Good housekeeping

One of my closest friends when I was growing up lived in a home where her mother told her (when necessary) to “red up” her room. It wasn’t an expression my family used, but I heard it often enough to know exactly what was meant: Time to clean up.

I wanted to use it in something I wrote a dozen years ago and had a hard time finding it in any dictionary. Perhaps that was because I continued to misspell it. My Random House prefers a double d. Hmm, one can also “clear” as in “redd a path.” (They don’t insist on the “up” to follow, tho’ I’ve never heard it used alone.)

Once in a while, a mood does strike when I get a very strong urge to redd up part of my surroundings. There’s a joke about lying down (or doing whatever) till the feeling passes. That’s not the way it works for me. It’s just a tiny voice, hovering near the back of my mind (wonder where that is) and refusing to go away until I make some effort to redd up.

This time, my attention turned to the kitchen. The island there collects papers ads, coupons, “stuff” while most of the counters (most of the time) are there for what has always been there. Which, as it turned out, is the problem.

Next to the stove sit the huge glass canisters for flour and sugar. They have followed me from home to home because I prefer the utilitarian look over any kind of set.

That said (and it is true), I have only the fondest memories for the four metal tins (Isn’t there a bit of redundancy there?) my mother kept: FLOUR, SUGAR, COFFEE, TEA. Any tea bags would have been ancient, but it was the rhymes provided that challenged us all: “I saw the cat and she saw me.” Or, reversed, “I’ve got to leave in half an hour.” Hey! I didn’t claim brilliance then … or now.

Anyway, since I had hand-carried them to my present home and carefully unwrapped them, the two have sat in the same corner. Only now which is where the redding comes in I am reminded that the one for flour has sat empty for over a year while all my sacks of flour are stored in the freezer. It’s a nuisance when I need some and have to run downstairs, but in cold storage, they do remain bug-free.

I lost boxes of pancake mix and one of biscuit flour before I noticed the ads and availed myself of sticky traps which, while hardly pleasant among the food, keep my protein intake where I think it should be.

I can hardly put sticky stuff, much less poison, in with the flour, so I guess my present arrangement, while inconvenient, will have to do.

Like those nasty little gnats or fruit flies, I sure would like to know where these things come from. I am not buying the stork story for this.

I can accept the screens of summer as a partial solution for flying beasties, though that in no way tells me how my jar of flour came to acquire more life than a kid’s ant-farm.

I suppose, if I led a sedate life, I might be tempted to restock the flour jar and pull up a chair. Last time, it was busier than any ant-farm I’ve ever seen. Not up to a hive of bees, granted, but a heck of a lot going on.

Think I’ll forego that. Other than football, I don’t even watch TV and have no need for further entertainment.

I can’t even recall now how I disposed of that buggy mess, but strange as it may seem to some, I will continue to keep my flour in the freezer. Near as I can tell, it doesn’t interfere with its baking qualities.

Which brings me back to redding up: Yes, it is absolutely positively time to move the lovely and, for so very long, empty jar out of the kitchen.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to