It takes me a while to get up to speed. The wee wife, on the other hand, is one of those people who can go from zero to one hundred in the blink of an eye. I don’t know how she does it. I admire her energy but sometimes, I confess, I find it hard to keep up. To protect myself from her energetic excess, some time ago, I invented “the coffee rule.” It simply states that no chores can be assigned or performed until I can sit on the porch and have a peaceful morning cup of coffee. The rule is reasonably adhered to, if only because I’ve learned to linger over the last few drops of brew while I watch her suspiciously eyeing me, wondering why it’s taking me so long to finish. I can see her wheels turning, coming up with some new chore that, were it up to me, would be done much better if it were put off a day or two. In that instant, I get the fleeting feeling that I’m my own man even though I know perfectly well that I’m not.
The past few days have been delightful over here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: sunny, warm, and bright, almost no humidity, cool and clear nights. Perfect weather for chores. This past weekend, you-know-who began by painting the back steps; there are only two but they needed to be scraped and sanded before a fresh coat of paint was applied. She knocked off that task in an hour. Then she moved on to bigger challenges like repainting the front storm door, inside and out, along with the threshold and frame. That took her a little longer but only because she realized—too late—that the blue painter’s tape she had applied to the front of the glass door was not also on the inside of said door and therefore we needed to borrow a razor blade from our resident artist neighbor to amend the job. I will say she thought it was a funny mistake and she was her usual cheerful self as she set to shaving a thin line of paint off the interior glass. I watched carefully to make sure she didn’t cut herself.
Once the storm door was freshly painted, she thought briefly about moving on to the front door itself which, I will say, shows some normal wear and tear after a few years of opening it with our feet (hers or mine) because our arms were full. But some modicum of common sense miraculously intervened and she decided to put off that task, opting instead for painting all the porch furniture: the rocking chair, the Adirondack, and the small table that holds a vase of shamrocks, a decorative weathervane, and my cup of morning coffee. This, of course, necessitated a quick trip to the hardware store to procure two more cans of white spray paint. My part of this operation was simple enough: move everything back onto the porch once it was dry. OK, so I was just a bit over enthusiastic which necessitated another call to our artist friend, this time for a little paint thinner so that I could clean up my hands and remove a few specks of white paint from my new black shorts. Live and learn and be sure all the paint is dry before moving the furniture back onto the porch.
Lest you think I was only an inert observer to all the wee wife’s obvious talent with a brush and spray can, I did mow the lawn, front and back, and watered the garden. I also played two rounds of golf. Whew!
You might think that anyone who can go from zero to one hundred in the blink of an eye would also crash like a played-out puppy. Not the wee wife. I usually fall asleep once my head hits the pillow but just before I drift away, I see her lying next to me “working” which means reading a day’s worth of emails and doing her part to keep the wheels of social media turning. Once she does fall into dreamland, she falls hard but not hard enough to prevent her from talking in her sleep about her plans for the next round of chores. After all, we live in a wood house and as she constantly reminds me, “You have to keep on top of it.”
Good night, dear.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with a home in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com