Sleep Talking…

My husband talks in his sleep.

In the early hours of this morning he turned to me and said, “That’s enough of that now.”

To which I replied, “Enough of what?”

“Enough of those carrots. You keep putting them in the mixer and they’re flying out everywhere. You’re making a huge mess!”

“Ok,” I said. “I’ll stop with the carrots.”

And we both rolled over and went back to sleep.

These are not generally the types of conversations we have while he’s sleeping. No. Generally our middle of the night sleep chats are much angrier.

Now, my husband, He’s not a loud man in his waking hours. In fact, he is the opposite. Calm. Reserved. Collected. Stoic.

The only thing I’ve ever heard him yell at are the dogs when they’re taking off at top speeds over the hill after a deer, leaving all sense of hearing behind and that one time when a guy driving a random piece of machinery mistook our yard for an oil site and almost ran over our new culvert.

I know it’s not nice to laugh when someone you love is all worked up, but, I mean, a brand new vein spontaneously appeared in his neck. Don’t mess with this man’s culverts.

Anyway, besides those few select scenarios, my man is basically eerily unemotional. Chill. Laid back. Reserved.

But in his sleep he is another man entirely.

Yes, in his dreams he yells, strings of words I’ve never heard him use together in his waking life, not even at culvert man. In the depths of the night he’s mad at someone. He rolls over and makes a heavy dramatic sigh. He hollers at unnamed characters. He makes general, angry suggestions to do things like ‘get over it’ or ‘hurry the hell up’ or ‘come on already.’

He curses, Tourette style, words flying from his mouth that stand alone in the quiet, dark night of our room, flinging my eyes open and reaching my arm to his back to tell him, ‘shhh, shhh, it’s ok.”

He’s upset. He’s frustrated. He’s loud.

He’s completely and utterly out of it.

Asleep.

Now I’ve shared a room with this man for a while, and I can tell you he has always slept the  sleep of the dead. Like, if an elephant opened the front door of our house and made his way up the steps and into our room to sit on the end of our bed and clean his toenails, my husband wouldn’t even stir.

Once, when we lived in town, someone threw a construction cone at his car parked on the street, setting his car alarm off in a frenzy and scaring the shit out of me enough to whack him on the back and send him up out of the bed, out the door and out on the street before he woke up under the street lights to realize he was in nothing but his underwear.

Yes, the man can snooze. And sometimes he rolls over to tell me things about how delicious the pineapple tasted in his dreams, or maybe once there was something about pants that didn’t fit, or getting the right cheese at the store, or making it to the top of a mountain in time to catch the goats, you know, weirdly normal sleep-talking subjects.

But his sleeps never used to be angry. No. This new phenomenon crept into our lives a few years ago, in the middle of the night, sending me shooting out of bed and dangling from the light fixture in terror.

Who was this man in my room and why was he shouting the F-bomb for no reason?

And of course at first I thought it was a funny, one time nightmare thing, but that, as you know, has proven not to be the case.

No. My man has become an angry sleeper.

Now, I’ve tried to understand it. I have asked him if he remembers being angry at anyone in his dreams. I’ve asked him, if there are names involved, if they are real people, people he may have unresolved issues with, perhaps?

I’ve wondered if he’s ever yelling at me.

But he can’t remember, not the angry dreams anyway.

The good dreams? The ones where he can fly or is riding a fast horse or winning the lottery? He can remember those.

The annoyed dreams, like the thing about the carrots this morning? Yup. Clear as day.

The bad dreams?  Not a slice of a memory.

Weird.

Now, I’m beyond analyzing this, except to come to the conclusion that this stoic man of mine, this even tempered rock sleeping next to a woman who has been known to have countless emotional and similarly loud outbursts of joy, anger, pain or excitement in her waking hours, has to find a way to let go somehow.

Because, wild dogs, culvert guy and being forced to watch the Academy Awards excluded, this man is pretty steady.

So sleep it out my man. Tell the world to…well..you know what…while you rest in the safety and oblivion of your deep slumber. Those words from your mouth don’t scare me.

Actually, I’m happy to hear them and perfectly fine with the booming of your voice waking me in the night.

