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I Keep House Casually

Man, it's hot here in Oaktown, CaliforneyeA.  So after a long, cool shower, I walked naked into the kitchen where my chef husband was cooking dinner, and I struck a pose next to the oven and asked, "Do you think I could get into Playboy?" 

"Yeah," he said, "but you might have to pay a lot." 

Hahahahaha, we laughed.  Then I asked, "What does my body make you think of?"

My husband was peeling garlic.  He glanced up for a nanosecond.  "Sex," he said.

Good one!  I'm glad he didn't say, "a potato," or "like watching the grass grow."

So all was well until I got dressed and we started talking about HOUSE STUFF.  We often don't agree about what to do about the house stuff, the painting that needs to be done, the garden that needs to be macheted, the eave gutters that are overflowing with pine needles, (both of us are afraid of ladders), who is cleaning/fixing what, who has done what and who needs to do what else.  And the prime, annoying, essential question: WHEN WILL IT BE DONE?  We adore this house, but between us we possess one half ounce of domesticity. I would say I possess more of that quality because women seem to be born with a picking-up-dirty-socks-from-the-floor gene.  I have learned to enjoy gardening, but there are limits such as ladder paranoia and hacking away at a cherry tree (or is it a small plum?) with a kitchen knife. My suggestion is always to PAY to get someone who knows what he/she is doing and get the thing done.  My husband, who doesn't want to do the thing, says he will do the thing and then a year or so passes and now the house has been eaten by the cherry/plum tree, and I say, "We have to call someone," and he says, "You always want some expert to come out here when we can do this ourselves."  One time, he did prune the entire yard after I complained about it, and I came home to a nuclear bomb site.  There was nothing left except a twig of my beloved apple tree.  Just a stick with a crunched leaf sadly dangling.  I cried.  I was so upset.  My husband stood there, covered in dirt, holding a chain saw.  It's his pruning tool.

Our recent discussion (argument) was about Kenneth wanting to tame the weeds by putting newspapers under the dirt.  I panicked at this.  Kenneth already saves way too much stuff.  I don't think he's a hoarder, but he tends to keep a lot of junk.  Newspapers, magazines abound in his office to the point where, like the consuming cherry/plum tree, there is no office anymore; the chair and computer are buried underneath a mound of newspapers and magazines.  Kenneth says he will save lots and lots of newspapers until he has enough, and then he will fix the weeds with them.  You cannot imagine the horror I felt.  Like dirty socks, these newspapers are everywhere; I'm always picking them up and throwing them in the recycling bin.  Now, with this weed solution, Kenneth will have a legitimate reason to KEEP newspapers around, no tossing them.  Well, I had to say no to this.  And by the way, is this even true?  Do newspapers stop weeds?  Isn't there another way?  We have a weed whacker in the basement.  Why is it in the basement?  Because Kenneth doesn't like to use it.  I don't know why, really, just like I don't know why Kenneth never swims in a lake, river, or creek.  I mean, he likes the chain saw but not the weed whacker.  I suspect it has something to do with how the weed whacker gets its juice to work-I think it is a more complicated and labor-intensive situation than the chain saw.  About the lake, river, and creek: I still don't know after 15 years of relationship.  I say, "Kenneth, it's 110 degrees outside, and we are right next to this beautiful lake.  Want to take a dip?"  No.  He sits there miserable, swatting at sweat drops, and finally stomps back to the cabin.  But he loves to swim in the ocean.  However, he hates sand.  That's a problem when you're at a beach.

So we had this big fight about the weeds/newspapers.  I finally had to tell Kenneth the truth, I had to tell him about my deep concerns about the hoarding of newspapers.  He subconsciously knew that was the problem, and he really didn't have an argument for that one.  He shrugged and said it would take time to get all those newspapers, that's the way it was if I wanted the weeds fixed.  Oh, God.  I had to hold onto the table so I didn't rocket out of my chair and go ballistic.  But dinner was ready, and we were hungry, so the fight moved on in favor of good eats.

We ate outside, at the patio table in the front yard so we didn't have to view the rioting plants in the backyard.  It was a warm and gorgeous evening, the sunset blazing orange. I should have stayed naked.  Sex is so much more interesting than house stuff.  But it's nice to have a house to have sex in.  It's nice to have a house, period.  And a very good thing that Kenneth and I are similar in our lack of domesticity.  We keep house casually.  Do you know that great Issa haiku?

"Don't worry, spiders/I keep house/casually."

Hey, it's another hot one today.  Go for a swim in the ocean and try not to get sand on your feet.  Maybe that's a metaphor for...what?  Relationships?

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This cracked me up, Susan.

This cracked me up, Susan. My husband and I have the same relationship to domesticity. Except we DO both want to call somebody, but then we never know who to call, and this kind of stupor comes over both of us... and meanwhile the trumpet vine is eating the front of our house and I think, "Well, it will just make it look less desirable for burglers."


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Loved your essay today

about menus. Hilarious!  I find myself using the word 'drizzle' quite often lately.  Drizzle of olive oil and lemon.  Yum.

And yes, such a stupor is upon me right now, trying to figure out who to call about the cherry tree.  I think I'll go pull one weed instead.

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Susan, I'll climb the ladder for you...

I already do it here. You just have to hold the ladder for me so I won't topple over.

My dad saved everything. He had a two bedroom apartment and it was full of Publishers Weeklys and New York Times Book Reivews. I kept suggesting that maybe he could, I don't know, clear space and let his DAUGHTER have the room, but he wasn't convinced.

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Hi, Jennifer,

Yes, I guess there are thirteen ways of looking at a ladder...

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Fun read!

Thanks, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

I generally only hoard books and music, and like to hire other people to do house chores I could do myself. I'd rather be writing, or playing guitar, or playing with my little boy.

But my wife still tortures me from time to time about how, when we were planning our wedding, I wanted to make the cake myself. I bought all these pans and things ... and ... after a while, realized I didn't have the skills. So we bought a beautiful cake from a pro.

It was a good choice.

Some of the pans we gave a way ... some are still in use in our home.

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Hi John,

I'm all for calling in the pros.  Especially about cake!