I Do Believe it was a Hoarder

Several years ago I became obsessed with mosaics -as in making them. It culminated in a gigantic wall piece that I made in the kitchen. It took 2 months and 25 lbs of grout – it also kind of sucked up my desire for the next project. But like with most things that grab my attention, I become insanely obsessed for about 3 months and then move on to something ….SQUIRREL! um…something else.

The Wall  Photo Credit: ME!

The Wall
Photo Credit: ME!

So whilst I was in the midst of my tiling insanity, one of my librarian friends offered me some mosaic tiles from a recent community mosaic tiling project that had just been done.  I went over to the library with my son thinking I’d be picking up a couple boxes of broken tiles.  Add 7 more boxes to that ‘couple’ and you’ll get an idea of how much TILE she had given me. It was pretty fabulous – and it took us several trips an a lot of muscle to get those from the library to my car.

I had no earthly idea where I was going to store all these boxes – and if you know anything about me, you know I’m a bit of a wack-nut about storing stuff. I have a small house with a lot of stuff. It’s a constant battle in our house to make sure we cycle stuff out before bringing new stuff in.  I was able to store much of the tile in a bin on the porch outside and some of it had to sit exposed in another place in the yard. Most of the tiles were packed in the type of box that copy paper reams are packed in.

Fast forward at least a YEAR and I’ve done exactly zilch with the tiles (even more embarrassing, I had asked well, forced, another friend to come draw on my wall because I have an idea for the next project…it’s been there for almost 2 years now).  I was feeling guilty for not doing anything and annoyed with all the space it was taking up that I could be using for something else frivolous.

So I decided to try out freecycle.org.  This fabulous little site allows you to offer up anything for free, with the idea that the person getting the free stuff (often crap – like used toothpaste and old newspaper…but you know one man’s crap is another man’s crap-treasure) picks it up and does all the work…because you know, it’s FREE.

I offered up my 9 boxes of tiles and within hours had an email inquiring interest. I figured it was first come/first served so I started correspondence with the mystery person (moniker ‘Mickey Mouse’). Meanwhile, I still kept getting emails from people that wanted the tile and had to tell them that someone else had responded but if that falls through, I’d let them know.

After several emails – Mickey Mouse (a woman) finally sets a date to come and pick stuff up. I warned her that there were about 9 big, heavy boxes of tile.  NINE BOXES. Remember that number for future reference. In email, she mentioned that this was a good excuse to clean out her car.

So the day arrives – I have all the boxes on the back porch waiting for their new home.  About 15 minutes later than the appointment time, a very dilapidated BMW pulls up to the curb – even from my living room window, I can see that the car appears to be filled with stuff.   A somewhat ungainly woman in her late 60s/early 70s emerges (in an housecoat no less) and starts limping towards my house. I have very little faith that she is in the physical condition required for hauling heavy boxes of tile.  We meet and of course she cannot lift any of the boxes. Yay me… I have to do it. So I grab the first box and she says, “I cleaned out the trunk for these” – and she opens the trunk. It is literally packed full – and there is one small space, the size of a PAPER BAG left open for me pack 9 BOXES OF TILES.  I stood there mouth agape looking in the trunk with what can only described as an ‘incredulous stare’.  The space wouldn’t even fit ONE BOX.

So we – well, I, ended up shoving the NINE BOXES of tiles in the front and back seats of her car (on top of other huge boxes/bags of things). By now I’m slightly annoyed about having to do all the physical labor and then she says, in an off-hand way, that she’s never even TILED BEFORE but thought it would be fun to try when she saw my posting! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Right then and there I realized that I might be face-to-face with a genuine compulsive HOARDER.  I can only imagine how thrilling freecycle.org is to a dedicated hoarder.  Endless free stuff…  I was initially irritated that someone that wasn’t really going to use the tiles took them, but when I saw all the space available on my porch, the irritation quickly dissolved.  Go forth and be happy, weird hoarder lady…I gave you tile; you gave me fodder for posting…a pretty good exchange, I must say.

Um...yeah... Image Credit: http://www.rottenecards.com/

Image Credit: http://www.rottenecards.com/

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Hoarders, Humor, Librarian, Mental Health, Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to I Do Believe it was a Hoarder

  1. Slo-Man says:

    Not sure she is actually a user, sounds like a collector. Pretty wall!

  2. The Hook says:

    You need to redesign our back room at the hotel.

  3. calahan says:

    That wall is amazing, Rutabaga. Seriously, it is beautiful. You got some of that there talent I hear so much about.

  4. jlheuer says:

    I think there is a good chance that woman lives in her car. Wish you had taken a picture.

