Thursday, September 02, 2021

The Calm After The Storm

 Uh, anyone still here? Let me just brush these cobwebs off my chair here...

Gratuitous picture of homemade hummus

When last we chatted, 3 months ago, my area was suffering the 17-year cicada plague, which  IN THEORY should now be just a dim memory that - like all trauma - will hopefully fade with time... 

But it's NOT. You see, although the cicadas went away, their nymphs hatched in July, which thankfully I mostly couldn't see -- well, except for the ones covering my car windows, ugh -- but still, they were all going to burrow underground and THEN it would be over, right?

Wrong. It seems that the abundance of cicada nymphs leads to an abundance of microscopic arachnids called oak mites, who feed on the nymphs and then (here's the fun part) feed on people. And when they bite you, you get a huge red circle around the bite, which itches for a week. Even Larry, who seems largely immune to mosquitoes, is walking around sporting multiple red spots and slathering himself in Benadryl gel and hydrocortisone cream. 

I know, I had most of you at "microscopic arachnids."

These creatures bite through clothing. They bite you on the neck. I am currently sporting a lovely bite on my face and praying it goes away before I actually land a job interview. These oak mites seem to be here until the first frost, which now occurs - thanks to climate change - sometime in November.

So, yay! Hot and humid DC summer, now with oak mites! Come for the monuments, stay for the pestilence!

But the big news here? The really big news?

Everyone moved out this summer. OUT. Except Susie of course, who is still the baby, but even she had the temerity to turn 16 and get a job (at Chik-Fil-A, complete with cow mask). 

Sigh. I'm not allowed to post a picture, but I want to.  Here, have a pic of our new collection, instead:

These seem to be piling up in our house now

Anna, who came home in June to get immunized, managed to land a job in DC, so now she is living the young DC professional life (which means sharing a townhouse with 3 other young and underpaid DC professionals). Rachel moved out in July to a nearby apartment and is working full time. Brian went back to college last week.

So I am actually typing this from AN EMPTY HOUSE. It feels marvelous. But weird. 

The best part about this almost-empty nest? Loading the dishwasher. Folks, I never realized how much of my mental space was occupied by dishwasher calculus. Think about it: I had to figure out what would fit, what I would wash by hand, WHO USED ALL THESE GLASSES, etc., once or twice a day for years. 

That doesn't sound like a big deal, right? And it was just second nature for me. But now? Why, I just toss whatever's in the sink in the dishwasher, pop in the detergent, and start that thing up, no thinking required! 

I feel so carefree. Is this how it is supposed to be? And nobody told me?

My container garden on the back deck has gone absolutely insane. I am deluged with basil. Usually, half the plants die by mid-July because of fungus or rot or some other botanical nemesis, so I bought extra plants this year.  EIGHTEEN, to be precise. I wasn't messing around.

Is this real life? Or is it just fantasy?

I've lost only 2, however, which means I've ended up with a freezer full of pesto. And there is still lots of basil on the deck waiting to be transformed into pesto. My kids (remember, they all moved out?) are sick of my trying to force jars of frozen pesto on them. I also have 3 plants full of hot peppers and cherry tomato plants that just won't quit. I have NEVER been this horticulturally successful. 

It's as though I've turned into an old lady overnight, with my cute little deck garden, cooking cute little dinners for just me and Larry (Susie makes her own, unless I make something vegetarian). I've even got a floppy sunhat (mostly to fend off oak mites, but still...). 

Quiche - I'm cooking quiche now. Weird, right?

Is this how it ends, all the craziness and all those years of kids and vomit and mice? With quiche and sunhats and me sitting on the couch in the afternoon, basking in the peace and quiet? It feels like the end of a wild carnival ride, where you suddenly slow to a stop and can stop gripping your partner in sheer terror. Oh, it's over? Wow, that was fast. But I'll take it.

I guess I need to change my tagline, though...