Friday, January 22, 2010

I hab a code eb by dose, but I’b beelin’ gude

It was bound to happen. You can’t go around in freezing temperatures without a hat or gloves, stand around in the rain on train platforms getting your feet thoroughly wet, sit next to people who have the plague for an hour or more at a stretch and not eventually find yourself going, “Ow…why are my sinuses hurting so bad? Owies-owies-owies…{sniiiiiiifffffff!} {ACHOO!}…aw, muckle-festers!

Anyway – it’s been one of Those days today. My first thought upon waking this morning was, Why is there light in here?!

Because when I’m supposed to be waking up – at 4:30 – there is no light. Not outside the window, nor inside my heart. (I am not waking up particularly cheerful right now. Go figure.)

Then my husband (who had woken me up by getting up himself) sang out from the bathroom, in his usual cheerful @*^&@ing way, “C’mon, honey! Rise and shine! Time to get moving! It’s after 6:00! We’re runnin’ late today!!!”

And I lay there for a few minutes thinking to myself that it is a sick, sorry world when six a.m. is really, really late.

Needless to say – I worked from home today. I wouldn’t have been in the office until after 10:00 by the time we got the Denizens pried out of their nice warm beds, poured into clothing, organized with backpacks, socks, shoes, jackets and a cup of hot cocoa. And then I’d still need to leave at 3:45-ish so I could make it all the way home in time to pick them up after school.

This uber-commuting thing? It’s more than a small bit of a pain. Wednesday was, like, the commute day from hell. We left the house at 6:00, and didn’t get into the office until almost 9:30. Then we had to leave at 2:30 because of all the crazy, and didn’t get home until 6:30.

All this, because of rain. It’s such benign stuff (to me, anyway), rain. Just moisture, falling from the heavens. But in California, “mere” rain becomes very serious very fast. It’s like the state just doesn’t know what to do with water, given that it spends most of its time cramped by drought.

Suddenly, we had Lake Don’t Belong sprawling out all around the ACE train through the Altamont, which forced it to crawl along for most of the trip between Livermore and Tracy. Yay, water! (Other places in the state had mudslides and death because of ‘mere’ rain, so, you know, comparatively speaking – we got off pretty easy, huh?)

Furthermore, while I was still cranky and perhaps not thinking clearly, and having forgotten all past history of me and pseudoephedrine…I took The Cold Medicine That Works.

Whoopee! Drunk on cold medicine! AGAIN!!!!!

…but my nose cleared up, so I had that going for me…

But this morning as I settled into my good old comfy home office working chair and fired up the various machines that let me get busy…I had to admit that I am really enjoying my job.

I’ve got a great team I’m working with, full of smart, witty people who work hard, know their stuff, and aren’t shy about saying “thanks” or “here’s how you do that.”

And the paychecks really don’t suck. My pay over the last couple years has been so…part-time, low-level, ‘can you make this banner blue?’ kind of pay, spitting and dribbling into the business checking account in fits and starts.

It’s a bit overwhelming, seeing full-time paychecks bouncing into the account twice a month like clockwork. But overwhelming in a good way, you know? Our net worth actually crawled back into the black this month, which I find a bit stunning when I consider how much spending and time off was involved in the holiday period from just-before-Thanksgiving until just-after-January-1.

This is going to be one of those hard-working kind of years (if the contract lasts out the year – one of the downsides of contracting is the way you don’t actually KNOW if you’ll work the full twelve months in the contract, or only six, or be let go tomorrow, or…). It’s not easy, trying to juggle all this stuff; sometimes (usually) I feel like I’m meeting myself coming and going.

And it’s a little depressing, looking at the calendar and knowing that, for me, there is no time off for the next twelve months. Every single weekend is booked up with something, especially through the spring and summer when I’m still planning to have a pretty robust garden going even though I’m not going to see it in daylight hours most of the week.

I’m kind of working two jobs in parallel. There’s the paycheck job that is giving us such awesome monetary returns, and then there’s trying to get that cottage-craft thing going so that the household endeavors are covering the household needs.

It’s a lot harder to do now that my time is so severely cramped, but it still seems worth working toward. It would be nice, when this contract ends, if I could just step calmly off that particular hamster wheel and pick right up with my “Occupation: Other” thing.

