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After Work: Houseguests In The Villa

…The villa is extraordinary. Some twelve kilometers away we see the Mediterranean another five or so kilometers away is an azure blue lake. The scent of lavender is in the air along with sage and rosemary. We are awakened by the bleating of goats down the hill. Church bells though out the valley peal the hours…

Friends came to stay with Dona Gibbs and her husband in the paradise that is the south of France. Then the mosquitoes came a-bombing…

For more of Dona's delicious articles click on After Work in the menu on this page.

“When you start talking about when to meet for the next meal and what the weather might be tomorrow, it’s time to go home.”

So proclaimed an extended family member years ago when we decided that it would be a really, really good idea to get our two families together for several days in a Quaker family lodge over winter holidays. Together we talked about tomorrow’s probable weather and the next meal. A lot.

I’ve always remembered this, especially since the declaimer of this truth is the nephew of a Very Famous Writer and so it carried great import for me.

Recently, I’ve had more than a few times to reflect on this when very dear friends came a very long way to visit us in a rented villa in the south of France.

The villa is extraordinary. Some twelve kilometers away we see the Mediterranean another five or so kilometers away is an azure blue lake. The scent of lavender is in the air along with sage and rosemary. We are awakened by the bleating of goats down the hill. Church bells though out the valley peal the hours. Many other writers before me have written about all of this from Peter Mayle, a best selling author known to all, to R. Crumb, a cult cartoonist known for a his 60s “Keep on Truckin” character Mr. Natural.

Anyway, take it from me and a few hundred others who've preceded me in writing about the South of France, it’s beautiful.

Enter houseguests. We’ve eagerly awaited them. Talked about them. Planned for them. Our friends we haven’t seen for months. We want to show them our South of France.

They arrived exhausted as I expected. We show them to their little house down by the pool which is exceedingly well equipped but uh, oh also near a picturesque little water garden with blooming aquatic plants, enormous gold fish and mosquito larvae.

Throughout their entire stay, they were dive-bombed. One mosquito seemed invincible and feasts on our guests.

Every morning we get a mosquito report.

I am so sorry. I’ve been the plat du jour too. The French enjoy a wonderful life style but without window screens.

Our guests then buy anti-mosquito plug-ins and happily report they spied one dead mosquito who ventured near the noxious oil.

It rains. The lavender scent wafts in our bedroom windows. The scent that the breeze carries into the guest quarters is foul. So strong, they report, that they suspect a septic tank problem.

There isn’t a septic tank problem: only some intense garden fertilizer. And more good news:no more mosquito reports.

Then the last evening of the visit. We find out an awful truth. Our guest bathroom has no
squeeze-gee.

Now for those who don’t focus on cleaning supplies, a squeeze-gee is a rubber blade on a handle used to cleaning glass and tile. It’s especially handy on shower doors. One can happily chase soap scrum and water spots away.

They always squeeze-gee. Squeeze-geeing saves glass from etching, hours of scrubbing and overall is the savior of civilization, as we know if. Ranks right up there with window screens.

We don’t squeeze-gee. We laugh. But we defend their right to squeeze-gee.

When houseguests remain friends, you can squeeze-gee or not, it doesn’t make a real difference, only something to laugh about later. And we never once talked about what the weather would be or when we would meet for a meal.


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