Monday, March 21, 2011

Collecting or Hoarding?

First things first... my secondary character Rebecca Leighton Burke is blogging about sisters - Jaymie Leighton in particular and her love life or lack thereof - over at Killer Characters today... check it out!!

Now... at what point does a collection become a mania, a dangerous hoarding problem?

I guess I'm interested in that distinction for a couple of reasons. One, I share the 'collecting' mania with the lead character of Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, Jaymie Leighton. Like her I collect vintage cookware and utensils, old linens and old cookbooks. But I generally know when to walk away, as I did on Friday, when I was in a thrift store and managed to walk away from two lovely Pyrex bowls, a red and a yellow from the Primary Colors collection. Of course, the reason it was so easy to walk away is, I suspect they are not really old. The glaze was too good, the red wasn't the right red, and the yellow bowl should have been blue, in that size. Also, I did buy a Pyrex gravy boat and tray and some Johnson Brothers 'Friendly Village' pieces. I'm collecting Friendly Village one piece at a time.

Side note: how can you tell if your Pyrex is really vintage? Here is much that you need to know, when collecting Pyrex.
Pyrex Love FAQ

But back to the hoarding question; I don't have room for everything in my cupboards or even in the Hoosier cabinet, so there are always stray bits of my collection on counters or the kitchen table. Linens, too... my linen closet door won't close.

I'll admit right here that I can't watch those hoarding shows (like 'Hoarding; Buried Alive' on TLC) because it gives me the icks. But that's because the places are always filthy, and I get itchy just thinking about it. I'm not the best housekeeper in the world, but I have my limits.

So... hoarder or collector? You'll be happy to know TLC's site has a quiz about hoarding, (click here) though it doesn't really answer the 'hoarder or collector' question. Based on most of the factors though, I am just a collector whose collection is a leeetle too big for my available space. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

My second reason for an interest in it is that I am using a hoarder as a character in Book Two, Bowled Over. Jaymie has been accused of hoarding by nitpicky-neat sister Becca, and is questioning her own love of 'stuff', but when she comes across a true case of it, she knows she's not a hoarder. Not yet, anyway! LOL.

Seriously, though, true hoarding is a psychological condition that can become dangerous if the house is so congested that the person who lives there can't move around, is in danger of tripping, or if the place is dirty. Have you ever seen a place like that?


  1. I had a client/friend that I knew from my job. I had never been to her home, she always came to the office. We did, however, go to lunch every once in a while. When she died, I was quite surprised she had named me executrix of her estate. This entailed going to her home to see what needed to be sold, disposed of, given to persons named in the Will, etc. I was amazed when I walked into her home. The house literally had paths through the garage and junk. It took me six months and 3 super-size dumpsters to dispose of the newspapers, magazines,etc. I made numerous trips to the Goodwill and Salvation Army to dispose of clothes, linens, dishes, etc.

    So, yes; I have seen a hoarder before and you don't sound like a hoarder. You sound like an enthusiastic collector!

  2. Oh, heavens!! What a huge job you ended up with... and she never told you she was naming you executrix??

    You do realize that is a seriously great idea for a mystery novel... do you plan on using it? (Nudge nudge, wink wink...)

    I know *of* a hoarder, but I've never seen her place. Not sure I'd want to.

  3. Hi,
    I found your twitter page and had to send a note. I also dream of becoming a published mystery writer and my sister is into vintage antiques. I'm following your blog now and look forward to your posts. Have a great day!

  4. After watching some of those hoarding shows. I'm downsizing.

  5. M. J.... good luck in your dream to become a published writer... perseverence is 90% of the equation!!

    Cozy in Texas... I keep saying I'm going to do that - downsize, that is - but... well, there's just a little tiny corner left to fill!!