Last month I took my 2013 vacation, which was not really as relaxing as it was supposed to be. I have learned a valuable lesson this year. If you want to get any peace and quiet, you have to travel far, far, far away. You must travel to a place where your family and friends have no possible way of reaching you unless they want to incur a $100 long-distance phone bill. When I stopped in to visit my parents, I forgot what it was like to live with parents after gaining independence. I immediately was assailed with, “Monique, go shovel the snow, start my car, talk to so and so for me, buy me this,” and so on. I wanted to cringe at random times during the day and night when my parents would cheer while watching tennis or baseball games. We have a funny kind of saying in my family to remind people you should be treated as a visitor. We calmly say, “I am a guest in this house.” Shortly after you do what you’re told. Last month I also learned you need to make sure your home is monitored via camera and to not rely on people. Last year when I returned from vacation it was to find a bunch of Saskatchewan Roughriders paraphernalia plastered on the windows and a few missing pillows. This year I was expecting something along those lines. I should have known they’d try something strange since when I was leaving town, someone connected to the news created a new pro-Roughriders license plate for my car. (I tore it off before driving into Alberta.) Imagine my surprise when I returned to find a missing pillow and a ticket from the Town of Maple Creek wedged into my front door. Of course looking back on it, that ticket wasn’t from the town, but from my evil colleagues at the news office who had decided to up the stakes for this year’s prank. I have to tell you when it comes to the possibility of paying money for a fine I have a very short fuse. Thank goodness the town office was closed for the evening or else I would have hollered and made an absolute fool of myself. Those news ladies had decided they would use Photoshop to actually create a realistic ticket for $250 for snow removal for me – which would double if I didn’t pay within three days. The problem was that I had returned on the third day after 5 p.m., therefore I would have had to pay $500. I’m generally a happy person, but when you mess with my time for peace, my blessed time-off, I can go a bit crazy. For my first week of vacation I decided to cut my vacation short and return to Maple Creek to complete a project here and check my house before going away again. So when I returned to town a day earlier than expected I was already aggravated, then my blood pressure went through the roof. I actually called close friends, ranted and raved and considered moving back to Calgary, for about a split second. Now remember, I love money, especially my hard-earned money and I don’t like giving it away. So after I had driven for four hours straight to get back to town I was not exactly in a very good mood. And I didn’t really have the patience to deal with pranks. The news ladies let me stew in anger for a couple hours before revealing the truth. I have to admit, the ticket was realistic. Their only mistake was the wrong bylaw number was printed at the centre. Of course in my anger I read through every single bylaw created by the town and discovered it was a mistake. So I nursed an alcoholic beverage that night, but I felt a bit better when the Eskimos beat the Roughriders on Saturday.