He is getting smarter

Over the last few years, Joe has become a thousand times more competent in the home than he was when we started this whole crazy thing where sometimes I leave the house for a few days. When first he was left here with the girls, when I came back home the bunch of them would essentially be re-enacting scenes from The Lord of the Flies. We’re not just talking about things like cups in the cupboard the wrong way or him abandoning decent nutrition, no, no….we’re talking about big things. I almost dreaded coming home back then because I knew from experience that though I had been working my arse off out in the world to support this merry band, that when I walked through the door I would be walking into a completely disintegrated environment. The kids would be feral, the house trashed, laundry way behind, homework undone, no food in the house…everything sticky. We’re not talking about the family not keeping my standards going, we’re talking about them not keeping the minimum standards of the public health department going.

The only thing that kept me from killing Joe right where he stood each and every time I came back was my belief that he just needed practice, and because he said things like ” I’m trying Steph, but I don’t know how you do it. I can’t work and do the housework and the laundry and the kids. I’m trying…but I just can’t figure out how you’re doing it.” (I admit that there were times that I was secretly impressed and pleased that it took both Ken and Joe and the occasional pitch in of my sister and mother to replace me.) It also occurred to me that if he was a raving incompetent, that I had to be at least partly to blame. Spoiling him all these years somehow turned him into someone who couldn’t see dirt and waited for the laundry fairy to bring him clean clothes.

Clearly, he needed opportunities, so I kept leaving…I kept expecting things to be better when I came back, I kept talking about how entirely crappy I thought trashing the house while I was gone was, and slowly, both Joe and the girls started getting it together. Don’t get me wrong….this has taken years. YEARS, and I know for a fact that they were cleaning madly yesterday when I was on my way home… but who cares? The point is, it was done when I got here. I’ve been so proud of all of them for becoming so much more independent and capable. They are a very clever lot and I knew they had it in them. Especially Joe.

That’s why I’m not very surprised that now that he has the household somewhat under control, that he has moved on to other challenges. His plan? Now that he feels a sense of ownership for the house, he has a plan to take over every inch of it for his own purposes. I thought maybe I was just being overly suspicious, but there’s no denying it now. Joe is trying to convert our home into a recording studio, he’s just doing it bit by bit. Every time I come back, Joe has taken something else over. First it was the whole basement. I didn’t say much about that. Then a few months ago upon my return I discovered that we are now storing “patch bays” in the kitchen.


The next time, boxes turned up stacked neatly in a corner of my office. I went away another time and when I came back I discovered that four filing boxes of paperwork are permanently stacked by the family computer. Every time I leave, he claims some space that I have to work at reclaiming for the family. For example –


each time I come back these boxes are in the living room and I flip out. After loose my cool, he says he will move them and then it takes weeks to move them, and by the time they are finally moved I am so freakin’ thrilled about the boxes being out of the living room that suddenly it doesn’t seem so insane that we have patch bays in the kitchen. (Still.) I am so dim that it took me months to figure out that the boxes in the living room are all a ruse. Part of a complicated dance to distract me. He doesn’t care about those boxes. I bet they are empty. They are there to distract me from the fact that he’s installed a third computer, and this one is on the dining room table. I thought that he had played his ultimate card when I came home from SOAR to discover the computer set up in the living room next to the coffee table (so he could engineer tracks while sitting on the chesterfield watching James Bond movies.) I wigged out and he moved it back to the dining room. (See? Clever man. The dining room table was unacceptable until I had it in the living room. Now the dining room doesn’t seem so bad. It is a delicate game we are playing over here.) I have known for some time that since Joe was gaining ground every time I left home that I needed a new strategy, but I didn’t know how far he was willing to go until I came back last night and discovered his latest incursion.


This is our dining room….or at least…it used to be. It appears to be an office now…an office almost identical to the one he has in the basement. I am stunned. Obviously I need a counter-plan for some sort of retaliation. This is war, and I’m losing a lot of ground. This time he has got a whole room. I am both concerned and sort of impressed.

Bold move. Bold move indeed.

215 thoughts on “He is getting smarter

  1. Though I yield to no one in my admiration of Joe, I know what he values. I’d say it was about time to start withholding sox.
    Spellcheck doesn’t believe I meant that “o” either.

  2. The only problem is that he’s not traveling, not even to an office or outside place of work. Maybe you should consult the squirrel – work something out for him to watch things while you’re gone. I don’t know what a squirrel would need with patch bays but you might have a go.

  3. One must think carefully before the next move is made with an adversary as cunning as this Joe…perhaps you should start working using his computer, store your yarn on top of his things or just plain move it all back down into the basement when he is out of the house on an errand you ask him to do. hhmmmmmm….
    Good luck!

  4. there are several ways to play this game….one might be to serve dinner on the dining room table….office and all – surely someone in your house is capable of spilling milk on an important paper….
    another might be to go on a cooking strike….

  5. Oh, come on. You mean to tell me that you, of all people, need a strategy for this? Bring out the stash — the whole stash — and bury everything in yarn. (I’m not suggesting that you bury Joe in yarn. He’s too big. Besides, I don’t want him mad at me.)

  6. Ah, marriage. It’s not about 2 soulmates finding each other. It’s about constant one-up-manship.
    My husband and I just celebrated our 8th anniversary, but in truth, we have been together 16.5 years. So I know.
    Another friend of mine went to Eastern Europe and was calling home from the hotel, run up $900 phone bill. He was like “S**t! I’m in the hole!” However, his wife ran up a huge phone calling him in Eastern Europe so he says their even.
    Our unmarried friend said “You’re not even, you’re doubly in the hole.”
    Hey! No one ever said marriage was about logic.

  7. Boxes as disguise/ruse, huh? Surely you can do him one better. Perhaps it’s time to begin to reveal bits of stash here and there as a clever ruse to distract him from the lumber in the yard that will become an addition to house????
    (OR….you leave some lumber in the yard under the guise of an impending addition to the house while you dismantle his new “dining room office.”)
    Just a thought.

  8. My husband has been using the kitchen table and chairs for years for his purposes. Every time the table gets filled up, I bring home another box and tidily put everything in it. Then he starts all over. Right now I have two boxes and a new pile going on the table, not to mention the flannels and winter coats (yes, from last winter) on the back of the chairs. I know those coats went back in the closet at least a few times. I figure, well, I can eat in front of the tv, it’s really not that bad. Except for last week I came home and it has started on and under the coffee table. Lord help me….. πŸ™‚

  9. This might be retaliation for your strategic master yarn-storage plan? In any case, seems to me your path is clear. Those boxes look like they’d hold quite a bit of yarn. Even the patch bays are not entirely without potential for some yarny application.
    Fight fire with fire.

  10. If those boxes ARE empty, they’d hold at least a sweater’s worth of yarn each, maybe more. Think about it.
    (And if they’re not empty, would he notice the chnage in their contents?)

  11. I bet those boxes are not empty. I bet they are filled with your yarn. Try to open one and you will be distracted for days, thus giving enough ground for him to complete his takeover of the entire house. (You’re welcome, Joe.)
    I don’t have a good strategy for you (my strategy is to sit in the midst of the mess and cry, and that sure isn’t working) but when you figure it out, or if you gain ANY ground, do tell me, eh?

  12. perhaps you could gang up with your kids and somehow bribe them to protect your turf from joe while you are away.

  13. And he knows that the best time to get you is when you’re either exhausted and too tired to argue about it or when you’re high from the wool fumes at a festival. That man has Machiavellian skills. (And great hair.)

  14. Use his mixing desk to block something on? Serve dinner in his basement office? Does he own any acoustic guitars? Lots of room for yarn in those!

  15. Yes, there is a very fine art to husband management. In general, I agree with Presbytera. Also, I’m sure that since he reads you blog, he’s got some idea as to “what color is your dog house?” (official answer to that question is always sh*t brindle brown)
    I think I’d move all his stuff back to basement land, stack it there neatly, THEN bring out the stash, cover all surfaces & when he looks for some of his stuff, smile & say “Oh I didn’t think you’d mind this for some reason” before you tell him it’s in the basement.

  16. While I feel for you, I must admit to being impressed by Joe’s devious planning capabilities. And I bet if you accuse him of it, he gives you big eyes and wants to know how you can think such things of him.
    Cats are good at taking over planned non-cat spaces, but it tends to be all at once, not gradual, in my experience. They want it, they take it.

  17. At least my husband as only taken over the closet. He is on a strict t-shirt diet and MUST remove one shirt every time he buys a new one. I stopped counting when I got to 120. Maybe a box diet would work for Joe (just don’t show him the stash, ’cause a yarn diet isn’t fun)

  18. So…you can take the defensive position: trying to regain space Joe has taken over. Or, you can combine that with an OFFENSIVE position–begin moving yarn into “his” basement. In very prominent spots. Blocking projects draped over his equipment. Yarn stored inside the pc and other equipment boxes (oh, Joe, I’m so sorry–does the fuzz interfere with the electronics?). Using his chair back as a swift.
    Perhaps he will understand that encroachment is a game that more than one can play πŸ˜‰

  19. I’m for bringing out the stash, too! Remember those string art pieces in the 70’s? A long bit of twine, wound in patterns around multiple nails on a (usually painted orange) board? You must have some questionable yarn in your stash that you can make string art with. (Questionable yarn = the stuff you keep, though you’re never really going to knit it.) Table legs, monitors, chairs, etc. would all make great “nails” for creating your string art…
    …or even better, move it all to the basement, and “string art” it down there. He’ll never be able to get it out, especially if you have mohair you’re willing to sacrifice.
    Ask my cat how I know.

