In case anyone is interested what follows is a highly redacted list of the things that we have done, that must be done, and that we are doing, in order to prepare the house and ourselves for the visit of Sainted Belgian Mother:
1. Absolutely the first thing is to remove all the bee equipment from the guest room, where it spends much of the winter. This includes, but is not limited to: wooden bee hives, piles of frames in need of cleaning for next season, piles of pressed wax foundation carefully placed between sheets of tissue paper, hive tools, smokers, CSB’s bee veil which he searched for throughout the entire house just last week.
2. Vacuum and dust. This is not your ordinary vacuuming event, because of the many insects that have taken up residence in the guest room over the winter, and built their webs and nests, and eaten their prey and then spit out the detritus of their prey. This is a full vacuum bag’s worth of dust and dead insectaria.
3. Clean the guest bathroom. This is so obvious as to not be worth mentioning. But it is also important to make sure there is a shade on the bathroom window, as requested when SBM last visited, for privacy issues. Even though the only creatures that could possibly look in that window are the chickens. Also roll and unroll the shade three times to make sure it is not harboring any stinkbugs. (Find and dispatch several.)
4. Make sure there are several photographs of my father in the guestroom, so that SBM can feel his presence. And talk to him if so inclined.
5. Put rubber sticky pads under the three area rugs in the guest room. CSB decided that was an imperative, so he was the one who went to Home Depot and acquired the sticky pads and cut them to the correct size and installed them under the area rugs. All of this to prevent SBM from slipping and/or sliding and possibly hurting herself; which would be a bad thing to have happen in more ways than I can count.
6. Acquire a new heating pad and install it next to guest bed. SBM is a devotee and a connoisseur of heating pads. Find an extension cord that works, and is color coordinated.
7. Buy flowers for the guest room. Tragically, there are no flowers blooming in my garden just now – it is February. Certain flowers are taboo, such as carnations, geraniums and mums. Tulips are acceptable, in certain colors. Arrange the flowers.
8. Check the liquor cabinet: do we have sufficient Macallan 12-year-old single malt Scotch? We do. Unless she overstays. Do we have enough Sam Adams beer? Yes.
9. Check the refrigerator: SBM consumes at least one pomegranate a day, and sometimes more.
10. Make a sweep of the house and put at least a dozen pictures askew. This ensures that SBM can re-align them, and feel that she has contributed to our domestic harmony, which she most certainly has, and will.
11. Turn the heat up to the tropical setting.