  5. BigLizzy says:

    Rutabaga, The wall you tiled is amazing. Simply amazing. I love it and I want one, but, I will not put in the work or the hoarding of tile to get it.

    I went through a mosaic period, too. I started small and did the top of several Ikea accent tables with flat, beach glass. The tables turned out awesome, but the work to do it, oh my gosh! I got a serious neck ache from looking down and fitting the glass pieces together for weeks on end. I am glad that phase is over despite the artistry and beauty it produced.

    I love the image of the hoarder lady in this piece, bless her heart. Your writing is crisp and lively and so descriptive. You crack me up!

    As for freecycle, it’s a great idea, but I worry about perfect strangers from the Internet coming to my house. Even if I could, I would probably not use a service like this because of my people phobia. Nonetheless, this was a very fun read, so thank you, sis!

    • Thanks Lizzy! I did love the tiling (I did applique beading for a few years, and it’s a similar kind of insanity) – I love doing jigsaw puzzles so it’s kind of similar mindset. Your tables sound lovely – I think I may get back into some day 🙂 – what I hated was the grouting. Oi – that was back breaking…and then polishing the grout off the tiles!

      I was worried about the same thing you were – and then I think we all used the Dandy Dime (an advert paper) to buy used cars and whatnot – so I was slightly less scared. My husband also had the same worries but since she was a woman (I have to trust a some point – and I did point blank ask if she was a he or a she) I felt slightly safer. But she didn’t enter my house and my son was not there either.

      Thank you for the kind words about my writing. I do love description 🙂

      I am happy to crack you up any day! So let me know if you come down to Tucson, I’m looking forward to going out to breakfast with you! I’m hoping to get up to Flagstaff in the next few months, so if I do – we can hook up in your neck of the woods!

      • BigLizzy says:


        You couldn’t be more right, actually. At some point, you do have to trust. I love this and I love the steps you took to be safe. This discussion is also great because I believe in the Law of Attraction. If I’m concentrating on fear and bad people coming to my house, that is what will show itself, but if, like you, I make a concerted effort to be safe and vibrate at a faster, better rate through my thoughts and expressions, the creeps cannot come forward.

        THANK YOU for this discussion. You so helped me get clear on what I’ve been emanating lately. Oooooo…I love when lessons come through the heart of a friend. It’s delicious, Ru!

        • I think there’s something to waht you’re saying – but I also feel that you need to keep yourself from feeling vulnerable. Interestingly, someone berated me for wanting to take a self defense course b/c they claimed I’d be asking to be attacked (via my vibes) – which I thought was redonkulous – I was making myself feel more confident. I’m a door locker too.

          I think it’s a balance of keeping yourself feeling safe, trusting when you can and listening to your gut. I think if someone creepy had stepped out of the car, I’d have not gone outside at all. I typically don’t open my front door and just talk to people thru the picture window 🙂

          I don’t know – it’s so hard to gauge, right?

        • BigLizzy says:

          It is hard to gauge, yes. But, you hit it on the head. It is always about listening to the gut, ultimately. The thing that I have learned with my body is that she never lies. It’s my mind/ego that muddies the water, so to speak. If I can quiet the mind, the body speaks and she always tells the truth. I believe that it is this way for all humans, but some people are better at it than I am and I am better at it than some others. As you say, it IS about balance and using all of one’s faculties to make informed choices. I love that you took a S/D workshop and it gave you a boost of confidence, which is the entire idea of those courses. You feel safer, so you ARE SAFER. 🙂

        • I also find that looking people right in the eye with a big smile is helpful. People laugh, but I read a study that noted that rapists were less likely to attack someone that had made full eye contact with them in passing. I think there’s a lot to be said for eye contact and being genuine. 🙂 Love to you, Lizzy! May your body always tell you what’s what in this life.

  6. I love that wall of tile. That’s gorgeous! Wow, a real-life hoarder. I can’t say I’ve ever come in contact with one. I’m just sorry you had to do all the lifting, Denise.

  7. robincoyle says:

    Sick to death of watching the news on TV this morning while I was getting beautiful for the day (or less hideous, depending on your perspective), I channel surfed and hit on the movie UP. And to my delight, it was right when the “SQUIRREL” scene came on. Love that bit. Laugh every time.

    I saw the inside of a real live hoarder’s garage. Un-freaking-believeable.

  8. stephrogers says:

    That wall is amazing! If you are ever in this hemisphere will you help me to do this in my bathrooms? And woah. I wonder what became of all those tiles?

  9. Jennie Saia says:

    I had no idea you were an artist! I love the wall and wish I could do one in my house… we’re still waiting to find our “forever home,” though, and the real estate agents keep telling us buyers want a house to be neutral… aka BORING!

