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Source: (consider it) Thread: Living around a clutterer
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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So. I've got this husband, and he has this STUFF™...

Basically, my floor is fast disappearing, as he walks in and just drops crap wherever he is. If nagged, he will look martyred, take a few extra steps, and deposit the shit on a chair, sofa, or other inappropriate place. I have found apples and jars of soup on the bench in front of the fire--under jackets and camping equipment, naturally.

Asked to help clean, he will wash every dish in the kitchen and deposit them all intermingled in the sink (which has not been scoured) and leave them there for others to place dirty crockery upon. Yes, we have a dishwasher. He is not using it.

Asked to bring up the laundry, he will fold (sloppily) everything in the order in which it comes out of the dryer (as in, shirt/random sock/trousers/child's swimsuit/handkerchief/undies/three more random socks/winter coat... and then deposit them on the bed or couch for me to excavate, layer by layer, then refold (swearing at the new wrinkles he has created) and finally put away. I have asked him just to bring it up in a mass still hot so I can do the folding and hanging while there's still a chance of avoiding the wrinkles. He will not. He thinks he is being helpful.

He's seventy. He ain't changing.

And I haven't got the energy or the desire to make my at-home time all about the yelling.

Has anybody got insights into how I can best manage this person's behavior so as not to start thinking longingly about the knifeblock?

FWIW, my desk at work is clean enough to do surgery upon, and it would take me roughly 15 minutes to clear it off completely and be out the door if ever fired. I hate clutter.

[ 29. July 2017, 21:40: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19855 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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My heart seriously aches for you Lamb. Clutter makes me very frazzled and short tempered so your post almost brought me to tears.

I do everything myself because, for example, once I've washed, dried and carefully folded the laundry I must see that it's safely put away in the drawers and closets that I keep organized. Seeing it all toppled on the dresser would make me very upset.

Every possession we own has it's place and is stored there when not in use. After Christmas and birthdays I help them find places for the new stuff and encourage throwing out or giving away an equal number of old items to balance.

In return for me doing all the cooking, cleaning and laundry I ask only two things:
(1) That no one leaves clutter about. I shouldn't have to put away their pop cans and shoes before vacuuming and dusting.
(2) That there not be "overlap." That means, if I've been in the kitchen cooking, serving and washing up for two hours and you start to walk in for a snack or with a dirty glass, just as I'm hanging up the dish towel, -- back slowly out of the room and wait quietly until I'm gone.

I'm lucky that my family members are naturally very tidy just not as nutty as I am. If I was married to Mr. Chopped I'm afraid there would be harsh consequences, like his items that had been left strewn about thrown in the trash and unexpected temper tantrums.

Could you have a room of your own?

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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[Big Grin] No, it doesn't bother me THAT much (except on certain occasions). My marriage is not in danger, just my temper. Really, I was hoping to find some practical suggestions for what to do with a person who comes home with a bag of doughnuts and soup (given him by sweet little old ladies at his day job), a set of keys, sunglasses, three urgent prescriptions for other people (to be delivered tomorrow on the way to work), the daily mail, and a potted plant.

At present this is what happens:

He stands the door juggling everything to find his key. When he opens the door, he passes up the key hook (where everyone else hangs their keys),
drops the doughnuts on the steps to the upper story (thereby imperiling my son's path to his bedroom),
and begins his journey across the living room to the back door.
Along the way he accidentally drops the keys into the pile of jackets and other crap on the bench facing the fire,
deposits the soup on the mantelpiece,
hands me one piece of mail with a mildly panicked question about why we're receiving a collection notice (it isn't, it's an advertisement), and stands there juggling the rest of the mail while he waits for my explanation.
Reassured that we are not about to be thrown out onto the street, he drops the prescription bag by my feet,
tells me in great detail about the potted plant and how X grew it from a mango seed, whereupon he attempts to hand it to me. I firmly refuse, at which point he hands it to LL, who is dumbfounded and asks me what to do with it.
Mr. L then proceeds past me to the livingroom couch area,
drops his sunglasses and wallet on the couch (where it is even odds whether he'll find them again before they sink into the crack between the cushions),
unleashes the dog to take her outside,
returns inside with dog (and remaining mail) which he then deposits on the elliptical machine (the footholds).
He finally removes his shoes and places them in the line of traffic to the kitchen,
sits down,
and asks me about my day.


Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19855 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Galloping Granny
Shipmate
# 13814

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He is giving you material for a story.
Unfortunately i's not yet the kind of story you get pad for, just a chance to unload your frustration.
Perhaps it could be shaped into a comic article for a magazine?

GG

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The Kingdom of Heaven is spread upon the earth, and men do not see it. Gospel of Thomas, 113

Posts: 2566 | From: Matarangi | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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I find that if I have an assigned stuff-dumping surface, it's the only place I use to dump stuff. But if other people also dump their stuff on my surface, it becomes useless to me (because I remember what I put on it, and the geographical relationship between various items on the surface. If someone else changes the state of the surface, I have no idea where anything is any more.)

Oh, and nobody else can put stuff for me on the surface either - again, that breaks my saved state.

