…and how visitors, no matter how welcome, can totally mess up your way of doing things.

For the past few years we have been able to take a long weekend in Florida to visit my mother and get some desperately needed warmth in our dreary February days. This was the first year I made no plans outside visiting and helping her around her house. The thing is, when you visit people, or at least when *I* visit family, whatever hopeful plans I may have had voiced, discussed, and thought we had agreement on are generally shot because, um… that just seems to be the way our family rolls. (You should be thrilled I do not digress at this point. Trust me on this one.)

Due to weather issues, we ended up taking an oh-dark-thirty flight and then waiting in Newark for FIVE HOURS to catch the original flight we were connecting with to get to Florida. There was a good side to this. I finished knitting the felted slippers I was making for myself.

Mom and I pose for a quick photo

Mother treated us to a FABULOUS community theatre production of ‘Anything Goes’ and introduced us around a bit. She has been very active in this group over the years she has lived in Florida. Our family was in a local production of ‘Anything Goes’ when I was barely a teen and the songs are just so memorable that I was trying my damndest to NOT sing along out loud. I think I mostly made it.

So we are in Florida, looking at mother’s TO DO list which included cleaning/organizing the garage (full of old papers, music, and fabric that has moved more in its lifetime than I have in mine), helping set up an instruction booklet for computer things she would like to so (upload photos, participate in Facebook, etc), take down and put away the holiday lights, 10,000 angel ornaments, the tree, and related holiday decorations.

I have heard from more than one source that I am persnickety about how I do laundry. From the way I sort things to the way I fold them, it seems that I do have a preference regarding the ‘right’ way to do it.

Guess who I learned that character trait from?

‘Helping’ someone can be hampered when there are also perceived notions of a correct way of accomplishing something (theirs) and an incorrect way (what? why would there be others? what others?). The end result may be identical, but the process can aggravate the most appreciative of recipients while flummoxing the helper.

Take butter as an example. Mother loves butter. She likes to be able to spread her butter on her toast without tearing the bread. She leaves her butter out on the counter at all times so it is always the spreadable consistency she likes.

DH sees open butter on the counter and thinks ‘ANTS’ –the tiny ones that Florida has in such abundance can find their way into any home no matter how zealous the housekeeper. He put the butter in the frig like we do at home. I take it back out and explain why it is on the counter. DH searches for and finds a cover to the butter dish and moves the butter container to the counter opposite the toaster just to confuse the ants.

Guess who else it also confused? Not just by the relocation but also by the cover. Mother goes through a stick of butter within a few days so there isn’t enough time for it to go bad. And to be honest, I did not actually *see* any of the ants near the butter regardless of where the container was placed.

Another example of helping being not-so-much-helping would be the computer notebook. It is a yellow, 8.5×11″ spiral-bound notebook. If I could find the yellow notebook, I would see the notes she had and I was to write the new instructions for photos etc. in that notebook.


Mother bought at least two dozen of these yellow, spiral-bound notebooks. They are stored in piles around the desk, in a file cabinet in the garage, and stacked among other notes and reminders on the coffee table, by the TV tray used for sorting mail in front of the TV, and in the sewing area. Some have supplies lists for projects, or menus and their related shopping list written in them. Many have only a few pages of writing. Most are totally blank.

The notebook that actually had the notes was a white 6×8 spiral bound notebook. Long before that was located, I began creating a visual DIY step-by-step reference on her computer for facebook and copying photos. I had screen shots, arrows, and short text for each step. She wanted me to print it and then copy it by hand into the recovered notebook. I thought about suggesting she do that step since it would help her remember the steps better, but said nothing (I hope).

She followed the steps to organizing her photos into folders and discovered one she wanted to use as her desktop image.
Dixie sings in the grass

Mother is one of Dixie’s biggest fans.

Mother also liked my felted slipper so much I let her keep them.

For the return trip from Florida I was every travelers’ worst nightmare… sneezing and wheezing, non-stop. It could have been worse. I could have broken my foot again like I did on the the Florida visit two years ago.