The first adventure:
In fair Yankton, South Dakota, where we lay our scene, a middle-aged archer soaks in her sport for weeks on end. She works each day, does yoga, reads, walks her dog, and fills a bright-green bucket with fresh water from an outdoor spigot multiple times daily to have water for basic needs, since the RV she calls home has a broken water pump.
A fifteen-minute walk down the street or across a hay field lies an Easton-funded national archery center. One can shoot peacefully there each afternoon, virtually alone. Training manuals discuss the mental focus of the game, and our protagonist also enjoys coaching from an Olympic champion. So this protagonist can practice mental imagery and mindfulness, wrapping herself completely in each individual shot, letting each arrow expand to become her entire world for the duration of the nine-second process of “nocking” that arrow (loading it on the bow), drawing the bowstring, and firing. For that moment in time, the world includes only that individual shot. Beyond that moment, it includes only a bow, a laptop, a tiny shelf of books, an RV, and a brindle mutt.
When her time in Yankton comes to a close, our protagonist, her dog, and her returned husband drive the RV south, through Nebraska and Kansas and Oklahoma, to Texas, parking at a comfortable RV resort north of Houston to continue the RV-archery adventure. Our heroine’s husband vanquishes his holding-tank foe of a mystery quasi-plug, and our protagonist shoots an archery tournament in Houston (this past weekend), using those mental skills to finish strong and maintain focus, regardless of the score (which improves when ignored). The world has a quiet, peaceful feel, something like perfect....
The second adventure:
Our protagonist heads for Madison, Wisconsin, transforming from archer to “auntie” in order to take care of her close friend’s two daughters, while this friend goes to the hospital to have a baby. From ancient grudge with clothes and certain toys breaks new mutiny, where civil toy blood makes civil hands unclean, so little polka-dot dresses are shed and a tiny cherub throws herself into a bathtub and screams till “auntie” brings the “right” pirate ship for bath time. A mermaid’s hair must be braided, and when everyone is asleep, so the world is (of course) quite dull, the piano supplies the most entertainment for toddler hands.
The teenaged daughter asks our heroine hard questions about politics, relationships, and economics, questions that tear our dear “auntie” in two because a fine line may separate honesty from propriety in the context of a “tea party” with a wee one and a junior-high schooler. Regardless, it’s all above our girl’s pay grade. But Scrabble at night is fun and makes up somewhat for TV programming worse than any our protagonist knew existed (no more rock-star camps for kiddies, please). Late-night work in the cold of the basement keeps our girl on her toes, as does remembering the schedule for piano lessons, physics tutoring, and ... what was the last thing?
Oh, and yeah, lucky our “auntie” talked to her sister and got the skinny on sugar- and caffeine-checking for beverages because our “auntie” thought water suited for a dinner beverage, but apparently, it doesn’t ... and caffeine after 6:00 p.m. would have been a really bad idea. It’s mindfulness and laser focus at a whole new level up here.