To each spouse their own space


It's been seven years since Annie and I moved to Walla Walla to become farmers. We soon found out I wasn't much of a farmer.

Getting back to nature appealed to me -- conceptually. I'd read about it in books. It seemed inviting, maybe even heart-healthy. But the concept took on new meaning when Annie asked me to shovel a manure pile the size of a silo, help her move six tons of hay from one place to another, and feed Joe, one of her horses, who didn't know me very well at the time and tried to take my ear off.

That caused me to rethink the concept of getting back to nature.

It wasn't long before I wandered around the farm wondering what I was going to do with my new life. While I wondered, I looked over Annie's shoulder and offered helpful suggestions on how she could do her farm chores more efficiently.

After a few days of my supervision, Annie'd had enough. She barged into my study late one afternoon, looking agitated. She stood in front of my desk and fiddled with my stapler.

"Is this your stapler?" she asked.

"Yes, it is."

"My stapler's missing. You sure this is your stapler?"

"What's up?" I asked.

"Honey, I've been wondering."

"Me too," I said.

"Have you thought about getting an office in town?"

"In Walla Walla?"

"Yes, in Walla Walla."

"No, I haven't thought about it."

"Well, I'm thinking you should," Annie went on. "Either get an office in town or a new wife."

"Do you have anybody in mind?"

"Nobody in particular."

"Getting a wife as good as you could be difficult," I said.

"Not difficult," Annie said. "Impossible."

"Hmm, well then, maybe I should focus on the office. What exactly would I do in an office in town that I can't do here?"

"That's an easy one," Annie said. "Get out of my hair."

"Am I in your hair?"

"You've traveled all your life, Sam. I'm not used to having you around all day. Your helpful suggestions are getting old. I think we'd both be happier if you had your own space."

"Town's 20 miles from here. Does my space need to be that far away?"

"At least," Annie said.

Annie wandered back toward the kitchen.

"Hey," I called out. "Bring that stapler back."

By September I'd found a second floor office in town above a restaurant with a bar. The office had an up-close view of Main Street, tin-tiled ceilings, 10-foot tall windows, and ancient brick walls. It was spacious and drafty. In New York City, they'd call it a loft.

"Geez, a whole family could live up here," Annie said, admiring the skylights. "Don't spend too much time hanging on that bar downstairs."

Annie helped me move in -- a desk, a chair, and a file cabinet.

"Nice," Annie said. "We've got a lot of old furniture stored in the barn. You can fill this place up if you want to. I think you're going to like it here."

"Doing what?" I asked.

"Whatever your little heart desires. I'll see you back at the farm. But not before dinner time. We're having spaghetti and meatballs to celebrate your departure."

"Celebrate?" I said. "Don't you think that's premature? I haven't gotten my new wife yet."

"Forget the new wife," Annie said. "You've already got one too good for you."

Annie thought for a minute, tapping her cheek with an index finger.

"That's what you can do in your new office, Sam. You can count your blessings."

If you'd like to read more of Sam's musings on life, visit his website at, or better yet, buy yourself a copy of his book, BIG APPETITE.


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