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Who knew that going away for a week to lie on a beach and swim in the ocean would be so complicated? I have done enough traveling to know that one must be organized. Gill would disagree with this — in fact, she has voiced her ‘Oh, pshaw’ comments more than once upon seeing my suitcase come out and the carefully selected piles of clothes with it. “Geez, Ma. When I travel, all I take is a change of underwear, my passport and  a bathing suit.” To which I inevitably point out, “Yes…and it shows. You are never prepared for anything so you end up mooching clothes from someone (me or her sister), forcing me to buy you new clothes, or being a hermit for your entire vacation. That works well for you. For me, not so much.”

So, a week before my trip, I have the suitcase laid out and the clothes, meds, and shoes selected. And since I’m older than when I last travelled to warm climes, I must include my medications, 60 plus sunscreen to placate my skin doctor, and suitable beach ‘coverups’ that hide the more obvious ravages of time… a Burka springs to mind. It would get the job done but way too hot. And let’s be honest, I don’t think I look THAT bad yet…

But that’s the least of my worries when it comes to preparations. There’s also the chicken soup, the supplication to my neighbour (on bended knee), the computer instructions to L’il Sis, the trip to the hardware store for supplies,  the chat with the insurance agent and the quickie course in mathematics.

I must prepare a week’s worth (two bowls a day) of chicken soup for The Pig. This was something I started after she had her cancerous spleen removed in November. I figure chicken soup cures most everything, so where’s the harm? The harm is that I am now shackled to The Pig to provide her with two bowls every day. She now expects it and begins to give me The Stink Eye if it isn’t served up on her placemat by 11:30 each morning. This is followed shortly after by an after-soup pee walk and then a nap. So I’ve conned the neighbours into setting her table for her and feeding her. I still have to make, freeze and label the soup. I’m hoping the neighbours will take her for a pee or my carpets will pay the price. Come to think of it, they may anyway. The Pig is a ‘statement’ pee-er and her statement for the week will likely be: ‘Grandma has gone away and left me for dead. I am the saddest beagle in the world.’

I must also print out letters of ‘permission’ for L’il Sis to tend to Mrs. Beeton(the pink parakeet) and the canaries…in case a veterinary emergency should occur. I have it on good authority from Gill that the British bookmakers already show the odds are stacked against me. I’m picturing at least one egg bound canary, an ingrown feather, or Mrs. Beeton sinking into an even deeper depression that the winter funk that still grips her. She was able to go out on the deck two days in a row…and then it snowed and hasn’t warmed up since. My leaving may turn her suicidal.

The trip to the hardware store is to have keys made for the assortment of people required to take care of things while I’m gone and L’il Sis is at work: Second Son and several neighbours. I assured the insurance agent that these people don’t need background checks since they’ve been ‘vetted’ by me already (i.e.: they owe me BIGTIME and I have ‘stuff’ I can use against them.)

And finally, I might have to take a refresher math course just to figure out currency exchanges and how much of several countries’ money to take.

Now I’m exhausted. I need a week’s vacation just to recover from getting ready for my vacation. Nobody here seems very sympathetic…especially Gill. She likes to point out, on a regular basis, that she ‘has never been to the Caribbean.’ I counter with, “Well, I’ve never lived in London.” I have the sneaking suspicion she’d trade.