Dealing With Your Cabbages

(This guest post written by Friar’s Mom).

I finally cleaned out my fridge yesterday.   I want it to be spotless before I leave for out west in a few weeks, and my house-sitter moves in for the winter.  I don’t want her to think I am a real slob.

For a long time now, I have been putting off the fridge cleaning.  It’s a longish story that began in May.

We had invited the family for Mother’s Day Dinner.  It was the Sunday before Jay died.   We had a wonderful, fun-filled multi-course dinner.  It was good to have the entire family together after our winter of skiing out west.  I requested that Jay, my husband of forty-three years, make cabbage rolls.   Everyone raved about Jay’s batch of cabbage rolls — best ever.  He used an unwritten family recipe which he learned from his mom, about 15 years ago.

This time, Jay miscalculated his ingredients and had leftover cabbage. One whole head and a partially blanched half- cabbage remained.  Frugal me, I had every intentions of making cabbage soup with the blanched one, and coleslaw with the other one. I put both cabbages in plastic bags and stashed them at the back of the bottom shelf of the fridge .

Jay died, four days after our family dinner, at which point my plans and priorities changed drastically.   I kept putting off making soup and coleslaw.   I was too busy with cycling, dealing with legal matters, family, social life, banking, gardening, etc.   I completely ignored the cabbages.  If and when I noticed them, they reminded me of the Saturday when Jay took over the kitchen and made the cabbage rolls.   They reminded me that he would never make them again. They reminded me how tired he was when he finished, because his arthritic knee was so sore. They reminded me how Jay didn’t complain about making them.

Stored in plastic bags, the cabbages didn’t smell, so I just left them there.  Eventually I forgot about them.  Ignorance was bliss.

But I knew I would have to face those cabbages one day.  I had no excuse yesterday.  It was raining outside, which meant no cycling, and no yard work.   Except for housework and cleaning out the garage and closets,  I had no pressing priorities.

I began to attack the fridge.  But even in the process, I continued to procrastinate about the real task at hand– and disposing of those cabbages.  I washed down the outside of the fridge, the door handles  and the dirty gaskets.  I pulled out the fridge and vacuumed behind it.  I cleaned out the shelves in the door, the egg shelf, and the butter keeper.   I emptied the fridge shelves one at a time, removed them and washed them.  I emptied and washed the vegetable crispers and the meat keeper.

And now then for the last task, five months after putting them in the fridge, I finally removed the two cabbages.  Surprisingly, they were still very much intact.  The blanched one had lost some of its firmness and had faded to a very pale pastel yellow.  The whole one was in sadder shape; it had it sprouted from the inside, and its outside leaves had blackened.  Not bad– no smell, no oozing liquid.   Not an unpleasant surprise.   I chopped them up on a cutting board, carried them outside, and laid them to rest in the compost bin.

I feel so much better, now that I have faced my nemesis.

Lesson to be learned: Don’t be afraid to face confront the cabbages in your life.  They’re likely not as bad as you envisage them.   You’ll feel so much better afterwards.

Deal with your cabbages, and get on with your life.

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20 Comments on “Dealing With Your Cabbages”

  1. Eyeteaguy Says:

    Excellent advice. I think you should start your own blog. “Lessons of Friar’s Mom: Or How I learnt to stop worrying and love my cabbages”

    Does Friar have any cabbages in his fridge?

    I have a box of paper that I have been meaning to file for over 6 months. Thanks for the inspiration, a filing I will go!


  2. Todd Smith Says:

    Very cool story. Nice to meet you Friar’s Mom! You’re so right… dealing with cabbages is never as hard as it seems. But I sure do build them up in my mind! I was imagining a far worse picture as your story went along. In the end, no big deal. Gotta remember this next time I’ve got a cabbage that needs attending to.

  3. XUP Says:

    That was such a lovely and touching story and so beautifully told. Eyeteaguy is right, you should do your own blog.

  4. I’m right? I just fell out of my chair.
    Let me re-read my comment. I probably stole the idea from Brett or Barak Obama….


  5. Friar Says:


    I don’t have cabbages, but I do have OTHER food that’s probably past it’s “best before date”.

    Shhh…don’t tell Alex I posted something “serious” about avoiding procrastination!

    @XUP and Eyeteaguy

    Yeah…I keep telling Friar’s Mom she writes well..and she would make a great blogger.

    She’s not interested. It would interfere with her skiing and cycling and all her other busy activities.

    So I humor her and let her hang out here once in a while.

  6. Steph Says:

    As usual, another wonderful and well-told post, Friar’s Mom. You’ve got a gift!

  7. Friar's Mom Says:


    There’s no need for a Blog. Lessons from Friar’s Mom are simple:
    “You’ll never know unless you try”
    “Make hay while the sun shines”
    “Live the present”
    and my children say this about me “Mom goes through life with eyes wide open”.

    @ Todd

    I find the most difficult cabbages to deal with are people issues.

    I’m trying to use my “so-called gift” in another way. In my spare time, I’m attempting to write stories about my childhood. I grew up in the 40s, one of three children of poor immigrant parents. My parents died when my children were quite young. I hope that by describing my childhood (so different from theirs) my children will learn more about their grandparents.

    Blogging is too time-consuming. I’d have to learn how to insert happy faces, and learn the “LOL” language. It’s just too much work. Friar was here for two weeks, and was constantly on the computer. Besides, there are so many Bloggers out there, why would anyone want to read my Blog? I’d have to reply to all the comments. Then the commenters would comment on my comments to their comments, which would cause a seismic comment eruption run amok, which could produce 89 comments (like Friar’s last Blog).

