The Secret Life of Hoarders…

Oh, wait, it was secret until someone figured out how to make money via reality TV …

For all those who have been wounded in the past by my not-so-subtle opinions regarding fashionable wardrobes and how many Xbox games do you really need, I’m here with full disclosure to aide you in making fun of me.

I cleaned my garage today.

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For those of you wondering why, exactly, I’m in the domain usually reserved for Hubby Stuff, I will inform you I currently live in a  stylish modern town home with perfectly landscaped vistas of green, green grass.

Translation: I live in a home with hundred’s of square feet dedicated to space for clothes and entertainment electronics, a kitchen only a bachelor who doesn’t know how to boil water (but who does know how to order take-out) could love and a back yard that is not friendly to gardening projects.

Hence, my numerous 22+ quart stockpots, seven crockpots, hundreds of canning jars, thirteen 5-gallon buckets of corn and wheat, food-saver bags filled with various other beans and grains, fermenting crocks, carboys to someday make my own bouza and mead in, along with bottles to put such delicacies in, drying screen fabrication supplies, three dehydrators and two freezers to hold my proudly purchased-direct-from-the rancher pork and-beef, homemade sauces, soups and broths….they all reside in the garage.

The garage also holds the numerous plant containers I received from a retired nursery owner, empty 2-liter jugs for future wick-watering systems, domed trays for starting seedlings, seeds and several #10 cans, washed and ready for me to convert into solar cookers….someday….

I again faced the fact: I’m a hoarder.

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It’s not that I purposely try to collect junk.   I just can’t bear not to be prepared should I someday wake up with enough energy to do all the thousand and one things I’d like to.

My craft room has been ‘cleaned and organized’ about 5 times, and still, I have way more supplies than I’ll probably use this lifetime.  Even my 27 Barbies can only wear one outfit at a time and I admit, their protests at being seen in the same outfit, day after day, usually do not reach my ears.

I also have two quilts in various stages of being completed.   Being a procrastinating soul, I didn’t start quite early enough for last Christmas and am shocked and dismayed to discover Christmas is once more right around the corner…where did the year go?  And will they be completed in time for the 2010 Holiday Season?

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It’s not all my fault.   Loving friends and relatives, who follow my various enthusiasms, show their loyalty by forwarding ‘useables’ to me when they are cleaning out their own garages and storage units.

Meaning I’ve become the repository for old newspapers (lasagna gardening and worm-composter feed), old phone books (same) and anything else they think they can sneak into my house.  Including a hand-full of long but narrow springs. What, exactly, they are for, I know not.

I kept them anyways.  You never know what you might need…

Lucky me, they also tend to clean out their bookshelves.   Which means I either have additions to my library or a generous credit at the local used book store…

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I’ve been informed that hoarding occurs because of psychological imbalance – a collection of ‘stuff’ is distraction or tranquilization against some fear.

My garage says I fear future food shortages.

My craft room says I’m afraid Barbie doesn’t have enough dressy clothes.

My bookcase says I will know How-To, if ever I quit reading long enough to actually Do…

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My desire to make useful that which is seen as trash often clashes with my secret desire to live in surroundings made neat and orderly…by someone else…

Since the someone else usually does not appear to clean up after me, periodically, I must neaten and organize the growing pile of stuff…

I sincerely hope I never have to evacuate my residence in a hurry…

It would simply kill me to leave behind that much food and we all know Barbie ain’t going to lift a finger to help me carry it…

First Amendment History

While researching and getting distracted during my last post, I came across a lot of interesting case law regarding First Amendment issues.

In 1919, the Supreme Court ruled that Charles Schenck was not protected by the First Amendment when he distributed leaflets that

“urged the potential draftees to refuse to serve, if drafted, on the grounds that military conscription constituted involuntary servitude, which is prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment.” – Wikipedia, Charles Schenck

This landmark case and opinion was the foundation of the oft mis-quoted phrase, “You can’t shout “Fire” in the middle of a crowded theater.”

