Monday, May 30, 2011

The Power Of Studying, And Well, Power.

Yesterday morning, I sectioned three grapefruits, sliced two Fuji apples, diced a couple of pineapples, and snipped two pounds of grapes into single serving size clusters.

I stocked the pantry with Triscuits and Cheez-Its and Oreos and pretzels and vanilla frosting.  The fridge is chockfull of pickles and yogurt and baby carrots and Gatorade, but nary a caffeinated soft drink.  I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

Yep.  It’s exam time Chez Wiles, and this ain’t my first rodeo.  The drama, the distraction, the disruptions and occasionally, the diligence, it’s all coming back to me.  My role remains unchanged:  I grease the rails -- fending off Facebook, disregarding unmade beds and feeding souls and stomachs alike – serving up snacks throughout the day, picking up dirty dishes and glasses, giving Carter and Darling Daughter absolutely, positively no reason not to hit the books.

Turns out, though, I should’ve added one more thing to my exam prep to-do list – keeping the power on.  Oopsy daisy.

That’s right.  Last night, the lights went out in Charlotte.  Or, at least, Chez Wiles.  Or, at least, some of them.

What.  The.  Aitch.  Power to the computer, our internet router, the TV, the oven and dishwasher, the washer and dryer, and the kids’ bedrooms – all gone.  Panicked, I checked the breaker boxes, and called Cougar Bait, my dad, my neighbor, and eventually, a 24-hour electrician, who gave me an estimate for over $3,000 in repairs – which would take three days to complete.  Then, he turned off the air conditioning in the house, which wasn’t safe to run, charged me $300 for the estimate itself, and told me to call him the next day with my decision.

OK.  First of all, $3,000?  That’s not the kind of cha-ching found in my sofa cushions.  And second, did I not mention that it is exam time Chez Wiles – and we now have no air conditioning, no major appliances, no internet, and no lights in half the house?

To his credit, Carter continued studying – lighting enough candles to set the stage for a cheesy romantic comedy.  I half expected Monica and Chandler (Friends) to walk in.  Not to my credit, and lacking sangria, I poured an extra large glass of sauvignon blanc, called Cougar Bait ... and cried.

As Cougar Bait predicted, things looked better in the morning -- although I wasn't one of those things.  Tear-streaked cheeks, swollen eyes and mascara-stained jowls do me no favors.  Nevertheless, I packed up my MacBook, headed to Starbucks for a no-foam, Skinny Vanilla and to take advantage of free internet.  Within a few clicks, I found not one, but two emergency electricians to come by and give me another quote.  (Big shout-out to White Electric and Hill Electric here in Charlotte!)

Both agreed on the repairs needed.  And both agreed that repairs wouldn't require days and thousands of dollars, but instead, hours and hundreds of dollars.  Not that I have a few hundred dollars laying around, but yes, I can manage.

So now, with air conditioning and internet and a functioning dishwasher, I can get back to the important things in life – like this terrific Strawberry Spinach Salad with Orange Dressing – which the kids won’t touch, but at this point, with fruit and crackers and Gatorade and air conditioning, I've done my job.  Studying is up to them.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Salad
One, six-ounce bag raw baby spinach
1 quart strawberries, washed and sliced
1 four-ounce log black pepper goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup sliced almonds

Dressing
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper – a lot

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.  In a large salad bowl, toss with chilled salad ingredients and serve.



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