Today is a refrigerator triage day. Everything must come out and justify its existence to me or out it goes. This is the only area where I seem to manifest a hoarding behavior. I tend to see left-overs as a potential soup, quiche, or casserole ingredient and thus I have congestion in the fridge. I know a lot of people these days throw out leftovers, but I come from a time and a place where frugality was necessary. It is also the sign of a creative cook to know how to incorporate these ingredients into a delicious second life.
I have stuff in the fridge that I have kept for the same reasons other people keep non-food stuff. For instance, I have two quart jars of homemade pickles given by a friend who preserves garden produce. I need that space and I know it would take my husband and me three years to use up those two quarts, so out they go. But maybe first I’ll save some of it in smaller jars. My thrift sense kicks in along with an appreciation of the friendship.
Another reason I have kept some of the items is I paid good money for them. I sometimes see an interesting recipe online and bookmark it, but I lack an ingredient or two so I add them to my shopping list and purchase them. The trouble is, my memory doesn’t retain the purpose of the product so I end up with mystery ingredients. I need a system to link food purchases with the recipe they are intended for.
Dear Aging Coach,
I have way too many books but I love everyone of them! They are like old friends to me, but soon I must move to a very small apartment in a Senior residence and space will be limited. How can I pare down my book collection when it is so hard to choose?
I heartily sympathize with you. I can’t imagine a life without books. I have pared down my book collections considerably using the following methods.
- I have used my imagination to think about which books I would take with me if I were to go on an adventure, living in a recreation vehicle for instance, or maybe live on a boat. Knowing that space would be tight, I would select maybe five books each on all of my favorite topics. For me this would be cookbooks and gardening books. I have actually done this without carrying through on it. I set out on a table my five “can’t live without” books and evaluated whether I could leave behind the many others that I did not select. Fortunately I did not have to carry out the selection and they went back on the shelves to join their companions, but it did help me to cull some of the books which I have since donated.
- I have instilled some self-discipline in the form of “one book in = one book out”. When I buy a new (or used) book I single out a book from my shelves to be discarded or donated. I’m apt to discard any paperback books that have deteriorated from age or the acidity of the paper they were printed on.
- I have switched to downloading e-books that I can read on my tablet or iPad. My aging eyes appreciate the ability to enlarge the font with just a touch command. This is better for me than large print books because the tablet is much lighter than a printed book.
It happened again in my small town. Another elderly person who lived alone fell in his home and was not discovered for two days, after a neighbor noticed there were no lights on at his home. After his hospitalization he must now remain in a rehab facility indefinitely while social services determine whether his home is a safe place to live on his own. Almost all Seniors want to maintain their independence and stay in control of their circumstances, and you can do that if you use your imagination to picture how you would maneuver in your home with a walker or even a wheelchair. You can determine which items are apt to cause a fall and which furniture could be moved or removed to provide better access to hallways and for doors to open. Maybe just conceding to wear some sort of medical alert system will put relatives at ease and let them give you your independence. Be proactive and maintain control.