My Freezer and My Father

November 20, 2020 | My Jottings

Hello friends. I love alliteration and know I take it a little too far sometimes, like in today’s post title. How are you all doing? I hope if you’re in another stay-at-home order, you’re coping, trying to find things to be thankful for, praying, learning to rest in God’s sovereignty. Because as silly and trite as this sounds to some, He is in control. Are we guaranteed pandemic-free lives? Giddy, happy times every day of our time here? Of course not. But we are promised some things that are pretty important, and one of them is if we put our whole trust in Jesus, He will give us rest and peace.

In our state (Minnesota), things are spiking here. Our governor has mandated that all restaurants, bars and fitness centers close for at least four weeks, and all schools are distance learning. No matter what people think about masks, we are wearing masks. Or at least I am. I talked to a wise Christian man who cares for vulnerable people not long ago and asked if he had felt jerked around by all the conflicting information. (“Masks protect. Masks are useless. Look at the science — masks do help. Look at the science — masks do nothing. Mostly only old people are dying. COVID is being listed on death certificates even when someone dies of another primary reason, skewing the data. This news agency is inflaming things, this one has the truth, this one is more neutral and reliable.”) My friend said that yes indeed, he and his wife and family had grappled with wondering who to believe, how to live during this time. And after a lot of prayer and contemplation he said, “If I get this wrong on the easy side, and behave as if this virus isn’t as dangerous as most say, and one person in my care contracts it and suffers, or worse, dies, it would be horrible. But if I err on the side that the virus could be worse than we think or are being told, and my family and our people are vigilant and more careful than is comfortable, chances are I will not regret that.”

That made sense to me. So I’m being careful, not going out much unless it’s on a drive or a walk, having my groceries delivered, and watching The Crown, which I love.

Because I have more time on my hands, I’ve been slowly going through my list of things I want to organize during this time. So far, I cleaned out my office closet and organized it, my toy closet (thanks to my granddaughter Margaret who helped me right after I came home from donating Justine, my left kidney), a kitchen hutch, my kitchen baking cupboard, and my under-sink bathroom cabinets.

I have wanted to get my freezer in order and have tried many times, but it never stays that way. It’s full of food, and we end up digging around to find things, and all attempts at keeping it organized have eventually failed. Until I saw a professional home organizer on Instagram – her account is @hellohappyhome. She’s so good! She posted a method of organizing freezer drawers I thought would work for me, and I ordered the containers from The Container Store and waited.

When they arrived, I took everything out of my freezer, and took a picture. You can see the coffee grounds that had spilled out of their bags years ago, and some sad frozen raspberries. That middle divider is part of the freezer and can slide to the left or the right. The little round thing you see in the bottom left corner is a baking soda freezer deodorizer, which I removed.

I cleaned out the coffee and berries. Here’s a picture of one of the multi-purpose bins I bought:

For my size freezer drawer, six of these bendable plastic bins fit. See how promising this looks already? You know you’re getting old when things like this make you so happy you could skip around if you didn’t have a knee replacement.

The next photo is what my freezer drawer looks like now. One of the bins holds frozen vegetables. The one in front of it holds frozen fruit. The one in front of that holds our nuts. We eat a handful of nuts every single day, and since they have so much oil in them that could turn rancid, I’ve always kept them in the freezer.

Another bin holds bread products, mostly Sprouted Grain Ezekiel English Muffins that I love for breakfast sometimes, with a honeycrisp apple. In front of the bread bin is a meat/protein bin. There is some frozen shrimp, chicken and sausage there. The bin in front of that has grass fed ground beef, and my favorite breakfast sausage — chicken and sage sausage made by Applegate.

There is a smaller, shallower drawer above this one, and you can see containers with red lids in the photo below. I have coffee, baking yeast, frozen cauliflower pizza crusts and a few other things there — all nicely organized.

This freezer drawer has stayed organized for weeks now, and I know it always will, because finally, Everything. Has. A. Home. No digging around. No buying something because you didn’t know you already had some, buried in the bottom of the messy pile.

What do you think? How do you organize your freezer? If you’re interested in the bins I used, here’s the link. I used the medium sized.

Here’s an abrupt segue. (Have you ever noticed anyone using that word but spelling it segway? No.) From freezer organization to my father.

The other day after working in my office for hours, I happened upon a site where old high school yearbooks could be viewed online, page by page. It was free to view them, so of course I spent a long time looking through the old Covina High School yearbooks. I grew up in Covina, California, graduated from Covina High School in 1975, and my brothers Larry and Steve graduated in 1960 and 1965.

My father was a well-known basketball coach at my high school, and he taught and coached there from 1947 until he retired from coaching in 1974. A lot of people land on my blog after Googling Doc Sooter. Anyway, we had yearbooks in our house, but not from his earliest years at Covina High, so it was very good for me to sit and scroll through photos I’ve never seen of my dad.

He was 29 years old in this one, taken in 1949, and my brothers were 7 and 2 at the time. Look at those lapels! And that shirt collar.

This might be my favorite below, a headshot taken in 1952 when he was 32 years old. That hair! I see myself in this picture a little — the deep set eyes, the low brows. And I have my father’s ears.

