Thanks, perfect strangers

It’s Sunday night and I worked in my office most of the day, so don’t have a lot of energy to write a meaningful post. But I would like to acknowledge that when Mike and I were at Home Depot yesterday in what had to be our 197th trip for the sunroom project, no less than 4 people — fellow customers mind you, not HD employees — stopped what they were doing, came over to us, and offered to help us wrangle the three sheets of plywood we were buying.

The first time, a young man with his girlfriend or wife walked by us in the aisle, left his big cart, and came over to help us with our task. Just a couple minutes later, another guy walking by asked if he could help us. Outside, the woman loading her purchases into her car next to us offered her help, and not a minute later, a man walked over from his car parked in another aisle to help. It was so darn nice. (Maybe it means I am looking really old and incapable these days, but regardless, it was nice.) And it made me more conscious of doing the same in similar situations where I can offer a helping hand.

That’s all. Just a little slice of life that really stood out as a highlight of the weekend. That must be what is meant by the term “perfect strangers.”

What this world needs is a new kind of army — the army of the kind. 
~ Cleveland Amory 

The ________ needs _________.

I used to be self-sufficient. Hang a picture; assemble furniture; check the oil, fill the tires, change the wiper blades. I stripped the wallpaper off the walls of a 3-story staircase and repainted by myself. I put up curtains and blinds. I fixed leaking toilets and rewired a phone jack (with help from the Internet). I was a homeowner and basically took care of my house and the things in it.

Now I just say, “The______ needs ________.”

The oil needs changed; this picture needs hung; the cupboard door needs fixed (yes, I say that bit of Pittsburghese, dropping the “to be”); my tires need air; the screw came out of my glasses; the faucet is leaking.

My handy husband usually takes it from there.

I still remember the first time I experienced this luxury. We were newly dating. I needed new wiper blades on my car. He went with me to buy “the right” new blades and installed them. I was hooked, thanking him and telling him no one had ever taken care of me like that. He said, “I’ll take care of you.” And he has. He’s a fixer — not just for me, but for his parents, friends, at work, you name it.

Just recently, though, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not just that he wants to take care of me. Or that he’s good at fixing things. It’s more that he doesn’t trust me (anyone) to do it myself (themselves). That’s why any fix-it task more complicated than changing a lightbulb at our house is typically met with a swift, “I’ll do it.”

A week or so ago, I threw caution to the winds and “installed” my new vanity license plate he got me for my birthday. (Of course, we first had to buy a clear protective cover. And I had to buy new screws since the old ones are always rusty, and there were only 2 instead of 4.) Full disclosure: It was a bit of a pain and took me longer than it should have. But I did it, and really, no one will ever see the scratches I put in the paint under the plate. 🙂

He, of course, commented in surprise, “You put that on yourself?” (Seriously, 4 screws. I’m a genius.)

A day or so later, I thought nothing of it when I saw him head outside with a screwdriver in hand. Then I glanced out the living room window and saw him just standing up after bending over the back of my car. Wouldn’t ya know, he had obviously checked my work and likely “adjusted” the screws, never saying a word to me, of course. (Much like Marie “corrects” Deborah’s mashed potatoes on Everybody Loves Raymond.)

I laughed. It’s so him.

A few days later, I had the inspiration that I didn’t need to buy a new, armless desk chair to replace my current chair, which kept getting stuck under the keyboard tray on my desk — I could just take the arms off. Much to Mike’s alarm, I started to do it myself. Of course, after much insistence that “I can do it; I’m not an idiot.” I discovered that instead of taking a normal flat or Phillips screw or typical nuts & bolts, it takes a hex-head — one thing I didn’t have in “my” tool bucket (which he has raided regularly over the last 8 years, by the way, because I have good stuff, and I always put things away.) So, he ended up doing that job for me, too.

I’m not complaining, exactly. It’s just that I’m pretty much at the point where I’m afraid to do anything because I’ll do it “wrong” and he’ll have to “fix it.” I’ve regressed from “I am woman, hear me roar.” to “Quick! My smelling salts!” in a frighteningly short time.

Come to think of it, though, I may have unwittingly stumbled on what I and women everywhere have often suspected is the quintessential male avoidance strategy… the Clueless Maneuver. As in, ask them to fold the laundry and you get backwards, inside-out clothes. Load the dishwasher? 2 cracked plates and a newly handle-less cup. Help clean? Ummmm, ever thought of running the sweeper AFTER you dust, not before? (DUH!)

I noticed this morning that the nightlight in the hall is messed up — the timer hasn’t been adjusted to the time change, and I nearly killed myself in the dark at 5:00 a.m. this morning stumbling downstairs to feed the pesky cats.

It would take about 30 seconds to adjust the timer. But in the interests of marital harmony (and cluelessness), I think I’ll just just say, “The timer needs reset.” and leave it at that.

Learn to…be what you are, and learn to resign
with a good grace all that you are not.

~ Henri Frederic Amiel

Little bits o’ nothing (that make life fun)

I noticed I haven’t written any “deep” posts for a long time — just little bits of nothing. I’m OK with that. My life lately has been a lot of these little bits, and sometimes that’s a lot better than drama-trauma overload. No soaring highs or belly-flopping lows. Even keel. Steady as she goes. I’ll take it!

So, perfect for the little bits o’ nothing vein, someone in the vast direct marketing universe hit their target (part of it anyway — nailing “interest” if not “income”) and the catalog of my dreams showed up in my mailbox. Addressed to me. Not to “Occupant” or the former owners or, heaven-forbid, Mike.

Everyone out there know MacKenzie-Childs? I’ve known the brand for years, but have only seen bits and pieces here and there in specialty stores.

I was unprepared for the OMGness that is the catalog.

It’s kind of Alice in Wonderland meets cottage garden meets floral chintz extravaganza.

In other words, it’s just for me.

“Oh, I want this!”… “Oh, I NEED this!!”… “OH, I MUST HAVE THIS!” with every turn of the page.

I swooned over the Flower Market Enamelware.

Fit for the finest cakes and scones!

Oh, and this champagne bucket, please. With these glasses.


And while I’m at, why not all of these pretties for my kitchen?

And what about this Queenly garden furniture (off with your head if you don’t just love it).

Not fantastical enough? How about this chair instead?

Of course, I’d need this loveseat and end table to complete the ensemble.


And maybe the Toulouse Goose to mix things up a bit.

And of course my garden would have to be entered through this gate.

And the birds would have to have proper places to dwell.

And the few bits of mail worth receiving would be delivered here.

So what if exactly none of these things fits my budget?

And Mike would probably move out.

I just admire people who go beyond thinking outside the box to actually living and working outside it.

Sit next to me and let’s discuss the possibilities.

Starting with the fact that the Aurora, NY, farmhouse where the magic gets made is a mere 6 hours away from where I sit.

Getaway weekend, anyone?

Who’s with me?

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.
~ Katharine Hepburn

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