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Graven Image
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# 8755

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When children were home we set a timer and all had a 15 minute pick up time before bed. Thursday was house cleaning day and everything not picked up went into a large plastic bin where it stayed until the next week or one payed a fine to get it back. Doubt you could pull such rank on hubby, but if children are still at home might try the 15 minute clean up by all idea.

Is there a place in your home that is just Husband's space such as his office. or the corner where his desk is where you would place a bin. If so you could pick up and place all his items there and shut the door or the lid and let him deal with it or not as he chooses. You would still have to pick them up but not look at them.

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Ohher
Shipmate
# 18607

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
So. I've got this husband, and he has this STUFF™...

Does Mr. Lamb arrive at home in a car?

If so, I suggest a new rule: only one thing at a time may be brought into the house from the vehicle. Until an appropriate home is found -- by Mr. Lamb, whose house it also is -- for that one item, nothing else may be brought in.

Mr. Lamb must learn to offer a polite "No thanks" to the people who offer him all this crap, or he must learn to like keeping it in his car.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Basically, my floor is fast disappearing, as he walks in and just drops crap wherever he is.

Here's part of the problem: it is not YOUR floor, and Mr. Lamb must be helped to see that it is HIS floor, especially as it's covered in HIS stuff.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
If nagged, he will look martyred,

Tough.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
take a few extra steps, and deposit the shit on a chair, sofa, or other inappropriate place. I have found apples and jars of soup on the bench in front of the fire--under jackets and camping equipment, naturally.

As it is you finding these things, you might just stop. Especially if by "finding," you actually mean "picking up and putting away."

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Asked to help clean, he will wash every dish in the kitchen and deposit them all intermingled in the sink (which has not been scoured) and leave them there for others to place dirty crockery upon. Yes, we have a dishwasher. He is not using it.

This sounds like a deeply passive-aggressive rebellion against doing work he regards as "yours," or at least "not his." Assuming that Mr. Lamb is an adult and a member of the household, he should be encouraged to see that all members of the household who contribute to the dirt, disorder, and disturbance which households fall heir to are also required to contribute to the cleaning, de-cluttering, and calming of said household.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Asked to bring up the laundry, he will fold (sloppily) everything in the order in which it comes out of the dryer (as in, shirt/random sock/trousers/child's swimsuit/handkerchief/undies/three more random socks/winter coat... and then deposit them on the bed or couch for me to excavate, layer by layer, then refold (swearing at the new wrinkles he has created) and finally put away. I have asked him just to bring it up in a mass still hot so I can do the folding and hanging while there's still a chance of avoiding the wrinkles. He will not. He thinks he is being helpful.

He can only go on thinking this as long as no-one disabuses him of his mistake. I suggest you try individual hampers for individual family members. Everybody tall enough to see over the edge of a top-loader can take responsibility for their own laundry. When Mr. Lamb is responsible for his own wardrobe, he may prefer to fold things more neatly if he wishes to be presentable.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
He's seventy. He ain't changing.

Rubbish. Unless he's now senile, he can still learn and change. He may need a little motivation. Provide this.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
And I haven't got the energy or the desire to make my at-home time all about the yelling.

Then don't. What's actually needed here is for you to change your habits. Stop accommodating his passive-aggressive learned helplessness. Do not pick up after him. Just sit him down calmly, point out that it's his house too, and he's just as responsible for maintaining order as you are. Ask if he likes living in chaos, never able to find his keys or a clean, pressed, shirt or dish or pot when needed.

Make up a chore chart and post it. Get a dish drainer and tell him to pile dishes in that instead of the sink. Don't bail him out when he forgets. Or "forgets." If he doesn't hold up his end (and he won't, especially at first), make sure he -- not you -- suffers the consequences.

It will take time and persistence; it will drive you mad for a while, and probably involve a few fights, but -- absent some underlying personality disorder -- adult males accustomed to being "looked after" often turn out to be nearly as trainable as offspring.

[ 30. July 2017, 05:21: Message edited by: Ohher ]

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Formerly Foolhearty. Back after somewhat less than 40 years in the wilderness.

Posts: 129 | From: New Hampshire, USA | Registered: Jun 2016  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

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Interesting, as I am a bit of a clutterer (although not as bad).

I would make a couple of suggestions:

1. Have a few places that he can clutter. His clutter goes in these places. Nowhere else. I have a few places I can pile my stuff and I get very annoyed if I have to then tidy and move them. I LIKE my piles of stuff.

2. Has this changed? Is there a possibility of psychological issues here? It is worth getting this checked out.

Otherwise I think there is a need for compromise here - on both sides. Which is going to be very tough.

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Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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Great post, Ohher! I'm right behind you.

Reading all this again, it struck me that Mr. Chopped is all about "helping," with chores but has no concept of "doing," a chore. He will carry up a random heap of laundry, he will wash dishes by washing only. This reminds me of how my husband "takes out the trash." He carries the big bin from the garage to the street. Period. This leaves me to gather up the bags from the bathroom waste baskets and the large kitchen bin and carry them out to the big bin at the curb.

How can we convince them to do an entire job? Maybe instead of asking, "Would you please do the dishes? say, "Would you please wash the dishes and dry them and put them back in the cupboard?" and I could say, "Would you gather up all the trash in the house and put it in the bin and then carry it out to the curb?"

If they don't quite get it, the next time we fix dinner we could just cook it and leave it on the stove. Then when they come to the table and look confused we could act all surprised and say, "Oh you want it served on plates?!"

