Never a dull mo­ment at fam­ily gath­er­ings

South Shore Breaker - - Games - Les­ley.crewe@gmail.com

LES­LEY CREWE

ARE YOU KID­DING ME?

It’s al­ways so great to have a long week­end to look for­ward to. The kids will come home and we’ll laugh and talk to­gether over long fam­ily meals, swim at the beach, en­joy a board game or two, watch a funny movie to­gether. It will be so much fun.

And it al­ways is, even though a lot of other stuff hap­pens that you hadn’t counted on.

Like Hubby clean­ing the bar­be­cue in an­tic­i­pa­tion of our steaks that evening and dump­ing a small amount of grease and grimy bits in the woods across the road. When you live in the coun­try, you can do that. Not five min­utes later, our daugh­ter ar­rives home from Hal­i­fax with her sturdy, M4 Sher­man tank of a Labrador retriever, Josie. She’s adorable! We all try and hug her, but she in­stantly rushes into the woods and eats the grease. Josie’s mommy has a fit, Hubby is in the dog house and she’s on the phone to the vet. I’m still hold­ing her bags.

The vet says to give her some salt to make her throw up. I’m still not sure why this is such an emer­gency, but I go along with it and we try and give the dog salt. This is not pretty. Josie’s mommy is a mess be­cause she feels like a heel.

The dog even­tu­ally has to come in­side be­cause the mos­qui­toes are dive bomb­ing us. That means our cat, Pip, has to be put down­stairs, but my daugh­ter-in-law is afraid of the cat and they are sleep­ing down there. I pro­ceed to take up all the rugs and mats in the house be­cause this dog is go­ing to be sick. We wait with an­tic­i­pa­tion, but she is still fine hours later. The vet said that Labrador retriev­ers have stom­achs made of cast iron, but even­tu­ally it hap­pens. I can’t de­scribe it. Then it hap­pens again at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

All the while there are cries of: “Don’t let the dog down­stairs!” “Don’t let the cat up­stairs!” “Close the door!”

“Open the door!” “Let the dog out!” “Let the dog in!” “Don’t let the cat out, in, up or down!!” It’s a re­volv­ing cir­cus, as are the tweets that are fast and fu­ri­ous be­tween Josie’s mom and her dad, who’s vis­it­ing fam­ily on the other side of town.

We’re just set­tling down af­ter this bru-ha-ha when my son and daugh­ter-in-law go dig­ging clams at 6 a.m. and come home with enough to feed all of Homeville. Now, there are sud­denly 14 buck­ets of fresh wa­ter, salt wa­ter, sea wa­ter and wa­ter wa­ter crowd­ing what lit­tle space there is in the kitchen, the porch, the shed and the back deck. Ev­ery­one is on Google, mak­ing sure we’re do­ing ev­ery­thing the right way be­cause I know it will be our luck to get bot­u­lism in­stantly. They need to soak and spit out sand. Our daugh­ter, the vege­tar­ian, is hor­ri­fied that this is go­ing on un­der her nose and we have to slink from her ac­cus­ing glare.

Ev­ery­one wants deep-fried clams. Now I’m mak­ing bat­ter. Some­one gets a pot and throws a bot­tle of oil in it. My daugh­ter-in-law only likes us­ing chop­sticks to do this and I can’t find the pair she gave me. Hubby comes home and screams blue mur­der that we’re us­ing a pot and not the deep-fryer that’s been in the bun­ga­low for 100 years and that no one has used in two decades. Ac­cord­ing to him, we’re go­ing to burn down the house, so he roars off to get it and now we have to trans­fer ev­ery­thing over in the mid­dle of this del­i­cate op­er­a­tion. There are six dish tow­els on the go

(all of them damp), two sinks full of dishes, Josie in the mid­dle of the may­hem try­ing to lick the floor from the spat­ter­ing grease, while Pip me­ows the song of his peo­ple through the crack in the door be­cause he’s miss­ing all the fun.

Then Hubby ac­ci­den­tally opens the door and Pip comes saun­ter­ing in. We freeze in ter­ror as he slowly ap­proaches Josie. He’s ca­sual about it. Maybe we’ll have a mir­a­cle and they can co- ex­ist in har­mony.

Nope. Pip launches him­self claws first at Josie’s head as she re­coils in hor­ror. Josie may be a husky girl, but she is a del­i­cate flower in the per­son­al­ity depart­ment and this as­sault is too much for her. Josie’s mom screams at the cat, I scream at Hubby, ev­ery­one scram­bles to sep­a­rate the duo ex­cept my daugh­ter-in-law, who shrinks into the near­est cor­ner, as far away from Pip as she can get.

Fi­nally, it’s time to wave good­bye and I get to re­place all the rugs, strip the sheets off the beds, wash three loads of tow­els and gather up the stuff they for­got to take back with them.

And this is why fam­ily week­ends are so much fun and why we can’t wait to do it again next Thanks­giv­ing.

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Fam­ily gath­er­ings are not soon for­got­ten. Les­ley Crewe is a writer liv­ing in, and lov­ing, Cape Bre­ton. These are the me­an­der­ing mus­ings of a bored house­wife whose un­grate­ful kids left her alone with a re­tired hus­band and two fat cats who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Be­holden, is be­ing re­leased this fall.

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