Thursday, July 03, 2008

Applied Science

The law of the conservation of matter states that, in a closed system, matter can neither be created nor destroyed. Lomonsov and Lavoisier have never visited my pantry. I'm cleaning it out. I have been cleaning it for days (weeks, months, years). I begin to believe I will continue to clean it until the sun falls into the ocean.

I should explain, once upon a time, when this planet was young (that is, before we bought the unit), it was a pantry. Since I've had control over it, it has been storage. We call it the pantry out of courtesy -- rather like one refers to a former admiral as "Admiral" -- but it hasn't held comestibles (unless you count cat food) for, well, a long, long time.

Further, let me state, it has so been cleaned since my children have been born. I know this because among the items on the upper shelves is the pink and white building block planter which screams baby gift (as does the blue with white polka-dots baby-diaper-shaped one that says "BOY" and the blue ceramic vase with white clouds). They would never have made it above my reach if I hadn't cleaned at the point where I couldn't bear to throw them away, but couldn't imagine what else to do with them.

It cannot be denied, however, that this project has taken on aspects of an archaeological dig. How to explain to your 13 year old that what looks like a fishbowl complete with marbles in the bottom was, in its day, that de rigeur accessory, the over-sized flower bowl as featured at the time in Apartment Life (now Metropolitan Home)? When your 21 year old cocks an eyebrow at you, aren't you compelled to explain that no one, no one, throws away Tupperware? That once upon a time, you used those barbecue tools and that that explains the three started bottles of charcoal lighter fluid?

If the law of conservation really works, how did I, the mother of 3 children, come to own 7 sand buckets but only 2 shovels? Five bubble tumblers but only 4 bubble wands? Two squirt guns (did I allow two siblings to gang up on the third)? The pantry can't be more than 4 by 6 feet. Even if you allow for the 10 foot ceilings, I can't see how, emptied, it can fill two rooms.

There was a plan (isn't there always?). The original plan was to haul out anything that hadn't seen the light of day for over a year and send it off to Salvation Army, thus freeing up space for the stuff that, having spilled off the radiator covers, now occupies various corners of the floors.

Then that dangerous word, "just," started being bandied about. In scary sentences like, "Well, let's just empty the top shelves and strip the old shelf paper." "You know, if we just moved this rolling shelf, we could wash that wall." "If we just empty the big, free-standing shelf, we could patch those cracks." "I'm thinking, we could stop at the Ace and just pick up a bucket of paint."

If navigating the unit wasn't unlike attempting to thread a maze, I might think this an elaborate ruse to duck my knitting, all of which I despise at the moment. To protect my credibility as a knitting blogger, here's the obligatory picture.

This is where it sits at the moment. It will continue to sit here for a while.

The pantry is emptied, spackled, sanded, primed and, as God is my witness, the final coat of paint goes on this morning. Just in time for me to try to organize tomorrow's parade. Then maybe I'll be able to knit again.

Of course, there's always the possibility that my pantry isn't a closed system at all. That it is, in fact, a portal to another system. Obviously, one that manufactures plastic children's toys.


diane h said...

Last summer, when you inspired me with the rule of thumb, throw out the expired food, I cleared and washed the food shelves but I don't know what would compel me to reach the walls with cracks, then repair and PAINT them. Bravo!

alpineflower said...

Clearly, your closet is a smaller version of the expanding universe. Start out small and dense, then expand outward at an astonishing rate. I wish you well - send up a flare if you get set upon by towels or holiday dishes.

Anonymous said...

The shawl looks great, but I can't tell if you've added the red. Oh, and the pantry looks great, too!