You may smile at this title dear reader, but it is a very real problem in my life and possibly in yours too. Or it may be that you are far more organised and efficient than me and the socks that go into your washing machine actually come out again. I'm not so sure that mine do. I know not what what alchemy is afoot in my utility room, but many pairs can go into the wretched washing machine, but I'm darned sure not that the same quantity come out again.
Not only that, but last week at least some did come out of the washing machine and I duly hung them up on the electric airing rack overnight, came back the next morning and collected the laundry in, took it into the bedroom to sort out and blow me down, there was only one sock of spouse's left to put away. How did that happen? My socks seemed to be all present and correct, but only one of his? He is not one-footed, he did not throw one out prior to laundering so what is going on? Like my bell pepper seeds and grains of rice being strewn over the floor and worktops at night, I believe the house elves are having a laugh at my expense. How else can I be left with one lonely sock?
At Chez Comb we have both have two feet and thus wear our sock in pairs. Ergo, pairs of socks go into the washing machine - nota bene, pairs, not singles. So why is it that I end up at the end of the laundering process with so many lonely socks? Where do they all go? And never to be clapped eyes on again. They never turn up, how is that? We both have drawers full of lonely socks. Does this only happen to me dear reader?
It's the same with gloves. There were always two of them, carefully put away in the drawer after use and then on going to retrieve them for their next outing, there is only one there. One of life's many mysteries.
I wonder if Noah had the same problem in the Ark? The animals went in two by two. Did they indeed? Well, I bet a lot of them didn't come out two by two by the time the flood was over and they were decanted on to dry land. You can bet your bottom dollar, or last shiny pound coin, that Noah and Mrs Noah were left scratching their heads when the animals trotted out of the Ark and down the gangway and quite a few of them went solo. No amount of carefully searching the nether regions of the boat would reveal a lost mate and I bet they asked themselves the eternal question too - where did they go, what happened to them?
When I mentioned this puzzle to spouse, (the socks, not the animals), he came up with yet another domestic conundrum. Where have his favourite waterproof work trousers gone? He did have two pairs and one pair seems to have vanished into thin air. Likewise the woolly hats that keep his bonce warm when working outside. He had several to choose from at one time and now he is reduced to one. I know he can only wear one at a time, but he did have his favourites and they are nowhere to be found. Is it the house elves again?
I may not have lost a giraffe, elephant or warthog lately and if I found one what would I do with it anyway? But I would like to discover the whereabouts of the stash of lonely socks that there must be somewhere. I know you're out there. Come home soon and all will be forgiven. that is my final offer, house elves. You have been warned.
Bear with me dear reader and all will become clear. The folk next door have the builders in and a beautiful new extension is going up at the back of their house. They are also having all the windows in the rest of the house renewed, as the property was rather dilapidated when they took it over and was more than ripe for updating. No problem there. All went well until last week. The builders removed two old windows from the side of the building that looks on to our front driveway. Unfortunately for us they did not take much care about it. The windows came out easily enough and so did at least six million minute polystyrene balls, which I now understand were in the past used for insulation before insulated sheets came along. It was a windy day and guess what? Yes, indeedy, all the perishing balls blew on to our driveway. Not a problem, I hear you say. Sweep 'em up. Problem solved. I wish. Our drive is covered with pea gravel, that small stuff that gets in between grooves of your trainers or walking boots. Can't sweep that lot up.
Meanwhile, inside Chez Comb, spouse is telephoning the lady from the Community Transport Scheme, for whom he is a volunteer driver. Elderly, infirm or disabled folk can book transport for shopping, doctors, hospital appointments or the doctor's surgery and have door to door service for a small fee. Whilst I am outside surveying our polystyrene snowstorm, spouse has contacted the lady via the ringback service. She must have picked up the phone, thought there was no one there and put it to one side. But they were still connected as spouse could hear her moving about the office. Poor spouse, he wasn't having much luck. He was calling into the phone, 'hello Christine, pick up your phone Christine, hello Christine.' and didn't bargain on being interrupted by a very cross wife stomping into his study, shrieking like a demented banshee and vowing vengeance on the entire building fraternity.
Being the patient man that he is, he put the phone to one side and listened to my diatribe on the careless builders and the problem of the polystyrene balls. My rant over and thinking there was nothing to be done about them and that we would have to learn to love them, I pushed off to my kitchen and my domestic goddess duties. Sometime later I had occasion to pass through the hallway to find spouse on his hands and knees, threading wire through the letterbox. I paused, mouth open and hesitated. Then, 'no, don't ask,' I told myself. Might be better if I don't know. On my return trip spouse was off his knees, upright and fixing up the hoover. 'Having a domestic moment, are we?' I asked. 'Mm, not quite domestic,' says spouse. 'I'm going out to hoover the gravel.'
