Suna Conquers the Ridiculous Ranch Closet

There’s so much in life you can’t control. You can’t control whether people like you or not, whether you’re treated with respect, the actions of faceless government agencies, or groups of people who think differently from you. I can’t control those things, either, but, I made myself better by totally dominating my Hermits’ Rest house closet. It has bent to my will and now can be used with ease. It’s like a rural version of those fancy closets you see where ladies (or others) sit around and sit champagne while gazing at their shoes. Sorts.

Yes. There IS a chair there, and there ARE a lot of shoes, organized by type and function, mostly.

Does that photo scare you? Well, if you know me, you’ll know the story of the immense closet in my house, but let me share with the rest of you.

The doors lead to the main bathroom. I like the birds on a branch hangers. There is now only ONE thing per hanger. Thank you, Suna.

The deal is that our house is based on a floorplan for a 3 bedroom 3 bathroom house I found online and ordered the blueprints for. I did ask for some modifications, because the kitchen was really small and I knew there would be lots of cooks. I added an island with a second sink and the cooktop on it. OK, so yes, that made the second floor a bit bigger, too. I also added a laundry room/mud room, so the original laundry area could be a really big pantry (and safe room, long story). That added another few feet.

There’s a 3-way mirror in the corner, and that big square thing is all drawer space. I love the stone, which is actually natural quartz, not granite. My children gave me the obelisk the first Christmas we lived here. We were so thrilled by the island that we opened our Christmas gifts there (closet wasn’t in use yet).

Then, when the dudes started building the house, they asked if they could simplify the second floor. This turned some space that was attic storage into full height closets, and made the upstairs even bigger (also, now Lee has two large closets of his own for his stuff, do don’t jump on me for taking this whole thing).

As of last week, all those storage cubes were a mess of things, and the whole top shelf was shoe boxes. Um, so was most of the shoe shelf. I threw away a lot of boxes I was saving for some project or another.

What ended up happening was that our bedroom is ridiculously large, and has a sitting area and a coffee-drinking table and chairs. And my closet, which started out as a perfectly reasonable walk-in closet became as big or bigger than many bedrooms. It was sort of embarrassing.

These storage cubes now hold the things that were randomly scattered around the room, like tote bags, purses, plastic bags (for trash), bathing suits, hats, etc. I still have a few for future items. I also had them add these two windows, so I don’t need to turn on the lights to find things. Energy efficient!

On the other hand, it was great, and I could organize things and find them. Our contractor did a GREAT job making this a great closet without spending too much money on it. The storage cubbies are lined with cedar, for my hand knits, he built me a jewelry holding area with cork to hang things from AND a chest of drawers for non-hanging things, plus the mirror and the chandelier. It’s nice, but not California Closet crazy.

The jewelry area and ironic sign. By the way, the cubes at left weren’t organized yet in this photo. All those things on the top are now nicely organized in a storage bin.

As years passed, my organizational scheme went awry, and I ran out of clothes hangers. I do probably buy too many clothes. But I do wear them! By a couple of weeks ago, there were piles of things that needed sorting all over that pretty quartz island, I couldn’t find any of my jewelry, and those endless shoe boxes made the room look just awful. I did NOT take “before” pictures.

Essential oils are alphabetized and just need me to bring the rest of them in from various places. Note the trash can is up high, away from dogs. The photo is of my dad after winning a boxing tournament as a teen.

So, I was sad about things going on that I can’t control, like COVID, my family issues, a person I was trying to help but wasn’t able to, things at work. But by gosh, I could make that closet do my bidding. All I had to do was order 100 coat hangers, some drawer organizers, and 16 storage bins. For less than $50 I was ready to tackle the mess.

It was a lot of fun collecting things to donate to charity, organizing other things, dusting, vacuuming and even putting in decorations, so it didn’t look quite so boring.

In THIS photo, the cubes next to jewelry world look correct. You can tell how high I can reach, can’t you?

Sure, no one needs a closet this big, but if you DO have one, the least you can do is make it usable! I can find all my clothing, including pants, dresses, shoes, winter things, summer things, etc. And wow is that jewelry under control (um, now I have to organize the jewelry at the Austin house, sigh…I also have way too much costume jewelry, as part of my coordination obsession). Chaos has departed this one tiny bit of my life, and when I want to breathe, I can go into my closet, spray some rose room scent, and relax. Ahh.

