Mind the Manual!


I like to think of myself as a “straight-shooter”, a “tell it like it is” kind of gal. And, for the most part, I am that. I try to be as honest and as straightforward as I can be without being mean. There are, however, certain situations that call for the use of other, more subtle methods of persuasion. These situations include, but are not limited to, any time I find myself in a position where my husband and I are at odds over how to go about a thing — recently, during “the hovel purge”, we have found ourselves in such a position on a number of occasions.

For many years I have been threatening to throw together something called “Fang’s Manual For Living”, which, for the sake of brevity, we commonly refer to up in this joint as “The Manual”. We refer to it pretty often. Oh, yes. We do. Seldom does a day go by in which Fang does not utter something along the lines of “Mind the Manual!”

We can regularly be overheard saying things like, “Oh, I can’t use a butter knife in lieu of a flathead screwdriver? I didn’t realize that. That’s in ‘The Manual’, is it? Okay. Now I know. It won’t happen again!”

Of course this is an outright lie. And, I will definitely employ the same method again. Why? Two reasons. First, I’m not going to go through the trouble of digging out the toolbox when a butter knife, which is far more accessible, can very easily tighten the screw on the drawer of the kitchen cabinet — a drawer that, as luck would have it, actually houses the butter knives! Second, because his rules annoy me. So, there!

The reason I’ve yet to compile this tome is because I’ve always thought that it would be a great deal of work for very little return — Fang has a lot of rules. While it would provide an amusing look into the way in which my husband’s mind works, it probably wouldn’t be useful to anyone living outside of the hovel.

And then it occurred to me that there may, indeed, be large numbers of folks who have their own Fangs, their own significant others who have their own manuals. I’m here to tell you that ignoring their rules isn’t always the best way to go. They get a little excited when you do this. There are, however, other weapons in the arsenal that can be employed.

This is especially important to know when you find yourself in a position to deal with matters that are included in Chapter Four. Chapter Four covers, among other home improvement tasks, hanging things on walls. Getting around the rules set forth in Chapter Four often requires that you bring out the big guns.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate position, do not despair. All is not lost. Use this recent conversation between Fang and myself as your guide.

What I really want is to put some sort of inspirational quote up on the wall over the television — possibly something from “Harry Potter”, I haven’t decided yet. I know that Fang will think this “stupid” — and not just the quote that I may or may not have in mind, but the idea of any quote on any wall.

What follows is an example of how I managed, through what others might term “manipulation”, but that I like to think of as “mental sleight of hand” — it has a much better ring to it than “manipulation”, don’t you think? — to bring Fang around to my way of thinking. Sure, he hasn’t wholeheartedly embraced it, but, as you shall see, he has reconciled himself to this design choice.

Hon, the living room looks swell, but I think we need to put a few pictures up on the walls. Ya know, I was thinking, some fine art might be nice. You like that sort of thing.

Yes, I do. Like that sort of thing. I’m weird like that.

After Christmas I’d like to paint and get the new blinds. Once that’s been accomplished, I was thinking that we could put a ledge over there. (I say this as I point to the blank wall in the dining area.) I’d like to create a gallery of family photos and such. I’ll put them on a ledge and display them that way. (I say this because I KNOW that Fang has an affinity for family photos. Feel free to substitute whatever your partner has a soft spot for — I hope it’s not ceramic replicas of rodeo clowns, but that’s really your problem, isn’t it?)

You want to paint??? Again???

This room has never been painted. At least not by us. So, I’m not sure where the “again” you’re referring to comes in.

We just painted.

To be clear, “We” only painted Fangette’s room. “I” painted the hallway and the bathroom.

Let’s get back to the blank walls.


I feel like a ledge is another way of saying shelf. Is it? Because I don’t want any more shelves. You have a mania for shelves. You see a blank wall and think, ‘That would be a nice place for a shelf!’ I don’t understand why you need to put shelves everywhere.

Because they hold and display things. And we have things. Things that need to be held. Things that need to be displayed.

But, you’ve got all of these shelves! (He says this as he is pointing to the two 16-unit cubby shelves that line the living room wall.)

Agreed, but they’re more for storage. I’d like the ledge to be for displaying things.

Stop calling it a ledge. Let’s just agree that it’s a shelf and dispense with the lying. And, what kinds of ‘things’ are going to be displayed on this ledge, I mean, shelf?

I just told you. Family photos and such.

Yeah. It’s the “and such” that worries me.

Don’t worry your pretty little head over it.

You’re going to put bowls on it, aren’t you? Or roosters? Or owls? You are, aren’t you? I know you are.

Perhaps. We’ll see how it goes.

