...

I am overwhelmed with clutter here. Thanks to you I now realize there is hope. Having a clean slate is something to be grateful for, for sure. Congratulations to your triumph over clutter.

Back Porch Writer said...

I don't like clutter either and Hubby likes clutter. It's hard to get him to throw anything away. And Katy's stuff from her house is now in our finished basement til she moves out again, and it was a nice living area to watch TV and now it's storage. I have not moaned about it as we never watched TV down there anyway. But it's so easy to clutter up things. And it's hard to get rid of things sometimes. Add emotional attachment and then it's over. lol I hope you all have a wonderful experience in Arizona! I hear it's great this time of year.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

You have certainly encouraged me to make my life simpler. I work on the basement and the attic here, little at a time. There is way too much that I don't need. It's hidden away so I tend to forget about it, but it's a job that needs done. Thanks for your story and the reminder I needed.

Melanie said...

Dear Betty, I am so happy for you and your husband. Yes, I remember those posts about the clutter. I felt so bad for you. :-( I'm glad you've been able to get rid of it all!
My parents have remodeled their house (that they've lived in since 1976) little bits at a time here and there and have decluttered along the way, much to my happiness!!
I hope you enjoy your new clutter free home!! :-)

Joanne Noragon said...

I live with two hoarders. I'm upfront about not liking it, to no avail. I asked my sister what she would do when the day came to move. "Hire dumpsters," she replied.

Intense Guy said...

While I don't have the 30,000 pounds of stuff to sift through, I can feel your pain!

Goodness... It's amazing what accumulates over the years!

Jeanie said...

I don't hang on to too much "stuff" but you have convinced me that it may be time for a good clean out anyway. Actually, the basement does need some attention and this is a good reminder to me.

Linda said...

My husband could be a huge hoarder if I let him! His parents have tons of stuff in their basement, just a path to get through down there!

Chatty Crone said...

It is FREEING to have less stuff! And what a great idea to have them haul it off. Do you remember the name of the company - I wonder if they have one here - we may need one.

So I'm thrilled you have less and are settled.

I am going to email you a song.

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, that is a lot of pounds of stuff. My ocd would go nuts having that much around haha I think the cats have more things then me. Not a hoarder at all here, if I don't need it, adios it goes.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm like Pat...I'm a little OCD when it comes to clutter and organizing things. I don't think I could never allow clutter to take over. But I still go through my closet and desk a few times a year and throw out (or donate) the things I don't need. Afterward, I feel as though a weight has been lifted.

Thanks for visiting my blog for Stephanie's interview. :)

Linda said...

Betty, so glad you aren't dealing with the clutter anymore. I might have gone crazy during the 4 years!

My theory,after helping my mom downsize her stuff, it's sometimes emotional, item connected with the giver of item and must therefore be kept forever. Or, I might use it again (after 20 years of non-use?) Guess I got the "declutter" gene instead of "keep it."

On the other hand, don't you dare get rid of my photo albums! Which I might add, I've edited twice over the decades. Don't need 5 versions of basically same shot.

Enjoy a wonderful weekend!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I can only imagine how freeing that was for you. That is where I want to be, living as simply as I can. I am not a hoarder but I was very big on buying collectibles. It is very consuming and affects my life all the time. I don't want to leave this to my children. FYI: I wrote that first sentence before I got to the end of your post. I usually answer as I go alone. I'm jealous which is a good thing. I've got to get motivated. Congratulations to you....
Debby

Melanie said...

It's funny how people have so much stuff. I emptied my parents' house of 40 years of stuff after they passed. Every closet and cabinet was just full of 'stuff' and it was quite a task going through it all. I am constantly trying to declutter my own home. The foyer always has a give-away pile and I usually have the Vietnam Veterans of America pick it up when there's enough stuff.

Bijoux said...

Betty, that was an interesting read. I have wondered about what happens to hoarders' homes when they pass away, or once they are no longer able to physically deal with their accumulations. I'm glad you found a service that took care of it for you.

susie said...

So far we have moved every five years. That's a great way to de-clutter.
When I'm mad, I throw stuff out...

Birgit said...