Because sometimes, when I’m all worked up, arms flailing, words slurring together, tears squeezing out of my eyes and you say to me “Don’t worry. It’s fine. It’ll all work out,” I worry that you holding this puddle of a woman together in this puddle of a world might be a quiet burden you don’t need to bear so softly.

So yell into the quiet night when no one can hear you but me so I can wake up and smile, roll over and touch your back knowing that in this life, all things find balance…in their own way…

Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll get those carrots under control.

Sunday Column: The miles together

photo-64We’re leaving Nevada this morning, saying goodbye to our first National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. I’m sitting in my hotel room at the Rodeway Inn listening to sound of my husband’s breath rise and fall as he sleeps, cars swooshing past this door on their way to  church or the grocery store down the road, and my fingers clicking on the keys, procrastinating the task of packing up the clothes draped over chairs and tables, cords and papers, CDs, toothbrushes and shampoo bottles and to-go coffee mugs strewn about before we hit the road again.

In a few minutes Husband will wake up and jump in the shower. If I can get it together, we’ll be out of here in an hour or so, turning up the radio and pointing the car back toward a beautiful part of Idaho we look forward to seeing in the daylight. When we get hungry we’ll pull in the next town, head toward Main Street and hope for one of those really great diners, the ones where the old folks go after church. He’ll order chicken-fried-steak and I’ll have a burger and we’ll sit and chat and notice things about this place that we like.

photo-67

When the miles start to drag out before us we might start making plans for the barn or the unfinished house. Or I might wonder out loud what sort of animal I was in a past life. A Canadian goose, I’ll say, like the two who fly away together and return to the stock dam every spring…

In my life I have been given a solid traveling companion (and this week, he’s made a pretty great purse holder, guitar carrier, outfit chooser, audience member, and therapist too). We’ve  put on a lot of miles together, back and forth and up and down and home again.

photo-66

We have three more days on the road–a yet to be determined stop tonight when we’re road weary and one in White Sulphur Springs, Montana on Monday before heading back home. These miles could be daunting, but they’ve never been for me as long as we’re taking them together, sitting close, moving forward and wondering about things…

Coming Home: Stretch of road brings back memories
by Jessie Veeder
2-2-14
Fargo Forum
http://www.inforum.com 
photo-65

This text message brought to you by Winter.

And now, an afternoon text chat with Husband.

Me-”I just fell off a ledge and into a snowbank in front of a thousand cars on Main Street.”

Him-”Bwahhahaha”

Him again-”I mean, omigosh are you ok?”

Me-”And a pop blew up in your pickup.”

Him-”Now that is not funny.”

Me-”And your windshield wiper broke off.”

Him-”You’re back to your car only.”

Me-”I cleaned up the pop.”

Him-”I need that pickup functional”

Me-”Relax, I think you can fix the wiper…”

Me again-”I think.”

Sunday Column: My name

Jessie Veeder
I tried to change my name to Stephanie when I was in kindergarten. A little boy named August raised his hand during sharing hour and asked to be called Gus, and, well, I thought that meant in kindergarten we got to change our names. So I raised my hand and declared that everyone must now call me Stephanie.

My sweet teacher looked at me, no doubt trying to stifle her laughter at the little weirdo before her, and calmly declared she thought Jessica was a nice name and I should keep it.

I was bummed. This was the 80s after all and Stephanie was the name of my favorite character on Full House. But I carried on as Jessica until second grade when we moved to the ranch and, struck with a sudden urge to shorten things up, I introduced myself to my new country school classmates as Jessie.

Everyone should call me Jessie.

Our names are more than just our signatures on paper or a word on a tag stuck to the lapels of our shirt at a meeting. Did I look like a Stephanie? Well I’m not sure, but I’m thankful Mrs. Schaffer didn’t allow me to undo the name I was given with a raise of the hand at five years old.

And so I stayed Jessican Blain Veeder.

jessie

Jessica after the woman on “The Man From Snowy River” (did I mention it was the 80′s?)
Blain for my mother’s maiden name.
Veeder for my father’s side.

Fast forward twenty-some years and for as much as I wanted to be Stephanie at five years old, upon my marriage I couldn’t bear part with the names I was given, no matter the tradition or how much I lived and respected my new husband and his family.

