This Did Not Go As Planned

This did not go as planned. I’ve been saying that a lot lately because it applies to just about everything in my life. It goes something like this, I think I’ll try a new recipe, write a quick blog, call my mom, organize my wardrobe. Then I spend all my time running down ingredients that can not be found, staring at a blank page, dialing a disconnected number, and walking into chaos. I end up hyperventilating, and since plastic bags are all but banned in California, I just sit there with my head between my knees. I’m an overachiever when it comes to under-accomplishing. Nothing to see here folks, move on…

It’s July, which means it’s time for the annual lakeside birthday bash with my niece Mackenzie, and believe me when I say this did not go as planned. This year I decided to tack our party onto the end of a weekend at the lake with the Texans (cousins Vicky and Dave), my sister Nancy, husband Dave, Mackenzie, Larry, and until this year, my mom. Her absence was noticeable. 
We did the usual, picnicked at the wineries, enjoyed swirls and wings at Richmond Grill, classic movies, bouts of laughter, fishing, star gazing, naps, bacon and waffles, but it was not the same. (My cousin Vicky got me hooked on 7 Little Words, a modern day crossword puzzle, you play on your iPhone. One of the clues was no content, five letters…) The word that comes to mind is empty. I wrote nothing for an entire week but finished a smut novel by Nora Roberts in two days. Mom left it here on one of her visits, it felt good to read the same story, like we were in book club together, but not. 

When it came time to kiss the Texans good-bye, and my sister began packing the car, I realized I am incapable of performing this salutation. I nodded, waved, cried, and had to blow my nose several times. It wasn’t pretty.

As soon as she could get her parents out the door, Mackenzie had our entire weekend planned, down to the minute. She would prefer we commit to exactly the same activities year after year. Routine is everything to Mackenzie. We eat, watch movies, sleep, repeat. There is something appealing about routines. 

I admit, on occasion I like to throw something unexpected into the mix, makes her crazy, and now I understand why. It’s how I feel when God messes with my plans. I do a lot of moaning, Mackenzie slaps on earphones to an iTunes mix, and sings (it’s a lot like moaning, but there are lyrics, which she totally screws up). We all have our “go to” behaviors.

On day two we drive into Lakeport for exactly three hash browns and a coke at MacDonald’s. It’s her birthday weekend. What can you do? We have groceries to pick up on our way home but this year I decide we need to stop at an antique store (which she claims to hate, but doesn’t). Truth be told I had a completely selfish motive. 

When I was young a favorite activity of my parents was to take a drive to Bolder Creek on the weekend, we’d swim in the shallow brook, enjoy the world’s largest hamburger at the local diner, and browse the little shops downtown. One year I spotted this cast iron toy stove and I had to have it. I’m sure my twenty-something parents thought it impractical and expensive so I was denied. On additional trips I would look for the little cast iron stove and beg for ownership. It didn’t happen. 

Fast forward forty years or so, I’m snooping around an obscure antique store in Lakeport of all places, and the very toy I longed for as a child found me. Now I’m a grown woman, I do not need a cast iron stove to make me happy, but there it was taunting me like a Raider’s fan. I walked away the first time I saw it (about nine months ago) but it stayed with me like the smut novel I couldn’t put down. So I decided to test my endurance, Mackenzie was not thrilled to veer off schedule, but I was emphatic.

I practically drag her to the back of the store and demand, “what do you think,” pointing excitedly to my little stove. She says, “what, that old rusted thing? No thank you.” I ignore her comment and ask the cashier to open the locked case so I can have a peek. Finding the right key was an issue, but eventually she was able to open the door to my treasure, I fell right down the rabbit hole, and totally lost track of Mackenzie. 

The cashier says, “You want me to pull the thing out,” I look at her like she is daft, hello, this is my hearts desire. I hear Mackenzie singing (moaning) at the other end of the store, but I have my own issues to contend with, so I ignore her. I brush aside the clerk and pull my unrequited memory out of the case and set it gently on the counter. The cashier is clearly worried about Mackenzie, the singing (moaning), and unattended store front. I do not care in the least. I open all the little compartments one at a time, touch all the parts with great reverence, I would squeal with delight but I have my dignity.

The clerk is now huffing and puffing, stomping her foot, as Mackenzie’s singing steadily increases in volume. She finally says, “miss, do you want it or not?” I hear Mackenzie yell, “Aunt Cheryl, I found something I want,” and from the corner of my eye, I see her ambling down the narrow aisle, with this adorable glass cookie jar. I mumble to myself, “I want this stove.” The clerk is beside herself, straining her neck to keep an eye on Mackenzie, and the wobbling top to the cookie jar. I ignore the clerk as she lungs towards Mackenzie, “Let me help you with that honey,” and she places the jar on the counter next to my darling stove. Mackenzie says, “what do you think?” The table has turned.

I hem and haw for about thirty seconds, “we’ll take them both, but I expect a discount, and maybe we won’t come back tomorrow. (I totally nailed it, she took ten dollars off, and shoed us quickly out of the store). 

When we arrive back at the house toting our new treasures and set them carefully on the kitchen table for display. I adore my stove and Mackenzie is smitten with the cookie jar. We walk slowly around the table, looking at our pieces from every angle, four letters, and the word that comes to mind is full. Mackenzie says she wants to add antiquing to the schedule next year. This did not go as planned…it was so much better. 

Living in the Gap, drop in anytime. Share, tweet, google – and I might let you play with my cast iron stove.


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  1. Sometimes I rage against the unexpected like a black bear pulled from hibernation, but given a little time, I realize there are always gifts! Thanks for commenting Melissa. 💜


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