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Our day started in a curious, not particularly auspicious way. I trudged down the stairs, after having spent a fitful and sleepless night, finally succumbing to the cold Gill so kindly brought us for Christmas. But I was determined not to  let it get me down. After all, I have more serious health concerns to worry about. A cold? Pshaw…let me know when the 911 call needs to be made.

In the meantime, Gill was at the stove, brewing her first cup of coffee. She was sporting the blue cotton pajamas I gave her for Christmas — several inches too long but I promised to shrink them the first time I washed them. (That’s known in this house as not so much as a promise of a reward but more of an unintentional “Oops, honey, I shrunk the laundry again.”I am famous for my talents in the shrinkage area…a talent that Gill seems to have picked up, given last night’s story about washing her felt tam that now fits only a Cabbage Patch doll and the red silk top she washed which has suffered some grievous malady, although we’re not quite sure what.)

She was also wearing the new  faux sheepskin-lined slippers I gave her for Christmas. At the back, which was all I could see of her, the pants hung over the slippers, pooling at the heels and about ready to become a tripping hazard. To complete her ensemble (and it truly can only be described as an ENSEMBLE), she topped the whole thing with her years-old fuzzy grey bathrobe with hoodie up to cover her extreme bed head. Its pockets were stuffed full of used, snotty kleenexes as a result of her cold. I could have been forgiven for mistakenly thinking that she had a large animal (perhaps one of our obese outdoor squirrels) in the pockets. She was clearly all about warmth and comfort. Any style had long since left the building.

Although I realized that she likely needed some serious down time  after the last week of whirlwind social engagements, there were things that needed to be done. After all, she’d only be here another 10 days and my ‘slave labor’ clock was ticking.

Using my best persuasive tone, I asked: “Do you suppose you could shovel the front sidewalk this morning? With my heart issues as yet unresolved, I shouldn’t do it. I hired a boy to do the big dumps of snow but this icy-snowy mix that remains after yesterday’s storm is about to get us a ticket if we don’t get to it soon.”

“Sure, Ma,” Gill answered. “Would you iron my shirt and dress first? They got a bit crumpled in my suitcase. Too bunchy to wear in public.”

“I’d be happy to,” I told her. “But is there a particular reason why you’re shoveling the walk in a dress? You COULD wear those new pants you bought in Toronto. Actually, they’re so long (about a foot longer than she is) they could sweep the snow away for you! Imagine, my very own Annie Hall look alike shoveling MY driveway! I’d be the envy of everyone in the ‘burbs!”

“Ma, you could have just said you don’t like the pants and be done with it.”

“But this is more fun…”

When she finished the walkway, I handed her the list of other chores that needed to be tackled. First on the list was installing (or more critically, getting to work) the printer that Crazy D tried to do three weeks ago. It was the password situation that confounded him (and me) then. It will still be the issue that has the most potential to do us in, but at least Gill is more patient with me than Crazy D when it comes to computers. More patient but equally as critical.

I know I’m in for another rant about:”I thought we fixed your password problems, Ma. Remember how I told you to write them all down –and what they’re the passwords FOR — before I left last summer? Remember your desk drawer with all those important little bits and scraps of paper with the scribblings on them? They are your LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM. You were not to destroy them, lose them or let a dog eat them as your homework. Didn’t you do all that like I told you?” Exasperation was written all over her face.

“But, but…I did. I just couldn’t find THIS one.”

“Well, you really DIDN’T do what I said then, did you?”

I shrunk down, trying to ‘take my licking’ like a grown woman. Then I whimpered,”So sorry…I tried. I really did try…”

So by the time Gill leaves, everything here will be running along tickety-boo…until she returns in the summer. I’m sure I can find enough problems, things to break or screw up, or issues I can’t deal with to keep her busy for her entire holiday…except, of course, for our daily swimming.