  20. Flood him out with yarn! You know you want to anyway. Go for the really scratchy stuff so he knows you mean business.

  21. I thought my husband was the only one who abandoned one mess for another, and any horizontal surface that is clean will suit his purposes. I’ve considered NOT cleaning, as it’s just temptation for him to start his newest (and soon to be unfinished) project on kitchen counter/dining room table/kitchen table. The basement apparently is not good enough for my hubby either. Pls let us know what you decide, I could use some help before I’m completely buried under test equipment/cables/tools/connectors/doo-dads/widgits…. Did I mention the electron microscope sitting by the front door?

  22. Serve dinner there tonight, over it all; just set the table on top of the papers, etc., and then, well… spill. Just a bit, to show you’re still in charge.

  23. It couls be worse…or is that better? My OH has just discovered a yarn obsession – afghan crochet. I have to hide the stash and guard the Shetland wool on the dining table! πŸ™‚
    There are unconfirmed sitings of wool at the local market and it may be a scrum to see who gets there first!

  24. My husband’s domain is the garage. When some of those tools show up inside and hang around for days on the top of the bookshelf or a corner of the bathroom floor, I just quietly escort them back to the garage.
    I’m interested in seeing how this plays out for you, Steph, like a chess game between masters. I’m going for a nice hot cup of cocoa and I’ll sit back and wait for the next episode.
    (Oh, and welcome home!)
    ~ Dar

  25. I have a friend who calls this “starfishing” — when her partner was away this past summer, she found herself sleeping like a starfish in the bed, all splayed out. This made her very happy. Next thing you know, she was parking her one car in their two parking spaces, putting her clothes in his closet, and covering the dining room table with all her crafting supplies.
    So, may I suggest a starfish trap of some sort? Maybe along the lines of the squirrel set-up you concocted? I think this might be the solution.

  26. Start knitting patch bay cozies. In pink. Pink Acrylic. Squeaky pink acrylic. Hold it up to him, and say “hmmmm, maybe this would make a better gansey”…

  27. I’d go for a variant of Presbytera’s solution: every time he leaves a room, place a few balls of yarn randomly about. Add a couple more at every opportunity. Sort of as in “The Trouble with Tribbles.” (Do not, under any circumstances, allow your yarn to be given to the Klingons.)
    Maybe replace the wires in the patch bays with yarn and see how long it takes him to notice.

  28. Hello Harlot from windy Oklahoma! I was having SEVERE anxiety because I could not pull you up and thought you had gotten tired of blogging and I didn’t know what I was going to do!!!!! You are the reason I don’t get any work done at work ;o) I’m the newbie knitter and LOVE LOVE LOVE you site. I’ve been reading back issues, (I’m up to March 2005) and wondered if you read your old blogs. I know you JUST got done with your current book and probably don’t even WANT to think of starting a new book, but, have you thought of doing a 365 days of Yarn Harlot book, like the 365 days of stitches calendar(my favorite)??? What you write is freaking hilarious and it would be a too easy book. I have to say that my absolutely favorie post is on 12/21/04- where Meg writes about your basement. Cracked me up so bad I was snorting and that was so unlady like! Just want to put that bug in your ear. You are the greatest. Nat Alea

  29. Although by now I shouldn’t be, I am constantly amazed at how alike all (well, most) men are. If anyone here comes up with a solution to this problem, I (and I’m sure many of your female readership) will be forever grateful.
    As an aside, from the Toronto Star’s “The week’s best invented words” column comes this gem: “MAN SCAN, n.: when a male half-heartedly searches for an item, almost immediately says he can’t find it, and within seconds his female counterpart has located it.”

  30. About the husband encroachment? I totally hear you. Empathy coming your way… Steph, I saw you at Rhinebeck, wanted to say hey, but you were busy chatting with someone who looked like she was buying a book. So, HI! Glad you had fun there! Good to see you! πŸ™‚

  31. Clearly I need to get a job where I have to leave everyone to their own devices for awhile – if only to force the rest of family to clean. But on the other hand I will end up with only part of a desk, a third of the bed and one chair to use while knitting. Hubs has started a new venture in the fine arts. Now I have paint and brushes and paper and and and All. Over. The. Freakin’. House.
    Maybe we should just rent him an apartment…

  32. I suggest serving Joe concentrated cups of coffee and putting on loud techno music. It always gets me in a cleaning/organizing mood. He’ll be wandering around the house, twitching and wondering how he can make five boxes collapse into one. (Coming out of the theory that I am a prototype human and everyone responds as I do.)
    And of course the intervention is needed, where you sit him down in front of (one of his three) computers and make him read this blog entry out loud to you and your children.
    Pretending to deal with your problem is much more fun than dealing with mine, which is we’re sleeping in my craft room while remodeling. Bleh.

  33. Clever, clever man. Lull the wife into dulled bliss by beginning to clean up around so she can’t be too upset by the recording studio slowly creeping in then make sure the status quo seems to be about where it is as opposed to where it is supposed to be, in someone else’s building. The women who say men are simple, are deluded.

  34. Didn’t Amanda just go off to college? Let him have her room and hire movers to come and put ALL the extry boxes in his other office (although why someone would need more than an entire basement is beyond me … unless, of course, he enjoys the sunshine). A couple of college boys can get it all in there in less than an hour for ten bucks each. Heck, I’ll bet Amanda even knows two who will do it for ya.

  35. Those pictures make it look like you’re inside my house. If so, please vacate before I return at 5pm. If you cannot vacate, let me know, and I will go to the bar and wait.

  36. As someone who married a recording engineer, I will let you in on my secret for keeping my house from turning into the former control room for CBGB’s. It is a variation of “the devil is in the details.”
    Specifically, the devil of turning my house into a recoding booth lies in the detail of a dongle and a very short power cord that runs from the pre-amp/mixer/input bay to the wall. Without the power cord, the input bay does not turn on. Without the dongle, his main editing program won’t work.
    When I want my dining room table–or my couch, or my kitchen, or my _bed, dammit_, back–I take the cord and the dongle. I hide the cord inside of one of my kitchen pots, which end up sitting on top of the stove because the cabinet is suddenly and unexpected housing a Mackie board. I usually hide the dongle in the latest tangle of knitting to occupy the couch (which he pointedly moves to a coffee table at least once a day). Last time, I hid the dongle inside a ball of sock yarn. A big ball of sock yarn.
    He has stopped asking if I have seen the power cord or the dongle. And he promptly puts all the equipment away now so I cannot steal any more dongles or cords.
    Also, may I recommend the purchase of an angora rabbit with a penchant for gnawing through expensive cords? That seems to have worked wonders as well.

  37. You could replace his patch bays and dining room boxes with yarn every time he steps out of the house or while he’s watching James Bond. Leave a telltale sock as your reclamation MO.

  38. My plan would be to kill him with kindness. Knit him a patch-bay cozy, see how far that gets you. Or cover all wires in I-cord. See if he understands the ridiculousness.

  39. Ask yourself: how much space does your yarn take up versus how much space Joe’s things take up?
    You can probably launch a counter-attack by pure knitterly force! How useful is a computer buried in merino? πŸ˜‰

  40. My husband b*tched when I said I needed a craft room in our new house. Complained the whole way to Ikea for a desk and chair. And yet – I think he has been in it more then I have frequently so that he can hide away when he is on a conference call with work. Now I see he is Leaving his computer plug and notepad in there now….
    It’s On!

  41. Time to find a commercial Real Estate agent specializing in Audio production space or buy a bigger house. Two offices in one home for one person, seriously find his most expensive piece of equipment and “accidentally” spill coffee on it apologize profusely and the next day drop the Real Estate person’s card in his line of sight. Oust that interloper from your fifedom!

  42. You know, it’s odd how computers in the wrong places accumulate a whole lot of fiber dust inside, especially in the fan. Even more oddly, it’s that really dirty fleece that you can’t bear to throw out and you can’t bear to wash. I’d blame the squirrel if I were you. If you need dirty fleece, I’ve got some.
    Or just call in the Knitter Squad. About a dozen pushy, talky, determined sorts with pointy sticks, who just swoop in and remove all non-knitting, non-vital stuff from the public spaces. I believe they use it to line squirrel nests in the neighbors’ attics.

  43. All I can say is that you are a much nicer woman than I.
    Things that end up on my dining room table, that are not part of the dining room decor or that I didn’t put there, usually end up in large plastic trash bags at the curb.

