Tidy is as tidy does

Dear Husband,
I feel it would remiss of me not to point out to you that tidying can be done at the same time as living. The two are in fact not mutually exclusive activities. Crazy, I know. It is actually possible not to severely compromise the quality of ones living (and indeed, I think it can even be enhanced) by tidying in small amounts as you go. And I’m not talking about cleaning here. Theres no need to involve utensils, appliances or products. There is even no call to use undue force and exertion by scrubbing, wiping or polishing. I am simply talking about picking things up and moving them from one place to the other. From where they lay to where they are supposed to be and that’s as easy as a, b, c!
Just in case you were ever wondering, you do not need to wait till the eleventh hour when the requirement for something to be neat and tidy compels you or until the wife takes you by the ear (which ever comes first and in your case, it’ll be the wife) to clear the clutter. You can take action at any time with minimal effort and amazing results. Remember, happy wife, happy life and all. Its not difficult. You have told me several times this month that you have great peripheral vision so there is no reason why you can’t see the myriad of things that need doing regularly as a direct result of your actions (or rather that was inaction) and that I end up doing in one big lot as I follow the path of your laziness around the house.
The other weekend was a perfect example. Whilst I was sitting on the couch waiting for you to finish fixing your hair in the bathroom, I noticed your cup, plate and cutlery from breakfast on the coffee table. As I bent down to pick them up, I saw your smelly shoes and socks under the coffee table so I went into the kitchen to deposit the dirty crockery and cutlery on the sink before returning to the living room to pick up your smelly shoes (which I then went to place on the shoe rack in the entry) and the socks which I walked back through the kitchen and into the adjoining laundry before depositing in the dirty washing basket. On my way back out through the kitchen and dining room, I noticed the bare coat hangar lying on the table from where you had ironed your shirt the previous day. I therefore picked this up and went into the laundry once again to hang it there, ready for the next time I wash and put out your shirts to dry.
When I wandered back to the living room, I came upon your pyjama bottoms which lay crumpled on the floor in a heap where you had shucked them whilst watching tv before going to take a shower. I therefore picked them up and took them into the bedroom so that I could place them on the bed. This was where I noticed the wet towel which I quickly picked up and took into the bathroom (which you had now vacated) to stop the bed from getting any damper (at least it was your side). When I turned around from hanging up the towel, I saw that yet again you had mastered the art of opening the vanity but not closing it once you were done so I shut this and turned to leave at which point my eyes fell on the pile of your dirty clothes that habitually seem to take over the space behind the door. After picking these up, I also turned off the exhaust fan and the lights which you had left on in the bathroom. Again.
As I exited the  bathroom, I looked across the hall and noticed that your beside table drawer was left hanging open (I feel like I could count on one hand the times that you have closed this yourself) and resolved to come back when I had free hands after delivering the pile of clothes from the bathroom to the laundry. On the way back to the bedroom to see to the drawer hanging out with all your underwear on show, I picked up the jacket lying on the arm of the sofa as it was now obvious that you  were not going to wear this out (you were ready to go and wearing a sweatshirt instead). I then walked back down the hall to the bedroom where I pushed in the dresser draw and found an empty glass sitting on top. I picked up the glass and then walked into our spare room/wardrobe where I hung up your unused jacket before returning to the kitchen where I place the empty glass on the sink.
Since we were trying to get out the door at the time, I didn’t even look at the general untidiness of library books, dvds, mail and other such paraphernalia that seems to permeate our home. I just followed your trail of destruction. Which in turn makes me think “c’mon,… really!?!”. You know that I do like to be at least a little houseproud and you also knew on that particular weekend that we had a guest coming to the house. Sure, I get the being a little lazy during the week (I usually have a floordrobe happening in the bedroom) but you didn’t think that maybe you could have made a little bit of effort on that particular morning? It wasn’t as if the majority of that stuff had been accumulating for a week or more. Most of the debris occurred in the previous 24 hours, including that very morning!
I know that if we are having people to dinner on a weeknight and you are home before I am then you will tidy up the living areas. I’m not even going to get started here on your actual method of tidying things – into another room. The tidying up thing in general however just proves to me that you are in fact more than capable. I just wish you’d choose to practice it a bit more.
Tidily yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at our trip to the National Zoo last year
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Things we have learned: We bought a house from people who "might" have made questionable home improvements

