Sunday, 3 January 2010

Help! I have a newly retired husband?

Suggestions in the comments box below, please.

Cups of tea appear beside my laptop at regular intervals, with a biscuit balanced on the saucer and his 'next new project' to be discussed. My husband has retired from work. It's not that he doesn't support my writing, it's just that he's there... all the time. I used to be able to stare at the window for an hour or more if an idea needed thinking through, or sit at the computer all day if the ideas were flowing. Now we have lunch at lunch time, a set routine to the day and he's trying out things in the kitchen. A few weeks ago it was the making of pastry. Every afternoon my cups of tea arrived with tarts of varying texture and colour placed on the saucer. By the end of the week he was moderately satisfied with his dough technique but issued threats that trials would begin again just as soon as I'd bought more flour. He's a determined man. This week he cleaned out the kitchen cupboards. Yes, yes, I can hear you all slapping your cheeks in envy and amazement but, no, it's not as wonderful as it sounds. I can't find a thing.

It was the right time for Rod to retire. He struggled through last year trying to get into work while he was on the Valcade chemotherapy treatment. When he was not well enough for work he lay around feeling guilty. Even he agrees that he's earned a well-deserved rest. At the moment he's halfway through a course of Melphalan taken at home in pill form. As I commented in an earlier post, thankfully he's tolerating it quite well. He's been out walking Josh the dog most days and that's my benchmark for his fitness level.

Which brings me to another problem linked with his retirement. I hardly ever walk the dog anymore. I'm becoming increasingly unfit and I've put on weight. I could go with him but this way I get a full hour's concentrated writing time. I do miss the people. Dog walking is good for writers. There are so many fascinating characters on the park. If you have a dog they always want to stop and chat and there's often a whole pageful of incidents and observations to jot down in my notebook when I get home.

Of course I still walk Josh when Rod is having a bad chemo day but as I no longer walk him regularly I'm out of the routine. It's a real ordeal to have to pull on all those layers of clothing and go out, especially on a cold winter's morning. Josh is a big dog. He pulls me along on the ice and he always prefers to walk across the muddiest fields on the park. But as soon as I'm out there on my favourite field, surrounded by frost covered trees and birdsong, I feel totally exhilerated... Yes, you're right. Tomorrow I'll go with him. The writing will just have to wait.



  1. See you on the park tomorrow, then, Ros!

  2. Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. I really understand this blog post as my own husband has been home on vacation for the last two weeks. And he rearranged the cupboards- yikes! Thankfully mine goes back to work soon. Cheers!

  3. My husband and I have always been self-employed so we're kind of used to tripping over each other.
    Hundreds of years ago when the kids were young and I had to have lunch on the table,we'd all try and eat together.
    But now there's just the two of us around most of the day - he makes his lunch when he takes a break and I make mine when I'm ready to take a break.
    It's the only way to go !

  4. Ros
    My fullest sympathy. As they say, you married for better or for worse - but not for lunch? don't despair. Many of us are still working out coping strategies, though mine are different as I still work some days but still seem to be chief cook and bottle washer. On the bright side I've written three short stories about a retired couple - very therapeutic and one of them even won a prize. All grist to the mill!

  5. Maybe tomorrow I'll be on the park, Pippa... well it's freezing out there.

    Hi Nancy. What is it with men and cupboards?

    Good idea, Ann. Glad it's working for you.

    Yes, Ali, I suppose I should practice what I keep preaching and turn the situations into writing inspirations.

  6. The baking sounds wonderful and the cupboards frightening. My other half sometimes loiters at my open study door - why is it always open? But he's learned to read the 10 secs. delay and muffled grunts in response when I'm engrossed. As he does shift work, we're often on completely different timetables but I stick firmly to my own or I'd go mad. I CANNOT improvise.

    I think like any major transition, you need to give yourselves time, keep communicating about what you need and you'll settle into a new routine together. That's my best agony aunt voice ...

  7. Thanks, Siobhan. The agony aunt voice was well appreciated. Couldn't help smiling at your comment about communicating after telling us that your other half recognises your muffled grunts though! ;-)

  8. I feel that I have to comment for all of the men out there. Men tidy cupboards because they want to feel wanted. We want to feel that we are taking an active part in the kitchen. Don't get me wrong, I can cook. I spent 3 years at catering college and then 8 years in hotel management. But at home I am not allowed in the kitchen. I try, but my beloved wife starts to stir, then she adds a bit more seasoning, then lowers the heat. Before I know it, I have been edged out of the kitchen and stand dejected at the door. I miss the days of experimentation in the kitchen, dicing and spicing used to be fun.

    It usually starts after washing up. I put a pan in the cupboard and it doesn't quite fit. So, I try to jiggle things around for a bit, but that doesn't work either. The next thing I know I have pen an paper and am restructuring the schematics for the kitchen (slight exaggeration but it gets the point across). And all of this just to feel wanted in the kitchen...