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LJI Week 17: It's always been enough

I love my pantry.

It's a six foot IKEA bookshelf hauled from the dumpster, abandoned from a student who clearly has more than enough.

The neatly organized jars of beans and rice and grains sing to me, promising me that no one who walks though this door will go hungry.  No matter what.

It reminds me of the metal shelves my grandfather brought home from work, still smelling faintly of grease and gasoline.  He washed them down and dragged them in the house, wedging them into our tiny little kitchen.  "Well, Frances, you got your pantry now.  Go to town."

We went to box sales.  To the Kroger when they did sales on cans of carrots and corn and green beans (but not peas.  Never peas.  The only thing my family has ever agreed on is that canned peas are gross).  To the scratch and dent place for cereal and oatmeal and crackers.

I was always a bit nervous to have friends over.  Will they think they're staying for supper?  Do we have enough?  Sometimes we went without, and I wanted no one to see that.

The pantry, those shelves, were magic.  Even during the lean times, the times of no work and paying off my father's latest DUI and only washing my school uniform once a week because there just aren't enough quarters to go to the laundromat, there was enough.

"There's always enough to serve another seat at the table."

I didn't understand it as a young, embarassed child.  How could there be enough?

I get it now.  Where there is food, and love...there is always enough.

And now, with my fancy scrounged bookshelf pantry...if anyone walks through my door, you will not go hungry.  There is enough.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2017 06:08 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I think canned peas are the best!

Students abandon things just so they don't have to carry them home.
May. 5th, 2017 07:09 pm (UTC)
I can't handle them unless they are in that mixed veggie blend you put in casseroles. For some reason, I like them then.

I have pretty much furnished my house from things I've found that the students leave by dumpsters. I actually rather like this time of year. The students are leaving, and I get to redecorate for free!
May. 5th, 2017 07:12 pm (UTC)
And if you can sneak it through, you can throw out your old bulky stuff, too. Kind of like a trade!
May. 6th, 2017 12:29 am (UTC)
You're absolutely right. I'm enlisting a neighbor to help me haul out our old TV tomorrow. :)
May. 5th, 2017 07:10 pm (UTC)
Please quit your job and write your memoirs. Please.
May. 5th, 2017 07:36 pm (UTC)
I was lower middle class growing up, and some of my friends were poor, and feeding them was always a warm memory to me. I never really thought about there always being enough food until you wrote about it.
May. 5th, 2017 07:50 pm (UTC)
The abandoned furnishings are some of the best! My daughter and SIL "adopted Trash Bench. Iw was a worn and rotting park bench. They cleaned it up and painted it blue. Trash Bench is an adorable fixture on their front porch now!
May. 5th, 2017 08:59 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I love your philosophy. Like you, here there is always enough.
May. 6th, 2017 12:30 am (UTC)
Thank you.
May. 5th, 2017 10:39 pm (UTC)
This is lovely!

A friend of mine, D, made a comment the other day about how he and our mutual friend C are SO unalike - "He has little yappy dogs and nice furniture".

Which is funny to me -but at the same time I know what he means. Growing up, we never felt "poor" - and we weren't - but we didn't have fancy things or fancy furniture. And I never invited people over to my house - partly because there were 6 people in my family and nowhere to "go" that didn't have little brothers everywhere but also because I felt like when I went to my friends's houses - their houses were fancier than mine, by far.

But when I got older, I started to look around and realize what my mom was teaching us - about how she and my dad prioritized things.

We didn't have a mortgage. The cars were old, but they worked (my dad was a mechanic) and were paid off. There was always enough food on the table - and if one of my brothers' friends was around at dinner time (they never seemed to have a problem having people over, it was just me) - there was always room at the table for one more, and it wasn't a problem or a worry.

