Troubles with that 'vision thing'

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Thursday, Sept. 19

Dear Pat,

Two weeks after Edwin took the three Great Pyrenees back to the farm to be with their mom and dad, we are in puppy withdrawal. DC was not ready for them to leave. Maybe she won't ever be. The baby bottles we fed them goat's milk in remain on the kitchen counter.

The puppies gave us sleepless nights and lots of memories. One of mine is the sound of 24 paws skittering on the hardwood floor as the dogs and puppies pursued DC, the giver of table scraps, from room to room.

Edwin says the puppies are doing well. We're exercising our visitation rights and going to see them at the farm on Saturday.

Our ninth anniversary approaches. I have consulted with experts -- other wives -- to make sure it's OK to give DC a sink for the downstairs bathroom as a gift. A sink is not the same as an iron, I have been assured.

No, a sink is nest-building material. Nine years have taught me that nest building is a phenomenon with powerful sway. Somebody is watching those home decorating channels and reading those magazines on our coffee table.

Nine years also have shown that our version occurs not according to any plan but because of household disasters or the imminent arrival of house guests for a party or Christmas.

It's not only those events that lead to home improvements, it's the threat of them occurring.

The downstairs bathroom is bothering DC. It's just a toilet and a sink in a closet-sized room. She worries about what we'll do if we ever have a horde of guests staying overnight. With Hank the psycho dog hanging out in the kitchen, the hordes seem to stay away.

Nevertheless, DC's vision is to knock out the wall between the bathroom and the kitchen so we can put in a shower. I have visions of workmen having coffee in our kitchen far into 2003.

The fear of not having enough showers is powerful. I know a woman who has 4 1/2 bathrooms in her house.

You wonder if the gods of remodeling will be appeased by a new sink.

It's the nest-building image that bothers me. I spent most of my life singing Leonard Cohen's song: "Like a bird on the wire. Like a drunk in a midnight choir. I have tried in my way to be free."

Men don't like to think of themselves in domestic terms no matter how much laundry and dishwashing we do or think we do. If you want to sell Harleys or Corvettes, set up shop next to a home-improvement center.

Some who have been married longer say this period of building your kingdom lasts about 15 years. By then, the house is approximately the way you want it or inertia has set in.

Everything finally seems to fit together. To change one thing would mean changing everything. We're in no danger of that happening.

The fence around our yard needs replacement, too. DC's family has offered to help us do it ourselves over the Thanksgiving weekend. Do-it-yourself has to be the most sinister combination of three innocent words in the language.

Another vision comes to me, one of pounding on nails when we're supposed to be shoveling turkey and dressing and watching football games.

Having established through many trials and many errors that I am not a handyman and knowing that others actually enjoy the sound of hammers striking nails, I am completely willing to pay them to have fun.

Besides, I have tendonitis. There's nothing quite so handy as a doctor's excuse.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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