This week’s column explains why a woman like me might choose to live out a life with four names…

Coming Home: Holding on to family name important
October 27, 2013
Fargo Forum
http://www.inform.com

Wedding

Project: schedule

Annddd….now we’re building a garage.

A garage that looks like it might be bigger than this house, and, well, we all know the sorts of debacles that went into this place.

Look familiar? That’s the basement wall building party…in the middle of a 20 degree winter day…

Last winter’s three night backsplash marathon that sent Husband up and down a ladder to the basement to get to his saw, because, well, we didn’t have stairs. (Or a basement floor, but who’s keeping track?)

Last summer’s death defying chandelier project two hours before hosting Husband’s 30th Birthday Party

This summer’s railing, saving me from sleep walking to my death…

The bathroom tiling project that nearly ended a thirteen year relationship…

The loft that went from shop to master bedroom one board at a time…

And let us not forget the birthday deck...

So now we’re onto the garage. Oh, it’s only about a year off schedule,  but right in time to be tackled in the monsoon, 24-hour rain that fell the day before Husband got the hammers out.

And so it’s the story of his life, standing ankle deep in a mud puddle holding a power tool with one hand and holding up a giant wall with the other, looking up at the sky wondering which way the clouds are moving and where the time goes while his wife hollers out the door wondering if there’s time for some lunch.

Why must all of our projects span over the year mark? That’s the next question I wanted to ask after the lunch question, but I thought maybe it wasn’t the best time to bring it up.

I mean, wasn’t it last November that we dug the giant hole for the footings for this thing? Did I or did I not walk across a plank over a moat over the slush and snow and ice to get to my house for a good ten months before the weather dried the ground enough to get some blocks and concrete in that thing?

Didn’t I fall in that hole?

More than once?

Didn’t my neighbor nearly slide her way to a broken hip in her innocent attempt to deliver Christmas wreathes?

Didn’t I make my dear husband promise that this building project was going to be easier than the last house project?

That there on the right is a face of hope and trust…

Didn’t he tell me that a garage could go up in a couple weekends?

Didn’t I make him define the number “couple?”

Didn’t I learn anything about believing him?

Didn’t he tell me to order scoria last week while he was away in Texas so that he wouldn’t have to work in a mud hole if it rained?

Did he know it was going to rain?

Didn’t I make that call? I can’t remember…

Didn’t anyone tell me not to marry an ambitious carpenter no matter how cute that carpenter looks in his Carharts?

I mean, I have sawdust in places I didn’t know existed…

But it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t have listened.

Because I have a weakness for capable men.

And turns out we need a garage. Somehow it’s feeling a bit more urgent today…

Heaven help the carpenter’s wife. May we one day reclaim our kitchen tables from the tools that rest there…

A really scary story.

It was a low and agonizing moan, a sort of desperate sound that no one wants to hear, especially at six in the morning when it should be dark and quiet in the loft where I had twenty-more-minutes before I had to get up.

Twenty more minutes and there it was again. It was coming from the kitchen.

“Ohhhh, noooooaaa. Noooooaaa. Lord. Why? Whhhhyyy?”

It was my husband. The only other living thing in this house that can form words and the only other living thing in this house that would attempt to stand upright and form them in the hour before the sun arrives.

I’d never heard this sound before. I searched my sleepy mind for what could possibly be wrong:

An work disaster email?

A giant dog poop?

A dishwasher/washing machine/sink explosion?

Maybe we left a door open and that damn squirrel set up shop in our cupboards? Or a turkey. A turkey could have gotten in. They’ve been knocking on our door all month.

Or an alien. Never rule out the aliens.

Or a robber. We were sleeping pretty hard up there, I mean, maybe we didn’t hear him.

Maybe he’s still down there.

Oh Lord, I haven’t heard another moan for a good three minutes. I could have a hostage situation on my hands.

Where’s the phone?

Where are my pants?

Where’s that baseball bat I don’t own?

I swung my legs over the bed and snuck toward the door of the bedroom, peeking my head out and over the loft to quietly assess the situation.

