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Subject to change - without notice.

There's an old saying--so old, in fact, that not even I can remember it. No matter. It had something to do with the more things change the more they remain the same. The saying must have been based on our house. The truth is (and that's a switch in itself), our furniture gets more wear from being moved than it does from being used.

Remember the night I came home late, and so as not to awaken my sleeping beauty, I undressed by the light of fireflies romancing outside the window, tippy-toed over and collapsed on what should have been the bed? Only it was the vanity? And for the next three days I smelled like an Avon lady's sales kit in mid-August?

Well, the situation hasn't improved. Take the sofa. To save the wear and tear of moving, I'd put the thing on wheels if it weren't for motion sickness. Or the TV. If the wires would reach, I'd be out in the shed watching Vanna turn the letters, dear wife having exhausted every possible location in the house.

While seeing hubby search out the TV's new location gives her much enjoyment, the kitchen provides even more entertainment. Especially the old switcheroo in the cupboards.

Her finest hour comes with watching her married opponent reach for the bran flakes and bring out a box of Minute Rice. In his morning fog he doesn't discover the error until his selection has been raisined, sugared and milked--too late to waste on the dog. I tell you, gentle reader, there's nothing like facing a hard day's work on a hearty bowl of Minute Rice.

My Jubilee melons were nothing to shout about this year. How come? It's because I nourished them all summer with kitty litter instead of Miracle-Gro. And why would I do a stupid thing like that? It's because my dear wife dumped a sack of kitty litter into the bucket where I keep the Miracle-Gro.

"Maybe you can sell your melons as cucumbers," she said by way of apology. And maybe you've switched your heart and your gallbladder, I said, to myself luckily.

Not even my wardrobe has escaped the genes for change coursing through her veins, or wherever it is genes course. For evidence, I offer my robe, the one I toss on before daybreak to power walk Brutus, our 105-year-old dog, humanly speaking.

In a fit of compassion, dear wife decided that the robe was too thin for the morning air whistling across our Freedom, Ind., hilltop. It would be just the thing to cut up, however, and use for cleaning the oven, should she ever get around to it. In its place she proudly presented me with a robe she had made from what must have been an old army blanket.

This dear woman had even gone to the zoo and somehow got permission to use a gorilla for a model. The sleeves hang down to my knees, and I can reach the pockets only from a squat position. The squatting down I can handle;: it's the squatting up that gives me problems, as the robe weighs at least 45 pounds. I won't try to estimate its girth, but I can't wrap the thing around me without getting a running start.

Or take my side of the bed, which should be private property, right? Especially when everything is in order, magazines stacked neatly on the left side of the nightstand, fiction on the right, Tums and Ben-Gay in the center, non-fiction piled orderly on the floor. Certainly no grounds for the ultimatum: "Get rid of that mess or get out of the way!"

Sure enough, the next time I was out of the way, I came home to find that she had assembled a bookcase from Wal-Mart and arranged my stuff so that I'm still looking for the book I was reading when she turns out the light.

This brings up another little matter, if you have a minute.

In slapping the bookcase together, she got the unfinished ends of the side panels up and the finished ends on the floor. To turn the finished ends up would require unloading the thing, but then the shelves would have the unfinished sides up. So there it is to this day.

The only thing in its favor, it coincides with the stereo cabinet dear wife assembled in our living room. Here, if you'll notice, as most visitors do, the finished back panel faces the wall and the raw side is plainly visible through the front glass doors. Make a point of it? I'd sooner run into the proverbial buzz saw.

If the inside of the house falls under the jurisdiction of the female of the species, the outside belongs to the male, right? Not at our theater of operations. Not when God has failed to provide trees in the correct number and in the right places.

The main attraction that lured us to these 13 hilltop achers (and I do mean achers) was the view. Our view today, however, has changed from White River, the lush valley and the little town of Freedom, to Virginia pine, blue spruce, and nux vomica (the tree that makes you want to throw up).

To be fair (I must not be feeling well), the fault is not entirely my dear wife's. Part of it goes to the state forestry people who sell trees and won't dirty their hands on an order calling for fewer than 200. And that, my friend, is twice as many as 100. After dear wife had pointed out the spots and I had dug the 200 holes and lugged the water, she did her part by handing me the 200 trees to commit to the earth.

Three days later, noticing that I had regained my faculty for walking upright (except while wearing the robe--remember the robe?), she ordered another 200. If you are counting, this adds up to 400 trees for me to inter into the terra firma. And we are talking here of terra that happens to be as firma as the north side of the Alps. While I haven't had it assayed, I peg it at 80 percent clay, 20 percent limestone, with limestone being the most pliable of the two.

Finally (and about time, I'm sure you are thinking), guess what my dear wife gave me for my last (make that latest) birthday? Something practical, like a jug of liniment or a hose for draining my blisters? Nope. It was, in her words, certainly not mine, "a darling little sugar maple."

"Now you can make your very own maple syrup," she said sweetly--if you'll forgive a Tom Swifty.

To tell the truth (I must be sick), I don't expect to be around by the time this darling little hunk of flora begins to produce sap. And if you are concluding that it has produced one sap already, go ahead and conclude. At least I had the smarts to marry a woman who continues to supply me with material for these authoritative articles.
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Title Annotation:wife who constantly rearranges furniture
Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:May 1, 1993
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