With all due respect for T.S. Eliot, he had it all wrong. Yes, he murmured eloquently of lilacs and hyacinths, but little did he know the cruelty he escaped by not having to house-sit for us in the month of May.
(This brings up an interesting concept – if you could pick a historical celebrity to house-sit for you, who would it be?)
Friend Lori and her kids Bryson, Lauren and Chadd somehow convinced us that there was nothing they would rather do than spend half a month with our menagerie. Undaunted by the “walk-through” whereby she learned that several hours a day are spent administering to various animals’ health, well-being and grooming rituals, Lori promptly sent me an Excel document with various tabs to reflect the daily goings-on. I should have known right there and then that she was bringing her A game.
How do we get so lucky with our housesitters? Yes, there has been the occasional bad experience like the one several decades ago when I enlisted a former work acquaintance to stay a weekend with our cat (this was before we started the pet collection) and he took the opportunity to host a wild (and I suspect, drug-fueled) party, leaving the sordid detritus for us to discover upon our return. But more recently we’ve had Dave (who has actually been known to rake a carpet after vacuuming!) and Karen (patience of Job!) , Pamela (the chicken lady alter-ego!) and Kirk (who hates cats but allowed mine to sleep with him for two weeks, go figure!) and now Lori and her kids, who, by all accounts, kept the place running like a Swiss watch, despite the animals’ efforts to trip her up.
As far as we know, Lori never sat down. She walked the dogs multiple times a day, herded chickens for hours at a time, created systems all over the house, re-arranged drawers and catered to the whims of each evil feline in residence. How did the evil cats thank her? By leaving the severed head of a captured bird on the shower mat. Nice. Doesn’t it make you want to run over and house-sit for us?
Then there was the dead crow out front and the dead mouse in the chicken yard. Lovely touch, don’t you think? T.S. Eliot would have had to channel Edgar Allen Poe if he’d written The Wasteland at our house.
And for reasons that remain hidden in their tiny dinosaur brains, the chickens caused all kinds of trouble. Hope went broody on the eve of our departure, but little did she know she was up against Lori, the steely Chicken Behavior Modificator. Despite our best efforts a year ago, Hope remained broody for two months until we finally sated her with baby chicks. This time, Lori had Hope whipped back into shape and laying eggs again in a couple of weeks.
Pippa was another matter, however. Due to a disturbance in the force, or perhaps just more mean-girl activity on the nest, Pippa decided she would no longer lay her eggs in the designated nesting place. I guess you at least have to give her props for ingenuity:
We’ll probably never know all the problems our fearless friends fended off in our absence, but we are ever so grateful and eternally indebted. Thank you all so much!