Spring Cleaning

One morning last week, I unexpectedly found myself with a couple unspoken-for hours before several other obligations were due to kick in. Sure, I had a Daily Globe project to complete before 11:30 a.m., with that deadline closely followed by an accompanying gig at noon and a full schedule thereafter, but somehow it seemed there would be plenty of time to “git ‘er done” AND run some necessary errands beforehand, as well.

A welcome splash of sunshine that raised spirits and planted the hope of spring unfortunately also illuminated the pantry as I passed by, and my eye rested on the scattered debris along the floor and the haphazard arrangement of shelved items.

“It’ll take just a second to sweep,” I thought, grabbing broom and dustpan.

But once in the pantry, I started straightening columns of canned goods, and, catching a glimpse of a long past “Best By” date on a cake mix package, a minor purge and reorganization began.

During that process, I stumbled over a box, which surprisingly contained….an espresso maker, received as a wedding gift nearly 25 years ago. The appliance had, until our recent house move, waited uncomplainingly on a dusty shelf in our basement–because we’d rarely had time for leisurely cups of specialty coffee drinks idly sipped over newspapers on sleepy Saturday mornings for, oh, the past 19.5 years (certainly only a coincidence that that was when we became parents).

Rescuing the forlorn appliance and placing it in a kitchen cupboard where it was more likely to gain attention at least annually, I returned to the pantry to sweep when…my eye again strayed, this time to the laundry area, where I spotted a bottle of bleach sitting outside the cabinet.

“You know, tossing a little of that in the toilets would be a good idea,” I muttered, grabbing the bleach and heading for the stairs.

But as I walked through the kitchen, I stopped at the refrigerator for a drink of water–and saw a previously ignored puddle of spilled juice beneath the vegetable bin that suddenly seemed like a major issue.

Pulling out the bin, I culled a few stalks of limp, molding celery from the colorful array of food, along with a slowly spoiling onion, a few rotten radishes and–what’s this? A plastic bag of kale, which was about to take a turn for the worse!

Possessing good intentions to eat nutritiously, I had purchased the kale knowing it was key for so many reasons–Vitamins A, C, K, B6, calcium, fiber, manganese, folate and more–although only a portion of the leafy green stuff had made its way into our salads and soups.

“Ah, kale chips!” came the brainstorm, so a quick stop at the computer to retrieve a recipe next ensued.

After chopping the kale, drizzling it with olive oil and sprinkling it with seasoning, I slid the tray in the oven, grabbed the bleach and climbed the stairs.

Horrors! The bathroom used most frequently by the two teenagers needed more attention than I had guessed, so I dumped some bleach in the toilet and began wiping down the mirror, sink and counter when…

Splat! A precariously placed hairdryer, still connected to the outlet, plunged into the bleach-laced toilet water. Reactively, I grabbed the hairdryer with a bare hand and dropped it, dripping, into the sink.

Realizing I had narrowly escaped electrocution, I unplugged the hairdryer before shaking out more of the water and laying it on the counter to dry.

“Um, what’s that smell?” I asked after spending several more minutes upstairs.

The kale! How could I forget? I dashed downstairs to the kitchen, flung open the oven door–and discovered that all but a few of the kale leaves were black, shrunken ashes, hardly suitable for human consumption except under the most desperate of circumstances. And the odor! Smellier than Shrek’s swamp, and permeating every corner of the house.

Time to….pop some brownies in the oven (after checking for the box with the nearest expiration date) to mask the putrid scent of burned kale.

If you give a mouse a cookie (or a distractible woman two extra hours), what unfolds might be shocking. Know this: if you need some kale, I’m your gale…er, gal.