Quick! Twenty minutes on the clock. Go.

Living room: Art pottery whisked off coffee table, stowed on top of fridge. DVR remote up onto mantle, same place each time, in fervent hope I can remember where to reclaim it. Embroidered throw pillows on couch, turned face-in. Hand-knit artisan chenille throw, folded, stashed.

Hall bath: Potty lid open and ready. Ample supply of TP. Footstool positioned in front of sink, rendering soap, water tap, and hand towels within reach. Small prayer muttered to the Potty Angels.

Kitchen! Most important. Contents of half-empty wine bottle (why was it open, damn thing has a twist-off cap, for pete’s sake, never mind, no time for self-recrimination) dumped, rinsed for recycling. Half-eaten chocolate bar with nuts (what’s with leaving half of things?) definitely worth saving; wrapped and hidden in high cabinet. Knife for slicing brother’s fabulous venison sausage (it was great with that wine), rinsed, dried, returned to drawer. Smelly sausage wrappers that have been torturing dog tossed into trash. (Ignore devastated dog.) Extra paper towels for inevitable spills, within reach. Flavored sparkling water, favorite permissible drink, in fridge to chill. Pre-approved snacks moved into front row in reachable cabinet; unapproved varieties, top shelf, out of sight line, behind dog medicine.

Home office: Pens capped, put away. Computer off. Bank statement, appalling credit card bill, shredded. Grownup desk-distraction toy—tiny, working miniature of my car—visible and ready if needed for floor racing again.

Hall bath: check potty lid again. Open and ready. Switch light on, to guard against seeker taking wrong turn.Harry.blog.11.15

Master bedroom: Over-sized decorative bed pillows propped up, the better for TV-watching that masquerades as nap-taking. Dirty laundry yanked off bed, chair, and stool and hurled into hamper; what have I been doing this week? Perennial favorite, a small stuffed gorilla named Harry sent by my mother to make me laugh after I had surgery years back, nestled in usual position atop pillows, watching gamely for visitors.

Hall bath: one more confirmation of potty readiness. Can’t be too careful.

Breathe, now. Listen for door-knocking: any minute, the children will be here.

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