How what goes? Your trip to Home Goods? I’m telling you right now that I don’t want to see any bowls or roosters or owls up there. Or platters. I forgot about platters. No platters. That place is ugly with platters. And owls. And roosters.

And bowls. You forgot to mention bowls.

Yeah, them too.

I’m not making any promises.

Oh, my God! The walls are going to be lined with shelves aren’t they? And platters!

Don’t worry. There’ll be family photos sprinkled in.

What about the fine art? Where are you going to put the fine art? If you’ve got all these shelves with platters and pictures where will you put your fine art? Huh? You didn’t think of that, did you? And do not say that you’re going to hang pictures behind the television. I don’t want any pictures back there! They’re liable to fall and bust the TV. You know I don’t want anything back there.

Yes, I know. You’re very concerned about the remote possibility that the next earthquake that hits New Jersey will cause pictures to fly off of the walls and “bust the TV”.

It could happen. We had an earthquake here a few years ago. Do you remember that?

I do. I was in the kitchen sorting through plastic ware. Do you remember how you thought that I was somehow responsible for the tremors that we experienced? Do you recall how you thought that whatever I was “up to” in the kitchen had caused the house to rattle and shake a bit?

Well, how did I know what you were doing?

You were in the next room in a five-room apartment. And, really, putting away plastic ware does not, generally, require sledgehammering, does it? I mean, I would have had to be using such a thing to cause the shaking and rolling that we experienced in that minor quake.

Okay, so we do have to worry about earthquakes.

Nothing even came close to falling off the walls in that — the largest quake we have ever experienced here in New Jersey. Not even close. Frankly, if you hadn’t thought I was ‘up to something’, you wouldn’t even have noticed it.

On the subject of you being “up to something”, let’s firm up this fine art thing. Let’s get back to how you haven’t figured it into the shelf/photo equation. And, let me remind you, earthquakes or no, nothing is getting hung up behind MY television. Nothing.

I know. I know. Nothing can be hung above or behind a television EVER. It’s in “The Manual”. Chapter Four, I think.

I believe so. I’m glad you’ve familiarized yourself with that chapter.

I have. But, I was thinking that there is a great deal of “dead space” above that television. You know what would eliminate this problem? One of those thingies. You know, those thingies that allow the television to hang from the wall. Those thingies are nice. They are designed to allow the television to tilt and to telescope. Are you familiar with them? Having one of those would eliminate all of that dead space.

They’re called brackets, I think. And, are you crazy? Those things can’t be safe.

They must be safe. Hundreds of thousands of people install them every day.

Hundreds of thousands of people ride roller coasters every day, too. They’re not safe either.

Oh, please. Let’s not have another roller coaster conversation.

Let’s not. Let’s get back to the fine art that you are NOT going to hang anywhere near my television. A television that will also not be suspended from any wall by any bracket. It’s fine where it is. On a stand. A nice stand with drawers. A stand that I spent four hours putting together.

A stand with one drawer askew.

Never mind that. It’s fine. You’re the only one who notices it.

I’m the only one who says anything about it. Everyone who sees it notices it. I’ll bet the students at “St. Mary’s School For the Blind” would notice it.

Whatever. What’s your plan for this “dead space” behind the television. I’m intrigued.

Have we abandoned the fine art conversation?

We’ll get back to that. What’s going on behind my television. That’s what I’d like to know.

I was thinking that I could put a quote up there.

Absolutely not. Quotes are stupid.

Really? How, I wonder, if they’re so “stupid” did they become famous quotes at all?

Okay. Quotes aren’t stupid. Quotes painted on walls are stupid.

I could order a decal. It’ll be nice.

No decals.

I don’t think “No Decals” is in “The Manual”.

I’ll work it into the revision. No decals.

Because they’re stupid, too.

When they’re decals of quotes they are.

What if I got a decal that read: “Mind ‘The Manual'”?

Now you’re just being ridiculous.

Okay, I’ll figure something out. After we paint and hang the ledge.

That’s fine. Whatever. Just no quotes.

What about roosters or owls?

I give up.


Do you see what I did there? With a bit of finesse I skirted my way around “The Manual” and his lack of vision where wall quotes are concerned. I’ll get my ledge. I’ll get my platters, my bowls, my roosters, my owls. I’ll display my family pictures. I’ll fill that dead space with a quote. He’ll be fine with that, knowing that it could have been a rooster. And this, my friends, is how these things are accomplished.