    @ Friar

    Thanks for humouring me. I’m quite content to ride on your coat tails.
    Hmmm! I wonder what would happen if I did write a Blog. Would it take some wind out of your sails?

  8. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom

    Well, when I visited you, skiing only took 6-7 hours a day. That left plenty of time to write and blog, watch TV and read books. I can only exhaust myself so many hours a day trying to catch up to you on the slopes!

  9. Why to the words apples and trees come to mind? 😉

    Friar’s Mom – that was one of the most beautiful tributes to cabbages I’ve ever read.

  10. Liz Says:

    Wise words. Wise mom. Well written post.

  11. Andrew Says:

    Friar and mom,

    Thank you for sharing this story, particularly the parts about Jay, so openly with us.

    Being youngish myself, and not having to endure the loss of a partner, I cannot claim to understand what you were going through in the months after Jay’s death.

    On a different note, I can relate somewhat to your experience of cleaning out the fridge before you went away and the house sitter arrived. Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to clean up before the arrival of others but not when its just ourselves in the house?

  12. Kelly Says:

    Friar’s Mom,

    Oh, boy. That got me. A big Tissue Alert should have been on that one.

    Thanks. A wonderful story, told so well. No doubt about it, I’ve had times when I’ve ignored my metaphorical cabbages, and this post was quite a reminder.

    By the way, what would happen if you wrote a blog? Maybe something like this:

    That, folks, is the very first blog I ever read—because I read about her in the newspaper! I still check in on her now and then as if she’s my own Ma writing a blog.

    If you write anyway it doesn’t have to be that big a disruption.

    But personally, I like you sneaking in and commandeering Friar’s blog now and then. Adds a little class to the joint. 😉



  13. Eyeteaguy Says:

    Heh heh heh, Kelly said joint, heh heh heh.

    @ Friar’s Mom. Well you have three more posts coming then. Can you do Make Hay While the Sun Shines first? I don’t know how to may hay, its some kind of grass right?

    Heh heh heh, Eyeteaguy said grass, heh heh heh.


    P.S. Let me know when the book comes out. I’ll buy a copy and read it to my kids. They don’t know how good they have, heck I don’t know how good I have it. My dad was born on the back kitchen steps. I have never been able to get my head around that. I have even seen the steps….

  14. XUP Says:

    Blogging doesn’t have to be time consuming. There are all sorts of different bloggers — some only post when really want to, some post once a week, some post several times a day, some comment on the comments – most don’t. And yes, there are millions of blogs out there and pretty much all of them find an audience of some sort. Yours definitely would.

  15. Friar's Mom Says:

    @ Everyone,

    Thanks for your flattery and encouragement. No time for individual comments. It’s 7:00 a.m., temperature has warmed up to -14°C. Beautiful sunshine, clear blue sky, cloud-filled valley, white mountain peaks on horizon. Must get dressed, clean 19 cms of snow off the car so the snow removal guy can clean the driveway. Oop! Have to take the bread out of the breadmaker. Have to make a hearty breakfast, bundle up against the cold and go skiing (my passion) with friends. Am looking forward to finding untracked powder left over from the 19 cms which fell the day before. Late this afternoon, it’s laundry, vacuuming, do my nails, make myself beautiful, and a 25k drive on a winding road off the mountain to have an early dinner with 10 friends. Then to the Theatre to watch a friend perfom. Tomorrow will be a similar day with a Pot Luck for 24 in the evening.

    Gotta go to attend to that snow-covered car. Don’t have time for a Blog.

  16. Karen Swim Says:

    Friar’s mom, this story moved me on so many levels. I too have lost a husband and also had a recent fridge epiphany. The good news about dealing with our cabbage is that when we let go we acknowledge that life does indeed go on and that new cabbages are being planted all the time. I love when you pop into Friar’s blog and hope to see you more often.

  17. Mer Says:

    Your entry was lovely. Touching. If the little clappy-hand smiley guys worked on WordPress, you’d have an audience applauding under this paragraph.

    Mer 😀

  18. Thanks, Friar’s mom. That was a beautiful and inspiring story. I’m very sorry for your loss, and I wish you a wonderful trip out west!

  19. Brett Legree Says:

    This was a very good story. Everyone has cabbages of some sort, or perhaps some other vegetable, and yes, eventually they have to be dealt with, even if it is difficult.

    To make room for some new, fresh vegetables.

    Only by putting out the old, can we make room for the new.

  20. Friar's Mom Says:

    @ Karen, Andrew, Rebecca
    Thanks for your thoughtfulness. Jay died quietly and peacefully in his sleep. His sudden death was so unexpected and was very difficult for the entire family. I never said goodbye. The last thing I remember that he did for me was to turn off the TV in the bedroom and take off my glasses. However, unlike many other widows, I was spared the difficulty of being a caregiver for a terminal spouse.

    @ Eyeteaguy
    If the book comes out, there will only be four copies—one for each of my children and myself. On second thought, I might give one to my sister and another to my brother.

    @ Everyone
    Here’s an idea for you who enjoy writing. At Christmas time I write a 20-page story for my children, which I call “My Memories Since Last Christmas”. It summarizes the events of the past year which occurred to me and my immediate family. Each year brings it’s good, bad, and totally unexpected events.

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