Of course, my mom wanted us to stay with her. I hadn't seen her cabin for about four years but that horrific memory was enough for me to make up any excuse to get out of it, despite her telling me that since her last burst pipe incident, the place looked great. I think I told her we were packing a lot of Viagra for our trip. That was the end of our invitation.
My mother has a blind spot where that cabin is concerned. There it sits, on the main road into the national forest, headlights lighting up the windows and forest vehicles zooming by making a racket, and she thinks she's living in the center of peace and tranquility. It's made out of beige clapboards with a peeling porch and a circular black-top driveway with weeds poking through, but what does she see? A log cabin in the woods.
But that's just the outside. When we got there I noticed that her decor included every piece of furniture that had left my house, my six sisters' houses, and her own house, in the last 30 years. In the main room there were three rocking chairs - including a glider rocker - along with a pink arm chair and ottoman, and two leather couches. There was an enormous cow-patterned rug on top of the carpeting. The walls were covered from top to bottom with pastel Southwestern art and hooked rugs of sunsets made in the 70s. In the only open space in the room stood a portable evaporative cooler as tall as a human being, blowing so loudly that it drowned out all conversation.
My mom yelled, "ISN'T THE FAN GREAT? IT COOLS OFF THE WHOLE HOUSE SO WE DON'T HAVE TO OPEN ANY WINDOWS!"
I asked her if she could turn it off. Then I counted all the seating. I said, "Ma, are you expecting a crowd? You've got enough seats here for nine people but there's only the two of you each night."
"Well, you never know. Someone might come up. Doesn't it look great? I found a place for everything!"
"My neighbors - they have junk in their cabins. Junk!"
"Hard to believe. Junk?"
My husband was on red alert because, like a dog, he can enter any home and immediately sniff out its problems. The last time we stayed at the cabin, we walked in and within 5 minutes he was on the roof fixing the TV antenna and then crawling beneath the house. I swear, he was burying a bone. This time he had the place pegged: leak in the hall bath, no water in the evap cooler, rotting porch. He was holding back on fixing things, though, because we had to get back to town. He sat down on rocking chair number three but refused my mother's offer of fruit salad. She was eating it with her hand out of the serving bowl.Soon my mother yawned. My stepfather yawned. It was 5:00. Time for dinner and bed. We took the hint, made our excuses and left.
We heard the fan going back on as we crossed the porch.