The only modern convenience in Ina’s home was the handsome wooden telephone on the wall in the dining room – the kind with the handle you cranked to ring central. I say “modern” but it was now obsolete when one considered the models used in the cities with their fancy dials and handsets. In the outlying rural areas, though, these wooden boxes on “party lines” were still in service [and would remain so at Gilbert for another 20 years].
As Ina was tidying the kitchen, she recognized their ring – one long and two shorts – and hurried to answer the telephone. It was probably just Bertha wanting to visit. She would have to tell her she didn’t have time. But no –it was Ethel calling from Ernest’s sister’s home in Spokane. She said they would arrive earlier than expected “to enjoy the holiday preparations.” In a way it was wonderful news. In another – well, Ina would have to think things through, re-plan, and re-write her lists. Ina was nearly enveloped in panic when it occurred to her that maybe some things wouldn’t get done. Never mind, she told herself. In the end, it wouldn’t matter.
Baking could be done during the visit. Yes, now that her pork cake was in the larder, other baking could be put off. However, the upstairs must be opened and warmed at once and tomorrow she would make the beds, dust and mop. Opening the stair door, Ina felt the rush of cold air. She stoked up the wood heater in the dining room, then went upstairs to light a fire in the wood heater in the large bedroom. Suddenly the house seemed warmer, brighter, alive with expectation, and Ina knew it had as much to do with the anticipated family visit as with the heat from the stoves.
She would finish writing her cards today, Ina decided, and tomorrow she would pack boxes for mailing. She had mailed Pearl’s to northern Alberta last week, but she still had the others to ship -- Earle’s to Idaho Falls, Myrtle’s to Portland, Vance’s to Raymond, and one to her sisters in Drain.
Yes, everything would work out. Besides, her daughter Ethel was a cheerful, capable worker and would help wherever needed. But of course, Ina expected to be mistress of her home, especially the kitchen. KW