My Life is in Shambles

2015-02-03 20.30.58Tuesday night my life came apart.

No, we haven’t suffered any personal disasters. Rather, the painters called around 4:30 pm and said they were coming early the next morning. I had thought they were coming next week.

So I spent from 4:30 until about 9 running around like a maniac, un-hanging curtains, removing artwork from the walls, shoving dressers and sofas into the middle of their respective rooms. The worst part was emptying the pantry.

Our house is quite some distance from the closest market, so I have a large, well-stocked pantry. We’ve been eating up this and that for several weeks, but there is still a fair amount of food in there. The friend who came to help me lift furniture was very impressed with the assortment I stocked. I’m extremely grateful that I had some help. It took both of us well over an hour to move all that food. It reminded me of excavating an archeological dig.

For example, there are two bottles of palm vinegar. I use it when making classic Filipino chicken adobo. Palm vinegar is hard to come by in the middle of Colorado, so when I found a store that carried it I bought three bottles. Maybe that was a tad optimistic. I even have dark soy sauce to go in it. I guess I need to make chicken adobo more often. Then, when I finally get around to making some lumpia to go with it, maybe I can use up that bottle of banana sauce, too.

Next we came across my bottle of Squid brand fish sauce. I know it’s an essential Thai ingredient, but have you ever smelled that stuff? What in the world is it made of? I was curious, so I looked it up online. I shouldn’t have. I learned that fish sauce is made by fermenting anchovies and then squishing the decayed fish with salt and water. Yum, yum.

I discovered several dusty cracker boxes with one stale cracker in each. The dates were out-of-date and a mouse had been nibbling on the bag of almonds—and the dried tomatoes, the box of pasta, and a bag of beans. (I added a mousetrap to my shopping list.) I discovered tiny mouse pellets that looked exactly like a scattering of chocolate sprinkles. Ugh. After spraying them with a bleach solution, I started wiping down the shelves. When I got done, I also threw away my little tub of real chocolate sprinkles. I doubt I’ll want to eat those any time soon.

I really should clean out my pantry more often.

I made a stack of still-unexpired goods to donate to our church food pantry, and another stack of things I need to use in the next month or so before we move out. Our moving company prohibits the storage of liquids, so using them is a priority. However, it gets a bit tricky. Is catsup a liquid? How about ranch dressing? Can we store our reserve bottles, or will I need to give them away? I’m learning that loading a storage pod would be good preparation with a job with the screeners at the local airport.

2015-02-03 20.30.35Now the contents of the pantry are randomly stuffed into open boxes and bags, all precariously massed in the aisle between our kitchen island and the stove. Stacks of cans teeter on the counters, while cellophane packages are stuffed into random cupboards. Meals are a challenge. I had a leftover artichoke for dinner (I could reach the fridge and the microwave), but not the grilled cheese sandwich I intended to have with it. Piles of food blocked the doors to the cabinet where I keep my pots and pans, I couldn’t reach the stove, and I couldn’t find the bread. Or the toaster oven. Or the butter.

Next on the agenda was the master bedroom. We have several large, substantial dressers that my dad made years ago, and they were neatly lined up right where the painters needed to be. We’d have to move them. Removing the drawers helped, but it still took both of us puffing and straining to get the furniture the requisite three to four feet away from the wall. We replaced the heavy drawers, I bid my friend goodnight, and I headed to bed.

It wasn’t until I was getting dressed early the next day that I realized another problem. The dressers were packed together, the one in front blocking access to the one behind. And guess which drawer had my clean underwear in it?

Have I mentioned that I’m a bit compulsive about being organized?

Sometimes you have to make things messier in order to make them neater. It’s like having surgery, or watching a loved one hit bottom—so they can start going up again. Sometimes things have to get worse so they can get better.

Soon the paint will have sufficiently hardened to where I can start putting everything back where it belongs. Our house will be so much nicer with fresh paint everywhere. Thankfully, having my life in shambles is a temporary condition. It has to be—our daughter is bringing our 17-month old granddaughter for a visit this weekend.

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