  44. Your dinindg room looks suspiciously like my entire house, but I have no one to blame but myself…should have measured square footage of closets before I bought this #V$GD! place! Good luck.

  45. I procured my very own room this past weekend after years of stuffing my things in corners & drawers while my husband slowly took over the basement, garage and had his own in home office to boot. I am blaming this kind of behavior on a certain hormone and feature of the male anatomy – I think they are programed to conquer.
    Fortunately we women folk have been given a little of this very same hormone, and if forced can stick some golf balls in our pants to show up at the party. I say Game On!

  46. If it was me, those patch bays would be covered with batter and/or sauce by now (I’m a hazzard in the kitchen).
    I second dinner at the dinning table on top of stuff. Good plastic bag placement (on the floor, next to the table leg), it distracts from the papers and boxes.

  47. I agree. I say start an all out war with the yarn. I’m sure you have more yarn than he does technology stuff. But I wouldn’t put money on that. Still… I think you can win. Yarn does have at least 100 yards in most worsted weight balls. Then again, yarn can also be cut with scissors, but I think Mr. Harlot knows better than to cut your yarn with scissors.

  48. My favorite strategy was always, “oh, you mean you were SAVING that?” If you throw something out, for real, it puts the fear in their hearts. Empty threats don’t work, and neither does moving the stuff – they can always wear you down because they don’t get all emotional about the conflict and we do. Also, you might try enlisting your daughters, women should stick together, right?? Ge them on your side somehow, even if it’s just getting them to say, “Dad, remeber what happened the last time Mom was away and you left your stuff on the dining table??” That’s after you threw away a minor but precious object, of course. Don’t give in!

  49. Men can be tricky, but with a little perseverance you can get around this. Of course you must persevere for 5000 years, but it can be done. They tell legends about it.

  50. The spilling bit is good. Especially if you’re known for being a bit clumsy with liquids. But you know, one thing about electronics in the kitchen – really, that’s a *horrible* environment for electronics, even sturdy ones. Not only are there wild swings in humidity and even more danger of spills, especially sticky stuff, there’s airborne grease (even if you don’t fry things too often, still, you can talk it up), smoke from the occasional inadvertent BBQ (which with a little inattention can be made more frequent) – “Oh, dear, I was trying to clear off the dining room table so we could have dinner and got so busy that dinner burnt!” – dropped ice cream, dripping honey and jam and syrup… All *sorts* of possibilities.
    At least that might clear out the kitchen. For the dining room table, I’m thinking the suggestion by madmad of serving meals on top of the stuff on the table might work. After several consecutive times. Make sure you drop/spill stuff there, too. Eventually a hint may get across.
    If that doesn’t work, start piling the stash on your bed, saying you’re sorting it out for photography for Ravelry…and just shove everything over to his side when you go to bed. Then when he complains about not having a place to sleep (uh, presumably he wouldn’t dump it all on the floor, would he? surely he knows better?), give him a sorrowful look and say, “But Joe, I can’t possibly put it all away until I’m done, and there’s nowhere else to put it. My office and the dining room table are covered in stuff!”

  51. Yes, yes – we all know it well. When my boyfriend and I moved in together it was understood that we were going to share the office. At this very moment it is a pig-sty of spare wires, unfinished art projects (his) desk covered in papers (his) etc. etc. When I boldly announced yesterday that my new (Louet style, barely 3 feet high)spinning wheel was coming to live in the office, he almost had a strokeattack. The man blanched even. I aim to stuff that room so full of fibre, he gets squeezed right out into the dining room.

  52. Obviously…. if the cardboard boxes are in fact empty… they can be used for stash.
    Another thought–
    recruit the squirrel to your side.

  53. Dude. That’s beyond an incursion. The man’s fully annexed the dining room.
    He really is sneaky clever, that one…

  54. I don’t have a lot to say about Joe’s takeover (although I am going through something similar myself). I just had to comment on the picture of your living room. I thought that I was the only one with the side table next to “my side” of the couch with all of the knitting paraphenalia, including a vase with a range of knitting needles! I don’t feel so bad about my knitting table now πŸ™‚ I hope that you win the war too, because then maybe there will be hope for me.

  55. My husband and I engage in the same “turf war”. I don’t know why he acts all surprised that I’m trying to turn the guest room into a studio after all he married me when I was in art school. My house looks just the same. Boxes and stuff are continually being shifted about. It comes of having creative vocations. I’ve decided that there is no answer (except a much bigger house-I’m not holding my breath). Men are so…male and along with this seems to come some bizarre need to control territory (house space). It’s hard wired in them. Just make sure the yarn is protected at all costs.

  56. Hi! I say put him in charge of the national defense! Then his skills at incursion can be put to use and they will give him an office.
    My house has been a disaster ever since I had to give up the craft/guest room to be a bedroom for child #2. Now there are four of the little darlings and I have never again gotten ahead of the disarray and misuse of space. Maybe when they all leave the house…?

  57. That man needs his own room. Failing that, a storage space. If D. and I didn’t have our own rooms (in addition to the bedroom) we would kill each other over our stuff.
    Stand firm. My godparents let their stuff get away from them, and it was HELL clearing out their house after they died. I think there was an entire car’s worth of parts in the kitchen alone.

  58. Oh, I could go on forever about my own husband-has-taken-over-the-house problems, but in the interest of blog space, I will refrain. Just know that my own husband is not currently speaking to me because I “returned” three computers from my small office to his huge bonus room (where about 9 other computers reside) while he was out of town last week. See, my spouse abhors an empty space, particularly a tabletop space; hence, he overtook (without my permission) my home office — you know, where I pay the bills and keep this joint hopping. He, yes HE, is highly offended that I would remove his stuff from MY space. Men!
    When I get a few extra minutes, I’m going to read all the responses to this particular post and see if I can find wisdom/vision/help for your conumdrum and mine. Is there truly comfort in numbers for this situation?
    Meanwhile, it’s WAR at my house!

  59. You could use the trick my Mum used on us. Anything of ours that we want should be moved out of the common space by X time or it will be thrown away. If it’s still there at that time toss it in a box and hand it to him to take out to the curb. As for the dining room table it should be completely cleared for meals. Just hand him the knives and forks and tell him to set the table, chances are he’ll get the hint.

  60. Yikes – Dining room table seems unacceptable; community space needs to be kept up in our house.
    Hmm…do you need a bigger house? Any other daughters heading off to college soon and opening up space? Know of a nice BIG live-over space, with cozy no-squirrel yard for laying out wet wool? Or, add on a room to current place, e.g., enclose back yard?
    Perhaps a nice heavy piece of clear plastic to cover dining room table piles and then serve on top of the plastic?
    My husband is a ‘pilot’ (a ‘pile it’). If there is a horizontal surface, he piles stuff on it. Trippy habit. Good luck.

  61. So I take that you won’t be at LK tonight because you’ll be defending against further intrusion? Sneaky, sneaky man….

  62. Menfolk are like roaches that way, they continue to learn and become immune…lying in wait for the day where you simply give up and then they can frolic about the house like they own the place.
    I have found much sucess in the realm of “yelling very loudly” at my computer junkie roommate who also has an adolescent penchant for anime and comic books. I plotted the “make the flat look like an adult lives here and not a Japanese teenager” coup right before his very eyes and executed it with ruthlessly evil efficiency. Once the first couple “collector” resin figures ended up at the charity shop for monetary retreival, victory was miiinnneee (all my stash was neatly organized and stacked on “my” side so as not to incur any objections…I like to belive that is what saved it)
    Could pointing out that – when he left you refinished the bedroom, and when you leave he spreads out like a many-cabled octopus…how is that fair – argument help?

  63. If those boxes really are empty, then just think of how much yarn they would hold! ^^
    But seriously, bring out the stash (the whole stash, not just your sock yarn) and dump it on some of his stuff.
    Or, you can send him out to do an errand of your choosing, and while he’s out, take everything that’s not in the basement out to storage. If you want the less dramatic approach, start moving it, little by little, out to storage. Chances are, he won’t notice. Bribe the girls to help. Get the squirrel involved.
    If all else fails, and you’re still being forced to eat off of paper plates while sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, remember what his weakness is. Tell him there will be no more socks until he moves it all back down to the basement. Winter’s coming on, you know. The man will need warm feet.

  64. Isn’t the oldest in college? Does this open up a bedroom? It’s not unloving to appropriate open space left by the college-bound, especially if it means the family can eat together at the table. You can close the door on the patch bays and boxes!

  65. Dude. How much yarn and fiber did you buy at Rhinebeck that he’s kicked you out of the house????????
    oh- put it all whereever you like- he’ll ask where it is anyway- at which time you simply say “where you left it” When He asks AGAIN (hewill, they always do) then you tell him HE left it in the basement office.
    He’ll think he’s nuts- but np. The male of our species falls for this one every time.
    WOuld you like us to start a petition?