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wild haggis
Shipmate
# 15555

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Although I could give a filpent reply, I want to be serious.

Has he been to see his GP? I think you need to discuss with the GP what is happening.

He is not a young man and it will be difficult to change him. Lablled boxes might help. Post-its can also help.

But I do think you need to talk to your GP or someone from Age Concern.

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wild haggis

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Try living when both of you - and the sodding kids - are all natural clutterers. It's a constant battle; it seems like I spend my life (when I'm not at work) tidying and cleaning but it still looks like a bomb's hit it.

My problem is (a) if it's not really, really obvious (like a box marked "Spargles belong here") I cannot think where to put a Spargle I find on the kitchen table, and (b) I have a remarkable ability to put things down without even noticing I've put them down and therefore having absolutely no idea where they are. Just doing a bit of DIY will result in my spending half the time wondering where the screwdriver I was using five minutes earlier is now.

Have some pity on us. We don't do it on purpose. I have some naturally tidy friends and they seem to be able to keep everything in order whilst hardly ever doing any tidying. They tell me they tidy up as they go along and that sort of thing, but I just can't make it work for me. It's like ice skating; I know the theory but when I try it I end up on the floor almost immediately. Other people seem to be able to do it whilst I can't imagine how it's even possible.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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ThunderBunk

Stone cold idiot
# 15579

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Amen, Karl.

I live on my own, in a perpetual haze of "where is my o there it is, I can't stand this clutter it's going to kill me, where on earth should I put..."....and go back to where we started from.

*SCREAM*

As for tips for Lamb Chopped, yes, safe dumping grounds and some kind of process of progressive acquaintance with the reason why, for example, clothes need to be folded, starting from needing the clothes, the moment of opening the cupboard/wardrobe/drawer and what one needs to find at that point, working back from there to folding them etc. then stacking/storing them such that the need to dress which prompts one to open the drawer etc. can be met.

It's only by following that process that I can ever get anywhere really tidy: I work out where and how I will need it, and do what I need to do to be able to find and use it when I need it.

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Currently mostly furious, and occasionally foolish. Normal service may resume eventually. Or it may not. And remember children, "feiern ist wichtig".

Foolish, potentially deranged witterings

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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I should probably say what we've tried already...

When we first met, he had almost nothing--he came to America with as much as would fit in a large purse (well, medium-sized), having been a boat person. No doubt a shrink could make a lot out of that and his current proclivities...

After we married he had a large office of his own in our house, and I quickly learnt that that was a really, really Bad Idea™. Not being able to find anything on a daily basis meant that the mission, his schoolwork, and our finances were constantly threatened. He meant well, just couldn't cope. So "room of your own" is off the table. (We've got a room of our home that is at present totally jammed and impassable.)

I refuse to do the yelling thing. I'm just not going there. I would rather live as we do (shudder) than assume the role of mother to my sexual and romantic partner. [Projectile]

Drat. I'm going to be late for church. Back later.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Piglet
Islander
# 11803

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
... I've got this husband, and he has this STUFF™ ...

I've got one of those too - should we get together over some GIN and compare notes??? [Big Grin]

In D's case, it's books and magazines. Magazines about pipe organs dating back to the year dot, without which he claims life would be completely meaningless.* No matter that he did without them for the best part of 20 years until his parents decided to de-clutter them from their house to ours ... [Mad]

I wouldn't mind so much if he could just read one at a time and then put it back, but that ain't going to happen. [Roll Eyes]

* well, not quite, but absolutely essential for all that

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I may not be on an island any more, but I'm still an islander.
alto n a soprano who can read music

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Leorning Cniht
Shipmate
# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:

After we married he had a large office of his own in our house, and I quickly learnt that that was a really, really Bad Idea™. Not being able to find anything on a daily basis meant that the mission, his schoolwork, and our finances were constantly threatened. He meant well, just couldn't cope.

OK, so his clutter is actually a problem for him. He puts things down, nobody else goes near them, but then he doesn't know where they are?

Is this only an issue with stuff, or does he have more general difficulties with organization? With, for example, making prioritized lists of tasks, and attending to them?

I'm not sure how much difference that makes, except that if he's generally good with organization but bad with clutter, there are probably more coping strategies that he can use than if he's just a general organizational disaster.

I'm going to stand in opposition to some of the views expressed here, and say that his being dependent on you for organization doesn't have to be a problem. You have some strengths, Mr. Lamb has some different strengths. You're a couple, and there's nothing at all wrong with leaning on each other. That way, the pair of you together are greater than each of you as individuals.

The question really is whether there's something you can do to help him tone down his scatty excesses to more tolerable levels. If you could train him to dump his crap on a table by the door, say, then you might still end up sorting it out, but at least it would all be in one place.

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Piglet, yes, we should get together! [Big Grin]

Leorning Cniht, that's the sort of lines I'm thinking along--some way to divest him at entry of all his crap, and then put it away. I know that's going to outrage some of you, but he IS a general organizational disaster--he relies solely on memory to keep his calendar and appointments, and so on. Wait a minute. No, he relies on ME to do that, using the computer calendar (because he has figured out that he misses at least 1 in 10 of his appointments if he goes solely on memory).

