Tag Archives: Watertown

Birthday Boy

I’m still having a hard time keeping up with additions here right now, although I haven’t forgotten it! My absence is mostly due to work commitments, combined with being away from home for best part of 3 days each week. And also partly due to my ability to procrastinate and maybe feel that I should “plan” my musings rather than just run with a new post by simply putting pen to paper.

But anyway, I thought I’d drop in and at least wish a very Happy Birthday to M for today! 

The Birthday Boy!

We had a fun weekend in NY, especially since the weather stayed unexpectedly dry for the most part. It’s been so horrendously wet here in New England this month, and across the northeast in general. Actually across many parts of the country, to be honest. I’ve heard lots of folk talking about how strangely wet their spring has been. It does all look beautifully green here though, I must admit. And I shouldn’t complain, because I fear we’ll go from this to “90 and humid” pretty much overnight sometime soon. And I dread that more than anything. The rain I can cope with.

Sunday afternoon was all about baking. I’d asked M: “Oreos or peanut butter?”, and I was given a long answer to a short question. Or actually, I really wasn’t given an answer at all! So I decided to hedge my bets and go for both. So I made a combination birthday cheesecake – half “chocolate and peanut butter”, and half “oreos”.

I’m not religious, but I did say a quiet prayer for my waistline upon completion of this creation! Later I cut it into the tiniest chunks for freezing too – that way we’re more likely to just grab a small piece for a treat, rather than be tempted to cut off and devour a slab the size of Rhode Island……..

Hope you are not too submerged this spring!

Emergence

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted anything. I’ve been through an exceptionally busy time at work, with lots of deadlines in quick succession. Combine this with some Exam Committee work that I do (that also has most of its deadlines for exam material submissions between March & May) & I have been left spending all my personal downtime trying to keep up on work-related projects, and just generally gasping for air – especially since my usual life routine of having 7 days a week to myself has been turned upside by spending  my weekends in another state! Not that I’m complaining about having someone nice in my life…..but I’m a creature of habit, & when my habits get knocked out of line, I’m not as quick as some to reach a new equilibrium!

But the good news is that I’ve survived my two busy months of deadlines, & I’m now trying to gradually restore some form of order & routine.

The other good news is that there’s a (seemingly) recovered hoarder in Watertown, NY! You may remember the original scene of carnage that faced me when M’s belongings arrived after his relocation.

The original crime scene - or part of it!

Well after many busy weekends of a constant cycle of “unpack, box up, itemize, donate”, we seem to have made great headway. I have to give M so much credit for how he has been willing to deal with his excess baggage. I must admit that in the beginning I had been devastated by the extent of the belongings he owned – mostly because of the “multiples” of everything that he owned, and the message that it all left me with. I thought I was going to be up against an uphill struggle for sure. But gradually, once he began to see that he didn’t really need multiples, or even much of the single stuff that he had….and when he began to see the benefit of donating (and receiving some tax benefit from it too)…..his mood lifted a lot, and he was extremely receptive to filtering everything. So much so that we’re now really only left with a small pile in the corner to sift through.

The last few stragglers….

So now we’re fortunate enough to be able to have more quality time together at the weekends, instead of just doing Box Patrol. And it’s really nice that our emergence from deadlines & boxes seems to be coinciding nicely with spring’s emergence too.

Last weekend as I drove into Watertown, I caught a glimpse of the Black River & did a double-take. It was the first time I’d seen that particular stretch without any covering of either snow or ice!

The Black River - minus the white!

Despite being overcast on Friday evening, we awoke Saturday to a beautiful blue sky with bright sunshine. And amazingly, no wind! It was too good to be true, and we decided to take full advantage of it, so after a leisurely late breakfast we took a drive into the Adirondacks region. Without the typical winds that we’ve become accustomed to up there, the water in all the lakes was scarily still, and the reflections were just beautiful.

The beauty of the Adirondacks region

M even put his cooking skills to use too – even though he’ll often organize breakfasts or lunches, usually I’m in charge of dinner.  So it was wonderful to have dinner cooked for me for a change! And it was delicious too.

Danger - Men At Work!

So there we are folks……emerging into a new routine in time for the spring! And I must admit that I’m loving the longer daylight hours we have now – although I don’t mind the winter and dark days, I am definitely more productive during the daylight, so I always get more accomplished when the days are longer.

How are you guys all enjoying the emerging spring?

Boxed In

I was fortunate enough to have today off work, courtesy of Presidents’ Day, so I’d driven up to upstate NY for the long weekend to see M. Since he has just relocated up to the “North Country” region, we’d signed a lease for a townhouse up there, & he physically moved in on February 1st, with just a couple of car-loads of belongings at that time. Sadly, however, the removal company delivered the rest of his life there last week. He warned me in advance that the whole downstairs area was completely filled with boxes, but I really wasn’t quite prepared for the true extent of the carnage until I was face to face with the demons!

The floor space here was really the only free space available downstairs!


My heart sank when I walked in & saw all the boxes.  I already knew that M was a hoarder, but I wasn’t quite fully prepared for the full extent of it, & I knew it was going to be a very “long weekend”! M is a total procrastinator, although he does work well when motivated, & especially when he sees rewards from his labor.

