Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Do you ever get recurrent themes surfacing in your life?
I seem to be bumping into lists everywhere I turn.

Orangette wrote an evocative piece recently about how she makes a list of the "Crap I Like To Eat" (CILTE) when feeling uninspired to cook meals. The list is supposed to function as a creative Juiceman, resulting in "an arsenal of inspiration" to help move you from "eye clawing" to hungry and ready to cook.

Her post clearly struck a chord with readers. At the end where Orangette asked folks to share what would go on their own CILTE list, there were 147 comments when last I checked.

Elsewhere, on The Sister Project, folks were allowed to read and share their "List That Helps With Loss". Making the list grew out of a writing workshop prompt meant to facilitate a memoir. It shares with CILTE the idea of being a kick start. Recording some of the mundane hurdles we all are forced to clear even when facing loss, provides a starting point.

The original suggestion was to make a list of thoughts related to the event of what was a final visit with a friend. The response included three lists chronicling a young woman's visit to say goodbye to her best friend, dying from cancer. She wrote "What I Brought", "What I Heard", and "What I Said".

When is a list more than a list? Read the piece yourself and you'll soon discover list making is a simple act, and so much more.

I will cop to being a list maker myownself. I enjoy every aspect of it, start to finish.

I like making a list because it helps me procrastinate from the actual work beginning.
Questioner: "How's it going?"
Me: "..."
Q: "Have you started yet?".
Me: "Give me a minute, I'm making my list!".

While I am in the act of making my lists I appreciate how they can help get my monkeybrain better organized. Occasionally I will realize, secondary to listmaking, that some crucial element to my plan is missing. At times, especially when creating a shopping list, making the list itself demands that I physically check on ingredients. This can be crucial.

I apparently have a fantasy pantry, one that exists in an alternate universe where I know everything I've got, how much I have on hand and exactly where I put it. Then there is our actual pantry, which mysteriously fails to produce essential ingredients, notably recently, organic sugar in quantities sufficient for making home made jam. My Actual Pantry is inexplicably the domain where there was no physical evidence of the remnants of a bag of dried cranberries I had to move out of my way umpty hundred times only to have vanished once I needed those berries to add to a salad I had all the other ingredients out to prepare. This morning.

I would have sworn to you those berries were in there. I would have pledged to you on the lives of my family, without a moment's hesitation, that is how secure I was in the knowledge those berries, in their folded over bag with a wooden clothespin in place to hold it shut, were sitting in there ready for me to use in that salad. Only they weren't.

The act of recording items on a list helps me remember. There are enough times I dash out the door and leave my shopping list at home on the counter, or the fewer times I leave the list in my car, for me to know if I have previously written it out, I can rely upon my memory. If the list is not too long, I have a track record of getting around 96 percent of what I needed based upon recall power alone. My memory is spotty enough and my background fear of Alzheimer's prevalent enough that I maintain the practice of having to actively reconstruct a list in my head, is probably a good thing.

[Yes, that does ignore the idea of having "forgotten" the list in the first place but this is me in Coping Mode. You just shoo with your nagging and pointing out how illogical that is.]

Best of all perhaps, is the delicious process of crossing items off a list. This doesn't apply to shopping lists, there is enough activity loading a basket to keep both hands busy there. When running errands or doing chores however, crossing a completed item off a to-do list is blissful.

This is especially true if when I have procrastinated. That is the list equivalent of true nirvana. For me, the measure of dread and foreboding experienced at the prospect of any particularly loathsome chore is precisely matched, if not exceeded, by my level of glee bordering on gloating at having gotten it out of my way. Get thee behind me, dastardly deed! Thou art done!

[Why my glee takes that medieval tone I have no idea. That might be a great topic to explore in therapy if I ever get any. Moving on.]

It is my contention a well placed list can save a relationship.

For years I was plagued by family members seeking me out at variously inopportune moments. They were driven by a burning desire to let me know that, as the Designated Family Shopper, they had a need only I, with my Superior Shopping Powers, could possibly meet.

These requests tended to come 14 1/2 minutes after I had stretched out on my bed.
Inconsiderate Family Member: "Are you asleep?"
Me: "......"
IFM: "You don't look asleep. Sleeping people don't scowl."
Me: "......!!"
IFM: "You told me to tell you when I was running out of Liquid Paper."
Me: "....."
IFM: "Well, I am almost out."
Me: "...."
IFM: In pleased with self tone, "You told me to tell you, so I am".

The other time a need could magically manifest was whenever I started to take a shower.
Hub: Honey!
Me: "what!"
Hub: "We need mumbledly"
Me: "What?!"
Me: "I'm in the shower." (points taken off for stating the obvious) "I can't HEAR you!"
Hub: mumbledly mumbledly
Me: "WHAT!?!?!?!?"
Hub: Opens bathroom door letting all the precious warm air out. "I said never mind. I'll tell you later." Brightly, "Have a nice shower!" Fails to completely close door.
Me: "!!!!!!"

I began to keep a magnetized pad on the refrigerator door. It holds a running list of "what we need from the/any store". Now whenever anybody randomly comments to me, "we are out of X", or "I used the last of the Y", I simply reply "put it on the list" and we are done. I hardly ever even snap the words out (any more). This has saved us from much heartache and potential bloodshed I am certain. A list in time saves my family.

I decided I won't bore you with a shopping list, and a List that Helps with Loss would deserve its own post. I will share my own CILTE list with you, just for fun.

Crap I Like to Eat:
A fried egg served over:
Saute├ęd cabbagge with Sriracha and soy sauce
Ginger Fried Rice
Corned Beef Hash
Another Fried Egg
Roasted chicken
Caesar Salad
Fettucine with Alfredo sauce
Anything in a Quesadilla

There. It worked. I am hungry and ready to hit the kitchen and cook something. If I have what I need in my actual pantry, I mean. How about you? Are you a list maker? Would making a CILTE list help get your creative juices flowing? We're all nice people around here - feel free to share in the comments section.


Iris said...

I'm definitely a list-maker and appreciate the glee of crossing things off a to-do list.

When a particularly loathsome to-do list sits around mocking me because nothing's yet crossed off, I rewrite it on fancier paper and feel like I have a fresh start.

Siren said...

what a fantastic post. Fellow ListMaker here!! Oh yes indeed, each paragraph you wrote was like it had flowed from mine own pen . . .

Listmaking, for me, is not just something I do to get organized - it is an activity that allows me to concentrate on things other than those on the list, believe it or not - by soothing my brain, by giving it busywork, so to speak. On the other hand, listmaking is also a fun indulgence I engage in when I am trapped somewhere and don't have a book to read. (e.g., "I think I'll list all the guests I will invite to a barbecue I have not yet planned. Okay, and now all the dishes I will make. Now the chores I will have to perform before everyone comes over. Shopping lists. Decorating. Etc. Fun!")

I love listmaking

TexasDeb said...

Ooooh Iris - the procrastinative pleasure of a "rewrite" - that didn't occur to me. Isn't a fresh start a wonderful thing? Thanks for pointing that out.

Welcome to Austin Agrodolce, and thanks for the kind words Siren. What an great suggestion to engage your brain with list making when you are trapped. That happens to all of us now and then. Please keep dropping in and sharing your wisdom with us.