  66. I got married last year, and we put a second story on the house. Office for him, craft room for me, library for both of us. This does not totally solve the problem, but I’m definitely worse than he is. And of course his stuff lying around bothers me more than mine. So I split the difference- I try to be better about keeping my stuff picked up. And then I move his stuff to his office when he’s not looking and pretend to be surprised when he’s looking for it. “I think I saw that in your office, dear.” He’s always mislaying things anyway so it never surprises him that something isn’t where he put it….

  67. I think you have no choice but to gather up all of the yarn in the house and form some kind of barricade o’ yarn around his new dining room office. Perhaps some DPNs sticking out of it will scare him off.

  68. Immediate Stash Redistribution (ISR). All the skeins and balls hiding is various places (under beds–not even your own, those bits stuck down in the couch, the ones in the gravy boat and the soup toureen you hardly ever use. Get the one you have in the medicine chest, and those other ones behind Mr Washie. Be fair to yourself; only liberate half of the ones you can still find. Place them all over all his encroachment.
    Perhaps leave him the basement office. This would be positive reinforcement that THIS is the place for his stuff. You want to make sure he understands that his stuff has a place. Everyone deserves a place for their stuff, after all.
    If this fails to get the point across, you could gently inform him that there are other less desirable ways for you to “mark” your territory in the house.

  69. The only way I got Ken’s computer stuff out of the house completely was to build him his own office space on the back of the garage.
    Good luck. I’m rooting for you.

  70. I don’t think I saw this suggestion. If I recall correctly, the reason all of Joe’s recording stuff is in the house, is because he lost his recording studio.
    Time to get out the ads and circle appropriate rental spots and leave the ads on his stuff. Even schedule him appts to see the locations.
    Viola! Joe’s income producing stuff back at work and more yarn storage space for you.

  71. Steph, you have to find him another recording studio… or buy a bigger house… or send a kid off to college. When my husband started consulting and working from home, he managed to take over the family room, the dining room, one of the kids bedrooms and was moving into the living room.
    We bought an old victorian house with 9 bedrooms (we have 2 kids at home). He knocked down 2 of the walls, and he has a big “computer room”. There is, however, no room for my computer in there… the air hockey tables takes up all the extra room.
    Of course, I have my craft room… and also have yarn in end tables, in baskets tucked under things, in storage bins under the sofa. My eldest son was helping me clean and move furniture the other day. I said “What did you do with the green mitten I was knitting?” he said “I stuck it in a basket of yarn” and laughed like a maniac… there are 10 baskets of yarn in the room we were working on. I said “Don’t get too funny, kid, that’s your mitten and it’s snowing out.”

  72. Here you go: you tell him it’s unacceptable, you make him clean it up – he cannot keep his things in the common areas. This is a rule in my house, and it is not broken. (This is true for everyone in my family, including myself.) If he needs more space, get a storage shed or whatever you can afford. Or better yet, throw out (or donate) what is not being used to make more space. End of story.
    Fighting fire with fire or “accidentally” destroying equipment are not viable solutions. I did like the “hiding the dongle and the powercord” solution until the offending equipment is moved.
    BTW, what is a patch bay? For that matter, I have no idea what a dongle is either.

  73. How true, “spouse abhors an empty space”
    Really, an empty table is just asking for it. I mean why else would it be empty? To put stuff on.
    Time to have dinner in his basement space.

  74. Joe doesn’t have an office of his own, and your house, you have said, is small. Give Joe a break. Let him use all the space as he likes. (Just keep your office to yourself.) Let him take over the dining room, basement, the kitchen, anywhere his little heart is content to squat. He’ll make a ton of money, move you all into a house with his own space, and everyone will be happy. In the meantime, give him lovings and huggins and tell him how excited you are about the new house for which he is planning. Please blog the picture of his face when you say that.

  75. This is such a familiar scene at our house. My DH doesn’t have an office (or really seem to want one very badly). He starts in the bedroom, moves to the living room, ends in the dining room, leaving a trail of his “work” behind him. My solution. Once he steps away I take all the electric cords and put them in a designated drawer. I pile the papers, and put them in the shelves that were purchased for that purpose. Yes, I do clean up, but am I appreciated? No! He finds this cleaning utterly frustrating. Oh well… girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

  76. Haven’t you sent one of the girls away to college? My parents wasted about five minutes before turning my room into their office/craft closet once I went away. And I don’t mean, “once I got a place of my own.” I mean “once I was in the freshman dorms.”

  77. My father had the same habit! He did carpentry work (sawing, staining, the whole bit) on our dining room table until the day when I (as an infant) inhaled a screw that had fallen on the floor. That’s inhaled, not swallowed. After a frantic morning of having a screw retrieved from a six month old’s lung, the whole works was banished to the garage never to return.
    From past blogs, I sense that Joe might be attached to your pets a little and might be persuaded to move, organize, throw out his stuff should something happen to the cat? Nothing serious. . .
    If that doesn’t work, I think I remember a sister-in-law being remarkable at organizing, right?

  78. i’m trying hard to sympathize, but my husband accuses me of doing EXACTLY the same type of takeover in our house by leaving bags and boxes and trails of yarn and fabric (ok, and books too) in just about every last room in the house! i’m feeling just slight twinges of guilt. should i stop adding yarn, patterns and fabric to my collection??? guide me please sisters of creativity!!

  79. Clearly if Joe has enough room to move so much of his “stuff” into previously “neutral” family territory (i.e. the dining room), you have carte blanche to start hoarding yet vaster quantities of stash as fast as you can possibly acquire it as a basic retaliation effort πŸ˜‰

  80. tehe. maybe you should move mr washie up there, since he’s confusing the basement with the dining room. maybe he’ll go back down. then take the room back, or turn it into a yarn closet. that’ll keep him out. or maybe you just need more yarn scattered about.

  81. For goodness sake take over the couch with your stuff before he claims it as his. When he cannot sit there just say “”WELL I can’t sit at the dining room table or in my office and until I can my stuff stays put.” He’s a smart one –My bet is he’ll move his stuff pronto. good luck

  82. Cover the patch bays with tantalizing bits of fleece and leave them in the back yard. The squirrels will take care of the rest. Meanwhile, thank you for reminding me that it’s not ALL bad being single!

  83. This is dicey…you could simply try to reach some sort of compromise, which essentially would be moving everything back each and every time he leaves the house, in hopes that he leaves more often than you do OR…. You could bury (and I do mean BURY) the boy in yarn! You! Queen of the Yarn Stash! The Mother of Yarn Acquisition! What are you thinking! This is War! Capital W! GO BUY YARN RIGHT NOW!!! (You’re welcome πŸ™‚ )

  84. Steph, after 25 years of marriage, my mother taught my father to operate the washing machine. Suddenly, he was a laundry expert. Then, he began to operate the vacuum cleaner–independently and spontaneously. Then, he started “making the space his own.” Now, 10 years later, my mother is thinking about moving into the now-vacant home next door to theirs. Consider yourself warned.

  85. As long as he doesn’t touch the yarn!!!! Maybe it is time to move yarn into each space he tries to invade. Or maybe he could build a studio in the back yard. Yeah, I know it’s Toronto but a good space heater should keep him toasty. Or even better, build yourself a studio in the back yard-think of the peace and quiet. Ahh, I’m zenning over the thought……

  86. To Joe I would say “I love you”, and then I would pitch everything back in the basement. If it mystically reappears on the dining room table I would stop feeding him, any thing, ever.
    Tough love, I know, but you have just as much or more right to space as he does. She who makes the money makes the rules. And he has a whole darn floor already.

  87. I say you start re-purposing his messes. The patch bay? Well, those cables in the back make it look like a good place to shove some notions and knitting needles. The boxes are clearly a stand for bags of yarn and fleece. All those papers on the dining room table would be perfect to use as scrap paper for pattern drafting.
    You could also take photos of the “before” spaces, then post the pictures on the fridge for Joe to emulate before you get back.
    Of course, his stashing could be retaliatory stashing… Maybe he thinks feels like he needs to have more stuff because you got more yarn? To mark his territory?

  88. I feel your pain. My husband’s recording & electronic art equipment essentially added a child (maybe more like a teenager with an outspoken aesthetic preference) to our house hunt last year. After a while, I got a little tired of “no studio space” vetoing perfectly pleasant and affordable houses (he refuses to set up shop in a basement). Eventually we found a place that made everyone (even the recording equipment) happy, thank God!

  89. It is time to let the stash come into the light…no more finding hidey holes and trying to make it disappear. It has to begin taking over the parts of the house that Joe is trying to take over…just make sure you know what is where so you can monitor any sneak attacks while you are gone again.

  90. This is being solved over here by my buying an entirely separate house. In a different county. Closer to Rhinebeck. The loom will go in the basement, the computer in the office, the fiber room upstairs. Why yes, Virginia, in a room of it’s own.

  91. I think you need to cook more. Withhold food until you have the room back. The strategy would be something along the lines of: we’ll eat when there is a dining room table… and no eating in the knitting room, I mean the living room.

