Season of the Witch

This will be a bit of a bait and switch. The first two pictures are from Potomac Vegetable Farms, where we got our pumpkins last weekend (and where we get them every year). I took them because we always take pictures there but I was also thinking I might write a blog post about it. But while a pleasant enough outing, it was uneventful. We weren’t battling a stomach bug. It wasn’t pouring rain and the hatch didn’t pop open letting one of the pumpkins escape. You’ll have to go into my archives if you want to read about any of those pumpkin-related adventures.

I didn’t take any pictures on Wednesday, but it was eventful in a way that the weekend wasn’t. The soundtrack of the day was the evil laugh of the motion and sound-activated zombie in our front yard. The remnants of Hurricane Patricia were drizzling down on us all day and the rain drove the zombie crazy apparently. (Beth thinks it might have been short-circuited.) Whatever the reason, it laughed all day, as I was puttering around the house and editing a manuscript.

Wednesday afternoons and evenings are generally busy because June has a violin lesson at 4:45, or she has up to now. She’s decided being in the strings ensemble at school is enough violin instruction for her and she’s not going to take music lessons once the session is finished. She’s got a double make-up lesson next Monday, but this was her last regular lesson. As we rushed out the door, I was glad of that. It will simplify our Wednesdays, especially when basketball practice starts.

Noah called me while I was turning off the oven where the Brussels sprouts had been roasting to say he’d be home late because he’d missed his bus. I told him we’d be gone when he got home and reminded him to start on the history chapter outline that was due the next day. I regarded the sprouts and decided as they were just shy of done, I’d leave them in the warm oven, thinking it might stay hot long enough to finish them. Then June and I headed out for the bus stop.

On the bus, June said, “Oh man!” I asked what was wrong and she said she’d left the music she’d been practicing right before we left at home. I’d kind of hoped the teacher could bring her lessons to a well-thought out, orderly end, and this wasn’t going to help. But June did have some music with her and that would have to be enough. The teacher seemed ready to work with whatever June had, so I kissed June on the top of her head and decamped for the bakery down the block, where I got a cup of tea and a brownie. I’ve been tempted to do spend June’s lesson there many times but I was afraid of making a habit of it so I resisted. But now that it was the second to last lesson, there was no danger of that, so I went ahead. Also, there’s a nice big table in the center of the shop where I could spread out the pages of the manuscript.

After a crowded bus ride, we got home some time after 5:30. We sat on the porch to read the last few pages of the chapter of The Silver Chair we’d started while waiting for the lesson to start and then we went inside. I checked on Noah and found him working on his outline. I checked on the Brussels sprouts and found them blackened. I guess the oven stayed hot longer than I thought it would. I peeled the outer leaves off one experimentally and found it edible inside. I thought I could salvage the meal, but it would be time-consuming peeling all the sprouts. I got to work assembling the rest of the ingredients for risotto while June started her math homework.

It was not quite 6:30 when June came into the kitchen, looking teary. I wondered if she’d gotten frustrated with her math when she said, “I don’t feel good.” Migraine, I thought, remembering the storm. June’s headaches are often triggered by changes in barometric pressure. I gave her some painkiller and her prescription anti-nausea medicine. She asked if I could read to her, so I abandoned dinner preparations and started another chapter of The Silver Chair while she wept intermittently.

At once point I went to tell Noah dinner would be late and why, and it was then he thought to mention to me that the reason he missed his bus was that he’d had a debilitating headache of his own at school and was in the bathroom being sick at the end of the school day. (Later more details emerged. It was the first time he’d ever taken the Metro bus home from high school and because he had to cross the street to catch it from middle school he automatically did that and got on the wrong bus, getting pretty far from home before getting off and onto the right bus. It’s possible he hadn’t been home long when June and I returned.)

It was not quite seven when Beth got home. She relieved me, keeping June company while I went back to making dinner. It was seven-thirty before it was ready. (The kids and I usually eat between six and six-thirty.) June was feeling a little better but she was still in no shape to eat and Noah, who likes risotto, wasn’t sure he was ready for something with heavy cream and a lot of Parmesan so he had an apple and two pieces of toast. Beth and I ate in shifts, so June wouldn’t be alone. By this time, she was listening to an audiobook and seemed much improved. The crying was all over. I was surprised she hadn’t fallen asleep. She almost always does when she has a migraine. That and the fact that Noah had been ill, too, made me wonder if it was the beginning of a family-wide stomach bug and not a migraine at all. But at the moment both kids were feeling better. June even did some more of her math before going to bed, though she didn’t finish it until the next morning.

While Noah got ready for bed, the songs from the Halloween playlist he was listening to drifted out of the bathroom. I sang along briefly: “You better pick up every stitch/Must be the season of the witch.” It did seem like the kind of evening that might have caused our seventeenth-century counterparts to accuse a neighbor of witchcraft, especially when we went to bed and there was a strange luminance on my bedside table, which turned out to be the glow-in-the-dark spider webs that had arrived in the mail that day–“There were otherworldly cries all day! Our dinner was blackened and our children sickened! An eerie ball glimmered in our bedchamber!”

But the next day was better. The children both felt well and went to school. The zombie was silent. There were no dinner mishaps (other than the fact that both kids turned up their noses at the lentil-rice-cabbage casserole I made). And as a bonus, the repair-person who has visited our house three times over the past month trying to fix the exercise bike finally triumphed. And Noah came home with the news that his drama teacher praised his acting in his All My Sons scene and because he’d finished all his homework in study hall (a rare occurrence) he was able to spend some time working on his Halloween costume and relaxing.

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll be marching in the Takoma Park Halloween parade with June dressed as a corpse and Noah as a bottle of Fiji Water. I’m going to be on the lookout for witches.