Gardening falls into that category, as one of those mind-numbingly dull jobs that leaves me completely cold, and in the past I have tended to allocate that area of the domestic task pane to ‘men who can’, preferably of the hired, toned variety.
In my opinion, my abstinence from wielding potentially dangerous tools or risking the long-term health of my spine is a measure of intelligence, not a characteristic of idleness. And unfortunately, the old man, while being an expert at deciphering the techno gobbledygook of complex spreadsheets, fails to identify the intrinsic difference in functionality between a spade and a hoe, and so fits into the category of a ‘man who can’t’.
How can I seriously be accused of being ‘lazy’ when the inner sanctum of our home makes this year’s House and Garden Best Home look like an African shanty house? You see, like most people I can focus my energies on activities that capture my interest, and I am absolutely anal about every aesthetic detail of the interior of my house, where even the dog is ‘antique white’.
Dirty dishes may pile up in the sink and washing often erupts from the laundry basket, but if a cushion errs a centimetre out of place on the sofa, I reach for the Valium. Two of the most memorably stressful occasions of my life involved losing decorative control in our home: the first, when my son decided to paint his room a colour that simply did not exist on the Dulux ‘whites’ chart, and the second, when the family decided to take control of decorating the Christmas tree.
That’s not to say that I am a complete backyard philistine. I’m happy to be the ‘architect’ of a Jamie Durie style landscape, but I won’t get my hands muddy to achieve it. Aside from the obvious health reasons associated with gardening, and I have done several risk assessments, there is always the peril of that chance encounter with a rogue earthworm or slug which somehow always manage to burrow their way through my protective clothing, no matter how many layers I put on.
Interiors, au contraire, are for the sophisticate. There are a myriad of subliminal pleasures associated with the infusion of subtle light to a space, or a crushed silk cushion strategically placed on a vintage sofa. ‘Decorating’ is like a drug to me and no other stimulant affords me the same fix. I get a high from rummaging around flea markets and antique treasure troves in search of that perfect piece and if I spot ‘perfection’ amid the jumble, I have to remind myself to breathe. Swathes of decadent fabric, hand-painted wallpapers and any style of cushion excite me like a sugar-deprived toddler in a lolly shop. Cushions hold the place in my heart where my children should be. I might have stopped at two children, but my cushions seem to secretly multiply, by some reproductive process akin to binary fission.
Which brings me back to where this all started, when the old man accused me of laziness yesterday.You see, the old man has created this monumental list of tedious tasks for me to ‘achieve’ while I’m ‘between jobs’ to save money, (or in other words, I have become a source of cheap labour). I’ve managed to discount most of the list in my endless pursuit of personal creative fulfilment but painting the back deck held some vague appeal, and so with an uncharacteristically selfless effort (to keep him off my back), I decided to tackle this job first.
The stage was finally set. Overalls, protective eye goggles and a mild enthusiasm were all in place, and I was on the verge of really getting the party started with the sugar soap (!), when I stalled. I suddenly realised that we had forgotten to move these monstrous great plant pots from two corners of the deck, that had no doubt been re-gifted by the previous owners of our house!
Obviously, I did mentally debate how to resolve the problem for what must have been at least three minutes, before coming to the conclusion that even the marital fallout could not be as debilitating as a herniated disk and I proceeded to commit the apparently cardinal DIY faux-pas, of painting around the pots.
And he called me lazy!
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