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It was just another lazy day by the river

"An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth."

— Bonnie Friedman

I love those days when time itself seems to slow and breathing comes easy.

I thought I was headed for just such a Saturday when I invited a girlfriend and her darling daughter over to the cottage.

Come hang by the river, I said. We'll soak up some spring sunshine and just generally be fabulous.

My friends' arrival time was estimated for around 1 p.m. Since it was only late morning when we firmed the deal, I figured I had just enough time to do a few chores and a couple errands.

A big bag of trash in my right hand — and purse, keys and cellphone in the other, I headed to the car to drop off everything in my left hand.

Opening the Vibe's red door with one free finger, I plop purse on passenger seat, toss cell into purse's gaping maw, and gently tumble keys onto driver's seat, closing the door with a swift hip check. Only to hear "click" as tumbling keys trigger auto-lock because of hyper-sensitive key fob.

Keys, purse, phone. Now. Locked. In car.

Noooo!!! I don't have time for this!

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. And remember Hide-A-Key. Phew!

Crawling under the car on a filthy gravel driveway to retrieve the little metal box whilst sporting white pants was so not on my to-do list. But I figure the errands can get done, and my outfit can be changed before company arrives, if I can just keep rolling.

Got the Hide-a-Key! Eureka!

Except the box won't open. I push. I pull. I cuss. It remains stubbornly closed. And breaks my nail.

Whimpering, I remember I have a Hide-a-Key to get in my house, where I do not have another spare car key. But I can use my iPad to seek assistance from my friends. Surely someone will know the secret to unlocking this Chinese puzzle.

I use the iPad to post a photo to Facebook of the recalcitrant Hide-a-Key. But help doesn't come in 60 seconds. So I move on to Plan B. Hammer time.

(Note to self: Don't hammer on wooden chopping block. Far too bouncy.)

I will say this for mounting frustration: It lends a certain strength to one's actions. With a mighty sideways whack, I split that sucker asunder. The key is freed.

Adding new key and Hide-a-Key to shopping list, I head to the hardware store.

"I need another one of these, and these, please," I say, showing the clerk the duplicate key and the smashed box.

"No problem, I'll be right back," says he, with a grin.

Twenty toe-tapping, finger-drumming minutes later, the nice, young fellow admits defeat, and hands me back my key.

"It just won't copy," he says, adding I'll need to come back when their expert key maker is on duty.

He does, however, locate a replacement Hide-a-Key box. Which I buy, and head out to the parking lot. For I know better than to think I can wait to put the key back in place another time.

Back on my belly, under my car I go. Paying careful attention to my friend's advice to secure the key in a secret location, I wiggle and writhe on the asphalt parking lot — searching for the perfect hiding spot.

Firmly affixing the metal box, I am finally squirming my way out from under the car, when I hear rapid footsteps approaching. A man is shouting.

"Don't do it! Don't do it!" he cries.

I roll the rest of the way out, looking around to see what all the hollering was about. The fellow is directing his comments toward yours truly. Apparently he fears I was about to end it all under the rear wheels of a parked car. Or maybe he's just trying to make me smile.

In either case, it's nice to know someone cares.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or sspecht@mailtribune.com.

It was just another lazy day by the river