Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Hi, my name is Raevyn, and I am a recovering (I hope) hoarder. I have entirely too much stuff, and when I think back to what I inherited 8 years ago, when my mother died, I am appalled! I have blogged in the past about the amount of stuff she had… Some was hers, some was what she had inherited from her mother in 1992, and never dealt with. My mother admitted her packrat tendencies, and I've always been pretty honest about mine, but my grandmother absolutely denied that she was a packrat until her dying day. Yeah, that's why, back in October, as I was preparing to clear out of my last place, my sister, brother-in-law & I threw away receipts and paid bill notices older than I am… Edie was the 4th of 8 girls, raised in the country. Even now, many families with 8 children, who are not selling their stories to the highest bidding television network, manage without a lot of extras. She raised her family during the Great Depression and World War 2, she learned to conserve, and, I am sure, save things that were likely to be useful later. I understand jars, dishes, and the like. I even understand tax, real estate, and major purchase papers for several years back, but at one point (before Mom died), I shredded 2 file drawers full of tax returns from the 1950s & 1960s! Over the past 8 years, I have done several purges, and I've gotten a good bit of it under control, and begun to put into practice "If I am not willing to dust it regularly, or actually USE it, I don't need to keep it". I still have some boxes to unpack and put stuff away out of in my bedroom, but by the end of Saturday, I WILL have that done, and be in the process of making my little room into a home for me and the heathens, small though it is.

I have a friend, who is a dear sweet person, and having seen her space, talked with her about some of her things, and having a bit of other background about her situation, seeing her issues objectively, has allowed me to both rationalize some of mine down, and put mine in perspective at little bit better.

For whatever reason I believed that I was in control of the material things in my life, keeping them scattered and messy, because it is my life, and I don't have to arrange my things to suit anybody but me. I rationalized it by saying that I was controlling the chaos. The reality is that the chaos has ALWAYS controlled me. For as long as I can remember being directly affected, there was some sort of chaos, either physical, or emotional in our house. After the divorce, especially when we moved out of the house we lived in when we came back to TX, there was always an area of unused, or rarely used stuff. Baby clothes, outgrown toys, more Christmas stuff than we could EVER use. Sometimes it was in the attic, out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes it was in a closet or a storage building (again OOSOOM). Our 2 car garages NEVER held 2 cars that I can recall, though they usually held one. For YEARS, I moved boxes, unopened, from the house, to a storage unit, to the next house (in the storage building behind it), and to the next house (again, in a storage building). I have gotten rid of (or am in the process of getting sold) the 'heirlooms' that either I don't love, or I'm fairly sure none of the next generation is interested in. I have no need for a bazillion baby pictures of myself, or my kid brother who died 21 years ago. Our genetic line ends with me. I've kept a handful of photos from various time periods, my sister has some, and our brother has a few as well, I'm pretty sure. It was so very important to my mother to keep the past, and to hold onto those material things from her past… clothing, photos, costume jewelry, books, vinyl records, inexpensive artwork from the places she had visited, trinkets from the places she had been. Those were HER memories, they are not MY memories. My goal is to be able to store, once I am back into my own space that consists of a whole apartment or house, no more than my garb for faire and my holiday items, both of which are seasonal, instead of using only a small fraction of what I own.

I have spent years compensating for whatever it is that I was missing at that moment, by surrounding myself with things, and running away from the clutter and disarray that has been my home. Sometimes that has been a love interest, other times Mom, other times a family of my own. That run ends now. I am taking control of my space, accepting some responsibility for helping to maintain the rest of the house, and figuring out how to dream again.

Tomorrow morning I will be up at a reasonable time, and until we leave to go help our friend work on her clean house adventure, I will be in my room, getting things unpacked and arranged so that it's a pleasant and welcoming place to be, rather than the cluttered cave that I've allowed it to be for the last week.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It’s Something, Anyway

