Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Memories...In The Corners Of My Drawers

So I did some spring cleaning. Not much. Just a little. In the den, otherwise known as the smelly room. The kids and I pulled the huge, gigantic sectional sofa away from the wall and it was disgusting. Truly. "This is why I don't like you guys to eat in here...." I said over and over and over and over and over......

We vacuumed, we mopped, we dusted, and we febreezed. Today I was going to get in there and start de-cluttering. I don't have a lot of clutter. Clutter makes me crazy. But I have a little. In our den there is an antique buffet with two small drawers and a big cabinet-thing. The cabinet-thing is full of videos - the drawers are mostly full of junk. So I started going through it and blah - I hate stuff. More specifically, I hate stuff that makes me feel like I should save it when I really don't want to. Stuff like old pictures, and baptism bonnets, and baptism candles, and sonogram pics, and pictures, pictures, pictures....

I am not a scrapbooking mom. I tried to be, once. It didn't last. I got maybe 2 or 3 pages done. I do not like to look through old pictures of the kids. Why? I watch my friends and they seem to love doing this. But it always makes me feel a little melancholy. I think there is a two-fold reason for this.

1) I don't like thinking about the past too much. Not that it was all that awful or anything. It is just that it is over. I look at toddler pictures and before you know it, I am slightly missing the toddler. If I don't look at the pics - I don't miss the toddler because I'm enjoying the teenager. But the pics make me sad, for some reason.

2) I am uncomfortable with a lot of physical baggage. Like boxes of pictures and old dance recital costumes. It is just stuff that sits in a box so that someday it can continue sitting in a box in a closet of one of my kids.

I think I am often guilted into keeping things. What kind of a mom wouldn't want to keep this stuff? Other moms keep this stuff. But truly, I don't want the stuff. I have the kids and that's enough. Stuff that sits in boxes and rests in drawers and on shelves - just sitting there to be looked at occasionally, well, it is like I can somehow feel it in my consciousness - like it is always back there lurking..stuff, stuff, stuff.

And what value does it hold? Well, sentimental value. That is what people say. But time and time again, people lose everything they have (items of worth and items of sentimental value) and then continue on just fine. If this happened to me, I think I would feel cleansed, somehow. I mean, I'm not trivializing disasters or their effects on people - I don't want to go through it and I can only imagine how traumatizing it would be to truly lose everything - I am just thinking abstractly here...just imagining....what it would feel like to be stripped of "your life" and the things that define you only to discover that you still somehow exist; that you still somehow have an identity and an ego and are still "you". I think it must be easier to be ourselves without our things. Not on the surface, maybe, but in reality. As in, what is real and necessary and what is not. When we took our 3-week-vacation in the travel trailer (almost a year ago, now) I was so aware of how little we needed.

When I look at toddler pictures of the kids I smile, of course. But there is sadness there, too. And it is sadness that doesn't exist without the photo to invite it in. I do not normally sit around and pine over toddlerhoods past...I normally reside quite happily in the present. Yet looking at photos will do it to me every time - melancholy nostalgia and the occasional regret or two peeking out from the background of an otherwise sunny photo. Taking a trip down memory lane takes me out of the now.

I don't mind sitting around with friends and family saying, "Remember when?..." I am a great story teller and enjoy it a ton. But the memories stirred up by words don't sit in boxes begging you to organize them or store them or put them in books or anything like that. All these much time would it take to do something with them? More time than I want or have to spare.

Anyway, so I need to get back to purging the den. Videos that no longer work but that entertained Ellie and Joel for hours when they were tots - in the trash. Sonogram pictures? Yes, even those. I can't even tell which baby is which and now I have the real live kid sitting in front of me! Other pictures? In the box, I'm afraid. But I'm not keeping them all. I love digital - pics sitting in a file on my computer don't bother me as much as the pics in the box do.

Well, speaking of those pictures on file. Let me leave you with one. This is Jasper. Refusing to go to bed without his favorite jammies. The ones with the footsies and the spaghetti sauce. The ones in the washer. Or maybe it is just Jasper with nothing to watch on TV. I don't know.

I'm also going to leave you with a recipe. Because I haven't done that in awhile and I hate depriving the world of my exquisite culinary expertise.

Black Bean Quesadillas and Variations Thereof

(we do a lot of beans here because half the younguns' are vegetarians)

Take tortillas of your liking (we usually get whole wheat but this week as we passed the tortillarilla at our grocery store - they were putting out steaming hot fresh white, processed flour tortillas and my kids started drooling like Pavlov's dogs and so...yeah...we had the good stuff this week)...what was I saying? Oh yeah, take your tortillas and put one on a flat griddle with some heated olive oil. Then sprinkle some cheese (again, whatever you like, we used cheddar this week) and some bean relish on top. Put another tortilla on top and flip when cheese is melted. Garnish with guacamole and/or sour cream.

Bean Relish can be made in a multitude of ways, but here is the skeleton list of ingredients. You must have black beans, corn, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion (red is good), and chopped cilantro. Sprinkle a little chili powder and lime juice in there and stir it up. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon or cocoa powder.

For variations, try my family's favorite sweet bean relish. To the skeleton list above, simply add some chopped mango or pineapple, and jicama. If you don't want to add the fruit to your relish, you can use it as a garnish, instead. We do it both ways and both ways taste great. We also sprinkle chunks of blue cheese in the relish when we have it. Crumbled goat cheese or feta is delicious, as well.

So here is a picture of a delicious quesadilla. We garnished with guacamole and our own home-grown sunflower sprouts!

Sardine Mama


  1. Love the recipe..way better than beans from a can (which..I know you don't do, but we's a convenience thing)Glad to know I am not the only non-scrapbooking mom around.

  2. I have been making beans in my pressure cooker...five minutes at high pressure, and they're done. From dry. No soaking or anything. I am totally in love with that thing. We'll be having beans and tortillas next husband found a serious guac recipe.

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  4. gosh! I've always joked that I'm missing whatever mom-gene (not to be confused with mom jeans compels women to do certain things. Everything you said in the middlish part of your post about decluttering and the past and, well, everything, is ME! I am NOT alone!

    (Again, got here from Amy B's writing blog...)

  5. Glad to know I am not alone in my lack of scrapbooking skills. Thanks for visiting, Dawn!