My friends now have the same philosophy - there's always a seat at the table for their friends - T & G are very much focused on making sure that they FEED their friends - because food is love :)

So now, I live on my own. I still haven't figured out how to be comfortable bringing people to my house - but I'm working on that, slowly. And my furniture is well loved - most of it is used and makes me smile when I think of the fun of finding the various pieces - like a treasure hunt!
May. 6th, 2017 12:40 am (UTC)
And my furniture is well loved - most of it is used and makes me smile when I think of the fun of finding the various pieces - like a treasure hunt!

That is what I love about my place: EVERYTHING has a story, rather real or imagined. I live a secondhand life, and I am proud of it.

My coworkers lecture me on how I "need" to have a car or a cell phone or a this or a that. Know what? *I* don't have credit card debt (that would require a credit card, for starters). I don't WANT to be tethered to a cell phone. The bus system works just fine for me, thanks, and I don't give a hang what my work shoes look like. I dye my hair at home (and everyone says it looks fabulous, thankyouverymuch) and pack my lunch and buy my clothes at PTA Thrift.

And I'm happy. That's what it comes down to for me: I am happy.
May. 7th, 2017 12:30 am (UTC)
that is ABSOLUTELY what counts - if you're happy, then you're winning!
May. 6th, 2017 07:31 am (UTC)
This is sweet, and sort of reminds me of when I was growing up. How we would get food in similar ways.
May. 6th, 2017 10:04 am (UTC)
This is excellent.
May. 6th, 2017 02:52 pm (UTC)
there is definitely something soothing about having a well stocked pantry.
May. 7th, 2017 05:55 pm (UTC)
Dumpster diving! Man, in college - and in the lean years after - I found some serious treasures abandoned by folks.

I bough this cute as a button white cabinet with red handles from the 1950's a few years ago to add as a pantry to my kitchen. Seeing the neatly stacked canned goods makes me feel all is right in my world!

I think that's a sign of good parenting by the way, to ensure your kiddos feel they always have enough, even when times are tight. When I was going through my divorce and was crazy broke, the kids and I would have what I dubbed "poor mom's supper"- a pound of ground beef mixed in with four packs of beef Ramen, plus canned peas and carrots. We could eat that for like three nights!
May. 8th, 2017 12:00 am (UTC)
A tasty serving, indeed!
May. 8th, 2017 02:18 am (UTC)
This is really quite relatable--I like how you spun it into a personal philosophy of your household. It's nice to see people who can make their truth so clear like this.
May. 8th, 2017 11:10 am (UTC)
This really rings true in our Indian philosophy where guests are treated as Gods.The entire piece has a indescribable charm about it which gives out a feel good vibe :)Well written!
May. 8th, 2017 06:02 pm (UTC)
Canned peas are gross!

I enjoyed this peak into your life, in particular your grandfather. In our neighborhood, a lot of people put furniture and other things out by the curb so other people can have them. They never last long.
May. 8th, 2017 10:28 pm (UTC)
This is a terrific re-purposing of a bookshelf. Your grandfather taught you well.

I hate canned peas with a passion, and my Dad would buy them by the crate and then expect us to eat them. Frozen peas, no problem. But the canned ones are cooked so long that they become partly fermented and sickly sweet, and just the smell of them makes me gag. :(
May. 9th, 2017 03:23 pm (UTC)
I love peas in all their possible incarnations!

This was such a sweet piece of writing, short but long on content. I resonate with the idea that guests will be fed. One never knows when they may be entertaining angels. I always have home-baked cookies and a pot of tea available. Dinner is an admirable goal!
May. 10th, 2017 05:01 am (UTC)
This is wonderful! I love that you use your creativity to build a pantry. I love that you love your pantry. I love mine, too. In the coming weeks, as soon as I am able I plan to reorganize my pantry.

Kudos for your pantry, for your family philosophy, and finally for your wonderful article. <3
May. 10th, 2017 09:45 pm (UTC)
Pantrys are awesome! :)
May. 10th, 2017 10:51 pm (UTC)
This made me think of my grandmother, everyone who walked through her door was fed, and well. For her food was love and somehow she always had an abundance.

Just lovely.
May. 12th, 2017 12:10 am (UTC)
Love this slice of life.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )