*Husbandus Interruptus

The Crankee Yankee and I were driving somewhere the other day, and, just as I started talking about an issue with the house, he started talking about another subject all together.

Now, as I’ve stated in many posts, I despise being interrupted. Having someone talk over me in my book is just about as rude as someone helping themselves to food off your plate. They didn’t ask; they just reached over, grabbed your food and starting eating it without so much as a “may I?” As if you, the owner of the food, didn’t matter.

Before I reached a slow boil, I had a real “road to Damascus” epiphany; he talked over me because he didn’t realize (or hear) that I was speaking! My getting angry about that would be tantamount to me scolding a blind person for not seeing me.

Now I realize that we are both getting to the age where, if we don’t speak up, we may forget what we were going to say. As I realized this, my anger went away; he really did not hear that I was talking.      

So I told him what I had just learned. The poor guy; he knows how much I hate being interrupted, and he winced, saying, “sorry; I didn’t mean to interrupt you.” Surprisingly, I wasn’t angry, because I had finally realized the real issue: when he has something to say he literally 1) has to say it right now or he’ll forget it, and 2) blocks everything else until he has said what he needs to say.

Now, this may sound like making an excuse for bad behavior, but actually it isn’t. It is one more step up the ladder of understanding a person you love.  The Crankee Yankee is simply wired that way. My complaining about this would be about as smart as complaining about our cats purring too loudly in our ears—it ain’t gonna happen.

Is it still irritating? Of course it is; we both know this. Does it mean that I am the only one in this relationship to make allowances? Nope—not at all. In this life-long game of marriage, I still have the right to say, ‘hey, you interrupted me! Tell me what you need to say, but remember that I get my turn next.”

But this is like playing Scrabble: you can play strictly by the rules on the back of the box and call the other player out when they don’t follow a specific rule, or: you can make up your own rules and have a great time. (After all, it’s not like the Scrabble police are sending drones out to check on all Scrabble players, 24/7!)

So with that knowledge, I can go forward from this and remember how the Crankee Yankee is wired. Trust me, it makes things a whole lot easier. Is it a “pass” for him to always interrupt? Certainly not. But at least it makes it a lot easier knowing that the interruptions are not meant to wound.

Plus the Crankee Yankee has to put up with all my quirks and foibles, of which there are many. He has to put up often with “*Wifus Irritabilius” Often.

*My apologies to my late and beloved Latin teacher in high school, Mr. Gerald Holden.


The New Hampsha Hillbillies

(Queue up “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song)

I decided this morning that the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I should post a badly-made and misspelled sign on our house lettered “The New Hampsha Hillbillies.” We have lived here in our circa 1953 house since 2007, and the Crankee Yankee has been making repairs and improvements ever since. We have had staging on our house every day since 2007; sometimes in the front of the house where the front porch he designed and partially put up is still in progress, sometimes in the back of the house, where the back porch is still in progress, and sometimes on the bay window side of the house, where shingling is in progress.  Once the back and front porches are done, he wants to re-roof them both with metal roofing. That’s the outside.

On the inside, the new (as of 2007) ceiling in the living room is still unpainted, as is the bedroom pocket door. The now-gutted upstairs is in the process of being re-insulated and refurbished with recycled flooring. The new deck and stairs on the side of the house is still underway; all the basics are there, just unfinished. The Crankee Yankee scares me every year by saying that the entire kitchen needs to be re-done: ceiling replaced, walls stripped to the studs, old and crappy cabinets ripped out, and best of all, the horrible poison-green-with-dirty-ivory-squares linoleum has to come up and be replaced. Oh, and the kitchen door, which at this time you can’t use if the oven door is open (the oven is literally 2.5″ from the door handle)–needs to be moved over about two feet.

Just the mere words “kitchen renovation” make me weak and nauseous, and triggers my fight-or-flight reflex; as in I want to be instantly transported away when all this happens. His final (so far) project will be to tear down the ancient and sagging garage–re-build it AND add an efficiency apartment on top of it. I will say right here, right now, that I would rather eat a bug than have to worry about a tenant over the garage.

I haven’t even addressed the furnishings: we seem to be some vortex for other people’s crappy furniture outcasts. So, courtesy of one of the Crankee Yankee’s model railroad fellows, we have a black pleather office chair–one of those huge plushy ones. Both armrests have the pleather worn off so that the ugly gray stuffing shows; on one arm, you can see right down to the fake wood. Thanks to this same person, we also have a matching black pleather recliner–just as plushy, and oozing stuffing, too. The cats have scratched it to bits, recognizing it for the piece of crap it is. Also in our living room is the orange sofa/sleeper Mom and Dad gave us when they bought a nice new futon. It came “pre-scratched” from their cat to our three to enjoy. I cover it with a red fleece blanket (to cover up all the entrails leaking out of it), but it still looks terrible.

On the plus side, our circa 1953 home now has a roomy and sunny back and front porch, a sturdy and good-looking deck with wide and graceful stairs and two bannisters. In front of our house, the Crankee Yankee has put in a great deal of work making four raised-bed gardens, beautifully bordered in wood, with crushed stone walk-ways in between so that it’s easy to plant, weed and harvest. Last year we tried growing potatoes, and behold and lo–we harvested 31 of them! We also planted romaine, which we picked and enjoyed all summer. Last fall we planted garlic, and fingers crossed that it will come up this year. The plans for this year’s gardens are beets, brussels sprouts, lettuce, herbs and possibly peas. Oh, and also flowers.

Because of the Crankee Yankee’s overall handiness, we were the recipients of many pounds of free crushed stone from the town sewer workers. They worked all last year on our local roads, re-paving the streets and fixing some badly aged plumbing below the streets. Part of the work involved replacing the neighborhood’s water and sewer pipes, which meant everyone except the Crankee Yankee had to make sure that their pipes had access to the main roads. He dug his own trench and laid the pipe for our house, 1) because he knows what he’s doing, and 2) because as he says, “I have nothing else to do, and all the time in the world to do it in.” The road crew appreciated one less house to work with, and rewarded him with the crushed stone, which we are still using today.

All three of our cats have benefited as well. He put up a series of rather nice-looking shelves in the living room, and the cats love to perch and snooze on them. He is in the process of installing another cellar casement window, and while working on it, he took the time to make a little shelf so that the cats now have a ground-level view.

The funny thing about the Crankee Yankee’s mode of operation is that it’s just like mine: when bored of something, we both put a “bookmark” in what we’re doing and move on to something else. This way, everything eventually gets done, just not right away. I so admire people like my mom and my brother-in-law in the way they approach tasks. They clear the area in which they plan to work, they lay out all their tools and supplies, and get to it. They let nothing distract them from the task at hand, and they complete it in a timely fashion. Once done, they clean everything up, put things back where they were; done and done.

Sadly, that is not our style. While it is sometimes frustrating to have things constantly “in progress,” there is a weird hopeful feeling about it. We know that we will eventually get around to everything, and despite how things look, the Crankee Yankee has a master plan, and I believe in him. All during the past seven years, several people have kept track of his progress, and most are encouraging. The few who aren’t and complain about how the house looks are met with one of the Crankee Yankee’s standard stony stares and an invitation to complain all they want.

I think we’ll add a sign right next to the New Hampsha Hillbillies one that reads, “If you don’t like the time it’s taking to complete the work on this house, please feel free to donate.” And right next to that, we’ll nail up a coffee can with a slot in the lid.



The Journey or the Destination – More Differences Between Men and Women

I love and adore my husband, the Crankee Yankee. However, we do disagree on some things. If we are going somewhere, for him it’s all about the journey: what side roads to take, what we might see on the way, etc. For me, it’s all about the destination. Frankly, I don’t care what side roads we take–I just want to get to where we’re going, especially if we are going shopping.

Another difference between us is clothes shopping. When I do it, I take an armload of clothing into the dressing room, try everything on and decide what I want to buy. I want to see myself in the clothes from all angles, check how they feel when I sit down, think about what things I already have that they might go with, etc. So when I make my purchases, I’m 99% sure I will keep everything. The Crankee Yankee just loads up one arm with stuff his size and pays for it and leaves. No trying on for him. If it doesn’t fit, it goes back. Sometime.

This week he drove down to MA to buy a backup pump for the basement. We have been getting horrendous rains and our back yard has become a pond big enough in which to stock trout. In any case, he called me from the road, saying that he had the pump and was on his way home. Oh, and by the way, he had stopped at CostCo and bought a much-needed pair of sneakers. Naturally I asked him how they fit. He breezily replied that he hadn’t tried them on; that there was no place to do so.

REALLY?!? All he had to do was lean up against any wall, take off just ONE shoe, and try on ONE sneaker. That would have given him a pretty good idea whether they fit or not. Also, he mentioned that he bought a size 8.5, and we both know he takes a 9. The probable outcome of this purchase? He will take them back because they are too small, and he will probably wait so long to do so that he will either lose the receipt or the people at Costco will tell him that he should have brought them back in 30 days or less.

But then, he is all about the journey and not the destination. So, there’s another chance for him to go on another quest–back down to Costco to buy a pair of size 9 sneakers which he won’t try on (no place to do so, you know). And so it goes. I think my method is more efficient, but then, I’m all about the destination and not the journey.

My method came directly from my mom. We would travel the most direct route, pillage the store, pay and walk out hooting like gorillas on steroids about how much we saved. For us, it was all about the thrill of the hunt. I remember one spectacular shopping spree where we found literally a barrel of our favorite bras, marked down 50%. We all but dove into it, and hauled out handfuls of bras, and heaped them up in front of us (so that no sneaky bargain hunters would snatch our stash). I believe that at one time we even growled at a few shoppers who ventured too near our kill.

Most men view clothes shopping as a necessary evil, or in the Crankee Yankee’s case, he’s sick of me throwing out all his “work clothes,” so he is forced to buy new stuff. The “work clothes” are all the ripped, stained, faded and falling-apart duds that once lived the high life in the closet on hangers, but have fallen into the bilge of the house, i.e., the Crankee Yankee’s work clothes bins. (Underwear suffers the most–it becomes merely a bit of elastic holding several holes together. Eww.) So now when the Crankee Yankee shops, he buys in bulk, like coffee or crackers.

