Poor Mother Hubbard

Yesterday I came home to find Dick emptying the dishwasher. He’d been pushed that far by an exchange we’d had over Twitter. (Twitter = Communication = Great for Marriage).

Dick: My left wrist feels like someone ran over it with a car, but I have no recollection of any injury to it.

Jane: @Dick Hope it wasn’t all the dishes you did last night. WAIT. You didn’t do any dishes last night (ever). Probably carpal tunnel :(.

(Sidenote: In going back to get this word-for-word, I noticed the tweet Dick had written two hours before the wrist thing. “Just thinking that my blogging life with Jane is the natural extension of a marriage of two English majors. Love reading her blog everyday.” Boy, I’m starting to look really bad here, huh? In my defense, all I can say is that Dick had played basketball the night before, and that he truly hadn’t washed a single dish since we moved into this house one month ago.)

Now, I recognize the wisdom in the advice given to women that they shouldn’t criticize the way hubs diapers the baby or barbeques the chicken or washes the dishes. I know just enough behavior modification to realize that criticizing the way someone does something they don’t enjoy anyway is not a good way to encourage them to keep doing it.

But. Dick does dishes the wrong way.

He does.

Plus he hasn’t cooked (yet) in this new house, so I was prepared to be exasperated when he started hunting through cupboards looking for the mixing bowl’s home. And I blushed deep red half-way through saying NOT THAT ONE:

Not that beautifully empty, extra-deep cupboard that I . . . completely forgot about when setting up my kitchen four weeks ago.

If I weren’t feeling so sheepish, I’d be overjoyed at the thought of an EMPTY CUPBOARD. That’s like a $20 bill in your coat pocket, waiting for weather cold enough for you to discover it.

What will I put in that cupboard? The possibilities are staggering, and endless. I’ll probably keep it empty as long as I can, opening the door to admire its rich blankness whenever I feel cluttered and overwhelmed. It’ll be my secret place. A reminder that now we have more: more space, more possibility, more home than we need.


(and thanks for doing the dishes, Dick. You’re the best. (husband and father, not dishwasher).

Don’t slam the screen door

I’ve been thinking about infidelity a lot lately, probably ever since my sister’s husband left her. Yesterday the New York Times reported that infidelity is on the rise. Politicians cheat, pop culture glamorizes cheating, and sometimes even my own true love thinks that it’s obviously my job (not his) to clean the poop out of the tub.

Sometimes the bloom seems off the rose, the glitter wears thin, and the once-in-a-lifetime is obscured by the everyday.

I usually avoid adultery movies. I’m just not interested in the rationalizations or romanticizations of being unfaithful. I don’t care how tragic or star-crossed or understandable it is that someone would cheat. If it could happen to them, it might happen to me, and I don’t like to think about that.

Then Dick and I moved to Seagull Fountain and entered a technology-drought like it was 1984. No internet, no TV, no internet. So we watched Spanglish, a movie we’d borrowed from my parents a year ago.

Dick loved it. Thought it was the best Adam Sandler movie ever (not a hard thing to be), and I thought it was the saddest movie ever. Until I watched The Bridges of Madison County for the first time, and decided that was the saddest movie ever.

Sad because I totally get why Francesca would cheat. Her husband, the farmer, slams the screen door. Every. Day. He’s silent during dinner. Her kids are normal teenagers (enough said).

That slamming door is so symbolic, I tell Dick. It means the farmer also leaves the lid up, the cap off, the blender out, the foreplay forgotten.

Oh, Francesca! Where do I find an itinerant National Geographic photographer of my own, eager to peel carrots and bring me drinks and ever-so-gently ease the door shut?

That silent screen door is so symbolic, I tell Dick. It means the photographer sees her. He sees her flaws and loves her anyway. He sees her dreams and rejoices in them. HE SEES HER.

At the end of the movie, when Francesca is devastated over the photographer leaving and her staying, the farmer notices that she is undone, and asks what is wrong. More tears. He asks again. She says she just needs a minute.

He reaches over to the radio and — Here it is, I think, here is where he turns the dial to Francesca’s favorite Italian opera music, proving that he, too, SEES her, and it is a SIGN FROM THE HEAVENS ABOVE that she has made the right decision (the staying, not the straying).

But no. He turns it to the Farm Report. Francesca cries. The photographer drives out of Iowa.

And then, as the stupid tears course down my cheeks, I remember a few things:

The farmer falls in love with Francesca in Italy and gives her all he has.

The farmer tells her that he cannot sleep without her beside him.

The farmer TAKES THE KIDS FOR FOUR DAYS so she can have some alone time.

The farmer asks her what’s wrong. Twice.

I don’t know about you, but if my husband takes the kids to the state fair for four days, I’m not thinking of cheating on him, I’m polishing my shrine to his saintly-wonderful self.

