Tuesday, January 7, 2014

De Stuff

     I have given away the top layers, the easy stuff: extra linens, fat clothes, shoes that don’t accommodate my *$#@*#% custom orthotics, knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, dishes and pans that don’t fit in my cupboards (major problem when you live in a modular). Now I face de-stuffing the not-so-easy items. I’m only dealing with things in the house though. I’m not even considering the shed. That’s Bob’s bailiwick and one of the reasons I intend to die first.
     Still, I can’t cast aspersions; I’ve hoards of my own that need big time paring down. So, as one of my 2014 resolutions, I’ve decided to reduce the amount of recipes I’ve collected over the past decades and, ultimately, minimize the time spent dealing with them.

     Cookbooks aren’t much of a problem as I’m down to just the few you see here (Well, these and a few other shelves in another bookcase.) Mostly what I need to deal with are the individual recipes cut from magazines and newspapers, ones I’ve handwritten or photocopied from friends and, now, those I’ve downloaded from the Internet.
     Sounds easy enough, eh?
     First, I need to consider the individual recipes stored in the colored file folders (top shelf in the accompanying picture). These are what I consider my working rotation. Each color folder holds a category, e.g., meat entrees, veggies, fruits & desserts, soups/pasta/beans, etc.  Inside, I file the recipes alphabetically by predominant ingredient. I’ve cooked all these puppies before, at one time or another, and pronounced them suitable to serve again. Now, however, the folders can't be closed since I keep adding recipes. Additionally, many of the recipes are so old I can’t remember the last time they appeared on my table and if they really tasted all that good.

     (As an aside, here’s a little-known fact: I need to have a recipe in front of me before I cook just about anything. There are only two main course dishes I can confidently do by rote: clam linguine and _____ fried rice (fill in the blank with whatever leftovers are available. If you don’t have leftovers, use bacon.)
     Anyway, back to my resolution: the oversize folder in the middle shelf has recipes designated for testing. I maintain these alphabetically by specific food: beef through veggies-squash, winter. If I test two recipes a week I might get done in the next 15 years.
I actually do try one or two new recipes every week. But several years back I noticed that after a month or so, I forget what I’d cooked. So I decided to save my weekly supper menus/grocery lists to keep track. That was in spring 2010. I now have over 160 junior legal pad pages with about a thousand meal plans (I don’t do Sundays) referencing another one or two thousand recipes (entrée, starch, sides, occasional desserts).

     Can you say Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

     Vowing to travel more has become as perennial a resolution for me as quitting smoking and losing weight used to be. If you follow my blog, you might recall I did, indeed, take a trip this past year.

     While the aborted adventure to the Grand Canyon wasn’t all I’d hoped, it offered peepholes into worlds other than my own and I did make a new friend. Essentially, however, I learned I didn’t care for group travel with strangers. Thrilling helicopter trip aside, something was lacking.
     I compared the experience to my 2012 visit to my niece whom I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. That trip triggered an emotional connection in me that was both thrilling and startling. When you are childless, life often can seem random and without purpose. The simple pleasure of sharing memories and stories with her made me feel that I mattered, that I had a place in the great scheme of things.
     This holiday season I encountered the same feeling when Bob and I took advantage of an opportunity to visit his niece, whom he hadn’t seen in 18 years. She and her husband were taking a short vacation in Tucson and, for the first time, Bob could meet his 24-year-old grandnephew and 20-year-old grandniece.
     It was a delightful celebration. The shared reminiscences, stories, plans, jokes and hopes for the future connected everyone in a special way. That time is now a memory that Bob and I will recall for the rest of our lives.
     Visiting with friends and family seems far more appealing than checking items off a bucket list.
     Happy New Year (and maybe I’ll see you soon!)
     Aunt Rose

P.S. -- Here's a speaker for our times (olden times that is). Shows that old folks can take and hand out a joke: Mary Maxwell is asked to say Grace at a gathering of "Seniors at Home Instead Care facility," she brought down the house about 90  seconds into her prayer.  Enjoy!


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