UPDATE: The Crankee Yankee did take those size 8.5 sneakers back to CostCo and got size 9 instead. That was two days ago. He still hasn’t tried them on.



“You Take the Fun Out of Boredom”

My husband, the Crankee Yankee, is known for many things: he’s the guy to go to if you want anything fixed, he will gladly share his political views (often without being asked), he is a stellar father and grandfather, a wonderful husband, a rescuer and nurturer of all animals, he is honest, kind and reliable, he has the best laugh in the world, and he’s a good-looking devil, too. But one of his best attributes is his sense of humor.

The other day we were talking about the winter doldrums and how much we wished for Spring. We agreed that we both felt a bit stale and needed to get out more and do more rather than just do winter-house-bound stuff. Then we talked about how a sense of humor really helps during times like these that can be rife with boredom and the ‘same-old, same-old.’

So, since it was too late to go anywhere or do much of anything but prepare dinner and watch some lackluster TV, we began complimenting each other. I told him that I appreciated his intelligence and unique viewpoint, and he told me how he liked my sense of humor and my outlook on life. Warming to this train of talk, we moved on to how each of us had positively affected each others lives. We got a little carried away, and the compliments began flying. Just as I thought that my head would explode with my sense of well-being, he said this:

“You take the fun out of boredom.”

HUH?!? I truly believe that he meant it in a good way; that I somehow make the boring times fun, but his delivery was….unexpected. We are no strangers to malaprops in this house, but that one was a doozy.

It got me thinking about other malapropisms I’ve heard over the years, especially my dad’s classic — once, as he drove up to the library, he asked Mom to put the books in the book suppository [depository]. My sister-and-brother-in-law’s neighbor talks about a friend of hers who owns a bull master [mastiff]. She went on to say that the dog had enormous joils [jowls]. My grandmother used to say that, if you’re not careful of your purse, some thief would confisticate [confiscate] it.

I’ve said some beauts myself, but I blame it on my propensity of having temporary “word salad.” That is, I know what I want to say, but can’t seem to say the right word. Hmmm–perhaps I really DO take the fun out of boredom!



Throw it Away, Already!

My husband (i.e., the Crankee Yankee) believes to the bottom of his heart the old motto, ” ”Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” My own motto is “If you can’t use it, replace it, fix it, or live with it–THROW IT AWAY!”

We have a basement with shelves crammed with de-labeled prescription bottles, odds and ends of stuff that broke (“but the other parts are still good!”), a couple of cracked dishes that have needed mending for over 5 years (and that I don’t even care about), and all the yoghurt, sour cream, and Smart Balance “butter” tubs we have ever used in nearly 12 years of marriage, re-purposed to hold nails, screws, bolts, washers, etc. Empty litter jugs are used over and over again for water when the Crankee Yankee pours concrete. I can certainly go on, but you get the picture.

Consequently, when I broke my favorite vegetable chopper (damn those thick-skinned onions!), I rendered it useless. A small plastic piece on the bin broke off so that you couldn’t chop properly. It broke my heart as I loved that thing and use it several times a week. I mourned its loss, and will have to go buy another one. I told my husband as much, foolishly believing that this item was on its way to the dump.

But no–the Crankee Yankee fished out the other unbroken pieces, declaring them still useful. For what, I asked? He said that when I buy a new one, it will be good to have spares–in the same pieces of the new ones break. Good thinking, except for the fact that THOSE pieces aren’t likely to break any time soon. This means that, should I break the NEW one’s bin, I will have the same spares and no bin. Sigh.

Next time I will just cover my crime. In fact, I think I’ll buy two or three choppers, just in case. Oh no–I think I may be turning into another version of the Crankee Yankee myself–except that I will be hoarding NEW items, not useable parts from broken ones. Ok–that’s fine. Now I feel better.

Wit and Wisdom From the Crankee Yankee

The Crankee Yankee is my husband. After years of being a finish carpenter and just about everything in the world to do with construction, he is retired, yet hard at work renovating our circa 1953 house. However, he is clever with much more that carpentry and construction. He is also a pretty funny guy.

How funny, you ask? Well, just consider this gem he came out with this morning: “A *good woman is like vinyl siding. It stays in place and looks good no matter what the weather.” And not only did he SAY that, but he said it to ME.

Now look, I’m no spring chicken, but I do know how to apply makeup well enough not to scare anyone, I dress appropriately for my age, plus I wear great jewelry–much of which I made myself. I know enough not to pick my nose in public, I am a professional at work, and I do my best to restrain my big old donkey laugh in public.

So, really–vinyl siding?! Sigh…I’ll be posting more later on from the one and only Crankee Yankee.


*His definition of a “good woman” implies that said woman is not high-maintenance; she neither asks for nor spends the tax money on diamonds, furs, sports cars, Botox and spa treatments.