On Giants' Shoulders

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Rearranging

Years and years and years ago I switched things around in my kitchen to make it easier for my kids (who were short at the time) to get their own bowls and plates (and set the table as well). The bowls and plates got put in a lower level cabinet and there they've stayed. Of course in the meantime no one in the house is all that short anymore and now having those things in a lower cabinet meant bending for everyone, even those of us for whom bending and squatting is increasingly less easy. So a month or so ago I finally bit the bullet. I evicted a bunch of stuff from an upper cabinet and installed plates and bowls there instead. The lower cabinet still needs a major overhaul (it also had serving bowls, casserole dishes, tupperware and plastic storage containers in it), but I've made a start.

What since I rearranged is how much the long time arrangement had been a. annoying me and b. making it harder to do some jobs. The lower cabinet made it harder to keep the plates neatly stacked because they were at the very back. The cabinet was so over full that it was difficult to get things back into it without spillage. Like the problem I had a few years ago with the pots and pans cupboard I was putting up with an arrangement that worked at one time one one level, but that clearly wasn't working anymore.

What I really need now is a fairly substantial kitchen overhaul. We have a lot of big or heavy pots and pans, that get used on a frequent enough basis that storing them in a poorly accessible location doesn't work, but the current arrangement is starting to bug me as well. I'm campaigning for either an island in the center of the kitchen with deep shelves or else some deep shelves just around the corner in the laundry area. For the moment, I'm wondering whether that bottom cabinet can be cleared out enough that some of those big items can get stored in there. It would still require bending (which is why deep shelves just outside the kitchen sounds like such a great idea), but at least it would get them actually put away without having them either too high for me to reach or creating an avalanche every time I need to get a frying pan out of the pots and pans cupboard.

I'm realizing that the inefficient set up I've had has grated on me so much that it's impacted on how easily or cheerfully I can even do a clean up in the kitchen. I'd claim that we simply had too much unnecessary stuff were it not for the fact that the stuff actually gets used on a regular basis. What I've come to realize is that I've been trying to cook like my mother and my grandmother, but that both of them had far more storage space for their kitchen equipment. We're not talking about multiple food processors, but things like stock pots, dutch ovens, cast iron fry pans, water bath canners (one that serves as a dye pot), to say nothing of mixing bowls, casserole dishes, baking pans, etc. It's a 35 year collection of kitchen equipment, most of which gets used at least several times a month. However, my kitchen cabinets are not the old fashioned type. They're the type that fit the needs of people who rarely do big time cooking. I did try to talk my husband into deeper cabinets (and more of them) when we were building the house in the first place. However, that would have meant custom built cabinets which would have cost probably 3 times what ours did. So for 25 years I've scrambled to try to find space for everything and have spent a lot of time complaining about where I've ended up putting things.

Efficiency and organization have never exactly been a strong suit around here, but I'm beginning to realize that a bit more efficient arrangement might lead to a more cheerful accomplishment of certain quotidian tasks. It might even make the process of making daily tasks into meditative ones less of a pipe dream. There's a long road ahead, but at the very least when I empty the dishwasher now it's really nice to simply reach up to put the plates and bowls away. Meditative housework, well I'm still working on that.

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