by VINCENT CARDEGIN
AWARD WINNING COLUMNIST
My wife thinks she wants to be a farmer. She has one cousin up north who actually farms, but that’s not enough to convince me that farming is in her blood. She started buying farm-themed stuff: a hollow ceramic chicken that contains a scrubby-pad for washing dishes, which she doesn’t use and is in the way; salt and pepper shakers with pictures of roosters, which pour out their contents instead of sprinkling and so should never be shook at all; pillows printed with red trucks full of produce; a blanket stitched with repeating sheep; and a metal washboard that she hung on the wall of the laundry room—not sure if that’s strictly a farmers tool. There might be more such knick-knackish things in the house, but when I’m up and about I seldom look at walls and shelves; I spend most of my time watching out for her little dogs and especially her cats, which are now as big as the dogs and more dangerous—you know how they like to run between your feet when you’re walking.
After she redid the cushions of a rocking chair with a rooster pattern, I complained. I told her, “We are not farmers. We have never been farmers and we never will be farmers.” I went on to discourse my opinion that I wouldn’t be surprised if farmers do not have chicken upholstery and cow pillows. They might have cob-shaped baking irons for cornbread, my non-farmer mother did, but they probably don’t adorn their windows and furniture with images of crops and animals. Maybe some do. All I know for sure is that I have never hung Exwork-themed curtains in the living room or covered our bed with Exwork-themed blankets. Nor does my wife have anything nurse-themed. Work is work, home is home, and never the two should meet. “Farming is not our theme,” I finished.
She deviously asked, “Then what is our theme?”
Well, I didn’t have an answer right then. But it didn’t take long for me to realize what it should be: Military Brats. My dad is retired Army, and her dad is retired Air Force. Our theme should be all the places we lived. Cushions, blankets, and pillows can have designs from Spain, Korea, and Alaska—I’m thinking large-horned moose for that last one. I’m not sure what to replace the washboard with, but it should be wall-art distinctly from Puerto Rico. Salt and pepper shakers must be in the shape of German steins. If we have to have a scrubby-pad holder, let it be a sitting, happy, ceramic Sumo with a hollow belly. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting hats with the flags of all the states and countries I lived in, but I don’t have enough room for that many. And we can celebrate our heritage, Wales and Norway. My mother-in-law still has a wooden plaque painted with the Lord’s Prayer in Norwegian that they bought decades ago. I would love to have that, and one written in Welsh hanging in my dining room.
Oh I have the utmost respect and tremendous gratitude for farmers. All of civilization depends upon the plow. Just ask James Burke. But we don’t farm. Sure, my wife can include symbols of her gardening, I guess—not sure how those would be different from farming, but that’s one of her hobbies, so okay. However, please be very advised that I absolutely will not tolerate pictures of cats and dogs on my blankets and pillows.