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Posted: June 7, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Cabin (cleaning) fever

It is my turn to have my ladies’ bridge club again.

The ladies have been asking (hinting, requesting) to have bridge at my husband’s cabin. The optimal word here is cabin. I really don’t think there is room to set up two bridge tables and chairs inside the cabin. While there is room on the extended porch, I am afraid at this time of the year it would be hot and a little buggy as the porch is not screened.

I decided I would ask them to the cabin for a glass of wine and dinner. After we eat, we can return to my house to play bridge and have dessert. They all agreed to the plan. They are curious about the cabin, but I don’t think they want to rough it either.

I told my husband, and he agreed to hosting them and cooking dinner.

Sitting back and congratulating myself, I was proud of the fact that I had come up with a plan that suited everyone and a plan for a meal that I didn’t have to cook. “You’re a smart woman,” I told myself.

Boy, was I wrong. The first complication was the menu. My husband doesn’t think it is a meal worth serving if there are not at least two meats and five side dishes. And that doesn’t count things like pickled peaches, pickles and various relishes. I have told him that eight women won’t eat as much food as he regularly prepares. We have agreed on a simplified menu: one meat and two sides. I am not sure he can stick to our agreement. But I have repeatedly told him we need lady luncheon food, not lumberjack food.

Secondly, I had not counted on my husband’s love of decorating for a party. Never in my memory of living in this house can I remember an occasion of any import that my husband has not filled the living room fireplace with magnolia leaves. It’s his thing, his contribution to the festivities. (Of course, he never is the one to carry them out after they have become black and crumbly.)

He has bought two hanging baskets of ferns and has instructed me to decide where to hang them.

My husband is always a Southern gentleman with a decidedly strong sense of what is required of a host, particularly when ladies are involved.

And he decreed the cabin needed a thorough cleaning. And it does. We have been down there two afternoons and I have filled up the vacuum cleaner twice. The vacuum has sucked up more cobwebs than I can count. But that is really the easy part. Dusting can get complicated. Just dusting one shelf requires that you move 10 or 15 things and those things have to be dusted before you can return them to the newly dusted shelf. And there are lots of shelves.

I started out by asking him why he was keeping such and such a thing, suggesting that he throw it away. He blusters up and doesn’t even try to explain why he is keeping whatever I am questioning. He just takes it and goes away. Then when I am dusting another area, that particular thing shows up again as he has just moved its position. He would rather hide it among the clutter than bother to argue with me about throwing something away. I give up.

We still have the kitchen and porch to go. He says he has cleaned out the refrigerator. I doubt that. Cleaning out the refrigerator is a major source of contention each spring when I do a general cleaning for him. He doesn’t believe an expiration date is needed if something is refrigerated.

I can promise the ladies of my bridge club one thing. That cabin may not be the cleanest place in Newton County, but it is as clean as it has ever been. They should also know my husband is tickled pink that they want to see it.

But I am not patting myself on the back anymore. I thought by using his cabin and getting him to cook I would make it easy for myself. I will have spent parts of three days cleaning at the cabin and I still have to clean at my house.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at pnbtravis@att.net.

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