Columns

2007.09.12 Our nest is empty of spoons

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

So what’s it like living in the so-called empty nest? It’s quieter. It’s darker. There are fewer spoons. Fewer clean spoons.

With one fewer mouth in the house, there should be more spoons available, but that’s not how it went last week.

We worked our way through the regular spoons, then we used up the new spoons my wife recently purchased. Next came the grapefruit spoons, the tablespoons, plastic spoons and three baby spoons.

After the big serving spoon was used Friday, there was absolutely nothing remaining but the enormous slotted serving spoon.

That’s a lot of spoons. We still had clean bowls because Colleen managed to get in some dishwashing during the busy holiday-shortened week.

But she has an aversion to washing silverware. I don’t mind that chore at all if I can find the time to do it. I found the time Friday night. I skipped going to the football game. I even skipped the Morenci/Fayette volleyball match. I’d been waiting for that because I don’t know if it’s ever happened before. Maybe Michigan and Ohio have always had different seasons for volleyball until this historic year.

But I stayed home and ate a meal slowly (using a fork) instead of rushing through and running off to a sporting event. And when the meal concluded, I washed a lot of spoons.

Now we’re all set for at least two weeks.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, having no children at home frees me up to work all the time (or take a night off to wash dishes). But I’m wondering about Colleen. I’ve witnessed two notable signs of impending change. Is she slowly experiencing a weakening of the spirit?

A few weeks ago, she did a load of mixed laundry. Usually the arcane Rules of Laundry are in force. Crappy Whites, Nice Whites, Disgusting Darks (most of my clothes), Nice Coloreds, etc.

Maddie has done well in her studies and seldom has to ask, “Can this go with Nice Whites?” I’m unable to learn the system and I don’t care anyway so I generally do my own washing. Sometimes I throw in a few spoons.

But it happened once this summer that she mixed colors. It was a notable enough event that I took a photo and posted it on the Observer website.

I don’t know that it’s happened since, but now that the rule of law has been punctured, I think additional mixing is in the future, especially without Maddie’s volume of clothing to add to the mix.

A much more disturbing sign of impending disarray was observed on our recent trip up north. We stopped in a café along the way for a quick meal before we arrived at Kate’s in case it was a bad year for beets and she had nothing to offer us.

After the sandwiches, Colleen went for a pecan bar thing that she quickly found to be amazingly delicious.

During the eating—she used a fork rather than a spoon—a sizable pecan piece shot off her plate and onto the table. She retrieved it and placed it back on her plate.

Whoa! Five Second Rule or not, this is unheard of in the Leddy Protocol of Clean Living. You’ve seen the rags used to wipe restaurant tables. Disgusting. I don’t even eat off restaurant tables. I’ve heard her get after the kids too many times over the years to even consider it.

And to think a pecan brought her down. One, single piece of a broken pecan.

I think the food department will present the biggest change in Life after Children. Colleen pronounced it “liberating” Saturday night after slipping a sliced onion in with the broccoli that was about to be steamed. A move like that would not have happened with Maddie still in the house.

And earlier in the week, she created a  wonderful garbanzo/potato dish for which children probably would not have requested seconds—or even firsts.

I thought that was a rather liberating meal, too, but maybe nothing has really changed. I was eating the leftovers on the job during the busy production day last week when a former employee stopped in for a visit.

It’s probably been four years since she worked here, but she took a whiff and said, “That smells just like the food you ate when I worked here.”

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