What I discovered was worse than anything I could have conjured up.
LOFT

No. We weren’t being robbed. There was no intruder, furry or feathered or otherwise.

Nothing was flooding or exploding or pooping.

No. No. No. No.

Husband.

Broke.

The.

Coffee. Pot.

The. coffee. pot. was. broken.

Thecoffeepotwasbroken!!!

Cracked.

Leaking.

Smashed.

B.R.O.K.E.N

BROKEN!

BRRROOOKEEENNNN!!!!!

coffee pot

I heard another groan. A similar low, agonizing growl, but this time it was coming from a wild haired, pants-less  woman leaning over the edge of the staircase clutching her heart with the realization that she had just become powerless against the perils of early morning at the ranch while staring at a horrified man in middle of his own stunning realization.

We looked at each other, my mouth agape and his forming the silent, whimpering words “I’m sorry. I’m so. so. sorry.”

At that moment we would have taken the alien.

You think I’m over-exaggerating. You say to me, no big deal. Just grab some coffee from a gas station or a coffee shop on your way to work and pick up a new pot on your way home. You’ll make it.

But I tell you you don’t understand.

The only thing worse than the absence of coffee in the wee and vulnerable morning  hours at the ranch is the absence of toilet paper in the middle of a vulnerable night. You know what I’m saying?

Because unless we want to disturb our neighbors’ early morning ritual, seriously, the closest cup of coffee is twenty-five miles away.

TWENTY-FIVE MILES!

That means we have to drive, groggy and impaired behind oil trucks, service pickups, moms in SUVs and school busses carrying precious cargo before we even had the chance to properly fuel our veins. And once we finally arrive at a gas station or a coffee shop we have to stand in line behind fifteen people who are buying gas or muffins or beef jerky or aspirin or TEA FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! WHO DRINKS TEA? WHAT’S EVEN IN TEA? LEAVES? SOGGY HERBS? I DON’T GET IT! TEA IS A NON-ESSENTAIL ITEM! THESE ARE NON-ESSENTIAL ITEMS!

NON. ESSENTIAL.

COFFEE DRINKERS UNITE! IT’S 7:30 AM AND WE HAVEN’T HAD A SIP.

IT’S 7:30 AM–WE’RE MOVING TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE!!!

See what I’m saying.

Without coffee the two of us become an environmental hazard.

It really was serious. But it wasn’t all my careless husband’s fault. I should have been prepared. When you live out here with the wild turkeys you shouldn’t leave yourself vulnerable to these disasters.

Before the fire hit the little ranch house and we moved to the new place I had three additional coffee sources on hand to sustain us through power outages, broken or faulty equipment and carelessness. No electricity? It’s fine, we have a propane stove and a camp percolator. Broken coffee pot? No big deal, there’s an extra downstairs.

Want to get fancy with the beans? Great! Let’s use the french press!

We were safe then. We were secure.

coffee

Then there was a fire and we got distracted with things like, you know, building shelter for our bodies and our earthly possessions, and some important things fell by the wayside.

Important things like backup coffee pots.

How could I be so negligent? How could I forget about the essentials? How could I be so ill prepared?

It doesn’t matter now. My lesson’s learned. Never again will I be left standing sleepy-eyed,  pants-less and horrified in my own home.

Never again will I put the lives of the innocent children in danger.

School Bus Stop Ahead

Never again will I allow a simple mistake like the slip of a hand leave me stranded and powerless in the face of an early morning and long work day.

Fed-Ex lady, I hope it doesn’t snow next week, because there’s going to be some big shipments coming in.

Because today I’m clearing out a space in the basement and Googling “Coffee Pots,” and, well, I guess I’ll be seeing you soon.

coffee

Peace, Love and, you guessed it, Coffee,

Jessie

Sunday Column: Holding on is the best part…

Wedding
Last week Husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. I went to the new grocery store and picked up crab legs, opened a bottle of champagne and we sat at our kitchen table and looked out the window at the tall grass and the setting sun and remembered what it was like

To be 15 and at the movies together for the first time

To be 16 driving the backroads in his Thunderbird

To be 17 and making plans to leave this place

To be 18 and away from home together

To be 21 and uncertain about where to go from there

To be 23 and married under the oak tree at the ranch with nothing ahead of us but time and gravel roads and plans we started making when we were 15.

