Right in my own backyard.

The adventures husband Peter and I used to have are part of my memories and photo albums. His increasingly confused state — dementia has gained on him — keeps us home now. He has no memories of our trips, nor do my pictures help him remember. Last fall, for the first three days of an eight day visit to daughter Carolynn and husband Bill, Peter didn’t know where he was. We’d lived in that same little village for seventeen years.
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Daffodil in snow.

The first week of this month, Carolynn and her friend Robin traveled to us with inflexible determination to give me a special week “in my own backyard.” The bumper sticker on Carolynn’s new car said “Rescue Mom.”

Before the two left upstate New York early on a snowy Saturday morning, they’d issued orders for me to list anything they could do to help with during their week. Not wanting to look a gift-horse in the mouth, I did start a list, but lost it amongst the clutter in my office. I really wanted to just enjoy them, not put them to work on the pesky tasks that had piled up. That idea didn’t fly.

They arrived  Saturday evening. Sunday was family brunch, cards, and dinner out, but Monday they were all about the chores. Granddaughter Samantha was in town, so they appointed her secretary to their two-woman crew. And then they set to work.

Coincidentally, Leslie provided work shirts for the family crew. From left, Carolynn, Sam, me, Leslie.

They fixed nearly all the meals, grocery shopped, baked bread, cookies, muffins; organized files, cookbooks, kitchen cupboards, and my office; surprised me with muffins at breakfast on my birthday, and planned a birthday feast. (Leslie, around as much as she was able during her busiest time of the year, reminded them about my requirement for tin roof sundaes instead of cake.) Since Sam likes a clean car, I suggested she clean mine. She did,

Twice they shoved me out of the house, once to get a pedicure, once, a massage. I didn’t protest too much.

They gardened and washed windows, we shopped and played cards, watched movies and read, they made multiples of sock bunnies and we fit in “Beauty and the Beast” their final evening.

All in all, that week was a “trip” anyway I look at it. And I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

Over the week the list expanded to two pages. By the end, everything was crossed off, even ‘bake chocolate chip cookies’ that Sam added for herself.

Fluffle of sock bunnies.

 

Color July happy.

The peacefulness, the quiet, the river running through all make “The River,” as we call it, one of my very favorite places. Our very small family all gathered there July Fourth weekend — Leslie and Martin, their Samantha and Jeremiah, Sam’s friend Hannah, Carolynn and Bill, Peter and me. Oh, and the dogs Tillie, Huckleberry, Gooseberry, and Nobby.

Such a special time for so many reasons. The holiday weekend was extended because Carolynn and Bill stayed through Friday, and that gave us extra time to do what we do best — eat, shop, talk, play cards, wade, swim, laugh, color, and, did I say, eat?

Color July watermelon red, homemade vanilla ice cream white, and blueberry pie blue. Then add peach pie gold, summer green salad, strawberry ice cream pink, and fresh corn yellow. Add in the grilled shades of beef tenderloin, Polish sausage, and beer butt chicken to picture our feasts.

Coloring July Fourth.

 

Rock. Hard place.

If your age is north of seventy and south of eighty, let’s say, and you decide to go tubing on a rocky river, you might want consider the saying, “Caught between a rock and a hard place.” I did not and I wish I had.

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This is how we looked when we went tubing in my day.

On Sunday, Leslie, Martin, and Samantha convinced me to go tubing, something I hadn’t done for, oh, sixty years! Back then, I was a flexible teenager who wore a bathing suit and cap instead of baggy water shorts and tee-shirt, and I tubed in a slow-moving central-Ohio river with no rapids, while drifting lazily in the noonday sun.

When Leslie rolled the tubes out the shed door the memories flooded back — the faint sweet smell of talc, the satiny black tube, the comfy bounce that would cushion me. Ah-h!

Sam’s tube veered left out of the shed and, though she gave chase, it picked up speed and bounded down through the woods like a cat with a firecracker you-know-where. My granddaughter inherited her fear of snakes from me and wasn’t about to go after it. Leslie and Martin found the tube and saved the day.

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I’d been led to believe the Smith River’s gentle rapids were Class I, but I’ve since learned they’re likely Class II. The trip was a bit like a kiddie roller-coaster. Getting situated in aslippery inner tube was laughable; getting back into it, after I’d impaled myself on rocks and ditched, was painfully hilarious. Harder still was keeping my bum elevated so the jutting rocks wouldn’t become weapons, ahem, of ass destruction

On Monday, I remembered every rock and hard place I’d met the day before.