Thursday, July 9, 2009

Preparing For Visitors

These hot, sunny days of summer
can bring back vivid memories.
Some people recall exotic vacations,
romantic interludes,
sandy beaches
and tall drinks.

But not me.

It all brings back the summer
that my mother-in-law
came to visit.

Now, you've got to understand
that Martha was a wonderful person
and a fantastic grandma to my kids,
but she had a certain way about her-
a critical eye, a puff of royalty,
a smidgen of sarcasm,
and a definite expectation
of how things ought to be.

Bottom line:
She had nice things.
I didn't.

So for one entire week,
we threw our bodies and souls
into high gear-
just to prepare the house,
the yard,
the kids,
and our world-
for Martha's arrival.

With the chance of making
my husband and I sound like
Poor White Trash,
I must tell you that we
were not.

We were just young hippies then.
We had couches with blankets over them,
lava lamps, stacks of LPs,
plastic dishes, an 80 pound inside dog,
and a water bed.

No other bed.
Just that.

To me, that was troublesome.

To my husband,
that was funny.

We had managed to get through
the first half of summer
without an air conditioner.
Other than trying to save money,
we tried to live as basic
and down-to-earth as we could.

We had purchased a window unit
from a friend years before
and had used it only occasionally.
I called it the FireBomb
because it was old, loud,rusty
and probably dangerous.

That summer it was
parked out in the barn-
peeking out beneath
layers of dust and old tires
and junk that Martha
would cringe over.

But it had to be revived
for the comfort and coolness
of our company.

It took the two of us
to pull it out into the sunlight
and we began the process
of cleaning it up
for its grand window insertion.

My husband grabbed the
garden hose and began cleaning
off the coils
and condenser-
and all those dang dirt-dabber nests
that had glued themselves
to the FireBomb.

All of a sudden,
out came hundreds of
wet chicken feathers!

Apparently, a family of mice-
(Or rats- heaven forbid),
had utilized molted chicken down
to fluff their sweet little nests
inside that old air conditioner.

But, in a few hours,
the unit was in the window-
puttering like
a muffler-less motorcycle,
making the living room
a cool den of summer retreat.
It was quite nice, really.

Now, all I can say is
Martha was happy.
Which made us happy.
And except for the water bed thing,
the visit went well.

And we kept the FireBomb
in the front window
and used it every single day
until the first frost.

Every once in awhile,
a tiny piece of feather
would poof out like a grain of dust-

and we'd just smile...