Dear Husband,
It is to be expected I suppose that with a 50 year old house you are going to get some issues but I think we had hoped we wouldn’t encounter them quite so soon. Like the problem this month with the toilets backing up. This wasn’t actually a catastrophe like when the shit hits the fan because after all, the poo only rose to the surface. Sorry, toilet humour, I know. But it was a dilemma which led to an expensive couple of meetings with the plumber. We probably got off lightly since we feared that we had a whole collapsed pipe under the driveway but in the end we seem to have resolved things for the next 6-12 months by replacing a small section of the pipe and having the roots cleared out of the system.
Now this type of issue can easily happen to houses like ours and is not particularly uncommon, however, since the plumber also found that we had a rather conspicuous hole between the garage and the house that had previously been disguised by a recycling box, I am inclined to believe that the former owners knew of the plumbing issues and were doing some home maintenance themselves. I think this is also supported by the fact that when we (meaning you and a friend) dug up the front yard (or rather a portion at the top of the driveway) to save us paying the plumber to do it (I think your slave labour was totally worth $700), we found more evidence of amateur plumbing.
So its not as though we can do anything about the contract of sale now or even that we know for sure that there was anything dodgy on the part of the previous owners but it is convenient to blame them. Is that wrong?
Ponderingly yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at the Firewater Festival in Sydney

Things we have learned: Sometimes I really need to apologise

Dear Husband,
I think the subtitle for this post should be that I should learn to think more before I speak.
Most people do not like to admit that they are wrong and I am clearly no exception to this general rule. I like to think that my behaviour is above reproach and that I am a considerate human being but regrettably, I can sometimes be remarkably careless. And for each of those times when this has affected you, I owe you an apology. One of the great things about a good marriage (or its equivalent) is that you get to spend your life with someone who wants to be part of and invest in your future. You take pleasure in both the giving and receiving of love and affection and you are able to relax in each other’s company. You also bare more of your soul to that person trusting that they will handle with care and use the information wisely. That person can then make things better just by being there or by saying a few well thought out words. Unfortunately however, just as easily, when those words are not well thought out, they can hurt.
I know that whilst you are reconciled with who and where you were before you met me, you are not especially proud of all of it and don’t like to be reminded of it constantly. You don’t like to be put back in the place where you are the subject of others’ ridicule or be confronted by the assumptions that you’ll never do any better than you did before or that you couldn’t even if you tried. No one wants to experience this of course and the many people who care for you today don’t believe that you haven’t already moved on from that previous stage in your life. I hope on some level that you know that. Unfortunately though, what we now sometimes mistake for good natured jibing occasionally hits a little close to home. These are sore points for you and I know this yet every once in a while I carry something too far or bring something up for which there is no need because it doesn’t make either of us better people.
I may intentionally annoy and frustrate you, I’ll admit it, but I never mean to cause you unnecessary pain. I am sorry when I hurt you by being careless with my words and I never want you to think that you shouldn’t share things with me because I can’t be trusted. I hope you understand that when I am careless, it doesn’t come from malicious intent and you can be patient whilst I learn to get past an aspect of my life that doesn’t make me proud.
Also apologetically yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken on one of our trips away to the Victorian wine country – this was on one of the vineyard warehouses

Things we have learned: Slamming doors does not make me apologise

Dear Husband,
We had a fight this month. Not a disagreement or conversation where we were merely being snippy with each other vying for the imaginary points of the self-righteous but a fight where you slammed the door to the bedroom with me still inside it and stormed out of the house before driving off in the car. That really pissed me off. The slamming me inside the room more than the driving off in a huff but in general, that was one of the few times that I’ve ever wished we had a second car. All of a sudden I felt like you had trapped me inside a building that no longer felt like a home and left me with no way to get out. It had been raining on and off so it wasn’t as if the weather was that great outside and I didn’t have any cash for the bus but I just couldn’t stay there in case you came back and wanted to talk so I left. Chancing the rain, I walked out of the house for a couple of hours and put all of your calls through to voicemail.
I don’t remember exactly what the fight was about now. I remember you trying to get your way and me not simply giving it to you but I don’t remember the why. I think I was tired of feeling like I had gone out of my way to support you when you were unemployed and that your expectations didn’t seem to have changed once you had found a job. That wasn’t of course anything that I had actually put into words to you but it was probably a strong contributor to a string of misinterpretations that led to the arguing and the leaving. You often speak in absolutes when you are upset and your opening salvos are usually in terms of blame, fault and guilt. I still don’t understand why we can’t start with a false impression or a misunderstanding instead. Do we go past that point and I don’t even notice? So we both felt terrible and I cut myself off knowing that you would be worried. I didn’t sms you to let you know that I was ok and I left you with no information other than the fact that I was gone. That was something I did need to apologise for because that was me behaving badly and I did apologise to you – eventually. When I was ready. And hopefully that means something.
Apologetically yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at the Vivid Festival honouring Lachlan Macquarie.

