Bad Spouse Day

By Peter Sieling

Did you ever have one of those days when she is just hairpin trigger sensitive?

You can’t just run off to the beeyard until the smoke clears. I have found it’s better to work around the house, taking care of the little jobs that are on my list. I make sure she notices that I’m being helpful. Sometimes I pitch in and help with house cleaning. I sweep floors, and change burned out light bulbs, especially the hard-to-reach ones.

L.L. Langstroth’s cottage.

I also like to read to my wife interesting and educational bits from articles and books that I think could help her improve herself. Old bee books, for example, frequently contain nuggets of homespun wisdom beyond the standard how-to-keep-bees information. I was reading a book by the inventor of the moveable frame hive, Langstroth’s Hive and the Honey-bee, the 1878 edition, and shared a quote with Nancy as she kneaded bread in the kitchen – Langstroth’s “friendly word to wives”:

I would say to every wife – Do all that you can to make your husband’s home a place of attraction. When absent from it, let his heart glow at the thought of returning to its dear enjoyments; as he approaches it, let his countenance involuntarily assume a more cheerful expression, while his joy-quickened steps proclaim that he feels that there is no place like the cheerful home where his chosen wife and companion presides as its happy and honored Queen. If your home is not full of dear delights, try all the virtue of winning words and smiles, and the cheerful discharge of household duties, and exhaust the utmost possible efficacy of love, and faith, and prayer, before those words of fearful agony,

‘Anywhere, anywhere

Out of the world!’

are extorted from your despairing lips, as you realize that there is no home for you, until you have passed into that habitation not fashioned by human hands, or inhabited by human hearts.

Nancy didn’t say anything right away, not even “don’t you love how 19th century writers expressed such sublime thoughts?” It must have moved her even more than I expected.

“I have a friendly word not just to husbands, but to all beekeepers,” she said. “First, I would say to every beekeeper, don’t get propolis all over your dress shirts…”

“I needed a light colored shirt in the beeyard and who can tell the difference between a dress shirt and a work shirt?”

“All your dress shirts have propolis stuck to them.  Second, there are dead bees in all the car’s cup holders. Beekeepers ought to vacuum all dead bees.”

“I already put that on my job list, right at the top. It’s been first on the list since last Summer . . .”

“Third, there are two beehives on the back porch. Beekeepers should keep hives in one place . . .”

“They are just nuc hives,” I corrected. (There is a good reason for those hives being on the porch. You can’t just move hives a few hundred yards.)

“. . . There’s a third in the driveway, a fourth in the barn wall, a fifth on the porch roof . . .”

“That was a bait hive, until the swarm moved in last year.”

“. . . and I saw one of your lumber customers wearing an Epipen in a holster on his belt . . .”

“Yeah, I never saw that before! Weird!”

“. . . and that smells like a lawsuit. Sixth . . .”

“You’re on fourth, unless you are still counting stray beehives.”

“Fourth, I’m missing a pair of new pantyhose.”

“Don’t look at me! I’m not that kind of guy . . .”

“You were straining honey in the honey room.”

“Oh – that pantyhose! I didn’t realize you were the sort who had to count everything.”

“Fifth, remember that Reverend Langstroth spent a large portion of his time separated from his wife and living with his brother-in-law. My brother is looking for a nanny and his kids love you . . .”

“Whoa! Look at the clock! Time to, um, check the bear fence!” I closed the book and slipped out the door. It was already dark and the porch light had blown. Maybe I could patch things up by putting in a new bulb. Then I remembered; it had just blown out a couple months ago. I still had plenty of time.

The most important lesson I learned on my bad spouse day – if you find a piece of useful information and want to share it, just underline it, write “good advice!” in the margin and leave it open on her favorite chair.