Thursday, August 30, 2007

BEST OF: A peachy predicament

I told husband Richard that if he’d really wanted me to wash the pantry floor, all he had to do was ask.

The crash was the kind of sound that bodes serious ill from the get-go. My husband’s plaintive appeal floated out of the pantry. “Katheeeee! Helllllllllllp!”

Dashing into the kitchen, I saw him standing very still, the victim of a misguided culinary swan dive by a 26-ounce glass jar of peach sauce, which had jumped off a shelf from 6 feet up.

The noun “splashdown” has a new definition in this household.

“I’m sorrrrrrry,” Richard moaned, sounding like the 7-year-old that always hides inside his senior-citizen body.

I’ve always known I have a peach of a husband, but this was over the top.

In his defense, our pantry is a registered hazard zone. A series of wire shelves fill the entire 14-foot height to the ceiling. Each shelf is stuffed full. Some rows of cans are stacked four or five high (with little squares of non-slip rubber stuff in between).

With enough fresh water, we could survive for months off what’s in that pantry.

Yes, we’ve talked about doing a redesign, or even just a giant rearrange. But as tasks go, that one rates right up there with cleaning out our barn or digging up the entire yard, the home-repair equivalent of knee-replacement surgery or a root canal, a minus 20 on the desirable-task scale of one to 10.

First order of the peach cleanup was to make sure Richard hadn’t been hurt or cut by flying glass. He was fine, but he was masquerading as human flypaper.

I scraped peach goop off his legs, tennis shorts, socks and shoes, so he could move without spreading the misery even further.

It’s plumb astonishing how far the contents of that jar went. I haven’t seen that kind of splatter job since one of our granddaughters decided that she really, really didn’t like baby-food squash any more.

The fragrant glop had flown from the wood-floor impact zone and landed as far as 7 feet away, into the kitchen itself, and about 5 feet up in a spatter-shot pattern. It could have been considered interestingly artistic, if it had been done in acrylic paint by a blindfolded gorilla.

In the cleanup process, I found peach goo and glass bits on two ladders and a stepstool, two party-sized cutting boards, one large cooling screen, four stacked dishpans, one recycling container, seven ingredient bins, a bottle of Mexican vanilla, a jar of pickled garlic, about eight onions, a small vacuum cleaner and all available surfaces of the bi-fold pantry door.

The broom was a disaster. The potatoes looked like they had an exotic tuber fungus from Bangladesh. Glass slivers nestled in a throw rug near the stove, waaay on the other side of the kitchen.

Every time I turned around, I saw more peach-colored blobs dripping from and sticking to corners, walls, shelves and more. I went to work.

Finally the splashes, dashes and dribbles were gone, but the gumminess remained.

I knew I couldn’t leave the absolute clean-up for later. It’s summertime, and we’ve been dreading possible military maneuvers by this year’s crop of ants. So every tacky spot or residual sugar dab had to be found and eradicated, lest it trigger ant radar.

Finally, I was finished (in more ways than one). The glass, peach and sticky were gone (I think). The soapy water had been replaced with more soapy water, then Simple Green, then clean H20. We sprayed off the ladders and the stepstool.

But the saga wasn’t over yet. This was Tanner Clumsy Day, and I had a box to take up to the loft of our barn.

On the way back down, I accidentally kicked another box, which proceeded to bibbidy-bobbity-boo its way down the 11 steps to the ground floor. As the unlatched, otherwise empty box flew, it spewed hundreds of Styrofoam peanuts hither, thither and yon. It was as if I’d tossed a beanbag chair into a ceiling fan on “high.”

I hate Styrofoam, especially those pellets our kids always called “ghost poop.”

I looked at the mess I’d wrought, walked over to the light switch, flicked it off, walked out the door and slammed it shut.

At least time was on my side in this go-round. Ants don’t like Styrofoam, either.

This column was published Aug. 8, 2003 in The Cambrian.


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