Real Life Adventures of a Holiday Weekend 

It was the July 4 holiday at the family summer cottage. What could go wrong over just three or four days?

Plenty, as it turns out.

Let’s just get the weather out of the way. We were stuck in a pattern of almost everything – warm, hot, cool and cold. We had it all. Not ideal but tolerable. At one point, a young lady visiting from North Carolina was trying not to shiver. It was only 70 degrees, poor thing.

Fortunately, Sunday was very nice and the annual beach fireworks show was performed admirably that night. Monday, the actual holiday, was basically a washout. That’s OK since everyone packed up and went home. It would have been really sad if Monday had been the only nice day. 

It was some other things that didn’t go well.

First, it was a plugged toilet. You don’t want to start a stretch of days around a holiday with an unusable toilet. Well, it wasn’t totally plugged like when the flush water is rising up to the lid and you’re praying it doesn’t go over the top. I tried my brother-in-law’s plumber snake but I couldn’t get it through the trap to clear it. So, $110 later, a real plumber with a power snake cleared it. He did need about five tries to get the flush to his liking. Makes you wonder what was really down there.

Not long after that we found out that a niece’s husband had a mishap while driving their Ranger UTV on the beach. Now, these vehicles are designed to drive through almost anything. But there’s always a chance something unexpected can happen. In this case he was just driving along when he drove over a stick at an angle that forced it up and through the floor of the cab.

The stick went under the brake pedal and over the gas pedal. When he realized something was amiss, he pressed the brake to stop. However, pressing the brake put pressure on the stick, which forced the gas pedal down. So he was braking and accelerating at the same time. The end result was damage to the four-wheel-drive system, putting the vehicle out of commission the entire weekend.

The next day we learned that some relatives heading to the cottage had car trouble near the MSP airport. It was overheating. So, a rescue team arranged to borrow a vehicle trailer to pick it up. Fortunately, the car was somehow limped to the cottage after cooling down. Apparently, a gas station attendant didn’t even know what antifreeze was.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, someone discovered that the dishwasher in the cottage wasn’t working. The pump wasn’t pumping. This was discovered by a nephew who is the next generation’s fix-it guy. A quick cleaning and all the parts put back and it at least got us through the weekend.

So, what else can go wrong? How about the kitchen work table? It’s an assemble-yourself utility table on lockable wheels. It stores cookware and its top is perfect for preparing food and setting up self-serve dinners. It includes a hinged drop leaf that is held up by two slide-out arms. Those arms got pulled completely out somehow. There was much anguish about which way they went back in. No instructions were available and researching online revealed that the design had changed to a much improved cross piece. I can guess why it was changed. The main cause of the problem was that the table didn’t move well with the wheels locked so everyone lifted it by the top to move it. This had the effect of loosening the locking cams and alignment dowels that hold down the top allowing enough space so the stops on the drop leaf arms were ineffective.

We gave up fighting with it for the holiday. The fix is to glue the top’s alignment dowels down and maybe even countersink some screws in the top so it will never get loose again.

If other mishaps occurred, I ignored them. I’d had enough. But there were a couple more things that happened after we got home. We had ants in the kitchen, those tiny red ones. They were scurrying all over one work area so Catherine got out the ant killer which works by providing a poisonous treat that the ants carry back to their nest.

It’s fascinating to watch the process. Just a drop of the liquid on a tiny piece of cardboard is enough. We put two out. The ants almost immediately were drawn to them. They formed a tight circle around each drop and started gorging themselves. It almost looked like they died right there but they were just filling up.

When full, they joined the line heading right back to their nest which was outside. They climbed down the wall and raced to the nearby exterior door, sneaking out an apparent tiny opening between the threshold and the weatherstripping. The next day the few ants that hadn’t gotten the memo were dispatched quickly.

The final event was the mouse our cat caught and was playing with while we slept. We think the cat brought it to our closed bedroom door to proudly show us her prowess. The mouse managed to crawl under the door where it died, providing us with a morning surprise.

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