Basically, the Supreme Court decided Mr. Schenck’s actions and rhetoric presented a clear and present danger that Congress must prevent.

In other words, Mr. Schenck was interfering with the swelling of military ranks needed to fight a war Congress had approved.

Hmmm….aren’t there plenty of indicators our nation’s military forces are desperate for new enlistees?   It seems that way to me – therefore, I would think Mr. Phelp’s and his followers would be in violation of interfering with the Government’s pursuit of more soldiers…

It should be noted Mr. Schenck spent six months in jail.

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Jumping through the pages of history, we find Brandenburg v. Ohio. Seems Charles Brandenburg, a Ku Klux Klan leader in Ohio, invited a journalist to one of his shindigs, during which he made a speech inviting others to a ‘march on Washington’ and advocating whatever means necessary in order to accomplish organizational goals.

He was convicted under Ohio state laws regarding criminal syndicalism – in other words, inciting others to violent or illegal means to effect political or social change.  $1,000 fine and one to ten years in prison.

This conviction was later reversed by the Supreme Court.  Lots of verbiage regarding how to decide if ‘speech’ carried with it imminent danger of inciting violence or lawless actions was examined.

In the end, one who was advocating social change in any form necessary, including violence, was set free and one who called for individuals to refrain from violence towards their fellow man and questioned government’s right to force that violence,  ended up in jail.

Interesting, eh?

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There are many of my opinions that do not find favor in the eyes of others.   Hence, I blog, rather than pushing my way into or legally near places that contain folks  vehemently opposed to my way of thinking.

Why should I purposely enter arenas with comments likely to incite a punch to my mouth?  I do not go around blindly believing  government and law will protect me while I bait, inflame and incite fellow citizens who are normally law-abiding.

I’m sure if Mr. Phelps ever got a right punch to his jaw, he’d also be crying out for assault charges to be levied.   Never mind that he and his followers consistently espouse their opinions publicly, to an audience primarily composed of those emotionally distraught by grief.

I suspect at some point, he will target the wrong audience – and end up with a busted jaw or worse.

And I imagine the attorney of the perpetrator will rightly use the ‘insanity plea’.

I know from personal experience, intense grief makes you somewhat insane.

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My dad once told me he and his best friend often spent grade-school recess time indoors.

As punishment for fighting.

With each other.

He also observed that though the elementary play ground was littered with physical combat, the high school arena was less so.

Early confrontations meant everyone knew the increasing pain and injury that occurred as their strength grew.

They had also learned, early on when punches didn’t pack so much wallop, there’s some things you just don’t say unless you’re wanting your jaw wired shut for six-months or so.

While I do not advocate bullying, I have to say his observations intrigued me.

Apparently, the school ground held plenty of lessons regarding both rights and responsibilities, as well as the consequences of running your mouth.

I can guess Mr. Phelps and his crew did not attend school with my Dad, else they’d know better.

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In our quest for freedom and a society in which disagreement can take place civilly, we are in danger of  diluting the consequences felt by those who exercise their rights fully without exerting much, if any, responsibility.

I’m not advocating a punch in the jaw to those who pick inappropriate venues to espouse their beliefs, but I do caution those engaging in the legal battle to think long and hard before rendering their decision.

Do not forget the Responsibilities that come with our Rights.

Rights and Responsibilities

Years ago while working as a cashier at a convenience store in Denver, I found wisdom printed inside a carton of cigarettes.

Salem brand had apparently figured out the moral war against smoking was quickly gaining steam.  In an effort to inspire consumers, they had printed a detailed commentary inside the carton packaging.  The first line read:

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Smoker

followed by a list of what rights I had and what responsibilities I should embrace.

I can’t remember the rest, though I imagine refraining from  blowing smoke in a loudly harassing non-smoker’s face was not on the responsibilities’ list, though it should have been.  I have been frequently tempted….

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I was barely 18 then – I had not yet been exposed to the concept:

Do what you will – Harm None.

Though my education in that would soon follow.

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Our Founding Fathers must have been pretty familiar with both these concepts.   The Bill of Rights reads as a long list of state and individual rights.

