Well, the kids have left us and overnight the whole energy of the house has dropped at least one quantum level. It is wonderfully peaceful.
Don’t get me wrong. Jesse and Alex are wonderful house-guests. They remembered to turn off lights, they went to the store and bought food and alcohol with their own money, they cooked, they helped clean up. They did laundry; not just theirs, but some of ours too, which is no small thing considering the amount of massage linens I generate.
I opened my refrigerator and it is still shining, thanks to Alex helping me clean it, and now that some of the dozens of farm fresh eggs that Ed so wonderfully sent us from Iowa have been used up, you can actually see the shelves. I’m going to miss those eggs, we are on our last dozen.
But my God! Having two people living with us for a month (give or take a bit) was like having a dinner party every night. And then we actually had several dinner parties too, that included even more people.
This one, for example. It was a birthday feast for Tina, cooked for us all by Alexandra, featuring the cake previously mentioned in this space, which Jim made as his contribution. I am acting as official photographer here as the cake is lit. Jesse is staying out of the picture due to his extreme camera shyness. The dinner and cake were wonderful, and we had a blast!
In fact, the whole visit of both youngsters was a blast. It proved over and over that if you want your kitchen and stove to stay clean, it is a really good thing to never cook in your house.
I spent a pleasant hour this morning deep cleaning the kitchen. During the time Jesse was on leave, it was not neglected. Counters got wiped, the stove was kept decent. But when you produce batches of brownies, four kinds of cookies, peanut butter cups, cakes, elaborate dinners for four or more, fabulous omelets, loaf after loaf of bread — well, things accumulate in corners and under burners and behind equipment. I don’t always wear my glasses while wandering around the house, and it was illuminating (to say the least) to keep them on while I was washing dishes this morning. It resulted in a good scrubbing of the stove and some cleaning of counters and walls above counters. My ability to focus close up also resulted in some wiping of cabinet surfaces.
I did not mop. There is still snow melting out there and firewood is still coming in through the kitchen. There’s no point in wasting energy mopping that floor. Ruby has got it pretty well freed of food items so we are in no danger of ants or roaches at this point.
The kids are off on their road trip — to see the Inauguration. Alex earned an invitation that included her bringing a guest. She invited Jesse, and he accepted. They are attending at least one ball as well. The tickets arrived FedEx a few days ago, and are amazing in and of themselves.
The fact that he is going to a ball was a huge dilemma for Jesse. His full dress uniform is still in storage since there wasn’t time for it to be released from that black hole before he came home for leave. We considered going up to Fort Leonard Wood and buying a new one, but it became evident that it would be impossible for him to get the proper flashes, unit patches and ribbons there. This Exchange doesn’t stock the ones they use in Georgia, they have the ones they use here. Not surprising, really. So he decided that he would buy a nice suit, since he needs one anyway.
This involved two trips to Springfield followed by an intense photo session. Alex got a quite wonderful video of Jim giving Jesse a lesson in how to knot a tie. Hopefully I will figure out how to extract photos out of it, there as a great picture of the two of them together. The first attempt was a failure, but this is the result of the second. It is my arm you see in the corner of the photo. We are both reflected in the bathroom mirror.
After the tie-tying lessons, there was a modeling session. This is the photo I took:
It is not lost on me that I have documentary photos of both my men in their finery in front of the same Japanese screen. Who could forget the modeling session I forced Jim to go through when we bought his new tuxedo?
I think this shot that Alex made of Jesse was an attempt to make him look taller. Honestly, I do not understand what is wrong with the height he is, but I have never been a slightly shorter than average man, either.
After the shoot, the model viewed the images. Actually, this is my favorite shot of the two of them. They are both so pleased, so relaxed, so unaware they are being photographed.
Once they realized I was taking their picture, this was the look I got.
Jesse was amused because Alex doesn’t like to have her picture taken. ”Oh, so you don’t think it is fair that the photographer get photographed?” was what he was just about to say.
After that, they moved outside for more shots. I caught this one of Alex demonstrating to Jesse how he ought to stand in order to be best posed.
These two are a couple of pistols, I have to say. They are highly intelligent, very articulate, and seem to really enjoy cousinhood. They spent a lot of time debating the news, politics, discussing the ins and outs of buying vehicles and I don’t know what all else. They enjoy an intense rivalry during hearts games, which both are extremely good at. In their efforts to make the other take nearly all the points while trying to keep theirs to a minimum, there was outrage, posturing, threats, ripostes, witty repartee; all to an extreme of dramatics that you had to witness to believe. If you had not realized that it was all in (mostly) good fun, you would have banned all weapons from the house and hidden all incendiary supplies as well.
Now they are off on a road trip, and I can only imagine how much fun it will be.
I mean, THEY’RE GOING TO THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION!!! This is an event Alexandra worked long and hard to help make happen, and to not only get to witness it but to be honored with an acknowledgement of her toil and worth has to be gratifying in the extreme. And she gets to share it with someone who cares about her and understand how cool it all is.
I am simultaneously relieved they are gone and jealous that I am not with them, and I miss them while I am enjoying the peace and quiet of this Saturday.
And I am almost over the cold that Jesse so generously shared with me, the bladder/kidney infection is cured. The temperature rose into the mid 30s this morning from the frigid teens it has smacked us with the last few days.
Life is good.