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When I talked to Gill yesterday, she began by asking what had happened during the week. Ha! I could tell she was expecting me to say, “Oh, not much. Just the usual..I scrounged the neighbourhood looking for dogs I could borrow, the garbagemen sent me another nasty report card, The Pig threw up in the car…”

But this time I surprised her. “Well, the good news is that I don’t need to go looking for dogs anymore. And it’s a good thing I cleared some space in the basement…”

“And why is that? Are you planning to finish the basement finally? Or are you starting a dog breeding centre below stairs? I wouldn’t put it past you.”

“No. And thanks for the vote of confidence, by the way. How stupid do you think I am? L’il Sis will be moving home and the basement will be filled up with her stuff. I’ll put it right next to your stuff, Crazy D’s stuff and my dead mother’s stuff…”

“She’s moving back? You do realize she comes with The Pig, don’t you?”

“Yes. Well, I have been missing Poochie. It will be nice to have a dog around. But I’m glad I didn’t bother replacing the carpets after L’il Sis’ last go round here. With The Pig’s tendency to pee when she’s annoyed, that would have been a waste of money. So, just a heads-up…when you come home at Christmas, be careful where you step on the broadloom. And you might not want to do your laundry here…The Pig’s hair tends to stick in the machines. The sheets might be a bit hairier than usual.”

“Great. At least L’il Sis will be staying in Crazy D’s old room. Mine will still be as I left it, ready to go.”

“Hmm…about that. It seems that Crazy D may be staying here for a while too. So L’il Sis will be in your room for a bit. But at Christmas, when you’re all here, she will move back to her old room, displacing the birds. They will then, once again, become ‘The Refugee Camp’ for displaced canaries in the upstairs hallway.”

“I can’t believe it. I can’t leave you alone for a few weeks without you people going nuts. And what about Crazy D’s puppy, Mr. Pants?”

“Well, hopefully he may come for a while too.”

“What a nightmare. You do realize you will have all three of us home at once, plus two dogs, one of whom takes umbrage if she’s not at the top of the pecking order? OMG. You’ll be awash in a sea of piddle! I might decide to rethink visiting at Christmas.”

“You can’t. Your ticket is paid for and I can’t afford to eat the ticket money. I’ll be needing it for carpet cleaning solution.”

I remember, having been raised in the 50s and 60s, that there was a certain ‘order’ to one’s life. You grew up, got your education, got a job (women only until they married), got a dog and a house to put it in, had kids, the kids left, you retired, travelled a bit, then died (not as a consequence of travelling.) Things were simple.

My family didn’t get that memo. No sirree. They went away to school. They quit school. They went back to school. They didn’t like it. They got jobs. Didn’t like those. Back to school. Back home with me. Out again. Back home again. Different apartments, sometimes every few months, all cheap, most with rats or other lifeforms not included in the rent. They have significant others. They break up. When Gill brought The Scottish lad home, I figured it was a done deal. I mean, that’s a long way to come to ‘meet the family’. Just when it looked permanent and I had the monogrammed towels picked out, up it goes in smoke. Now all we’ve got to show for the whole mess is a few crap apartments, an assortment of dogs, one kid tied to her job or she’ll be deported, another with three-and-a-half jobs (no dental, medical or pension…but free stylish eyeglasses), and one whose hobbies compete with his job in terms of which will kill or maim him first. Where, oh where have I failed??!!!

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