As for the medical aspect, as near as I can tell he was born this way. He has if anything improved over the years--he finally admits he has a problem, and no longer attempts to blame it on others [Big Grin] . So it's not Alzheimer's or something.

Back to what we've tried.

I left him alone (with his large room) and it became clear that he does not possess a mental map of where his crap is, unlike some clutterers. He is just as confused as he would be if I decluttered. More so, because if I've tidied things, there is at least a fighting chance that I might have seen the doohickey and be able to tell him where it is. (Note to self: Do not die before Mr. L)

I've really never attempted the yelling approach, as it's what I grew up with, and it rendered home life dreadful. I can't, I won't recreate that. Better to wind up on an episode of Hoarders than go through that again.

As for teaching--

Well. (thoughtful) That's an interesting one. He can learn when he wants to, and at times he wants to--he has, for example, learned to operate the new washing machine, which is rather space-agey in all its controls. He basically refuses to learn anything else technological, like how to fix the thermostat or (God forbid) how to use a computer--except for the rather complicated translation equipment, which he's got down 80%. He is excellent with anything of the handyman type, and refuses to teach ME how to use the lawnmower or how to change the car's oil. (Yeah, there's some shrink-type issues going on, I'm sure.)

He does perhaps 60% of the household chores. He just doesn't do them as I would do them. Outside, for instance--he puts in backbreaking work pulling weeds, and then proceeds to leave his shoes, gloves, and the hoe in the middle of the lawn. [Help] And fusses when I pick them up. He is extraordinarily proud of his hard work, and rightfully so. I don't want to take that away from him. But it's hard to keep a straight face when he invites me to view the lovely job he's done of cleaning the kitchen, and I discover that he's lifted UP every individual tomato, cup, saucer, random box, etc. on the countertop and carefully wiped under them--AND THEN REPLACED THEM IN THE EXACT SAME SPOT.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19855 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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We've had a few successes. Somehow he wound up in possession of about twenty coats and jackets (don't ask, it's a Vietnamese thing) and just what you'd expect happened, they wound up draped all over creation. Drowning in fabric here.

This one we solved. I put a series of coathooks on the back of the front door (we have no door closet nor any place to put furniture, the door opens directly onto the main room). Then I made death threats to everybody who failed to use them. That got the rest of us in line. He still fails about 50 % of the time, but not always. We also managed to give away quite a bit, which helped.

The laundry problem we (sort of) solved by having me and LL do the fold-and-put-away part, while he does the wash and dry cycles, which require no organization (why no, we don't buy non-colorfast clothes, why do you ask? [Two face] ) He still makes bizarre attempts at folding, but I simply redo them, reminding myself what it would be like if I had to climb those stairs with my pain. So the "having clean clothes and underwear" thing is pretty much under control.

I've taken to scanning every freaking legal document and financial piece of *** that comes into the house before it can get lost. That way I at least can always find tax returns, for example. Not in paper, but at least digitally.

The thing that's really killing us now is PAPER. There is the mail, random church bulletins and translation material, my son's school notices and work, my own doctor's stuff, and most important, the endless paperwork that goes with caring for a community of immigrants who all need help with naturalization, healthcare, etc. etc. etc. We have drifts of paper everywhere. And most weeks I make a determined effort with the help of LL to get it tidied and sorted. But by Monday it's a disaster again.

I've tried any number of systems, from the complicated to the fairly simple. None is working well enough right now. They say to put a trashcan by the front door (or shredder, whatever). We can't. There is simply no space due to room configuration (stairs on one side, wall on the other). There is likewise no place to hang a bin or sorter. Which is why half the mail winds up on the stairs, and the other half gets shed as he proceeds through the downstairs living space.

This one is killing me.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19855 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Try living when both of you - and the sodding kids - are all natural clutterers. It's a constant battle; it seems like I spend my life (when I'm not at work) tidying and cleaning but it still looks like a bomb's hit it.

My problem is (a) if it's not really, really obvious (like a box marked "Spargles belong here") I cannot think where to put a Spargle I find on the kitchen table, and (b) I have a remarkable ability to put things down without even noticing I've put them down and therefore having absolutely no idea where they are. Just doing a bit of DIY will result in my spending half the time wondering where the screwdriver I was using five minutes earlier is now.

Have some pity on us. We don't do it on purpose. I have some naturally tidy friends and they seem to be able to keep everything in order whilst hardly ever doing any tidying. They tell me they tidy up as they go along and that sort of thing, but I just can't make it work for me. It's like ice skating; I know the theory but when I try it I end up on the floor almost immediately. Other people seem to be able to do it whilst I can't imagine how it's even possible.

Karl, this is Mr. Lamb. Seriously, you must be related. He isn't doing this on purpose (well, the thermostat thing is clearly a "take care of me" thing, but nothing else, and I have a matching "fetch me some coffee?" thing, and we both understand those games.)

But yeah, things basically float out of his hands and into bizarre places. I wonder if it might not be related to his ADHD tendencies. He can lose a screwdriver while he's still seated in the place he was using it five minutes ago. It's as if the physical motion of letting go the object just doesn't register on the brain.