Well I know we like to be reasonably clean at Chez Comb, but isn't hoovering the gravel taking things a tad too far? But if that's what spouse wanted to to who was I to object. I returned to my domestic duties and left him to it. In the kitchen I found the phone off its cradle and picked it up. Don't ask me why I did it, dear reader, but I shouted 'hello, hello. Eh, what's up doc?' into the handset in my best Bugs Bunny voice and hell's bells, I nearly dropped the wretched thing when Christine from Community Transport answered me. 'Is that you, Patricia? Your phone's off the hook. By the heck, it's an interesting life in your house isn't it? What was he doing down at the letterbox and why's he gone out to hoover the gravel? Does he often do that? Sounds a bit daft to me, but I suppose it takes all sorts....' Spouse will have some explaining to do next time he speaks to the good lady and I only hope she doesn't mention Bugs Bunny to him.
Yes, I thought hoovering the gravel was a bit off the wall too, but I have to tell you my dear reader, that spouse is not as green as he is cabbage looking. He fed the extension lead through the letterbox so the door could stay shut and took the hoover outside and connected it up. He put the hoover on its lowest setting and held it well above the gravel and hey presto - all those little polystyrene balls went home to daddy, all safely tucked up into the hoover bag. How amazing is that?
Our driveway is now squeaky clean and my admiration for spouse is unbounded. For thinking outside the letter box, I think I married a genius. Look out builders, we're ready to take on the world.
I'm veering off the scientific trail this week. Actually thinking about it I'm not, because I'm in zoological mode, with a small measure of synchronicity thrown in to the mix.
A couple of days ago I was walking along the promenade overlooking the sea. The sea on my left and the ornamental public gardens on my right. Glancing into the gardens I noticed a seagull looking down at the grass and trampling very hard and fast with his orange webbed feet. I dug spouse in the ribs and pointed to this scene. 'What's all that about?' I wondered. 'Worms,' said spouse. 'Worms?' says I. 'Yes, Worms. He's drumming up his dinner.' I looked at spouse and wondered if he'd had too much seaside winter sun. 'Oh, like the worm pops his head out when the seagull comes knocking at his door. As if ...' Really, did I look as if I was that gullible? Well my dear reader, it turns out that I am just a seagull ignoramus. 'All that stamping makes the worm think it's raining and that's when they come up to the surface and hey presto, seagull dinner is served!' says spouse. Pull my other leg it's got bells on thinks I, but when I returned home and put the question to the RSPB via my computer I found spouse was right.
And here's where the zoological synchronicity comes in. Gosh, I never thought to type those two words together! But here goes ... a trip around unusual bird behaviour. I was listening to the BBC Radio 4's programme, The Infinite Monkey Cage, the day after the seagull incident and they were discussing present and historical methods of research into animal and bird behaviour. Professor Rory Wilson explained the unusual fishing method adopted by the Wandering Albatross. When they are feeding their young, one of their fishing methods is to fly off for six days to stock up on squid to bring home to the chicks. Now squid are not just floating about on the surface waiting for some old albatross to come and get them, they are swimming away underneath the ocean. So clever old albatross starts a spinning routine that creates a large circle of light, (the light given off by some of the florescent fish already in the water and he just spreads it about a lot more). And then, the squid are drawn up to the light and our albatross does a somersault and gobbles them up. As a post script to this I have just looked up information about the Wandering Albatross and apparently if they follow a ship in the hope of feeding of its rubbish, they can eat so much they can't fly and just have to float there for a while! Yes dear reader, ponder that image.
Staying with the zoological theme, Lucy Cook, a guest on The Infinite Monkey Cage programme also related the historical research into the mystery of fertilisation to create a new adult of a species. This is just the best one ever. Through dissection it was known that there were eggs and there were sperm, but it was not known how the new adult came about. A chap called Lazno Spanzali spent a lot of time observing frog behaviour. He saw the male frog clinging on to the female's back but didn't know what happened next. So he made a pair of underpants from waxed taffeta and fitted them on to the frog!!!! Yes, I love it too. The trouble was the frog could jump out of them, leaving Spanzali non the wiser. So, he fitted braces on to the underpants - how good is that? Problem solved and the mystery of what went on between Mr and Mrs Frog could be investigated further.
Well, there we are. I can say no more. Enjoy your Sunday my dear reader and may the image of frogs in their tighty-whities and braces bring a little smile to your day. It certainly has to mine.
