Emergence

The Brood X cicadas emerged in our area on Saturday. My husband and I were camping at the time. We arrived at our campsite on Friday night, and there were no cicadas. Saturday morning, they were everywhere. One of the trees on our site was absolutely covered in cicadas and their exoskeletons, and birds came by all day to feast at this buffet. (I spent a good amount of time on Saturday just sitting at our campsite with binoculars, watching the birds come by to grab several of them at once and fly off.)   

For those who haven’t experienced this phenomenon, Brood X is one of many periodical cicada broods that emerge every 17 years (a few broods are on a 13-year cycle). 

You can read more about them here

This is only the third time in my life these Brood X cicadas have emerged. Though the last time they emerged, I was living in Germany and missed it entirely. I’m kind of creeped out by them, so I wasn’t upset about it. Due to our moving around during my husband’s military career, I have experienced the emergence of other broods. 

To be honest, I find the exoskeletons to be much creepier than the insects themselves. The cicada nymphs burst out of their shells and leave them behind. And they are EVERYWHERE. It’s always seemed to me like something out of a science fiction movie — a tiny alien invasion. I guess I find it creepy and fascinating in equal measure. 

When I was a kid, my brothers (I’m the middle child — I have an older brother and a younger brother) collected several cicada exoskeletons and loaded them up in my bicycle basket. Of course, I started to get on my bike, saw them, and ran away screaming. This memory has been much on my mind lately. My younger brother and I were actually just talking about it yesterday. 

We decided that incident couldn’t have been during a periodical cicada emergence, given the time frame. We have standard garden variety cicadas that are out every year — they just don’t appear in hordes like the periodicals do. So it makes me wonder how my brothers found so many exoskeletons. I very rarely encounter them. 

The cicada emergence will only last a couple weeks or so. I expect it will be over before our next camping trip in just under three weeks. They aren’t especially bothersome — they will occasionally land on you — but they can get pretty loud at times depending on where you are. 

It’s been a minute

I’ve been neglectful of this blog. With the weather turning warmer, I’ve been busy doing yard work. And we’ve traveled some, too. A week in Minnesota last month. And a quick weekend trip to Georgia and back.

This is the reason for our trip to Georgia.

Hello, Bigfoot (AKA “Squirrel” because the tow vehicle is called “Moose”)

We upgraded from a 17-foot Casita to a 25-foot Bigfoot. We sold the Casita in January. We had some fun camping trips in that little camper, but I wasn’t sorry to see it go. I felt claustrophobic in it, and my husband especially did. (He also constantly bumped his head in it.)

The Bigfoot has two twin XL beds in the back (no more climbing over my husband to get out of bed!), and the bedroom can actually be partitioned off for privacy. We have a dry bath (!!!!). The kitchen has actual counter space, an oven, 3-burner stove, and a microwave. There is a roomy dinette which folds down into an additional bed. And we have an insane amount of storage. So much, I don’t know how I can possibly use it all.

I love, love, LOVE this camper. We’ll be taking it out on our first official camping trip this coming weekend. We only slept one night in it so far, and that was on the way back from picking it up in Georgia. We stopped at a KOA outside Knoxville, Tennessee, for the night.

Adventures coming soon.

On writing, editing, and gardening

One of the pretty cornflowers I planted last year from seed.

I was prepping my veggie bed the other day, getting ready to plant (lettuces and spinach very soon). And I was thinking about how gardening is a fitting endeavor for a writer/editor. 

Why?

Well, a brand new garden is like a blank page. The possibilities are endless. If you’re meticulous as both a writer and a gardener, you plan. You create an outline if you write. You create a blueprint if you garden. 

Once you plan, you can begin. You plant the seeds and watch them grow. You write the words and watch a piece take shape.   

Like a manuscript, a garden is a living, ever-changing thing. If something doesn’t work, you change it. You rotate crops from year to year. You plant new things to replace things that died. You change out annuals for a bit of variety. In other words, you revise. You improve. You add and remove. 

You keep working at it, hoping your garden will reach its greatest potential. Just as you would hopefully continue to work at a manuscript to make it the best it can be.   

Weeding, to me, is similar to editing. You are removing what’s unnecessary. You are cleaning up. You are clearing out the clutter to allow things to really shine. 

Both gardens and manuscripts require tending. They require care. And, if things go well, you reap the fruits of your labors. That’s the best part. And that’s what makes both so incredibly rewarding.   

Five Years

A woman pinning a pin onto a man in an Air Force uniform.
Pinning on his retirement pin

Today marks five years since my husband retired from the Air Force and we returned to civilian life. I learned so much during my time as a military spouse. I sacrificed a lot, too — especially a career. However, I wouldn’t trade my experiences as a military spouse for anything.