Yesterday our modem decided that it needed a vacation day… or something… A call to the ISP netted nothing more helpful than "we are sorry ma'am, but your modem is dead, and out of warranty, if you want to have internet service through us, you will have to buy a new modem, or upgrade to a new, more expensive plan, at which point we will GIVE you a new modem." Umm, yeah, right, isn't that handy, if we agree to pay you at least 50% MORE than what we've been paying for the last 14 months, you will GIVE us a new modem… it's only going to cost us an additional $10 and change a month. THAT'S NOT A GIFT YOU TWERPS!!! Fortunately, this morning, after leaving the modem off for 24 hours, we were able to get it restarted, and working just fine. So, we are going to try to keep it somewhere with a little better air circulation so it doesn't get quite so hot and need another vacation day.
In the meantime, we managed to get the carpet pulled up in the front room. Utter NASTINESS, let me assure you. Based on the orangey color, and the patterned shag nap, I am gonna venture out and say it was installed sometime in the, ohhh, late 1960s or early 1970s. Since its installation, it had multiple animals, plus an old Mustang, I think, engine restored while sitting on it. The padding was rotten, and almost as orange as the carpet. HUGELY gross, stuck in many places to the linoleum. We scraped, swept, vacuumed, scrubbed, and mopped as much as we could up, and then commenced moving most of the furniture we planned to put into the room. Unfortunately, as the prodigal adult kid has returned, and requires a spot to bed down (and I'm now in his old room), a couple of pieces we planned on putting in there just won't fit. It's fine, those pieces are not really in the way where they have been for months.
Today we sorted through no less than 5 mail totes, a couple of laundry hampers, 4 milk crates, and a couple of cardboard boxes. Toys, clothes, linens, books, videos, video games for obsolete systems, video game boxes with no games in them. Yeah, in the end, I have 2 boxes of toys/misc household stuff, 2 big bags of clothes plus a few hanging pieces, and 2 big bags of linens that I'll take to Mission Arlington tomorrow afternoon after church. We won't even go into what all got trashed because it was clearly broken or otherwise ruined, rendering it useless. My room is still a pile o'stuff, but I can address that once the public areas are handled to the point that I'm not needed out there to be working on that stuff. I will have 5 days while everybody else is gone next week to get my room under control and get more fully settled.
I am also working on carving out a time in my day to sit and write regularly. Honestly, much of it may be rambling nonsense, more journaling than anything else, but I am hopeful that as the habit develops, my writing will develop and improve. I am going to look next week into perhaps some HR & business classes, maybe some creative writing courses or something at the local college. I'm not having much luck finding work, even at minimum wage, perhaps a course or two would add to my skill set, make me more marketable, and give me more of a creative outlet. For now, it's time to snuggle with the kitties and watch a little Northern Exposure.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sometimes Things Have to Fall Apart.

One of the things I did manage today, between moving stuff and trying to keep the cats somewhat settled down, was to discover & read the blog of one of my kids from church. I call her one of MY kids, because back in, 2007, she was one of the kids on my first mission trip since I was a youth. Except for one of them, who was a senior, and one who was a junior I think the rest of them were on their first mission trip, since they'd just finished 7th grade. She (and our Senior) were on my workteam, and, like all of the kids, were awesome! I knew, back then, that she is something especially special in my world. Over the last 3 years, I've read her blogs on her MySpace & Facebook, always marveling at her gift for writing. She's a wonderful public speaker as well. She's started a new blog… one with its own space, not a page on MySpace or Facebook. As I was reading several entries on her blog, I was struck by this paragraph
Sometimes things have to fall apart to fall into place…And when they do fall apart, it doesn't matter that everything's in pieces. What matters is how you carry them. God will let you carry your pieces however you want. But me? I want some help with mine. So I vote we remember our windows, put less stock in our lights, and carry our pieces towards the Lord, because once you remember he's there, he's a lot easier to see.  Marianne Brown, 2010
Recently, I have felt very much like things in my world have fallen apart. I suck at asking for help. I know this. I suck at asking the friends I can see, and the ones I can't. My faith has always been a big part of my life, and while it's fundamentally still pretty much what it has always been, I've learned that I can successfully incorporate some other ideas into the mix, not be wrong, and still be loved by God. Perhaps I've been the strong one for too long… I need to let God help carry my pieces.

It's been over a year since I was employed for anything longer than a couple of months. There have been ups and downs, frustrations beyond belief, and some wonderful revelations along the way. Several weeks ago, tensions came to a head and seemed to be at an impasse with regard to my living situation. This resulted in a frantic search for somewhere I could go, and, knowing that none of my options for MY bed could include my cats. I was fortunate enough to find someone not only willing to foster them for me, but also willing to drive a couple of hours to meet me about halfway between our places to make the exchange. Many tears, frustrations, and a bit of a hollering match later, we reached an accord that will benefit all of us in the house, preserve a friendship, and let me keep my cats with me.

