Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

© 2006-2018 All rights reserved

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Helpful Hostess Hints

(or Entertaining on Short Notice in Rural America)

I’ve learned that when I go off to a conference for a few days (as I did recently), I shouldn’t clean the house beforehand. I am married to someone who can rake hay, bush-hog, feed critters, keep vehicles running, repair most electrical stuff, catch escaped horses, mow lawns, chop wood, restring my weed-eater, make good coffee, act as his own lawyer, etc.—but who doesn’t clean the house.

When I used to clean house before I left, I’d return a few days later to find it in disarray. I quickly learned that I’m going to have to clean the house when I return , so I might as well save myself some time by not cleaning it beforehand.

Usually that works. After returning from Richmond, I knew I’d have a couple of weeks before my friend (and former college roommate) Polly and her husband and daughter came to visit at the end of the month.

While checking my email in Richmond, I learned that Polly & family would be stopping by two days after I returned home. Consequently, I had to take some shortcuts in cleaning. Oh, yeah, I vacuumed the house (taking care to move the bed so I could vacuum under it), scrubbed kitchen and bathroom floors, did a minimum of dusting, washed sheets and towels, etc. However, I had to take care of a few other chores that may or be peculiar to rural America (or maybe just to me).

Here’s my (mostly illustrated) checklist of things to do to get ready for visitors on short notice. You can print it out and keep it handy if you’re expecting guests:

_____Did you check your fly strips to make sure they’re not at capacity? If they are, replace them with a fresh strip.

Nothing says welcome like a new fly strip. Visitors notice little things like that. Make sure you allow the strip time to unfurl. Little things mean a lot.

_____Did you clear the kitchen table of unwanted stuff—like cats, grocery bags, and yellowjacket traps?

_____Did you clean the table with something that smells good and removes any unwanted dirt? If you can also use it to clean the fronts of major appliances as well as the windows, so much the better. Versatility counts.

You can store the grocery bags between the washer and dryer. It’s not like you’re using the space for something else and they’ll be handy when you want them.

_____Did you check the inside of the microwave? Decide if you really want the cooked-on cheese to remain on the rotating plate. If not, remove the plate and scrub off the cheese.

_____Did you check the ant traps on your kitchen counter? (Notice they blend into the decor better if they’re a similar color to the countertops) If they’re still usable, you don’t want to remove them from the kitchen counter. Waste not, want not.

_____Did you find a way to disguise them? Discretion is the better part of housekeeping.

_____Did you decide if the pile of papers on the end table is clutter or an artful arrangement? In the picture below, the papers look artful (notice balance and color), plus I haven’t read them yet. They can stay. (Also, if a cat looks like he’s about to throw up, you have paper handy to put in front of him.) Best be prepared.

_____Does your heating/air conditioning vent need painting and you just don’t have time to do it? If so, a strip of masking tape in a similar color will disguise the unsightly rusty parts. Duct tape can also work.

_____Did you make sure your yard art is welcoming? The smiley faces as eyes adds a touch of whimsy to what would otherwise be kind of mundane. (Yeah, the collection of cement yard dogs down the road might be bigger and more impressive, but make do with what you have.)

_____Did you check the road in front of your home for roadkill? If you found any, did you push it into the ditch where it wouldn't be noticed but where the buzzards could still get to it?

_____Did you check your property for escaped livestock? If you found any, did you return it to the rightful owner's property? Did you pick up any manure the visiting livestock might have dropped on your property, or did you just leave it to biodegrade and hope your company won't step in it?

_____Did you vacuum the border collie hair out of the tub in the guest bathroom?

_____If you moved the guest bed to vacuum under it, did you make sure that the slats didn’t shift position and thus cause the mattress to fall? If they did and it did, did you respond to the thud and screams right away? And did you help guests reposition the springs and mattress? A good hostess does so (and her husband helps).

_____Did you plan interesting activities for your guests? For example, you might take the guests with you to the dumpster shortly after they arrive. On the way, point out spots of local interest, like the big blue tarp covering the bay window of a house down the road where a car crashed through less than two weeks ago. Or the place where you can buy fertilizer and attend religious services. Or the scene where a John Deere wedding took place. Things like that.

Follow the above hints, and you can become the sort of hostess that guests don’t soon forget. No matter how hard they try.

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Blogger CountryDew said...

Too funny!

6:31 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Great post! My mother in law is coming out for the first time this weekend. She's used to metropolis. We're already laughing at her reaction when she turns on the shower and the sulphur smell about kills her. Will she notice the gray water? How about the brand new tub that's already orange clay stained on the bottom?

Will she think it's fun to take our haul our garbage out? I hope she doesn't get carsick on these curvy backroads . . .

And I'm desperately hoping she'll clean out her junk in my kitchen sink part, I'm still grossing out about not having a garbage disposal . . .

I'm feeling a blog post of my own coming on . . .

1:05 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Becky, that was hysterical. As one who gets guests from up north in the city, they will sure appreciate the reminder to change my fly strips before they come!

6:36 AM  

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