  10. JackieP says:

    The boxes are probably still in her car. I love the wall, wish I had the ambition to do something like that in my kitchen, which needs a major overhaul. The older I get, the less crap I want. 😉

  11. The Cutter says:

    I really need to get on the whole freecycle thing to ditch these large stones we have in our backyard. This was supposed to be done last Spring, but didn’t happen. We’ll see if we have any more luck this year.

  12. Carrie Rubin says:

    First off, your wall is gorgeous! I would love something like that in my home, but I know I’d never take the time to do it. So nice though.

    Second of all, that woman makes me sad. I feel bad that she feels she needs so much stuff. I also feel bad you got conned into doing all the heavy work to help her get it home!

  13. First of all…holy crap. Your wall is freakin’ awesome. Secondly, God bless you. That is a hilarious story but I would have been super annoyed had it happened to me.

    • The non-thought-thru downside of the wall is that any kind of leather chair near it gets eaten up buy the sharp tile ends…but life is a sacrifice for art!

      Thanks – it was fun to do and design.

      I kept hoping that the sooner I packed the car – the faster the whole weird episode would be done!

  14. I wish I could put all my husband’s junk on freecycle but he might notice it missing. He could put my junk on there too – I’d actually be thankful and would probably never notice it.

  15. Mrs. P says:

    As I read your post I immediately recalled these beautiful mosaic benches scattered throughout the downtown area where I once lived. The city and the college partnered on a project that was a win-win for everyone. That was the start of my desire to do something mosaic…though I had opted for a small plant stand…you were brave to do a wall.

    Hubby is a minimalist to the nth degree. Friends (true hoarders) came over once and saw the empty spaces in his house and asked, “Were you robbed?” He proudly relied, “No…I like it this way!” Your tiles never would have made it a year in our house. When we get rid of stuff, we try not to think of the people taking it…though this lady certainly did make an interesting story.

    • I started off tiling the little water dishes that go under a plant stand 🙂

      The wall started just with the window sill and then morphed into an idea to do something that looked like wainscoting – and I didn’t think of the ramifications if it didn’t work 🙂

      I wish someone in our house was minimalist… I’m a mediumist and my husband and kid are maximalists!

      We have a woman in town that does amazing mosaic tables, benches, murals etc – she even makes and paints all her own tiles. She’s a true artisan. And a good inspiration!

  16. jaraedesire says:

    Loved this story…..I could just see this woman getting out of her car and the look on your face! BTW there is a lovely woman named Martha that was a teacher at Kino, and she loves to mosaic too!!! I’ve seen her at school visiting quite a bit this year. If ever see you both in the same room, I will introduce you 🙂

  17. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Wow, I want a wall like that, great job! My apartment management might not appreciate it when I move out, but it would be worth it. Beautiful!

  18. Twindaddy says:

    That wall looks awesome, Ladycakes!

  19. El Guapo says:

    Beautiful mosaic! Are you for hire?

    When I moved in with my wife, I brought 3 guitars and a duffel bag of clothes and books. Now we have ton of stuff.
    And furniture.

    • Thanks Guap! I certainly am for hire 🙂 I also like wall painting too.

      Stuff – it just flows in like a tsunami! My husband has so much music equipment/instruments…we need a dedicated music room …and I have books upon books upon books upon books…

  20. Karen says:

    This is a great story. I used freecycle quite a bit as I replaced my crappy student days furniture with my less-crappy gainfully employed furniture. Who cares what they do with it? It’s gone!

  21. Karen says:

    I have a small house and relate to having to clean out the old before new comes in. That’s a good thing because I’m pretty sure I’ve got hoarding in my genes. I got on freecycle a few times and just couldn’t bring myself to contact strangers, no matter how badly I wanted their free junk. By the way, you have my blessing to paint over the ‘work of art’ on your wall. Two years?! Time flies.

  22. Firstly, love the mosaic, go you! I’m the same when it comes to getting all excited about something for a while but losing interest quickly. That’s why I’ve chosen to do my course in one year rather than the less crazy three years that I should be doing it in, because I’m just not sure my motivation would hold for three years! Also, I’m terrible for keeping stuff that I might get inspired to use one day, but obviously never will, and like you, I like the idea of passing these things to someone who actually can use them rather than throwing them away, so I also would have been disappointed in passing them to that lady! Ah well. We have freecycle over here too, and freegle, great idea, but the unreliability of people sometimes spoils it.

    • Thanks Vanessa!

      Yes – three years is a commitment – although for school, I can usually keep my momentum…and by the end I’m ready for ‘real life’.

      I was disappointed too b/c I wanted those tiles to go to someone who I knew would love and use them (and hopefully she will use them).

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