Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pandemonium tackled…


IMG_6028Just a quick update on my task of reducing the amount of clutter in my home. Progress is happening; however, this chaos did not happen overnight, nor will the solution. I feel great about what has been accomplished so far. Hope does exist that I will get a handle on this situation. Eliminating the excess is somewhat difficult with my mom living with me, because much of the stuff actually belongs to her. (Remember the remains of four households, plus our belongings has been jammed into my home.) Fortunately, I have been able to do most of what has been accomplished without her watchful eye. I do not want to hurt her feelings, yet the state in which we have lived for a number of years is just not productive for anyone. We all have treasures that we want to keep, but at this point, who can enjoy the treasures when we can’t even find them? Having to look for everything you want is exhausting!  I know that once this massive job is completed, I will have a renewed and healthier outlook on life and can get back to what I want to be doing!

I am missing my daily quilting routine and can’t wait to get back to it. However, this process is one in which I don’t seem to be able to find the balance to do both. Once the house is done and I am at peace with that, I will be back on my machine and working on my quilts. In the meantime I am taking advantage of the time when I rest, to read other blogs and enjoy what others are doing.

Please know that I am embarrassed to even post these pictures, but you will see part of the dilemma with which I am dealing.  Resolution is forth coming, and I will be happy when I can post the after pictures once I have completed taking control over my home!

I am linking up with Connie’s Tuesday’s Linky Party at Freemotion by the River. I love Connie’s work and then of course, I enjoy all the other bloggers who link up on this fun party.

Import 5_2012 176



Import 5_2012 157





Just exactly how did my home become a candidate for the “Hoarders” show? I have never claimed to be the world’s best housekeeper, but our home was always comfortable and certainly livable, and definitely clean.

During the past twenty or so years I have accumulated more items in my home than one would think humanly possible. My mom moved from a home where she had lived for more than 30 years. She moved to the High Bridge which crosses the junction of the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers outside of Comstock, Texas where she fished and had a wonderful life for several years. There she lived in a fully furnished three bedroom mobile home. Eventually the rivers dried up, and she sold the mobile home and moved to the San Antonio area, where she bought another three bedroom mobile home and placed it on a lot in a small town near where I live. The yard work was too much for her, so my husband was doing it and that did not set well with my independent mother. A building project began and when mom realized it was a small apartment complex for seniors, she sold her second mobile home and moved into the small apartment, where she intended to live the rest of her life. She was happy there and loved her new little apartment. After each of those moves, I became the keeper of her excess treasures with which she could not part and “perfectly good” furniture which she wanted me to have. The house began becoming more crowded, but was still manageable.

In 2007 my husband, who had been retired for the past five years, took a position as Superintendent of Schools in a small town near Corpus Christi. I resigned from my teaching position in San Antonio to join him. We were not interested in selling our home so we simply scavenged what was absolutely necessary for us to live in a small two bedroom rental in this new small town. Scavenging left our home in somewhat disarray, but not terrible. While we there I took a position as Secondary Curriculum Coordinator, so we were both in new jobs that were quite demanding. At the same time I started my Masters degree and a Principal’s training program which required my attendance at the Regional Service Center at least two, and sometimes, three nights a week. We were attending numerous meetings in the evenings for both of our new positions. We stayed busy to say the least. In November of that year Mark became ill and when the doctors did a CAT scan, they determined that he definitely had kidney cancer and were unsure about a spot that appeared on his liver. Consequently, the surgeons removed part of his kidney and later determined that the spot on his liver was simply a birth mark. Thank goodness!

Once the kidney cancer was removed, Mark’s recovery was quite difficult. He seemed to struggle every day until the doctor’s finally determined that he was diabetic. The day that he was diagnosed his blood sugar was at 600. They mentioned that he should have actually been in a coma. Little did we know that we had been adding to his problem every day by having fresh squeezed orange juice from the orange tree right outside our back door at this little rental. Duh!!! Attempting to get his diabetes under control, we completely changed our daily routine. We ate differently and began a walking regiment. However, progress was still slow.

Some time during the year my mom came to visit and stayed about two weeks. During that stay, I became sadly aware of a number of issues that I had not noticed before. She was repeating herself quite often, as most people her age do. I noticed was that her balance seemed to be compromised, and there were definite signs of Parkinson’s disease. My concern for her grew throughout the year, but she was still functioning on her own and liked it that way.

