I am so grateful for all the messages you have sent me and I beg all of you to be patient during this move.  It has taken longer than I expected, partly because we have so much STUFF.  There is a new book out called Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things about how some people hoard belongings.  The habit starts out small – you just can’t bear to throw anything away – and before you know it you have tunnels leading from the bedroom to the bathroom and you have 190 cats.  I’m not that bad, but I know people who are.

If you look at the Amazon website for Stuff you will find nine pictures of a living room degenerating from tidy to horrible.  I found mine at level 4.  Sometimes it has been at level 5.  I swore to throw out all the junk and never, never to let it happen again, but it’s hard.  And it’s time-consuming.

 
My mother achieved level 7 and my brother-in-law got to level 9!!!  The parents of my son’s best friend have also achieved level 9.  You can lose an entire sofa in a house like that.  One of my landladies long ago had a level 8.  She asked me to hunt for her son’s pet rat and I found it squashed flat and mummified under a heap of books.  This problem is more common that people realize and I’ll bet some of you know someone with a STUFF problem.

 
So far I have given away 600+ books to the library, many boxes of clothes, canned food (I always expected a disaster), and much furniture.  The worst stuff was taken to the dump.  Boy, was that an eye opener!  Our landlord rented a truck, and Harold and he loaded up a collapsed armchair, a bed with a hole in the middle with metal wires sticking up, three-legged chairs, plus all the junk the other people in our apartment block had abandoned.  They drove to a warehouse where things were sorted.  The floor was covered in sticky, black goo.  The landlord was wearing boots – he knew what was coming – but Harold only had sandals.  (He rushed home to disinfect his feet.)  The warehouse smelled like rotten meat and it was full of down-and-out men.  Once the STUFF was sorted, it would be taken to a huge mountain of garbage near Half Moon Bay.  Half Moon Bay is a beautiful seaside town full of rich people and I’ll bet they don’t know about this garbage mountain.

 
It got me to thinking about how many  trash heaps there must be lurking near pretty towns, and also about the men who have to sift through them.  Not everyone hates that kind of work, though.  My old landlady used to love working at the dump.  She had a habit of nudging pedestrians out of her way at crosswalks with her car and was frequently sentenced to work at the dump as punishment.  It took a while for the judge to realize she liked the dump because she could bring goodies home to her three kids.  Then he sentenced her to write I WILL NOT TRY TO RUN OVER PEDESTRIANS 1,000 times.

 
We will probably move in about six weeks.  Thank to all of you who have given me ideas for the Scorpion sequel.  Some of them were very useful and surprising.  I have been forming the plot in my mind.  I can’t write now because the computers are in Portal.  We have this lap top, but it’s hard for me to see because the keys are black.  We bought it when my eyesight was still good.  Please be patient a little longer.  Once I start writing I will do it full time.