Our legal system has grown to include a long list of punishments when we forget our responsibilities.

Seems giving people a lot of rights necessitates in needing a ‘cautioning hand’ to keep them from abusing those rights.

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Let’s look in on one of the latest battles around the First Amendment – Snyder vs. Phelps .  Seems rights of religion, speech and assembly are being supported without too many hard looks at responsibility.

Some supporters of Phelps really don’t like how he and his followers choose to exercise their rights – protesting and picketing military funerals to spread their message that God hates gays and our government’s policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is leading this country to wrack and ruin.

Yet they state not siding with him would endanger First Amendment rights for all.

Really?   Let’s revisit the wording of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Hmm..did you see the words “peaceably” and “petition the Government”?

A whole sentence about rights peppered with a few words regarding responsibilities.

Since I’m not an attorney, the message is pretty clear – I can start or exercise any religion I choose and I’m free to talk about it or write about it.  I’m also allowed to assemble peacefully with others and if I don’t like something, I’m free to petition my Government to get it changed.

What astounds me is the focus on Mr. Phelps’ rights and the equally blind-eye turned towards his responsibilities.

What’s ‘peaceful’ and ‘petitioning the Government’ about picketing individuals’ funerals?

Common sense must be led through multiple twists and turns and fattened up with a whole truckload of verbiage to mount any kind of First Amendment defense for the Phelps side.

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Yes, we have rights – boatloads of them.   We also have responsibilities.   Those who forsake their responsibilities, to my mind, forsake their rights at the same time.

Hand-in-hand they go.  As they were meant to.

Stats 101

So I admit – I frequently check my Blog Stats page.  Why?  Well because in my previous life I was a database designer, which means any form of data entertains and amuses me.

In fact, I probably have some kind of data addiction…since Big Pharma has not come up with a medication for this, no one is aware of the huge number of people who suffer from this problem….

The section that most intrigues me is the referral links section.   After I quoted a line said by Sam Elliot in Roadhouse, (ya know, the one that had the F word in it) lots of people were referred to me from a freesexmovie website – bet they were surprised and disappointed when they ended up here.

Because I write about my dad and his battles with COPD and cancer, I also get a lot of referrals from mesothelioma lawyer websites.   Bet they too, are rather disgruntled when they find themselves here in a ‘no lawsuits’ zone…

I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many people come here from student loan and consolidation websites.   Are there that many people trying to get scholarship money to learn Botanical Latin or the Dewey Decimal System?

Maybe the fact that I write a lot about government spending means the genius auto-link generator figures I have valuable information regarding how to get the government to pay for your higher education…

Wrong… again…so sorry to waste your time.

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I’m rather anal about categorizing and tagging my posts.   If they are just random musings, they usually only have a few generalized tags.   If I’m writing about something I believe has had a lot of false propaganda strewn about, then I link the hell out of my article and tag it to match.   Important I give folks as much opportunity as possible to get educated on this…

Still, it cracks me up to see what people put in the search terms that led them to me.

People really search those word combinations?   And I thought I was search-challenged…

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In the end, visiting my stats page is really about getting a laugh and gaining some perspective.   Being amused by all the auto-generated links out there.   And feeling superior to computer ‘thinking’…..

Ahh yes, there are so many benefits to looking at your stats page….

Understanding Signs

My trip down memory lane this morning reminds me Ms. Taurus-Lotsa-Fun and her family where males outnumbered females 4 to 1.  Her presences in my life made profound changes in my perspectives.

She was mistress of the house where many of the local teeny-boppers chose to congregate.   Good food, comfortable furnishings and a housekeeping code that allowed for the come and go traffic of young people all combined with laughter, jokes and wisdom from a cheerful Mom and story-telling Dad.

The results were entertaining and comfortable surroundings for those struggling with broken hearts, rebellious inclinations and/or boredom on a Saturday night in a small town.

A garage stocked with every tool you could think of, a fridge with beer if you were old enough and a drive home or sleeping bag on the living room floor, if you overindulged , were just icing on the cake.