Welcome, dear reader, to another sunny Sunday in North Yorkshire at Chez Comb. Having just put the title of this blog up I realise it is a tad misleading. My dear spouse is not missing his shed as in being minus a shed - it has not been stolen or demolished and thus he is not suffering from the absence of his shed. No, he is suffering from a lack of visiting his shed.
How can this be? You might well ask and no maybe you are, right now. You didn't even know spouse had a shed down the bottom of the garden that he might visit. Well why would you? It's not a subject I would be banging on about in the normal course of events, but events have not been normal lately. Well, when are they, let's face that one head on?
Better begin at the beginning as all the best stories do. When we moved to this house last year there were a couple of small sheds down the garden, one of them was in good condition and one was rather dilapidated. So the good shed was used for storing our garden tools and machinery, but where was spouse to put all his boys toys? Chain saws, big electric saws and the good Lord knows what ever else and I really don't know. We are old-fashioned in our division of labour - he keeps out of my kitchen and I keep out of his workshop. But the trouble was, he now didn't have a workshop. He had a garage and so filled it up with all his paraphernalia. Ah but, now he couldn't get his precious car in the garage. I know dear reader, don't tell me, I know. No-one uses their garage for the car these days. Oh yes they do, spouse does. So what to do now? Build a mega-shed of course.
My dearest reader, if you could have seen the look of the purest of pure delight on spouse's face as the idea dawned on him, you too would have taken a step back. Really, heaven has no more to offer a man than a large garden with space to put the shed of his dreams on. And at that point, dear reader, I became a shed widow.
Unfortunately for me, the plot of ground he chose had gnarled old trees on it, interspersed with ragged and overgrown shrubs. Why unfortunately for me? After all, I had no wish to be the proud possessor of a mega-shed. But, no man is an island and mine certainly is not. I was enrolled as honorary shed side-kick and put to work assisting in the digging out of shrubs and removal of tree branches, prior to spouse wading in with chain saw and axe.
All well and good. But a meg-shed requires a mega-base to stand on and at that point in the proceedings, spouse's proposed site required digging over and trees roots removing. Thus it was that for some months before and after Christmas, I became a shed widow. I had been hoping that when we came indoors from our summer labours in the garden that spouse would multi-task in the house and put some pictures up, all that kind of stuff that makes a house a home. But no, how could trivia like that compete with the foundations for a shed? Obviously it didn't, as the sightings of spouse grew fewer and fewer as his enthusiasm for his new shed grew. He appeared for meals, well he would, wouldn't he? Food and wielding axes being his great loves in life.
Being a Yorkshireman and not wanting to part with a brass farthing if he could possibly help it, he constructed the base out of flagstones taken up from the garden. I have to admit this was a good idea, (it kills me to say so, but it was). We will be re-modelling the garden this year and the flagged paths are not in our new design. So dozens of flags were manhandled on to the site and carefully placed, the spirit level employed at every turn to ensure a firm and level base. Nearing the end of this operation the new shed was ordered from a local company.
Their representative came out to view spouse's endeavours and the base was pronounced excellent. Spouse's cup runneth over, almost. The very next weekend the shed was erected and THEN spouse was ecstatic. Thinking about it, I'm surprised we haven't had an official opening of the shed with a bottle of champagne being smashed against it. Personally, I'll settle for drinking it inside the shed sometime.
Fondly I thought, 'well that's that then', my life-partner will re-enter my life again. Oh so wrong was I, dear reader. A mega-shed needed the gold star treatment. Not content with having the shed in place, spouse then set about insulating it, boarding it out and painting the boarding in a delicate shade of cream to make it light and bright. And so it is. It is a beautiful space and he has kitted it out with work benches and his tools and is generally delighted with it all.
All was going well until the end of last week my dear reader. Every day, spouse was transferring more of his gear down to the shed, happy as a little sand boy can be and then, disaster struck, or more pertinently, Montezuma's revenge and spouse has been confined to barracks ever since. Looking disconsolately down the garden yesterday he mournfully came out with the immortal line, 'I miss my shed',
Now if he'd have said, 'I miss being out in the sunshine and fresh air,' as he is wont to spend his time outside, I could have understood and empathised with this notion. But missing a shed? I'm sorry, dear reader, for once I am at a loss. The almost umbilical link between men and their sheds is beyond me and I am happy for it to remain so. I look forward to spouse's recovery, not just for his restoration to good health, but because I really can't stand much more of the shed-longing glimpsed deep in his lovely blue eyes.
I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday and a good week to come.