Things we have learned: Each job has a beginning, a middle and an end

Dear Husband,
One might argue that we have more learned “of” this phenomenon rather than learning this as a lesson in and of itself. Or maybe it is that you have learned that I think this and happen to believe that you should think this too. But maybe it is that in realising this, we now know that we see these attributes completely differently and therefore we are learning to understand where the other is coming from? Or perhaps not.
Whichever is the more correct, I think this lesson will remain a bit of a work in progress for us as a couple because from where I stand at least, I am still surprised that you are amazed when I take issue with some things. The fridge is definitely a case in point. Now that we have impoverished ourselves to some extent by buying a house, you have taken to trawling through the free classifieds for things that we might want. In addition to the things you find that we really don’t need, you managed to find a fridge that would fit in our kitchen. Now I am not knocking this. The new free fridge is great. We now have a working freezer in the house and we don’t need to go to the garage for ice cream which is awesome but we seemed to view the whole process a little differently.
Your version (and granted, I have taken poetic licence here as don’t “know”): I spent ages making sure I was checking the sites so if anything good was advertised, I could snap it straight up. When I found a great fridge, I arranged for a friend to help with their car and booked a cheap trailer so we could pick it up. After picking up the fridge, we drove it back, set it up in the house and then I cleaned it up. Done and dusted.
My version: You found a replacement fridge and planned with the neighbour to go and pick it up. You booked the trailer half an hour before you needed to be at your destination which was in fact half an hour away thus making you late (and unable to return the child along for the ride before picking up the fridge which was the original intention). When you returned, you moved the original fridge from its position into the dining room and manoeuvred the new fridge into the kitchen before returning the trolley to the neighbours. You then wiped down the new fridge and got it ready for use.
So close yet so far. You appeared completely gob-smacked that I was not happy with the fact that I now had a big fridge sitting in my dining room with no conceivable notion that it would ever be removed any time soon since you had returned the trolley already. The fact that I keep tidying up the house and try to make it homely seems to have escaped your notice or perhaps it just doesn’t compute that having a large unnecessary appliance where it does not belong would not make me happy. We had words over that and I expressed that I wanted it out of the house. I wanted it gone completely actually but since that was an unrealistic expectation at the time I said I didn’t particularly care where you put it as long as it wasn’t in the house. It is now sitting in the same place you put it that afternoon. Just like the carpet you pulled up is sitting in the same place you moved it to when I asked you to get it off the porch. And kind of like the washing up never gets put away in the cupboards unless I do it.
When you occasionally do the washing up (and yes, I acknowledge that you help out sometimes with “my jobs”) you 1. run the water, 2. wash the dishes and 3. stack them to drain. When I wash the dishes, I 1. go through the house collecting all the items that require washing up, 2. run the water before washing each of the dishes so I can move them to the draining rack and finally 3. wipe up any items that are still wet before putting them away in their correct position. Which is the proper way to wash the dishes. In my opinion.
Opinionatedly yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at a Canberra Floriade festival a few years ago.

Things we have learned: Sometimes you have to fight for what you want.

Dear Husband,
You know, it never ceases to amaze me that when you go into attack a service provider with all guns blazing. You always seem to come out much better off. You wanted phone reception in rural Victoria for the three days that you were planning to spend there in the entire year when you really didn’t have anyone you “needed” to call? Sorry sir, I can’t fix that for you but let me give you three months usage for free. You don’t happen to have in writing that you were promised additional data on your phone plan but you have a $500 bill that you don’t want to pay? I do apologise sir, allow me to waive that extra charge for you and ensure that your plan is amended in our system for its remaining life. Honestly, the stuff you get away with sometimes…
And then there was Harry Potter and the eventful event cinemas where as it turned out, it was me that got all worked up. Over baby talk. I am all for people maintaining some semblance of a life after they have children but I am not an advocate of parents bringing infants to evening sessions and allowing them to chatter repeatedly through the movie. Sure, we were not subjected to screaming or crying but the constant “da da da da da” was just as annoying. Your kid appears less than 2 years old. I don’t think they really understand “shhh!”. But this stupidity and lack of consideration (on the parents part) was then matched by the cinema who advised that their policy is to only refund movies within the first half hour and they simply could not do anything if you haven’t gone to find someone to alert them of the issue or notified an attendant at some point through the movie which I must say is complete and total bollocks.
  1. You can do whatever you want regarding refunds, vouchers and gift certificates if you are the duty manager because you did when my tirade got longer and louder. Please don’t insult my intelligence.
  2. After you have made it abundantly clear that you will never willingly choose to offer compensation after the first half hour of the movie, I am so not ever going to consider walking out halfway through in order to find a staff member and complain whilst I miss the movie I paid to see. And by the way, I don’t care if you “think” this process takes two minutes, I don’t even leave the cinema to pee because I’ll miss part of the movie.
  3. To be honest, if I am sitting smack bang in the middle of a row in front of the offending party, I am really not comfortable getting up and stepping over others to flag down the roving staff member thus making it perfectly obvious that I am the one responsible for the parents being publicly warned and possibly thrown out. So what if I’m chicken? I heard plenty of whispering that said there were a good handful of people in that theatre who felt the same as me but none of them wanted to make an exhibition of themselves either. 

Somewhat aggressively yours,

Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at Firewater last year in Sydney – obviously.

Month Twenty-Four

Dear Husband,

I got to do my happy dance this previous month. Not only because we have now lasted through two years of marriage and are still together but also because you got a job. It wasn’t the job you were perhaps expecting to get at the end of last month but I do believe you are now better off all round. And maybe it is in fact a good omen that your situation has slightly mirrored mine from all those months ago. I remember when I assumed that an official offer on paper was a mere formality rather than just a possibility and I waited for what turned out to be a big fat nothing. I went on to get a great job though so I’m hoping that this new role is the same for you. It is ridiculously close to home which is definitely a big plus.
So that was a positive for this month but as in any marriage I am sure, there are always those things that are there to give you balance. This is of course a more polite way of saying there are times which are completely crap. And there were a few of those this month too so in the weeks leading up to our 2nd anniversary, I have come to reflect on our journey as a whole to date in addition to the previous month. Now there are always lessons to be learned from life (and of course hindsight which tells you that you could have done it better in the first place) but just so as we’re on the same page, I thought I might share with you some of my conclusions regarding things that I think we have learned. Of course, to elaborate on them all would make for an exceptionally long letter so I thought I would list them here and expand on them later except for the last one which is fitting for today.
Things I think we have learned in two years of marriage:
And…
Even when things go wrong, they turn out in the end
I think this one is true on so many levels for us whether it’s regarding the small things like leaving your wallet on the bus and having the car battery die or regarding the bigger things like ending up in hospital for three weeks with a headache and losing your job. Somehow we land on our feet and things don’t turn out so bad after all. I know you worry constantly about when the next shoe is going to drop but I hope that this doesn’t stop you from enjoying what we have. I hope you can see that even though you can’t always have everything just the way you want it, that doesn’t mean that what you have isn’t any good.
A timely reminder for this was in fact our actual anniversary where, yet again, somewhat inauspicious events led up to a great day all round. You started the day by cutting your forehead open whilst doing some backyard renovations. You didn’t end up with a black eye which would have been talking point on Monday morning but I know that the mild concussion really hurt and was bleeding slightly. Later, when we eventually got to lunch, it started to rain cats and dogs outside whilst inside the Lord Nelson (a pub which brews their own beer), the one thing you really wanted to try was temporarily off the menu. And then they incinerated your burger bun. These unfortunate events were only compounded I think by the fact that prior to us heading out the door for a romantic dinner, you sat down on the ottoman and split your pants! You didn’t give up though and by the time we got to the main course, you were practically having a little love affair in the corner with your spatchcock. And that’s not meant to be as dirty as it sounds!
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and whilst I think that is not the only way, it would definitely hold true for you. A good meal for you is well worth its weight in gold and this one was sufficient for you to ask after the chef. You told me how amazing the dish was about seven times while you were eating it and you were clearly in bliss. And since the good food was topped of with some fantastic wine, right then, you couldn’t get any higher than cloud nine without being indecent. So once again we have had a great meal at a Tapas and Wine bar for our anniversary which is perhaps setting a dangerous precedent but clearly, just when you think things are looking down, the sun comes out again and you get hot. Although according to you dear (biased) husband, I already am hot but that’s another story.
Happy Anniversary,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo of the place we had our anniversary dinner.