Remembering attempts to remain organized


My lists also included possible menus

In our constantly busy lives we all resort to various means of organization. My sister sometimes gives herself text reminders or sets an alarm on her phone. She often writes on colourful sticky notes; I saw a collection affixed to the dash of her Equinox when she came to pick me up on one occasion.

I noted that the experts claim that the writing of lists over the years has been cathartic for those suffering from anxiety. The physical recording of a to-do list is considered beneficial and a help in being more productive. I read recently that people who want to be thought of as clever rely on their memory. Those that aim to get things accomplished make lists.

I have long been a list-maker. As a teen I would spend time leafing through the Sears catalogue recording items and prices of longed-for purchases. Phantom purchases in most cases. I rarely had finances at my disposal. Just the imagined shopping was satisfying.

I always made a list for my intended chores on a free Saturday: clean my room, wash bedding and remake the bed, polish the mirrors. It was gratifying to mark off each item.

When I became a wife and mother, the lists grew larger: purchase groceries, pick up dry cleaning, go to the laundromat. That one was time consuming. We had one laundromat in Peace River when we arrived and we weren’t the only folks in town without our own machines. It took my husband one trip on his own, waiting endlessly for even one machine to be free. He went directly to Mycek’s shop and purchased a small stacking unit. If only I had realized how that worked! We had a four-year-old and an infant and therefore lots of laundry. It still took ages to wash all those dirty clothes, but at least I was still at home. The boys were much happier as well.

My lists also included possible menus, making it easier to itemize the grocery list. We rarely went out to eat but sometimes had friends over. They too were hard-pressed, with young children. If guests included children, my menu selection was much different than if I had asked my close neighbours, who were more like family, or extra grandparents.

Being of Mennonite heritage, one would presume that I would be a great cook, true to my roots.

I confess that I have never been much interested. I can produce an excellent meal but I don’t care to do so regularly. I soon lose enthusiasm but as I have restricted dietary choices, I now stick to menus that suit me.

When the kids in the family were smaller, we did a regular gift exchange for Christmas and birthdays or “just because” occasions. That too entailed a list. I began my Christmas shopping mid-summer and sometimes ended the final gift-wrapping stage with too many gifts for one recipient and none for another. Obviously I neglected to check my list or had mislaid it.

I do keep a lengthy notation for my Christmas letters. I still write regularly to some friends and have kept a monthly record of who has received a letter. I used to wait for a response and then answer each with another letter. These days I wait in vain. I’ve chosen to write every few months regardless. I also send clippings of articles with each letter so I record those as well.

“We had a four-year-old and an infant and therefore lots of laundry. It still took ages to wash all those dirty clothes, but at least I was still at home.”


About Author

Joyce Hoey

Joyce Hoey is a longtime Mountain View Publishing columnist who lives in Olds, Alberta.