When it pours

January 31st, 2008

The other week my h-u-s-b-a-n-d stayed home on a Friday. What? Turns out his office closes every other Friday. What? But he’s usually either out of town or so busy that he can’t spare the day at home. What?

But on this day he’s home working, and I’m home working and he seems happy enough and then he looks up, a little disoriented, and asks what time our daughter gets out of school. I tell him 2:15. Then he says,

Maybe I’ll just go to a movie.

Now in all the nearly five years since my daughter started preschool, it has never once occurred to me to go to a movie during the daytime, during a weekday, when I could have stayed home and slaved like a worn-out washerwoman.

So I looked up at him dumbstruck and I thought, What is wrong with me? Why hasn’t it ever occurred to me to enjoy myself on a Friday before 2:15? But what I said was,

You could clean the rain gutters.

Cleaning the rain gutters, like nearly everything I do around here, is a job I don’t particularly like doing but a job I like to get done. In my first marriage, we paid someone to come around once a year and do the job for us. But that was before I took so seriously all those vows of worse and sickness and poorer. For all the years Ned and I have been together I’ve done the gutters on my own.

So he looked up at me and without even a sideways glance or a rolled eye, he said,


This is all I have to offer you. In a month when LA County has recorded about 55,000 inches of rainfall, he said OK, climbed up to the roof and rooted the mushy guck from the swollen gutters, and this is my testament, my only secret to a happy marriage.


We’ve plumb run out of fun with marriage this week. But you can still claim your chance to win an autographed copy of my book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by leaving a comment on Monday’s post. The winner will be drawn after 12 noon PST on Sunday, Feb. 3. Good luck!


  1. OK!

    I’d like to place a vote for you two seeing a movie together on that next found Friday.

    Comment by Jena Strong — January 31, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

  2. I second the vote for you going to a movie. With your husband and without. When I was on maternity leave then when I was unemployed briefly I made it a weekly treat to go to the mall for a pretzel. Just something to keep my sanity. I took Bear and pushed him around in a stroller and more often than not I saw people I knew.

    Comment by Someone Being Me — January 31, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

  3. Full Disclosure: So this week when I’m home alone my daughter and I skid over to the video store and go wild. I can heartily recommend Nicole Kidman in a fantasy depiction of Diane Arbus’s life, “Fur.” Yes, I know. Way bad title. But the movie is haunting in its treatment of this very topic. A woman and wife escaping into her self, which is her art.

    And I watched it yesterday afternoon!

    Comment by Karen — January 31, 2008 @ 4:12 pm

  4. Most of the time I get an “OK.” This morning I got an eye-roll and teasing about my chin (it rolls out on casters when I’m pissed), but he did what I requested anyway.

    My back and legs ache so much from holding Claire, even in the Moby wrap. So the least he can do is bend over to pick up some garbage.

    Wonder if I’ll ever get back to a movie in a theater?

    Comment by Kathryn — January 31, 2008 @ 5:37 pm

  5. I’m sorry, but this post is way above my head.

    Did you say movie? What is that? Did you say in the middle of the day? Huh?

    And if one more person writes or says the word rain or cold or snow … I am going to jump. I really am.

    Good for you! Good. For. You. And, for Ned for being a guy and planting that seed in your precious zen world.

    Comment by Shawn — January 31, 2008 @ 5:52 pm

  6. You might hate my response, but with that risk, I’m going to say that my husband put some gutter guards on our gutters, and they work great.

    And I better go kiss my husband because he’d never make me clean out the gutters!

    Comment by Shelli — January 31, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

  7. I love reading your blog. I, too, grew up in S. Cal (not far from you.) At the age of 31, I moved across the country with my new husband. Promptly got pregnant (on the way across the country) and embarked on a journey that still spins my head. The baby is now almost 6, her little sister almost 4, and my sanity comes from reading your daily posts and reminding myself that I’m creating this reality of mine. It’s all worth it.

