Cleaning out the Fridge

dirtyfridgeI have mixed feelings about this column.  Maybe there should be a parental disclaimer attached to it.  Something like:  The information contained in this column may not be fit for children, overly sensitive lap dogs, or older people with gastro intestinal problems.  Be warned.

It’s time to talk refrigerator cleaning.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Go ahead and admit it.  Every normal person in America has let the refrigerator get “out of hand” at one point or another.  Notice I said every “normal” person.  Yes, there are people who have NEVER let the refrigerator get “out of hand.”  But these people are NOT normal.  They are the ones who alphabetize the pantry items, organize the condiment jars according to height, and clean out the oven on a regular basis with oven cleaner and Brillo pads.  I also get the sneaking suspicion that these are the same people who use vacuum cleaner attachments.  I’ve always wondered why attachments came with the vacuum cleaner.  I think the person with the alphabetized pantry knows why.  No.  I don’t want to know.

For the rest of you, I feel the need to put your mind at ease.  You’re not alone.  All of us have been there.  We get busy and overwhelmed.  We keep shoving stuff into the refrigerator.  All  items naturally “drift” to the back.  It’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Yes, things turn blue and green.   Stop crying, friend.  It’s not too late.  I have a plan.

Step #1 involves removing every item from the refrigerator and placing it on the kitchen counter.  Get it all.  Yes, even the mustard jar that’s been stuck on the second shelf of the refrigerator door for three years and has to be pried out with a crow bar.  Now.  Everything is out.  The temptation will be to scrub and scrub and even sand blast all the hardened particles until the refrigerator looks brand new.  Don’t do it.  Perfection is not the goal, friend.  A hot soapy rag over every surface.  Done.

Now, you’re faced with a crucial decision.  Perhaps it’s the most crucial decision of all.   The light green Tupperware container your aunt gave you for high school graduation contains baked beans from the Christmas church potluck of ‘09.  It’s May of 2010.  You don’t wanna look.  You beg your kids to look.  They scream and vow that they would rather be eaten by wolves than remove that airtight lid.  Is it worth it?  Hard to say.  You desperately want to just throw it in the trash.  But that seems wasteful. No.  I won’t decide for you.  Let your conscience be your guide.  fridge_cleaning

In regard to some other items, let me make myself clear.  Throw the salad dressing away.  Yes, all of it. That bag of half-eaten salad needs to go too.  I know.  You didn’t know a big bag of red grapes got trapped behind the cabbage head a few months ago.  Unless you own a winery, throw the grapes out.  Blue/green tortilla?  Out.  Fuzzy strawberries?  Stop sayin’, “What a waste.  What a waste.”  Just throw it out, friend.  Show some courage, would you?

When you get the refrigerator completely clean, you will do what we always do.  You will say, “Never again.  We will forever live clean.”  Yeah.  Good luck with that.  Might wanna cut out this column and throw it in the junk drawer “just in case.”

Refrigerator Rocket Science

I hope the refrigerator you own lasts forever or at least until you pass from this life to the next. If not, you’ll have to do what we did last week. Refrigerator shopping is not for the weak-minded.

My husband and I are practical. We have a washing machine because we want clean clothes. We have a dryer because I don’t want everyone on our country road to see my big-girl panties hanging on the line. We have a refrigerator because we don’t want our children to drink spoiled milk and get horribly sick and throw up all over the hall carpet because then we would have to replace the carpet. And I could never decide on a color.

I know I say it all the time in this column. But people have gone crazy. Stark ravin’ crazy. A friend recently got a new washing machine. I said, “Oh no! What happened to your old one?” I knew it must have leaked water all over the floor or set the house on fire or injured one of her children. I mean, that’s the only thing that would ever make me shell out the money for a new appliance.

“Nothing’s wrong with the old washing machine, Lisa. I just wanted a new red front-loading washing machine and dryer. And it’s wonderful. Really wonderful.”

I would like to share a word of wisdom with all readers everywhere. A baby is wonderful. A trip to the Grand Canyon is wonderful. A washing machine is a washing machine. If my clothes are clean, I will never replace my $295 washing machine. Ever. For the rest of my life. I mean, after I’m dead and gone, I hope it is washing the clothes of my great-grandchildren.