You’re welcome.

photo credits:

The “Painting Fairy” Saves the Day!

nablo13daytwentyIf I said to my husband, dear, old Fang, “Hey, I have an idea! Let’s paint our room and buy new furniture, including a mattress set, the week before Thanksgiving!”, he would have, and rightly so, looked at me like I’d gone off my rocker, like I’d plum lost my mind. Yet, he and our darling daughter, the I-want-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now-but-I’ll-be-at-Starbuck’s-when-it-comes-time-for-all-the-heavy-lifting, Fangette, managed to put their heads together and, in so doing, hatched a very similar plan regarding her bedroom just the other day.

The problem, which has now become MY problem, is that they both have the attention spans of your average gnat. They also have no idea what-all goes into painting a room, let alone dragging out old furniture and replacing it with new furniture. Sure, they’ve watched me do it successfully time and time again, but they’ve never actually done it themselves. They underestimated, just a teensy bit, the time, energy, and cost associated with a project of this magnitude.

Fang, wearing, one would have to assume, his best pair of rose-colored glasses, struck what he thought was a reasonable deal with the daughter (the wife who could not believe her ears when she heard the plan, chose to remain silent). He told Fangette that if she removed the junk from her room, that he would use his last couple of vacation days to paint her room. That was Monday.

Do I even need to tell you that it’s now Wednesday and the only paint on the walls are the couple of swipes from the different colored sample pots that I acquired from the home improvement store? Will it come as a shock if I tell you that Fangette isn’t happy with either color?

In Fang’s defense, I should mention that he fell into the trap set by his offspring. He thought, as fathers often do, that he could trust his daughter to hold up her end of the bargain. I, of course, knew better. I’ve learned though, that when faced with these situations, it really is best to hold my tongue. This way, later on, when things inevitably go south, I can shake my head, suck my teeth, and seem somewhat sympathetic while muttering my “I told you so’s”.

Mothers really do know best. It’s a shame my family rarely consults me. Then again, why should they? I was not party to the deal brokering or the wild and unrealistic promises made by my partner — a man whose last foray into the wonderful world of painting lasted all of ten minutes before he began complaining about “cramping”. The expectation will be that I will spend the next few days picking up the pieces of their abandoned project. It will undoubtedly fall upon me to remove the detritus that was excavated from my daughter’s bedroom. The crap that was relocated NOT out to the garbage bin — that would’ve required putting on shoes, I guess, and, really, who can be bothered with that? — but, instead, to the very narrow, freshly painted hallway that is, itself, only in the secondary stage of redecoration — it’s painted, there are shelves, but a few things remain to be done before it can be called “finished”.

Not to worry, though, I’ll just dig out my “Painting Fairy” wings and save the day! Because, ya know, that’s how things shape up here at the hovel. I’ll be the one with paint in her hair and spackle underneath her fingernails. I’ll be the one to take her chances with the return of the plantar fasciitis that has finally subsided — but, really, climbing up and down a ladder is, surely, playing with fire where this malady is concerned.

I almost don’t even want to get started on the furniture. But, I will. Because I think that you need to know — so that you can form a full picture of what I’m up against here — that her new bed will not be the same size as her old bed. And, so, of course, we must procure a new mattress and box spring set in order to make this whole thing work.

On my list of things I’d rather not do — like, ever — mattress shopping with an adolescent is topped only by going out on safari, skydiving, and having needles stuck into my eyeballs. Frankly, the eyeball thing might be less torturous than the mattress thing.

While my kid, like teenagers the world over, loves to shop, shopping for a mattress does not have the same cachet, let’s say, as hopping from one store to another in search of such wardrobe staples as the perfect party dress or the ever elusive owl earrings. Not the same cachet AT ALL!

Minor criminals should not be locked in jail or forced to hammer out license plates, if the government is looking for a way to truly punish people for things like trespassing, destruction of personal property, or driving without insurance, I’d like to suggest that they require these folks to mattress shop with my kid or others like her — the disinterested, the surly, the petulant. I’ll bet after serving out this type of sentence they’ll think long and hard about taking a sledgehammer to their ex-wife’s car. Long and hard. I guarantee there won’t be a next time. Guarantee it.

So, yeah. My husband goes back to work tomorrow. There’s still crap piled in my hallway. I’ll have to spelunk under my daughter’s bed when I get home from work today — I hope I can put my hands on my cave exploration kit, I have a feeling I’m going to need it for that job. The walls need cleaning and taping. A mattress set still needs to be decided upon, purchased, and delivered. Arguments need to be had regarding paint colors — she seems to be going for “medieval dungeon”, I’d like something a little less depressing, but, who am I kidding?, I’m so beaten down at this point that I’d be happy to paint the stupid room black.