And not only does he notice when she’s upset, he asks her what’s wrong. Twice.

The farmer doesn’t see Francesca because she does not show herself to him.

My sister worries that our youngest sister will have a harder time taking the leap of faith into marriage, after seeing what happened to her could-have-been-perfect marriage. I think it is a darn good thing that Dick and I leapt when we were both just babies, too dreamy to guess how many things could go wrong.

After ten years of a marriage that I would like to continue forever, I have a few pieces of advice for both of my sisters and whomever they end up with:

For the men: Don’t slam the screen door.

For the women: Show yourself to your husband. (Every day). (Even when he forgets to ask).

For both: Don’t forget the . . . friendship.


That’s what works-for us. What works for your marriage? Got any advice for the single or the newly re-single?

We who are your mothers and wives salute you!

On Friday Dick had to attend his first (and hopefully last) Boy Scout Jamboral. Since the Boy Scouts have even more regulations and permits than merit badges, Dick and his boys were going to catch a ride with someone authorized to transport scouts, but the plan was for me to drop them off at the church rendezvous point.

That afternoon I picked Dick up from work and drove to the boys’ apartment. I suggested he call to make sure the boys were ready to go, but Dick will sometimes do anything to avoid talking to people on the phone. After we’d waited a few more minutes and I nagged a bit more, he went in search of the boys (because that’s easier than actually making a phone call).

The boys weren’t ready. They weren’t packed, they hadn’t sewn on their patches. And they hadn’t made their tinfoil dinners yet. Dick was pretty ticked. Can you believe those boys hadn’t SEWN ON THEIR PATCHES or MADE THEIR TINFOIL DINNERS? I wondered if their mom was able to help, and Dick said their mom doesn’t know how to sew, and anyway, the boys SHOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEMSELVES.

So I reminded Dick that I had:

A) procured his shirt,

B) shopped for and assembled his tinfoil dinner,

C) bought the boys’ shirts and patches that were not sewn,

D) reminded Dick to get his sleeping bag and tent from my parents’ house,

E) reminded the boys the previous day that they should make tinfoil dinners and sewn on patches,

F) picked Dick up from work, and

G) washed and folded his clothes that he wanted to take.

You’re so right, Dick. Boys should learn to do things for themselves.

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Fight the Bed Frump: Three sheets to the wind

Don’t worry (or, I’m sorry), there’s nothing about sex in today’s post. Or inebriated sailors, or, as Wikipedia explains, a ship whose sheets have come loose. My brother (neither a sailor nor staggering drunk) called me earlier this week to ask my advice about sheets. He’s attending training for people who joined the Air Force to pay for medical school, and his wife scheduled her visit with family for the same two weeks.

In a stunning gesture that MY HUSBAND COULD LEARN A LOT FROM, Brad hopes to surprise Hannah with new sheets when they both get home. It sounds like Hannah has been dropping subtle hints, subtle enough that Brad, who despite being a good husband is still a man, had no idea where to begin. Flannel? Silk? Cotton? Hemp? Thread-count? He wondered if he should wash them before using them the first time. (Yes, unless you want the option of returning them, then No).

These look rather slippery to me.

There are a lot of sheet options (Bamboo? Felt? Cotton-Poly), so I devised the following quiz to help OTHER HUSBANDS WHO WISH TO SURPRISE THEIR WIVES. Women can take the quiz to make their hints less subtle, and men, answer with your wife in mind. Forgive the irresponsible over-generalization, but I don’t think most men care what the sheets are made of, as long as your lovely body graces them.

What Kind of Sheet Are You?

1. Your favorite breakfast is:

a) Granola with Soy Milk
b) Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
c) Eggs Benedict, Extra Hollandaise
d) Crepes with Berries and Creme Fraiche
e) Quiche Lorraine

2. You Usually Sleep:

a) In an untidy sprawl.
b) Left side
c) Spooning
d) Right side
e) Fetal position

3. Your favorite movie is:

a) Juno
b) Sound of Music
c) Sex and the City
d) The Philadelphia Story
e) Xanadu

4. Your idea of recreation is:

a) Raising llamas
b) Reading a book in the window seat
c) Day at the spa
d) Metropolitan Museum Costume Gala
e) Roller Derby

Mostly A’s: Flannel
Mostly B’s: Jersey Knit
Mostly C’s: Silk or Satin
Mostly D’s: 1200 Thread-count 100% Egyptian Cotton
Mostly E’s: Cotton/Polyester Blend

Now that you know what kind of sheets to buy, remember to wash them twice a year, whether they need them or not. And one final hint: if you have a king-size bed, you can write “foot” on both ends of the fitted sheet so you can easily tell which way they go. My sister and mom draw big arrows too, but I’m not sure that’s necessary.

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For more Fight the Frump goodness, visit Fussypants.