Danville Express

Column - May 4, 2007

Diablo Views: The single scene - for a little while

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

When Jim is out of town, I sleep with Bob.

Although Bob purrs so loudly it sometimes wakes me up. Hey, who can blame him? The master bedroom certainly beats his usual sleeping quarters - the garage.

My husband Jim was on an extended business trip to India recently, long enough for me to get a healthy dose of living alone. I discovered, in his absence, that he does quite a bit around the house. Funny, I was under the impression that I did everything. I'd never thought to wonder how the back yard stayed looking so nice. Now I know. Sure, we have automatic sprinklers but they don't reach all the bushes, not to mention the plants on the covered patio. It was fun to play with the nozzle settings; my hard-earned advice is, use "mist" on the smaller patio plants, do not use "stream" full force.

About those automatic sprinklers. They were set for 6 a.m. but one morning I noticed they did not come on. A little backyard sleuthing showed puddles on the walkway so I knew they'd run recently. Then at 1:30 a.m. I was awakened by running water - the sprinklers! I assume a power outage had reset the clock on the automatic timer. What to do? Fool with the thingamajig? I decided although morning watering was preferable, two or three weeks of nocturnal sprinkling would not kill the lawn. Better than no water - or my having to drag out the manual sprinkler.

Another duty I did not enjoy was corpse removal. A little hummingbird lay outside the sliding glass doors when I came home from work one day, probably the result of miscalculating his flight and slamming into the glass too hard. At least the cadaver was still fresh. Jim also does the live cricket and crane fly removals from the house; I didn't want to touch the few who came inside so I let them stay, adopting a kind of "mi casa es su casa" philosophy toward bugs.

Then there's the cooking. I hadn't realized how much of it Jim had taken over since he began to work out of our home a few years ago. Now, not only was I coming home to an empty house each night but there was no dinner in sight. Bob was there but his conversation is limited. Except he made it plain it was his dinnertime, too. Of course I was able to cook for myself and put together salads and other light meals. But my humble repasts never yielded gourmet leftovers for the next day's lunch like when Jim cooks. I actually made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to bring to work for lunch one day, and went to Taco Bell the next. Talk about a comedown.

On the plus side, each morning I checked out the TV page because it was kind of nice to watch what I wanted without any criticism. I don't mean verbal criticism, I mean the type of disapproval that is implied when someone comments, "Oh, you're watching that" and leaves the room. A friend loaned me all five seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which kept me company for at least a little while each night while I puttered in the kitchen. Not to mention that I could read in bed as late as I wanted without worrying about the light bothering anybody.

I went out more than usual, had meals with friends, and went shopping for summer clothes. But no matter how busy my days were, there still came a time to return home and that's when I missed Jim. Who else would care that I slammed my finger in the door? Only a spouse would mind if a fingernail turns purple, and even he wouldn't have cared that much but he certainly would have listened sympathetically and made all the right responses. Except, come to think of it, he might have annoyingly said, "You should be more careful." Anyway I yowled with only myself to hear (Bob ungallantly fled the room).

And who else cares that there's a deer in the yard, or the little bushes in front are flowering, or that I won my tennis match? E-mail was great to keep in touch, but I'm not sure he could have related to the bucolic scene in our yard when he was traversing the streets of Mumbai.

Jim traveled a lot when the children were young; once he was gone for six weeks. Since I didn't work outside the home, most of the duties were mine at the time anyway so that part didn't change. I had the children to keep me company, and my parents would usually come from San Jose to stay with us for a few days, which was fun.

This time it was just me and Bob. And the sink to be unplugged, the garbage, the mail, etc., etc., etc. It was a nice change for awhile but I was glad when Jim came home. Bob, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.


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