Somehow, in the midst of all of this lunacy, I’ll be expected to work in cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I could just make reservations or go elsewhere — invitations have been offered — but what fun would there be in that? I’m thinking that if I really want to teach them a lesson, if I truly want to give them a dose of their own medicine, I could just spring it on them Wednesday evening that they’ll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, yeah. That might prove interesting.

I’ll keep my “Turkey Cooking” wings handy, though. You know, just in case they need me to swoop in and save Thanksgiving, too.

How NOT to Spray Paint!

file0001696656162Some days I feel like I work on a chain gang. I know. I know. More #middleclasswhitepeopleproblems. While I am white, I don’t know if I’m middle class — I don’t even know if the middle class exists anymore. Let’s just leave that subject to the economists and the social scientists, shall we? I really just want to bitch about housework.

At this writing, my refrigerator needs a good once over (really, it could probably use a twice over, but who’s got time for THAT?). I really should liberate that half-load of towels that is languishing in the bottom of the hamper in my daughter’s room — I’m sure they would enjoy swishing around in the Kenmore in the company of my bed sheets — I can ALWAYS make a full load of laundry up in this joint. No worries there. The cleaning supplies — the ones I liberated from the hall closet and under the sink — are currently making their home in the middle of my kitchen floor. They, like almost everything else in this place, are awaiting a long overdue organization intervention.

In fairness, the kitchen WAS clean and organized until the other day when I decided to paint the adjacent hallway. I’m sure you can relate to how these projects take shape — I had to clean out the closet in the hallway before I could paint the hallway — it was there I discovered a cache of cleaning supplies (more of a horde, if I’m being honest). In my quest for something heretofore unknown to me — organization — I decided that I needed to consolidate these potions and poisons with some of their more accessible compatriots — the ones that were hanging out under the kitchen sink. Consolidation is the key to organization! At least I think it is. I have very little experience in this area.

I also needed a base of operations for my painting supplies. I placed the brushes, the pots of paints, the sandpaper, and the blue tape aside of the ammonia, the cleansers, and the polishes. They were happily hanging out together until my search for the sponge, the putty knife, and/or the caulk gun disrupted the controlled chaos and replaced it with, well, just chaos. Now, of course, what we’ve got going on there is what is commonly known in the business as a “hot mess”.

In the midst of the mayhem that the hallway project has become, I took an old metal cabinet outside and spray painted it — because I decided that it needed to be black. I decided that it needed to be black immediately. It needed to be black concurrent to the hallway being blue. I wonder if you can imagine what comes next? If you were able to see me — and unless you’re planning on showing up at my door, you won’t be doing any such thing if I have anything to do with it. There will be no pictures of me in this post — I still have some modicum of self-respect left, for crying out loud! Once you have a mental image, though, you might be inclined to toss me, along with the pile of debris in the kitchen, into the “hot mess” category.

Did you know that spray paint — that stuff that adheres to rusty metal — also bonds, perhaps forever, to one’s skin? It does. All I can say is this: “Wear gloves, kids, like the back of the container (probably) tells you to!”

Who can read that teeny, tiny writing on the back of the can? Children can, that’s who — though I’m sure there’s some warning on there about children USING this type of product, there’s certainly no law against them READING about its use. I should have hired a kid — mine is never any help in these situations. In truth, I only read the first couple of lines under the WARNING! heading, so I’m not certain what, if anything, the manufacturers had to say about children using their product. I only got so far with it before I decided that I would need a magnifying glass and the power of seven suns to actually make out that which was imprinted upon it — likely with spray paint — in the smallest font known to man. I don’t even own a magnifying glass (at least I don’t think I do — who knows what I’ll find in those “office supply” baskets that still need sorting through). And the space travel required to find a planet with seven suns? That’s just out of the question.

We won’t even discuss that common sense would dictate that a person using this type of product should wear protective gear — possibly something resembling a beekeeper’s suit — we will NOT even discuss it. What we will discuss is my success — because that’s what I’m choosing to focus on. I’m happy to report that the cabinet is now black.

The fact that I look like a victim of a spray tan gone horribly wrong? I’m not going to get all worked up over it. Hopefully it’ll fade. If it doesn’t, I suppose I could just look for work in a minstrel show. Of course (and thankfully), I’ll probably need a time machine for that. Frankly, if I had access to a time machine I’d be far more likely to use it to travel to the future — a future where my house is organized, painted, and redecorated — so what if I have to go through life explaining that I’m speckled because I’m an idiot who can’t read the warning labels on a can of paint? At least I’ll be able to come home to a relaxing environment, wrapped in the bosom of my loving family — the ones who won’t be seen in public with a woman who looks like Al Jolson’s far less talented cousin.

