Sunday, May 30, 2021

No Escape

 A long time ago (17 YEARS AGO, in fact), our family lived for a year in Rhode Island, where Larry was pursuing a master's degree. It was a hard year, in general - I mean, picture it: we had 5 kids, ages 1-12, in tow and no support network, nothing. Just us in a 150-year-old house with no neighbors to speak of and a yard that my kids didn't seem to understand how to use, as there were no "other kids" in it. The toddler (that would have been Rachel) was at the age where the sight of books neatly lined up on shelves produced a compunction to REMOVE THEM ALL, so trips to the library or the bookstore were hardly relaxing. 

Oh, we made the best of it - we dragged them to every historical museum/display/site within a 2-hour radius (shout out to the New Bedford Visiting Center - best bathrooms ever!), took them to Mystic Seaport where the two oldest took (incredibly cheap) sailing lessons, and in general tried to make the most out of the opportunity of temporarily living in a different place. I made connections among the Navy spouses and homeschoolers in the town, so there were even a few social opportunities for the kids. And, of course, I managed to get all 5 kids to the beach a few days a week while the weather stayed nice.

Its being New England, though, the weather turned cold fairly early on. All the tourist places shut down. It was an abnormally frigid winter, with the thermometer repeatedly reading ZERO DEGREES when we checked it each morning. It started feeling like Groundhog's Day - the same thing, over and over and over. The kids were super, playing day after day with duct tape and craft sticks and tin foil and homemade playdoh, but it wasn't easy. I was terribly homesick for our friends, our neighborhood full of kids, my own house.

But then May 2004 rolled around. Spring arrived where we were, and at home? CICADAS. Masses of bug-eyed (naturally) creatures emerging from the ground and covering the trees, creating a sound so loud that my best friend couldn't hear me if she was on the phone outside. And for the first time during that long year in exile, I was grateful. Grateful I wasn't stuck in our house with several crying children who didn't like bugs. Grateful for the beautiful New England spring we were finally experiencing. And in no hurry whatsoever to return until all the bugs were gone, which they were by the time we got home, after mid-June.

I made a vow all those years ago. May 2021 would find me on a fun cross-country trip, visiting friends as I toured across anywhere in this great land of ours that wasn't covered in cicadas. Most of my kids would be fully grown by then and living elsewhere, so maybe I could even stay with some of them. As 2021 drew closer, I made a list of places to visit, friends to see. I was all set.

That is, until COVID shut the world down and turned me from an almost empty nester to having a full house again. Here I was in April 2021, in a world where out-of-town guests were not necessarily welcome, sitting in my most emphatically not-empty house, essentially trapped before the coming onslaught. TRAPPED.

In desperation, I booked a week at an Airbnb in Burlington, VT, for mid-May. It wasn't enough, but it was something. I looked up when the cicadas emerged last time and planned around that. Maybe, I thought, I'd miss the worst of it.

Burlington was beautiful and (mostly) bug free

Wouldn't you know it? The cicadas were late this year. They pretty much greeted Larry and Susie and I as we got out of our car - you know, when we came back from spending all that money to avoid them. And here I am, living with these damn bugs. Look, I know many people suffered worse losses as a result of COVID-19 - jobs, family members, friends - but dammit, COVID destroyed this 17-year-old plan of mine to escape the cicadas and I can't quite get over it.

The Saturday after we got back, Larry swept (I'm sorry, did I say swept? I meant SHOVELED) all the cicadas off our back patio. I looked out the back door on Sunday and saw this:

They just keep coming up out of the ground, ew

There are so very, very many of them. They seem to love the color blue:

Larry's in charge of recycling/trash for the foreseeable future

I've been fine with the sound, which surprises me. But as the shells and the dead cicadas decompose on the sidewalks and parking lot, they release the most sickening smell. I tried sweeping out our spots, so at least I wouldn't have to walk on them as I got into the car, but after 10 minutes I felt so sick I had to go inside.

I'm not having fun, is what I'm saying. The cicadas are now at the point where we can watch them swooping in and out among the tree canopy, for all the world like drunken spring break revelers, with some of them - seemingly inebriated by the excitement of it all - falling out of the trees onto the ground (if we're lucky) or sometimes onto our heads (OMG, EWWW).

There's such a thing as cicada pee. I wish I didn't know that.

So, yeah, I was going to tell you all about Mother's Day and the Burlington trip and Susie's birthday (she's 16, my baby's 16, I can't stand it), but I had to get all this off my chest first. I'm mostly spending my time rewatching Schitt's Creek and pretending the outdoors doesn't exist. And trying not to think about the destruction of a cherished 17-year-old dream...

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Mothers WEEKEND, Thank You Very Much

 Why stop at just one day, is what I'm saying...

(Accidental) Mother's Day tulips
Note the dish of strawberry candies on the table in the picture there. They automatically appear in your house once you're past a certain age. DESTINY, DESTINY, NO ESCAPING DESTINY...

I bought those tulips myself, I'll have you know. Whole Foods was having a good sale, so I grabbed these flowers, forgetting Mother's Day was coming and that Larry would be wanting to buy them for me. So I told the kids to just slap a "Happy Mother's Day" sign on the vase on Sunday and I'd be good.

Low maintenance, I am...


When Larry and I returned from a postprandial perambulation on Wednesday evening, I spotted this sign on the kitchen light switch:

Confusing, right? What's a "wasp lid," I wondered? And why is this sign on the light switch? And who in my house has that handwriting that I don't even recognize?

So many questions, which were only partly answered when I swung my gaze from the switch to the ceiling (you know, where the lights are) and saw this:

Here, have a closer look, I sure did:

Ooookay, so a wasp apparently flew into the inset light in the ceiling and Brian decided to trap it there. That boy can think on his feet, that's for sure. "Don't worry," he said. "I Googled it, and it takes them 2 days to die, so we can remove that on Saturday morning."

"Oh, but don't turn the light on," Brian added. "It might melt the Pyrex lid." The WASP LID. Suddenly, everything made sense. Sort of.

We endured a dark-ish kitchen for a few days until the great unveiling this morning, executed by Larry and Brian. "Well?" I asked when I went downstairs for breakfast and saw the light was back to normal. "Was it dead?"

"Uh, we don't know," said Larry. "It wasn't there."

So, yeah, no idea what happened to the wasp. It probably crawled into the ceiling and is plotting its revenge. Nice.


I referred to Brian as a "boy" up there, but he turned 21 last month and would probably not approve of that designation. Also, because he is against generating unneeded consumer waste, we were a little stymied as to how to celebrate his birthday (our usual style being a lot of wrapping paper and gift bags and silly cheap gifts). Susie turned to Pinterest and - working REALLY hard - generated decorations, wrapping, AND gifts out of mostly newspaper, paper bags, and glue.

The results? They were impressive:

Paper towel tube idea was mine, though

They're coasters, duh


Of course, we've left all those rosettes hanging there, because hey, they were A LOT of work and Mother's Day is coming and then Susie's birthday and now that we're all so ecofriendly, why not recycle/reuse them, right? Recently, though, Brian was looking more closely at one of the rosettes and said, "Susie, did you use the OBITUARIES?"

Reader, she did. Turns out, we've been sitting around our house with pictures of dead people dangling from the ceiling of our living room and hey, if any of you need an experienced decorator for shivas or wakes, just let us know, okay?