I need to start this blog post with a dedication to hurricane Irene. Avast ye drunken wench! You rolled into port, blew everything in site, left our little island broken and powerless and moved on up the coast. Thanks for the syphilis ya scurvy skank!
OK, now that I got that out of my system. . . I'm really not here to complain about hurricane Irene. We did lose power for five days and while she may have dosed us with a case of electrical clap, it was our incompetent doctor LIPA that ensured that we kept that case of the drips until we bordered on the brink of madness. However, we were very lucky as all of our family and pets are safe and there was no real damage to our property, outside of our refrigerator, which suffered mightily.
When the storm was on its way, we filled a big cooler with many bags of ice and then proceeded to fill the cooler with key perishables from the fridge - eggs, butter, milk, vodka. You know, the important stuff. I also jammed the freezer full of bags of ice to use as a sort of secondary cooler, figuring the power would be back on long before the metric ton of ice that I had supplied would ever melt. Wrong again Diary. Very wrong. There was no way to predict the level of chaos associated with trying to work, take cold showers, keep track of children with dying cell phones and check in and out of hotels amidst a widespread blackout. I totally forgot about the remainder of what was in the fridge. I forgot for five days.
When the power came back and we finally opened her up, the aroma was what I'd imagine the devil's taint smells like after a tough workout. Or maybe that's not a heinous enough comparison. I dunno. It was BAD.
Not only had I not removed all perishables from the fridge, I left the things that are most likely to stink to high heaven when they go bad; containers of yogurt, chicken wings, juices and hummus and a variety of cold cuts and cheeses. Did I mention the block of smoked provolone? Yeah, I left that too. It was like the stinky cherry on a gabage pile sundae.
The next 24 hours were dedicated to decontaminating the fridge. Every scrap of food save for two sealed jars of pepperoncini and Lemon Curd were pitched into the trash. We then removed all drawers, shelves and cubbies and scrubbed them twice with soap and hot water. Anything small enough to fit in the dishwasher, took a ride through the Sterilization cycle and the box itself was scrubbed with Mr Clean until it sparkled like diamond dust. I then reassembled the shelving and equipped her with two fresh boxes of baking soda. I felt a tremendous relief to have a clean fresh smelling refrigerator, for about thirty seconds.
As I turned to walk away from my sparkling clean masterwork, I got a whiff of the rotting hell that we had smelled before. Could it be that I didn't scrub sufficiently? I inserted my head deep into the freezer and inhaled. Nothing. Repeated the procedure with the fridge. Fresh as a daisy. But again as I turned away, there it was. Just a whiff, with no obvious location. From that point, I began sterilizing everything. The sink got scrubbed with bleach and force fed an entire box of baking soda. The dishwasher got one of those dishwasher spa treatments. Still, the smell persisted. Finally, I noticed warm exhaust coming from under the fridge . It was clear that the smell was riding up on that burst of warm air. It must be the drip pan!
My husband grabbed a flashlight and looked under the fridge and sure enough, there was a drip pan filled with festering water. The ice in the fridge had been melting down into the drip pan and carrying the aroma of everything that was gradually rotting in the fridge for five days. We had to clean that drip pan, which meant that we were going to have to move the fridge. The thought of moving the fridge made me very nervous. It had been a while since we had moved the fridge, I fully expected to find a Hobbit community under there, complete with homes, pets and infrastructure. It wasn't quite that bad, but it was a little gnarly.
Between gags, we cleaned and sanitized the drip pan within an inch of its festering life, and voila! the smell was gone. We then cleaned up Hobbit Town and pushed the fridge back into place all clean and fresh.
Later that evening, I went to target to stock up on cleaning supplies. As I was checking out, the cashier looked at me sideways when she saw the sheer volume of home fragrance that I had purchased - two cupcake scented pillar candles, a jar candle that smelled like mango and pineapple, three reed diffusers, a cinnamon apple plug in and a bottle of Febreeze. I looked back at her, giggled nervously, shrugged my shoulders and said "teenagers". I know, I know, it wasn't true, but I dare you to poke your head into my son's room and continue to judge that response. It might be a close second to the drip pan.