If you liked this, you can read more about “The Hovel Purge” here! Enjoy!

photo credit: spray paint

Black & White & Fuschia (Oh, My!)

Soap dispensers or instruments of torture? You decide!

Soap dispensers or instruments of torture? You decide!

Fang is on vacation this week and I, too, took a few days off. I figured that we could spend some time together and I could get some things accomplished. We did a little antiquing the other day — I managed to score some very cool old hooks for the bathroom. We even managed to have a nice lunch, a brief stroll by the Hudson, and an ice cream cone. That was a nice day.

Yesterday? Not so much.

To say that I got up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday would be an understatement! No amount of coffee or Candy Crush Saga or (gasp!) even writing would break the mood. Everyone and everything annoyed me. Thank God I didn’t have to go to work. Fang might feel differently about that, though. I’ll bet if you ask him he’d tell you that he wished I had gone to work instead of spending the day with him.

Part of the problem was that I had an agenda AND Fang had an agenda. Sadly, we were of two VERY different minds regarding our plans for yesterday. He wanted to putter around. I wanted to go to the fabric store. I needed to get my hands on some more black Waverly toile to complete yet another project. I had recently realized that I had employed some faulty math when I purchased the original cut of the fabric, which meant that I would only be able to cover one-and-a-half seat cushions, instead of the two that need covering. (Half a seat is one of those units of measurement — kind of like 2.4 children — that doesn’t actually exist in the real world!)

He said that he wanted to come with me — to talk me out of the toile, I’m sure. And so I waited. And I waited. And I waited. While he passive-aggressively sipped his coffee — like an 18th Century lady during a social call. He was either purposely dawdling or awaiting the arrival of Mr. Darcy.

I think what irritated me most was that I knew that once we got to the fabric store that he was going to point out any number of fabric choices that were NOT toile. Because he’s always going on about how much he hates toile. Seriously. He hates it. Except that he doesn’t. He wouldn’t even notice its existence if it weren’t for the fact that I love it. It’s a passive-aggressive thing. Like the ladylike coffee-sipping. It’s also an annoying thing.

The black and white Waverly toile is absolutely perfect for my makeshift window seat. And, really, that’s all there is to it. Nothing more to see here, folks!

We finally set off on our little adventure. I got (more of) the fabric that I needed. I made sure that he had no time to wander the aisles. I picked the black and white toile off the shelf, had it cut, paid for it, and got out of Dodge.

From there we were planning to visit Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We were still sans a soap dispenser for the newly redecorated bathroom. We had looked high and low for something that we liked to no avail. Somehow, though, we had managed NOT to include the BATHROOM store in our search — obviously this had to be rectified.

I’m happy to report that we were successful there. We purchased not just one, but TWO, soap dispensers. One black, one white; one for soap, one for hand sanitizer. Perfect. Who would think that this concept would require any kind of conversation AT ALL? Yeah. Me neither. Except that it did. Of course it did.

I had to spend the next twenty minutes, or more — it felt like more — weighing the pros and cons of labeling the dispensers. Did I mention that I was ALREADY in a bad mood? Do I even need to tell you that I wouldn’t want to entertain this nonsense in the best of moods?

For the record, I don’t think it’s necessary — the labeling. I am of the opinion that if someone — mainly we are speaking about Fangette here, the 17-year-old girl-child who is the only other person who resides with us. (Outside of the cat, who, as far as I know has no idea how to operate a soap dispenser, how to read a label, or is overly concerned with either hand-washing or hand-sanitization!) For the sake of argument, let’s just say that she were to mistakenly sanitize instead of soaping or if she were to soap instead of sanitize, would the world, do you think, stop spinning on its axis? I don’t think so either. Not only am I confident that she can grasp the concept of white = sanitizer; black = soap, I am also fairly certain that if she were to become confused, it would not be a mistake of epic proportions.

What I really think worried him was not that Fangette would get it wrong, but that he would. I figure he’ll eventually catch on, too.

The other stumbling block in my madcap plan to leave the bottles unlabeled, as far as Fang is concerned, has to do with guests. I promised him that I would personally and verbally alert guests to the crazy system that I have going on in the hand-washing area. I assured him that I would, if we were expecting an onslaught of guests, make little notecards and place them in front of the bottles — I think that’s more personal than a computer-generated note taped to the bathroom mirror or, God forbid!, a post-it stuck to the bottles, don’t you? What I didn’t say was that I’d like to think that we associate with the type of people who wouldn’t be stymied by the whole soap/sanitizer controversy. They’d use whatever they squirted out — they wouldn’t judge. Who he thinks we hob-nob with, I’ll never know.

