Tag Archives: hoarding

Corrie Street Aug. 16/15

Clearing for Cathy

Cathy makes me uneasy. It’s the hoarding mainly, plus the weird way cathy-breathes-in-a-bagshe looks at people. She’s like a deer on the side of the road and you don’t know if she’s going to jump away or right in front of your car.

Due to go to Roy’s for dinner, she pulls a book she wants to give him out of a teetering stack. Everything on top of it falls and traps her underneath. Roy eventually rescues her, but the accident gives him the hook he needs to try and clear out some of the mess. Health and safety hazard, he tells her.

cleared-living-roomChes, Tyrone and Fiz are deputized to clear a small space while Roy gets Cathy away from the house. Pleased with their efforts, they go further and clear out the whole living room. When she returns, Cathy is horrified. I am anxious, which way will she jump? Both, it turns out. She first turns on them in a fury for touching her stuff. Then she apologizes and tries to appear grateful for their help.

time-to-get-used-to-itIt is when she is thanking them that I begin to feel sorry for Cathy. Not for her hoarding or her excuses about why she does, but for the fact that she now has Fiz wanting to help. Few things are more horrifying to think about than Fiz setting her sights on you, wanting to help you.

Fiz wants to help

Fiz has been at loose ends in her helping since her return. Roy is oh-cathy-pleasemanaging without her. He got his driver’s licence. He is coping with being without Hayley. He and Carla are handling their friendship without Fiz to run interference. He’s found a new friend, who is keeping him busy enough with worrying about her. And, like manna from Heaven, Cathy can be Fiz’s new project!

flip-a-switch-and-i-would-be-betterCathy might be at a crossroads. Roy’s rather careful handling of her stuff and her psyche might get her to relax her grip on the accumulated junk. She might be wily enough to outmanoeuvre Roy. It’s too early in his efforts to tell. But having Fiz barge into a very unstable physical and mental environment might truly send her over the edge.

Cathy blames her hoarding on her husband’s death – wants to keep just-click-my-fingerseverything around her, nothing changing. I don’t think it is more than a couple years since he died. If she can accumulate that much in that short a time, Roy is taking a big chance having her stay in his small and orderly flat. She could fill that to bursting in a week! Especially if Fiz comes anywhere near to rock the boat of instability.

i-want-to-show-you-somethingTo be fair, Fiz did caution Tyrone that maybe they should do as Roy said and clear only a small space. But for perhaps the first time in their relationship, she gave in to Tyrone. You never listen to Tyrone, Fiz, why now?

Cat Ladies: The movie

Cat Ladies documentary Amazon link
Click to buy on Amazon

Finally saw the documentary Cat Ladies and it’s well worth watching.  What struck me was the ambivalence that all four women felt about what they were doing.  They love cats and enjoy looking after them and they don’t like seeing animals suffer. But they do not want as many cats as they have and/or they don’t want cats to define their entire lives.

The youngest of the four has the fewest cats, and also a dog.  She has a number in her head of what separates a “cat person” from a “crazy cat lady”.  She gave it as 30, but then said she thought she was near the tipping point with 6.   Another lady loves her cats, but wishes she had Jenny holding cathuman friends too.  Another, a former bank employee, fell into cat rescue by accident and wants to stop.  Her house is full of cats and she works hard to get them adopted.  But she wants “more of a life than this.”  The fourth lady defines herself as a cat rescue, taking them in and finding homes for them.  She said she’s taken over 3,000 cats off the streets.  She loves what she does but said, “I’d be happy if they were all gone to other homes.”  Then added, “so I could bring home another hundred.”

That lady has problems with the people next door in her suburban neighbourhood.  They bought their house in winter and didn’t realize Sigi in cat room in her houseuntil spring that there was a house full of cats next door.  They keep a record of all cat-related annoyances.  I’d like to ban backyard pools, but I think my chances of success are less than these people’s with their cat problem.

