They're arriving tomorrow for Thanksgiving, they're bringing a guest, and they're staying for eight days. My daughter, Alix, and her husband, Ian are driving from Massachusetts with the Princess of Boston, her three-year-old brother, Malcolm (Mr. Smiles) and the Princess's Godfather, Gerritt. I am not ready . . . not even close.
I've planned the menus, done some of the shopping and half the beds are made. But I had to make appointments for two household service calls in order to survive five extra people in residence - actually six by the time Bart arrives on Thanksgiving Eve. First I had to call the plumber.
Nope, it wasn't the water heater (that was replaced last month) nor was it one of the potties in peril . . . we would never survive that. It was the garbage disposal and I knew with the amount of vittles being trucked in this weekend that it would be at the heart of food prep for the next week. Sure, I understand that most of the world kitchens don't operate around the quirks of a mechanical pig, it's just that once you're used to one . . . well let's just say that I'm not good at the excesses of month-old cucumbers or cantaloupe guts.
Worst of all, I knew what had stopped it up my stupidity and stupidity is hard to remove from a disposal. I'd lost one of those little square, plastic doohickeys that keeps the bread wrapper closed, but I didn't know where it had wandered. After running the disposal filled with carrot shavings, suddenly, it had stopped. Fifteen minutes of a bruised hand down the tight hole, feeling around and maneuvering the mysterious blades, had produced no working response. The reset mechanism failed and the old, reliable broomstick down the hole didn't work either. And so I had to call Harold, the plumber, friend to hysterical maidens in distress. He found the itinerant doohickey.
Harold is far too polite to resort to profanity, but he wasn't happy with the elusiveness of the pesky, little plastic square. After searching with his light, and several long-nosed instruments later, he triumphed over what he admitted was a job he really didn't like. I thought to myself that compared to some of the bathroom situations he must find himself in, this might be preferable, but he has obviously become accustomed to the challenges of his trade.
The other service call was easier, just not one I was happy to pay for.
Now most people who have wall-to-wall carpeting in a few rooms plan on having them cleaned once a year. If they have pets, maybe twice. If, however, one has a long-haired cat named Ollie, one needs a federal stimulus package to pay the carpet cleaning bill. This was the fifth time this year that I couldn't tolerate the vomit stains one more minute.
I don't begrudge the carpet cleaners their fee. I'm sure it's fair for the work they accomplish, some of which I have to consider miraculous, viewing their pristine results. But I recently realized that I'm on a first-name basis with everyone in the organization. I have Ollie, the puking, long-haired feline, to thank for all these friendships.
I have to admit that my relationship with Ollie as a kitten began like puppy love. Swathed in mounds of fluffy, long fur, he was the most adorable kitten at the Humane Society ten years ago. I fell in love at first nuzzle. I thought it would be a real change to have a long-haired cat all that beauty and an endearing personality to boot. It's a good thing he has remained lovable because I never foresaw that he would spend the bulk of his waking hours grooming himself, swallowing mounds of that long hair, essentially becoming a feline furball factory. When those hairballs make their appearance, they're almost always accompanied by canned chicken, shrimp, cod, sole, or, best of all, dark, red beef.
I really do try to help him. I feed El Barfo from a tube of tasty hairball medicine and his dried food is hairball formula. The vet, pleased with Ollie's diet, grins, "You know, Marcy, there's not an awful lot of cat inside all of that fur, but he's very healthy."
And hey, I understand that a tiny tummy full of long hair and turkey giblets might require a Pepto-Bismol moment. I get it. But what's to prevent him from hurling on the kitchen floor or the halls, or the bathrooms, or the laundry room where his food and litter box are? No, the rotten little retcher requires comfort as he heaves . . . which means pawing the thick, light carpet while upchucking. The center of the living room is his favorite spot although he does enjoy cozying up to an upholstered chair so he can befoul both the furniture and the carpet.
I persevere with all the usual home remedies, managing to lighten the evidence. I thought seriously about waiting until after turkey day had passed to call the cleaners . . . I mean what are the odds that eight days of company will leave the ivory carpets unscathed? But there were too many spots to ignore and . . . well, pride is a terrible thing. It goeth before common sense.
The carpet cleaner always brings a lovely little goody bag when he comes a thank you gift. I suggested to Paula, the owner, that she might consider another type of gift if she wants to increase business. She should go to the Humane Society, take all their long-haired kittens and give them to her customers. It would be a win/win. The pound wouldn't be drowning in kittens and she'd be the Cat Barf Cleaning Queen of five counties.
Despite carpet concerns, I'm really looking forward to everyone arriving the happy sounds of family laughs and chatter, the mouth-watering Thanksgiving aromas wafting through the house, and maybe, just maybe, a bile-free zone for at least a week. And if I catch Malcolm feeding turkey giblets to Ollie, I'll banish them both to the laundry room with a package of Rolaids.