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With the long weekend here last week and England having a ‘bank holiday’ this weekend, thoughts turn naturally to BBQ season. Gill only gets to enjoy BBQ when friends invite her since she doesn’t have one of her own. She’s in Glasgow this holiday so, even if it’s pouring cats, dogs and haggis (and it may well be in Scotland!) there will be meat scorched outdoors. (My apologies to her friends — I do know folks who don’t scorch their meat. Unlike me and my awful BBQ skills, many people are capable of producing an edible meal over open fires.I’m not one of them.)

Of course, what I lack in subtlety with my meat cooking skills, I make up for in persistence. Yes, I am that Canadian fool out in the middle of winter, slogging through a foot of snow on my deck, brushing the snow off the BBQ, just to have a measly piece of salmon! Actually, there are many of us doing that if Canadian Tire store ads (one of our major stores)) are to be believed. And, take it from me, they are! Whole country is nuts. Give us some meat, a BBQ, parka, mukluks, beer (or wine), and we’ll have a BBQ anywhere, anytime.

When Gill comes home in the summer, I always make a special trek to the Farmer’s Market to buy her favorite Mennonite garlic sausages.Indeed, when all three of the kids are here in the summer, a BBQ is the go-to meal plan. Corn, burgers and sausages can’t be beaten. (Of course, the fight over which side of the grill the veggie burgers will go on causes a huge row. “But you’ve cooked MEAT there! Yuck! I can’t have my tofu contaminated by MEAT juices! Quick…who has the bleach? I must hose down my side…”)

Crazy D and his girlfriend are coming for lunch today — before they each take off, in separate directions no doubt, for jobs. I love to see them, since, with everyone’s different schedules, it doesn’t often happen.

“We’ll bring the food,” Crazy D  offered.

“Great!” I answer, grateful that I won’t have to do much in the way of preparation. The only problem is, that whenever he or L’il Sis offers to bring the food, it’s going to be mostly veggies–wth a strong whiff of  veganism. Now I like veggies, really I do, but some veggies don’t like me so much. Beans, for instance. I recall, when Gill was younger and first struggling with what we didn’t realize was Crohn’s, she loved beans but they did awful things to her gut. My aging gut, accustomed as it is to mostly meat, fish, cheeses and pasta, rebels big time against beans.And, as host, I do feel it’s a tad on the rude side to excuse myself in the midst of the meal and race for the bathroom.

And I must be careful making salads. I love putting raw broccoli in a salad, but it makes me gassy. The Man In My Life can’t eat cucumbers and doesn’t like green onions, nor does Crazy D, so they’re nixed. Lil Sis complains, for some strange reason, that the tomatoes I buy always taste like fish (I secretly rub them along the BBQgrill before I put them in the salad just to peeve her!) Food is a fraught topic as you can see.

Don’t know if Crazy D sensed my slight hesitation when I said, “Oh how nice of you…” But when I talked to him next day, he said they were bringing salmon to BBQ.

“Perfect!” came my relieved reply. I love salmon and it’s something we can all agree on.

Then I thought, OMG! I haven’t yet cleaned the BBG grills this season. (That makes it sound as if I ever do…which I don’t, not often.As my kids know, I’ll cook things for myself on a somewhat, uh, crusty, blackened, funky grill. But I realize (there, see Gill, I haven’t had the Alzheimer’s click in just yet) that others are not as eager to risk ptomaine. (Hint to all three of my offspring: If I all of a sudden start cleaning everything, particularly the grills, to Jamie Oliver standards, it’s time to commit me to The Home ’cause I’ve lost the plot!)

And so I donned my cleaning gear — old track pants and soon-to-be-binned sweatshirt, rubber gloves, duck boots. With vacuum in hand, large spoon, and bucket of sudsy water, I addressed the BBQ. Gingerly I opened the lid. Yup…just as I expected.  Chippie (the resident chipmunk) and dozens of his closest relatives have been busy over-wintering there. They have eaten, strewn about, and possibly made a warm bed for themselves with sunflower seeds from the nearby bird feeders in the corner and under the bottom part. It is a warm, sheltered home. I bear him and his family no malice (well, actually I do…I hate the little bastards)…and everyone has to live somewhere…but really — first my drainpipes and now my BBQ??!! Is nothing sacred?

So there I was, yesterday afternoon, after sitting in the cool air all morning for the garage sale — trying to hawk shit that should have been thrown out (in a perfect world , one in which I do not live)– for a few paltry dollars, scrubbing and shoveling out the BBQ.

That was after mowing the lawn since the dandelions have all gone to seed and are close to the point where the city will issue me  a citation; doing laundry, a bit of food shopping, making a fresh rhubarb pie (I have to prove I still have the capacity, having just unloaded  8 pie plates in the garage sale).

All this effort is so I can not shame myself too badly when Crazy D visits — and lifts the lid on the BBQ to put the salmon on! Never mind impressing the neighbors –I have to impress my kids…or at least try not to kill them with poisoned meat!

Meantime in Glasgow, I’m sure Gill has been having a REAL, professional-quality BBQ courtesy of her old friends. I can’t wait to hear how hers went. Of course, I can’t afford to have her attend too many GOOD BBQ dinners or I might have to up my own standards. But at least I have the excuse of advancing age to cover my ass…Old dogs, new tricks, etc…

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