See, we live in a house that was originally built in the 1880s. Yes, that is correct, the house (parts of it anyway) is over 120 years old. There have been a couple additions over the years, rendering parts of the house more energy efficient than others. The room I'd been in since November is part of the original house. There are 4 windows in that room. 2 face WEST, and, if not original to the house, are at least from the early 20th century (I would say maybe 1930's at the most recent) They are the old double hung sash type windows, that either have to be hooked open (there are eyebolts on the tops of the part that raises/lowers) or propped open with something. To help keep the cold out over the winter, we put some heavy plastic up over them. The other 2 are on the front porch, and face south/southwest. That room is also over a basement shop that isn't used except for storage probably 90% of the time. Also, the tree that's on the west side of the house provides NO shade to that bedroom. Yeah, cooling it in the summer is F.U.N. let me tell ya… especially with a window a/c unit. The other drawback to this room is that it is the public path to the only downstairs bathroom, and the only public bathroom in the house. Now, if I was in there asleep, nobody ever tried to come through, and for the most part, my privacy was respected, with a couple of exceptions. Oh, and I am TOTALLY not a neat freak. I can absolutely organize and clean someone else's stuff like crazy, but my own stuff tends to be fairly haphazard & messy (although I generally know where in my "mess" things are)

Upstairs, above the front room (where I was), is the master, which has a total of, umm, I think 7 windows. Some very old, some new, and honestly, since I don't spend a lot of time up there, I couldn't begin to say how many of each. At one time, there were 2 bedrooms in that space. 2 of the windows face WEST (and only one of those MIGHT get a bit of shade from the tree, but it's minimal at best). 3 face south, and 2 face north. Also up in that room are the cats which make up the "stock" of the cattery owned by one of my friends. Because they are mutant cats (yes, hairless is a mutation), they tend to be a bit more delicate, as a regular cat's fur helps to regulate its body temperature, that is likely the most important space to control the climate. Being that we are in TEXAS, in probably the hottest summer since 1980, plus the fact that that's an older (though I'm not sure original) part of the house, it's upstairs, and heat rises… well, the AC unit runs pretty well constantly up there to keep the room around 78 degrees.

Also upstairs is the teenager's bedroom, which has either 3 or 4 windows, facing east and south, and 2 cats. That room I KNOW is part of an addition from, I think around the 60s or 70s., and is above our living room & dining rooms.
Before the major heat hit, we were already running 3 a/c units, and hadn't even turned on the ones in the living/dining room.

There is also a small bedroom downstairs, with lots of natural light (nearly a whole wall of windows facing north, and a couple facing west that are mostly shaded by the tree outside, which I think is part of the 60s/70s addition. The west windows also have storm windows. It's almost half the size of the other bedroom, but it's not the smallest bedroom I have ever had. This shift allows me more privacy (nobody has any need to come through my bedroom to get to the bathroom, and the laundry room has 2 entries, so nobody has to come through my room to get there either.

The dining room can be moved into my old bedroom, along with several other things that have been sort of crowding the living/dining area because they needed to be where we could access them, but aren't things we necessarily use every single day. Those things don't have to be constantly climate controlled. (We are now up to 5 window units… 1 for each bedroom plus 2 for the living/dining area). The cattery stock can be moved into the more accessible former dining area (which is going to be climate controlled anyway because we usually have someone in that part of the house during the day), and we can stop running a/c constantly at such a level in 2 rooms. It is going to allow us to reduce energy costs, PLUS it will give the cats more socialization because they'll be where there are people all the time, instead of upstairs on their own.

So yesterday we finished getting the stuff (largely junk & such that will be either sold at a yard sale, Ebay-ed, or donated to charity if it's in decent condition, otherwise the trash men are gonna have a big load from us one of these days! Actually, a recliner and a coffee table got put at the curb last night, and picked up with the rest of the trash today. I vacuumed thoroughly (the last one living in it was a 20 year old boy, who wasn't exactly a clean or neat freak), and shampooed the carpets. This morning the carpets were dry enough, and we moved my stuff in. Before I moved anything in, I smudged with my sage stick to cleanse the energy (and the smoking boy aroma), rang my tingshas and burned a bit of purification oil to fully prepare the space.

There's still a table in the other room, which will go to storage, and a glider that will wind up in the living room, because, well, we can use another comfortable chair in there! My Ebay shipping supplies are also in there, but hopefully they will be able to stay, because, even once I put all the stuff I have in here in a proper place, there's nowhere for anything else! I have clean sheets on the bed, a temporary quilt (actually, it's a lap quilt that my sister-in-law made for me, umm, around 1990 or 91, I think. It will serve the purpose until the house is put back together and the laundry room is emptied to a point where we can get to the washer & dryer again…

I have much more to write about some of my plans for the coming weeks and months, but alas, the short cat is becoming INSISTENT that I either give her a turn on the computer, or get it off my lap so's I can scratch her properly… g'nite ya'll.