Wedding Tree

Today my dearly beloved is outside hammering and screwing a big deck to the side of our house so that we can spend the rest of our summers opening the sliding glass doors with a glass of wine, a plate of steaks, watermelon for cutting or corn for husking, a magazine, a guitar or a good book to accompany us while we look out over our little homestead under the big blue sky or setting sun.

My future with this man has not always been clear, but it has always held him close: in the hot summer sun wiping the sweat from his forehead as he measures and saws and plans, bundled up against the winter winds on his way to work, rolling out his mother’s noodle recipe on the kitchen counter, throwing a stick for our big brown dog, riding a good horse behind some good cows, rocking our children and next to me, no matter what, just near me.

And so I hold on. I’ve held on since we I was eleven years old sitting next to him in band class.

Coming Home: Loving the same man for more than half my life
by Jessie Veeder
8/18/13
Fargo Forum
www.inforum.com 

I hold on because it just keeps getting better.

Change the channel.

Husband and I have knack for making life complicated. We’re accident prone, the two of us, together and separately. We both like to take the long way, the back roads, with the windows rolled down even if it’s raining a little.

We like to make things from scratch, like noodles and pies and soup, even if we don’t have a recipe or a professional at hand. We like to mix our drinks strong. We like to make big plans and then take our time getting there.

We like to do things ourselves. Like, you know, finishing houses.

I think we drive our families crazy.

We must. We drive ourselves crazy. I mean, we’ve only moved six times in the last six years of marriage. We’re only on our third major home renovation/construction.

We’re only, almost, almost, almost done.

railing 2

But not quite, despite the fact that it’s all we’ve been doing for the last two months: get up, clean up the dishes from the night before, get dressed, go to work, come home, put on work clothes, find a project, tile something, varnish something, sweep something, move something, put carpet on something, saw something, paint something, look at the clock and say “damn, it’s 10 already,” and then wonder out loud what to have for supper while you pour a bowl of cereal and pull the popsicles from the freezer.

Needless to say, we’re kind of tired. And between the dreary weather, our less than adequate diet, all the mud being tracked in on the floor and the saw dust in the air, I’m not surprised to find we’re slipping a bit.

laying carpetA few weeks ago Husband called me while I was on the road to a photo shoot. He had to tell me he just got out of the bathroom to discover that he had been walking around all day with a pair of my pink underwear shoved up the sleeve of his shirt, a result of a quick attempt at finishing the laundry.

I wondered out loud if they were my pretty pink underwear or my raggedy, embarrassing pink underwear.

He said it didn’t matter, his wife’s underwear up his sleeve at work was embarrassing, pretty or not.

And now I’ve gone and put it on the internet, which I guess, is probably even more embarrassing.

But whatever. It’s funny. I laughed hysterically at the thought. So did my friend in the passenger seat of the car as I relayed the sad story of what our lives have  become.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve shared this here or not, but in the time we’ve been living back at the ranch we’ve been approached by a few different production companies about following us around for a reality show. One in particular wanted to fly Husband to Georgia to try out for a deep fat frying cooking competition. They said they like how he looks and like what he deep fat fries.

What?

I guess that’s what happens when you put your life on the internet, but a reality show on the two of us is a ridiculous idea. We’re not as pretty as the Kardashians and we don’t have enough free time to manage as many redneck adventures as the guys on Duck Dynasty. The only thing that would be entertaining about following us around with a camera would be watching all the ways I manage to screw up during the day and hearing all of the one-liners Husband manages to deliver at my expense.

Cut to last Friday where a late and very sick Jessie attempts to make it to a doctors appointment in the pouring rain only to find that her way is blocked by a semi jack-knifed and stuck across her parents’ approach and the road leading to the highway, forcing her to turn around and brave the monsoon on ten miles of muddy, deteriorating, pot-holey, all around shitty road.

Listen to her cuss as she drives a little too fast and defies the ditch and her death.

See her wave her arms at the sky and plead for the rain to stop.