As for the Spargles, I've gone and established official homes for a lot of his stuff, because that's clearly something he can't visualize. He doesn't appear to have whatever faculty it is that tells you that you have 25 objects of this particular sort, and they take up this amount of space, which means they will NOT fit into one drawer. (I'm the one who has to do the spatial stuff in this house, like saying, "No, dear, the couch will NOT fit around that corner." I'm always right. He has to try it and see. And has the wisdom after all these years to ask me instead of just going ahead with it, finally.)

This is why I don't blame him (much). I have no awareness of time, and it makes me endlessly annoying to those who do. So I'm trying to live around his issue rather than throw rocks from my own glass house.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19855 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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One thing they've discovered is that it takes energy to look at a piece of clutter. And it takes energy to decide what to do about it. And then of course it takes energy to actually do what you decided.
What this implies is, looking at a given sheet of paper =more than once= simply costs you more energy. If you can look at it once and then immediately decide what to do with it, you have saved yourself all the energy-costs of those second, third and fourth looks. (We agree that you are going to, eventually, decide what to do with it and then perform that action, so no saving is possible there.) Delay is fatal. Time is not your friend. Do it now.
Therefore, at our house: I get the mail when it comes in. Lately my son has taken to pulling out everything addressed to him, which is fine. I do the first sort on all our mail; all junk mail, circulars, etc. goes straight into the recycling bin. If I can perform this action while walking from the mailbox to the house, even better.
Everything else, immediately, gets sorted into stacks. Bills for my husband to pay; business items to me, and so on.

[ 30. July 2017, 18:30: Message edited by: Brenda Clough ]

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
One thing they've discovered is that it takes energy to look at a piece of clutter. And it takes energy to decide what to do about it. And then of course it takes energy to actually do what you decided.
What this implies is, looking at a given sheet of paper =more than once= simply costs you more energy. If you can look at it once and then immediately decide what to do with it, you have saved yourself all the energy-costs of those second, third and fourth looks. (We agree that you are going to, eventually, decide what to do with it and then perform that action, so no saving is possible there.) Delay is fatal. Time is not your friend. Do it now.
Therefore, at our house: I get the mail when it comes in. Lately my son has taken to pulling out everything addressed to him, which is fine. I do the first sort on all our mail; all junk mail, circulars, etc. goes straight into the recycling bin. If I can perform this action while walking from the mailbox to the house, even better.
Everything else, immediately, gets sorted into stacks. Bills for my husband to pay; business items to me, and so on.

This is so true. Problem is, Mr. Lamb gets home before I do most days, and grabs the mail immediately. I'm not gonna win if I try to take that away from him.

I am, however, the person responsible for "doing something" with whatever mail comes in (I pay the bills electronically, I tend to handle car registrations, tax returns, etc. etc. etc. and I set up family medical appointments). Mr. Lamb hasn't a clue how to handle at least half of this stuff, even poorly. I am the administrator.

You've given me an idea, though--I'm wondering if I can create a "mailbox" of sorts inside the house (like, on the steps?) and see if it's at all possible to train him to dump it there once he's riffled through it. Then we can pretend that nobody's touched the mail since the postman and I can do as you describe.

However--

I can already see him deciding that that is my new inbox, and depositing soup in it. Hmmmmmmmm.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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The problem is, the Spargles most likely do have a home, but I can't remember where.

And yes, I can (and regularly do) lose a screwdriver whilst sat in a seat without moving out of it. As you correctly conclude, for people like us, the act of putting something down simply does not register in our brains. It just doesn't. I got my father to sign a form the other day. I remembered him signing it. I remembered bringing it home. I remember going into the lounge with it in my hand. That's where memory ends. Had to turn the place almost upside down before I found it on the piano. I still don't remember putting it there. It's the same with the aforementioned screwdriver. It's hell living with us, I know, but it can suck being us as well. Doing something as simple as putting a new chain on the bike means emptying the garage to find where I left the chain tool last time, and then emptying it again to find it again when I realise I didn't take enough links out.

Oh and paper. Yes, paper. Without occasional blitzes it just piles up in huge stacks on top of the fish tank, the kitchen table, the conservatory cupboard, the work surfaces. It's a sort of house-shaped in-tray. There are layers of stuff on my desk at work that would be of interest to palaeontologists.

[ 30. July 2017, 19:13: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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It would be relatively cheap to experiment with cardboard boxes. =Labeled= cardboard boxes. "Mail" would be a good beginning. I would use good big red letters.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Oh and paper. Yes, paper. Without occasional blitzes it just piles up in huge stacks on top of the fish tank, the kitchen table, the conservatory cupboard, the work surfaces. It's a sort of house-shaped in-tray. There are layers of stuff on my desk at work that would be of interest to palaeontologists.

[Killing me] Yes indeed, a house-shaped inbox. And we used to refer to trying to find something in Mr. Lamb's office as "excavating," because it involved carefully estimating just how much paper accumulated in (say) a month, placing a thumb just so, and then pulling up the layers of paper to see if we'd guesstimated right (drat, by the date on this bulletin we should have dug an inch and half further).

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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I wonder if I put an empty TV tray just to the right or left of the entry (you know, past the bottleneck) and forbade the rest of the household to place anything upon it--

perhaps it would be such a tempting empty surface that he would drop his crap there?

But then, the goal is to have a LOT of empty surfaces, so that probably won't work...

