On True Materialism

It might be assumed that I became an organizer because I hate “things” and want to eradicate them, leaving nothing but empty space behind. But something I have realized along the way is that I became an organizer partly because I love things. I want to take care of them, revere them, use them well, enjoy them – and help other people do the same. I was reminded of this by a quote I heard on an Alan Watts podcast (a recording of a lecture, since he passed away in the early ’70s). Watts was a British man who excelled at explaining Zen Buddhism to Westerners. I couldn’t find a date for this lecture, but it was probably from the ’50s or ’60s.

“True materialists are people who love material, who cherish wood, and stone, and wheat, and eggs, and animals, and above all, the earth, and treat it with a reverence that is due to one’s own body.”
—Alan Watts, Introduction to Zen

If you have fifteen children, you probably won’t be able to care for them very well. But if you have only, say, one to three children, you’ll be easily able to give them all the love and attention they need. I feel that way about belongings. We need to keep just as many belongings as we can adequately appreciate and enjoy, as well as care for – and lovingly give the rest up for adoption.

I also think materialism means owning fewer things of higher quality, rather than a large amount of cheap stuff. I’ve been working on this with my wardrobe. Even though Goodwill is fun in terms of the hunt, shopping in a regular clothing store (albeit, focusing on sale items) ensures that I’ll find clothing of higher quality with a much smaller time investment. And I have shuddered slightly at paying $50 for a pair of pants and then another $15 to have them hemmed, but I am doing so because I deserve to wear nice clothes that fit me well, without the stress of searching for three hours at Goodwill and coming up with nothing, or something that “will do” but I don’t love. I also like to keep my clothing supply to a modest level because it’s much easier to find things to wear if I’m not constantly skipping past the items that I don’t like much or don’t fit me right. It also makes it much easier to switch out my clothes for the seasons.

Old Spice (hardee har har)

I know, shock and awe.

I just want to share an interesting tip I just learned on the NAPO chat email list: f you have a red-and-white tin of a McCormick spice, it is at least FIFTEEN (15) years old. Eew!

McCormick has a page on which you can type in the code on the bottom of your McCormick spice container and find out how old it is. I don’t know why they don’t just put expiration dates on the damn things, or at least the year of manufacture, but there you are.

They also provide this info:
Ground spices are good for 2-3 years
Whole spices: 3-4 years
Seasoning blends: 1-2 years
Herbs: 1-3 years
Extracts: 4 years, except pure vanilla, which lasts indefinitely

If you have no clue of the vintage of some of your herbs/spices, I recommend this: Crush it up and smell it, or taste a little. If it has lost its flavor/scent, ditch it. If it’s still tasty/fragrant, put this month and year on it; you may not know when you got it, but you know it was in your possession today! Then you can throw it out based on the guidelines above, or a bit sooner depending on your intuition. I don’t think anyone ever died from eating an old herb or spice, but your food will definitely taste better if they’re only kept within the time guidelines.

Kids’ Stuff Swap! Setting a Date

I am planning to host an event at which kids swap their toys and books. This will be like a clothing swap, except the goal will be twofold: to get new stuff, and to reduce the amount of stuff the kids own. Therefore, each kid will be asked to bring about two milk crates’ volume full of toys and books, and to go home with only one milk crate worth. This is only a guideline, and what to bring home is ultimately up to the parents, but the two milk crates are the maximum amount of stuff each kid can bring to swap. Whatever’s left will be donated to some charity or other (TBD).