Watch as she explains the situation to the receptionist at the clinic right before she gets diagnosed with bronchitis and a sinus infection and heads out to the pharmacy to load up on $150 worth of medication. Notice that she didn’t pick up her inhaler thingy, but she won’t realize it until she gets home in the monsoon.

But before she can get home Jessie needs gas. Now watch her overflow her gas tank at the local Cenex in the pouring rain while a trucker at the neighboring pump munches on a candy bar and declares it six gallons of environmental hazard.

Watch her face clench as she contemplates calling him an environmental hazard.

Cut to Jessie at home attempting to make a rhubarb cake without a cake pan for a party starting in approximately 35 minutes. Listen as she sweetly asks her husband to go borrow one from her momma.

Now watch as she puts together a dip she’s made for years with cream cheese instead of sour cream. Now look at that, she just dropped an entire container of cherry tomatoes on the floor. She’s cleaning them up now as her husband walks in, but it looks like she missed a few hanging out in the bottom of the fridge. Hope she doesn’t close the…oh, look at that, she closed the door.

See the tomatoes squish.

Watch her fling her body face first on the bed as her husband tells her she needs to pay attention.

So that would be one episode.

Seriously.

I mean, if I had a dollar for every time my dearly beloved stood above me as I am sprawled out on the floor, shaking his head and wishing out loud that I would just “pay attention”, I would be rich enough to hire someone to finish building this house for crying out loud.

That’s one way I could avoid falling into bucket of grout water.

Uff. Da. Our reality show would make you all feel better about your organized, saw dustless, home renovation-less,  mud-free, squished-tomato-free,underwear-up-your-sleeve-free life.

Some days I wish I could change the channel.

Horse frustration

Prom Day, thirteen years later…

It’s prom season and on Saturday young couples in Boomtown spent the day dressing up, pinning on corsages, posing for photographs in front of the mantle, eating a fancy dinner, laughing and dancing the night away.

In honor of the season and happy memories, I’d like to take this moment to cue up a flashback:

Yes. There we are back in the year 2000, back before Garth Brooks retired, before bedazzled flip-flops were cool, every teenager on the planet owned a data plan and before I knew what I was getting myself into.

If only we could have seen into the future.

If only someone would have warned us that thirteen years later these gangly, innocent, teenagers who single-handedly kept Suave hair gel on the shelves and were so convinced they were in love would find themselves un-showered and un-filtered, wearing overalls and saggy work jeans, crammed ass to ass in an unfinished bathroom in an almost finished house arguing about what iPod mix to listen to while in the middle of another argument about how someone is hovering and someone else doesn’t understand the importance of cleaning the mortar off the trowel between tiling projects.

Thirteen years ago the plan would have been to get a job where you make enough money to hire someone to tile the damn bathroom.

Thirteen years ago we would have been listening to Garth Brooks and there would be no argument.

Thirteen years ago we would have been pretty excited about the whole iPod thing.

If only we would’ve known. Perhaps we could have avoided this situation all together. I could have suggested that my future husband, the one standing so coiffed, cute and confident next to that girl in the bedazzled flip-flops, just go ahead and become a trapper/mountain man like he dreamed of as a boy and I would just go on to marry a man who wears khakis and doesn’t own a table saw or a wet saw or a hand saw or any other kind of saw that would give him the idea that maybe, perhaps, he should build an entire bathroom from scratch, and then spend a good three to four days with his dearly beloved tiling the damn thing, from floor to ceiling.

I would have missed that mountain man, but as I pick the mortar from under my fingernails and behind my ears, I think maybe I could have gotten used to the khakis.

Why manicures don’t work on me…

I mean, did you know endless hours of mixing mortar, scraping it on the walls, cleaning it from the floors, accidentally splashing it into your eyeball and spraining your wrist while operating the high powered drill necessary to mix the stuff can turn you into the worst possible version of yourself?

Did you know that you can sprain your wrist operating a drill?

Me neither. But it’s true.

Turns out that forty-thousand trips up and down two flights of stairs to get to the wet saw does something weird to your right butt cheek too.

It’s true.

Just ask Husband.

Oh, now you might be thinking to yourself ,”Well, a couple that can survive building a house together can survive anything.” And the two of us might agree, but only under the condition that the house doesn’t have a single tile in it.