Documentary discusses rescue vs. hoarding

Agent Tre Smith of the Toronto Humane Society gave his opinion on cat ladies.  “Animal rescuers” and “animal hoarders,” he says, are the same thing.  They want to relieve the suffering of animals, but can’t stop taking in just one more.  His point has validity, but I think simplifying it to that extent does a disservice to both animal rescue and the disorder of hoarding.

Tre Smith in THS cat roomTo say that animal rescue and animal hoarding are the same is like saying that all antique dealers are hoarders.  Some undoubtedly are, and more have the inclination.

But a successful antique dealer or collector can love the objects without endlessly filling houses and barns with them.  And a hoarder of objects can fill any amount of space with things and have no objective sense of their worth.  It’s not a dichotomy of dealer/hoarder.  It’s relative and on a scale of functional to dysfunctional.  And there are grey areas where it’s hard to know if someone is an enthusiast or has a disorder.

It’s the same for animal rescue and animal hoarding.   There are clear-cut cases, with someone like Tre at the functional end of the animal welfare scale.  The horror shows he sees in his job would be at the Diane holding catother, dysfunctional, end: the person with 300 dead and ill animals squashed into a one-bedroom house.  In between, there’s a lot of grey.

I liked all the women in this documentary and I respect what they are doing and their thoughts about it.  But then I’m a cat lady wannabe.  I’ll probably never really be one because one thing I know about it is that it’s a lot of hard work.

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog Aug. 18/11. See my Cat People post for Ottawa’s ‘cat man’ and the Parliamentary cats. Also see 2 comments below.

Corrie Street 19 July 2015


Two episodes, two stories. Thursday, the news we’ve dreaded. Deirdre dies, while sitting in the sun in Bev’s garden looking forward to coming home.

Deirdre dies

news-of-deirdreThe actors had to go through their grief at the real life death of Anne Kirkbride in April without letting it show in their characters’ faces. Now, on our screens, they mourn the death of her character Deirdre. It was heartfelt.

Bluenose Corrie sees Bev handing Deirdre’s glasses to Ken as a bit ken takes glasses after deirdre diescontrived. That’s as may be, as Rita might say, but I saw it as a gift to viewers. Deirdre’s ‘specs’ were as important to us as they were to her. I’d like to see a shelf in the Barlow house with Deirdre’s eyewear over the decades lined up like a little shrine.

lollipop-manThey gave us another little gift of history. A close up of a photograph not often shown on the Barlow sideboard – Albert Tatlock in his lollipop man uniform. Fifty-five years of fictional and real lives and deaths.

Cathy hoards

The other storyline this week was Cathy’s house. Monday, Roy and roy-enters-hoarding-houseCarla walk into hoarding – the objects and the psychological minefield. Cathy is embarrassed by the stuff piled everywhere so, somewhere in her head, she knows this is not normal.

Her first explanation is an easy and obvious untruth: everything got out of hand after her husband died. Horsefeathers! That mountain of crap was there long before he died. Carla’s response is the polite one roy-and-carla-sit-amid-stuffto make, as she bravely settles in a spot she cleared on a couch she managed to locate. I collect shoes, she says, would I throw out a pair? No, by heck. Laughing it off as if it’s normal, as if we all secretly have houses filled to the rafters.

What you really want to say is: you’re crazy as a bedbug and you probably have a fine collection of them too! Maybe that should be said right off the bat. It would get to the next line of roy-amid-puzzles-milk-jugs-papershoarding defence faster – it’s mine, I do not have a problem, etc. As Roy finds out later, that will come anyway.

She’s a middle-of-the road-hoarder, I think. It’s not dirty or looking like vermin are running around unseen in it. But nothing is neatly arranged either, as if she’s preparing for potential sales. Those are two ends of the hoarding spectrum that I’ve seen.

should-rent-a-skipSome looks valuable – old board games for example. Some is not – empty milk jugs. But possession is its value for her, not market or historical worth. Losing that by clearing out? I doubt it.