It also gives us a chance to try before we buy, if you will. We’ve been talking a lot lately about pulling up stakes, buying a place with a little land around it and doing more homesteading; call me crazy, but I think that may be nuts.

It’s one of those things that sounds really sweet on paper, but I suspect when you’re actually doing it as a major part of keeping body and soul together…the shine comes off the heirloom tomato pretty darned fast.

I loved gardening last year, and I still love it right now…but I started small and late last year. I didn’t have the back forty(feet) last spring, just two 10x20 beds, one 10x5 bed, and a few containers of tomatoes. Ooooooh, HUGE.

We didn’t get the back forty(feet) ready until fall was really on us, and I planted only about half of it with a few things here and there – several of the beds remained fallow, and a lot of what I planted went into the ground too late to actually get to harvest before the frost took it.

In other words – last year I had all the time in the world and not a lot of crop-growing to contend with. I had just started tinkering with an Etsy shop and putting together a booth for craft fairs; I had almost no inventory to speak of and was still kind of fidgeting around with what sorts of things I’d want to put into such things.

It’s all been more or less on hold while I’ve gotten started on this job, but I’m not planning to just let it go.

I want to know. How much can I do, right here at home, to provide for us? How much can I grow or make, how much of that would sell, and what percentage of our household needs can I provide through things this house can provide us – from the land, from the tools within it, from the skill and heart of it’s people?

Maybe we will find that we love it. Maybe it will be the kind of work that doesn’t feel like work. Maybe I’ll have enough coming in that when this contract ends, I’ll be able to say, “OK, and now I’m just going to do this, which is plenty for us.”

Maybe we’ll turn to each other next winter and say, “You know what? Let’s start looking for someplace with a few acres around it…we love this, we can do this, we would be happy there…”

Or, maybe I’ll be getting on my blog in June using really foul language and talking about how I’ve hired a guy to come lawn over the whole back yard, ALL OF IT, damn those stupid vegetables anyway I HATES THEM and furthermore dyeing is stupid and I hate Etsy for the following forty-seven reasons and you know the only thing worse than that? CRAFT FAIRS, don’t EVEN get me started…!

But I won’t know unless I try. And I have before me a unique opportunity to do it kind of “risk free,” with the only real investment required a little extra-hard work and the giving up of my weekends for a while.

And with that, guess what?

I need to go empty the rain water barrels into the main storage tank (a.k.a., our busted-arsed spa). We might not need all that water right this second, but we’ll be glad of it when these storms dry up (as they will, all too soon) and that stupid front lawn gets all thirsty like it goes…(I am coming to despise lawns, seriously…they’re pretty and they’re nice for playing on and such, but they are hungry and thirsty little beggars, constantly demanding feeding and water and water and feeding and now MOW ME OR FACE THE WRATH OF YOUR NEIGHBORS…)

(I kid, we have really awesome neighbors…they’ve never breathed a word to us about our hippy ways and [ahem] somewhat casual approach to front-of-house maintenance.) (But I’m pretty sure they’ve thought some harsh things my direction on occasion…like, “Are you EVER going to bring in your trash totes, Hippie?” or “Just how many children are you planning to have, Breeder?!” or “Would it KILL you people to do something with that mud patch right in the front of your house, it looks like some kind of miniature mountain bike course!”)


KMR said...

I think is rather expensive. Have you looked into You can have a starter shop for free there.

My inlaws retired, bought three acres in the country, started about a 1/2 acre "garden". In season, they work 12-14 hours a day on it (harder than ever) and are slowly specializing into becoming a berry farm. They love it and we love getting fresh produce but they also are grateful for their pensions that allow them to do this.

Good luck with your endeavors. I think "testing the waters" is very smart.

Another Joan said...

Front lawns can be turned into further gardens especially in raised beds with useful flowers (marigolds?) around the edges. That way your water goes to veggies and you get another 40 to experiment with.

Rena said...

I am so proud of all that you do, and I can see you on a farm, happily tilling and growing and writing. Hang in there, darlin sister.

Marty52 said...

You could check out some of the blogs from those folks who have gone back to "the farm" like this one:

I'm sure there are lots out there but this gives you a start.