Yeah, maybe the boxes.

But only two. I don't think his brain will cope with more.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Of course, what I REALLY need is a doorman. Or maybe a couple of them to trap him at the front door and divest him of everything divestable before he can proceed one step further.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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Can he blitz?

By this I mean take a pile have two boxes one labelled keep and one throw. All he needs do is sort the pile into the two boxes.

I find this sort of procedure usually reduces piles by two-thirds.

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

Walking 18 miles to help Refugees get an education.

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Ohher
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# 18607

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Some of us are "visual organizers." I drive other kinds of neatniks crazy because I can only remember to attend to things if I see them. My desks, both at home and at school, would drive LC kookoo. Everything which needs attention is on top of the desk in piles. Anything that gets put in a drawer slides off my awareness like ice cream off a hot car fender, so I cannot put it away to attend to later, because the item no longer has real existence for me, and later therefore arrives only after whatever-it-is has expired. It looks dreadful, but it works for me.

Some of us are "kinetic organizers" -- have that spatial thing LC's got down pat. Not me. I am painfully-but-slowly learning, late in life, to focus on my own movements and surroundings when I set any object down. What room am I in? Which corner of the counter did I put the %@#$! thing on? What did I then immediately put on top of it, concealing it from view, dooming it to nonexistence? I haven't mastered this yet, but to the extent I can manage this, it's made an enormous difference in my life. I can now usually locate the screwdriver or sewing scissors or three-hole punch because, as I set them down, I said to myself, "I've just set the three-hole punch down on the end table so I can finish putting my course notebook together after supper," and so on.

I've also learned to say "NO" a lot more. No, I do NOT need that clever little gizmo on the shop shelf; where will it live when I get it home? What will I use it for, and how often?
If I cannot provide prompt, sensible answers to these questions, I cannot acquire it. No, thank you for the offer of zucchini (where will I keep it? When will I have time to blanch and freeze it? What about the other veggies that already need my attention?)

I am a just-barely-recovering clutterer. I also have too little space, and a complicated life, and my heirs and assigns will never forgive me if I up and die leaving them with all this crap to sort out.

Lastly, when living with others, it's a good idea to adapt, teeth gritted if need be, to others' ways of doing chores.

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Formerly Foolhearty. Back after somewhat less than 40 years in the wilderness.

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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What he really needs is a man's man, a Bunter or a Jeeves. To not only divest him of all impedimentia, but lay it away, also to hang up garments.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Penny S
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# 14768

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Hmm. I am host to a clutterer. Clutter from that house is in bags in my garage. And there is now a corner of my kitchen she has designated as her "home", where she stacks newspapers. Last week I got rid of the stack on the dining table by mentioning it in front of the District Nurse, whom she wants to think she is a charming old lady. The next day she produced a pile proudly declared as "recycling". But it's getting noticeable again. I got her son to mention it and he got accused of nagging. She says she hasn't read through them yet, or wants to show pages to her son. I found the base of an old shredder and gave it her for filing unread papers, next to a recycling sack. We shall see. I am sorely tempted not to buy her the day's paper when I go out for mine, on the grounds that she hasn't read the preceding ones. I would if she were the child she behaves like.

The stuff in the garage displays some interesting features, but bringing things into the house and putting them down and forgetting them seems a dominant theme. As does buying more of whatever got lost as above and doing the same again. As does occasional spells of thinking of tidying - storage bags, document wallets, plastic boxes and so on. Just never used. Sad, really.

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Ricardus
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# 8757

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People saying LC should impose sanctions on Mr Lamb or shout at him are assuming that Mr Lamb is capable of organising himself and just lacks the motivation. But it sounds like Mr Lamb cannot organise himself even in the face of 'real' sanctions (homelessness, jail time etc), so it doesn't sound like motivation is lacking. And if real threats don't work there's no reason why artificial ones would.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Ricardus
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# 8757

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
The problem is, the Spargles most likely do have a home, but I can't remember where.

The problem is when a Spargle is something that doesn't fit into an obvious category. Cutlery goes in the cutlery drawer and tins go into the tin cupboard, but what about scented candles? Thermos flasks? The bag of bits left over after you assembled the IKEA shelves that you hope are spares?

In fact it's probably just as hard to remember that scented candles are in the third drawer down in the Welsh dresser, as it is to remember that they are in the middle of the little pile of unsorted DVDs by the shoe-tidy. Which also contains batteries.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
People saying LC should impose sanctions on Mr Lamb or shout at him are assuming that Mr Lamb is capable of organising himself and just lacks the motivation. But it sounds like Mr Lamb cannot organise himself even in the face of 'real' sanctions (homelessness, jail time etc), so it doesn't sound like motivation is lacking. And if real threats don't work there's no reason why artificial ones would.

yes, this. As I read your post, it occurred to me that he has at least two siblings who appear to be cut from the same cloth. One lives in a home that has become magically tidy as soon as he became bedbound from Alzheimer's. It used to look like ours.

Jengie, he can blitz (provided I gather the papers together and hand them to him already in a box). This is what I usually do now when I'm sorting papers--I have a box with his name on it, and throw in there anything that is none of my business and only he can decide. Unfortunately, his blitzenry is more like molasses flowing, and he ends up with a pile reduced only by about 1/3 (the rest is kept "just in case"). I have also known him to toss papers that absolutely should not be tossed. So this is a bit of a tricky game (I remove anything like government letters etc. before giving him a pile to sort).

