The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 27, 2013

Speaking of organization

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— How organized are you? Think about it.

I am constantly amazed at the people who keep everything so totally organized on their phones and know what their schedule is at all times. Those phones that do everything but talk for themselves remind their owners of appointments and calories consumed and miles walked. One hardly needs a watch or calendar or social secretary.

Ikea would be appalled at my closets. They are organized so-so, but need a lot of help. Mostly, I need someone or a committee to help me sort things out. I am not really a hoarder, but I do like to keep stuff. I buy clothes that I like so I never get tired of them.

Towels have to be folded in a certain way in the linen closet, and things have to be picked up and towels must be straight on the towel rack and such things as that, but I love the “busy”of a lived-in house. Everything has a story to tell. Everything has a purpose. Everything is loved. Loved by me, that is. I don't know how others feel about my stuff. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I had a decorator come to my house once to give me suggestions. He said to leave it just the way it is, that it is a reflection of us. Jim has one room that is entirely Marine things. It is full of memories and tributes. He enjoys telling his stories and sharing his treasures. Others seem to like it, too. His only suggestion was to continue to surround ourselves with the things we love.

I have my collections of ironstone dishes and old-timey things, like the eraser holder that Daddy built out of wood scraps when he was teaching school long before I was born. I have things that were Grandma’s. I have lots of Mother’s things. One favorite is her old black cornbread pan. Of all the lovely things she had, that was one of the things I really wanted. My older sister wished for her good china, and I was fine with that because I thought that old pan held so many memories.

I have books from my childhood. I have read them many times to my grand- daughters and now will read them to their children. I have my science books and readers from grade school and college. I just cannot seem to part with them, especially the ones on geology and literature. I seem to keep adding to my collection instead of going through them and discarding them.

Cookbooks ... aah ... cookbooks. I love them. I have shelves and shelves of them and can read them like others read novels. I have Grandma’s old cookbooks that have measurements of a “gill” and “half an egg shell.” Her measuring cup was a tea cup with the handle broken off. She would dip it in the flour and know just how much to use. However, I have to convert each and every one of her recipes before I can use them. That is part of the joy of those wonderful old recipes. And they have no directions with them. Guess one is just supposed to know how to bake a cake and how long. Ovens had unreliable thermometers on those old wood stoves, so everything was a guessing game. She was organized and knew just what to do.

Houses were easy to organize back in the olden days, because people had so few things and one small closet held all their clothing and shoes and linens. A dresser held all the accessories and things. All the Christmas decorations were stored in one single box. Now I have about eight plastic tubs full of Christmas stuff — but I might add it is organized and labeled.

Most people back then had only a few trinkets that they treasured. Dusting was an everyday job, as the wind blew in the windows in the summer and there was wood ash drifting through the air in the winter. Most treasures, like cut glass and family heirlooms, were placed in a glass front “bookcase” to keep them safe and clean

Although I keep a lot of stuff (you know, ribbons, sewing notions, pictures, ideas, journals, all the articles I have ever written, etc.) I do keep them organized and in boxes, files, or notebooks carefully labeled. Jim also is organized and keeps his things neat and in order. He has special places for special things and they are always returned to that place. Even though our house has that lived-in look, it is still carefully classified and labeled and organized.

I have watched those people on television shows who hoard things and I get almost sick. Having dirty dishes and spoiled food and trash around is more than I can stomach. I feel sorry for them. Where do they begin cleaning things up? And how did things get that way in the first place?

I love the sign that we used to have in our kitchen at work: “Your mother does not work here. You will have to clean up after yourself.” I have never understood why people don’t put things back where they found them and keep things in order. Oh, well, guess variety is the spice of life. What is important to one person is unimportant to another. We cannot all be alike.

As I sit here and peck out my column, I realize how boasting I sound. My desk is covered with notebooks, papers, recipes, pencils, boxes of ink cartridges to send to Hillsdale School, and other important (to me) things. My office is full to the brim with wonderful things that I need close to me to feel creative. As the old saying goes: I need to clean my own doorstep (desk) before criticizing someone else.

If you can find it, you are organized in your own way. And that’s good enough!

My friend, Barbara, shared this great recipe with me. It feeds a bunch, but freezes nicely too. Put this in your slow-cooker and let it simmer on. That will give you time to clean and organize a closet, and dinner is ready. Serve with cornbread.

Three-Bean Vegetable Soup

1 (15 ounce) can each navy beans, black beans, and pinto beans

2 onions, chopped

1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes

2 carrots, chopped

3 or 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 envelopes vegetable soup mix

6 cups water

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1⁄2-head cabbage, shredded

Drain, rinse and mix the three cans of beans with all other ingredients, and put in slow cooker on low. Cook about four hours until cabbage and vegetables are cooked. Fabulous!

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.