A recent family excursion took me to Idaho for the first time. When we went out to dinner, I was eager to indulge in my favorite food at its source. The waiter reeled off the daily specials but ended with the wistful proclamation, "I'm sorry to say, we're all out of baked potatoes."

I laughed, mistaking it for the opening volley in a round of waiter/patron repartee, only he wasn't kidding. "But this is Idaho!" I shrieked. "Haven't you read your license plates? Famous Potatoes?" He stood firm, offering up pasta salad or coleslaw as alternatives.Alas, the reality had not lived up to the dream. I'm getting used to that, however, since another major dream of mine has fallen through - namely, the house with the white picket fence. I am currently homeless, living as I do in my husband's office.

It was not always this way. Once upon a time I had a normal home but loudly bemoaned the fact that the lord of the manor, a.k.a. my husband, was rarely there. He was always jetting off to one coast or another, usually whichever one we didn't live on. When we moved to Utah a few years ago, it seemed he went to both every other day.

Finally, to avoid cardiac arrest and shut me up (the latter being the more compelling reason), Mitch took a bold step and, rearranging things so he could have more time with the family, set up a home office. I'm here to tell you, work-ing at home is highly overrated, at least when it's one's spouse who's doing it.

Mitch's office began as one little upstairs room with a desk, a telephone and a fax machine. Slowly it has overtaken most of the second floor and is stealthily creeping down the stairs.

He holds little meetings in the dining room. He holds bigger meetings in the living room. On sunny days, a business luncheon might occupy the backyard, the better to take advantage of our beautiful garden.

The phone rings constantly. There's the business line and the family line, but lately the business calls have spilled over. Often Mitch has someone holding on one while he's talking on the other. His sidekick Jeff, a perfectly nice guy who I really like a lot, can from time to time be seen on the phone in the family room, while Mitch is upstairs on the office phone. My suspicion that they're talking to each other has not been wholly dispelled.

Some mornings there's such a crowd in the kitchen, I have to put on a business suit and heels just to go feed the cats. (Thank goodness for casual Fridays!) This confusion, of course, extends to our son, who still doesn't quite have a handle on the situation. Sometimes he'll ask, "Is Dad at home today or at work?"


"Can I talk to him?"

"No, but you can leave a message on his voice mail; he checks his messages every hour."

Then suddenly, Mitch will make an impromptu appearance and offer to take Zack for a haircut, to which Zack will say, "I thought you were at work."

"I am, but I'm taking a break. I love this working at home!"

I couldn't agree less. Be careful what you wish for, goes the familiar adage, and I'm finding out the hard way how true that is. I finally told Mitch that I couldn't live like this anymore and begged him to lessen his work load at home.

"My thoughts exactly. Therefore, I'm hiring a secretary."

"Where will she work, in the bathroom?" I shrieked.

"Don't be ridiculous, that's way too small. I was thinking the guest room."

Another old adage is, "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em." Therefore, these days I'm busy embroidering pillow covers that say "Thank You for Not Smoking" and "Employees Must Wash Hands After Using the Toilet."