We have deemed this season as, “The Summer of our Discontent.”
No matter my pledge to be present for my kids during these sunny months, life has posed some distractions. In the past four weeks, our basement flooded, the phone line went down, and the air conditioning in my car blew up. There have been scheduling issues, hospital visits, Lego disputes, and I believe the ground squirrel who lives in our gutter is in need of therapy.
And then, last Tuesday, our refrigerator — our four-year-old refrigerator — started blowing warm air onto about ten bags worth of newly purchased groceries.
Now, I’m a gal who likes her ice piled high and the fruit served cold. And I shall not even speak of the frosty sheen I prefer on the bottles of my favorite evening beverage. So this situation was an alarming one.
The next day I looked expectantly at service-man extraordinaire, Big Jim, as he gave me the news.
“Your compressor is shot, so we’ll be back next week to replace it.”
Me: “Oh, okay then.” (Pause) “Next week?!”
Big Jim: “Yep. Gotta wait for the parts to come in.”
I thought of the sad shape of my sour cream. “Isn’t this considered some sort of refrigeration emergency?” Big Jim gave me a blank stare. “I mean, I have four kids home on summer break.” He didn’t blink. “Four eating kids, and two eating grown-ups.” No response.
I tried another tactic, “I have a hankering for chicken and peppers!”
“Sorry. We’ll be back on Wednesday.” Apparently Big Jim was more of a steak and potatoes fella.
I surveyed the contents of our sweating coolers. After just one night, things were already looking wet and droopy — the rainbow sherbet had been a hard and early loss.
I called my sister. “How long does butter last when it’s cool-ish?”
“Well, when you think about it, they used to just wrap it in paper and put it in the cellar.”
They, of course, meaning the good folks from The Little House on the Prairie. Hmmm…WWLID?! (What would Laura Ingalls do?)
Menu planning was going to be tricky. We had already wasted cash on the spoiled food, so I didn’t want to go crazy with takeout. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to thin out the pantry.
Menu, Day 2
Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter, and Crystal Light
Lunch: Peanut butter sandwiches, and lukewarm water
Dinner: Bread with butter(!), and orange drink juice boxes (which everyone hates)
Clearly, there was room for improvement.
On Day #3, we went through the pasta, crackers and stale corn flakes. We ate our grapes at room temperature. Like the Pilgrims.
Day #4 consisted of “Canned-Food-Buffet!” (Two things: #1 – It really is possible to have too many beans, magical fruit and all. And, #2 — The use of exclamation points doesn’t make a meal any better.) That night, we dug out our old, tiny, temperamental fridge from storage and sprung for the staples: milk, cheese, and Cookie Dipped Drumsticks.
On Day #5, I pretended to be one of those people who likes to go to “the market” each morning to pull together a lovely, fresh organic meal. I also pretended to have naturally curly hair and speak with a French accent. I came home with donuts.
Days #6 and #7 were a blur of gastro-depression. We ate out once. We finished the diced chiles, the For-The-Food-Drive olives, and a two-year-old bag of garden veggie pita chips. We wept.
Finally, it was Wednesday morning. Big Jim arrived early and was now looking oddly like a shish kabob in a toolbelt. He fired up his blow torch and secret refrigeration lasers and by 11:00 am he was done.
I clapped my hands a little. Oh, the food I was going to store! Oh, the ice I was going to freeze!
Big Jim: “Remember, it takes 24 hours for the box to cool down enough to fill up again.”
Menu, Day 8
PB&J on end pieces (Who knew they weren’t toxic?) and Dum Dums from the dry cleaner’s.
Note: I realize there are far worse problems than my refrigerator mishap — things like war, poverty, sickness, and missing the early-bird specials at Kohl’s. Thanks for indulging me. I’m currently at the grocery store.
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