  92. It is time to fight fire with fire. He has been incrementally claiming territory while you were otherwise occupied and you must return fire in the same manner.
    Commence battle plan thus:
    1. When he is out of the house you must remove one box or medium to large size item from each occupied room and place it in the basement, preferably behind or under something else.
    2. You must then move 2 to 3 items from each room to a different location in that room or nearby.
    3. You must be entirely unhelpful and disinterested when he displays increasing panic over the wandering components.
    4. Attempt to keep yarn and projects to a tidy minimum otherwise you are positively giving him ammunition in a fight over territory.
    5. Do not tell girls what you are doing. Blackmail will ensue. Trust me on this one, teenage girls are positively Machiavellian.
    6. Every time a new item is brought into the house you must politely request that he removes more boxes to the basement. (He won’t but you will have the moral high ground, having asked nicely)
    7. When he goes to the basement (after a month of this he will find much of his kit down there and will be forced to visit his stuff) start shouting down the stairs requests to remove laundry from Mr Washie, check the tumble-drier, tell you how much detergent you have left, put another load on etcetera. (This will eventually result in his sudden and silent disappearance to the basement with whatever he needs that is still upstairs in an attempt to go and play with electronic things without letting you know he is anywhere near the laundry and so likely to ask him to do the washing.)
    I live with a computer technician. We have eleven computers now, a workshop, a server room (it used to be my gym) and I have recently reclaimed the dining room, kitchen, bedroom and lounge for the second time by the above methods. Then I abandoned him with three kids while I went on holiday for 10 days. I warned him (with that wild and crazy look in my eye that comes from not escaping your spouse and kids for ten years) that if the house was not spotless when I got back then I would turn right around with my suitcases and stay with my mother until it was done.
    The computers are now in the workshop and server room. My house was sparklingly clean as they spent ten days spring cleaning the toy boxes and polishing the furniture (I didn’t even know we had polish!). Turns out the threat was enough, and they didn’t want to risk it!

  93. I enjoyed the comments as much as the post! I was going to suggest a felted patch bay cozy, but someone beat me to the punch…what the #)^(+@* is a patch bay, anyway?

  94. As the weather turns cooler I am afraid that the squirrels are hunting harder and harder for a way to keep warm, what with your wool no longer being accessible. It appears as if they need some boxes in their alleyway for shelter. Pity. They are strong squirrels aren’t they? I’ve no idea how many of them it took to break into your home and scoot those boxes right out.

  95. I nominate your whole family for a public service award… you have NO idea how good it makes me feel to see someone else’s house look soooo much like mine… and now I have photographic proof for my children that our house is not the only one where it is impossible to eat on the dining room table for who months at a time.

  96. The patch bays… Are they just sitting there or do you think they’re remotely connected to anything? If they are, I’d totally re-patch them. Yup, remove a bunch of the plugs and pretend it’s a puzzle and randomly plug them all back in. It’ll be fun. πŸ™‚ I’m a producer, I know it would drive me nuts. πŸ˜‰
    Or if the patch bays are just there to distract you and really hold no purpose but take up space, I say you start moving your stash into his space – the basement.
    Or tell him that if he doesn’t get his stuff out of there, you’re going to delete his copy of ProTools and install SAW instead. Yes, SAW, not even SAWPro. (Wait, what software does he even use for his “engineering”?) Or just tell him you’re going to throw all of his stuff out and give him carts and a (2-track) reel to reel machine to edit on. πŸ˜‰
    You must think like an audio loving man!!!

  97. Clearly you must really love this guy, he does have many good qualities.
    #1. Any room that contains his stuff now becomes his area to keep clean.
    #2. Arrange a trip to a storage place and consider the value of spending some money and time in creating his own space in some space in the house.
    #3. Slowly take all the items back to the basement with large sticky notes describing the original location. Then quickly take over the space with your stuff.
    Like weeds in a lawn, unless your re-seed your lawn the weeds always return. Leave the dining room permanently set with good china, crystal and flowers.
    Or just decide this is a phase and go with the flow.
    We all feel your pain.

  98. I have the same problem! Everytime I leave our house, my husband moves in new computers or parts of computers. And then we do the same dance that you described!
    I’ve stareted getting back at him, though. Everytime he leaves town, I paint a room in our house, reorganize his tools or closet for him, or teach our four year old the lyrics to a new country western song!

  99. I was with all of those who suggested burying his new office with yarn. Until I read Adiel’s comment. Brilliant. Invite Hank over, and GIVE him some playdo! (protecting the yarn first)

  100. Well, I like the idea of serving dinner there anyway, and so what if there are spills….
    But I’d suggest, to avoid losing more ground, that you cover every available resting spot with something of yours before you go away. Pull that yarn out of the cupboards and the dishes and all your hiding places. Leave manuscript sections/copies all over. Knitting books. Design ideas. Boxes of sock club goodies. If he has to clean it up to use it for his purposes, I’m guessing he’ll find another place to go. It’s just that it’s already a nice clean spot waiting for him to use it.

  101. Mine has totally turned our master bath into an office (even though he already HAS an office) I can’t use my ridiculously large bath tub *sob*. Maybe I’ll just put a tub in the computer room and splash water onto the cpu? Of course he’d never understand the irony and then I’d have to explain it which would take all the fun out of it. Time to break out the big guns. My husband lives in fear of the cleaning frenzy – b/c I never can recall what I’ve done with ANYTHING once in the grips of the cleaning frenzy. Time to start losing things, I mean, putting them AWAY, yeah, that’s what I meant!

  102. Isn’t it obvious? He’s gradually moving the office to be closer to the TV. Put a TV or *the* TV in the basement office, and you’ll not only have him vacate all living space, you’ll probably never see the girls again.

  103. i think this is pure retaliation against stash in the freezer. at my house, itis books. for every yarn purchase, the dear husband buys more books. hard to tell who is winning, at this point.

  104. I swear to god this is just something men do. I have a basket on the stairs by the entry door for all of his “pocket stuff” and yet, some how it ends up on my desk. Same in the bedroom where he has a valet for his stuff and a closet for his cloths. I find his crap on my bureau and his cloths on the closet floor. ARG!
    I say we move to fiber island and let them fend for themselves amongst their own filth.

  105. Musicians are very sneaky. Especially recording engineers/producers. My husband has an entire studio to play in. But there’s still a snake (i.e. cable) in my front room along with several guitars, a bass, a bass amp, a laptop floating around. (there actually is a real snake too, but that’s a different story)
    And I have a small room upstairs which he keeps threatening to move our youngest daughter into. Because she’s running out of room. Well, if she put her things away, she’d have more room, and what gall to volunteer MY room! When he has a whole studio!
    Musicians are sneaky.

  106. I was going to suggest starting to feed people in his office – now new dining room. But then realized that that’s giving in.
    Use his patch cables for blocking wires.
    Wallpaper the boxes for a privacy screen.
    Put something on his desk to use it as a sideboard.
    Hang yarn from the drapery rods.

  107. Yes. Hit him with the stash. Mounds and mounds of yarn and scattered UFOs along with using every chair in the house to wind off yarn for dyeing (blocking every conceivable escape route) would probably do the trick.

  108. It’s those James Bond movies . . . they make men think that anything is possible as long as your sly enough and suave enough to carry it off….

  109. *sigh* Yeah… we all have our little dances, don’t we? For example… Mate has cleaned out my car three times in recent memory. The first time he threw away my paycheck. The second time was uneventful. The third time he left my work keys at a random gas station two cities away form where I work. I told him that he could still keep cleaning the cars–but he just couldn’t bring the kids with him. I just got my third i-pod stolen. I”m going to want another one. I can no longer make nasty cracks about him losing the kids at a random Chevron in Folsom, because if I let him forget my lost work keys, I’m pretty sure there will be an ipod in my stocking for Christmas.

  110. If I were in your position, here’s what I would do.
    1. Politely ask him ONCE to put his office stuff in his basement office where it belongs.
    2. The next time he’s out of the house, move all of the stuff from one area down to the office. Don’t worry about placing stuff in convenient locations.
    3. If he complains when he returns, tell him you needed that area for it’s intended purpose, or were planning on having company over and wanted things a bit tidier. Since he wasn’t home to move the things, you moved them for him. You had asked him to move them before, so it’s not like this should come as a surprise.
    Yes, it requires effort on your part, but an object at rest tends to remain at rest (conservation of momentum), so he’s unlikely to move it all back up. Gradually he will realize it’s easier to do his work where all the stuff is, and will stop trying to take over the rest of the house. Maybe.
    Another idea is to eat something that really needs the dining room table because of the potential for mess, and do so right next to and/or on top of his computer and papers. Perhaps he’ll move them out of self-preservation.

  111. I posed your delimma to my hubby he says to in this order
    1. Get a Bigger House and give him a floor of his own
    2. He agrees with the posters about letting the squirrel in to help you destash joes stash
    3. If the above doesnt work withhold (insert involutary shudder here from another male who loves his handknit socks) His favorite handknit socks till he moves his stuff back where it belongs
    If all else fails run sceaming into the night cuz that many electronic items in a small house can lead to them taking over completely (ask me how i know my EX was an electronic junkie)

  112. Perhaps he has been consulting the grey squirrel on methods of terratory enhancement?
    Alternatively is it concerning how many people automatically consider that the squirrel could be successfully allied to either party? Personally I think you could turn the squirrel – you have more yarn.