I know what you went through as I was there with my mom. She always said "You never know when you might need that string...". She would get so upset if I dared say we need to go through some things. After my dad passed we moved her 4 times and each move a little bit more was given away. The last move I opened up a garbage bag and noticed that it was actual garbage. We moved it 3 times! When she moved into my home she had 13 boxes of pinecones!I knew then and there I would never let this happen to me. My ex had the same issue with his parents, whom I adored. When they passed away, the family got a big bin to haul away all the steel stuff outside. The man said it is not worth their while unless they had a ton of this. They had 13 tons! This did not include the old cars, 36 bicycles or the harvard airplane propeller they had

Cindi said...

the older I get the less I need, want or desire. Our move to this current home has taught me to do without. I know hubby & I have a couple more moves in us. I just dont feel "settled" currently. So we WILL throw out with our next move, i love the idea living in a one room cabin somewhere...but thats today, who knows what I will feel like in the future...lol. Glad you were able to declutter. "Wishing" many blessing!

Mevely317 said...

Oh wow ...30,000 lbs? It must have seemed insurmountable at times; but you sound like a mighty plucky sort. :)
There's lots we've carted off to Goodwill in the last year; but even more needs addressed. So far, I've not had to deal with the sentimentality of dealing with stuff that belonged to my parents. But you know what? I'm finding it's the random old letter in my mom's handwriting or some such thing that I'll keep - vs. a piece of stemware.
I may share this post with my son and DIL, and just solicit their thoughts and what they'd like to keep in the family.
Great post!

Liz A. said...

I'm not a big fan of clutter, either. I'm going to need to go through and get rid of a bunch of stuff, but I keep putting it off. Congrats on the empty house.

jack69 said...

I loved this line lady:
I learned to live with clutter, though it was never a welcomed friend.

How insightful. Yes I remember you first moving in. Strange the different worlds we enter and leave in this life. Some give us insights, Clutter and STUFF can drain you, trying to separate yourself from things that are YOUR life (Hubby's parents' stuff). Some folk cannot do it.

We have somethings in storage that will mean NOTHING to the kids. But we keep them for them to throw away, but the list is shrinking, thank goodness.

WE must try to learn, instead of ignore lessons.
Love from Florida, this was a very good 'heart-spilling entry' I liked it, and can relate a good bit.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Nothing like a move to get the clutter out of the way. You've been very brave. My goodness but you've been so brave. I just couldn't do it. I am (have always been) a minimalist and I could never learn to live with clutter. I dispose of things regularly and never feel an ounce of remorse...hahaha... Totally heartless.

Stew Adams said...

Working in the death business, I see a lot of people with piles of stuff literally dumped on them.
After several moves in their old age, my parents didn't have much left upon departure from this earth. But it has still taken years to deal with. Largely because we can't all agree on some things.
And now we are faced with my husbands father's impending doom. I wish we could start on it now, but it must wait until that fateful day. It's good to know there are services for that. But they'll need more than two trips!

Mary said...

Clutter makes me feel so unorganized; sounds like it does you, too. That's amazing that someone will come in and haul stuff away; even more amazing that it only took them that short amount of time!

Stephanie Faris said...

After the 2010 Nashville flood, we had to remove everything from the house and put it in the front yard. (Thank goodness it didn't rain those first few days afterward!) Then we had to go through it and throw most of it away. A lot of people were upset about it but I found that part of it cathartic. You learn that mostly what you need is a house to shelter you, a bed to sleep in, and a kitchen and bathroom. Everything else is just icing. Five years later, the clutter has piled up again and we're thinking about moving...so we'll have to go through it again. I don't know how you can keep the clutter from piling up.

Megan Whitson Lee said...

This is exactly what I'm trying to do right now. I'm desperately trying to get rid of stuff that we do not need, so that when we move we won't have to do it all at one time. The haul-away-junk people seem like a good idea too!

MS said...

Betty - Many blessings to you in your new city. I struggle with clutter and have to force myself to purge things every so often. Having clutter is stressful! I hope you have found a new bench to sit and watch the view. I look forward to hearing about your new area.

Veronica Lee said...

I don't like clutter either but hubby is a hoarder.
I can imagine how liberating that was for you!