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She knew what it was like to be a lone female in a male dominated world – hence, if you ever dated one of her sons, then you had to really screw up before you lost ‘daughter status’ in her eyes.

Due to a hubby who worked road construction and was often gone during summer vacation when remodeling projects were performed, she had also gotten pretty adept at learning how to take care of things herself.  Time spent with her meant you might just learn how to run electrical wiring and hang sheetrock.

No matter how many hours she had worked, it was still pretty certain any time spent in her company would result in your ears being rewarded with the melody of her giggling and laughter.   Slow to anger and a hell-hath-no-fury personality when her Taurus temper had finally blown, she was sure to let you know when you were getting to close to triggering Vesuvius.   Gave you plenty of cheerful warning spurts so you could back away and re-think your path choices.

In short, a safer bet than most authority figures peppering the town.

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I always wanted to pattern my home and mommying traits after her.  I desired to provide a safe and fun place for the local teenagers to hang out in.

I failed miserably.

Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that earning money and being ‘socially acceptable’ were more important than having fun.  That Christmas tree decorating and applying wall texture was too important to be left to the inexperienced.  That teenagers would judge my cluttered house the same way neat and control freaks do.

In short, I had been seduced into the adult world of responsibility, duty, 401(k) plans, home and garden living.

I had also forgotten how to play.

To my everlasting regret, Morgan told me he had informed his girlfriend to make sure any Christmas ornament she purchased as a gift for me better be gold or maroon, else it wouldn’t find a place on Mom’s tree….”cuz she’s anal about it…”

I faithfully hang the properly purchased and gifted gold ornament at front and center every year…and every year I wonder what beautiful thing I would have received if I had not become a stupid adult…

It serves to remind me of the love and desire to please extended by the gracious to the insane who don’t deserve it…

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About four months before my son’s death, frequent clashes with him made me realize how far I had strayed from the ideals of my pre-motherhood days.  Hence, I decided it was time to do something about it.

I quit a job that was resulting in me being grumpy, tyrannical and stressed.   But I had left it too late.   I only  had 10 days left before Morgan would be gone forever.   Had I known, I would’ve stuck to my initial two-weeks notice and my last day would have been in March, instead of May.  Won’t make that mistake again…

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Most of my Facebook friends are young enough to be my children.   I read their posts and ask stupid questions, like ‘What’s mafia wars?   Are they cracking down on mob crime, utilizing teen-age and 20-something informants?” and “Is Pirate Bay the new vacationing spot?”

I’ve found the young are much more tolerant of stupid questions than adults are.

Because of our mutual loss, they are also very nice when I freak out and send floods of advice after they publish posts complaining about headaches.

They don’t tell me to quit worrying,  being negative, or bossing them around.

Instead, they apologize for scaring me and thank me for caring about them.

In my mind, the friendship of young people rates right up there with dogs and horses.   There’s quite a bit of tolerance for the stupid behaviors of others.

I see this as a sign my choice of friends is a good one.

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I’ve also found out the next generation of leaders are much more supportive and open to new ideas than those my age.   They understand rebellion and the desire to ‘do something different’.

They also appreciate that I reply “Yes” when they post, “Ugghhh…work…can I just sleep in front of my computer?” instead of accusing me of luring them down the path to hell….

They also like the fact that the F-word doesn’t send me into a conniption fit and that I know how to use it too.  I have freedom of expression in their circle.

I now try to do what I can to make sure adults don’t corrupt them too much.   I engage in the fun and irresponsible as often as I can.   I try to point out the insanity of our current structure and remind them creative solutions don’t usually come from the same minds that formed the problem.  I constantly tell them not to mold their minds to current standards, else we’re all doomed.

I encourage being a Free Spirit and following your heart.  I try to award the annual scholarship to those who know how to follow the rules and break them all at the same time.

I regularly publish posts to remind them just because someone is an adult, doesn’t mean they know jack…

In short, I try to live in a manner that would be met with approval by Morgan and Ms. Taurus-Lotsa-Fun.

I’ve been given Signs that’s the way to go…