This is ridiculously organized. Who took over Suna’s brain?

To all my friends with small closets (including me at my other house), I hereby promise to keep the ranch closet organized and usable, even suitable for visitors. When we are pandemic free, you can come over and see it.

What do you have under control where you live? It could be something big or small. It could even be in your mind!

Book Review: A Place for Everything

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There’s one final book review for this year, and it’s a book I always wanted to read: the history of alphabetical order! Be still, my heart! A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order, by Judith Flanders is a book that begged me to read it. And with its huge index (alphabetized, of course), end notes, and all the hallmarks of a modern nonfiction book, it did not fail to disappoint, at least if that’s the kind of reading material you like.

Nice cover!

I’ll have to resort to memoirs to explain my excitement at finding this book. You see, when I was in second and third grade, I was annoying to teachers. They could not find enough work for me to do to keep me quiet, and I kept raising my hand to answer all the questions. I probably annoyed other kids, too. To remedy this, they passed me off to the patient librarian at Sidney Lanier Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida (also at the time home of education for deaf, mentally handicapped, and otherwise challenged kids, which was GREAT for teaching us that those are regular kids that are fine for playing with at recess). And yes, I know now that Sidney Lanier served in the Confederate military, but we were told he was a poet. The End.

Anyway, I proceeded to read through the contents of the library that matched my reading ability. I also needed books that matched my social development, which means not books with a lot of sex or overly “adult” themes that would confuse me. The librarian was very glad that I loved horses, because that made it simple. Just give Sue Ann books about horses, she thought. Then, she taught me how to find them myself in the magical card catalogue. OOOOOOO.

I loved the card catalogue. I’d just browse through it, amazed at its orderliness. I aged a bit and started my own collection of books, of course starting with Black Beauty. Duh. Once I had more than a few books, I was compelled to alphabetize them, by author, of course. There WERE a few I organized by size (which I learned from the book I’m supposed to be reviewing was common).

By the time I was in middle school, I had my own card catalogue (always spelled that way in my mind), made from index cards. I had a title index and an author index. Each card said when I got it and had an indication of its type (mainly F, NF, and SF for fiction, nonfiction, and science fiction (I moved on from horses)). This went with me and was updated throughout high school.

Sigh, alphabetized by author, but not title.

Even as I got older, I obsessively alphabetized my books. It made me happy. It also made finding books easy. I was an academic. I had a LOT of books, but added categories like Japanese, linguistics, knitting to the system.

Once I had children, I gave up and just shelved books by type. Every time I’d get them alphabetized, something would mess them up, so I gave up.

Back to the Book

Judith Flanders taught me a lot about books and their organization, or lack thereof. First off, there weren’t many books for a long time, and they were often bundled together randomly. That’s parchment books. Papyrus ones were scrolled, of course. And you generally read a book from start to finish, so there weren’t many organizational helps like subtitles, page numbers and such. All those things had to be invented!

Once libraries showed up there were lots and lots of ways to organize them. Some organized by size, some by topic, and some by the conventionally used systems of organization, which were fascinating hierarchies. God always came first, then rich people, then other subjects. That’s how lists of all sorts were organized, not just books. I have no idea how anyone found anything in the olden days. People also wrote all over books, and no two copies of any book were the same, since they were hand copied. Challenging.

Eventually, typing and carbon paper made organizing correspondence less complex, while double entry bookkeeping made financial stuff easier, but that all depended on having notebooks and files. So many things we take for granted today are NOT that old, like filing cabinets, file folders, staples, desks, and more. This book will blow your mind and really, really make you respect all those humans of the past who had to memorize everything.

So, as you can see, Everything in Its Place shares the history of a lot more than ordering systems! There’s writing systems, ways to permanently or impermanently record things in writing, storage methods, and of course, organizing systems.

Today’s shelves are beautiful, but disorganized. We are still unpacking books. I still have a lot in Austin. Eek.

