Monday, March 10, 2008


Ask me how my weekend was. Go on, I dare you.

It monsooned all day on Saturday. If you have not had the joy of shopping at the wholesale club during a monsoon, well, let's just say that it is not an example of humanity at its collective best. Grownups who should know better were not using their indoor voices and several of them deserved time outs. Believe me, I was tempted.

I escaped relatively unscathed, though wet, and collected the kids from their final Flash Animation class. Note to self: learn to park illegally better. My illegal parking place was so far from the front door that, despite my umbrella, we all were soaked by the time we made it back to the car. By now I was exuding rather squishable quality that was really not very pleasant, or attractive.

The drive home was diverting enough, as the localized flooding gave rise to a detailed discussion of hydroplaning and the physics thereof. But I must have explained it wrong, as I'm not sure I convinced the boys that the danger factor outweighs the coolness factor...

We got home, dried off, and wrangled lunch. Between a pending dinner party and upcoming fundraising bake sales, I had an ambitious To Do list. I kicked everyone out of the kitchen and spent a few hours blanching and toasting nuts, making beurre noisette, and a few other little preparatory details. I was just about ready to tackle the sinkfull of dirty dishes and give the kitchen over to Michael for dinner prep -- and go have myself a much-needed lie-down -- when the lights went out.

And stayed out.

(Between running to Target for battery-operated lamps and to the local Chinese restaurant for take-out, guess who didn't get her lie-down? But the kids and I were treated to the once-in-a-lifetime experience of driving along Michigan Avenue and encountering an enormous evergreen tree which had been uprooted by the high winds and was lying perfectly perpendicular to the street, spanning the entire width and then some. Good times.)

Theo reacted very sensibly to the situation. Lights out = time to sleep. Would that we could all have managed so brilliantly. Instead, the kids melted down due to the lateness of dinner (and the gathering darkness), I ran around like a maniac gathering batteries, and Michael hauled lots of firewood. (Did you know that an oil-based furnace needs electricity to, you know, TURN ITSELF ON?! You're welcome.) Due to an oddity in the wiring of our street, my parents and all houses to their south still had power, so Michael and I fobbed the kids off on them for overnight and huddled 'round the fireplace with Theo, Coleman lanterns and good books for several hours before bundling up in sweatshirts and going to bed.

The house thermostat read 56* when we woke up on Sunday, and yes, that is mighty chilly for indoors. Our hot water heater is electric, so we were not only without heat, we were without showers (or the ability to wash the #$%^&* sinkfull of dishes leftover from Saturday). PECO's emergency recording was estimating power restoration at 7am Monday morning, which was inconceivable! The kids had slept well and were perfectly happy at home with books and games and no computer, so I begged my mother to let me escape from my own filthy kitchen borrow her kitchen for a few hours. In addition to the wet laundry, I hauled down the street:
  • 10 sheets of parchment paper
  • 9 granny smith apples
  • 8 pounds of butter
  • 7 pounds of flour
  • one 6-quart Kitchen Aid
  • 5 pounds of sugar
  • 4 rolls of sable dough
  • 3 mini-muffin tins
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • and a handful of vanilla beans.

At some point, Michael and the kids wandered down with the final Lord of the Rings film (our Saturday night movie night had fallen victim to the outage), so all were all warmly ensconced. At about 5:30pm I'd had reached my limit and my back was killing me -- I had really over done it. So I packed up the clean laundry, the cookie dough, and all of my baking crap, and headed home to lie down.

The first thing I noticed was that Theo seemed unusually happy to see me. The second thing I noticed was that the lights were back on. Huzzah! I called Michael, who zipped right home with the kids. We ran around organizing and tidying, unhooking extension cords (our neighbors' son had brought up a generator and we'd hooked the 'fridge up at his invitation, bless him), washing dishes, putting away baking supplies, cooking dinner, and generally trying to fit 2 days worth of weekend into 2 hours. (The careful reader will notice that, once again, my lie-down was deflected by the Energy Gods, damn them.)

I did finally get to sit down after dinner with a new-to-me Margaret Atwood ("Alias Grace") while Michael and the kids finished watching the movie. I even managed to get the laundry folded before collapsing into bed and demanding George Clooney as a reward for the level of exhaustion I'd worked myself into. Luckily, Netflix had sent "Michael Clayton" earlier in the week and my Michael wisely capitulated.

And it was very good. If one must torture oneself with a weekend without electricity and too much baking, The Clooney is an excellent antidote.

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