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
The problem is, the Spargles most likely do have a home, but I can't remember where.

The problem is when a Spargle is something that doesn't fit into an obvious category. Cutlery goes in the cutlery drawer and tins go into the tin cupboard, but what about scented candles? Thermos flasks? The bag of bits left over after you assembled the IKEA shelves that you hope are spares?

In fact it's probably just as hard to remember that scented candles are in the third drawer down in the Welsh dresser, as it is to remember that they are in the middle of the little pile of unsorted DVDs by the shoe-tidy. Which also contains batteries.

Oh, yeah. This one sucks. We tend to have more odd things than you'd expect, too, given the cross-cultural marriage and the nature of missionary life. I think we could easily make up a set of those objects you see on shows--you know, "What the Hell Is It?" "Oh, I know that one--that's a Vietnamese ear spoon, and next to it is a kit containing alcohol, tiny goldfish bowls, and a tiny flame thrower, intended for use in cupping" (Vietnamese healing method for backaches).

But I can't have junk drawers, because I'm not extraordinarily tidy by nature either (just in comparison to Mr. Lamb). So I tend to designate homes for crap by function. As in, "All medical or healing crap goes in this closet, in this set of drawers, including antiques not meant for use anymore but I'd never find the dratted things if I displayed them". All linens live in the pseudo-linen closet I talked Mr. Lamb into creating, in spite of the fact that most of them are for upstairs use--but if I put them there, I'd never find them again.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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I don't think anyone has suggested Lamb Chopped shout at her husband or impose sanctions. If it seemed like I was doing that I was just kidding, I've never yelled at my husband in 37 years. I actually do all the housework myself because it prevents yelling and I figure if I'm the one who likes it "a certain way," then that's the price I must pay.

When we were first married and both working demanding jobs I did it all on Saturday morning while he was out of the way, doing the grocery shopping. That was ideal. Now that we're retired I do it while he volunteers as treasure for the local food bank. Also ideal.

Karl, I do pity you. Your time spent looking for the spargles reminds me of the day when I was 13 and missed the school bus while searching for a spargle. That may have been the start of all my compulsive tidiness. And what Brenda said about the waste of energy is so true.

As I read these stories and picture looking for that important paper that was on top of the piano or the screwdriver which must have been in a radius equal to the arm reach, it occurs to me that the paper or the screwdriver would stand out like a tree in a snow field in my house. It reminds me of some very good advice I once heard an expert* give to people with clutter problems, "Don't organize it, throw it out." Beyond a certain level of volume it's hopeless to sort out or go through or find anything in.

*Gretchen Rubin of "The Happiness Project." She has several excellent talks on YouTube that take a very different approach than the usual "look how I organized my study," videos. She's more into what Brenda is talking about.

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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quote:
So I tend to designate homes for crap by function.
I have the problem of a storage 'system' at home / sheds / attic / under the floor which originated 'organically' throughout a decade or so when I had a memory, and now a further decade on I daren't disturb it and do it again logically, as I know I'll never find anything again!

The guy I work for (big, messy lab / workshop - basically a massive shed) is hugely untidy, but can often recall that the 7/32" machine reamer is in a pile of wood shavings on the floor near the power hacksaw. He's often right, which is spooky, and he's a decade older than me.

Now I've been in the lab a few years, I've done the 'organic' thing again - but I have tried to ask colleagues 'if you needed an x, where would you look for it?'. That becomes the place I collect x's as I find them round the lab. I try not to get stressed that all the x's are always there - just to feel OK that when I find one, that's where I'll put it.

Entropy is just-about held at bay.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Twilight, no worries. It was actually my mother who most forcefully suggested recently that I yell at Mr. Lamb. It took me an hour to explain why I won't/don't, and I was astonished when she finally seemed to agree.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Mark, you actually HAD A MEMORY once upon a time?!! [Overused] If I ever had one, it was so long ago I've forgotten about it. [Devil]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Hilda of Whitby
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# 7341

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I believe LC mentioned that her husband has, or might have, ADHD.

Disorganization is apparently quite common in people with ADHD, according to this article. The author is a clinical psychologist who works with people with ADHD.

Dunno whether any of his suggestions will work or not, but I wanted to put this out here. It buttresses LC's comments that her husband does not do this deliberately.

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"Born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad."

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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I suspect he does, from his dragon-fly like ability to focus [Big Grin] and his boundless energy and inability to sit still unless tired nigh unto death. He was well into adulthood when he came here, and has never received an official diagnosis. Why bother? Especially when the disorder (?) is so beneficial to an urban missionary.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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My brother is the same, as is his daughter and son-in-law. They live, with his wife - who isn't a clutterer- in two houses on a farm with a huge amount of land and many sheds and barns. Every room, every shed, every barn is full. It's very organised clutter - one shed for engines, one for steel, one for wires etc. Both him and his son-in-law can refuse nothing.

It would drive me maaaaaad!

