Condiment days


I call summer my condiment days because it’s the season of catch-up. As you know or would know if you had a copy of B. E. Gent’s A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew, In its Several Tribes, of Gypsies, Beggers, Thieves, Cheats, c. with An Addition of Some Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, c. Useful for all sorts of People (especially Foreigners) to secure their Money and preserve their Lives; besides very Diverting and Entertaining, being wholly New, the sauce known to us as ketchup or catsup first appeared in 1690 as catchup. As far as I remember, which is not very far considering that the length of my brain in just 167 mm or 6.5 inches, I have always dipped my French fries in the condiment that starts with “k.” I attribute this to my mother’s fear of cats and their propensity to jump on the table and lick the butter. She shuddered thinking about cats up on the table, so she always bought ketchup.


Courtesy of Iamlilbub

(Just in case you’ve mislaid your copy of the dictionary mentioned above, go here. But don’t go yet or you will never return to finish reading this post. You may have already decided not to continue reading after that remark about catsup on the table. If so, thank you for reading the first paragraph.)

From B.E. Gent's dictionary

From B.E. Gent’s dictionary

School owns me for about 10 months of the year, so I have some catching up to do on my housecleaning. For most of the year, I clean at see-level: what I can see without moving any furniture or appliances. I shorten cleaning time by removing my glasses or contacts once I’m in the house. A quick wipe here, and little dusting there, and everything looks fine. Lens-free, I see my house through a soft blur, much like a painting by Monet or Renoir. It’s only when I get down on my hands and knees that I see the luminous line along the edge of the baseboard behind the bed and nightstands is actually a collection of dust bunnies.


For the past two semesters I’ve had little chance to lie around the house, but my dead skin cells have made a habit of it. Cells that once served a purpose have since sloughed off and gathered in tiny cemeteries beneath the furniture, on the ledges, and atop the light fixtures. It seems almost sacrilege to disturb my dead self parts by vacuuming, but according to one of the biologists on the Arizona State University website, an hour after I’m done, I will shed about 30,000 to 40,000 more skin cells to replace them. If only there were fat cells, but I suppose that would make the floors slippery.

Feather duster courtesy of Robert E Rempher

Feather duster courtesy of Robert E Rempher

Last week I began scrubbing in the kitchen and plan to move slowly through the house, cleaning and shedding as I go. Catching up also includes gardening and preparing for the summer class I teach in July, as well as chasing after my writing projects, which keep getting away from me. I plan to complete at least one piece of writing this summer because I have fewer and fewer summers in my future. Like so many others, I want to leave behind more than just dead skin cells.

19 thoughts on “Condiment days

  1. Margie

    What an interesting book! The definitions for ‘Cat’ and ‘Caterwauling’ are, er, different than I expected…

  2. I think you should patent “see-level cleaning” and earn money each time sane woman follow that practice at home. I had not thought about taking off my glasses to more blurrily see the mess I am living with. I already have mastered such things as keeping the drapes closed to never have to wash windows.

    As usual, I appreciate your insights. Good luck on tracking down your writing projects. Mine run-off a lot as well.

  3. This was a charming post. And I am so sorry that the email I sent you earlier , asking you if you would link to my website, didn’t go to you directly but to your comments section. I truly did not intend to latch on! Thanks. May all of us continue to make progress in our writing, to leave a little bit of our conscious selves behind after we’re gone. “And at my back I ever hear. . .”

  4. So glad your catching up, ’cause I sorely miss your thoughts and diatribes when you’re busy teaching others… the dust seems so different here in the virtual world, and virtually impossible to sweep up. So what I’m hoping for you, is wonderful summer adventures with a little time off here and there to write it all down or up, whichever is more comfortable… between pleasures.

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