spring comfort

After five years of trying to convince my husband to be content with our little home in the woods he has finally settled.  Set back from the country highway our house is blocked by a few rows of tall pines, and if one slowly drives by and looks down our driveway they will really only see our pole barn and two solar panels.  It’s a mostly quiet neck of the woods.  Logging trucks go by in the late morning, but the bird feeders are tucked back alongside the house and aren’t bothered by traffic passing by.  In the spring the birds are noisy; the red breasted grosbeak doing his mating dance while a gang of bluebirds looks on wth what I imagine is a look that says “little idiot.”  The chicken coop sits on the opposite end of our large yard, but the hens can be heard squawking as they run around looking for small snakes and pink little worms.  With the recent addition of an Ikea windchime on our porch the area has gotten a bit more nosey as the hallow wood pieces knock together.  But apart from these spring time sounds, the place is quiet.

We don’t have neighbors, which is the main point my husband brings up when he unexpectedly states that we will not be moving anywhere else any time soon.  On either side of our 40 acres are multiple other 40’s owned by people who only make a visit to their land a couple of times a year. Some of the properites have small, rough looking cabins tucked back into the woods.  In the summer time we hear the occasional gun shot, but other than that we sit undisturbed.  The lack of peeping toms and snooping neighbors gives my husband elaborate liberty to pee off the side of our porch into the patch of dirt that lacked grass long before we ever moved in.  He does this with pride as if he were a dog marking his territory.  And it makes me happy to know he finally sees this quiet place as his own.

As the ironic fate that follows me would have it, three months after purchasing my cabin of solitude as a single, independent woman, I met my now husband.  He was more than content with his centrally located apartment in town.  Cooley riding his bike to school and work it was beyond his mental capacity how someone could enjoy living 40 minutes outside of town, away from the action. While I was in my weed filled garden tilling until the mosquitoes ate me alive he was sitting in a restaurant’s outdoor patio with friends, his bike parked casually on the sidewalk.

How we made it to this point is hazy to me.  My social husband spends only a day a week with friends, and on weekends when I get all my outdoor chores done we go out to eat in town, sitting inside the dimly lit, modern restaurants while our vehicle sits casually parked outside.  Nonetheless, despite the five years of compromise, I am still a bit shocked he has grown so comfortable in our little home so far away from the hustle and bustle.  Three weeks ago I was finding us apartments to move into in downtown Chicago (a good 5 1/2 hour drive from our current rural existence).  When I told my husband I had found us just the right one on the river I am not sure what reaction I was hoping for.  I was ready to take my turn in the compromise and move to the land of opportunity and public transportation.  It turns out somewhere between the sound of chirping spring peepers and the grouses’ non stop thumping he found the peace to settle in.  So here we’ll stay, at least for a little bit longer.

spring comfort

census or self analysis?

This morning a gentleman from the census bureau knocked on my door.  I refer to him as a gentleman because his grey hair was combed back nicely with just the right amount of gel.  He wore khakis with just enough pockets to make them questionably cargo pants, and his name badge hung over his blue, zip up fleece top.  The apparel was pretty standard “comfy-casual” for this neck of the woods.  But like I said, the hair made him a gentleman.

After he grabbed his laptop with its giant U.S. Census sticker on it I invited him in.  I didn’t offer him coffee as that seemed too friendly an invitation for someone I wasn’t quite yet positive wouldn’t be murdering me in the next 5 minutes.  He asked me the standard census questions, but as this was my first home visit I wasn’t quite yet sure what to expect.  I fumbled on my husband’s birth date, first correcting myself on the day (“seventh, not seventeen”) and then letting it slide when I realized I also gave him the wrong year (“my husband was born in 1988?!”).  I also over estimated my yearly income, choking as I secretly vowed to brush up on my mental math skills.  I imagined myself sitting before a jury some time from now being questioned as to why I gave so many wrong answers.  I also thought about how ashamed I would be the next time I read some sort of national population statistic, knowing that my answers were slightly off.  “Accurate to the best of my knowledge” hopefully applies to my poor memory for birth dates and horrid math skills.

Even more concerning was the fact that this man was possibly judging me as he sat in my two room home (“if I sleep in the attic does that count as a second room, and does it count as a bedroom?” was my answer to his 8th question).  The upside down patio chair laying next to the couch, the dirty floors, the long, white cat hairs strewn everywhere like confetti.  I watched him type in between questions wondering if he was taking observational notes.  “Fidgets as she answers questions regarding numbers,” “Says she has husband but incredible amount of cat hair appears to prove otherwise,” “Bird seed on kitchen counter – she possibly eats birdseed???”  In my mind I see these notes being sold to retailers, ad agencies, and local mayors, maybe even Russia who would use them to calculate the stupidity of their frenemy.

I am an annoyingly clean person, or at least my husband thinks so.  To have someone come into my house while even just one item is out of place causes a self evaluation of the highest scrutiny.  I don’t spend countless hours every evening after work dusting cat hair, organizing my desk, and sweeping each square inch of my small home so that someone can stop by unannounced and find my home in a mediocre state.  As I sat across from the gentleman in his barely cargo khakis I wondered what it would be like to have his job and see so many homes.  I also wondered if his office was hiring.

Oh the excitement of stopping by other people’s homes unannounced and seeing what items may be out of place or what other people did while home on a Wednesday at 9am.  Maybe my barking lap dog was a breeze to a man who probably stopped by a lot of homes filled with small children and blaring day time talk shows.  The perspective one must gain by showing up at strangers houses unannounced!

As he left, the gentleman (who never once tried to murder me by the way) called back at me from his black Buick “you have a great place here!” and I thanked him, knowing he must be referring to the sunshine and tweeting birds flying over his head.  And as he drove away I thanked myself for cleaning the dog poop from the yard this morning.

census or self analysis?