Because tiling sucks. It is hard and it is messy and it makes perfectly sweet and well-intentioned wives really mouthy and equally well-intentioned husbands really annoying.

And that, I fear, might be the only thing my dear husband and I agree on when it comes to the project that consumed our weekend.

But oh, I love this man, I do.

I love that he is capable and handy and looks good in those overalls. But our lives would be so much easier if he would just let me pick the soundtrack for the project.

And if he would stop with the suggestions on how I should hold the trowel, even if it might help me avoid getting so much mortar on my pants that not even tightening my belt can save him from the sight of my plumber’s crack.

I don’t need his suggestions. I mean, doesn’t twenty straight minutes of tiling make me an expert?

And don’t you think when your wife screams out in agony, drops the drill, grabs her wrist and falls to the floor that a husband should come running to her side and ask her what’s wrong instead of calmly assuming she’s overreacting to another injury, waiting for her wails to turn to whimpers before asking her sarcastically if she needs to go to the hospital?

I mean, that like, really hurt.

I’m ok. It’s fine. But still.

Somehow I don’t think Sunday morning motivational home construction pep talks that include promises of foot rubs,  negotiations on who will make the coffee and a vow not to get pissy with one another today is the future prom-goers in Boomtown imagined as they walked arm in arm with their dates at the grand march last Saturday.

But maybe it should be. I mean, if I have to tile a bathroom at least it’s a result of my own brilliant idea that our bathroom be covered in tiles.

And at least I get to do it with a man who’s willing to do what it takes to give me everything I want, even if it means spraining his right butt cheek from forty-seven thousand trips to the basement while putting up with the whining coming from his wife and the music on her iPod mix.

And if I have to tile a bathroom at least I get to do it with a boy who took me on a date to Bonanza when I had purple rubber bands on my braces and still thought I was presentable enough to pass as a prom date.

Which proves he has just the right amounts of delusion and optimism to survive a tiling project and, consequently, a marriage to me.

At least I hope so. I guess we’re not quite done yet…maybe it wouldn’t hurt to compromise a bit on the music selection…

Oh the price you pay for a pretty place to pee.

10 Painting Tips from a Woman who always learns everything the hard way and should have never picked up a paint brush in the first place…

So I spent the weekend elbows-deep in the never ending, house finishing project. Funny how a task with the word “finish” in the title has become never-ending.

But we have a deadline, and deadlines have endings don’t they? Please, someone tell me this will end.

For those of you just joining us here at the ranch, (and there are a quite a few these days, thankyouverymuchforstoppingby!) Husband and I have been working on finishing a house that was delivered to us here in a little oak grove at the ranch last December.

We’re nearing the finish line, and if I wasn’t insane before, after fifty-five trips to the Menards 150 miles away to pick up things like doors, toilets, floors, lights, vents, electrical wires, cement, tile, nails, glue, the weird and delicious peanut-butter stuffed pretzels they have in the checkout aisle and the dreadful and marriage-testing trip for plumbing parts in torrential rains, lightning storms, forty-mile-an-hour winds, blinding blizzards and the most recent ice-covered roads

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I am definitely, fully, insane now.

Horse frustration

And insane is not the best quality to have when your house is covered in sheet rock dust, there’s an air compressor hose dangling from the loft right next to the 12 foot cedar boards leaned up your wall cutting your living space in half and you decide that while husband is working on building you a giant closet to make up for the months of chaos his handyman ideals have created,  you are quickly going to paint the laundry room/entry way.

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It shouldn’t take too long. It’s a small space. You’ll just need a little assistance in moving that washer and dryer full of clothes you forgot about out of the way…

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Now, I could tell you how the painting project went and you could draw your own lessons and conclusions from the series of events that unfolded, but I think I will save you the analyzation and just cut to the chase. Because I figure I have enough home improvement under my belt to offer some tips to those of you who are confident and delusional enough to think that putting new knobs on your cabinets, tiling the bathroom, or painting a damn wall for crying out loud is, like, just going to take a day or two.

“We’ll get this done in no time!” we tell ourselves…

Yes, I could write a book on the many reasons not to wear short-shorts while attempting a tiling project, how to get out of helping to lay a hardwood floor by hammering your thumbprint off and what not to say to your husband as he’s dangling off a ladder twenty feet in the air.

