Mr. Outside and the Great Indoors

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By Cate Drew
My husband and I have a simple rule when it comes to work assignments. He’s in charge of the outside, I’m in charge of the inside. That means when Matt decides the rock walls crisscrossing our property should be going in other directions, well, he gets down to work. And we’re not talking little rocks. We’re talking giant boulders that look small enough when they’re in the ground, but when you start uncovering a few decades of dirt, you find the innocuous-looking rock that looked about 6 inches in diameter is in reality as big as a Buick.

Matt has never met a rock he can’t move, though, and he’s used levers, pulleys, his tractor bucket, and even old-fashioned manpower. Think aliens built the pyramids? Having seen what one motivated man can do, I am sure the Egyptians just gathered an army of guys like Matt and went to work. A couple of pyramids and a Sphinx? Comin’ right up.

While Matt is Mr. Outside, I’m Ms. Inside. That means I figure out where furniture goes, how to decorate for Christmas, and any and all color schemes.

When it comes to furniture, I usually find great stuff on the side of the road, or at yard sales, barn sales, and consignment stores. With some paint, varnish, new hardware and lots of Pledge (I’m a big believer in Pledge), I can usually turn a monstrosity into something halfway decent.

Matt’s patient about my curbside garbage prospecting — most of my finds are free, after all — but he can’t stand my boasting about it. Any dinner party or barbecue at our house includes a tour (“And I got that table on the side of the road, and that one, I found in the swap shop at the dump. And see that desk over there? It was once a table that some guy was going to toss after his yard sale,…”).

So our territories are marked (in Matt’s case, he sometimes pees outside to make sure I know it’s his turf – what is it with men and urinating outdoors??), and we’ve kept up our inside-outside bargain with little trespassing.

The last time Matt tried to take over the inside was a couple of years ago, when he suddenly decided his baseball hat collection should be displayed. He got a big box of push-pins, and stuck them in the wall right below the ceiling in the hallway. One pin every foot or so. Then he hung each hat on each pin. Thirty-six pins, 36 hats.

I didn’t say anything, since I knew he’d eventually realize the homage to hats looked stupid. Took a couple of days, but he gave in. He took the hats down, we returned to our inside-outside arrangement…and the next Saturday, I showed up at the dump swap shop with a big box of baseball hats. Imagine that.

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.

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