Cleaning Out the Fridge!

I love food. I love to cook. I love to garden. On reasonably mobile days, I even love to hunt and gather, which some people refer to as shopping. I don’t so much like putting groceries away. And I really don’t like cleaning out the fridge. There are a number of reasons why that is true.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this at your house, but at my house there is some subliminal notion held firmly by “the other adult” that women are somehow gifted in the fine art of cleaning out the fridge. Also in sniffing suspect items to decide if they are still consumable or need to be tossed in the trash. This is not a role I enjoy!

Also, I seem to be the designated label-er of mystery leftovers. Which is to say that we often wind up with lots of random foil packages, ominously threatening fuzzy green stuff lurking inside. (This was perhaps the only advantage of having had a microwave, back in the day. No impossible to see through foil then! Ok, also microwave popcorn, which was probably trying to kill us, but that’s a whole other issue.)

I cleaned the fridge–like seriously–just before the kids came for Spring break. Kelly and the girls are vegetarians. Unfortunate foil wrapped surprises could be seriously traumatic! And I really want anyone rooting through the stuff in there to be reasonably certain I’m not trying to gross them out and enlist them in the dark side!

So, imagine my surprise when the fridge in question had a nervous breakdown while we had a house full of beloved, extra people. We limped along on the turn it off, turn it back on again plan, supplemented by a bit of space in an elderly small fridge downstairs.

Then…just for grins, the dishwasher decided it had served its 16 years and was retiring as well. The large hole in the pvc pipe to the upper spinner thing was a fairly good sign that it was, in fact, done.

We hunted all the eggs, hugged, and cried, did the airport run and headed for Sears where we’ve had good luck with freezers recently. Not even close. A brief run to Home Depot, where fridges were apparently on sale so one could keep the egg salad cold, resulted in enough info to go home and search on-line.

About a week later, our new “toys” were delivered.

The dishwasher is cool in that the water goes where it’s supposed to and there are no ominous stains behind the silverware basket. Best of all, it’s quiet! So quiet it doesn’t wake anybody up if it comes on at 4 am. Miraculous!

The fridge brought challenges of its own. You see, I bought the one I really wanted. Commercial. Just fridge. (We have lots of freezers.) Casters, which are really cool if you happen to live with a big, hairy dog. And a clear glass door.

Yep. You can see right in there, all the time. And it does this cool little  LED nighlight thing!

This brings cleaning out the fridge to a whole new level. It came with moveable racks but no drawers. No little pockets in the door. Tons of space. Empty space. And a couple of ice chests on the kitchen floor which did not at all improve the process of getting dinner together.

The thing is, I love it! He who thinks women should sniff leftovers is still on the fence!

The obvious next move was Container Store. I didn’t want science lab. I wanted creative, collected, a bit rustic in contrast to the sleek commercial exterior. We loaded up a few baskets and a stack of clear acrylic stuff and headed home. Then Bill, wisely perhaps, headed off to Seattle where he was exempt from mystery leftover detail.

It’s not just old or new, though. Not even expired bottles of Key Lime juice I buy about once every other year and try to pretend it will still be fine when I need some again. This was deep. Like therapy deep.

What to do with the jar of ghee, three years out of date but unopened, I bought once when going Paleo sounded like a good idea for about 3 hours one day. And what about the well out of date nuts still hiding in the door of the old fridge because Bill occasionally reverts to the notion that 6 packages of walnuts would be better than one or two because he wouldn’t have to go buy them again so soon. And my personal favorite–the fancy food coloring for icing muffins the girls and I made about 4 years ago. Never mind that I hate icing (except for my magical cream cheese icing) and that the girls probably don’t even remember the time we did it. Fancy food coloring, right there in the fridge. And now much harder to hide!

If you’re beginning to notice that this all feels like a metaphor for other things in life, you’re right. It’s actually a lot like the treadmill lurking under heaps of laundry that seemed like such a good idea when you were going to take up running!

Stuff, it seems, changes in value over time.

So there it sits. My very sexy new fridge. It (blessedly) keeps everything cold. And I’ve about got it arranged the way I want it. You know, like you want to open the door! And it looks so good you want to keep it looking just that way.

Which of course will never happen. Brining a turkey is inevitable. Space for stock pots is bound to be necessary soon. And even though I’d prefer nobody really know about it, there are times when you just need a can of the squirty whipped cream. At least it says there’s cream in there. Though I need to try Kelly’s trick with the canning jar!

It all feels a lot like an architectural dig. The things that seemed like a good idea at one time but got forgotten. The things that came home from the market one day but were not the things you asked for but could come in handy some day.

It’s going to be a bit of a challenge, this new fridge. That’s Ok, though, because it feels like I’m going to be heading into a bit of a similar time myself. Some things that seemed like a good idea a while back but didn’t turn out to fit so well. Kind of like the canned sardines with capers in the package. The balance was just wrong. The low-fat mayo Bill bought once that has approximately the same ingredients as my shampoo. And the 3 Tbsp. of leftover soup hiding in a saucepan. It was really good soup!

Just think, though, how great it will feel to open the door of that fridge and know that everything  in there is fresh and chosen. (At least while Bill’s in Seattle!) I think I could get used to that!

I’ll keep you posted!

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach