Monday, July 1, 2013

Pantry Project

I can't deny that there have been stresses in returning to my life in Colorado after my blissful sojourn in Indiana. It's hard to deal with all that I haven't dealt with for two years, to face all that I haven't faced for the past twenty-four months, and to get serious about THE REST OF MY LIFE. Fortunately, I have my little notebook where I can make lists with headings like "July Tasks" and "What Do I Want the Rest of My Life to Be?" And fortunately, I can express my need to be able to get a grip on at least some part of my life by launching into the project of CLEANING MY PANTRY.

The pantry was filled with unspeakable amounts of stuff. When my mother lived at Presbyterian Manor, Safeway would come twice a week with a great giveaway of dented cans, rolls of paper towels packaged inside torn plastic bags, holiday-themed paper plates the week after the holiday; my mother could never resist anything free, so she would take all that stuff and give it to me. When I cleaned out a family home two summers ago, I carted away heaps of partly used-up cleaning supplies as well as many kitchen items. Then there was all the stuff various family members (including me) bought, not realizing that we already had massive quantities of it - such as, literally, almost two dozen three-packs of those little cans of tuna.  It was time to clean the pantry!

Step one, haul everything, and I mean, everything, out of it. I covered every available surface in the kitchen: kitchen table, counters, card table brought in from the garage, wicker table brought in from the patio:

Step two: clean the shelves and the floor, grateful that there were only a very few mouse droppings in out-of-the-way corners (thank you, Miss Snickers!).

Step three: throw away all food with iffy sell-by dates and almost-empty containers of cleaning products. Consolidate cookie tins, putting little ones inside big ones. Consolidate everything!

Step four: put the remaining items back on the shelves in beautiful, gleaming, breathtaking, soul-replenishing order!

Oh, how I love a project like this. When I'm sad or stressed now, overwhelmed by THE REST OF MY LIFE and what it holds, I just go open the pantry door and admire the pantry. I do this several times an hour. (And I'm sparing you the similar before-and-after photos of the shelves above the washer-dryer!).

The Stoic Epictetus tells us that in life there are two kinds of things, things that are in our power and things that aren't, things that are up to us and things that aren't, things we can control and things we can't. On which category of things, in each of these pairings, should we focus our efforts?  Yes, you guessed it. If Epictetus were still alive, I'd text him these before-and-after pictures of my pantry.

After going downstairs to admire the pantry just one more time.


  1. Found myself missing you today- 4th of July in Greencastle is an interesting thing- very warm (not weather wise) for such a small town. I thought you'd have loved it. So I decided to come to your blog and 'catch up' in this way! So glad you're slowly settling down- the purge seems most satisfying indeed and I can imagine how nice it must be to look at the fruit of your labor in the pantry. Off sat on my adventures. Will mail soon!

  2. Hi, dearest Deepa. I had tears in my eyes reading all the FB posts from the RobeAnn fireworks, especially Sarah Ryan's little girl, who kept saying for each one, "This is my favorite!" "This is my favorite!" "This is my favorite!" That's how I felt about every single thing in Greencastle.