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In time, little changes turn the house around

I had another insight the other day into this funny backward world _ at least it seems backward to me _ where my husband is retired and I'm still working.

He was gone for the day Saturday and I had set my mind to painting a closet and bathroom off the bedroom that used to belong to my older daughter, Katie. The closet was chartreuse, a hangover from junior high. Most of the stickers had been scraped off the inside of the door except for one little paper heart that read "I love blot-scratch-scribble."

The bathroom used to be the same bilious color, but had another coat of paint in her senior high years, and was now flamingo pink. I had endured the closet, which is, of course, filled with my stuff now, for 25 years. The bathroom color I didn't mind so much except that the years of steam from the shower had played havoc with the paint. So I went for a very pale shade of coral for both. That way I could still use my bathroom towels.

First, I couldn't find the three-step ladder that usually lives behind the dryer. Then I couldn't find the key to my husband's shop where the Shop-Vac is kept. I needed it to clean up scraped paint. Next, I couldn't find the extension handle for the paint roller.

The step ladder turned up in my husband's den, and I found the roller handle, which he had attached to a push broom. I never did find the shop key, so had to sweep up the paint scrapings with a broom and dust pan.

A thought occurred to me: in the two years since my husband has retired, he has completely taken over the house. I don't know where anything is anymore, including the food in the freezer.

Then another thought occurred: Do I really care where the Shop-Vac, the roller handle and the ladder are? Or the stuff in the freezer?

From Halloween to Ho-Ho-Ho in a hurry: Frannett's, 330 Fourth St. N, is having a Holiday Open House from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, featuring creative decorations, ornaments, and arrangements.

Anastasia's Fancies, 7218 Central Ave., will do the same from 10 a.m to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Anastasia's will decorate your home for the holidays, will do showings at charity events and will turn over the shop to a Nutcracker Tea in early December to benefit the Florida West Coast Ballet. There will be goodies to eat and drink.

Olivia's, 118 Fifth Ave. N, will have a Christmas Open House from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 3, 4 and 5. The open house will feature dried and silk arrangements, with part of the proceeds to go to the Children's Dream Fund.

The St. Petersburg Museum of History hails the approaching season with its sixth annual Holiday Ornament and Gift Preview from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 10. A box lunch will be catered by the Wine Cellar for $8. Reservations are required for lunch. After the opening, the gifts will be on display until Christmas; you pay no admission if you are just visiting the shop. The museum is at 335 Second Ave. NE.

Too good to let pass: Vic Knight, former local and author of Vic Knight's Florida, loves to discuss his Southern roots. While addressing a crowd at the noon lecture series at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg last week, he discussed grits. A woman, he said, went into a restaurant in Florida's Panhandle, ordered breakfast and had "a bowl of white stuff" put before her.

"What's that?" she asked the waitress.

"Them there's grits."

"I don't want any, thank you," the customer said. "Would you please bring me a bagel?"

Whereupon the waitress brought her a small English hunting dog.

Times photographer Ricardo Ferro, at the USF lecture taking pictures, recalled a similar misunderstanding.

"I was trying to take a picture of a crowd," he says. "Only I couldn't. So I asked the guy, "Have you got a ladder?' "

"Sure," said the man, and produced a Bic from his pocket.