I have started working on my scrapbook again. I have 28 years of accrued stuff to go in: shopping bags full of ticket stubs, photos, kids’ drawings and school work sheets, pictures of wonderful Halloween costumes, cards….
I contemplated sending a note to Martha Stewart, asking how I might go about tackling this project. Most of the questions she gets are along the lines of how one goes about ironing tablecloths-- not the most challenging queries, in my view.
But I reconsidered. Reading some of those near miraculous looking de-cluttering articles, I realized that if one of those professional organizers got hold of me, even a really nice one, the bulk of my memorabilia would be in the garbage. Period. This has served as the first catalyst to plow into my project, because no one else in her right mind will, for me.
For anyone into cautionary tales, here’s how this situation got so terribly out of hand. In late ’83, I was working on a page of Amsterdam photos from a trip my husband and I took earlier that year. I was missing one great shot of a poffertjes* stall, and the photo was so good, and so lost, I just stopped. That was my excuse: I had to find the photo in order to proceed. But it couldn’t be found.
I then went on to do interesting work, stay happily married, find delightful friends, travel, have two great kids, move into a house we fixed up (documenting every step of the process), make stuff, move again, continue to travel a bit, make more friends, all of whom are photogenic. The kids (also photogenic) grew up, bringing home papers and drawings, having the usual milestones to celebrate and document--all of which I wanted to keep, and did—but in shopping bags.
The one thing I did keep up with, kind of, was my kids’ scrapbooks. They were--and are-- pretty good. The irony--laughable, even quite horrible--is that my children think of me as their archivist. My husband knows better, but he’s being very tactful. When my eldest graduated from college, he made some remark about making sure we got enough programs so I could put together his scrapbook. The dear, misguided innocent. This is the second catalyst: what if I got hit by a diaper truck tomorrow and they discovered the true nature of these so-called archives? They would be very disappointed, and I don’t want to let my munchkins down.
I’ve made numerous attempts to get on with my project. From time to time, I’d buy scrapbooks and a few extra leaves, thinking that I was going to actually saddle up and do something on my scrapbook, but I didn’t. I carefully stashed the books and leaves, even contemplated the fun it would be to join a scrapbooking group. No more lonesome trawling through old photos, trying to organize by making piles which very soon smush into each other alarmingly, inevitably....
But really: what an entrance that would make: everyone else with their neat little boxes and me with my wheelbarrow brimming, teetering with stuff, only to spread out over two, three tables and not be anywhere near cleaning up and going at closing time.
Needless to say, planning how to go about it has been something of a stumper.
There may be a better way to go about it, but I finally decided to use loose leaf notebooks with plastic page covers, so if (when) I find a stash of memorabilia pertaining to a section I’ve already finished, I won’t despair, but could easily insert pages as needed.
I have always kept a scrapbook— except for this unfortunate 28 year lapse-- since the age of five. My father was a great scrapbooker, and passed his enthusiasm on to me. He had beautiful big green books specially made that had spines which could expand to accommodate the bulk of memorabilia. I loved looking in them, particularly the sections pertaining to me.
The first thing I did with my own scrapbook was to paste in pictures of my cousin’s trip to the Black Forest-- the notion that the book should be about my experiences having somehow eluded me. This may be the seed of my problem—having high standards I sometimes can’t meet. Or it could have been my first successful piece of fiction: my little friends were quite impressed.
But never mind—even the most uneventful life can be dressed up with good design. It is all in the presentation. The scrapbooking industry is onto this: scalloping scissors, stickers, fancy papers can make taking out the garbage seem interesting. Which, actually, it can be: very.
I have made a small but decisive dent in this project, not by starting with that fateful picture from 1983, but with the recent past, which is fresher in my mind, a little more accessible, being better organized, in packets--and a little more exciting.
I made a scrapbook of the trip my younger son and I took to Mexico in 2010. There are only a few gaps, which I can quickly fill in with easily found digital photos. I organized the rest of the year in an accordion fie, and it should be a snap to put it together.
Famous last words, eh? It should be a snap?
In fact, I got carried away enough to organize a decade in a portable hanging file: I’ve got 2000-2011, hanging there at the ready.
And here it is, more organized than it looks.
Here also is the Poffertjes recipe, acquired years ago from Gourmet Magazine, perhaps as a way of keeping the memory alive:
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 C milk scalded
1 1/2 T butter
11/2 C flour
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
3/4 C dried currants
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 warm water with a pinch of sugar for 5 minutes.
Stir butter into scalded milk and allow to cool to lukewarm.
Sift together flour sugar and salt. Add half the milk and one egg. Beat until smooth. Add yeast and remaining milk. Again stir until smooth. Mix in the currants. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, allow to rise for 45 minutes.
When ready to cook, heat a poffertjes pan over medium heat. Brush indentations with melted butter. Put 1 T of batter into each indentation. Cook about 3 minutes per side, until they are golden. Serve immediately sprinkled with Confectioners’ sugar. Makes about 36 pancakes.
- These are amazingly delicious little Dutch pancakes, much like Danish ebelskiver.
- Also a kitten update-- 3 weeks old and walking, teeteringly.