Old Mother Hubbard…

I believe this old rhyme continues, “went to the cupboard, to get her poor dog a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare and so the poor doggie had none.” Well, the good news is that unlike Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboards are not bare. The bad news is that if I had a bone for the dog, it wouldn’t matter because I wouldn’t be able to locate it in all the mess!

Before you ask, yes, that is an authentic picture of what my cupboard actually looks like. Some people line up the things in their cupboard in alphabetical order and with military precision. My cupboard, however, generally looks like I backed up three feet from it before I flung the items in with all the organization of the city dump. (Forgive me city officials, for that insult: the city dump is much better organized than I am.)

I believe I have mentioned that my refrigerator is badly organized, but any item in there is likely to be removed as soon as it indicates by smell or bacterial growth that it needs to go to the garbage can to die in smelly splendor. My cupboards, on the other hand can unknowingly house canned and bottled items dating back to the Crusades. It would just be difficult to discover in the disorder.

If you inspect any cupboard in my kitchen, the story is the same. My baking supplies are jumbled in with the crackers and the old cereal, while my dishes are hanging in there in a minimal state of precision. I have one whole cupboard just for the plastic storage containers I use to house future spoilage bound for the refrigerator. This cupboard is a demon abyss in which lids of all kinds are quietly and efficiently devoured into the black hole, while the lidless containers are fired back at me like heat-seeking missiles any time I am foolish enough to open the door.

I know it looks like there is a lot of food in that cupboard, but if you understand my method of grocery shopping, you will soon discover the problem. I am a hoarder and proud of it, and it causes me to shop thusly, “Oh, look, I need a can of tomato soup, but it might be best, while I am here, to buy three, to have some for later.” This method applies to all groceries. That is why when I buy a container of eggs, I always buy two for good measure and bring them home to be stacked on top of the third container of eggs already in residence.

It isn’t as though I don’t try to organize, you know. It would be wonderful to line all the cans up and stack the packages neatly, and even have the tea bags sitting daintily together on one shelf. But that takes time and it has to mean you care about how your cupboards are organized. I know anyone coming to my kitchen will open my cupboards, swallow hard, and quickly close them as if they have just viewed something indecent or obscene. And for the most part, I am okay with that!

Watching me put away the new groceries that I have hoarded…I mean…purchased from the grocery store runs like a news reporter in a war zone–only much sillier and less fatal. “And she gains ground on the second shelf where the four cans of mushrooms (I hate mushrooms) give way to the new cans of tomato sauce. On the first shelf, the noodles, enough to last beyond the present century and the cinnamon, plentiful enough to spice the rolls of the entire western hemisphere, are squeezed beyond endurance by the arrival of a bag of rice big enough to feed all those starving children her mother always used to guilt her into eating all her liver with. Just as she believes she has won the day, she is bombarded from the air by boxes of Rice a Roni, leaping from the top shelf, giving their lives to stop her assault on their territory. Oh, the humanity, ladies and gentlemen!”

I have been given all sorts of hints on how to avoid this crisis. I tried keeping a list, but I think the cupboard ate it, because it disappeared. I have been told an inventory would help keep things organized and prevent me from overstocking, but I look at my cupboards and I think it would be easier to inventory the sand on the beach…and at least I’d get fresh air and a tan doing that!

I could tell you even more stories about the syrup and honey bottles so plentiful they take up half a shelf…or I could regale you with the story of how a poorly closed box of macaroni once dumped over on the top shelf and rained down on my head, but I think by now, you kind of get the picture. So if there is anyone out there interested in excavating a set of kitchen cupboards, you are welcome to come and give mine a try. But be careful of the Tupperware containers cupboard…it is always hungry and it shows no mercy! Oh, and if you see my dog…give a her a bone, would you, she’ll never get one from my cupboard!

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