My daughter had graduated from college and was engaged to a great guy named Todd. They set the date for May of that year, and we began the planning of their wedding. She and Todd were living in Sweetwater, we were near Corpus and the wedding was to be in Marathon. We made several trips to Marathon which was all the way across this big state. We shopped and made many phone calls and emails to one another. Though this venture was pure pleasure, it still added a certain amount of stress to my life. The wedding was beautiful and fun for all that attended. Amanda describes it as “the wedding of her dreams.”‘

Amanda and Todd

Photo courtesy of Sam Roberts Photography

To continue this long and drawn out story, my husband’s contract was not renewed at the end of the year. And, obviously I resigned my position so that we could move back to our home. Mark was still quite ill and in fact, was in bed when it came time to pack up and move. So my daughter came to help. We literally threw our stuff in a moving truck, and when we arrived at our home, we unloaded as quickly as possible because Amanda had to return to her job. So the house instantly became a mess!

In the meantime, I was attempting to find a teaching position in San Antonio or the surrounding area. That process required hours on the computer filling out applications, researching districts and then going for interviews. Ultimately, I did not find a position in education. My years of experience worked against me in an economy where districts were cutting back and hiring new teachers whose salaries' were much less than someone with 15 years of experience. I become quite distraught because I needed to work, so I took a job at one of the large chain fabric stores. While working every day the following incidences occurred and kept my life turned upside down.

Approximately two months after we moved back, my mom took a fall in the parking lot of her apartment complex and broke her arm. The repair involved surgery to place pins in her arm and several months of dealing with a cast, along with doctor’s appointments, x-rays and such. Based upon her injury and what I had observed when she came to visit us, we made the decision to move her to a small guest house on our property. Before we could get her moved, major renovations were necessary on the guest house. During that time mom was staying with us so that we could care for her. Then she got settled in her little guest house. Disrupting a person’s life at her age leads to some unexpected results. Every week she wanted me to rearrange her furniture, which I did willingly. We traded out furniture week in and week out. This went on for several months until we found the arrangement that seemed to work best. I finally had to say to mom, “No more moving furniture!” I was doing this after working full days at the fabric store, and I was getting worn out!

For seven months after her fall she complained of pain in her hip. The doctor seemed certain that it was simply arthritis. She finally told the doctor that she had been dealing with arthritis for many years, and this was different. So he x-rayed her only to find that she had fractured the hip when she fell. Back to the hospital we went for more surgery. She was there several days, and when she was released she had almost instant relief from the pain she had suffered with for the past months. The doctor and I both felt horrible that we didn’t x-ray her completely at the time of the fall.

Four days after she came home, mom’s femur snapped completely into. You see, her hip had been stabilized but with severe osteoporosis her bones were brittle. She simply turned and her leg broke. This break was complicated in that the surgeon had to reconfigure the pins in her hip to accommodate the rod that he was putting in her leg. When she awoke from surgery mom experienced several weeks of what is known as anesthesia paranoia, where she was convinced that the nurses and doctors in the hospital and the rehab center were experimenting upon her. She was genuinely scared and would not let a nurse touch her. In turn that meant that someone (me or my husband) was with her 24 hours a day for weeks. Finally, her mind seemed to clear and the paranoia went away. As I have mentioned before, her recovery was agonizingly slow and is still ongoing.

Along the way, my job changed from sales associate to assistant manager, and finally to manager at the fabric store. Retail management is quite a challenge as you may know. As the manager you are given a certain number of hours with which to staff your store, and that number is always shy of what is truly required. As the only salaried employee, the manager is expected to fill in the gap, which meant many long days and late nights. My heart was torn everyday between my job and caring for my mother. My husband had been taking good care of her, but I felt a huge responsibility toward that end. Finally, I resigned to stay home with her. Mark found a job through the oil boom of South Texas, known as the Eagle Ford Shale. His new job would entail sales with an equipment leasing company. His first day was to be November 6, 2011.

On Labor Day, the day before he was to start his new job, Mark was barbequing. Suddenly the grass under the gas grilled ignited and moved rapidly under the storage building between my house and the guest house. The fire quickly became massive and was out of control. Neighbors came with shovels and hoses and tried to help my husband get the fire out. Of course, 911 was called and before the ordeal was over three days later, eight different fire departments with heavy equipment including helicopters and bulldozers were involved in containing the 440 acres that was ultimately burned. The storage building was a complete loss and mom’s roof and windows were damaged. Fortunately, no other structures were burned. The 440 acres was undeveloped wooded land behind our home. Once again, thank goodness!