  113. My husband is in the computer industry. We have three computers and two people in our house. Not to mention all the computer parts…After a year in our new house where he and I have separate closets, I have discovered we really need separate rooms like we had in the old house. Anything I didn’t want in the living space I threw into his room and closed the door. That method doesn’t work so well with closets. I wish you luck!

  114. Hmmm, it seems to me that electronics have an aversion to water. A large aversion!! I think you need some new plants – just saying – and you know that said plants will need water! Stay away from succulents and cacti – they don’t need water. I would recommend some lovelies from the rain forest!! The amount of water they’d need would be just about perfect!
    Let the games begin!

  115. Hmmm….I always feel like I’m battling against dh’s sutff taking over the entire house. Perhaps this is just part of being with someone who is self-employed? Doesn’t make me like it any better, though.
    Once I left the house for a friend’s bday party. My husband was left home in charge of our 2 little boys. This was just for a few hours now,…..when I returned, the children were running amok (wayyyy past bedtime)the house was trashed, things had literally fallen off the walls, (picures, etc) and there was an upside-down pizza lying in the middle of the kitchen floor.
    I wigged out.

  116. as a new wife, I am rather impressed on your outlook on the whole scenario, and I will certainly take your example of bravery to heed. Thanks! and cheers, here’s to the game.

  117. YARN!!!!!
    Yarn is the answer, wherever there is yarn there cannot be recording stuff. It has something to do with physics and the whole “two things occupying the same place in the universe” thing.
    Besides, yarn is prettier to eat around

  118. Clearly fiber is the answer here. Roving takes up lots and lots of space if you let it roam free. It’s an excuse. If he can have all of the fancy recording equipment around the house, why can’t you just go and buy some gorgeous wool?

  119. Oh, Honey, I’m so sorry. I was trying to eat my dinner at the table, you know, where you’re supposed to eat, and I accidentally spilled this ginormous glass of water on your stuff.
    Hope you don’t mind. Maybe you’d better move it back down to the basement where it will be safe.

  120. I like Laurie’s (5:18 pm) suggestion: Put a chesterfield and TV in the basement. He’ll be back there in no time.

  121. Steph – you’re SO much nicer than I am.
    1- Let him have the dining room table. Just make sure he knows there won’t be any more dinners (etc.) served until the dining room table is restored to it’s original purpose.
    2- Move all of his stuff out of the basement. Put a dead bolt lock on the basement door. Move your stuff into the basement.

  122. There’s something about men and horizontal surfaces! Their eyes glaze over and they start repeating in a monotone:
    They don’t stop until every horizontal surface in reach is piled high.
    I say buy more yarn. Lots of yarn. And stack it on HIS side of the bed!

  123. Joe has to get a move on! I can go to work and come home eight hours later, and my retired DH has done that much damage. Joe has to become more resourceful if he is ever going to win the “Trash Master” award!

  124. I was going to say, if he has a bunch of stuff on the dining room table, how do you all eat meals? But then I remembered that I took over my own dining room months ago and made it into a dye studio. And it’s driving me crazy! I need a dining room to be a dining room, which is why I’m looking for a place to live with a basement.
    He used to have a recording studio in a separate space. He either needs to find a separate space again, or if he wants to work at home, you guys need a bigger house or an addition or something. He can’t take over the dining room, your office, etc. The dining room is the dining room. Your office is your office. He needs a space that is his and nothing else. Otherwise people go crazy.
    Btw, have you seen the new IK Holiday Gifts issue? Your arch-nemesis is shilling for Knit Picks on page 15!

  125. Dumb, weird, off-topic. Husband and I have been discussing riding bicycles again. Only issue, baby before helmet-wearing size. He asked, “What do those Canadians do to bring the baby home from the hospital?”

  126. Compromise. As much as I love using “Squirrel the Dongle” in a sentance, I fear you have more to lose in this battle then Joe does. If it is absolutely not an option to move him into a remote recording studio of his very own, then he must have room in the house for his work. (This was supposed to be temporary, yes? It isn’t temporary.) I see that the basement is supposed to be his space: First step- find out why he doesn’t work there and fix it. Maybe you will lose the whole basement to a recording studio (doesn’t yarn stash have sound-proofing applications?), or I like the idea of moving the television down. Your problem is having two adults’ work in one house that already holds a family: Either make room or kick him out. All other options will end in a felted, wet, play-doh covered, blown-fused, powerless, coffee-sticky, foody-keyboarded, twisted yarn-art, crying-daughter, angora-chewed, Dongle-Squirreled Hullabaloo.
    (Yeah: I said “Dongle-Squirrelled Hullabaloo”!)

  127. Hey, that’s my dining room too! But I have no one to blame but myself. I really should get a move on and start finding places for all this stuff given the holidays are just around the corner. Maybe tomorrow.

  128. The glacial creep of the audiophile flotsam is insidious, and I don’t even leave the house for sleeps. It happens while I drop Will off at school in the morning. It happens while I go buy groceries. Hell, it happened yesterday when I was held up on the john for the length of a Spin-Off article on handcombing. Ther was a box of tubes suddenly in from their storage in the car on. my. knitting. chair! Those men and their sound gear. It’s like some throw back to when Cro magnon had to piss on the trees around his camp to declare territory. They can’t help it.

  129. I really think it is time to redo your basement and give Joe equal status with Sir Washie down there. What does he need? Window wells to let in daylight? Paint? Track lighting? Rewiring? For heaven’s sake, give him what he wants, or (and I speak as one who knows) you will *never* get your dining room table back again!

  130. I did teddy bear shows all over the US for years. Forcing me to leave my DH and 4 children to fend for themselves. It was a fiasco. But I became wise and found if I called them 8 hours prior to my arrival, they had plenty of time to tidy up (well, to the best of their ability) and start the laundry. But for the life of me, I am still trying to figure out why my DH would decide to paint 3 rooms with a 2, 7, 12 & 17 yr old kids and a black labrador retriever while I was gone. To this day, he is still trying to figure out how the 2 & 7 yr old and the black lab had white paint all over them.
    Truce time. Put very large NO TRESPASSING signs on your space.

  131. It is time to have a party. The kind where everyone has to pick up the entire house because “company’s comin'”. We have thrown entire boxes of stuff into the Goodwill pile as a result of picking up for “company”.

  132. Start eating at your desk or while out doing other things and serve no food because there’s no table.

  133. At least the yarn stash should diminish over time as you use it (well, that’s the theory, anyway). Sadly, electronic equipment doesn’t shrink, except as they bring home the newest generation to show you – and with the big Golden Retriever eyes to go with it.
    I vote for some guerilla knitting/knit graffiti over and around his stuff, rendering it inoperable. You’ll frog the graffiti when the stuff is in its rightful place.
    Can you spell standoff?

  134. 2 words, sort of…
    cheap acrylic yarn
    See where I’m going?
    My kids did this once, on accident. Yours could be an accident of sorts as well…

  135. My husband just took up spinning– I’ve already had to move his rovings twice!
    When you figure out a good way to keep it all contained– let me know. I could use that for my own stuff!
    oh, and when we were first married, he stored his power tools in the dining room. At least the computer isn’t covered in sawdust!

  136. After this many years he might be immune to yarn retaliation. Acquire several boxes with the phrase, “Danger, Contains Strong MAGNETS”. Fill with stash and seal, but place dangerously near electronics. Make comments about how your laptop has been acting funny. Extra points if you get your daughters to comment as well.

  137. Take over the basment in a single, clean strike. You and Mr Washie and all the yarn and all the fiber and all the shelves. You can be happy down there, really. Then, lock the door when you leave. It will take him days to notice that the downstairs has been taken for Team Knit, and by then, well, it will be over. Bonus- you can paint the walls any damn color you want.

  138. Take it from a knitter who is also a musician…yarn fed into the little hole thingies in the patch bays is the way to go…after you’ve knit the patch cords together. Engineers love that.

  139. I know that getting a bigger house sounds like a good idea, especially if a big bag of money were to land on Steph’s current house. But my husband and I are quite fortunate–we have a big house, and I have the same problem with him that Steph has with Joe. The problem is not lack of space. Give the guys more space, and they only see that as a challenge, sadly.

  140. I’ve had limited success in silent retaliation with my hubby leaving his stuff scattered around the house. I suggest a frontal attack. Load up the offending bits (it would be the dining room for me) and hike it all back to where it belongs. *grin*

  141. You have yarn.
    LOTS of yarn.
    Fight back with the full force of your stash….
    When he leaves, find one of “his areas” (make sure you like the area and that it is safe for your yarn babies) and make it your new “yarn storage”. Yup, start right there in those empty boxes he keep leaving in the living room. Empty boxes = stash storage.
    It might take a while for him to actually notice what you are doing, but by the time he does, you will have filled the house with your stash!