It would be a best seller for sure, but I don’t have the time today. Because today I have to finish the damn painting project I was supposed to finish yesterday afternoon.

So in an attempt to stay focused, I give you:

10 Painting Tips from a Woman who always learns everything the hard way and should have never picked up a paint brush in the first place:

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Tip #1: Finish your house before you move you, your husband, your two dogs and all your shit into it. And don’t add a cat to the mix.  But if you do, definitely don’t let that barn cat in too.

Tip #2: 7.5 minutes.

This is the time you will spend on your project before you convince yourself you need a Cheeto break.

Tip #3: You can try to fool yourself into thinking that painting a laundry room/entry way will be a quick and painless project, despite the thirty-seven angles, outlets, doorways, cabinets, utility sink with exposed plumbing, trim boards and mud splatters you have to work around. Approach the task with confidence, but assume it’s going to suck. This will save you the shock of postponing breakfast, lunch, dinner and the shower you meant to take before  meeting up with friends for a drink. Speaking of drinks…

Tip #4: Pour yourself one. And then put alcohol in it. Oh, and if you don’t particularly enjoy the taste of paint, use a cup with a lid.

Tip #5: Don’t wear your favorite Steve Earl t-shirt. No matter how carefully and quickly you think this project is going to go, you will get paint on that t-shirt you forgot you were wearing. You will grow tired and careless as you reach the end of your rope and you will let your guard down. You will lean into the wall while reaching for a final touch and you will get paint in places that will amuse your husband.

And your husband will express his amusement by pointing and laughing and shaking his head.

You too will shake your head while your entire body droops at the thought of throwing your favorite Steve Earl t-shirt into the pile with the other cute and innocent garments inadvertently turned into construction day clothes.

Tip #6: Make enough weird and agonizing noises (aka: grunting, moaning, saying “ohnoohnoohno” or “shit,” really loud, whining, weeping, or all around screeching) loud enough to catch the attention of your husband working with power tools on the second floor.

Follow those sounds with well-timed moments of silence and he will eventually find an excuse to come down stairs to see if you’re still alive…which brings me to what I think should be the next tip…

Tip #7: While he’s downstairs and you’re standing on the washing machine leaned over with your head dangerously close to getting stuck in that small gap between the cabinet and the wall, kindly ask him to re-dip your paintbrush and while he’s at it, refill your paint tray. If you’ve picked out the right painting pants and lean over at the right angle, your husband might suddenly become invested in the project, offering to pick up a paint brush to help go over the spots you’ve missed and, well, now you’ve got help.

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Tip #8: Be prepared to hate the color you chose. You will never want to see it again for as long as you live but you will vow that you will just close your eyes when you attempt to do laundry or put on your boots to walk out the door because no matter how much you hate this color and the fact that it is now likely going to be in your hair and on the back part of your elbow you can’t see or reach for a few days, you sure as hell are not going to paint this damn room again. Ever.

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And when your husband informs you that it will likely need another coat, take off that paint covered Steve Earl shirt before taking a running face plant to cry on the bed.

Tip #9: Sell your prized collection of Troll Dolls or Precious Moments collection, the pug or the cat or whatever it takes to be able to hire someone to paint whatever else needs to be painted for the rest of your life. But for the love of Lucchese, never, never, never sell your boot collection. If you remember anything, remember this.

Tip #10: Now, I’m not sure because I’ve never birthed anything, but I think painting and other home improvement projects might be like childbirth. Like, you might forget how painful it was while you happily thumb through Better Homes and Gardens and find that Martha Stewart has a really pretty shade of lavender that would look stunning in the sun room that you’ve been suggesting your husband build for you this summer.

I’ll tell you agin, if you really need a  sun room, sell your car so you can pay someone else to do it.

If you really like that lavender color, call me. I’ll read my tips out loud and with a stern and convincing tone that will help you with the whole clarity thing.

If you’ll excuse me, now that I’ve finished this, I’ve got to go and find about two or three other tasks to occupy my time while I procrastinate that second coat.

Happy Home Improving you crazies…