Another picture I’d never seen, taken in the early 1950s before I was born:

I’m grateful that often the passage of time blurs memories a bit. I don’t want them blurred too much, but the way the harsh edges are softened can be a good thing. My dad made some choices that affected our family in ways some never recovered from. But he also worked hard, loved people (especially the underdog), listened well, remembered names and knew how to be a good friend, had a whip-smart mind, was the best grandpa who ever was, and he loved me. Perhaps one of the most remarkable gifts he gave me was loving my company. If I wanted to go with him somewhere, the answer was always yes. If I had questions, he had time. He told me and showed me that he loved me. And wonder of wonders, my dad was the son of a pastor who took me to Sunday School from the time I was three years old, where I heard about the love and power and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Honestly…. that changed everything.

More is More

November 9, 2020 | My Jottings

Have you heard the phrase “less is more?” I’ve heard it used when referring to minimalist decorating, about writing, and about decluttering and getting rid of excess possessions. And I usually agree with the idea that “less is more” and that fewer words, fewer items, can have a greater impact artistically and aesthetically.

Unless you consider my bedroom mantel.

My little fireplace mantel is a “more is more” sort of mantel, and I’m okay with that, for now.

I am continually decluttering and donating things, although pretty slowly. I have been told that my decorating is spare and minimalist, but I don’t quite see it that way. I don’t like a lot of visual clutter, but as you can see, one exception would be all the things I keep on the mantel.

Each thing means something to me, or is useful or sentimental. Well, there are a couple of things that aren’t that useful — I don’t usually light the candles, but visually they seem to add height or texture or volume in a place it’s needed. I think you can click on this photo to enlarge it. The print on the left was a gift form my daughter Sharon and quotes the song “Count Your Blessings” from the movie White Christmas. I’ve been literally counting my blessings in print for so many years now, I’m not sure how I would go for very long without this practice. I come from a family with depression and mental instability, and I was not exempt from this. Writing down my gratitude to God I believe has changed my brain chemistry.

The fox in the middle is astounding to me. My oldest grandchild Clara did this on a scratchboard with a scraping tool, pulling away tiny strokes of black until the fur and smile of the fox and the stars in the sky were revealed. Her talent is amazing, her heart so lovely.

The word board on the right is a gift from my daughter Sara, who knows I love words, love the Bible, and need reminders each day to calibrate my mind and path. I chose this verse from the ninetieth Psalm because I have squandered so many days and opportunities in my life, that I’m asking God to help me remember how quickly I’ll be gone, and to live more fully for Him.

The little wooden blocks were gifts from my daughter Carolyn, and I especially love the one on the right. I feel that above all else, I am a mother, and I want to be a better mom the older I get. I may not see my children as often as I did when they were growing up, but I certainly pray for them more, bring them to Jesus so often for every little thing they need, and hold their hearts and concerns so tenderly in my heart. It may sound cliche, but my daughters are truly woven into my very being.

The little black and white transferware plate is there because it’s the right size, is round to add visual disparity and interest, and because I am drawn to toile and transferware and don’t know why.

The cross on the left was a gift from my friend Vicki, and is quite intricate in its woodworked detail. Vicki has brought so many important things into my life and how we met was sort of miraculous — another story for another time.

The large round candle on the left was a gift from my dear friend Pat, a fellow SAG member. I love its container, the bear, and it reminds me of her. She is fun and smart and supportive, and so loving, and I’m reminded of her when I see it each day.

The Bose speaker on the doily isn’t necessarily pretty or sentimental, but I use it every single day. I have playlists on my phone and I don’t go a day without music. Right now I’m listening over and over to The Poor Clares of Arundel. My friend Lorrie in South Carolina recommended their music to me and I can’t get enough of it. It’s sacred, soothing, ancient and transcendent. It feels like my soul is being fed when this album is my background music all day.

Behind my Bose speaker is a Sequoia pine cone. I brought it home from the Sequoia National Forest last March when Lloyd and I visited California. Sequoias are the largest trees on earth. Some in California existed when Jesus walked the earth. They are resistant to disease. They have super thick bark, and depend on fires to regenerate. There are so many life lessons to be learned from a Sequoia, and I want to be like one — thick-skinned, fruitful in hard times, quiet, straight and true, resilient.

The little black remote is how I turn on the fire in my electric fireplace. It has a realistic flame, really puts out the heat when needed, and is so comforting when I sit in my plaid overstuffed chair to read and study and pray.

The little wooden cross on the right is a gift from my friend Penelope Wilcock in England. If you haven’t read her books, you must. Start with The Hawk and the Dove. You will be overwhelmed and blessed, and will want to give that book as a gift every time you can. The little cross was carved by nuns in England and fits perfectly in my hand; I sometimes hold it when I pray.

The black candles at the right I had on hand from years ago and I thought they added height to this little crowd of items. I plan to donate them someday.

And the cardinal? I have many cardinals which have been gifts from the most thoughtful friends over the years. If you don’t know why cardinals are so precious to me, you could click here to read a short semi-autobiographical children’s story I wrote about a cardinal years ago. Plus, some sort of color was needed in among all these black and white items, right?

I love Monday mornings. I write down all the things I need to get done on my to-do list/daily planner: do laundry (except my dryer died with a deafening, scraping scream yesterday), write a foster care report, finish my CBS lesson, run one errand, reconcile my bank statement with my checkbook ledger.

Next time I might share how Lloyd recently rescued a slug (not kidding), how Madge the Muskrat made eye contact with me and made my day, and how I’m doing with only one kidney, whose name by the way, is Verna. In which case, I’m hoping less is more.