Shopping and the Mountain Goat

Girls getaway 2017

I spent time last week with a group of women I love and admire so much. Each year (or as close to annually as we can get), a group of cousins and I take my beloved Aunt Robbie on a little shopping / eating / laughing excursion.

This year, we were on a mission to find my auntie an outfit for her son’s wedding. His beautiful bride-to-be is the tall blond standing by my auntie in the center of the photo (which is from last year’s getaway because we all forgot to snap a photo this year!)

My gracious, but it was hot! At one point, the temperature reading in my car said it was 114 degrees! It was a good thing we spent most of our time inside the mall or the hotel.

We had such fun shopping, laughing with and at each other (thanks for the Malibu Barbie comment, Nanc!), and just enjoying the company – and food! There was plenty of good food, too!

I always look forward to our getaways (which are rarely in the same place two years in a row), because they give me a chance to relax, unwind, and have my heart filled by those fabulous ladies.

On my way home, I stopped to visit my parents. My dad has been wanting me to go with him to my brother’s place and look through some “old stuff” he has stored out there. It just so happened that my brother also had a bunch of blackberry bushes ripe for the picking.


The bushes were sprawled for yards and yards along the ditch near the canal. My other brother met us there and then, covered in long-sleeved shirts and wearing gloves, we started picking. These blackberries were definitely not the thornless variety. In fact, I’ve still got so many little thorns in my fingers, I’m not certain I’ll ever get them all out (and yes, that was with me wearing gloves!)

It was sweltering, but we picked away.  At one point, my brother assured me the best picking was down a steep bank that had no trail, just loose dirt and rocks the size of bread loaves and thistles. So I went down the bank after him and I looked back to see my octogenarian dad trailing us. Assured he made it to the bottom fine, my dad and I got into a system of him pruning back the sprawling blackberry canes while I picked.

When we finished that area and it was time to climb up the bank, I watched as my dad scrambled up that bank like a mountain goat… then he turned around and gave me a hand up. I was amazed that he still runs circles around all of us.

My mom and oldest brother were working on a section of berries right off the canal road bank. Dad went to help them while I settled in to pick a thick patch of berries, fully expecting something to slither out of the bushes at any moment since my brothers were trading rattlesnake stories.

I bent down to pick a bunch of berries and suddenly felt something prick my back. Nothing rattled or hissed, so I straightened and the pricking and poking painfully increased. I dropped the berries in my hand into the bucket at my feet then reached back, trying to figure out what was attacking me. I felt nothing on the outside of the shirt I’d borrowed from Dad. But I could certainly feel it inside.

Trying to decide if a wasp or bee had somehow climbed inside for a ride, I tugged off the long sleeve shirt then flapped the back of my T-shirt, hoping whatever it was would  go away.

By this time, I’m fairly certain I looked like a dog chasing its tail as I spun in a circle, yanked on the back of my shirt and desperately wished the pain would stop. I finally caught the evil perpetrator – a foot-long piece of dried-up blackberry cane with thorns about an inch long covering it. It had gotten tangled in my T-shirt and every time I moved, it poked and scratched.

I tossed it down and glared at the four family members who had completely ignored my shenanigans. Reluctantly, I pulled my borrowed shirt back on and returned to picking berries.

Although the cobbler I made with the berries turned out quite tasty, I told Captain Cavedweller he better enjoy it because I’m not too keen on another blackberry picking expedition.

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