I have lived in and traveled through Europe. I’ve met wonderful people from all over the world. I have also seen a lot more of the United States than I likely would have otherwise, since I lived in Seattle and then Maryland (and we traveled by road in between). I have flown in Air Force Two and been invited to the Vice President’s Residence.

I will cherish all these things. They changed me. The life lessons and experiences I got as a military spouse were worth any sacrifices I have made. As for my husband, he was hired for the first job he interviewed for, and his transition into civilian life was pretty smooth. I’m grateful for the life we’ve had.

A Sixth Grade Prediction

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

“Remember her name. It will be on books someday.”

This is what my sixth grade Language Arts teacher, Mrs. George, said to a gymnasium full of parents as she was announcing my academic award. I have never forgotten it. 

(Of course, I no longer go by my maiden name, which is quite a bit more memorable than my married name.)

My name has yet to appear on the cover of a book. 

I don’t know why I’m thinking of Mrs. George’s words after all these years. Maybe it’s a new goal to aspire to, now that I’ve finished grad school? I’ve been having a bit of a “what do I do now?” slump since I graduated three weeks ago. 

First, I have to rededicate myself to a regular creative writing practice. 

Celebrate and Thrive

I was never one to choose a word or two to set my intentions for the year. Though if I had to choose one retroactively for 2020, it would be “perseverance.” Despite everything 2020 threw at the world, I persevered. I kept my job. I didn’t get sick. And I finished my master’s degree.

For 2021, I decided on “thrive” to set my intention. But as I decorated our fireplace mantle yesterday (both for the new year and my upcoming graduation), I decided “celebrate” is appropriate, too.

My intention in 2021 is to celebrate both the large victories and the small. The milestones and the simple moments. I don’t want to take anything for granted.

But I also want to thrive. In my professional life. In my personal life. In my health.

So, there is my intention for 2021.

For nothing loved is ever lost – And she was loved so much

Reece, in November, with Monsieur Acorn — her new favorite toy.

We adopted Reece on May 17, 2008, when she was only four months old. We said goodbye on December 23, 2020, when she was less a month away from turning 13.

In her final days, she alternated between days of lethargy and her usual energy levels. That’s why it was so hard to know something was really wrong. One day, she’d refuse to play or interact with us. The next day, she was her normal self.

On Wednesday, she was acting normally until just after lunchtime. Then things went quickly downhill. We knew, this time, that it wasn’t just some passing illness. When she refused to eat even her very favorite food … when she went outside and laid down in the grass and refused to get up. She had to be carried back inside.

Our regular vet had closed for the holidays. My husband, L, took her to the emergency vet, which is, thankfully, near our house. I stayed home with our other dog.

Maybe an hour later … less … he called me. They found bleeding in her stomach and a mass that was very likely cancer. Nothing they could do. Surgery or chemo would only extend her life a few months.

He came back to the house to pick me up and take me back. When they brought Reece in, she already had the catheter taped to her leg — what they would use to administer euthanasia. She was more alert when she came in to see us than she had been for most of the afternoon. They told us we could take as much time as we needed, and to let them know when we’re ready.

Who is ever ready for this?

We spent a few private minutes with her. She was more focused on L than she was on me. I’m not sure my presence registered much with her at all. I also remember the receptionists talking and laughing outside the door, which was awful for me. L couldn’t tell them we were ready, so I had to do it. We weren’t ready, of course. But best to get it over with and not prolong everyone’s misery.

A few minutes later, the veterinarian came in. I don’t even remember her name. Reece wagged her tail when the vet came in and gave her a few kisses when she crouched down to Reece’s level. She explained step by step what she was going to do, since we had never gone through this before.

Within minutes, it was done. Reece was breathing. And then she simply wasn’t. I asked about next steps. L apparently had already discussed cremation with her. She explained that they would call us when the ashes were ready, and we’d get a clay imprint of her paw. She asked us if we wanted a stamped paw print on paper to take home with us that night, but I was numb with shock and just wanted to leave immediately.

It took a while for the tears to come. But they flowed most of the day on the 24th.

I find it odd that I’m not having those moments other people speak about. Where they turn around and expect their pet to be there. When they forget for just a second and call their pet’s name. I wake up each morning, and the weight of her absence presses on me immediately. The house is too quiet.

Our other dog is grieving, too. He still looks back toward the house when we let him outside, expecting her to follow him. In his grief and confusion, he hasn’t eaten much (very unusual for him, since he’s very food motivated). And he’s been sleeping more than usual.

Nighttime is the hardest for me. As I lie in bed trying to drift off to sleep, I keep reliving those moments in the veterinarian’s office over and over. Being alone with my thoughts right now is a pretty terrible thing.

Tomorrow, when I return to my home office to go back to work, she won’t be with me. Reece always spent the day in my office during my work hours. We have a dog bed up there for her, and I have a chair that folds out into a lounge/bed, which she also used.

My office companion.

Not having her quiet presence there to keep me company when I work is going to hurt a lot.