Mom’s place was damaged enough that she did not need to stay out there, so we moved her into the house with us. We moved from our master bedroom downstairs and put mom in that room. Our bedroom became one of the two upstairs. Once again, we found ourselves moving furniture almost on a daily basis. As time has moved forward, mom’s mobility has become more restricted. Her needs have increased dramatically. All the while, my house has been becoming more and more of an issue.  My plate has been full with some things over which I had little control. Day after day mom suffered with unrelenting pain. I was becoming overwhelmed with depression.  I found myself paralyzed, stifled in my own home.

Mom is doing as well as can be expected. I know there will come a day when I will no longer be able to keep her at home, but until then we have adjusted to living together. I want her to be with me as long as is possible. She and I will know when that time comes, and then we will make the decisions we need to make. For now we work through the challenges we encounter, and I find myself sometimes frustrated. Mom has a quirky sense of humor, somewhat different than mine. Most of the time, we end up laughing over whatever we saw as a problem.

So, this long tale is how my home came to be in a state of pandemonium! My mission now is to recapture my home and find the peaceful tranquility that I so long for through quilting, while I enjoy spending time with my husband and mom and making many more quilts. I truly believe that if I live each day as if it were my last day, I will find pleasure in all that is around me. Each day I am moving forward with my goals, making progress and seeing my efforts paying off.

If you made it through to this point, I would like to say thank you. I do realize this was a long rant!


  1. You'll get it all straightened out and then you'll be happy and quilting again. Looks like a nice setup for cutting! Thanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

  2. Thank you, Connie, for your encouraging words. I am thrilled to be involved in a community of quilters who are a compassionate bunch of folks.

    I love your website and your linky parties and appreciate you hosting them. Thanks for stopping by, soon I will be back to working on Lovely Lou and then the next quilt on my agenda!

  3. Yep, that about sums it up.

    You forgot to mention weeklong, ventures with a crazy little monster named Mia, grand dogs, and I'm sure lots of other things we've contributed!

  4. Todd, those ventures with Mia and the grand dogs add pleasure to my life. I wouldn't trade that time for anything in the world!

  5. Understand first that you are an amazingly strong, brave woman for sharing this post and the photos of your home. What you are going through right now is extremely difficult. It is a time of problems with no solutions other than time, patience, and a steadiness of spirit.

    From what it sounds like to me, you have lost your balance. Literally your feet cannot find the ground to stand on, so how can you balance? That is a yoga metaphor, but I hope it makes sense here.

    So here is my personal advice to you: work on one room at a time and find the strength to throw away more than you keep.

    Yes, it's painful. Yes, letting go can feel like more loss on top of all the losses you have experienced so recently.

    But letting go is also a liberation, a freedom from everything weighing you down. Release this "stuff" and also allow yourself to also express and release the grief these last years have brought you.

    It is okay to be sad. It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to need help.

    Here's a big hug to help you on your way!


  6. You're a strong woman, and I hope you feel proud of all the things you have accomplished over these years--success at new jobs, planning a wedding (obviously after raising a lovely daughter), being a partner and great support to your husband when he really needed it, taking care of your mother, home repairs, and so on.

    I totally agree with you that now it's time to get rid of the stuff that is feeling oppressive and affecting creativity. You want a peaceful feeling when you're at home.

    I can tell you something about chaos. I studied it (seriously--chaos theory was a physics class I took as an undergraduate). Chaos is deterministic, and therefore you CAN control it and keep it at bay in the future. What this means is that a series of decisions and actions got your house to where it is today, and the decisions you make now and in the future can keep it in the more organized state you want.

    I'll cheer you on from miles away.....You go girl!

  7. I'll be cheering you on too. I'm at the place where the only place I can relax is at the kitchen table. My dh has so much junk in the house-there's about 15 fishing poles in the living room and a bike leaning against my comfy chair! Keep plugging away I'm cheering for you!

  8. Karen, thank you for your encouraging words.I am a strong woman and determined to get this under control. I appreciate you stopping by and reading through my long rant.

  9. You are exactly right, I have been totally distracted from writing. But I will return!