Empty Nest: Fly Little Bird and Stay Away From Poison Ivy

Okay, he isn’t a bird. And he’s not little anymore.

But he is my baby boy.

He isn’t leaving forever, but he is leaving today. On a jet plane.

Joey is flying to Washington state to live and work at an herb and berry farm about 4 miles from the Canadian border. He’ll be gone two months.

I’ve only burst into tears once. So far.

What if he gets lost in the woods and gets eaten by a bear? Or drowns? What if he gets lonely? Or sunburned? He will be so far away and I’ve never been away from him this long.

Randy said to think of it of summer camp.

I’m trying.

The good thing about his timing, is when I have periods of anxiety, I need a project.

Well, right now my new house is a blank canvas.

We hired a crew to do some small repairs, electrical and plumbing work. I also paid them to paint all my ceilings.

After spending the better part of the last year painting our old house, I have learned that my least favorite thing to paint is ceilings. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have that part done already. I also have the most amazing purple ceiling in my hall and our bedroom ceiling is colbalt blue. Randy picked that color. I’m cool with it. I waited until the paint was dry to point out our ceiling and the TARDIS are the same color. Randy is so much not a fan of the Doctor, but he still likes the color.

But I digress.

I will spend the next two months painting all the walls in our house.

I will paint all the doors and trim and when Joey returns from learning how to farm, our house will really be our house.

Joey’s room is the largest and will take the most time to paint. I don’t mind, though. I will be close to him in his room. Although, I might feel his absence the most there as well. I guess we will see.

Randy’s college roommate is picking up Joey at the airport when he arrives in Seattle at midnight. He is taking Joey home to spend the night at his house with him and his wife and is taking Joey to the bus station for the 4 hour trip to the farm. I am so grateful. He talked about staying in a youth hostel and calling Uber for a ride to the bus station. I am sure he would have been fine. I hated that plan.

So, for the next two months, Randy and I will live a life we have never lived.

We already had 3 kids between us when we got together. Joey came along shortly after. We have never lived together without at least one kid in the house.

I’m not going to lie. I’m looking forward to a temporarily empty nest. I’m excited to see what path Randy and I take to find our new “normal”. I just wish the abject “Joey’s going to get eaten by a bear” terror would stop fucking with me.

We’re far from settled in our new place, but I see the tiniest glimpse of light at the end of a tunnel of paint cans. I’m hoping that soon I will find my stride and get into better writing habits. I miss you guys.

Also, I have that pesky book I want to write.

Oh, yeah, one more story about the house.

When Mountain girl and Bass player were here last week, she pointed out that the vine growing up the huge pine Poison Ivy trees by the deck is poison ivy.

So much poison ivy.

Randy said we’d just have to cut it down. I rejected that plan as all the scenarios in my head ended with us in the emergency room. Or starting the zombie apocalypse.

I called a local company who specialize in poison ivy removal. Poison ivy is what they do. They kill poison ivy, so one would expect that they have seen it all.

Apparently not.

They surveyed our poison ivy situation and told us that they had never seen a larger or more mature poison ivy system.

Yay! I’m still waiting to hear if we get a prize for that.

So, the place doesn’t actually remove the poison ivy. They kill it, but they don’t remove it. Which, honestly, would be difficult. The largest vine goes up at least 25 feet on one of the pine trees. The largest vine, by the way? It’s so big, you couldn’t get your thumb and forefinger around it.

So, when they are done, I will have the skeletal remains of the largest poison ivy plant in the county. Maybe the largest, I mean, how could I know? Other than what the professionals told us. The remains have berries. Berries that can drop and rise again like a poison ivy phoenix.

So, we have to either find someone who will remove the dead poison ivy, or keep up on little poison ivy plants that will keep popping up in our yard. I did look into goat rental. I guess goats will eat the shit out of poison ivy.

So, wrapping up.

  • Joey might get eaten by a bear.
  • Randy and I will be able to run around the house naked for the next two months.
  • I have an impressively huge poison ivy plant.

Anyone have a goat I can borrow?

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  • I am not surprised that you have an impressively large…

    Poison ivy plant.

    I’d say try Craigslist, but you’d probably have to get them to sign a waiver. Good luck.

  • I’m thinking I wished I lived closer… cuz I’m gonna want to pet that working goat <3
    Maybe Joey will learn 'noxious plant removal' at the farm?
    Groupon Goat Gardener Coupon?
    I LOVE the ceiling colors!! Very nice for 'can't make it, just gonna lie here' days 🙂

  • Your son will love working! Truly see if you can hire a goat, of course they will eat your lawn too but… You do have shades or curtains up?

  • So now I can’t get this out of my head…
    “Hello Mudda, hello Fadda, here I am at camp Granada”
    Just thought I’d share.
    You’re welcome.

    And don’t combine the naked thing with the poison ivy.
    Just sayin.

    Can’t wait to read your book.

  • That poison ivy is pretty impressive. It seems like it’s pretty rare that it actually gets big enough to be called “ivy”, a name I always associate with a climbing vine. Most of the time poison ivy plants are so small you just brush up against them without noticing and a few hours later you wonder why you’re all itchy and blotchy.
    Your poison ivy plant is loud and proud and saying “Stay away, motherfuckers!”
    There’s something very reassuring about that.

  • From your description of Joey’s temporary digs, he’s not too far from me. I have just moved to northern Washington, and it is lovely. I would not be here if I thought bears were an issue. He should watch out for swooping eagles, though.

  • We have more poison oak here than poison ivy, but I did some yard work for a lady who had a dead shrub that had been taken over by poison ivy. Did everything I could think of to avoid getting it, got it anyway. Recently, I saw a video in which a man claimed that thoroughly washing with Dawn or another grease-cutting soap and a washcloth will keep you from getting the rash from poison oak or poison ivy, and in the video he rubbed the leaves of the poison ivy on himself, then went on to show how washing with soap and a washcloth is more effective than the expensive soaps that are sold for that purpose. Here’s the video:
    Or alternatively you could try to make friends with it by playing the Cramps a lot…
    My dad worked in the woods a lot, and he developed a sensitivity to poison oak to where he would sometimes get it off of the dogs from petting them after they had run through it. I had it a few times, but not like he did.
    Have fun with your newfound privacy. And the painting of Joey’s room. While I was in the hospital in ’08, Brenda painted a butterfly on the wall in my room, and I adored her for it. Still do, really.
    Don’t worry about the bears. The yellow jackets are more likely to give him trouble than the bears, and they just aren’t that bad.

  • Sounds like Joey is in for a great summer. With all that farming experience out in Washington maybe he will come back with a plan to cultivate that poison ivy and turn it into a pain killing herb.

  • I feel your pain. When Tristan went to uni two years ago, I thought I was going to die, even though he’s only 40 minutes away. It hasn’t gotten any better, especially since he doesn’t always come home on the weekends, and he was never one for talking on the phone. I hate being an empty nester. Also, I thought you already had a goat–I’ve seen pictures of it;-)

    • Yeah, I’m not too upset by the empty nest thing, just not yet. And not so goddamn far away. That is just freaking me out.

      Haha, and no..no goats here. Just pictures of goats. Which sounds more disturbingly weird than I thought it would.

  • How did the previous owners not know about this? Maybe they never got close enough to realize what it was? It looks pretty from a distance. Did your inspector notice it and put it into the inspection report? Just went through all that crap here with the new owners.

By Michelle


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