I can think of only one solution to keep you sane, which is what my SIL does. Designate one room as yours and yours alone - and keep it as a peaceful oasis [Smile]

I am naturally untidy, any mess or clutter you see is mine. Mr Boogs lives a minimal life with no effort at all. My eldest son even more so. He moved home with one suitcase and two bikes, they were the sum of his possessions!

But I work hard at keeping my stuff clutter free sorted out 'tho corners still suffer. I spent yesterday removing a ton of junk, all mine, from the side of the house and taking it to the tip [Roll Eyes]

I can keep a room completely tidy, or completely messy, I can not do anything mid way between the two.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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lily pad
Shipmate
# 11456

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I too struggle with clutter. I find keeping the guest room guest ready helps. Then nothing else is allowed there.

Lamb Chopped, the only way I can keep surfaces clear is to "decorate" them. By this I mean that I put a doily and a trinket or glassware or something on top of a side table or dresser and have a set plan for how it should look. It means that I never want to dump anything there as the surface is taken up with the delicate item and putting anything down on it would ruin it. It has worked for me for years. The dining room table never has anything on it but the kitchen table is often piled high. [Smile]

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Sloppiness is not caring. Fussiness is caring about the wrong things. With thanks to Adeodatus!

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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Yes.

I keep a little vase of sweet peas on my kitchen table, I grow them in the garden for this purpose, and they are my incentive to keep the table pile-free.

I've put a photo on my 'Room' blog.

[Smile]

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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Looking back on that post after an hour or so it seems very smug.

Yes!

That tidy kitchen is the result of many years of effort by a messy ADDer to take control of her stuff! Blogging it helps me keep it tidy too, just like having visitors, having an 'audience' helps.

[Big Grin] :allowingmyselftobesmug: [Big Grin]

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Mr. Lamb sets stuff down on top of stuff. I suspect a doily etc. would not survive. [Waterworks]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19855 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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Boogie has my kind of clutter, her back porch in particular has a lovely, big pile of dog.
Posts: 6562 | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
BabyWombat
Shipmate
# 18552

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My heart goes out to everyone here dealing with “the clutterer”…. It is indeed maddening, especially if no intervention appears to help. It is more than purgatorial.

Husband and I were both, in our day, neat freaks. A place for everything and everything in its place was the norm. If one of us asked in the odd moment “where’s the thingie” the other could call out from two rooms away “large cabinet in the hall, third drawer down on the right hand side, and about half way back just behind the whatsis” and be perfectly accurate.

That was then. We are now both just either side of being 70; both retirees (except that I have a part time clergy job). When we were each in the business world keeping track of things was necessary at the workplace, and carried over to home life. Now that we are both retired, standards have slipped. Mind you, I will insist I always put things back where they belong, as will he. However, more things than usual just sit out, or are put away but in odd places. I don’t think it is dementia coming on -- not just yet (I pray, and no other signs thereof to date. Bills are paid on time, clothing washed, we dress appropriately for the weather, etc. ) It is an odd sort of relaxing, or so we say to comfort ourselves, and maddening each to the other, and to ourselves.

Neither of us was around the house as our individual parents aged, so we have no reference for “normal.” We can indeed kick into gear and make the house spit-spot tidy when needed. But as I sit in the den and type this there is a plum pit sitting on the side table, a cell phone charger on the desk (it lives in a kitchen drawer) but no cell phone plugged in, my sermon from Sunday last poking out of a book, a postcard from a friend on holiday on the floor, and a magnifying glass sitting on the empty desk (normally kept in the drawer).

Is it depression? I suspect so. Is it unusual for us? Yes indeed. Does it concern us? – only to the extent that each worry that the other is getting sloppy.

I’ve no idea if this is of any help to those still tidy and dealing with the clutterer….. but perhaps the loss of interest that comes with depression may be part of the behavior. Or not……

Some 35 years ago dined with our then neighbors, and helped with washing up. I asked where the large plates went in the cabinets. “Anywhere they fit – just open doors until you find empty space” was the reply. And it was true – the cabinets were all crammed with a glass here, its match across the room, plates wherever they fit in. That couple managed happily with what seemed like chaos to me. Setting the table was the reverse process -- open doors until you find enough of whatever you need. Who knows? Maybe some of us make room for the Holy Spirit to hover over us and bring her own order into play, which may not be ours.

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Let us, with a gladsome mind…..

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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I love this thread for the little glimpses it gives into your lives. It's better than the Gallery pictures by far. I like Baby Wombat's sermon and peach pit room, his friends with the unstructured kitchen, and Mr. Lamb Chopped with plants and donuts flying off him like Witch Hazel's hairpins. No wonder LC loves him!
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Bishops Finger
Shipmate
# 5430

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I'm not a clutterer (rather the reverse), but I do recall the cold feeling in the pit of my stomach when the father of the first Mrs. BF remarked, during his speech at our wedding, that he was not so much losing a daughter as losing an Untidy Lodger..... [Eek!]

IJ

(In all fairness to Mrs. BF the First, she was not a particularly untidy person at all)

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The future is another country - they might do things differently there...

Posts: 8251 | From: With The Glums At The Bus Stop | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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LL has just gone flying in the kitchen (no harm done except to dignity). Apparently there was a brown paper towel on the floor, the result of Mr. L leaving a roll within the dog's reach... [Help]

I think I'll be doing some more tidying after dinner.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19855 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged


 
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