It can’t be hoarding if it has value

Barn and American flag

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

­— William Morris

It is said that opposites attract, and that is true in our marriage. I find uncluttered spaces calming and inspiring. I thrive in sparse spaces. Mr. Wonderful, on the other hand, seems to work best in what is best called “creative chaos.”

He and his creative mind leaves piles of papers, shoes, cups and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of daily life in his wake. Our styles are different, but it should be noted that neither is really “wrong.” For the record, I’m just a little bit more right though.

To sum it up, people decorate their homes with fun signs that say things like “Gather” or “Live, Love, Laugh.” My sign would say “Clean Up Your Crap.”

This is why I don’t have my own show. It would be a chubby Midwestern mom nagging, “No, your room full of random electronics, creepy dolls, and dusty candles should not ‘spark joy.’ Let. It. Go.”


Granted people are always so concerned that their stuff may be valuable. I’m not saying it never happens,  but for the most part, rock bottom estate sale prices and unsold eBay listings tell the truth.

Dozens of boxes of someone else’s stuff isn’t meaningful — it’s overwhelming. I adore antiques and old things but I love using them too. No one makes fond memories of the “good stuff” they never knew existed because it spent decades packed away.

On the subject of cleaning, there is one space that Mr. Wonderful will sporadically take a notion to overhaul. Almost every spring, he announces he will be cleaning out the barn. By my calculations, we have been cleaning out the barn for two decades, give or take.

What that actually means is we are going to move all the stuff from one side of the barn to the other side of the barn. I’m not sure anything ever actually leaves. No junk is ever harmed in this endeavor.

Our barn, it should be noted, is a former orchard processing and packing warehouse. It is approximately 6,400 square feet under roof. This allows plenty of space to spread out. It is less a “man cave” and more a “man continent.”

Despite this, at some point it will begin to feel crowded. At that point, he will blame it on my “stash.” By my count, this is one kiddie car “cozy coupe” that was our children’s when they were small, one Radio Flyer wagon and our camper. I don’t even keep so much as a paintbrush in there, for fear I will never find it again.

As an aside, he really wants to sell that camper. In his entire space, the 30 feet that it requires is just too much. I roll my eyes — with love.

Protects his own

He guards his own stuff with the cunning of a squirrel hiding his best nuts. Things are up, over, behind and inside. I could not even begin to locate anything out there. I believe that is all part of his plan.

Apparently, lumber is currently worth more than gold. No worries at our old house; however, according to the “Mr. Wonderful Guide to Life,” you are required by law to have extra wood in your barn at all times.

I’ve been poking fun at this for years, but really, who has the last laugh when he produces the perfect piece at a moment’s notice? This stockpile also applies to cable wire, plumbing parts and random washers and screws.

I mean, to be fair to him, we have never been pressed to have the kiddie car save us in the midst of a crucial repair. Not once have I said, as water from a blown pipe sprayed my face, “quick, someone grab the Radio Flyer!”

Still, I hold my ground on my tiny bit of barn storage. I obsessively inventory my three items annually to insure they are still there.

This morning, we were repairing a set of porch steps — a seemingly never-ending job I might add. It never fails that with any project or repair, we end up needing some odd sized board or piece of wood.

We were up and at it so bright and early that the local hardware store wasn’t open yet. Furthermore, they don’t sell lumber even if we wanted to pay the king’s ransom necessary to procure it.

I was standing there looking equal parts flummoxed and frustrated when Mr. Wonderful disappeared. He reappeared soon after with a perfect selection of lumber to fit the bill and a very sly grin.

Obviously, it’s not hoarding if your stuff is cool.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.