I knew that if we were going to make any real headway here, I was going to have to find some happy medium between lighting a fire under his ass & hanging back & making the purging seem like it was his idea.

I used to think I was a pack-rat until this past weekend. Does anyone else own 3 clothes irons? And truthfully, with all the kitchenware I opened, you’d think Martha Stewart lived there – and I reminded him of this as I was trying to break my way into the kitchen through the pizza boxes & empty Arby’s bags…..

Dozens of the boxes were literally filled with paperwork just thrown into them – receipts, unopened magazines & newspapers from many years ago, photos, random things like pens, pencils, notepads. You name it, it was probably there. And in multiples of multiples. I didn’t know how the weekend was going to pan out.

The first day was a hard slog. You know how it feels when you start opening boxes after a move – you work for hours, & even though you feel the physical effects of your efforts, at the end of the day you really only “see” that a little bit of space has been cleared. So, for a couple of nights, even though I was able to get to the kitchen area to cook, we had no space to sit anywhere, so ate dinner standing against the counter. It usually takes a fair bit to get me to the point where I vocalize that I’m feeling overwhelmed by something, mostly because I tend to deal with stress by digging into the problem & trying to progress to reach some kind of resolution. By Friday evening, however, I was verbalizing my overwhelmed feeling. I felt like we were getting nowhere, & although I could see that boxes were being opened, I could also see that M was merely “relocating” their contents to different rooms! I did at least find some solace in our trash run though – we filled M’s car with empty boxes & on our travels late Friday afternoon, we managed to find an empty dumpster to accept them! A small victory.

Oh & I was presented with some lovely flowers for my efforts too – what girl couldn’t love a man who buys her flowers?



Bigger victories followed, however, and from day 2 onwards we managed to start making some serious headway. I don’t know how it happened, but the purging began. Extra woks & other pans were allowed to be placed into a box for donation. Clothes were also allowed to be grouped into bags for donation too. I’ve seriously never known a man who owns so many clothes. I’d estimate that he owns about 10x the amount of clothes that I own, & I’m pretty sure that is an underestimation. And shoes. Jeezy peeps…..somehow I managed to get him to donate a box of old Army boots (about 12 pairs of them). And I lost count of the number of times I heard the phrase: “I’ve been looking for that!”. Oh & let’s not mention the 3 trash bags filled with (ancient) Army uniforms to donate. Many of which originated from his basic training days (M has been “Army” for 15 years).

Many of the boxes had actually never been opened in about 4 years – they’d been moved from IL to GA & never opened. Then they were placed in storage again while M was overseas last year, & there they remained until they were relocated up to NY last week.

Sorry – I’m rambling now……I can summarize the whole experience by telling you I was a little “in shock”! But I can also say that I was really proud of M for all the purging he did though. I understand completely how difficult it is to part with belongings, especially when you’ve been through life experiences that triggered some kind of “nesting” or “collecting” activity. But I could also tell that he really enjoyed seeing the fruits of his labor once he did start purging, & this kind of inspired him to continue (this shocked me too, I must say! I didn’t think we’d purge half as much as we succeeded in dealing with). Although some things were clearly harder than others to part with, & were just sequestered away  – like his Boy Scout sleeping mat from a few decades ago. And what 35 year old man doesn’t need a Chicago Bears lunchbag?

I suggested that the saved lunchbag should hopefully curb the fast-food runs!

Eventually we carved out enough space to be able to open up a table downstairs. It was wonderful being able to sit down to eat dinner. By this point, my catchphrase had become “Go Army.com” since I was sick & tired of opening bags & boxes of goodies with this phrase written on them. M was an Army recruiter in previous years, & still had a veritable collection of just about everything “Army” that you could wish for with that darn motto plastered on it. Pens, pencils, notepads, CDs, staplers, water bottles, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, computer mousepads, breathalizer sticks……..oh my word, I’m hyperventilating again just thinking about it…..but at least by Day 3 there were even some “Go Army” lawn chairs for us to sit on at dinner time!

Table For Two
Anyway, by the time I left this afternoon, we had made a total of 10 dumpster runs, & additionally had filled the downstairs bathroom with trash bags of clothes & bedding to donate. There were many other boxes to donate too. As well as the 3 trash bags & one huge plastic tote box filled with shredded paper, courtesy of the gazillion bank documents etc, that had been kept from back in the days pre-abacus.

At least after 3 days of solid work we were both feeling pretty good with the results, especially as we’d managed to visit some furniture stores over the weekend too, & had chosen some things. So yesterday we did a trash run, purged a heap of boxes & trash, & then headed to the furniture store to order a sofa, some chairs & a split box-spring that will be able to make its way up the stairs.  Then we warded off cabin fever by heading out for an afternoon drive. We headed out to Sackets Harbor & watched some loonies walking out on Lake Ontario to do some ice fishing!

Walking on Lake Ontario
Ah well, if you’re still with me now, thanks! There may even be some community service hours in it for you…….it’s been a stressful few days watching the boy purge & not-purge, but overall I’m really proud of him because I know how stressful it is allowing “things” to just disappear from your life.

I just spent 5 hours driving back to Massachusetts, & he’s playing video games & has been very quiet. I think that sums up how he’s feeling about it all!