When I decide to finally drive my husband round the bend, I know exactly how I’ll do it. I’ll simply purchase a black AND white pump dispenser, possibly something in a toile pattern, load it with hand lotion, and make it part of the trio. I think that’ll about do him in, don’t you?

For those of you who have been along for the bathroom redo — here are some pics! Whaddya think? Not bad, right?

Not Every Gal Needs a Knight in Shining Armor

knightIn lieu, I suppose, of actually being my knight in shining armor, my husband recently suggested we purchase one. For real.

We were roaming the aisles of our local Home Goods. I was making a fruitless attempt at finding an affordable, yet tasteful, soap pump. He had gotten loose and, I assumed, was in his favorite aisle — the one where they keep the, as he mistakenly refers to it, “African-American art”. That’s not what he means, of course. What he really means is “African art” — you know the kind, I’m sure — the huge carved wooden animals, the tribal masks, and the colorful doo-hickeys. He likes that sort of thing. I do not. As a result, we don’t own any. He likes to point out that we do own a fairly large teal rooster and that it occupies a place of honor in our living room. He says this as if it is going to convince me to purchase a wooden elephant replete with fake ivory tusks. Sometimes I think he doesn’t know me at all.

As luck would have it, somewhere on his journey to the African art aisle, my husband got waylaid. And, really, who wouldn’t be waylaid by a knight in shining armor? Somehow he stumbled into an area that I had missed on my many, many trips to Home Goods — the medieval accessories department. There I was, scanning the shelves for something — anything — that would work with my new decor (plain white or plain black would have been fine!) when he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Have you given any thought to that dead space that we’ll have in the bedroom once we take that shelving down?”

I admitted that I had. I do, in fact, have a little dream for that space — a dream that includes a chair, a small table, and a laptop — none of which I currently own, by the way. My husband, as it turns out, has his own dream, which consists of filling that space with a big, giant, honking, knight in shining armor. I explained to him that I would have no use for TWO knights in shining armor in my bedroom — you know, because I already had HIM! — I thought that outright flattery would deter him from the very serious argument he was making in favor of what he thought was a very reasonable request.

At first I thought he was kidding, you know, having some fun with me — the woman who wants to put a ladder (A LADDER?!?!) on the back of her bathroom door to hang clean towels from — until, that is, I realized he wasn’t putting me on. When did I realize that he was dead serious about procuring AND displaying this monstrosity in my bedroom? Oh, round about when he said, “I’m not joking. I think this thing is cool. It’s a real conversation piece, I’ll tell ya that. And, really, I haven’t gotten a say in anything you’ve been doing with the redecorating thing, and, ya know, I want a knight.”

“Why would anyone in their right mind”, I patiently asked the suddenly petulant 53-year-old grown man, “want a ‘conversation piece’in their bedroom?” I didn’t point out that, clearly, I already had one.

What I also currently have in my bedroom is a newly “possessed” air conditioner. It, of its own volition, happily switches between low, medium, and high. It also enjoys jumping musically between cool, dehumidifier, and energy saver. Suffice it to say, there’s a whole lotta beepin’ goin’ on! It’s either developed a faulty sensor or picked up a poltergeist. Either way, it probably needs to be replaced.

While $99 is undoubtedly a bargain for a knight in shining armor, I’m thinking that the money would be better spent on a new air conditioner. I’m sure my husband would cast his vote for the knight, which is exactly why there won’t be a vote. What does he think I’m running here, anyway? Some sort of democracy?

As far as his “having a say” in anything related to home décor, I think that the fact that he seriously wants to put a six-foot piece of tin in my bedroom is, in and of itself, a very good reason why he is not consulted in these matters. I’m not saying that I’ve never made an error in judgment myself, I once painted a bathroom orange — it looked like something you’d find in South Beach. It was definitely not “me”. Fixing it was relatively easy — I simply painted over it.

Admitting that the orange didn’t work and changing it is something that I was willing to do — even at the risk of the “I told you so!” I harbor no such illusions about my husband. Fang can, and does, dig in about these things. I’m nowhere near as stubborn as he is. I know I’d be stuck with the knight forever — because Fang would NEVER own up to not being as pleased as punch by the thing. Even though I’m certain he’d get sick of it, I’m the one who would be stuck with it for life — because he’d never admit that it had outlasted its usefulness (which, I’m sure, would mainly be to annoy me). Other than hanging scarves from him, dressing him up for the holidays, and traipsing people back to my bedroom for a look at the old guy (the tin one, not the real one) I don’t know what I would do with a knight in my bedroom, particularly one that had lost his luster.

photo credit: knight

Paint: My “Gateway” Drug!

paintI have to psyche myself up today — after four days off, I have to go back to work. I’m trying to view this going back to work thing as a mini-vacation from all the hard work I’ve been putting in here at the hovel. It’s not really working, though.

