I wish my writing sabbatical to visit grandkids had been as peaceful as this picture. No such luck. On the first day of my Kansas visit my grandson’s dog trapped me in the basement.
I was just trying to take a “selfie” with the dog on the stairs when she turned on me, snapped, growled and backed me down the stairs into the basement.
It took an hour and a half for the “fam” to return and free me from their snarling “rescue” dog at the top of the stairs.
The next ten days were spent – surprise to me – as the family moved out of the house. Fortunately the mattresses stayed (just not the bed frames). My vacation transformed into a physical work-out. I boxed up the kitchen, cleaned the pantry, scoured the refrigerator, and climbed three-levels of stairs until I ached in places I’d forgotten I had. While the kids were at camp in the mornings, I packed breakables, took down pictures, and boxed videos. I found $6.28 in loose change, missing Legos, and $85 in lost gift cards. I pocketed the change, but surrendered the Legos and gift cards.
After two days of storms thundering across the plains, the sunflowers started to wilt and a heat advisory planted itself over Kansas. My eight-year-old granddaughter reminded me to bow down to the god of air conditioning every time I hauled trash bags to the curb. Somehow the weather cooperated enough in the evenings for me to see the kids play softball and baseball. I watched two of my granddaughter’s games – the final one delayed an hour because of a heat advisory. They ended the game and season with a water balloon fight. At dusk temperatures were still in the nineties. I watched my 11-year-old grandson’s baseball team shock the sports pundits and parents of opposing teams. Playing under the big lights on AstroTurf after their red clay field flooded, his team beat every contender, including the undefeated favorite. When the stadium lights shut off prematurely during their postgame City Champ celebration, the team caravanned to Varsity Donuts, a stationary food truck parked in an alley and popular with college kids. I treated myself to a Grilled Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich, a first.
We braved the heat to chase Pokemon, virtual characters in the Nintendo internet game taking the world by storm. We played in a Junction City park, a virtual “hot spot” in more ways than one, and spent hours in the Verizon store – again, praise to the god of air conditioning. Back in the sweltering heat, we used the Pokemon app for a discount to the Manhattan Zoo to chase these virtual animals. The real animals were too hot to come out in daylight. The cheetah, perched as high in the shade of his cage as possible, was panting more than I was. The only semi-cool animal was a turtle, laboriously hauling his house towards a puddle.
In the midst of the chaos, my granddaughter turned eight. She and I began the day with a pancake birthday celebration and then set a timer. She opened a small gift every hour, on the hour. For dinner before the baseball game, she chose her favorite place – all you can eat pizza. I’d been there before and it took her birthday to drag me back to Pizza Ranch. I learned it’s her favorite place, not for the pizza, but because of the free soft, serve ice cream machine.
My exit from Kansas was every bit as surprising as my visit. We arrived at the Kansas City Airport (a three-hour drive) to see disgruntled passengers forming a line that snaked halfway down the outside of the terminal. Inside, a mirror image of even more passengers. But nothing would dampen our spirits. The grandkids and I were heading to my house in Florida for a real vacation.
It’s good to be writing again.