Held Hostage

I had just finished compiling my completely “un-accomplishable” ‘To Do’ list for today but decided I should double checked my master calendar on the refrigerator to make sure I wasn’t missing something. There it was, “microwave repair between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. today”. I immediately felt a sense of being held hostage in my home and unable to complete the long list of errands I had scheduled. As I was looking for my “Things to accomplish at home” ‘To Do’ list I thought to myself, “you know, having a schedule like that would really lesson my stress. “Hey Mom, will you make me some lunch? Sure I’ll get to it between 8 & 5. “Hey Mom, are my favorite jeans clean?” “No, but I hope to get to it between 8 & 5. “Hi Sooz, what are we doing for dinner?” “I don’t know dear, but I’ll decide between 8 & 5 and get back to you”. I could respond feeling completely relaxed knowing I can always call at 4:45 and tell whoever it is that needed my services that it just wasn’t going to happen today between 8 & 5 and that I would see how it looked for my schedule tomorrow. As some of you know, our microwave has been dead for at least 3 months now. We waited about a month to have someone come to the house who wanted to charge us $99.00 to tell us that” yes” indeed our microwave was broken. So regardless of what my plans had been today and considering it has taken weeks to get on their 8 to 5 schedule, I will be at home today. Hostage.

Against my better judgement I gave into my addiction this morning and had two cups of coffee. In my anxiety about missing the repair guy I kept hearing knocking. I kept freaking out and thinking I was hearing someone at the door. One time it was the dishwasher. One time it was Haley running down the hall on hardwood to get something. By the way, can you imagine if we adults ran everywhere we were going like children do? “Hey Rick, you want another cup of coffee?” “Sure, Sooz.” I can’t imagine jumping up and running real quick to the coffee pot. What a sight.

The extra caffeine in my system, plus the fact that my doorbell is broken as well, had me a little maxed out. I snapped at Haley, “you have got to get off your stage (an upside down laundry basket) and learn another line to that song!” You would think the doorbell would be an easy fix and we would want to correct a quite irritating problem. Our doorbell however, is hardwired and original to our 1970 house. I attempted to fix it one time, so I have all the parts to replace it with a Lowe’s model, but I quit when I saw it required more than peeling stickers off double-sided tape or using a Phillips screwdriver to replace two screws. Far from nice and easy. Today was going to have to be the day. I couldn’t take it any longer. The intermittent, perceived  knocking was making me lose it.

I turned on my foyer light hoping the doorbell was on the same circuit and ran to the garage to the breaker box. Would you believe there wasn’t a neatly marked breaker switch that said doorbell? More like “washer, dryer, green room, brown room”. Apparently, I and others before me had failed to consult the breaker box before choosing our color schemes for the past 45 years. I found a breaker to turn off my Foyer light and got out my tools. After removing the doorbell face plate I froze up questioning my electrical skills and called my dad who didn’t answer. So in the interim I wrote a note and taped it on top of the exposed doorbell. “Warning! DO NOT touch! Live wires! Please push the doorbell, that is waiting to be installed, located on the doormat in front of you. Additionally, if I don’t come immediately please keep knocking and don’t leave. I am taking a quick shower because I have “Day 3 hair” and we have a church dinner tonight”.

While I was trying to hurry in the shower, I couldn’t help but think what in the world could I put together from my pantry and fridge for a dish tonight if the repairman did not get here before 4. I knew I had Ritz, cheese, and butter so I could put that on something, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and it would fit in beautifully with the other 20 casseroles that looked like mine. I would call it “Susan’s Surprise”. There was no way I was missing an opportunity to feed my family and only have to make one simple dish.

Back to the doorbell. My dad still wasn’t answering so I decided that my 30 plus year apprenticeship with him would have to suffice. Considering I’m still telling the story you can assume that I selected the correct breaker switch and disconnected the old doorbell. It was a grave sin in my house growing up to be lazy, triflin, or “half-ass” as my dad called it. So I decided to attempt removing the wires completely from the doorbell instead of simply shoving the loose wires back up into the hole. I just couldn’t live with the image of someone years from now ‘shockingly’ discovering my half-assed job. I thought I might be able to disconnect the wires by going through the light switch plate from inside the house. I immediately knew I was in over my head and replaced the plate cover and shoved my little secret up inside the hole to be covered. I had to drill one simple hole to install my Lowe’s model. I stepped back to inspect my work. It looked like a job that I would have been frustrated with if I had paid someone else to complete. I definitely won’t be chosen for the Lewisburg Home and Garden tour this year but the interviewees probably wouldn’t make it to my front door having to pass through my yard first. I could imagine my Dad, who is much like Holmes on Homes, critiquing my half-assed work.  In denial I said to myself,  “well this is just a short-term fix that I can live with until I have a real electrician come and replace my beautiful, old, brass one”.

While I was fixing the doorbell and taking my shower, so I would look slightly presentable for the repairman- I mean my husband that I always strive to look my best for, Haley painted. Yes she is 3 and was only intermittently supervised. I never could have done this was my first child. I’ve learned however if I strap her in her 5 point harness booster seat, so she can’t escape and touch a non-washable surface, she is happy as a lark. I give her paint and plenty of paper and she goes to town for at least as hour.  The hour of entertainment is totally worth the 7 minute clean up. She uses sponges, paint brushes, and rollers but always ends up rubbing and swirling and sliding the paint all over her papers with her hands. I always know she is done when she starts using the paint on her hands and slightly up her arms like lotion.  I’m learning to let go, you see. Just like her painting, it’s not about the final product but the process of life that we should enjoy.

The repairman ended up coming in time for me to get to the store so Susan’s Special will have to wait for another dinner. I watched him pull in and walk up my sidewalk but I stood by the door and waited for the doorbell chimes to sound. It had been so long! I opened the door almost immediately and said, “hello”, then felt awkward about my swiftness. Despite my new doorbell sounding slightly chintzy and more appropriate for college type housing, it was my doorbell and I was proud of her. My microwave was fixed and ready for some fabulous meal preparations. Best of all I have at least 6 masterpieces on my frig and a wee one who is ever so proud of her beautiful work that she made “all by myself”.

I personally find it more embarrassing to post selfies where you are obviously trying to look good.

Coleslaw Salad

(Crunchy, Sweet and Salty, and what I’m talkin’ bout)

In a large bowl combine:

1 package coleslaw mix but no dressing

2 bunches of green onion-sliced

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup roasted sunflower seeds

2 packages of broken up chicken flavored Ramen noodles- set the seasoning aside (I put the noodles in a ZipLoc bag and bang them with Harrison’s small Lowe’s hammer)

In a good Tupperware, not one of those cheap, leaky ones, combine:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 packages of Ramen chicken seasoning reserved from the above.

Shake the heck out of it and pour on the coleslaw ingredients before serving.  Stir.

Really yummy with grilled chicken in the summer!

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