We live in Cape Breton. Our children live in Halifax. Every so often, we get sick of our own company and decide we need to hug our kiddies or lose our will to live, so we decide we’re going down to give them the pleasure of our company.
Naturally, we call them first — or think we did.
“So, we’ll see you on Sunday.”
“We’re coming for a week. We told you.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Are you sure?”
“You never mentioned it, but don’t worry. It’ll be great to see you.”
I get off the phone. “I thought you told the kids we were coming?”
“I thought you did.”
It’s a good thing the two of us aren’t in charge of running this country’s foreign office.
Three days out, Hubby is in full swing getting every scrap of snow away from our property. The roof is done, the pathway shovelled for the oil man, the backyard is immaculate so our neighbour can come and feed our birds, the compost bin is uncovered and the underground drainage pipe for the dry well is inspected, in case it’s frozen and water backs up when we’re gone.
Hubby should be in charge of this country’s national security.
Forty-eight hours before we leave, I start washing all our clothes, even though my children do have their own washers and dryers. It’s just not the same. Then, small pockets of stuff start appearing in the hallway, bathroom, bedroom, spare room and kitchen.
Hubby trips over one of the mounds. “Does this have to be here?”
“If I don’t pile up things when I think of it, I’ll forget them. This is writer stuff, this is cat stuff, this is a bag of running shoes and this contains a hairdryer, a straightener and a curling iron.”
But it’s OK for him to drag the world’s biggest cooler up the stairs.
“What do we need that for?”
“I might want to bring a sandwich with me.”
“We can buy a sandwich on the way.”
“I have to go to Costco and buy more Balderson’s aged cheddar.”
It’s true. It’s the highlight of his visit to Halifax, although I doubt the cheese would go bad without refrigeration in the five hours it takes to drive home, but try telling him that.
Speaking of food, 24 hours before we depart, we start cleaning out the fridge of things that may grow fuzz while we’re gone. Before every trip, our dinners usually consist of leftover chicken noodle soup, four strips of bacon, a side order of peas, ham slices, a tomato and white bread crusts. Dessert is always three soft oranges.
“Why don’t you make banana muffins with these ripe bananas?” he suggests.
Why don’t I throw them in the compost bin because I have enough to do? But my guilt will kick in and the stupid muffins will be made.
On this trip, I have four writer events to attend, which means I’m in a dither about what boots to bring. I can’t wear what I usually wear around here because I’m going to run into people in the city and that doesn’t happen often in my neighbourhood. My old, crappy grey boots are fine for coyotes, but not for conducting a workshop with actual human beings.
I do some deep breathing, but that solves nothing. I might have to go shopping in Halifax.
The morning of our departure, the suitcases are bulging, our toiletry bags are stuffed and another cloth bag is recruited for all our pill bottles and vitamins. The cat’s carrier, blanket, favourite stuffed toy, cat dishes and kitty litter box are pristine and ready to go. We just have to endure the drama of getting Pip in the carrier without having our faces ripped to shreds. Pip is grumpy in his old age.
The last rites are checking for spare keys, water bottles, sunglasses, wallets and cellphones. We get in the car and look at each other.
“Have we got everything?”
I nod. “There’s not a darn thing left in the house worth taking.”
So, off we go to the big city to see our most prized possessions.
Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is in bookstores now.