    Comment by Kristin H. — January 31, 2008 @ 8:15 pm

  8. Kathryn, I think you’re right. Garbage is the least. And expecting the least is a pretty safe thing. But “where do you keep the garbage anyway?” Our little eclair is going to be crawling just as soon as your back gives out, I know it!

    Shelli, if Ned would put those guards in our gutters I’d be OK with it. Maybe he would if you kiss him.

    Comment by Karen — January 31, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

  9. OK.


    Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just practicing!

    Comment by Mama Zen — January 31, 2008 @ 8:52 pm

  10. Because your posts make me laugh, cry, sigh, reflect, and think …and because I want others to discover the treasure here at Cheerio Road … I left something for you at Small Reflections on January 29th as an expression of my appreciation.
    Hugs and blessings,

    Comment by storyteller — February 1, 2008 @ 1:16 am

  11. Huh.


    That’s so easy.

    I love it.

    Comment by Kapuananiokalaniakea — February 1, 2008 @ 2:16 am

  12. My Ned says okay and then may or may not actually do it. But as I told a coworker this morning after said something about wishing his girlfriend wasn’t trying to change him, “I don’t try to change my husband because I don’t believe it can be done. One of the benefits of being raised by my single dad is that I know men don’t change no matter how much you yell and cry.”

    Usually I get mad at him for a couple hours, remember this is the way he is always going to be, and get over it.

    My coworker told me to let him know if I ever get divorced. Ha!

    Comment by marta — February 1, 2008 @ 4:18 am

  13. I’ve found that the easiest, most peaceful route to happiness in marriage (and parenting) is to say “yes” and “ok” and “of course”.

    Comment by She She — February 1, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

  14. I would have been dumbfounded myself. Movie? What? I don’t even do that at night when most grown adults are out and about…

    And a husband who cleans rain gutters?


    Comment by shauna — February 1, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

  15. I found out about the movie thing only after my husband moved out. It’s especially good for gloomy days when being in the house feels too depressing. I love a good box of popcorn for lunch!

    Comment by Lisa — February 2, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

  16. Uhhhh, shortly after we first married I was complaining about all the laundry I was doing ( we lived in the tropics and 2nd grade daughter changed clothes if she got a drop of water on her and we both had military uniforms to wash) when my husband says, ” Why don’t we each do our own laundry, that’s what we did when I grew up?” And he promptly taught Lydia to do her own laundry and began doing his as well

    I still did our sheets and our towels but Lydia did her sheets and her towels. She had to stand on a stool to get to the controls and she made a couple of mistakes. I loved it the first time she complained about no underware…..” So, why are you telling me” ……no answer….I smiled and continued to read my book.

    I still only do my own laundry.

    Comment by ONEDIA — February 4, 2008 @ 12:07 am

  17. ned and i may be long lost siblings separated at birth—although it would never ever occur to me to be so agreeable about the gutters when i could go see a movie in the middle of the day. i got to the movies midday routinely and call it “work” since i need to remain inspired in order to be a productive artist. the beer and the popcorn, however. there is really no excuse for that.

    Comment by jen lemen — February 6, 2008 @ 2:03 am

  18. i never would’ve thought about a movie either!

    Comment by Andrea — February 6, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

  19. i really enjoyed this week of posts, karen.
    not that i don’t enjoy your other posts…i do!!!
    but i’ve been back a few times to re-read over these ones and i’m really glad ned 😉 searched your site for:: h-u-s-b-a-n-d.

    Comment by Kirsten Michelle — February 7, 2008 @ 5:02 am

  20. I love this posting. Both the “ok” and seeing how we overlook the option to have fun.

    And yet, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, so she just now found out he could have been home every other Friday for years? And did he stop to ask who on earth has been cleaning the gutters?? I realize I’ve just demonstrated the secret to an unhappy marriage but still…

    Comment by Moanna — February 9, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

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