  142. My husband is the opposite. I go away – he tidies up. He goes away – I do my thing and mess the place up.
    You may need to issue a deadline to get that dining room table cleaned up or else take it all to the basement. That would motivate me. Plenty of warning then action. Seems fair too. Either that or withhold sox as another reader suggested.

  143. Joe’s equipment is the components of his livelihood and the tools of his craft. It’s a serious career — not some mindless hobby as if he’s a bumbling comic-book Dagwood who leaves sports equipment lying around.
    In your family, you have a two-career couple, both trying to find enough space to work from a small house that they have outgrown. Surely there must be a way to negotiate an equitable and respectful solution.

  144. I like the idea of “give him what he wants” in the basement. ONLY in the basement. Give the poor guy his own space – either another recording studio. or a fix up in the basement. Track lighting, fans, TV easy chair, computer tables. Tell him “I want to have a party and invite 10 people to dinner” and then begin moving his stuff down.
    These sound like the most constructive ideas, after all you have to live with each other afterward. Kill him with kindness.I wouldn’t want you to end up with a sticky spilly yarny snarly squirrely not speaking standoff. Awful. In my day job I am a marriage and family therpist. Kill him with kindness is my professional opinion.

  145. Why not release the stash? See how the kitchen patch bays feel about fleece. That ought to cause a hasty retreat.

  146. I agree with setting a meal right on top of whatever is on the DR table. After all they did clean up just for you so whatever is left must be a new form of tablecloth.
    My DH has some similar problems in that I find piles of papers, building catalogs, camping gear, weaving supplies, boxes of bandaids, wheels and fiber encroaching the kitchen counters, the window sill in the DR, corners of rooms and the DR table. And this is after he took over the basement and the guest room. I believe he took over the guest room because I like to have it ready for guests so keep it clean, shut the door and do not go in again unless we are about to host someoone. Guess what? He encroached little by little to the point that I have trouble finding the bed in there.
    I really do not think that men, in general, think this through as we do. They are not interested in keeping the house as we do and so only will do that under duress. When I finally cry or scream, then it is cleaned up, somewhat. If I threaten to throw it all in a bag then a bit of it is cleaned up and he then wants kudos. arghhhhh
    However I think you also have the extra complication of not being home enough. He is taking over YOUR space as his was lost and you are not there to defend yours. sigh And why does he not have a separate space yet?

  147. I was going to say rent an office to share, but after reading your clever comments, I think you should rent a recording room and fill it with nothing but yarn and a laptop. He will see the sense in trading you for the house.

  148. The size of the house is not the issue. They can fill any size of house. Your office was _built_ so that you could have a place to write! It is _yours_. His stuff should be removed immediately and piled in his real office in the basement. A new lock (and you have the only keys) would be good. Have a trustworthy friend, sworn not to give it to him, keep the spare key for emergencies.
    Fastest: put all the stuff that constitutes encroachment into plastic trash bags, wherever you put them while awaiting disposal. Because you were cleaning the mess that he missed. This includes the boxes.
    Point out that anyone who puts electronics in the kitchen obviously has no intention of ever using them again (grease, water condensation, spilled batter, etc.). Inform him that dinner will be spaghetti. Make lots of sloppy sauce splashing on things in the kitchen. (Soup is good too.) Bits of anything that has to be chopped can fly toward the misplaced machinery, and knives (possibly not even wiped) can be stuck “temporarily” into the wiring (so handy). Put the dishes directly on top of the stuff on the dining table, tilting on the uneven piles as the damp drippy undersides of the dishes leave wet circles on the papers. Point out that he has an office in the basement, where food is not normally served.
    Good luck!

  149. The thing is, you may have yarn stash, but fiber is pretty. Guys seem to think that broken electronics are “decor.”
    First, dust off your old Traveling Wilburys records and then, every time Joe is home, place “Cool Dry Place,” over and over … and sing along at the top of your lungs …
    “We got guitar basses, amplifiers and drums
    Accordions and mandolins
    and things that sometime hum …
    cymbals and harmonicas, capos by the score
    Drink Screech first. Sing loud. Declare it your favorite song of all time … “We got organs and trombones! And reverbs we can’t use! Lotsa DX-7s, and old athletic shoes!!!”
    Be sure to drink extra Screech, comb your hair over your eyes like Tom Petty, and perhaps even play air guitar to it when Joe has company over.
    Or if you want, I’ll come over and sing. That’ll teach him.
    I can also show you how to take the fuse out of a Crown amplfier.
    And remember, you DO have a voodoo doll.

  150. Gee, all those boxes. I bet there’s some room in them to store some stash. I definitely spied some empty space on top of the patch bays. Those boxes also look like there’s plenty of room for stash. Work with what Joe gives you. Are you sure some of his stuff can’t magically appear in the basement? While you regain the use of the dining room table?

  151. Ah, the laundry fairy. She apparently comes to our house too . And my dh is trying to turn the house into an orchid jungle. Funny how these things work.

  152. hahahahaha! he’s related to my soldier! I made him do his own laundry last week *not his uniforms!* an all the tshirts in that load now have bleach spots! πŸ˜›

  153. Oh Dear Harlot, I read today’s entry and just about choked to death on my coffee, I was laughing so hard! I’m married to an electrical engineer turned computer geek. He’s not just your run of the mill computer geek, he’s a Geeks’ Geek. The one that all the other geek’s run to when they’re stuck or in trouble and can’t figure it out. He loves all things computer and speaks so many languages that he’s like a United Nations interpreter for computers! We have more computers, computer parts and computer things than anyone could possibly imagine! (Except for you, I think you just might understand what I mean LOL!) We have a small house, with minimal storage, and only one big community closet. Guess what’s in it? Yup, NOT my stash! I hate to say it but you and I are in the same boat. We have unknowingly married and set up house with the Borg. Resistance is futile. All our living space will be assimilated. Any technology and/or living space will be confiscated and added to their storage perfection. They don’t just want our living space either. It’s so bad at my house that the latest victim of assimilation was my Jersey Wooly bunny! When we bought the bunny, he was supposed to be mine because of all his lovely fiber and sweet personality, then the Borg got him and now my bunny belongs to them! Good luck on finding a method of storage preservation against this insidious foe. If you DO come up with a method of self defense, please share it with us. Just think of all the stashes are in jeopardy, not to mention living rooms and kitchens. Well…. I can’t say much about the kitchen. Mine has a 48″ Macomber loom in it. It was the Borg’s idea to put it there so I guess I like him after all! Oh no……. Wait……. I think I’m being as si m i la te d!

  154. hmmm actually he sounds like me. However, I do know my limits. Sort of. No stuff on the DH’s side of the study. No clay in the house (I’m a potter as well as a fibre person…) however, yarn is allowed everywhere. DH is patient to a degree, but he hasn’t realised he is in fact just as bad in his own way. He can’t finish a job, so there’s a pile of paper on the dining table “for filing.” I just chuck things on top when we want to eat, and he sorts half of it when there is a real danger of the pile collapsing into his dinner. I asked him to clean the bathroom, as he’s the main person who messes it up (why do men, when shaving, apparently throw foam, water and whiskers ALL OVER the gorram place?) That was nearly three weeks ago. I’m still waiting. He’s claiming busyness at work, but I pointed out “three weeks ago you weren’t busy, dude. I ain’t ironing till it’s done, and I mean done properly, including the floor and the tiles all wiped.”
    However, we have guests tonight. Guess what I’m going to do as soon as I get home.
    I’m not doing the bloody ironing though. πŸ™‚

  155. I reckon there is some kind of an internet community for these clever husbands – and mine’s in it too! I am going to scour Google for a “mission creep” group and do my best to destroy it, before my home turns into a computer!

  156. I don’t have any suggestions, but I can sympathize. My husband kept the doors to his Corvette in his closet for two years. He doesn’t have a walk-in closet, so they were sticking out into the room; sort of like Pooh’s legs sticking out of Rabbit’s doorway. He was always very hurt when I would say anything about them, as in (tripping on Corvette doors), “Ow! Ow! My leg! Ow! How long are these things going to be in here?”

  157. We use our dining room table. Every night for dinner. We have silk flowers (my DH is very allergic) and candles on the table for dinner.
    As one of her chores when she gets home from school, my 13 year old is to set the table. Of course, she used to set the table on top of the stuff that was on it. The only person that irritated was me. So, when she asked what she was supposed to do with the “stuff,” my response has always been “stack it.” Nothing is more irritating to everyone in my family than to have their stuff stacked with everyone elses. BUT, the table gets cleaned off every day and if you don’t want your stuff stacked, you better get it off.
    I have also been known to open the back door and fling things . . . you know the stuff that I’ve asked to be moved on . . . jackets, shoes, socks, sweaters, bookbags, back packs, etc., generally, they don’t make it any further than the back yard but it sufficient.
    Fortunately, we don’t have a basement. It could get ugly.

