Out with the old...

2019-01-14 17:35
A  file image of a grocery cupboard.

A file image of a grocery cupboard. (Pxhere)

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I’m rather excited for our wonderful domestic worker to return from her annual leave. She’s been off for three weeks and I have missed her so much. She’s appreciated so enormously because my house was so clean when she left, I hardly had to do anything to maintain it while she was away.

Sure, I did the washing and dishes and some cleaning, but she’s going to be so proud of me, for more than just keeping the house shipshape in her absence.

Let’s go really domestic. She had been on at me for a while to organise my grocery cupboard. The truth is, it was in a bit of a state. As she rightly said, I had to do it myself, because if she’d done it I wouldn’t have been able to find anything afterwards. You have to know where you put things. Decreased mobility for some of last year meant I couldn’t easily bend to the lower shelves, so I would resort to throwing stuff in. Literally. It wasn’t pretty by the end of the year, and on one of my leave days I got stuck in. I pulled everything off each shelf.

It’s a five-shelf, double-door cupboard and it was crammed with everything I had ever thought was a bargain at the grocery store.

I counted six packets of pasta from that time there was an insane special, and remember that time that everyone said tomatoes would reach the price of gold because of the drought? Well, I stocked up on tins. Many, many tins. Coffee and washing machine liquid are also hoarded each time there’s a special and I’m pleased to say, we have enough for a good while.

I washed each cupboard and packed it all back logically and neatly. I saw what I had enough of and what I needed. I labelled neatly and packaged properly. Oh, the cleverness and assiduousness of me, I thought to myself as I sang lustily through the task to stave off boredom. I had discovered karaoke on my recent trip to Jo’burg, but perhaps the less said about that the better, except to say I now realise I was born to it and am, in my eyes anyway, the (drumroll please) karaoke queen of Quellerina (that’s a suburb there). Yes, really.

Meanwhile, I’m abashed to say that in the sorting I found one packet of dip mix which expired in 2014. Oops, how embarrassing.

Inspired by how fresh it all felt and how neat it looked, I got down on my hands and knees and tackled the Tupperware cupboard. It’s one of those low, awkward corner cupboards, and I’m afraid I had been doing a lot of throwing things into its depths. No wonder I could never find the right lid for the right shape. Anyway, I hauled everything out, found each one a lid and swopped cupboards with the ovenware I seldom use. It’s now beautifully accessible and the deep drawer I chose for it looks like a tiny Tupperware shop, which in a strange way I am immensely proud of. It’s been built up over years and years, and some pieces are hand-me-downs from relatives long gone. So it’s even nostalgic to look at. All that is not Tupperware is relegated to another cupboard, the wannabes and the ice-cream tupperwares. Yes, we all call them that, don’t we?

I also cleared my cupboards of every extraneous recycled plastic container I’ve hoarded and every glass bottle kept for the “in case” eventualities which never happened, like in case I make jam or lemon curd or pickles. That’s all off to the recycling centre today.

Once the kitchen was sorted, I did the bathroom cabinets, a few drawers in my room and made a valiant half-attempt on the storeroom. I’ve still got lots and lots to do, but it’s a start and I am determined to carry on.

So why would I share something seemingly this mundane?

Well, for me there’s something very primal about cleaning one’s own space and arranging it. It is symbolically about getting control back and making your mark on it, for the better. It may be mindless while you’re going through the motions, but oddly even the repetitive, rhythmic scrubbing and drying movements are somehow soothing, and in the end, it all takes on meaning.

It’s about creating order and calm from chaos and looking at your things and appreciating them. And each time you open that cupboard, acknowledging that you did good. And that’s not at all insignificant. It’s really very gratifying. It’s about making space to breathe and creating good zen.

And for me, it’s also about getting the nod of approval from the person who I have worked hard to impress. My marvellous domestic worker. I can’t wait to show her.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis

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