My sister Beatrice is a terrific cook. She can put on a meal that smells and tastes good, a combination of dishes that not only satisfies your hunger but is a feast to the eye. In fact, it tastes so good that you are still remembering it half way through the twenty‑six miles it takes you to walk it off.
Although I am not the cook my sister Beatrice is, we do have much in common: parents, other sisters and brothers, and a knack for collecting large dogs. Currently there are three and a half between us (the half being an Anatolian Shepherd I keep part time). Beatrice has an old black lab, named Prince, and a brown retriever called Bo.
Actually Bo is just visiting for a couple of years while his owners who are in the Armed Forces are stationed in Europe. Although he has all kinds of tags and papers which say he is some special breed or other and although he is as huggable as a teddy bear, you couldn't say Bo was the most handsome dog in the county. He is pigeon‑toed and he has a weight problem, which gives him the gait of a cow coming in for the evening milking. However his swaying trot causes his tail to wag in a jaunty wave and on my daily walks, with the other dogs romping along before me, I would have to say that Bo has the happiest hind quarters of any dog I've ever seen.
Both Prince and Bo like bones to chew, and to make sure the dogs don't fight over the same bone, Beatrice gives Prince a bone to eat in the front yard, and Bo one to eat in the kitchen. Since Bo is supposedly on a diet, his bone, known as the "house bone" has very little nourishment left, and is looking somewhat bedraggled although it serves admirably as a soother.
Besides having a soft spot for dogs, my sister Beatrice and I also have something else in common. Neither of us are overly concerned with housework. In fact, we firmly believe that housework should be done only as a last resort, to relieve boredom, or when company's coming.
A while back, Beatrice decided she would invite a few people in for supper and a little music and extended the invitation to me as well. During the morning, she went on a cleaning spree. Through the down‑stairs rooms like a whirlwind she ran, putting things out of sight, dusting, polishing, and neatening up this and that. She got out her prized lace doilies, starched to perfection, to put under candle‑holders. While vacuuming she picked up Bo's house bone and set it on the coffee table, with the intention of throwing it outside after she finished with the vacuum. However, the telephone rang and she went on to something else.
At suppertime all was ready. I arrived promptly at six o'clock, followed by the other guests. Beatrice banished the dogs to the shed, and lit the candles. At five past six we sat down to roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, hot salads, cold salads, pickles, jellies and fresh‑baked rolls. When we had loosened our belts to the last notch, she brought on huckleberry pie with ice cream. Somehow we found room for that, too.
Over dessert we discussed world happenings and sorted out Canada's financial and political affairs. And when we could finally ease away from the dining room table, we waddled, groaning, to the living room.
While those with musical abilities began tuning their instruments, Beatrice poured coffee for the rest of us. I gazed around the room admiring the paintings, the carvings and the candle‑sticks which Beatrice has collected. I looked at other interesting things including a variety of African violets and large chunk of amethyst. Suddenly I noticed one of the guests studying the coffee table. There in its own crisply starched white lace doily lay Bo's house bone, gnawed clean, although slightly frayed at the ends.
The guest was "class" all the way. Saying nothing, she moved her coffee cup to the side and joined in the singing, while they all took turns playing the accordion, piano, organ, fiddle and horn. Around midnight they graciously thanked their hosts and left to go home.
Me, I have no class at all. I said nothing at the time, nor did I remove Bo's bone. But by the next day I was full of fiendish glee. I could hardly wait to dismay Beatrice with the sight of her most interesting "Objet d"Art." However when I took her in to see, on the coffee table only the doily remained, with her guest's coffee cup off to one side.
Later, as we sat down to a game of Scrabble, I saw Bo sprawled under the kitchen table, blissfully gnch, gnch, gnch, gnching on his house bone.