On the up side, I only have to work for the next three days — because I’m off for four days again next week. The down side is that I will be required to spend a good chunk of that time cleaning up the mess I made after I decided to tackle the hall closet yesterday. Yes, I know. I haven’t even finished the bathroom and I’ve started something else. Are you all in cahoots with my husband? Don’t judge me! This is just the kind of gal I am — one thing always leads to another.

For example, I swore that I was only painting the bathroom. I promised my husband that I was only painting the bathroom. I think he knew better. Paint, at least for me, functions as a sort of a “gateway” drug — once I get a taste, I want more — and I want the hard stuff — I begin to envision how nice my hallway will look in a medium blue with black and white accents, or how a nice caramel color will make my entryway “pop”. And the kitchen? I imagine that a happy yellow — accessorized with black and white toile (of course!) — would be delightful. If I were to stumble across a pretty gingham to accent the toile, I wouldn’t pass it by!

Last night he caught me wandering around the hallway with a measuring tape. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. His face said, “I knew it!” When I finally came into the bedroom, he just said, “I thought that we were going to concentrate on the bedroom next week. So, what is it you’re doing out there in the hallway with a tape measure?” Glancing over, he couldn’t help but notice that there were paint chips on my iPad screen — blue paint chips — and so he had to comment, thusly: “I thought we agreed that we weren’t painting the bedroom — or anything else.”

I explained to him that as I had already dumped the contents of the closet into the hallway and as I had to paint the vintage metal cabinet that lives there anyway, I thought that I might as well just go “whole hog” and paint the walls, too. I also wanted him to know that I had finally worked out a solution to the laundry problem — this, my friends, is what I call a “pot sweetener”! (Because he is forever saying things like, “This laundry is ridiculous. We need to find a better place to put it!” — and we do.)

We have a very big laundry problem here at the hovel — one that I’ve been making lackluster attempts at addressing for several years now — all, sadly, to no avail. But I think I’ve finally cracked it. Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to raise some black shelving off of the floor by placing it onto cinderblocks (painted, of course!) so that I can clear the baseboard heater. Atop the shelving I will place three laundry baskets flush to the wall — then I’m going to put some cute little signs above each basket, which will read: “Whites”, “Towels”, and “Colors”. I thought about putting the towel hamper in the closet, eliminating it from the triptych altogether, but that would leave me with only two hampers and two signs that say: “Whites”and “Colors”. That left me feeling uneasy — without the “Towels”, the whole enterprise just smacks of the “segregated South”. And, really, who needs THAT kind of anxiety when one has finally removed one of the biggest stumbling blocks to organization in the history of the world? Not me!

Amazingly, my husband didn’t even call this idea “stupid”. I thought he would get all caught up in the painted cinderblock thing, but he didn’t. (Maybe he didn’t process that part of the scheme — I was doing some pretty good “fast-talking” to “sell” my little plan!) I did notice a quasi-eyeroll when I discussed the whole “Whites”, “Colors” dilemma. He suggested that I abandon the signage idea altogether. He advised me to simply tell the one other person in the house who was not present for this conversation — the teenager — which basket would be for whites and which would be for colors. HA! As if. Even he had to chuckle at the ridiculousness of that suggestion!

We then had to discuss “hampers”. I’m sure he was hoping that I would settle for a few of those Rubbermaid ones — the kind that you pick up at Target, you know, where they sell the dish drains, the plastic totes, and other utilitarian items. Sure, they’re useful, but they’re also not what I have in mind — and he knows it! What I have in mind will cost money — real money — and he knows that, too! Because I have one in my bedroom — it has become “his” hamper. And he loves it. He also knows that it was $70. It’s a beautiful blackish rattan — imagine, if you will, a nice, steaming hot cup of Starbuck’s before you add the cream. It has a flat back and a curved front. The lid opens and closes nicely and quietly. It’s a beauty! If, say, Mercedes made hampers — it would be this one. Obviously, I’ll need three of them. I told him that he could give his up and then we’d only need two. As a testament to how much a man can love a hamper — even a cheapskate like my husband — he told me to go ahead and spend the money.

Stay tuned, kids! If my husband doesn’t knock me off the ladder, I’ll be posting some more exciting pieces about the wonderful world of hampers!

photo credit: paint

My fuschia bathroom OR How I finally sent “Fang” over the edge!

My "fuschia" bathroom!

