On being a hoarder, maybe


I seem to be keeping things that, perhaps, I should not keep. I didn’t see anything wrong or odd about it, but during our weekly phone call, Socks just about lost all of her big-girl words when I mentioned that I have a bag of pine-tree needles.

‘Urgle, humph, ah, urk, WHYYYY?’

I have reasons, of course. No one has ever asked me ‘WHYYYY?’ about my needle collection before, so I didn’t realise that they I sort of stupid when enumerating the reasons I have them. I’m fabulous for being able to create excuses, but until she asked, I had no idea I was making excuses about why I keep a caché of old Christmas tree needles!

The Excuses: There are only two years’ worth. It wasn’t that cold last year so we didn’t have many fires, and I couldn’t burn them all. We haven’t had our chimney cleaned in eight years and I don’t want to catch it on fire by burning a lot of stuff that makes sparks (a very real problem). I can’t compost this many needles as they are very acidic and are bad for making soil, and my compost bin is chock-full in the winter. It’s just one bag, I can put it up in the attic until needed: not a problem. I hate throwing away things that have a use. Our ‘stinky trash’ collection is only every two weeks and is usually full of food scraps, bones, and cat and dog poop, so there’s no room for pine tree bits. I could throw them over the wall of the estate (where everyone tosses their lawn clippings), but I really hate doing that, it makes me feel guilty and sneaky and irresponsible for my own mess. And it is just one bag; a paper bag with handles; it’s not as if I have an awkward plastic Hefty bag full!

As compared to ‘why bother?’, all those reasons stack up for me in favour of keeping the damn bag full-o-pine. But…it still sounds stupid to me. You could take away three or four reasons and I’d still have the needles in my house. Maybe it’s because she and I know this is a symptom of a larger, looming, potential-hoarder trend. But that’s another post.

After all, I have a lot more paper bags set aside, just in case I need one.

28 responses »

  1. You aren’t a hoarder until you keep a whole entry filled with cardboard egg cartons (like a woman I once knew) or pick up the plastic pull tabs from juice bottles off the street because “they look lonely” (like my late and ex, who hoarded everything from broken dollies, which made me sniffle, to gloves of all sizes and types.

    I clear things out somewhat fanatically, but have a weakness for bubble wrap.

    • I have a small stack of egg cartons, saved with candle stubs and dryer lint to make firelighters – they work really well! I wish I could throw away or recycle more stuff, but can’t quite manage it. I also have a large collection of bubble wrap…

  2. Wow… and initially I was imagining a sandwich bad stuffed with pine needles. I really don’t see anything wrong with dumping them over the back fence or whatever, as they ARE biodegradable. Or you could take them to a wooded or nondeveloped area and scatter them there.

  3. *sigh* I think I’ve said enough just by posing the “why” question but SERIOUSLY? It’s a freakin large paperbag with handles? I too thought small bag so why bother but you saved that whole tree didn’t you? And you’re gonna save the whole tree this year as well.

    Yes it is a symptom of something larger, but honestly, when you had that bag in your hand ready to put it up in the attic to store till next year you didn’t pause for a moment and just ask yourself “really? I’m using my time and energy on this?’

    I understand the fire lighters, you actually USE those. It’s the needles that you are keeping because they “could” be used but won’t because of a fear of setting your chimney on fire. So let’s reflect, you are keeping something that is useful, that you’d like to use but won’t/can’t. Hmmm.

    • The one bag has needles from both years in it! It used to have a couple of big chunks of log, too, but I did burn that. I have been putting it on the fire! It’s not just taking up space, really. I just can’t do a lot at one time. It’s bloody FREEZING here so yep, going to be some burning going on!

  4. If you’re a hoarder then I am too. I have artwork that I did back in High School and that I’ve lugged through all the bazillion moves I’ve made. Never display it, it just sits in boxes. But I still periodically make myself go through the crap I have and throw things out. Like I did with the kids’ room last weekend. If my daughter had helped me, we would have kept everything! I think your behavior is normal. It only becomes a problem when a) the stuff interferes with your life and your relationships and 2) you get sentimental about EVERYTHING and want to keep it. That’s my two cents.

