Well, at my house it tends to change from time to time, but the overall theme and goal stays the same.
The men’s issue we did three years back, well, I knew what I wanted to talk about: Heroes through my life. All dudes, of course.
The Women’s Issue takes more thought. I mean, just what is the women’s issue?
Well, at my house right now, the woman’s issue is a new kitchen. Which, to my first reaction, was just a silly issue. The sink doesn’t leak, the ‘fridge keeps stuff cold, the old gas stove fires up just great, etc., etc.
But over the year or three that the issue has been on the rise, she’s found techniques to wear me down. Like when the dishwasher went out last summer in the big storm, she was like no, we’re not replacing that until we re-do the kitchen. When the lift-up window-treatment thingies started sproinging out, same thing—just leave it until . . .
Then have come books, magazines, printouts from online visits, trips to the appliance stores . . . to the extent that things have come to feel pretty imminent.
Which leads me to past woman’s issues in the house we have lived in now for nearly 27 years.
Things like—just to name a few—painting the inside of the whole dang house. Turning half the basement into a game/TV room.
Landscaping and rockscapes, and a nifty shade garden.
A giant screened-in back porch when we’d had a perfectly good 4 x 4 mudroom.
New facade and roof for the garage.
Tidying has been the key woman’s issue since she retired about a year ago and pledged to dedicate herself to the room-by-room, systematic “transforming of this whole house, Kurt.”
Which, to a significant extent, she has done. Not the basement, you understand, because, even on the side we remodeled, it is “icky” down there and “you still have those spider crickets.” Like it’s my basement and like there’s no issue—woman’s or otherwise—with, you know, weird phobias or avoidance or anything.
But back to tidying. Much of it began with that odd book from Marie Kondo called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” And being so eat up with that one that she got another one called “Spark Joy,” from the same tiny author, who has apparently been taking very good care of her dressser drawers since before she could walk.
The books got so much attention there for awhile that I picked one up and took a look.
A few minutes later I went upstairs and opened up my tee-shirt drawer.
Not long after that she came upstairs to see what kind of stupid parody of the books I might be carrying out up there.
What she found was that I had re-folded all my shirts, into these tiny tidy bundles of color all in a row like a department-store display. Then came my underwear, and then hers, which yielded these very pleasing little rows of eye-candy color.
Just lost my head completely for an hour or two. I even held a few old cotton running shirts to my chest to pretend to determine if they brought me joy before she put them into the Goodwill bag.
But back to the identity of the overall woman’s issue: It is, at least at my house, pretty simple. Domestic-environment tranquility.
And not just any tranquility. It’s more like Premium Tranquility, where a can of paint costs about what a good 80,000-mile tire does. Where plants put in the ground a decade ago are somehow now no longer worthy. Where a classic old stove is “just so ugly!”
Where I am very very lucky to get to live in a place that one woman’s issues have made better and brighter, warmer and more welcoming, now over more than a quarter century.