  158. My husband prefers the term “cleaning disabled” (as in he doesn’t see dirt until it is pointed out to him). And because his sideline is building airplanes for people (yeah, like 2 and 4 seater ones), you got NUTHIN’ on me-file boxes and computers???? try AIRPLANE PARTS and LANDING ASSEMBLIES on my best lace tablecloth in the dining room. Yeah, it’s an interesting learning curve.

  159. My husband has a full sized office behind our detached garage. The stuff from there has been slowly migrating into the house. Turns out he’s lonely out there. Kind of sweet, but the house is full of stuff. He was using my loom room until I started playing opera CDs while he was in there πŸ™‚ Now the stuff has been moved to the bedroom. Looks messy, but I figure my eyes are closed in there most of the time anyway. Joe might be lonely in the basement, but I also agree a TV down there might help. A really nice big screen plasma TV. Has to be nicer than the one upstairs. Christmas is coming…

  160. You could fill up his side of the bed with yarn and tell him he can have the rest of the house. You were tired of cleaning it anyway, right?

  161. I feel your pain. My basement has been invaded by pinball machines! Seriously, it’s nice to see that other people’s houses are as filled with clutter as mine πŸ™‚

  162. Every time Mr. Happy decides he should work from home, he sets up his computer, several hard drives and countless cords on the dining room table. It takes every ounce of love I have for him to keep from losing my mind. And right now I’m only tolerating it because after a year and a half, he has finally re-installed our basement door.
    Joe is very bold.
    (BTW – I finally got to meet Mr. Sexsmith – he played a show at Mr. Happy’s studio.)

  163. Did I miss the finished pictures of the KAUNI CARDIGAN? I know you were trying to finish it for Rhinebeck and I saw a picture of you (though you were only halfway in the frame) at Mason Dixon’s blog and you were wearing the KAUNI CARDIGAN, but you haven’t blogged about it, yet. I’ve been anxiously waiting a finished picture of this cardigan because I absolutely want to make one someday. πŸ™‚
    BTW, funny story about your clever hubby and his quest to take over the house. I think my husband is in the first stages still – I leave and the house deteriorates from the inside out.

  164. I don’t get it. Why does he need an office in the dining room which is identical to his office in the basement? Is it perhaps because he can no longer find his office in the basement? If so, perhaps he needs help eliminating, sorting, and organizing? In other words, perhaps this battle of incursion has come down to you two going at it “mano a mano” with the casualties going off to your Canadian equivalent of Good Will, “Weird Stuff Warehouse” (there really are such places here in the Silicon Valley of Hearts Delight) or *gulp* the landfill.

  165. Sorry I can’t offer any comfort for you today, Steph. Unfortunately, I’m the Joe in our family. It’s just difficult having one’s working life and one’s home life in the same space at the same time. Violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics…..or something.

  166. My S.O. has a thing about chairs. To him, chairs are not for sitting; they’re for storage. When he comes home, he doesn’t put his bag on the floorβ€”it gets a chair (like it’s had a long day at work and needs to sit down). His hat and coat get the other chair, and whatever book he was holding gets the couch. When we come back from grocery shopping, the bags go on the kitchen chairsβ€”one bag per chair. Since it usually takes a little while for us to put the non-perishable food away, those chairs stay occupied for some time. So there’s never any place for humans to sit, but inanimate objects in our house can always be assured of a comfy chair!

  167. Perhaps if you threatened to start a podcast with his equipment he would sound the retreat and move the equipment back into the basement.

  168. The last straw came when the engine that needed to be overhauled replaced my dining table. For months! As the holidays approached, and since we are near them now, I finally got rid of the d*mn thing by decorating and lighting it. I recommend this approach highly. Good luck.

  169. I’ve read all the comments above and (a) I’m relieved my house is not the only one with a sea of electronic crap from one end to the other, and (b) as long as there is a CLEAN horizontal surface in the house, the male of the species will attempt to conquer it. No matter they have an office, AND a garage AND a shed, AND a basement (my hubby has all of those) FULL of stuff already, the kitchen and dining room tables are still fair game. And to make things worse? They will ONLY see your stuff, no matter how tidy it is. There is no known cure. Alas, we may win a battle, but we will NEVER win the war.

  170. May I suggest a book:
    It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale by Margot Zemach

  171. Sure he hasn’t been hanging around my husband? All it takes him is one day of me at work, I come home and he’s rearranged the furniture.

  172. Confession time – in our house it’s me who does this. My partner does have certain areas that he’s colonised but we’ve got a big enough house that I just let him have those. But my tendency to spread – er, somewhat scary! I do try to keep it in check though because I’m aware that it’s not very fair.

  173. It is time for some action – start storing yarn in his tshirt drawer until you get your room back. Fleece in the underwear drawer too. Silk caps in among his socks – you know how hard they are to touch without snagging. That should be a sufficient daily warning that you want your dining room back. If you need footsoldiers, we all stand ready to help.
    Meanwhile I have lost half, that is HALF my stash. Denny teaching fiberguy to knit has worked too well. He was digging in my bins and saying ‘Where is the buffalo’ last night. Not a question I was prepared for.

  174. I’m another one voting for the real estate agent. There’s just me and my husband, and we bought a house with four bedrooms, an attic, a storage room, a garage, and a small dormer storage space. He is packus rattus, but very neat and organized. 75% of this space is full of his stuff. I have an office with a closet, and you can guess what’s in it, can’t you? That would be yarn.
    Nothing like a little space to decrease the stress level. I’ve always believed everyone should have their own room, not just kids.

  175. It could be worse. My Mom house sat for me while I was in Europe one time. She decided that i had not done a very good job in how my house was arranged. I’m not talking just my large furniture, but every single blessed object in my house had been moved and rearranged. Not just shifted from dusting, no. REARRANGED. MOVED. None of the kitchen ware was immune, or my closets, or my laundry room or the bathroom. Even my husbands stuff had been moved. It was like some other family had moved in and taken over.
    I threw a huge, I’m talking humongous here, hissy fit. She has never since touched any object that I own without permission.
    So, it could be worse.

  176. Great to see you and the amazing Kauni cardi at Rhinebeck. Just received my STR kit, love the pattern and the yarn. Again, thank you for your love of your work!

  177. That makes my stomach ache.
    I only just reclaimed out dining room – from myself and my mother! I can’t imagine having to wrest the space back – he is a clever one.
    I like that trick of taking up an even more unclaimable space to keep the one you just vacated…
    I will have to think how I can do something similar myself…

  178. It’s amazing how the piles of stuff appear and grow larger isn’t it? You must not let this sneaky husband trick succeed! I take a pile or ten and either heap them up on his side of the bed ( doesn’t always work when there is a guest bed ) But the one that does work is to pile up stuff on his chair at the dining table or in front of the TV…. heh, heh!
    Selling it or taking it to the curb has been done by friends in really bad cases ( there was a divorce coming anyhow)
    On a happy note: in our house all squirrels are now ‘rat bastards’ and it’s a race to see who can say that first when one is spotted….apparently anywhere, anytime…. It sure turns heads when it rings out loud and clear ” RAT BASTARD!!” It does take some explaining which isn’t always successful…
    Thanks for the smiles and chuckles…

  179. Clearly, what is happening is that he figures, since you are gone, he can work where he wants to ’cause you’re not there to complain. I would tell them that this is fine, as long as everything is cleared out before you return. Your stuff stays in your office. His stuff stays in his (I am assuming he has a designated workspace. If he doesn’t, something needs to be worked out, I guess.) Good Luck!

  180. Oh, what a coincidence! Stephanie, I am feeling with you. Yesterday we had the discussion about not being capable to meet the expectations of the public health department (thank for this phrase – I hope you don’t mind if I use it next time at battle.) In our case it is yarn against shirts. Every time I come back I find shirts in places I never thought about before (there is no way to put coats on the wardrobe – it is full of shirts; at least he irons them by himself.) He wants me to sign the treaty with Β§1: I can put shirts everywhere I want in the flat and you can put yarn everywhere you want. Not to bad.. This shall be enough for a strategy. What do you think? I wish you luck!

  181. Omigod! I think Joe and my hubby John are twins separated at birth! This summer I opened a second shop in town, taking all my yarn overstock from the back room of our main store, some notions, books, pattern – stuff a yarn shop carries – leaving shelves empty. But not for long. John filled those shelves with his music stuff in a heartbeat. I kept telling him all summer that some of the yarn was coming back, and he acknowledged this by saying he’d clear the shelves soon. Well, the second shop closed down on Thanksgiving, the shelves are still full of music equipment and most of my stock is being stored “temporarily” in my vehicle. This in itself isn’t so bad, except my vehicle is the 4X4 and we will be needing soon as snow is in the forecast.
    Another thing he does that makes me want to scream is he stacks stuff in “my” shop when he hasn’t got room for it in his. How many knitters do you know that are interested in patch cables, guitar cases or drum sets? It’s very similar to the patch bays in the kitchen.
    But, in his defence, he was the one who suggested to me to open a yarn shop. I would never have taken this leap without his support.
    Take care
    Take care

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