    • Hahahah, the two cents bit reminded me of my penny collection. What in the HELL am I going to do with US pennies in Ireland?!? I have artwork from when I was in 3rd grade, clothes from 9th. I do need to get a grip it seems. And I got rid of a lot when I moved here! Nothing like packing all your crap into a shipping container and having to weigh it all to make you toss things out.

  5. Wouldn’t burn those…or keep in attic. Both fire hazard? Surely some little animal would want them for a warm burrow in the winter – outdoors! No indoor mice!…anyone have a hamster?
    There’s bound to be some good use for them…..artwork?

    • I think the attic is safe, I doubt it ever gets over 80 up there. The little handfuls I burn a day shouldn’t be a problem in the fireplace, I’m sitting right there watching – it just takes time. It really would be a hassle, and costly, to drive somewhere just to offload them! Not much wildlife around here either, the mice and rats can burrow elsewhere, please 🙂 Art… Hmm. I donno, would need lots n lots of glue but maybe there’s an idea!

  6. I tend to keep useless things too. Since I turned an adult and was now allowed to keep what I wanted without my mother throwing it out the day after, I have kept things because it might be useful one day. We all know this logic doesn’t work. The day when you need something is exactly the day after you discarded it.

    I keep the anti-static plastic bags which every piece of electronic is sold in, because it I ever need to sell or give away an electronic parts I would need one of these. I have hundreds of them now and I don’t remember having ever reused any.

    When I bought a sound system with a sub-woofer about two years ago, I figured I should start collecting empty egg crates as these are good for sound insulation. I don’t want to disturb the neighbor on the floor below, you know. I got like 20 such empty crates on the fridge top and never put my plan to execution.

    Last time I moved, it was for a different city, 90 minutes drive away, so I decided to get rid of a lot of things. I threw away a perfectly good aquarium which had not been used for several years. I remember I had a good time making pieces of it to fit it in the trash container. I wish I kept it as I would need it now. I discarded 3 or 4 non working computers, which I kept because I might need the pieces later. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked for these recently because I needed these parts now, always forgetting that I got rid of them. Now I have two working computers which are too old to be any useful. There is absolutely no way you I will get rid of these. You know, I might need the parts.

    • Oh, dear – you need to hook up with a Socks-type-person and not anyone like yourself! I TRY to throw things out, too, but even when it is in the recycle bin I sometimes take it back out as I just found a use! I moved my aquariums here, despite the fact I’m not interested I keeping fish anymore and the reptiles are super expensive. I have them still, if needed – once in Ohio I caught a bat and put it in an empty tank for an hour just so I could get a good look at it before release. Get rid of those bags, though – how often do you NOT use extra memory yourself? They’re recyclable so guilt-free! You’re never gonna put those egg things on your floor, where they need to be, so off they go, right? If they are cardboard and you compost they can be torn up and put in there (not likely as it sounds like you’re in an apartment).
      And, lastly – I had an ex who took about 20 computers considered redundant from his work – we spent an afternoon taking out memory, power supplies, etc and putting the bits in boxes, then discarding most of the cases. That helped a lot! But currently it’s an odd situation with electronics – I want to organise the extra bits but then how is HE – who might need them – going to know where I put them? Especially when I’m not 100% sure what I’ve boxed up?

  7. This makes me laugh–in my family I’m really the “get rid of it” person and I stand over their shoulders and make them throw things away, even when they are sobbing and saying but but but…

    They’re dried out markers you used 13 years ago! They don’t even work anymore!

    • One thing I AM good about tossing is dead pens! And eraser-less pencils – did you know that if you burn a pencil the lead doesn’t melt or anything? End up with just a long lead, kinda interesting for artwork, if hard as hell to hold on to without making smears.

      I don’t know if you’d be able to convince me to toss much. Even with Socks’ voice of scorn ringing in my ears I still have that bag o needles 🙂

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