That brings me to my favorite discovery in the book, which is about Dewey of the Dewey Decimal System. I was always very annoyed by this whole thing. Topics just didn’t make sense to me, especially the order in which they were arranged (all that Christian stuff in the beginning with lots of numbers, but then just one number for each other religion, for example, and science was weirdly arranged). I never arranged my books by that system, nope.

Was I ever thrilled to discover that Melvil Dewey was an asshole! A sexist! An anti-Semite! A homophobe! A creep! I just knew it. And these biases of his made finding certain topics really hard (there were changes made…but now I see why they use other systems now).

In the end, while Flanders didn’t make the book overly exciting, she did add some fun footnotes that I enjoyed, and she was certainly thorough in her research, which was complicated by the fact that there actually hasn’t been all that much research on organizational systems and alphabets. People just take them for granted. I was glad she addressed how to organize information in non-roman alphabets, like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. I really feel bad that typewriters are still based on Western principles, which can make typing and printing take a while.

The Truth about Organizing Closets

I spent much of (but not all of) today getting my closet re-organized. Thank goodness, there was a nice interruption when a baby magically appeared. (Figuratively —he came with parents, too).

It’s a BABY! I remember babies.

It was my great-nephew (by marriage—my siblings were not breeders). Actually he’s a step-nephew but what the heck, little Ryker is as close to a grandchild as I’ll get, I’ll wager.

Mmmm. Babies.

I hadn’t met him yet, thanks to the good ole pandemic, but no one was in quarantine at the moment and his parents needed to stop by briefly. I enjoyed every moment of holding him and being goofy.

However, that was a brief highlight. Mostly I organized my closet, a thing I tend to do about twice a year. Now, I always thought I had a messy closet because my closets were too small. Nope. My closet is this big, thanks to how we enlarged the first floor of the house.

Legit large-ass closet. Not shown: shoe wall.

Our contractor, Ruben, did this for me, and I’m forever grateful. That island holds 8 drawers Bd is covered with beautiful natural quartz. Too bad it was totally covered with clothing, suitcases, and Christmas gifts this morning.

As I finished my three hours of hanging, sorting, and selecting things to donate, I realized that the size of the closet doesn’t matter. Unless you’re a really organized person (like my dad was) your closet will slowly become a mess until you make yourself fix it.

I can’t blame my narrow and annoying closet at the Austin house for my poor closet management, since I can’t keep this huge room looking neat. It’s me. I’m not a whiz with the closets.

Let’s see how long this lasts. I plan to iron some things, and maybe get some cute organizing stuff. And tomorrow the jewelry area will also be fixed. Maybe if I spiff it up a bit, I’ll do better.

Here are closets I cannot emulate. I envy these people. Thanks to California Closets for the images.

Am I alone, or are closets hard for most people? Does your closet look like a California Closets ad?

Can I Go Home Yet? It’s Organized There.

Darn it.

Just a quick hello between emails. Today is really a Monday, with issues piling in from every which way at work. I’ve only been at my desk an hour and I’m ready to go back to the ranch.

Speaking of which, while we were all taking a day off yesterday and I was making things out of dewberries, we also did a bunch of organizing.

Our neighbors at Wild Type Ranch just delivered a quarter of a cow’s worth of meat (and it was one of the fancy neighbor cows, mmm). That meant it was time to re-arrange the freezers. We dug into that with gusto.

Ground beef, sausage, and staples.

Now there are separate areas for beef, pork, chicken, veal, and venison (all from around here except chicken). We should be able to find things!

Meat and meat products. All veggies are in the freezer in the refrigerator or the garage.

Since she was already in organizational mode, Kathleen then turned to the spice rack, which now can be used much better. She put all the big things of spices, especially the “Aw Shit” series that the guys love to smother every piece of meat we eat with, in a different cabinet. All can be seen now.

The Shit series, and many, many spray cans of PAM. Lee loves it.

And THEN she went ahead and rearranged all the pantry items as well. We didn’t lose as much stuff to bugs as I thought. I hate pantry moths with a passion. They are one of the few things I can honestly say I cannot stand.

But, now we can see everything, some old stuff is gone, and we founds some things that we think my sister will be able to enjoy, so we can share some of our freezer bounty.

I am gonna label the tops of these jars.

Mostly there were a lot of dewberries. More of that is to come!