Would you move that hammer?

I've figured out why it's so difficult to do a household project more complicated than changing a toilet-paper roll. In order to work, you need an open surface. No such space exists in my house.

If I want to do something ambitious, such as starting seeds indoors, I have to first clear off my workbench. In the process of putting things away, I find additional things that need fixing or pitching. A 10-minute sweep of the workbench turns into two hours of sorting. By the time I finish, I've forgotten the original project, or I'm too tired to go ahead with it.

My efforts to keep a tidy workbench are hampered by my husband. He sees the open space as an invitation to dump stuff. Hardware, plastic bags, and wrapping paper accumulate the moment my back is turned.

My painting paraphernalia - used frequently - is always stored far back on the shelves when my husband tidies up. By contrast, his picture-hanging gear, which he uses twice a year, commands premium storage space. So, when I put things away, the hooks and spools of wire are stored in a spot that reflects my opinion of their minor importance.

My husband is always moving my clay pots, so I counter by creating piles of mailing supplies on the ironing board, which he uses weekly and I never touch.

At some point, the forays into each other's space will stop. Detente will have to be declared, and I will have to make peaceful overtures to the tool-box king.

Maybe what I really need to do is move all my stuff into the shed where I won't be bothered. Now I know what Virginia Woolf had in mind when she wrote "A Room of One's Own."

E-mail the Homefront at home@ csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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