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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The frustration of forgetting

The usual pre-visitor cleaning frenzy is well under way at FAR Manor. Let me be frank here: I usually don’t bother doing any cleaning until Mrs. Fetched gets into a lather about it, because it’s a losing battle. The 80/20 rule applies here: 80% of the clutter is caused by 20% of the people (one, and that’s Mrs. Fetched). She’ll come in and drop whatever she’s carrying — groceries, mail, tools, church stuff — on the most convenient horizontal surface because she’s too tired or too busy to deal with it right away. Naturally, she denies it. (I suppose I would too.)

The real problem arises when I try to do (or suggest) something that might be something approaching a solution. Any time I’ve done anything, she immediately shoots it down with no consideration of discussion. Fool that I am, I keep forgetting this and need a reminder from time to time.

So during the cleanup, a couple of dusty paper trays (in/out boxes) turned up. Hey, I thought, we both end up with magazines and miscellaneous bits of paper strewn around the house — why not put these to use as a way to collect those things we haven’t dealt with yet? Since there was plenty of “test data” on the kitchen table and the built-in desk next to it, I laid the trays side-by-side on the desk and started sorting stuff into them. I guess The Boy gets his ability to construct elaborate fantasy worlds from me — I had the idea all laid out in my mind. Anything we weren’t ready to sort through would go in our inboxes; we could put stuff in each others’ boxes as long as we didn’t care what happened to it next. No more clutter all over the place, right?


Mrs. Fetched took one look at it and immediately said, “That can’t go there. I’m putting the bread box there.” No curiosity about what I had in mind, no consideration given to the idea — and when I tried to explain, it immediately became open hostility. It was my idea, it was a solution, therefore it had to die and quickly. I tipped the contents of her box onto the desk, picked up the few things of mine and dropped them in the bedroom, then took the trays to the outbuilding where they might see some use.

Mrs. Fetched isn’t very big on solutions, she much prefers to complain about the problems instead. This has been demonstrated over and over again, and it just doesn’t seem to stick in my mind no matter how often it’s been hammered in (probably because I can’t even imagine such illogical thinking). She would rather complain about mice in the house than let the cats in, for example. I suppose it would be OK if my entire home life consisted of following her around and cleaning up after her, but that’s too high a price to pay. In the last couple of years, I have begun to understand why some men will go from work to a bar for several hours — there’s no supper (but lots of complaints) waiting at home, why would anyone rush to go home to that?

I then considered setting up a small desk in our bedroom where I can keep my things organized, but I know exactly how that would play out. First, there would be resistance to bringing a desk in — it would make it harder to reach the blinds, it would block the window, it would block the vent, it doesn’t look right, etc. etc. etc. Even if by some miracle I brought the desk in without her disapproval, it would rapidly become useless to me. She has no concept of “my” space: it’s her house, her kitchen, her furniture... I just pay for everything.

Proof: In the house we lived in before, she suggested I take over a room that had been added on and was connected to the rest of the house through an opening where the dining room window used to be and a door that opened on the porch. I had the place all set up the way I wanted it... and then anything she didn’t want to deal with, she started throwing in that room. I’d clean it up and she would throw more stuff in. Before too long, I was having a hard time keeping enough floor space clear to walk from one end to the other. After a while, I gave up — then she complained how messy it looked. I told her to stop throwing her crap in there and she escalated hostilities. I’ve never been one for confrontation, unless pushed to the wall, and that works against me (but some years back, every time she complained about clutter, I would automatically respond “Stop buying more crap at Wal-Mart all the time then,” until she actually stopped). At FAR Manor, the reason my outbuilding hasn’t been treated likewise is because it’s not part of the house — it’s more convenient for her to drop things on a table than walk 30 yards (round-trip).

So I guess I’ll have to start spending more time out there. I have enough air conditioning, but need better heat in the winter. I also need to get Ethernet or wireless run out there somehow (wireless might be easier if I can get a signal through the sheet-metal siding), and get a small refrigerator where I can keep some beer, then I’ll be home free. Daughter Dearest said about this plan, “and we’ll never see you again.” Well, maybe, at least until Mrs. Fetched is ready to do more about problems than complain.


  1. Hi FARfetched. I see you've contemplating the outbuilding as you fortress of solitude. I tried that before and in my case it didn’t work. The family complained I wasn’t in the house enough, and it was to far to walk to come and get me. I even put an intercom in, but it was not the same to them as being able to see me. I never figured that one out.

  2. As far as I'm concerned: they can complain all they want if I don't have to hear it!

    What they will do (and have done) is stand outside the garage and yell for me until I stick my head out the door.

  3. Well that all sounds pretty unpleasant FAR! And you've got me looking around here at all my clutter feeling pretty guilty ... ;)

  4. This is obviously an important issue for you. But I think you've stumbled across the perfect solution -- two solitudes.

    It will be interesting to see if the wireless does indeed make it through the siding. I'm able to get a signal outside, but I've got lowly asbestos covering my house, which apparently isn't an obstacle. What I don't have is a proper outbuilding. I had visions of being able to work outside on my laptop while catching some rays, but it's nearly impossible to see the screen, even in the shade. I'm going to have to get me an "outhouse", too!

  5. Maybe you should take a road trip south and stay at the "BEER" House for a few days.


    Oh and I have keys to Mom's condo, you could stay there too.

  6. Bronwyn, I've been outside with the laptop before. It works find if you can find some shade or at least wait for a cloudy day.

    Hey Solar, Mom-oo told me she wanted you to water her plants while she was gone... been over there to do it yet?

  7. Nope, don't plan on going over there anytime soon, being that her plants are at my house. Oh and you can tell her that Newt really, REALLY, likes her Lily.

  8. Ha, that's good. She was afraid she'd come back to brown plants. I thought it would be a good excuse for you to stay there on weekends — a short walk across the bridge, and you'd be at the beach and/or Crabby's.

    Good to hear Newt is interested in something. Mom said you thought she was ready to see the Great Catnip Ball in the Sky. Besides, she can have some of our lilies; I have to mow 'em down in the fall so they don't take over.


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