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I get a bit miffed when I discover the reason the half gallon of milk in the refrigerator is so very, very light is because someone put it back with only a splash of milk remaining in it.

Was the cereal bowl that full? Was the drinking glass a tad too small? Is consuming the last few drops, rinsing out the container and tossing it into the recycling bin really such a chore?

Some days, apparently yes.

Not one to cry over milk – spilled or otherwise – I’ll simply hold up the container, shake it to stress its near emptiness and restate some general kitchen guidelines.

Still, I know I have been guilty of a few kitchen crimes myself.

Opening a second bottle of balsamic vinegar because I want it perfectly fresh for the salad dressing I’m making for company, perhaps. Or doing the same with ketchup. Oh, the sad sight of the nearly empty Heinz squeeze bottle on the refrigerator shelf – and my lame promise of someday using it.

“Waste not, want not,” I can hear my grandmother saying.

You know what strikes me as silly? A lone Sweet Midget bobbing along in pickle juice in a big jar. No one ever wants the last pickle. No one ever wants just one pickle. Why is that?

A friend tells me that what happens at her house is that two different boxes of cereal will already be cracked open, but her two children, eyeing an unopened box of a third kind, will ask if they can tear into that one, too.

“I’ll tell them ‘Nooooo!’ ” she said.

One of those opened boxes may have just a few remaining flakes in the bottom, I reminded her, which is something else that happens in households. Similarly, a crust of bread will likely get abandoned in its bag – the rest of the loaf and twist-tie long gone. A dollop of ice cream the size of a marble will sit in an otherwise empty carton. A scattering of crumbs will be all that remains in the chip bag, even though the culprit who returned the bag to the cupboard still managed to roll down the excess and add a bag clip to ensure freshness.

There are other surprises as well, including having close to but not quite enough of an ingredient, be it brown sugar, lemon juice or plain yogurt. It sure looked like enough, you’ll say, shaking, squeezing or scraping in an attempt to produce more, magically.

Aggravating, too, is having to unseal a fresh spice jar just because there isn’t enough in the one that is already opened – especially if it is a spice you don’t use frequently.

This may not be quite as aggravating as finding no postage stamps in the booklet on your desk, just one sad-looking mint in the tin at the bottom of your purse or only empty gum wrappers in the pack stashed in a drawer in the kitchen – where so many of these sneaky tricks seem to take place.

Then again, don’t get me started on empty toilet paper rolls.

email: smartin@buffnews.com