I saw this comment, about a mom’s feelings about becoming an empty-nester, on a college-related message board. It sums how I feel better than anything else I’ve read.

Feels like I’m getting fired from the best, most favorite job I’ve ever had…a job I put everything into…a job I ended up being pretty good at…a job I enjoyed just about every single day I did it…and a job I will never, ever have again.

The evening’s text exchange, since I hadn’t set a curfew time for M before he took off with my car:

M: Hi, how’s work going? Just thought i would say love you since i haven’t all day. :)

E: That’s nice of you thx. All is well. How are you? Love you 2

M: Am good, at keith’s. Can i come home at 11 like w jim? That’s factoring in time needed to drop matt off. Love you muchly :)

E: 11pm is too late. No later than 10:30pm plz. Love you 2.

M: Ok. Love you! I think you are great, reasonable, and right.

E: Love you 2

Wow. Not only do we have a teen who tells us he loves us as part of nearly every text conversation, he can even admit that an earlier curfew time (on a work night) is more reasonable.

We’re very, very fortunate.

Late for curfew

Usually we tell M to be home by midnight on weekends, and then E and I fall asleep and don’t actually notice what time he gets home.

However, tonight I’m still winding down from the Excedrin I took for a migraine, so am exhausted but wide awake. M was not expecting to see me when he came in at 12:15. His explanation for why he was late? Another friend’s car had blocked his in, so he had to do a bunch of convoluted turning to get out of the driveway.

Why didn’t he ask the friend to move the other car? Well, they were all caught up in playing a WWII board game, Axis & Allies, and the Allies were winning, which meant M was losing because he was the empire of Japan, and…

M would have been in deep trouble if he’d come home after 12:30, since his under-age-18 license isn’t valid after that time. But I’m not going to argue over 15 minutes, when the kid’s idea of a wild Friday night out with his buddies involves a board game. And especially not if I might have to hear a detailed plot summary of how the game was going, and what the strategies of the 4 different sides were, or how WWII even has 4 sides in a board game.

Microwave envy

Back-to-school shopping, a.k.a off-to-college shopping, continues to proceed nicely here. After I picked M up from work today, we stopped by Walmart to get him twin XL sheets and some more underwear and socks. I don’t know how often he’s going to do laundry in college, but it seems reasonable for him to have more than a week’s worth of underwear, and to have socks without holes. I also informed him that the T-shirt he’s been using as a pajama top cannot go to college with him because it’s got holes in the armpits. (I managed to restrain myself from saying, “It’s 8 years old, we bought it because it’s a weird shade of yellow that nobody usually wears, but we’d briefly lost you in an amusement park and so wanted you to wear something distinctive for the rest of our vacation, and now you’re going to live in a co-ed dorm, and none of the girls want to see your armpit hair poking through the holes.”) I pointed him toward the sale rack of plain T-shirts and he picked out something in a nice subdued maroon. Very good.

Earlier this week, I bought him a small microwave. (His future roommate, who lives much closer to the college than we do, has agreed to bring a mini-fridge. Whew. I know we wouldn’t be able to fit a fridge in our car with everything else.) And I had a little bit of microwave envy, since his new microwave is so nice and clean. Meanwhile the interior coating on our 22-year-old kitchen microwave has been flaking off for the last few years, so it’s got these weird scabrous patches on all the interior seams, which are impossible to clean.

But it wasn’t until E mentioned that the microwave at her work died, that I realized I could actually justify buying a non-disgusting microwave for us. She’ll bring the 22-year-old icky microwave in to the office, where none of the guys care what it looks like as long as it works. And I will buy a nice clean microwave for us at home. I should be able to get one quite inexpensively, since our household needs have been nicely met for 22 years by what the current market considers a low-end, “compact” microwave.

Last month E was rummaging around in the kitchen utensil drawer, pulled out a small, clean, plastic ashtray, and asked why it was in there.  My explanation that it had been in the house when I bought the place, and I just never got around to getting rid of it, sounded pretty pathetic even to me.  We don’t smoke; none of our close friends or family smoke; and if people who smoked came to visit, it’s not like we’d whip out the ashtray and let them light up in the house.

But I didn’t want to just throw the ashtray out, because hey, it’s a usable thing and I’m a frugal, thrifty person who doesn’t throw out usable things.  (Last week I spent a few  days trying to clean a rug which the cat had peed on 6 times, before I finally agreed to throw it out.  Actually, the cat had to pee on the cleaned rug a 7th time before I agreed.)   We were cat-sitting for our next-door neighbors on the day E found the ashtray, and the neighbors do smoke occasionally.  So we left the ashtray on their kitchen counter, next to their bag of organic tobacco and their cigarette-rolling gizmo.  We didn’t leave a note.  They’re pretty laid-back people, with a rotating cast of young-adult children and friends frequently visiting, so we doubted anyone would worry over exactly where the ashtray came from.

We’re cat-sitting for the neighbors again this week.  The first day that we went over to  their house, I glanced out the back window at their porch, and began to laugh.  There was the little plastic ashtray, sitting on their porch railing, full of butts, fulfilling its destiny again after a 17-year hiatus.

M called me at work this morning to say he needed a bandana for camp, and asked whether the one on the shelf in the coat closet was “hygienically acceptable.”

What does he think I’m going to say?  “No, it isn’t, first I used it to blow my nose and then I rubbed it on some poison ivy and then I folded it neatly and put it back in the coat closet”?

To make it even more entertaining, I got the call at my desk, where I’m now in an open workspace.  What my coworkers heard me say was, “Hey M___, what’s up?” and then “Hygienically acceptable?!”  At least two people’s heads whipped around upon hearing the latter intriguing phrase, before deducing from the rest of it that I was just dealing with a clueless household member and not a work issue.

So far, the PVC fence around our garden is working beautifully! The deer haven’t attacked the veggies again. And thanks to the trail cam, we even know there were 2 recent nights when the deer walked right along next to the fence, but didn’t get in.

The cucumber plants are producing one good-sized cucumber every day. The green bean plants, which were more badly mauled by the deer, are still managing to produce a nice handful of green beans every day.


Some days the daily cucumber is bigger than others.


I try to pick the largest cucumber I see each day, but occasionally there’s a stealthy one that manages to get huge (and thus somewhat less tasty) without me noticing it. After I picked today’s choice, I discovered that tomorrow I’ll need to pick a lurker which is already 8″ long and 3″ wide.


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