Friday, April 20, 2018

Three Times the Fun

If you plan it, they will pile on. Fortunately, there's muscle memory.

First came the plans to spend the weekend at the best cottage on the Carrotoman River with a favorite couple. Then I got a side job that required a Friday afternoon interview in White Stone. Next thing I knew, the publisher of a magazine I write for needed help proofing and writing captions, sidebars and calendar picks, lunch included. Finally, my Mom asks if I can come by Sunday to help with some spring cleaning chores.

I have visions of us beating rugs with brooms, kerchiefs tied around our heads, while birds sing in the trees, but I have a feeling that's not the reality.

When I headed out this morning, it was with supplies for four different outings and a feeling that April is slipping through my fingers. Eager as I am to get to May (and heaven knows I am), I marvel at how quickly the month is rushing by.

The proofing and last-minute writing gig was a throwback to my years as managing editor of a couple of local papers and though it's been a dozen years since I experienced the monthly production crunch just before printing, it was an easy job to fall back into. Some skill sets are so deeply ingrained that flexing them is effortless.

But unlike those years when I was in charge, it was someone else's job to go get the lunches, incidentally from Car Wash Café, a place I'd long planned to check out. I gave points for how peppery the chicken salad was, as well as for the beet salad, not often seen as a side.

Working in a conference room at a table across from the art director (busy designing last minute ads, natch), it didn't take long for me to realize how used to working alone I am. Time after time, I'd find myself softly mouthing words I'd just written to get a feel for the flow or even burping after an especially loud swig from my water bottle, with no regard for the woman working across the table from me.

Out of practice at playing well with others, you might say. Or excuse me, whichever.

Best of all, when I walked out of there, I had no responsibility to ensure that the files made it to the printer. Running the joint is overrated.

My interview involved a woman who'd bought a large old house for a small price and then furnished it completely for next to nothing with finds from local thrift stores, things like a Waterford crystal vase for $2 or a marble table that sat ten for $50. Some of the furnishings had been bought for such ridiculously low prices that she'd left the price tags on them so people would believe what she paid for them.

According to her, you just don't expect a cut glass bowl etched with "U.S. Senate" to go for $3. I would question why anyone needs a cut glass bowl etched with "U.S. Senate," but no one asked me.

When that interview ended, I was finally on my way to the cottage and some R & R with two of the most enjoyable people I know. I arrived to find the man of the house napping and the lady of the house sipping red wine and eagerly awaiting my arrival, just the greeting every visitor hopes for.

Being a decorator herself, she was eager to hear about both the Northern Neck houses I'd been in lately so I obliged with drawings and long-winded stories while she poured Menage a Trois Rose and joked about buying it in my honor. If nothing else, we knew it would pay us back in quips all night.

To celebrate having taken a half day off, she'd shopped for the makings of an indulgent shrimp, pasta and sundried tomato dish that starred butter, half and half and Parmesan and only required constant stirring for the length of a conversation about women needing to feel appreciated.

We were cooking up a storm, sipping our pink and covering vast swaths of the past four weeks since I'd last been here when all of a sudden, we spotted the man of the house standing behind us silently. When she asked what he was up to, he claimed to be doing nothing more than admiring the view and noting what a fine time we were having.

When we sat down to dinner, my host insisted I take a seat facing the river and then moved from across from me so his head wouldn't block my view. When he got up for a beer, asking if we needed anything, I had three words for him: menage a trois.

It was worth it as much to hear my hostess erupt in laughter as to get more California Rose.

But all of that was just prelude to the main event. Since my last visit, the manly one had sunk multiple ladders in the river in a dubiously safe procedure to erect a platform on a post for a couple of local ospreys, who'd moved to their luxurious new digs within two days of the vacancy sign going up. By the time of my arrival today, it was clear that the lovebirds had not only moved in, but made a few improvements of their own.

Understandably, the maker of their new crib was busting his buttons over his accomplishment as we admired the birds cozying up to each other. Life changed and they adjusted.

Ain't love grand?

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