Saturday 01 Oct 2016

Fossilized Olives
Jennifer Flaten

I grab the bottle of murky green liquid off the shelf. Hmm, the label is horribly smudged.  I give swirl it around trying to determine what is in there.

Best guess, it is a bottle of fossilized olives. Maybe, it’s the remains of a jar of pickled squid. Although, I don’t remember the last time I bought olives, which makes the thought of the content scarier.

I toss the mystery jar in the trash without cracking the seal. Please do I look like I need a case of Ptomaine poisoning? I hate cleaning out the fridge and I avoid it as much as possible, as evidenced by the array of deceased condiments now littering my trash can.

I am not claiming I have anything really exotic in my fridge. I do have those orphan items that you buy only for a recipe. Yuck!

You use the specified amount and banish the rest of the stuff to the back of the fridge. Promising yourself that you will find a recipe to use up the rest of the maraschino cherries, but you never do or is it just me.

Unfortunately, with the move imminent I have no choice but to clean out the fridge. I hate to waste anything, but I also can’t see myself actually boxing up the assortment of desiccated mustard jars and ancient salsas that slumber on the top shelf of my fridge.

Oh, don’t look at me like that; everyone has something lurking in the back of the fridge. Of course, with the children always working up some sort of experiment, there is always the very real possibility that whatever is in the fridge might just take offense at me grabbing it and attempting to thrust into the garbage.

I am not a hoarder. No really, I am not! I just have a lot of stuff. More stuff than I thought I did. I really thought I was good at recycling or throwing out, depending on its condition, stuff that I didn’t need. I was wrong.

Nothing illuminates your hidden packrat tendencies like putting stuff in boxes. Yes, I still have the kid’s pajamas from when they were babies. No, I don’t know why I have them; it’s not as if they will use them again. Yes, I still put them in the take pile.

What? Don’t look at me like that. I am maybe just the tiniest bit sentimental.

Okay, okay I admit it; I have an entire box dedicated to saved cards, artwork and ephemera. Yes, some day in the (hopefully, extremely distant) future, the kids will find that box and wonder why I saved the note they wrote asking me for a gerbil; it was their first business plan.

I am making progress on my stuff, but not with the children’s stuff. They consider everything they own on par with the Shroud of Turin. Even if it came in a happy meal, it should be carefully wrapped and tucked into a moving box and not, as I have suggested, sent to the bottom of the incinerator chute.

The thing both the kids and I can agree on is that we need to take all our books and we have a lot of books. Even though I am going to curse those same books as I wrestle the big boxes upstairs, into the truck and then downstairs again. I couldn’t imagine not taking them.

The same can’t be said for the pickled squid.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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