My “fuschia” bathroom!

It was bound to happen sooner or later. And, NO, I did not spend the night in jail. Of course, the day is young yet, so that possibility still exists. And, I’m going to Ikea with Fang later, so that may raise the odds on the prison thing. I may just have to grab whatever is handy — perhaps I’ll get lucky and there’ll be a Hemnes shelf within reach — and knock him over the head if his behavior at Ikea begins to devolve into anything like what I had to be party to at The Home Depot the other night.

What my mother-in-law always feared and, I suppose, has always been inevitable is that I have finally sent Fang over the edge. It happened at The Home Depot. There I was, innocently trying to match a paint to my toenail polish color, when I heard my normally quiet husband shriek (I swear, he actually shrieked), “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO PAINT THE BATHROOM TO MATCH YOUR TOES?” I just kind of shrugged and said, “Sure. Why not?” We all draw our inspiration from somewhere. I had drawn mine from those good people at Essie.

Here’s how it all began. One day last week, while relaxing in the “reading room” (that’s code for “John” around here), I realized how dissatisfied I was with the current wall color in the bathroom. I also noticed that I needed a new shower curtain — mostly because the ever-prepared Fangette has been using the one that was hanging there — the once crisply white one — to dry her hands with. Why get a hand towel when the shower curtain is always handy? Kids!

Even a good dousing in bleach couldn’t save the shower curtain. A quick trip to Marshall’s netted me a new gray, ruffled curtain. Of course, when I got home and put it up, I noticed how much I hated the wall color. It’s hard to describe, really. I think it was, at one time, trying to be pink, but it was closer to tan. Yeah. It was tannish-pink. It was also fugly.

Each time I visited the “reading room” I began to imagine a new wall color. I decided that I had to keep it in the pink family — because the bathtub is also trying to be pink. It is also not really pink, but it has a pink undertone to it. It’s another difficult to describe color. I think whoever painted the bathroom tried to match the wall color to the bathtub color. It was an unsuccessful attempt, but I do have to admire the effort.

As luck would have it, I had a pedicure appointment in the midst of my paint color dilemma. I suppose I had pink on my mind — because I have never had pink toenails in my life — and yet, there I was, gravitating toward the pinks. The pedicurist, in an effort to speed me along — time is money, after all — suggested that I try the new shade of fuschia that she had on her tray. She told me that it had just come in, that it was a new color from Essie. Okay. Whatever.

The minute she began applying it I knew I had found my new bathroom wall color. I came home and put my feet up against the shower curtain just to make sure that I wasn’t mistaken — even though I knew I wasn’t. My toenail to the shower curtain experiment yielded the expected results. Fuschia it would be!

In hindsight, what I should have done was this: I should have bought a bottle of the color and thrown it in my bag. I then could have taken it out, in a surreptitious fashion, at The Home Depot and matched it that way — and Fang never would have known where I got the idea for the color. But, I didn’t — mainly because I am cheap. Why waste $6 on a whole bottle of nail polish when I already had the color on my body?  Furthermore, I never would have expected him to have a mini nervous breakdown in the paint department as a result of my methodology. I know better now.

I was still kind of reeling from his shrieking when I noticed that he was also stomping, as in stomping away from me. I was like, “Wait a minute, buster! What’s going on? I need to get this paint.” When he turned around he was wearing a look that can best be described as incredulous. It was like he thought that I was going to abandon my painting plans in the face of a little shrieking and stomping. The thought crossed my mind that he really doesn’t know me at all, but was quickly replaced by my own incredulousness, as I noticed his arms flailing and realized that he was having what is commonly referred to as a “conniption fit” right in front of the paint chips.

Fang is a normally reserved and quiet guy. That’s not to say that I’ve never seen him have a conniption during our time together, mostly they are connected to the fact that I pay top dollar for bread and only eat two slices before it grows moldy — but these meltdowns usually occur in private — in the kitchen, where I keep the bread — he almost never carries on in public about anything.

The funny thing was that even though they had clearly witnessed my husband having a public display of lunacy, the paint desk workers didn’t bat an eyelash. They had no response whatsoever to the madman who was, not five feet away from them, shrieking, stomping, and flailing. They seemed to be taking a “business as usual” approach to my husband’s hysterics. And so of course, while I was having my fuschia paint mixed — did you think I wouldn’t get it? — I had to ask the guy whether this type of thing happens all the time down at The Home Depot. He just looked at me, laughed a little, and said, “What? People arguing over paint colors? Happens all the time. You two were light stuff. I’ve seen folks come to blows!”

People coming to blows over paint? I’m definitely in the wrong line of work.