Shopping for a refrigerator in this current culture of stylish appliances was beyond challenging for me and my practical husband. The salesperson was enthusiastic which made things even worse. “So what kind of refrigerator are we looking for today?”

My reply was truthful, “Something to keep milk cold.”

She laughed. “Yes, but what kind of features did you want? Side-by-side? Top freezer? Shelf organizer? Life organizer? Aerodynamic lettuce crisper? Better gas mileage?”

Okay. So maybe she didn’t say the part about gas mileage. But it all became a blur. Where were the plain refrigerators that keep milk cold?

She spoke again, “Well, let’s start with color. Most people want these stainless steel models now. They’re very stylish.”

Stylish must be another word for “school cafeteria.” Stainless steel refrigerators remind me of a school cafeteria which reminds me of the year we had Chuckwagon sandwiches every Thursday. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t want to think about Chuckwagon sandwiches every morning at 6:00 when I pour orange juice.

“No, we don’t want stainless steel or white or black. We just want a soothing cream color which matches our counter tops.”

“Oh, that will be almost impossible to find now because most people want stainless steel or black.”

We learned a very important lesson the day we went refrigerator shopping. There are some things worth fighting for. A cream-colored refrigerator without an aerodynamic lettuce crisper is not one of those things.
Every morning I’m now greeted by the appliance version of Darth Vader. But I have very crisp lettuce. If only I cared.

Romance Vs. Pornography

There’s some confusion in America right now, especially among young women.  I’m not naïve enough to believe a lowly newspaper columnist can alleviate that confusion.  But I’m certainly willing to try.

Romance is not pornography and vice versa.  In case the current books or movies have affected your sensibility in this area, allow me to explain.  A man who attacks you on the first date is not a romantic.  And no, you shouldn’t go out with him again.  A man who wants what he wants and won’t take “no” for an answer is not a romantic.  At all.

I didn’t think I had to explain this to women.  But evidently I do.  Or someone does.  I’m disturbed that popular books and movies portray men acting like animals and women totally giving up on romance.  But if our culture does give up on romance, it won’t just devastate individuals.  It will devastate our culture.

Romance is an important slow-moving process by which desire grows.  Oh, the desire may be there from the beginning of a relationship.  Absolutely.  Romance is not the deadening of that sexual desire or the thwarting of natural attraction.  No.  Romance is the process by which all that desire begins an important journey.  A journey that combines natural desire with character, faithfulness, and trust.

See, here’s the deal.  If you want to experience all the joys of physical intimacy for years and years (and I highly recommend that), it’s best to start that process slowly and in the right order.  And yes, there’s an order.  A very distinct order.

It’s been said that the greatest compliment a man can give a woman is to ask the simple question, “Will you marry me?” Sadly, that question is asked less and less in our current culture.  It’s not difficult to figure out why.  Couples have chosen physical intimacy before commitment.  No strings attached.  That sounds great, if only it worked.  Statistics are clear.  It usually doesn’t.

Real romance doesn’t begin with sex.  Romance begins with conversation. Those conversations deepen your appreciation of the other person.  All of that conversation and closeness leads to even further desire and the process continues.

In fact, sometimes that heightened desire leads men and women to do the craziest most beautiful things.  I know a young man who once spent several hours hiking down a mountain during a week-long hunting trip to walk to a convenience store to call his girlfriend who lived in Texas.  This was long before cell phones.  Sadly, the woman who had captured his attention wasn’t home that night.  So he had to walk all the way up the mountain again.  But that’s okay.   She was impressed and appreciative of his romantic gesture.  A month later he asked her to marry him.  She never hesitated.  They got married four months later.

Though 25 years have passed, she’s still impressed with him. Impressed with his kindness and his faithfulness.  She stands in awe of his daily commitment to work and pay bills and labor alongside her to raise two teenage boys.  Some may think their lives are pretty boring.  But life is anything but boring at their house.  They’ve been blessed with a life-long love.  And that is romance at its very best.