NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

July 10, 2013

Column: A great vacation ... almost everyone survived

Barbara Anderson
Newburyport Daily News

---- — My Nevada family (son, wife, 12-year-old twins) flew east to spend Independence Day week in Marblehead. It was nice to have them here safe with me instead of at their usual vacation spots: Mexico with the drug cartels, the Sierra Nevada with the forest fires, or San Francisco on its earthquake fault.

Before leaving for Logan to pick them up, I cleared out the back seat of the car. Is that a spider web in the corner? Does that big black spider have an odd-shaped spot on its back? Where did it go? No time to find it or even Google “black widow.” I told the family when they got in the car to watch for it. They were pretty sure that black widow spots are red, not white.

Never mind. Everyone watch the western horizon; this feels to me like tornado weather, and if you see a tornado, I’ll stop the car and you leap into a ditch. Yes, I know there aren’t a lot of ditches on Route 1A; jump in the Revere estuary.

Son: “What if there’s lightning?”

They’re laughing at me … until they take a walk down to Salem Harbor later that day and see the forming funnel cloud. (Great photo next day in Salem News!)

Since they have to fly home, I’m not going to think about the San Francisco airport crash. I should always remember that there’s so much to worry about when you have kids, there’s no point in even getting started.

The rest of the week featured trauma rather than danger. My son chose The Landing for his birthday dinner, and ordered a pasta/lobster entrée, different from my and my granddaughter’s lobster mac and cheese. He mentioned that he didn’t want a whole lobster because they always remind him of cockroaches. A few minutes later, his plate arrives with a full lobster carcass lying in three pieces on top of the pasta.

His mother, wife and son all laughing, daughter laughing till tears in her eyes: wait, she’s crying. Had never seen a dead lobster before. Waitress, please remove the carcass … thanks.

Aside from that, the meal was excellent, friendly waitress put a candle in the cheesecake we shared. I was grateful because I hadn’t made a birthday cake: The Nabisco chocolate cookies that I use with Cool Whip to make our family’s traditional refrigerator cake were nowhere to be found in any local grocery store! Have I outlived the Nabisco chocolate cookies? Now I’m the one crying.

Woke up early the next morning to sound of cat chasing a rabbit around the living room. I tossed the cat in the bathroom, opened both doors to let the rabbit hop out. Saw squirrels lined up on the front porch waiting for their morning peanuts, so left only the back screen door open, went out front to feed the squirrels hoping the rabbit would eventually find the back door in the three-room downstairs.

Never saw him again so assumed he was eating clover with the other rabbits in our mowed-meadow backyard. I wiped up the drops of blood so as not to traumatize granddaughter; figured it was from a small wound due to cat dragging rabbit through two cat doors, one onto screened porch, one into living room. Released cat, who doesn’t usually bother the wildlife.

Four days later, noticed an awful smell in the hallway, which was closed off by an Indian blanket used to keep the living room cool with the window air-conditioner, used to prevent the aquarium fish from cooking in summer heatwave (family using window fans in bedrooms). Son went hunting for source of smell. He and grandson buried dead, decaying bunny in the backyard.

Sure was hot last week, wasn’t it? We were glad I’d purchased tickets to the Marblehead Little Theatre’s “Spamalot,” got there expecting the doors to open at 7 for the 7:30 production. For some reason two officious blondes kept people, including the elderly and handicapped, sweltering in the lobby until 7:20 — except for me, who probably embarrassed family by brushing past blondes to wait in the back of the air-conditioned theater. Always try to teach grandkids: Question authority, don’t be sheep.

The musical was great fun, though, especially for son who has during his 49 years memorized most of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” so could understand the accents. Wonderful voices, especially that of the Lady of the Lake. Family also enjoyed an afternoon on my friend Rolf Lofmark’s powerboat.

On July 4th, granddaughter had a lemonade stand in front of my house; lots of boaters walking to the dock from faraway parking stopped to drink. Grandson earned money stomping flat the boxes that had accumulated on my porch. Too bad they didn’t think to sell tickets to traditional political arguments between Gram and Daddy.

Partner Chip hosted a cookout for my family and some of his; then mine went to the harbor illumination in Marblehead, while his went down the street to Salem Harbor. Chip and I prefer to watch the fireworks through the trees from his tiny office balcony, while listening to the Boston Pops concert on television.

It was a great Fourth of July, for all but the lobster and the bunny.

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Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.