Happy Monday, Betty!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This reminds me that I have to do some MAJOR de-cluttering :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Berry, less is more is the theme for a lot of people these days. We watched a show about Tiny Houses, portable houses on wheels between 75 and 250 square feet.

I think these are engineering marvels whose time has come. Next up is to convert parking structures so people can park their houses here, live, and walk to work. Just makes a whole lot of sene to me.

Sharon said...

Good for you!!

The discussion about *stuff* is a tough one. For I still have it - here, there, and sometimes everywhere!

You continue to inspire me to get rid of the burdens...

:-)

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

I hear you loud and clear
Betty. My husband has always been a hoarder of tools and parts and stuff. But many times these things have "saved the day". Since he became ill and started staying home all day, he hoards collections around his chair in the living room and his side of the bed. Stacks mail and papers everywhere. And went through a spell of bringing home all kinds of cast of cooking implements, sheets, curtains and such. When surfaces are covered with things that need to be moved or sorted through enable to dust, I just don't dust.

But we both have solemly sworn that when we get into our new house the cluttering is coming to an end.

Thrilled to see you are in the Challenge again and we are on the same team as "minions"!

Chrys Fey said...

Hi Betty! I'm a fellow Minion with you and Barbara who commented above me. :)

Moving is always an exciting journey, but it's so strange to see your home where you've lived for years empty. I'm actually going to be moving in the next couple of months and I'm looking forward to it. :)

SweetMarie said...

I'm so happy for your new de-cluttered start. :) I went through this just before our move from Florida to here, NC. Most of my stuff in the attic is holiday decorations and sentimental items from our son's childhood. :)

Linda said...

And what a lovely new bench with a view!

Sheethal Susan Jacob said...

I was never able to even clean the clutter out of my childhood room. Every time I am back home, I try to do, but till date no luck. My cupboards still hold those notebooks back from my 1st grade onward and don't know what all. So you have been so brave in doing this and keeping the patience. :)

yaya said...

When my in-laws passed away within a year of each other, we had the task of cleaning out the house...and they had a ton of stuff along with a barn full of stuff. We had an auction that included the household things. All the kids had come and taken anything that they wanted already. The person who bought the house said not to worry about the barn, they would take it as is. It made me think there must have been some good junk in there for them to do that, but we were glad to be done with it. It taught me a lesson that I'm trying to do...unclutter as much as possible and don't leave it for the kids to do. Hopefully we'll be there soon! Perhaps we should move? Ha!

Carol Noren Johnson said...

Oh yes! I can so identify as I am in that process now as my house is up for sale. It does feel good to get rid of things and to know that some kin in my family will have an easier job when I pass on.

Jerralea said...

I learned an important lesson about clutter when our house was flooded. We moved everything out to remodel the house. When the remodeling was over, we could not get all the stuff back in! And, to give you an idea of how incredible that was, we even lost a bunch of stuff due to damage in the flood. We could not fit everything back in! I still can't get over that. That's why it's important to have a "house purge" every now and then.

Stuff creeps in!

I'm sure your new place feels so airy and open to you after having had to deal with 30,000 lbs. of clutter!

Kat said...

I would honestly LOVE to have less stuff. I'm all about that. I look at these tiny houses online and I would love to live so simply and modestly. I just don't see that working right now with my four kids an the hubby (who likes stuff). I feel like I am constantly stumbling over stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff.
I declutter an awful lot and it still feels like I have too much stuff. It doesn't help that I always feel like I am the memory maker and the memory keeper in my house. So I have a bunch of the kids' art projects, homework, decorations for every holiday/season, toys, PICTURES, toys, tools, TOYS. Bah!

Now I know why my mom (and Todd's mom) was so excited when we bought our own house and immediately started bringing our childhood stuff over. ;)

TBR/Committed Thoughts said...

I remember all the clutter, and how it affected you. I am glad that period of your life is over for you! I sure 'nuff need to declutter my own house.

It's hard to believe it was four years ago that you moved there, Betty! Time just has a way of flying like nothing else can! 30,000 pounds is uh-lot of stuff!!

It sounds like you are really settling in nicely, and I am so happy for you.