The Pantry

Nothing like back-to-back birthday posts! This year, I am going the extra mile by adding in the sister-in-laws. As such, it was Nicole’s birthday last week (look at me, getting more timely!) and I figure it is time to share some stories about her.

Just like Abby, Nicole has also been an excellent addition to the family. For one thing, she has been able to hold a mirror up to the family and get us to reflect upon the zaniness of our obsession with pirates, gambling, doughnuts and inflatable yard decorations. Of course, upon reflection we have rededicated ourselves to our love of these vices, but we have definitely increased the quality and volume of our laughter.

One of the most amazing contributions that Nicole has added to our life here in Zionsville, was one that at first glance seems small and mundane. But the glory of such a contribution could only be appreciate by being up close and personal with the end results.

Just over two years ago, we welcomed Amelia into our lives. It was a glorious time and we were happy to welcome both of my brothers and their wives into our home to show off our new bundle of joy. And to receive the benefit of their generosity.

Matt and Abby were very kind to watch Hannah and help out with Amelia while Susie continued to recuperate and so that I could do some much needed Spring cleaning outside, including putting out a significant amount of mulch. I still feel guilty that I didn’t get to hang out with them more despite them making the trek down from Chicago, but the outside of the house needed a lot of help.

A few weeks later, Brian and Nicole came over from Pittsburgh. We were very excited to see them. Nicole was very excited to help out in any way that she could and help she did. One of the most impressive things that she did was offer to clean out our pantry. Now a pantry is not a simple place. It is typically a location in the house that takes a good deal of thought and effort to get the way you want. Often, we don’t even confront our own pantries because it is takes too much of a dedicated effort to see the project to completion. It is much easier to just ignore the problem and go on living with your substandard food organization system.

Despite all of this, Nicole decided to go for it anyway. Our pantry was a giant mess. It was all my fault. Susie had been on bed rest for the past few months and I was in charge of grocery shopping and of course the requisite putting away of said groceries. Unfortunately, being neat and organized is not my specialty and so the problem just grew and grew.

But where I saw hopelessness and despair, Nicole saw an opportunity to help and share. And so she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. She was like a whirling dervish of canned vegetables, breakfast cereal and dried pasta. The process took most of the day and  a lesser person would have probably turned back. But not Nicole. She stuck with it and in the end we were the proud recipients of a beautiful and well-organized pantry. I still consider it one of the nicest things anyone has done for us and to this day it is still appreciated.

My only regret is that the pantry couldn’t have stayed in its pristine state forever. But with my inability to keep anything organized for more than about a week plus the presence in the house of a toddler who loves nothing more than digging into the pantry to see what kind of treasures that she can dig out to eat instead of the dinner that we have made for her, this thing of beauty had no chance of being permanent.

So instead, I like to think of it like on of those Zen rock gardens.


The beauty is in the impermanence of the medium and the joy is in the creating. So thank you Nicole for introducing the Zen pantry into our lives. So while the fruit of your labor has been harvested and spent, the beauty and the joy live on forever. And so does the gratitude.


About ironsalsa

I'm just a man who likes to hear himself talk, yet pretends he can't stand himself.
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2 Responses to The Pantry

  1. Nicole McKenna says:

    Glad you can appreciate the art of a good pantry. Sweet post, thank you Mike!

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