One day I saw a puddle of water spreading on the kitchen countertop near a jug of bottled water. Discovering a leak in the bottle, I put it in the sink and set about wiping up the mess. I moved various things off the counter, the last being a plastic container holding 10 pounds of flour.

Never carry a plastic container by the lid. My load suddenly lightened as the container separated from the lid. A miniature mushroom cloud of flour rose into the air as flour hit floor. I hauled our canister vacuum out of the closet and set about sucking up the flour. Our apartment was small, so I was in the kitchen with the vacuum hose while the canister body was in the front room.

Never try to vacuum up flour. It is fine enough to pass through the vacuum’s bag and out the exhaust. Sucking up the last of the stuff, I turned toward the front room. A whitish fog worthy of San Francisco Bay hung in the air.

Finally, never use a wet paper towel to clean flour off upholstery. In no time, I had enough papier-mâché to win a school art fair. It took hours of painstaking cleaning with a brush and dustpan to finally get the apartment in order. For months afterward, our sofa puffed up a small white cloud anytime someone plopped down on it.

Tom Neven,

Brandon, Fla.

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