Rendered Fat Content

OtterSummer 8.12-Centipede Salsa

An hour after we arrived home, The Muse was sitting, feet up, in her green queen chair in the living room, Googling ‘millipedes’. The zoom car had unloaded easily in the steaming twilight, mist rising from the driveway a clue that a storm had recently blown through. The Otter liked the new digs and began sorting her dirty clothes for washing. A few minutes later, as she started loading the washer in the basement, she called, “David! You’ve gotta see what’s down here! G-ma!!”

We didn’t exactly rush to her rescue, but once we’d moseyed, we found the source of her alarm. The boarder, who’d left the day before for a quick trip to Asia, had reported on the phone a few millipedes in his basement room. I’d seen a small colony of them on the back porch and thought nothing of them. I suggested he vacuum them up, thinking them anomalous. But The Otter had found the floor crawling with the buggers. I valiantly started sucking ‘em up with the vacuum, though replacement troops appeared as soon as the initial ranks started disappearing.

I’m no ninny, but I’m nobody’s fan of the creepy and the crawly. I don’t much care for infestations of any kind: housebound ones, especially. Later, I found the back porch similarly crawling and started taking their presence personally. I sent a note to the property manager asking for advice against pestilences, one of the few advantages that come with renting. I suspect he’ll dispatch Big Mike to come over and throw some of his wry sarcasm on ‘em. I just want them gone.

The Muse’s searching yielded some reassurances. No, they are not a statement on the quality of personal hygiene. They like dark, damp places. They’re carnivorous, and won’t invade the pantry and foul the flour, for instance. Spraying them with toxins works about as well as vacuuming: slaughters the solders without addressing the cause, which is dark and damp. I knew the basement needed a dehumidifier.

Creeped out as I was, I remembered after returning to the kitchen that salsa had been mentioned earlier as a potential alternative to a second supper, the first of which had been fast food intended only to blunt hunger. Now, after ten o’clock, I started chopping Walla Walla Sweet Onions while The Otter bagged the skins. I chopped a few fine tomatoes, too, yellow and red, before pitting a fine, big, Haitian mango, leaving The Otter to gnaw the pit while I diced the meat. She washed and spin-dried the cilantro while I fine-chopped a couple of dried serannos, since we’d forgotten fresh hot peppers when we’d stopped at Hole Foods on the way in. A single clove of garlic, extremely finely chopped, the juice of three fresh limes, and a sprinkling of fat sea salt and cracked pepper, and The Otter was squealing with delight. “It’s spicy, David,” she exclaimed, pouring herself another Bitter Lemon, which she’d discovered in the basement fridge and immediately fell for.

The Muse joined the circle around the salsa pot, crunching and chirping her own delight. I cleaned the knives and the cutting board, satisfied with having satisfied. Tomorrow, I’d have to do something about the pestilence. Until then, I’d reintroduce myself to our disgruntled cats and try to finish that detective novel I’d dragged halfway across the country, then back again the long way. I suspect that the novel might never end, as additional details kept extending what might have been a straightforward ‘he did it’ into a genuine ‘why should I even care?’.

Home isn’t as we left it and not how we’d imagined it would be, yet still recognizable as home. The Otter reported, as we entered Takoma Park, that she had two homes: one in Walla Walla and another here. The Muse asked if South Dakota, where she’d lived until second grade and where her grandfather, aunts, uncles, and innumerable once-removed cousins still live, and she remembered, “Three. Plus, Minneapolis where my mom lives,” she added. “Hey, I guess I have four homes!”

Home might be where the heart is though we each have many more homes than hearts.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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