Content with my cans

Content with my cans

As part of my personal accountability plan, I have listed on my project page all the rooms of our house that need a deep cleaning.  Okay, so every room in the house is on that list – this whole place needs some attention!  But at least I have a starting point. . .

In an effort to stay on task and clean one room this month, earlier this week I recruited Don to help me bring some order to the food room.  As I finished up today and admired the neatly stocked shelves, I began to muse about this underground room in the far corner of the basement.

Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!
Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!

Our food storage room is not a pretty room; the gray cement walls are set off nicely by the gray cement floor covered with orange shag and yellow sculptured carpet pieces left from another decorating era.  Cobwebs collect dirt in the corners, and the ceiling is accented by metal heating ducts.  The only real color comes from the labels on all the canned goods, so of course nothing matches.  And it’s cold in there!  A screened vent to the outside allows the room to be cool in the summer, but really nippy in the winter.

Lining up an apartment?
Making plans to meet a friend?

The shelves sport a little graffiti – phone numbers or addresses engraved with a ball point pen by my youngest brother Tom.   When all the family was home, and his bedroom had been given to a married sibling with children, Tom pulled a roll away bed into the food room and set up housekeeping for the duration of the family visit.

Because of its remote location in the far corner of the basement accessible only through the laundry room, I often neglect or completely ignore regular cleaning and maintenance of the food room.  Flour spills commonly adorn the orange carpet, evidence of restocking the kitchen canister from the big buckets downstairs.  Sacks and boxes of groceries dropped just inside the door may create an obstacle course through which we carefully maneuver to retrieve a can of tomato sauce.  One lone and sprouting potato could be resting on the trunk of Christmas decorations.  It’s very easy for me to pay little attention to a room that we only dash in and out of, one that never hosts a family gathering or sees a visitor.

Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!
Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!

But in spite of its lowly status, the food room is central to our household.  It is the foundation of many family meals.  “Go get a can of chicken broth from the food room.”  It is cold storage for Christmas goodies.  “The Special K bars are in a Rubbermaid container on the right side, middle shelf.”  It’s our own convenience store, conveniently located in our own basement.  “You forgot green chilies for the enchiladas?  That’s okay.  They’re on the left side, middle shelf.”

I’m certain that our kids have their own memories of that cold, simple room.  When they were younger, I know they used to sneak treats out of an infrequent stash of junk food.  Occasionally the room was stocked with cases of soda or candy bars that had been on sale, and I would find evidence of their not so discreet pilfering in abandoned wrappers on the shelves or floor.  Brittney tells about talking to Peter on the phone while they were in high school and hearing him ponder what canned food would taste best cold, right off the shelf as he anticipated an evening snack!

Buckets of flour and
Buckets of flour and sugar supply some of the basics.

Although the kids have left home and our choices of food have changed in the last 20 years, our food room continues to provide peace of mind and encourages us to heed the counsel often repeated by our prophet.  Because of its design for a specific purpose (my parents were genius to include a cold storage room when building this house), with shelves lining those gray cement walls, we are able to buy in bulk and maintain a supply of food right here in our own home.

“. . . I wish to urge again the importance of self-reliance on the part of every individual Church member and family.

None of us knows when a catastrophe might strike. Sickness, injury, unemployment may affect any of us.

We [the Church] have a great welfare program with facilities for such things as grain storage in various areas. It is important that we do this. But the best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary.” Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2002 –  complete talk here

Our inventory revealed that we’re doing okay on vitamins,

Can't forget the vitamins
Can't forget the vitamins

but we’re a little short on toilet paper.

Absolute necessities
Absolute necessities

Home to lots of good food, plenty of memories, and (unfortunately) a rare mouse, our now clean and organized food room is a little corner of happiness to me!

An insider's view
An insider's view


Loving my work

Loving my work

I realize that I am very fortunate to be able to spend my days in projects that are dear to my heart.   Family history in all its forms  – genealogy research, written histories, preserving pictures – can keep my interest for hours and days on end.  And although I quit a part time job to pursue this unpaid work, it doesn’t feel like my JOB.  If it’s fun and fulfilling, it doesn’t really count as work, right?

Sometimes I find my self almost apologetic when stumbling through a response to the question, “Do you work?”

“Well, sort of, but not really.  I do family history.  My husband and I feel that preserving our family history is really important. . . ”  Even to my own ears, my wandering explanations of family history, genealogy and scrapbooks don’t seem convincing.  My job is to scrapbook?

And the casual conversation really turns awkward when the questioner struggles to make sense of what I’ve just said.  I imagine her thoughts, “Your job is to scrapbook?”

As a result of my skewed perspective that work cannot be enjoyable, I put off starting projects that I want to do and need to do, because I keep thinking I should be doing something IMPORTANT.  I have to fill my days with WORK.  Fun activities come after the work is done.

In years past, I have compiled scrapbooks for Emily, Nathan and Peter.  I’ve found the time between obligations of work and family to organize and display their histories.

I started Emily’s book just before she was married, and completed it about a year later.  This month I’ve scanned each page, so I have a digital copy of all that hard work.

7th Birthday - 1982
7th Birthday - 1982

It’s been fun to study those pictures again and laugh at fashion, style, and personality from days gone by.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

I’ve been working on Peter’s pictures for years.  When I first started, an experienced scrapbooker suggested that I start with the youngest child so I wouldn’t have so much catching up to do.

First job at Toddy's
First job at Toddy's

So Pete’s has been a work in progress, and with a couple more pages to document his post high school years, it will be ready for the scanner.  I know Brittney’s anxious to have the finished product.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Nate’s albums went home at Thanksgiving, 2009.

1981 was a great year for Nate
1981 was a great year for Nate

Nikki’s excitement was very rewarding for me, and I got excited to keep going on this project.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Mark (but mostly Kate) is still patiently waiting for his personal record to take its place on their bookshelf.  But this week I’m moving forward with the idea that it’s okay to spend my day in activities that I love.  I’ve finally started his albums, and I’m doing it in the middle of the day during prime work time.  Imagine that!

1979 - our third in the series
1979 - the third Butler baby

I love my work!

With love . . . creatively

With love . . . creatively

A man of few words!
A man of few words!

On our first Valentine’s Day together, before we were even engaged, Don started a tradition that he has continued throughout our marriage.  He often presents me with some sort of creative card, carefully thought out and tailored just for me.

The first year after we’d only been dating a few months, he bought a card that looked like this:

Oh, no!
Oh, no!

But because it would never have been proper to give an innocent BYU coed a card featuring naked people, he “dressed it up” like this:

That's better
That's better

And then finished the process with the picket fence with our initials carefully carved in the heart shaped handle.

Valentine's Day - 1973
Valentine's Day - 1973

And he still warms my heart!