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We don’t very often have company. That’s partly because our house is now so crowded with Crazy D, L’il Sis, The Pig, sometimes Mr. Pants, and currently the neighbour horse (oops, I mean large dog), the canaries and Mrs. Beeton.  There is literally no room at the inn. Besides, with all that crowd, the place is NEVER company-ready.

So when Crazy D announced that his friend D was coming for dinner, I flew into a bit of a flap. Not a flap of the magnitude I used to feature when the kids were young and I felt the need to impress guests (because what would they think if they saw a messy/dirty/disorganized house?), but a minor flap, as in: can we clear a path to the table to eat? Will the pile of boots in the mudroom maim our guest? Or will the accumulated winter schputz on the floors cause him to be permanently stuck to the floor…at least until spring?

I promised Crazy D I’d make a pie for dessert since he was making a stew, salad and bean soup for L’il Sis. I got the pie made early in the afternoon and then decided the floor needed to be vacuumed. (I make a lovely pie with flaky crust, but in the process, I cover most of the kitchen, especially the floor, with flour.It was crucial that I got the flour cleaned up before the beagle got to it and, scrounging for floury delights, turned herself into a flour-topped muffin.)

Out came the vacuum. When I finished, I realized that many of what I thought were ‘loose bits’ of stuff were actually remains from Christmas, (yes, I know it’s March) firmly stuck to the floor. Out came the wash bucket and strong cleaner. I was down on my hands and knees scrubbing when Crazy D walked in. “Mom! What are you doing? It’s just my buddy, Handsome D, coming to dinner, not the Queen.”

“Oh, I know, but I’ve been intending to clean this floor since Christmas so, it’s more than due.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Mom. If I were you I’d hold out for Easter. We always have tacos then and you know how messy they are…” But I was halfway in, my p.j. pant legs were already wet, my knees stiff with cramps from kneeling on the ceramic floor, and my hands wrinkled from the strong detergent. I finished, managed to stand up straight with only a few minor twinges of back pain, and perused the kitchen.

“I’d better set the table now,” I thought. “At least then it will look like we’re expecting company.” With that, I went to the cutlery drawer to retrieve knives and forks. There weren’t enough clean ones. Most of our supply was in the dishwasher, dirty of course.  Plan B kicked in. I’d use the second best silver plate. I keep it in a ziploc bag to prevent tarnishing and for easy access. Nothing worse than having to get at the big wooden cutlery box that lives at the bottom of the cupboard and houses the real sterling silver ware. By the time I moved all the crap on top of the box, I’d be too tired to set the table, let alone eat.

Again Crazy D passed through the kitchen. “Mom, I told you, it’s just Handsome D! We don’t need the good silver.”

“Oh, it’s not. It’s the second tier silver plate. The kitchen cutlery is mostly dirty in the dishwasher and there’s not enough clean stuff to use…especially knives.”

That was when he pounced. “Aha, Mom! There aren’t enough knives because you used them up last summer to scrape the paint off the deck. Normal people use proper tools for that, but not you. So now we have no butter knives.”

“They work better than the proper scrapers. Don’t you remember? I went out and bought two real scrapers, two different sizes and they didn’t work worth a damn. I went back to the butter knives and got the job done much faster.”

“Wow, Mom, nobody would believe me if I told them it was a twenty-knife deck.”

Since it was a cold day, I put a cheery fire on in the living room next to the kitchen. I had intended it to be a welcoming, cozy scenario for our guest but the dogs misinterpreted the gesture. Both The Pig and Jewel climbed up on the nearest couch, one at either end, to warm themselves by the flames.

So the first view our guest had was of a living room, its couches all covered with mismatching sheets, a dog leash, various dismembered dog toys (including a one-foot tall mammoth stuffed hedgehog), crumpled plastic water bottle with kibble inside to act as a noisemaker, and two dogs lying on a couch. Yes, indeed…the Clampetts are receiving guests.

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